Simply put, this is what we do best. As evidenced by our "Most Accurate BCS Predictions" title, we take pride in our season previews and weekly game picks. As we have done each week since we launched the site, the two of us will analyze, preview, and predict the results of the best SIX games each week.
New this season: if your team's game didn't make the cut here, our conference experts have you covered. Find the links (on the RIGHT) for further analysis for every conference game not shown on this page, along with Heisman discussion and our weekly Deion Sanders Award for the Best Pick Six of the Week.
Enjoy your Football Weekend!
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP - ARIZONA VS. OREGON
The Pac-12 made significant strides this season, and earned enough respect to enter the “toughest conference” debate with the SEC and Big12. Not only does the league have strength at the top, it is extremely deep with half the league ranked in the final regular season Top 25. Oregon owned the North Division and reclaimed the title from Stanford. Meanwhile, Arizona survived a wild South Division race that has 5 of 6 teams ranked and all were still alive just a few weeks back. Friday night’s title game has serious Playoff implications, as the Ducks are securely at #2 while Arizona is threatening to crash the party at #7. Of course, this is a rematch of the early October matchup that saw 24-point underdog Arizona knock off Oregon in front of Autzen Stadium’s 100th consecutive sellout. That game was characterized by offensive efficiency, and timely plays in the 4th quarter. Scooby Wright stripped Mariota in the final minutes (and recovered the fumble) to allow UA to seal the win. Arizona is going for its 4th upset of a top-5 Oregon team since 2007 – and 3rd straight!
Helfrich will certainly have his Ducks fully focused for this rematch – this one has a Playoff bid, a conference title, and potentially the school’s first Heisman Trophy on the line. Marcus Mariota has been nearly perfect this season, save for the two fumbles against Arizona and the 2 interceptions this season. His 36-2 TD to INT ratio is by far the nation’s best, and he is one more dazzling performance away from sealing the stiff-arm trophy. As noted above, Scooby Wright won Round 1, the All-American candidate leads a gritty defense that keeps them in most games. But will freshman QB Anu Solomon be able to keep pace with Mariota? He has passed for 27 TDs (7 INT) himself, but I find it hard to predict someone to match Mariota TWICE in one season. Look for the Ducks to play with revenge and will themselves to a playoff bid. They will likely play in the Rose Bowl for their semifinal game.
OREGON 34 ARIZONA 24
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP - MISSOURI VS. ALABAMA
Missouri enters this game as severe underdogs. And that they probably should. Missouri has only played one ranked team this year and lost 34-0, which came against Georgia on October 11th. Most notably, Missouri’s appearance in the SEC Championship has been a bit of an embarrassment to the proud conference as Big Ten fans clamor to have the real SEC East champion in their league. Not Ohio State. Not Michigan State. Indiana. The Hoosiers defeated the Tigers early in the season to give them one of four wins on the season. However, Alabama appears to be the best team in the nation so at least there are playoff implications in this one. Nick Saban’s decision to hire Lane Kiffin was genius. It was a move some people questioned, but I stopped questioning Nick Saban a long time ago—of course it was going to be genius. Saban realized where his talent lied this season—the skill positions—and knew Kiffin was the perfect man for the job. The Tide’s 55 points last week was the second highest total posted by an Alabama team since 2010. The highest total also came this year under Kiffin, when Bama systematically murdered Texas A&M 59-0. Alabama looks to be clicking at the right time on offense and its defense should handle this Missouri attack well. The Tigers are led by a balanced attack that has been inconsistent both through the air and on the ground. Alabama is a downhill defense featuring big, strong players that should limit the rushing attack similar to the way Georgia and Florida did. Maty Mauk will need to hit a few big plays through the air to give the Tigers a chance. The defense has certainly carried this Mizzou team led by two future NFL edge rushers Markus Golden and Shane Ray. If the Tigers can slow down the Bama rushing attack—and I expect them to have a decent amount of success in doing so—these two players may be the fiercest opponents Amari Cooper has faced this season. Cooper has proven he can beat any defensive back this season so getting to Blake Sims will be the only option. I do believe that Missouri can keep this game competitive if the defense shows up. If the game is competitive, then of course Missouri has a chance to win. However, the overwhelming odds are that the Tide rolls, and I agree with that sentiment.
ALABAMA 33 MISSOURI 10
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP - FLORIDA STATE VS. GEORGIA TECH
This may be the most intriguing game of the weekend. We’ve seen Oregon play Arizona already and the Big Ten Championship game has lost a lot of luster now that JT Barrett has gone down with an injury. Plus, Jameis Winston has been the face of College Football since Johnny Manziel left and Florida State has been the most talked-about team. With Georgia Tech’s impressive victories over Clemson and Georgia in its last two games, the Yellow Jackets are one of the hottest teams in the nation after starting the season off slow under a first year starter at QB and a shaky defense. As unlikely as it seems, Georgia Tech even has a slim, but somewhat realistic shot at making the Playoff. If Alabama, Oregon, and TCU all win that leaves one spot. If Georgia Tech defeats FSU, Oregon defeats Arizona, Wisconsin defeats Ohio State, and Kansas State defeats Baylor, the 4th team would probably be Georgia Tech or Kansas State. The way Kansas State and Georgia Tech won would probably be a big factor in selecting which team goes, along with the committee’s attitude towards putting in two Big XII teams, the two “one true champions.” Certainly, it may be a bit of a long shot, but the point remains especially considering Florida State’s on-the-fringe ranking at 4: this game has serious national implications. When was the last time we could say that about the ACC Championship Game? Last year was the first time a true National Championship was on the line, but if Duke won we would have probably forgotten all about the USA Hockey team’s 1980 gold medal. It was only interesting if you bet on the spread. Last week, Georgia Tech’s rushing attack was physically dominating Georgia’s defensive front. A lot of this will depend on how disciplined FSU is on defense and which way DC Charles Kelly decides to line up. It seems every once in a while the Yellow Jackets run into a coordinator who has absolutely no idea what he is doing, like Mickey Andrews when Paul Johnson first arrived in Atlanta. However, Kelly’s prior experience with Paul Johnson should probably eliminate this from happening. With the way the Citadel moved the ball on FSU, I expect Georgia Tech to score a good amount. However, even as Georgia Tech’s defense has improved, I expect FSU to be able to score at least “a good amount.” The GT pass rush is entirely dependent on the blitz and Florida State’s offensive line has overcome some early season struggles and is now a very formidable group. Winston is the best QB the Jackets have faced this year by a wide margin. The second-half of the Louisville game version of Winston will absolutely shred this defense—along with most defenses. The Florida game version of Winston will probably throw another 4 interceptions because this is a very opportunistic defense. Overall, I think there is a decent probability that Florida State rolls to its largest margin of victory this season. Will the fact that they were dropped another spot in the rankings ignite a fire? However, there is less room for error on Georgia Tech’s offense than Florida State’s and GT certainly has a whole lot of momentum heading into this game. Will the fact that no GT players named first-team All-ACC ignite a fire on their end? I’m picking the Yellow Jackets to end Florida State’s win streak right where it started…two years ago in the ACC Championship against GT.
GEORGIA TECH 37 FLORIDA STATE 35
KANSAS STATE AT BAYLOR
Baylor or TCU? TCU or Baylor? As this debate rages on, I find it ridiculous that a debate even exists at all. Both teams have identical 10-1 records, but on the field Baylor beat TCU. That should be the end of the discussion, and TCU should be praying for a Baylor loss to even have a shot at the Playoff. That was the whole point, right? The Playoff Committee told us they would value “win-loss, head-to-head, and conference championships,” but by placing TCU at #3, undefeated Florida State down at #4, and Baylor at #6, the Committee has completely contradicted itself. Unless they resolve this issue, it looks like my anti-playoff sentiments are coming true right before our eyes. Many quickly assumed that a Playoff would eliminate all of the controversy and debate that the BCS caused; I predicted it would cause even more, and here we are with this “debate” still looming.
Needless to say, this is all moot unless Baylor can take care of business and fend off a very stout Kansas State team in primetime. Bill Snyder did it again; he took a team of overlooked recruits and JUCO transfers and pumped out another Big 12 contender and top 15 team. Jake Waters has been efficient – both in the air and on the ground – and his receiving duo (Lockett and Sexton) has evolved into one of the nation’s finest. But will they be able to keep pace with the highest scoring offense in America? Art Briles has the Baylor offense averaging 50 points per game! QB Bryce Petty is recovering from a concussion but is expected to start. If Kansas State has the best duo of receivers, Baylor has the best stable: Coleman, Cannon, Goodley, Lee – and a thousand yard rusher in the backfield in Shock Linwood. With College Gameday in town, and a potential playoff bid on the line, I expect Baylor to come out on fire and to never let their focus slip or their foot off the gas peddle.
BAYLOR 48 KANSAS STATE 37
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP - WISCONSIN VS. OHIO STATE
With a playoff spot and a Heisman Trophy potentially on the line, this championship game has it all. The Buckeyes were in a similar situation here last December, as they were a win away from a National Championship appearance but were upset by Michigan State. Urban Meyer has been able to overcome the loss of Braxton Miller while turning freshman JT Barrett into an unstoppable force. Ohio State completed its 3rd straight 8-0 Big Ten regular season after bouncing back from an early season upset to Virginia Tech while Barrett was still a green Freshman. Because of that loss and the Playoff Committee’s recent logic, it appears that Ohio State needs some help to receive a playoff bid. Even more, Meyer is replacing his second Heisman contender QB this week with the broken ankle of Barrett. Cardale Jones has his hands full against the #4 scoring defense in the nation, a unit that has gotten stronger as the season has progressed. Meyer and Jones will rely heavily on their offensive weapons at receiver and running back. Look for Jalin Marshall to get even more touches and add another gear to the Buckeye attack. Even with Jones under center, this will be the toughest and most dynamic offense Wisconsin has faced this season.
Not to be overlooked, the Wisconsin offense is led by Heisman hopeful Melvin Gordon who has already broken the Big Ten season rushing record (4th all-time NCAA) with his 2260 yards. I was in Camp Randall for the Wisconsin-Nebraska game and got to witness Gordon break Tomlinson’s single-game rushing record (408 yards) in just 3 quarters of play. For a record that had stood for 15 years, I assumed I’d witnessed some big-time history – but Samaje Perine shattered the record 7 days later. Regardless, Gordon deserves all of the Heisman hype and has my vote of confidence with just one game left. Often described as Running Back U, I think a more fitting name would be O-Line U, as this unit is absolutely massive year in and year out. They face off against one of the better defensive lines in the nation, led by Joey Bosa at End. The liability of Stave at quarterback will be limiting to Wisconsin, should Ohio State slow down Gordon at all. With a more dynamic set of playmakers on both sides of the ball, better coaching, and a revenge attitude after last season’s title loss, look for Ohio State to hoist the silver football. In August I predicted this would be the title matchup – while I didn’t expect the team’s journeys to Indianapolis to be this wild, I am sticking with my original pick of Ohio State as league champs and a playoff bid.
OHIO STATE 24 WISCONSIN 20
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