Welcome one and all to the final installment of How To Football.
The regular season has passed us by and we sit at the preface of championship season. From here on out it’s all killer, no filler. Every game from here on out will have weight to them, and substantial weight at that.
To the football!
Friday Night Flights Shift
- Oregon-Utah: From historic Santa Clara, California, the PAC-12 ironically kicks off the weekend of college football instead of drawing it to a close. Since the Ducks lost to Arizona State 31-28, the shifting narrative is that this is the Utes’ game to lose and I don’t quite think that is the case. Oregon lost, but it took an uncharacteristically bad performance from Justin Herbert to lose that game, and they still only lost by three. Yes Utah has a better defense than the Sun Devils, but I don’t think Herbert has anywhere near as bad of a game as he did two weeks ago.
The Biggest And Nudest Saturday Shift
- Baylor-Oklahoma: The Big 12 Championship takes over the nooner in a plot twist equivalent to the PAC-12 opening the weekend. The last time the two teams met, the Sooners needed a furious rally come back and top the Bears, scoring 24 in the second half in a 34-31 win. I see no reason why Baylor can’t be as good on defense as they were in the first half, but at the same time I have no reason to doubt the Oklahoma offense. This should be a great game that I am genuinely excited for, especially if Oregon wins Friday night and makes this a playoff play-in game.
- ULL-App State: My beloved Mountaineers are hosting the #FunBelt Championship at Kidd Brewer Stadium against the School Formally Known As ULL. The last time the two teams met it was on a short week, playing on a Wednesday night in Lafayette. App won a defensive battle that night, clearing the Cajuns 17-7. This game will probably feature better offenses given how it’s later in the season and both teams had a full week to scout and prepare, so I’m excited to see how it shakes out. There is a notable aspect of this game we’ll get to later.
- Central Michigan-Miami: I dropped the parenthetic state denotation because the Hurricanes aren’t going to be playing on championship weekend for the forseeable future. The 8-4 Chippewas and the 7-5 Redhawks meet in Detroit for the conclusion to this season’s #MACtion. This is the first game of the weekend where the two teams have yet to play each other. CMU is favored by 7 points, a lot of which I think has to do with Miami’s 41-27 loss to Ball State to close out the season.
- Northern Iowa-South Dakota State: Last weekend the FCS playoffs kicked off with what’s essentially their wild card round, because the FCS playoffs are good and correct by having more than four teams. The Panthers of UNI advanced with a 17-3 win over San Diego, and will travel to play #7 South Dakota State, who were on a bye last week. This is a rematch of a prior Missouri Valley conference game, which the Jackrabbits won 38-7.
- Monmouth-James Madison: The #2 Dukes of James Madison welcome Monmouth after the Hawks beat Holy Cross 44-27. Warning: don’t brush this game off because you recognize JMU more than you do Monmouth, the Hawks can score some points without mercy.
Louisiana Takeover Shift
- Georgia-LSU: I usually don’t try to pitch LSU games because this is an LSU blog, but if the LSU defense we saw last week takes the field this week against Georgia’s borderline inept offense, this game could be over by halftime. Not to say LSU is going to dump half a hundred on the Dawgs, but an LSU defense that held Texas A&M to a six-percent passing efficient on expected passing downs can shut down a Georgia offense. That’s a small sample size of exactly one game, but it’s very encouraging.
- Cincinnati-Memphis: One of the rare times you’ll see two teams play each other in back to back weeks. Last week Memphis defeated the Bearcats 34-24 and this Saturday they’ll do it again in the same stadium for the AAC crown. I honestly see no reason why it would be different, and that’s not really a bad thing.
- Hawaii-Boise State: Earlier in the season the Broncos defeated the Warriors in Boise 59-37. This time around it’s for the Mountain West title and I honestly don’t think it will deviate from that formula.
- Southern-Alcorn State: Now we’re on to the good stuff. Thanks (in part) to the Jaguars 30-28 win in the Bayou Classic last weekend, there are four teams along the I-10/12 corridor competing for a title this weekend: ULL, LSU, Southern, and Southeastern (see below). The latter three will be playing at the same damn time. As for the actual game, Alcorn got the better of the Jags the first time around, but since then SUBR has been playing lights out football.
- Southeastern-Montana: Following their thrilling 45-44 upset over Villanova last week, the Lions fly to the great north to draw #3 Montana. Last week was an upset, but this would be an all-time, caps lock UPSET if the brave, proud Lions from Hammond, American can pull this off.
Do The Hustle Shift
- Ohio State-Wisconsin: The first time around, Ohio State beat Wisconsin 38-7 and I don’t really see how/why that would change here.
- Clemson-Virginia: ...Yeah, so the night shift of this particular conference championship weekend is going to be pretty boring in all likelihood.
- Austin Peay-Sacramento State: The only FCS playoff game should be a good one, as the Governors (yes, Governors) play the #4 Hornets. The Govs advanced to the second round by pounding Furman 42-6. AP won the Ohio Valley Conference for the first time since 1977 when BOOTS DONNELLY was the head man there. Prior to that they had only one conference championship when they played in the Volunteer State Athletic Conference. Time for me to bring everything full circle by telling you that the head coach at Austin Peay who brought the program to new heights is non other than former ULL head coach Mark Hudspeth