After another entertaining college football season filled with the unexpected, it is time for teams to push for a playoff spot or a bowl game. Today, I will be predicting each of the Power 5 conference championships.
Pac 12: USC vs Oregon
The probability of predicting a winner in the Pac 12 is lower than getting hit by lightning. But seriously, the Pac-12 has been insane this year. Last time these two teams, played Oregon blew USC out forcing Slovis into 3 interceptions and 3 sacks as well.
Oregon started off the year on an offensive tear scoring 35 or more points in their first four games. However, after their big loss at Oregon State, their offensive looked terrible. Against California, they had 4 drives that were in California’s territory yet only came away with 17 points.They also struggled in the red zone with two trips that resulted in 0 points. USC has been vulnerable against tight ends this season as their linebacking core is injured, so Oregon should attack USC through the middle of their defense. Their defense struggles against the run, but since USC runs an air raid offense, it plays right into Oregon’s strength as their pass defense has allowed only 5 touchdowns this season.
Although undefeated, USC has had to come from behind in every game they played in order to win. The air raid attack they run is inconsistent, but Kedon Slovis makes big plays when it matters. Their receiver core of Amon St Brown, Tyler Vaughns, Bru McCoy and Drake London is among one of the best in college football. Slovis had two turnovers in their comeback win vs UCLA and against a stout pass defense in Oregon, he cannot afford a multi turnover game. The offensive line has to protect Slovis and cannot have a repeat of last year. Defensively, USC is strong in the redzone and are in the top 35 in forced turnovers. USC needs to hone into Oregon’s run game and they need to stop the big play ability that this Oregon offense possess.
Final Predictions: USC 35 – 31 Oregon
Big 10: Ohio State vs NorthWestern
Northwestern has been of the bigger surprises in college football this year and they have a chance to make a huge statement against Ohio State.
Ohio State has been one of the better offenses in CFB this year. Justin Fields rarely turns the ball over and they can beat you through the air or the ground, 322 yards rushing against Michigan State. Ohio State can put up points quickly as well which doesn’t bode well for this Northwestern team which doesn’t put up a lot of points. Defensively, Ohio State has been great at rushing the passer but their pass defense is questionable. They have fallen victim to big plays a lot throughout the season, especially against Indiana. However, their defense forces turnovers with 9 in 5 games.
Northwestern needs to slow the game down and keep Justin Fields off the field for as long as possible. Northwestern isn’t built to outscore teams but rather their slow tempo offense and strong defense keeps them hanging in the game just long enough to where out of no where they take the lead right back. Northwestern has been great at third downs, which will be key in elongating drives and keeping Justin Fields off the field. Defensively, their pass defense has been lockdown. They have 12 interceptions this season and held the top ranked Big 12 passing offense to just 263 yards. Against one of the best duos in Chris Olave and Garret Wilson, a repeat performance from their Purdue game would increase their odds of winning drastically.
Final Predictions: Ohio State 38 – 20 Northwestern
Big 12: Oklahoma vs Iowa State
Last time these two teams met, Iowa State won a thriller 37-30. Now, they meet again with a Big 12 Title on the line.
Iowa State has been on fire ever since their week 1 loss to Louisiana Lafayette. Brock Purdy and Breece Hall have been one of the best quarterback running back duos this year. Breece Hall has been arguably one of the best running backs in CFB and last time he played Oklahoma he had 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. Oklahoma’s run defense has improved since the last time these two teams met so this game will come down to Purdy being able to make plays with his arm, which he has shown he can do. Defensively, they have to force turnovers off Spencer Rattler. As usual, Oklahoma dominates offensively, especially in the pass game. However, their run game has been great recently, so I may expect a more balanced approach to tomorrows game from Oklahoma.
Spencer Rattler has been playing some great football as of late throwing only 2 interceptions in the past 5 games. He has been more efficient with the football as well with a 70% completion percentage in their past 5 games. Their running game has come alive as well which makes the passing game easier for Rattler as well. However, the turning point for this team has been their defense. They are number one in the Big 12 in run defense, sacks and completion percentage. Against Breece Hall and Bryce Purdy who have been tearing up defenses this season, they will have a tough time against this much improved Oklahoma defense. As long as Rattler can keep the turnovers limited, it will be hard for Iowa State to repeat their performance from earlier in the year.
Final Predictions: Oklahoma 37 – Iowa State 27
ACC: Notre Dame vs Clemson
Notre Dame won a classic last time these two teams met, but with Trevor Lawrence returning, will Notre Dame be able to garner another impressive win?
Notre Dame defense and O-line has been the main reason for their success this season. Their offensive line rarely allows any sacks and defensively their run defense is as dominant as they come. They held Etienne to just 28 yards rushing and quarterback DJ Uialelei to 2 rushing yards on 13 attempts last time they met. With Lawrence back, this pass rush is going to have to be better than ever and force Lawrence into turnovers. Ian Book will have to make more plays than he did last time and they cannot rely as heavily as they did on Kyren Williams the first time these two teams met.
On the Clemson side of the football, you get Lawrence back which is a huge boost to this offense. Last time these two teams played, Clemson did a great job forcing third downs but Notre Dame converted on 10 of 19 third downs they faced. Also, Clemson fumbled three times last time they met which I highly doubt they do again, considering how good they are at protecting the football. We know how potent this offense can be, but they need to get Etienne going to keep Notre Dame on their heels.
Final Predictions: Clemson 38 – Notre Dame 30
SEC: Alabama vs Florida
Its Alabama in a SEC Conference Championship game with Mac Jones, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle going up against the 78th ranked pass defense, that has been even poorer as of late. Although Florida’s offense has been potent, they do not have the fire power to keep up with Alabama in a shootout.
Final Predictions: Alabama 42 – Florida 31