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5 Things to Watch in Conference Championship Week

5 Things to Watch in Conference Championship Week

College football is entering conference championship week. There are always things to watch every week of the season. Here are 5 things to watch in conference championship week.

1. Can Two SEC Teams Make the CFP?

The matchup that most wanted to see in the SEC Championship is happening with a lot on the line. If Alabama can defeat Georgia, there will be two SEC teams in the College Football Playoff. It will take a great effort from the Crimson Tide, who just needed overtime to defeat the six-win Auburn Tigers. Alabama’s defense allows 19.7 points per game, which isn’t their best unit. Their offense is one of the best in the country, but they struggled against Auburn. Can they get both things right and upset Georgia?

Georgia’s defense has been dominant all season. They allow just 7.5 points per game and have talent on all three levels. If Auburn can slow down Alabama’s offense, Georgia certainly can. Alabama’s best bet to win the game is slowing down the Georgia offense. Former walk-on Stetson Bennett is at quarterback and provides some scrambling ability, but is limited as a passer. The Crimson Tide may try to sell out to stop the run and make Bennett beat them. Georgia will be favored, but with the way this season has gone, anything can happen.

2. Can Iowa Force Turnovers Against Michigan?

Iowa had a rollercoaster of a season. They rose all the way to number two in the polls, then lost two straight. After that point, they won out to qualify for the Big Ten Championship Game. A big factor in their being able to win games is their takeaways. They have forced 27 turnovers on the year and then use the extra possessions to control the clock. Will they be able to do that against Michigan?

The Wolverines just ran all over Ohio State to get to the Big Ten Championship Game. They did turn over the ball once, when Cade McNamara forced a ball in the red zone. Michigan will need to stick to their bread and butter, which is running the football and winning physically. If Iowa can force Michigan to throw the ball, they may be able to pick McNamara off, even though he only has three interceptions all season. Iowa can win a Big Ten Championship and possibly knock the Big Ten out of the CFP contention.

3. Can Oklahoma State Make the CFP?

Oklahoma State just won a huge game in Bedlam over Oklahoma to keep their CFP hopes alive. Now, they will take on Baylor in the Big 12 Championship. The Cowboys have had a good defense, which allows 14.9 points per game. They also are extremely balanced on offense and score 31.4 points per game. They’ll need both units to be at their best to get a win over Baylor.

Baylor lost to Oklahoma State and TCU this year, so they are getting a chance at redemption in the Big 12 Championship Game. They have a great rushing attack and a defense that allows just 19 points per game. It will be a physical game, which is not something that has often been said about a Big 12 Championship Game. Baylor may be out of the CFP race, but if they can finish the year with a Big 12 Championship and a New Year’s Six Bowl, it will have been a great year.

4. Cincinnati’s Second Toughest Game

Cincinnati now has a very clear path to the College Football Playoff. If they beat Houston in the AAC Championship, they SHOULD be in. This will be their second top 25 matchup of the season. The thing that is helping their case for the CFP the most is their win on the road over Notre Dame, who hasn’t lost since. Houston will be the best team that Cincinnati has played in months.

The Bearcats have had some underwhelming performances, but they keep winning. After losing to Texas Tech to open the season, Houston hasn’t lost. Cincinnati’s defense will be tasked with slowing down an offense on 38.2 points per game. The Cincinnati defense is one of the best in the country and allow just 15.8 points per game. Can the Bearcats get the big win and make the CFP?

5. Bailey Zappe‘s Stats

There is a lot going on in conference championship week. Some things may be overlooked and that could include Bailey Zappe’s chance for a historic season. He is Western Kentucky’s quarterback who has led the Hilltoppers to an 8-4 record. So far this season, he has passed for 4,640 yards, 48 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 71.6 percent completion.

The Hilltoppers play UTSA in the Conference-USA, who nearly had an undefeated regular season. Zappe should still have a big game. If he does, he could have 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns on the season. He ranks 18th for single-season passing yards and while it is unlikely that he will move to the top spot, he could really climb the ranks in the last two games of the season. There is a real chance he could be eighth in single-season passing yards by the end of the year.

 

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