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College Football Conference Championship Games Preview

Ryan Mayer

Following a thrilling thirteen weeks of college football action, the playoff picture still hasn’t fully taken shape. Seemingly the only sure-fire playoff team is No. 1 Alabama who rolled (no pun intended) through the regular season to a perfect 12-0 record.

Aside from playoff spots on the line, there’s also New Year’s Six bowl spots up for grabs and an undefeated season on the line in the MAC. Not sure when each conference title game is being played? Want to plan your decorating the house for the holidays around being able to watch the games?

That’s what we’re here for.

Below you’ll find the full schedule of games for this weekend complete with time and what channel to watch on and a quick description of the matchup.

All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, December 2nd

MAC Championship: #21 Western Michigan (12-0) vs. Ohio (8-4)

PJ Fleck’s team is looking to finish up an undefeated regular season and also potentially clinch the Group of 5’s bid to the New Year’s Six bowl game. If the Broncos can finish 13-0 they’ll likely be playing on New Year’s Day. The Broncos are opening as 18.5-point favorites, but Ohio and Frank Solich could make this tough on the Broncos as they sport a Top 25 scoring defense, allowing just 21.7 points per game.

A good chance for fans that haven’t seen the Broncos play to get a good look at this team in primetime. For NFL fans, watch wide receiver Corey Davis. He’ll be playing on Sundays next fall.

Time: 7 P.M.

Where To Watch: ESPN2/WatchESPN app

Pac-12 Championship: #9 Colorado (10-2) vs. #5 Washington (11-1)

The Buffaloes completed one of the more remarkable turnaround stories of the college football season by winning the Pac-12 South division with their 27-22 win over Utah on Saturday. Mike MacIntyre’s group went 4-9 last year and the school hadn’t had a winning season since 2005.

Meanwhile, the Huskies have been the story of the country since the preseason when they were picked as a dark horse national title contender. Win this game against Colorado and Washington should get the chance to show what it’s made of in the playoff against the country’s best.

Time: 9 P.M.

Where To Watch: FOX/FOX Sports Go app

Saturday December 3rd

C-USA Championship: Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (9-3)

Louisiana Tech is making its second appearance in the title game in three years and this time they hope for a better result. They fell in the 2014 title game 26-23 to Marshall. The Bulldogs are looking for their first conference championship since they were a member of the now defunct WAC (Western Athletic Conference) in 2011.

For the Hilltoppers, they’re looking to repeat as champs after winning last year’s title game 45-28 over Southern Miss. These are two teams that love to air it out as both are in the Top 10 in the country in passing yards per game (La Tech 4th, WKU 8th) and that should provide for some big-time fireworks.

Time: 12 P.M.

Where To Watch: ESPN

American Athletic Conference Championship: Temple (9-3) vs. #25 Navy (9-2)

The Midshipmen make an appearance in the title game one year removed from recording the most wins in school history with 11 last year. They missed out on last year’s conference title game because of Houston’s magical run, but they got their revenge on the Cougs this year in Annapolis. Now, they look to win the program’s first ever conference title (played as an Independent until last season) against a Temple team that is making its second straight appearance in the conference’s championship game.

Temple is riding a six-game winning streak and brings a Top 10 scoring defense and Top 25 rush defense to the table against a Navy squad that is 11th in scoring (41.7) and owns the nation’s second-best rushing attack rolling up 342 yards per outing. Something’s got to give. For what it’s worth, Temple struggled mightily to stop Army’s similar triple option attack in their season-opening loss. The defense has grown a lot since then, but this game will measure exactly how much growth.

Time: 12 P.M.

Where To Watch: ABC

SEC Championship: #1 Alabama (12-0) vs. #15 Florida (8-3)

The defending national champs rolled (I know, I’m the worst) through the regular season undefeated at 12-0. They went the last month of the season without giving up a touchdown. It’s true, go ahead and look it up. The last touchdown they gave up came at the 12:54 mark of the 3rd quarter against Texas A&M on October 22nd. They last lost on September 19th of last year to Ole Miss and are 24-point favorites against a Florida squad that is severely depleted by injuries. Florida’s defense will make things tough early, but I’d expect the Tide to win easily.

Time: 4 P.M.

Where To Watch: CBS

Mountain West Championship: San Diego State (9-3) vs. Wyoming (8-4)

The Aztecs were picked as favorites in the Mountain West to begin the year and ended up winning the West Division to advance to the title game for the second straight year. The Cowboys, on the other hand, were picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference by most people this year. Too bad nobody told the Cowboys. Craig Bohl’s team put up an 8-4 record their best mark since 2011 when they went 8-5.

Oh, and making this game more fun? The Cowboys won the first match-up 34-33 just two weeks ago. They held Aztecs star running back Donnel Pumphrey to just 76 yards on 17 carries, his lowest output of the season to that point. You’ll need multiple TVs/devices in this late window but, thanks to streaming apps, you can still take in all these games at once. Or, just head to your favorite local watering hole.

Time: 7:45 P.M.

Where To Watch: ESPN/WatchESPN

Big Ten Championship: #6 Wisconsin (10-2) vs. #7 Penn State (10-2)

The Big Ten championship game that we all expected at the beginning of the season right? No? What, you mean you didn’t expect the Badgers with a constantly rotating QB situation and the Nittany Lions with a new quarterback to be in Indy?

All facetiousness aside, these two teams provide an interesting match-up. Wisconsin’s got one of the best defenses in the nation (13.7 PPG and 292 YPG) while Penn State brings in a Top 25 offense (36.6 PPG and 429.7 YPG). There’s no guarantee that either of these teams will make the playoff with a win so style points may come into play. Remember what Ohio State did in the first year of the playoff? Running up the score in the Big Ten title game seemed to get them into the playoff. If one of these teams can do the same, maybe they’ll get a similar result.

Time: 8 P.M.

Where To Watch: FOX

ACC Championship: #4 Clemson (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (9-3)

Clemson was basically destined to be here from the moment they beat Louisville on October 1st and Florida State on October 29th. They’ve led their side of the ACC all season and the one slip-up they had came on a last second field goal against Pitt. The same problems that have existed with this team all year long are still there. Watson has struggled with turnovers, the run game has been inconsistent with Wayne Gallman and completely ineffective without it and the defense is young and inexperienced/prone to giving up big plays. That all said, they are 11-1 and still one of the most talented teams in the country fully capable of challenging any team they would face in a playoff scenario.

However, in order to get to the playoff, they have to knock out a Virginia Tech team that people aren’t really talking much about. The Hokies have a Top 20 defense in terms of points allowed (21.1 per game) and a Top 20 defense against the pass allowing opponents just 186 yards per game through the air. That is where this is interesting. Clemson is a top five passing attack, but Watson has had issues with turning the ball over in key spots. Virginia Tech has 12 interceptions this season. Clemson should win this game as long as they keep the turnovers to a minimum. Also, making the Gallman/Watson rushing attack a priority would be a good idea as the Hokies give up nearly 150 yards per game on the ground.

Time: 8 P.M.

Where To Watch: ABC

Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.

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