Florida vs. Alabama (SEC Championship)
Why Florida will win: The Gators roll into Atlanta following a loss to Florida State last week. The main issue with the SEC East Champions all season has been offense. The Gators offense has been anemic most of the season, especially against good defenses. The strength of the Gators offense is centered around running back Jordan Scarlett. Scarlett has rushed for 778 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is going to have issues against the Alabama defense that is the best in the nation at stopping the run. The key for Florida, if they want any shot at the upset, is going to be centered around Austin Appleby. He is going to have to have a productive day through the air to open up the run game for Scarlett.
Why Alabama will win: The Crimson Tide proved, yet again, last week that they are far away the best team in the SEC. They will obviously be able to set this into stone with a win over the Gators on Saturday. The Tide are led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has exceeded all major expectations, by passing for 2454 yards, 21 touchdowns and adding 840 yards on the ground. One of the major weaknesses for the Gators all season has been slowing down dual threat quarterbacks. In fact, 2 of their 3 losses, featured quarterbacks who ran for at least 80 yards. Defensively, enough cannot be said on how good Alabama is. They have shut down good offense after good offense all year. This week they will be going up against an average offense and you can expect the Tide to show this.
Gorm’s Guess: Alabama 31 Florida 9: Florida’s offense will not have any success against the Alabama defense. The only “strength” of the Gators offense is rushing the ball and Alabama is far and away the best in the nation at stopping the run.
Temple at Navy (AAC Championship)
Why Temple will win: The Owls have one of the more well balanced offenses in the nation. Quarterback Phillip Walker has passed for 2700 yards and 18 touchdowns to lead the Owls through the air. When on the ground, the Owls boast the two-headed tandem of Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Amsted. The two have combined for 1698 yards and 25 touchdowns. Defensively, the Owls have by far the best defense in the AAC. They only average giving up 273.4 yards/game. If there is a defense that can force Navy to pass, it is the Owls.
Why Navy will win: The Midshipmen bring the Triple-Option attack offense into this game. This attack is led by quarterback Will Worth who has rushed for 1181 yards and 25 touchdowns. Worth is able to pitch the ball to a multitude of different backs with the most likely being Chris High. An impressive stat to note is that Navy averages 6.0 yards/rush. That ranks 7th in the nation. When Navy isn’t rushing, Worth has the capability to pass the ball as he has thrown for 1363 yards this season.
Gorm’s Guess: Temple 31 Navy 30: I think the Owls are more balanced on offense and that will prove to be the difference in their win.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (“Big 12 Championship”)
Why Oklahoma State will win: Following a 2-2 start to the season, the Cowboys have ripped off 7 straight wins to enter Norman red hot. Quarterback Mason Rudolph ranks 8th in the nation with 3591 passing yards and has also thrown for 25 touchdowns. His favorite target through the air in James Washington who has 1159 yards and 9 touchdowns. On the ground, Justice Hill has rushed for nearly 1000 yards and 5 touchdowns. Oklahoma State has had success this season in defending against the pass, which is going to be the key to slowing down the high octane Oklahoma offense.
Why Oklahoma will win: Like Oklahoma State, the Sooners started the season 2-2 and have won 8 straight. Baker Mayfield has emerged as a possible challenger to Lamar Jackson for the Heisman trophy and could play his way into the lead on Saturday. It is hard to argue that Mayfield does not deserve to at least be in consideration. He has passed for 3381 yards and 35 touchdowns to lead the Sooners. The Sooners have another Heisman contender in DeDe Westbrook. Westbrook has caught passes for 1354 yards and 15 touchdowns. Out of the backfield, Joe Mixon has accounted for 1514 all-purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns.
Gorm’s Guess: Oklahoma 45 Oklahoma State 38: Expect a lot of scoring in this game. If this was played in Stillwater, I think I would lean to picking the Cowboys, but Bob Stoops and company will not lose another home game this year.
Note: Although, this game is not a designated championship game, the winner of the game will win the Big 12.
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Championship)
Why Clemson will win: Clemson has three of the best players in the nation at their respective positions on offense. Deshaun Watson enters with 3626 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, 444 rushing yards, and 4 rushing touchdowns. Watson has a mutlitude of weapons led by Wayne Gallman and Mike Williams. Gallman has rushed for nearly 1000 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mike Williams is a projected top-15 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft (I’m looking at you Cincinnati) as he has 1114 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. This offense will test a Virginia Tech defense that has struggled at points, especially against the run.
Why Virginia Tech will win: Justin Fuente has done a miraculous job in his first season in Blacksburg. Quarterback Jerod Evans has taken a massive step forward and has put together a solid year. Evans has passed for 3045 yards, 26 touchdowns, and rushed for 713 more yards. As Lamar Jackson showed, the Tigers can struggle against a dual threat quarterback. This game will ride on Evans’ shoulders. If he has a great game, there is no doubt that Virginia Tech can spoil Clemson’s CFP hopes.
Gorm’s Guess: Clemson 34 Virginia Tech 24: The Clemson offense is going to prove to be too much for the Hokies. This is a must win game for the Tigers if they want any shot at keeping their CFP hopes alive.
Wisconsin vs. Penn State (Big 10 Championship)
Why Wisconsin will win: Defense. Defense. Defense. Did I mention defense? The Badgers are proving the saying, “Defense wins championships,” to be fact. The Badgers rank 3rd in the nation by allowing 100 rushing yards/game and rank 7th overall. The Badgers are going to find a way to shut down a Penn State team that does have weapons on offense. Offensively, for the Badgers, Corey Clement leads the way with 1140 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He is far and away their best player on offense and will be the key to the Badgers victory.
Why Penn State will win: You gotta give it up to James Franklin. The guy can flat out coach. He has made the most out of really rough situation in Happy Valley. He leads his team into Indianapolis with an extremely well balanced team. Trace McSorley has passed for 2976 yards and 21 touchdowns and Saquon Barkley has rushed for 1219 yards and 15 touchdowns. The key for Penn State is going to be the play of McSorley. He is going to have to make plays through the air to try and open up the run game against one of the nations best run defenses not named Alabama.
Gorm’s Guess: Wisconsin 14 Penn State 13: This will be a defensive battle. The play of Corey Clement will be the difference maker.
Louisiana Tech at WKU (C-USA Championship)
Why Louisiana Tech will win: Ryan Higgins leads the Bulldogs into Bowling Green for a rematch of Week Six that saw the Bulldogs defeats the Tops 55-52 in Ruston. Higgins has passed for 3706 yards and 34 touchdowns, while also rushing for 317 yards. He has a killer set of receivers in Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson. Henderson led the way in Week Six as he caught passed for 232 yards and 3 scores. The Hilltoppers have struggled stopping the pass all season, but have made massive improvements since their last meeting. With that being said, you can expect Ryan Higgins to have another big game for LA Tech.
Why WKU will win: The Tops host the C-USA Championship for the 2nd straight season. Last year they defeated Southern Miss to win the championship in only their second season as a member of the conference. By hosting this year, they have become the first team to host the game back-to-back years. WKU is led by Junior quarterback Mike White. White has passed for 3606 yards and 31 touchdowns while only throwing 5 interceptions. Like Higgins, White has two wide receivers who are really good. Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris have combined for nearly 2500 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns. In their week six matchup, the two combined for 5 touchdowns. If the Tops want a chance at the victory, they will need to slow down Ryan Higgins and force him into difficult throws. WKU ranks 8th in the nation at stopping the run, so they will need to force Higgins to hand the ball off.
Gorm’s Guess: WKU 45 Louisiana Tech 31: WKU has been in this moment before and are looking to avenge their early season loss. I think that the balanced attack on offense for the Hilltoppers will prove to be beneficial in a second straight championship for the Tops.