College football is nearing the end of the season. With that, there will always be things to watch each week. Here are five things to watch for in college football conference championship week.
1. CFP Race
As with every season, the College Football Playoff race will be one to watch in the last day of games before bowls. There are plenty of games that will change the rankings before they are released for the final time. The biggest one will be Notre Dame and Clemson. If Notre Dame wins, Clemson is out of the CFP. If Clemson wins it is possible both teams are in.
Ohio State will need to beat Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game to make the CFP. Texas A&M and Cincinnati will be hoping that they can win their games and get some help to make a push up the rankings. Alabama and Florida won’t have the same impact after the Gators lost to LSU on Saturday.
2. The Rematch
Earlier this season, Notre Dame was able to beat Clemson in double overtime. That win has allowed the Irish to rank second in the CFP rankings. They will play Clemson in the ACC Championship this week and things are going to be different this time around.
Trevor Lawrence was unable to play in the first matchup due to COVID protocols. He’ll be back for this one along with a few other starters that missed the first game against the Fighting Irish. This game will also be at a neutral site, so Notre Dame will have to bring their best game if they want to beat the Tigers twice in the same season.
3. USC Blowout
Even though the Pac-12 has an undefeated team, they aren’t in the CFP race as of right now. USC is likely too low in the rankings to make a push for the CFP and simply don’t have many good wins. The Pac-12 may be kicking themselves for cancelling the season and then coming back later than any other Power Five conference.
USC will play Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game after Washington had too many COVID cases. Oregon is 3-2 with losses to Cal and Oregon State. They will be playing for a chance at the Rose Bowl, but USC will try to run up the score on the Huskies if they have any hope left to make the CFP.
4. Group of Five Undefeateds
The shortened season has allowed a few group of five teams to be undefeated this season. The most notable is Cincinnati. The Bearcats are 8-0 as they head into the AAC Championship game to take on a ranked, one-loss Tulsa team. Cincinnati will have hopes of making the CFP, but that will be tough. A win would lock up a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl though.
Coastal Carolina has a rematch with Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship Game. The Chanticleers are are 11-0 this season and if they can beat Louisiana again and if Cincinnati loses, they could be in a New Year’s Six Bowl.
One of the lesser known undefeated team is San Jose State, who plays Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game. The Spartans are unlikely to play in a big bowl game, but they are a good story. Buffalo is also undefeated and set to play Ball State in the MAC Championship.
The MAC Championship will pit Buffalo against Ball State on Friday night. Buffalo is undefeated and has a solid roster. One of their players is having a fantastic season. Running back Jaret Patterson has 123 carries for 1,025 yards and 18 touchdowns in just five games.
What is highlighting Patterson’s season is his 409-yard, eight touchdown performance against Kent State. With so many yards in so few games, Patterson is must-see television. Against Ball State, Patterson could help himself get close to 1,500 yards after a bowl game, which would put the Bulls at seven games played. It has been a historic year for the running back.
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