And just like that, it’s Championship Week in college football. Not only will the major conferences crown their champions, but the College Football Playoff will also begin to take shape as the final dominoes fall on this final weekend of college football conference action.
Will the established favorites clear their final hurdles and punch their ticket to the inaugural playoff, or are there a few more twists left before bowl season begins? These five pivotal games will help answer those questions.
Top Five Games to Watch in Week 15 of College Football
Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon Ducks (Fri, Dec. 5, 9:00 PM ET)
Line: Arizona Wildcats (+14) vs. Oregon Ducks (-14) – view all NCAA Football lines
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Oregon will have a place waiting in the College Football Playoff if it can get past Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Unfortunately for the Ducks, a win is by no means guaranteed as they have fallen prey to Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats in consecutive years.
However, Arizona’s win earlier this year in Eugene was marred by a soft but costly penalty, an injustice that Oregon will be looking to make right in Santa Clara. Ducks quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite Marcus Mariota has accounted for at least four touchdowns in his last five games and will be eager to deliver the conference title back to Eugene.
Writer’s Prediction: Oregon has its revenge over Arizona but the Wildcats are able to cover.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Missouri Tigers (Sat, Dec. 6, 4:00 PM ET)
Line: Alabama Crimson Tide (-14.5) vs. Missouri Tigers (+14.5)– view all NCAA Football lines
After a thrilling Iron Bowl triumph over Auburn, Alabama’s hopes of a fourth national championship in six years are still very much alive. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was sensational, catching 13 balls for 224 yards and three touchdowns against Auburn and will be a big weapon in Nick Saban’s search for a third conference crown in four trips to the title game.
The Tide face another set of Tigers in Missouri, who are also riding a six-game win streak, all against SEC opposition. Mizzou isn’t a terribly explosive offense, but it has a very solid defense that could be capable of containing Cooper and the Tide. The Tigers are averaging just 16.5 points allowed during their last six games.
Writer’s Prediction: Alabama sweeps Mizzou aside to claim another SEC title.
Florida State Seminoles vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Sat, Dec. 6, 8:00 PM ET)
Line: Florida State Seminoles (-3.5) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (+3.5) – view all NCAA Football lines
Despite reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston throwing four interceptions against Florida, the Seminoles managed to eke out another close win to cap off another perfect regular season. Florida State is now a staggering 28-0 with Winston starting at quarterback.
But because of their unconvincing wins, the ‘Noles may need to keep their status as the last remaining undefeated Power 5 school to ensure a bid in the playoff. That won’t be at all easy as they face Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a big win over state rivals Georgia and their exceptional running game (334 yards per game, fourth in the nation) will be a handful for the ‘Noles’ middling defense.
Writer’s Prediction: The ‘Noles’ luck finally runs out as Georgia Tech stuns the champs.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Sat, Dec. 6, 8:17 PM ET)
Line: Wisconsin Badgers (-4) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (+4) – view all NCAA Football lines
Ohio State Sophomore Cardale Jones has the unenviable task of filling in for the injured J.T. Barrett and making his first start as Buckeyes quarterback in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes still theoretically have a shot to make the playoff, but Jones will need an outstanding showing to convince the committee they’re still worthy of selection.
Jones and the Buckeyes will face Melvin Gordon and the Wisconsin Badgers. Gordon, the leading rusher in the nation (188 yards, 26 touchdowns), can make one final push for the Heisman by leading the Badgers to their third conference championship in four years.
Writer’s Prediction: Gordon and the Badgers run away from the shorthanded Buckeyes and win the Big Ten again.
Kansas State Wildcats vs. Baylor Bears (Sat, Dec. 6, 7:45 PM ET)
Line: Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears– view all NCAA Football lines
While the Big 12 has no official championship game, Kansas State vs. Baylor will essentially be playing for a share of the conference title should TCU improbably slip up against Iowa State. The Bears almost slipped up themselves as they barely got by Texas Tech, and will now be holding their breath with the status of their concussed star quarterback, Bryce Petty.
K-State has no such problems with its quarterback, senior Jake Waters, who has set new career-highs in passing yards (400) and passing touchdowns (four) in his last two games against West Virginia and Kansas.
Writer’s Prediction: If Petty plays, Baylor should come away with the win. But if he doesn’t, K-State has enough to cause an upset.
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