Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen. Championship week is upon us. And these are the top two conference championship games that matter. It’s crazy to think how important the conference champion crown has become since the committee has implemented a playoff system into the college football world. It used to be important to win your conference so you could have a strong bid at a New Year’s six bowl. Now it’s even more important to win it so that you have a shot at one of the four playoff spots. After playing a grueling power-five conference schedule throughout the year, your favorite program now has to finish their season with a matchup against an elite team and come out victorious just to have a shot at the playoffs. Think of how the Georgia Bulldogs fan base is feeling right now? With Michigan losing at Ohio State, Georgia has benefited from the loss and cracked the top-4. Only to stare down a matchup against the best college football team in recent memory in the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide. As if the Dawgs haven’t already played a tremendously tough schedule, now they have to conquer the best team in football just for a chance at the playoffs. They win this weekend, and they’re in. But lose, then their destiny will be decided by Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. Talk about a hell of an end of the season schedule. That’s what the playoff system has done. It has created a real grit and grind to the end of the college football season, and us as fans, love it. No one will easily become the Kings of College Football. Every team must earn the trophy, and that grind to being crowned champs starts this weekend. Lose and your season is over. May the best teams win. Enjoy the ride.
#14 Texas vs #5 Oklahoma – 12:00pm ET
Line – Oklahoma -8
A revenge game for a chance at the playoffs? Wow, you don’t see these often. Oklahoma is 11-1 on the year with their lone loss coming from the Red River rivalry where the Sooners watched Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns march downfield to drill the game-winning field goal, securing a 48-45 score victory over the Sooners. Oklahoma has won four consecutive football games while surrendering 40-plus points to their opponents, the most such games in the history of the sport. With the Georgia Bulldogs ranked one spot ahead of the Sooners for the fourth and final playoff spot, Oklahoma is sitting in a perfect position. The Dawgs have to play undefeated Alabama and are heavy underdogs. If the Sooners win Saturday, they’re likely to be in come Sunday. However, conquering Texas will be no small task. Even though Texas has zero shot at a playoff berth, the bad blood in this rivalry will be more than enough to motivate the Longhorns players and coaching staff to bring their A-game in hopes of spoiling the Sooners chances of competing for the National Championship. If you’re Texas, duplicating the results of the first matchup are easier said than done. Even in a win, the Longhorns were hardly in control. The Longhorns had no answer for Kyler Murray and the Sooners offense, giving up 9.17 yards per play. The most the Longhorns gave up all season. If it weren’t for the two Kyler Murray turnovers in scoring position which led to ten Texas points, the Sooners would likely be undefeated. Sooner quarterback Kyler Murray leads the nation’s most explosive offense, a power-five team that averages a stunning 50.3 points per game. They’ve scored at least 48-points in all six games they’ve played since losing to Texas. Murray is the lone legitimate challenger to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa for the Heisman Trophy. Murray averages 12 yards per pass attempt, first in the FBS. He is also the nation’s deadliest rushing quarterback. Combine the skills of Murray with the most talented receiving duo in the country in CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown (cousin of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown) and your defense has a full plate. The Texas Longhorns are averaging 31.5 points per game on the season, good for 46th nationally. And they’ve scored only 48 points combined in their last two games versus Iowa State and Kansas. While the Sooners have a terrible defense, we don’t expect them to make the same mistakes that they did in the first matchup between these two teams. Not with a playoff berth on the line. Texas may keep it interesting early, but Murray and the Sooners will be too much to handle offensively. With a playoff berth on the line, the nations most electrifying quarterback, and college football’s best play-caller in Head Coach Lincoln Riley, we expect the Sooners to win big. Not to mention score at will.
Prediction: Longhorns 35-63 Sooners
#1 Alabama vs #4 Georgia – 4:00pm ET
Line – Alabama -13.5
Three-hundred and twenty-seven days after Tua Tagovailoa’s overtime heave crowned the Alabama Crimson Tide National Champions over the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the two iconic programs will run it back in the same stadium. However, the stakes are lower this time around, but just barely. Instead of competing for a national title, they’re competing for the SEC Title and a chance at the college football playoffs. Many experts believe win or lose this game, and Alabama is in. The Crimson Tide are currently undefeated at 12-0, and many believe if they suffer their first defeat to #4 ranked Georgia that their resume would still be better than 1-loss Oklahoma or 1-loss Ohio State. Georgia, on the other hand, has to win this game for any hopes of a playoff berth. If the Dawgs accumulate their second loss of the season, they’re destined for a New Year’s Six bowl game instead of a playoff berth. If you’re Oklahoma or Ohio State, you’re pulling for Bama in this one. The pinnacle of the Georgia Bulldogs offense last season was its two-headed monster in the rushing attack. Running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb pummeled opponents, and wore down defense after defense, gaining 258 yards per game on the ground between the two. With both of Chubb and Michel now playing on Sundays, the Bulldogs have had to re-acclimate their running back depth chart. This season they’ve barely lost a step in the ground game as they’ve turned to a new two-headed attack in the likes of Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift, who’ve averaged a combined 233 yards per game rushing of their own. Georgia’s offense is tricky to defend because there isn’t one particular thing for defenses to hone in on as their pro-style offense can beat you in multiple different ways. On the other side of the ball, this Alabama Crimson Tide team looks completely different than ever before during the Saban Era. Typically Saban has dominated the college football world on the defensive side and had a quarterback of his own who can manage the game well enough to secure the win and not have any costly turnovers. This year with Tagovailoa running the show at quarterback, the Tide have the nation’s second highest scoring offense at 49 points per game and second highest total offense with 538 yards per game. Trailing only the Oklahoma Sooners in both categories. Tagovailoa has 36 passing touchdowns to just two interceptions on the year. The Sophomore simply does not make mistakes. For Georgia to have a shot in this game, they must run the ball effectively and eat up as much time as possible on every possession they have. The longer they can keep Tua and the Crimson Tide offense on the sidelines, the more of a chance they give themselves. We give the Dawgs a decent shot at covering the spread, but no chance they win this game. Tread lightly on your bets here, notice we said decent shot at a Georgia cover, but no confidence behind that. How can anyone have confidence betting against Bama at this point?
Prediction: Georgia 24-38 Alabama