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College Football ’19: Conference championship previews

Conference championship previews

It’s conference championship previews time on the college football season. There are 10 games on tap this week that not only will determine FBS league champions, but could also have a baring on the College Football Playoff Rankings.

Here we go with our 2019 conference championship previews, and highlighting the three can’t-miss contests. The Associated Press Top 25 rankings are in parenthesis. All times Eastern.

Key Games

Pac-12: No. 5 Utah (11-1) vs. No. 13 Oregon (10-2), at Santa Clara, Calif, 8 p.m., Friday
Conference Championship previews
Photo courtesy of archives.sltrib.com

Scouting the Utes: They’ve won eight in a row and are currently fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings. Utah is also trying to do what it was unable last season: winning a Pac-12 title.

Scouting the Ducks: Oregon has won seven of the last 10 meetings versus Utah, and won both trips to the Pac-12 title game. This contest should be close, and could come down to how well quarterback Justin Herbert plays.

Winner: Utah

Big 12: No. 8 Baylor (11-1) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma (11-1), at Arlington, Texas, Noon, Saturday

Scouting the Bears: How much will the memory of blowing a 25-point lead at home to Oklahoma last month weigh on the collective mind of the Bears? One would think not much, but on a neutral field, Baylor faces a massive test in trying to snap a five-game skid to the Sooners.

Scouting the Sooners: They are sixth in the CFP rankings, so a victory here and other factors need to align for the Sooners to return to the playoff. Receiver CeeDee Lamb (50 receptions, 1,035 yards, 14 touchdowns) should be ready to face the Bears this time as Oklahoma eyes a fifth straight Big 12 title.

Winner: Oklahoma

SEC: No. 4 Georgia (11-1) vs. No. 1 LSU (12-0), at Atlanta, Geo., 4 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Bulldogs: The health of running back D’Andre Swift (1,203 yards) remains the biggest issue surrounding the Bulldogs. However, they will also be light at the receiver position to start the game. Finally, do the Bulldogs have enough offense to keep up with LSU?

Scouting the Tigers: One would think even with a loss, LSU is good for a spot in the College Football Playoff. However, this is a statement game for the Tigers, who with a resounding victory could reclaim that No. 1 spot in the CFP rankings.

Winner: LSU

The Rest

Sun Belt: Louisiana (10-2) at No. 20 Appalachian State (11-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: This is a rematch of the first-ever Sun Belt Championship Game from 2018. The Mountaineers won that matchup 30-19. They also earned a 17-7 victory at Louisiana this season. With this rematch on its home field, we don’t see how Appalachian State lets this one get away.

Winner: Appalachian State

Mid-American: Miami, Ohio (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (8-4), at Detroit, Mich., Noon, Saturday
Conference championship previews
Jim McElwain / Photo courtesy of wxyz.com

The Skinny: Central Michigan is one of the better stories to the college football season. Under former Florida coach Jim McElwain, the Chippewas have rebounded quite nicely from a 1-11 2018 season. Miami, meanwhile, has won its most games since going 10-4 in 2010 – the last season it played in and won the MAC title game. CMU won it a season earlier.

Winner: Central Michigan

Conference USA: UAB (9-3) at Florida Atlantic (9-3), 1:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: It’s been quite the decade for UAB. The Blazers didn’t even have a football program a few years back, but now are trying to win back-to-back C-USA titles. They’ve won three consecutive games, but face Lane Kiffin’s Owls, who are looking for a sixth straight win and second league title in three years.

Winner: UAB

American Athletic Conference: No. 21 Cincinnati (10-2) at No. 16 Memphis (11-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Conference championship previews
Photo courtesy of cbssports.com

The Skinny: These squads just met last weekend, with Memphis winning its sixth straight contest on the same field this matchup will take place. The Tigers are the highest ranked Group of Five team at No. 17, so a fifth consecutive victory over the Bearcats should give them a New Year’s Six bowl berth.

Winner: Memphis

Mountain West: Hawaii (9-4) at No. 19 Boise State (11-1), 4 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Broncos could possibly earn a New Year’s Six bowl should it beat Hawaii at home from the second time this season, and if Memphis loses. Of course, it would come down to the CFP rankings. Boise, hosting the MWC title game for the third straight year, is 7-0 all-time at home over Hawaii.

Winner: Boise State

ACC: No. 22 Virginia (9-3) vs. No. 3 Clemson (12-0), at Charlotte, N.C., 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Clemson has won four straight ACC titles and outscored its last two title-game opponents 80-13. We don’t see any way that dominance won’t continue against a Virginia team making its first appearance in the championship game.

Winner: Clemson

Big Ten: No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (10-2), at Indianapolis, Ind., 8 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Buckeyes are the No. 1 team in the CFP rankings, but it will be interesting to see if it stays that way should they win and LSU does so handily over Georgia. This is the third time Ohio State and Wisconsin will meet for the league title. The Buckeyes won both previous times, and 38-7 over the Badgers on Oct. 26.

Winner: Ohio State

 

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