Conference Championship Recap
The conference championships are in the books. There were some great games yesterday but also some blowouts. The playoff field is presumably set with Oklahoma supposedly claiming the last slot. Anyway, here’s what happened yesterday:
Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma 30, Baylor 23 (OT)
Another great game between these two just a few weeks after the first. After Oklahoma looked to be running away with it in the 1st quarter, Baylor took the lead into halftime. The Bears defense did a pretty good job for the most part against the Soooners, but the offense was clearly affected by the injury to QB Charlie Brewer. His backups played okay and hit a couple of long completions to keep them in the game but could not pull it out in overtime. Jacob Zeno took a big sack on second down the Baylor was never able to overcome. Jalen Hurst didn;t have a great game for Oklahoma, but his talented receivers and defense helped the team hold onto this one. Oklahoma heads to the College Football Playoff as the final team and will play LSU.
Sun Belt Championship: Appalachian State 45, Louisiana 38
The score here would say that this game was close, but it was never as competitive as the final score would indicate. Appalachian State jumped out to a 21 point lead early, and they kept that margin for a majority of the ball game. Louisiana scored 2 touchdowns in the final 5 minutes to cut down that deficit and make the score respectable. App State finishes another stellar FCS season at 12-1.
MAC Championship: Miami (OH) 26, Central Michigan 21
The Chippewa’s Cinderella run came up short, as did their last second Hail Mary attempt. Miami controlled this game but never pulled too far ahead. They held Central’s running game in check and forced Quinten Dormady to beat them in the passing game. The Redhawks got the stops they needed to hold off a late charge and produced enough offense to win the conference crown.
Conference USA Championship: Florida Atlantic 49, UAB 6
This one was never close, so I don’t have much to say about it. The Owls once again dominated a conference opponent. Lane Kiffin leaves for Ole Miss as a conference champion.
American Athletic Conference Championship: #17 Memphis 29, #20 Cincinnati 24
This was an entertaining game that went back and forth all day. The return of QB Desmond Ridder clearly helped Cincinnati, but it wasn;t enough. Ridder had 233 yard through the air and an additional 113 on the ground with a touchdown. RB Mike Warren added 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. Penalties cost the Bearcats in this one, and, when the defense needed a stop, they didn’t get it. They caused a fumble on the winning drive, but it was recovered by a Memphis offensive lineman. The Tigers offense got big days from Damonte Coxie and Antonio Gibson. Coxie had 165 receiving yards on the day, while Gibson had 130 rushing with a touchdown and another game-winning receving score. The Memphis defense came up with a stop on 4th & 15 in the final minute to seal the deal. Memphis will play Penn State in the Cotton Bowl.
SEC Championship: #2 LSU 37, #4 Georgia 10
The stellar Georgia defense was no match for a potent LSU offense. After a decently close first half, LSU used a 17-point 3rd quarter to pull away. The Georgia offense struggled most of the day, allowing LSU great field position and plenty of opportunities.
Mountain West Championship: #19 Boise State 31, Hawaii 10
I didn’t really get to see this one because of the other games that were happening at the same time, but I was paying attention to the score updates. It wasn’t the high-scoring affair I expected. After a tight first quarter, Boise ran away with this one to finish the season at 12-1.
ACC Championship: #3 Clemson 62, #23 Virginia 17
This one was over in a hurry. Virginia took the ball deep into Clemson territory on the first drive of the game, and Bryce Oerkins threw a red-zone interception. After Clemson turned that into a touchdown, the Cavaliers tied the game up, but it was all Tigers from there. Heck, they destroyed the line that was set at 28.5 for this game. It’s a 5th straight conference title for Dabo Swinney’s crew and another playoff appearance.
Big Ten Championship: #1 Ohio State 34, #8 Wisconsin 21
Wisconsin came out and punched Ohio State in the mouth early. They scored on their first possession, and before you knew it, they had a 14-0 lead. QB Jack Coan was playing great and WR Quintez Cephus caused problems for the Buckeye secondary. Momentum seemed to shift slightly after Ohio State converted on a fake punt in the 2nd quarter. They would fumble the ball back, but stopped the Badgers and went onto score. However, the Badgers would weather that storm with a touchdown just before the half to take a 21-7 lead. The second half was much different. The Buckeyes went right down and scored on the first possession of the half and would roll from there. The OSU defense started to play better, and Wisconsin made some mistakes. By the end, the Buckeyes had scored 27 points unanswered and cemented their spot in the playoff.