Updated:Dec 4, 2022 1:41 pm
After 13 weeks of action, we are nearly at the end. Championship week is upon us. The College Football Playoff committee will soon announce who will make the playoffs and bowls games. But first, we’ve got conferences to settle. So, who won, who lost, and what does it all mean in relation to the playoffs?
SEC Championship: #14 LSU vs #1 Georgia
The number 1 ranked, and unbeaten Georgia Bulldogs have had a very good season. However, historically the Bulldogs have underperformed in SEC Championship games, winning 3 of the 10 they have played in. This is because they would normally face Alabama in this game. But, with Alabama struggling this year, the Bulldogs will face the number 14-ranked LSU Tigers, who have only lost one of the 6 SEC Championships they have played in. That was in 2005, against the Georgia Bulldogs. What would happen here?
The first score of the match came in a truly bizarre way. A long drive from the Tigers stalled at the Bulldogs’ 14-yard line, resulting in a field goal attempt. This field goal was blocked and returned by the Bulldogs for a 96-yard touchdown. 3 plays later, LSU would find the momentum again, but this time the team would find the endzone. A 53-yard touchdown pass from Tiger’s quarterback Jayden Daniels to Keyshon Boutte tied things up again.
This tie lasted around 3 minutes. On their next drive, the Bulldogs quickly moved the ball down the field. This ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett to Brock Bowers, to give the lead back to Georgia.Embed from Getty Images
Then, another bizarre thing happened. On the opening play of the 2nd quarter, a pass from Jayden Daniels was looking like it would be incomplete. This would have happened, but the ball bounded off one of the receiver’s helmet and went straight into the arms of the Bulldogs. From this, it took one play for the Bulldogs to widen their lead.
LSU would continue to struggle for the rest of the drives in the first quarter, punting in all of them. On the other hand, the Bulldogs would score 2 more touchdowns before halftime, to give them a 35-10 lead, and one hand on the SEC Championship.
The second half began in the worst possible way for Georgia. Stetson Bennett fumbled the ball on the 35-yard line. This ball was then scooped up by the LSU defense, giving them possession. However, something was different about this LSU offense. Jayden Daniels had injured his ankle at the end of the 2nd quarter, so Garrett Nussmeier entered the game. Could he make a good impact?
He could. On his opening drive, he threw a 34-yard touchdown to Malik Nabers. He would be turned over on downs at the Georgia 5-yard line on his net drive. This is an improvement from what they were like in the first half, but would it be enough to bring the Tigers back into the game?
No. On the Bulldogs’ next drive, Kenny McIntosh would score a 2-yard rushing touchdown. LSU would respond with a touchdown of their own, a 1 yard run from Noah Cain. But the Bulldogs would strike back again on their next drive. An 8-yard Kenny McIntosh touchdown, followed by a 2-point conversion gave the Bulldogs 50 points on the scoreboard.
Nussmeiers’ luck would run out soon after, as he would be intercepted by the Bulldogs, who luckily could not do anything with it. Nussmeier would throw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jaray Jenkins, but ti would not mean anything in terms of who would win the game, as the Bulldogs held on to record a 50-30 victory and win the SEC Championship.
This is the Bulldogs’ 4th SEC Championship. This game also cements their position as the number-one ranked team for the College Football Playoffs. I would consider this season a failure if the Bulldogs do not win the national championship.
Big Ten Championship: Purdue vs #2 Michigan
For some reason, the Big Ten put their two biggest teams (Ohio State and Michigan) in the same division. While this does mean that they will play each other every year, it means that the Big Ten Championship game is a bit anticlimactic. This year, the number 2 ranked and unbeaten Michigan Wolverines (who beat Ohio State last week, in a game that many people called the Big Ten championship game) faced unranked Purdue for the title. The Boilermakers are making their debut in this game, while Michigan is only making their second appearance. Will we see an upset here?
It would be the Wolverines who would have the opening score in the game. A 25-yard pass from quarterback J.J McCarthy to Colston Loveland found the endzone. This is as the script intended. What was not in the script was the result of the next drive. A long drive from the Boilermakers moved the ball down to the one-yard line. It was then up to Devin Mockobee to score a rushing touchdown to tie the scores.Embed from Getty Images
Purdue then took the lead on their next drive. In another long drive, the Boilermakers again drove the ball into the Michigan red zone. However, their offense stalled in the red zone, mostly due to a fumble then was recovered by Purdue. This drive ended in a 33-yard field goal to give the Boilermakers a 10-7 lead.
This lasted one drive. On their next drive, the Wolverines moved the ball down to the Purdue 7-yard line. Then, McCarthy threw to Luke Schoonmaker to the 7-yard touchdown and the lead back. Purdue was still not willing to quit. They scored a 45-yard field goal before halftime, to make the score 14-13. This game was closer than anyone would have predicted.
The second half began with something that everyone would predict. A 1-yard rushing touchdown from the Wolverines widens their lead. The lead would be widened again on their next drive. Running Back Donovan Edwards scored a 27-yard rushing touchdown to give the Wolverines a 2-score lead.Embed from Getty Images
Purdue would score two field goals in the second half. But, while they were still putting points on the board, it would not be enough. Two more Michigan touchdowns before the end of the game confirmed what we already knew. At the final whistle, Michigan had beaten Purdue 42-22 to win their second Big Ten title.
With this win, the Wolverines remain unbeaten and are certain for the number 2 rank in the College Football Playoffs. Will we see a Georgia-Michigan national championship game? Time will tell.
Big 12 Championship: #10 Kansas State vs #3 TCU
Unlike the Big Ten and the SEC, the Big 12 does not use a division system, meaning the two teams with the best record face each other for the title. This year, then number 3 ranked and unbeaten TCU faced the number 10 ranked Kansas State Wildcats. TCU are this year’s surprise team, and they know that a win would guarantee their place in the playoffs. So, who would win in the first Big 12 championship game since 2009 not to feature a team from Oklahoma?
TCU would get the opening score of the game through a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Max Duggan to Taye Barber. On the Horned Frog’s next drive, they would attempt a field goal. This attempt would miss. Right after this, we would see a score from the Wildcats. A 6-yard pass from Wildcats quarterback Will Howard to Ben Sinnett found the endzone to tie the scores up.Embed from Getty Images
The next 3 drives ended in punts. It would be Kansas State who would break this streak. A one-yard rushing touchdown from Wil Howard gave the Wildcats the lead. TCU would struggle on offense in this period, with the most notable example of this combing from a Duggan fumble that was scooped up by Kansas State. The Horned Frog would score a 40-yard field goal before halftime, but it would be Kansas State would enter the locker rooms with a 14-10 lead.
Kansas State would open the second half with another rt touchdown to give them a two-score lead. Things would not be all great for the Wildcats, however. On TCU’s next drive, they were forced to punt. The punt was caught by the Wildcats, who fumbled the return, with the ball being scooped up by TCU, giving the Horned Frogs the possession again. They would take full advantage of this, with Kendre Miller scoring a 6-yard touchdown to bring the lead to 4 points,Embed from Getty Images
At the beginning of the 4th quarter, TCU were in the Kansas State red zone. They were set to score. But, Max Duggan was intercepted, ending that drive. This interception proved costly for TCU, as Kansas State would quickly move the ball down the field. This need with a 44-yard rushing touchdown from Deuce Vaughn, to widen the Kansas State lead.
TCU would score again. After a long drive with staled just outside the Wildcats’ red zone, TCU scored a 42-yard field goal to bring the game within 8 points. On their next drive, TCU would again drive the ball down the field, this time heading into the Kansas State red zone. Then, an 8-yard run from Max Duggan went into the endzone for the score. However, they needed the two-point conversion to tie the game. TCU attempted it, and it was successful. Scores were level with 2 minutes to go. The Kansas State drive stalled, so with the scores level at 28-28, the Big 12 Championship game went to overtime.
On their opening drive, TCU was at the Kansas State one-yard line on 4th down. Start player Kendre Miller stepped up but was tackled before he made the endzone, resulting in possession being given to Kansas State. The Wildcats would then move the ball into field goal territory, and on 4th down, Ty Zenner would score a 31-yard field goal to give Kansas State a surprise 31-28 win against a now one-loss TCU.
With this win, the Kansas State Wildcats win their second Big 12 title. However, the loss means that TCU might not make the playoffs, as there is a range of one-win teams who the committee might rank before them. As they lost against ranked opposition in overtime, the committee may be generous and give them a 3 or 4 rank, but this may be the end of the road for the TCU Horned Frogs.
PAC-12 Championship: #11 Utah vs #4 USC
The PAC-12 is a bit different from the other conferences. While the rest of the Power 5 conferences play their championship game on Saturday, the PAC 12 play on Friday night. This year, the number 4 ranked USC Trojans faced the defending PAC-12 champions in the number 11 ranked Utah Utes. Would the title (and a potential spot in the College Football Playoffs) be going back to Los Angeles?
The Trojans would get the opening score on the opening drive of the game. A 2-yard pass from Caleb Williams to Tahj Washington found the endzone. Utah responded with a long drive of their own, moving the ball down to the USC 7-yard line. However, the drive stalled here and ended with a 45-yard field goal.
USC would score again on their next drive, through a 3-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Raleek Brown. The scoring would continue on their next drive. In another long drive, the Trojans moved the ball down to the Utah 3-yard line. However, they could not convert on third down, resulting in a 20-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead. Things would get even better for USC, as Utah fumbled the ball on their next drive, with the ball being scooped up by USC. However, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for them, as they were turned over on down at the 37-yard line.Embed from Getty Images
With this possession, the Utes found some form of momentum. An 8-yard rushing touchdown from Ja’Quinden Jackson made it a one-possession score. On their next drive, and on the final play before halftime, a 4-yard pass from quarterback Cameron Rising found Jaylon Dixon for a 4-yard touchdown for Utah. This made it a 17-17 game at halftime.
After a few drives to begin the second half ended in punts, Utah would take the lead. A 57-yard pass from Rising to Money Parks found the money and gave the Utes a 7-point lead. After a few more punts, Utah would score a 35-yard field goal to give them a 10-point lead going into the final quarter.
The Trojans would be the next to score through a 12-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Mario Williams. This made it a one-possession game. It was not a one-possession game for long. On their next possession, a 60-yard touchdown pass from Rising to Thomas Yassman gave the Utes another 2-score lead.Embed from Getty Images
USC needed to score to keep their season and their chances to play in the College Football Playoffs alive. So, the best way to do that is to be intercepted. To add more insult to injury, the Utes took full advantage with their next possession and scored another touchdown. The Trojans then fumbled the ball, which resulted in another Utah touchdown to end the game. Final score: Utah 47, USC 24.
With this win, Utah regain the title that they had won last year. With their defeat, it is looking like USC will not make the playoffs. While TCU also lost, their loss was in overtime, so I think that they will stay in contention. But, the USC Trojans will play a bowl game this year, just not one that will give them a national championship.
ACC Championship: #9 Clemson vs #23 North Carolina
The number 9 ranked Clemson Tigers football program has struggled ever since Trevor Lawrence left to struggle with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last year, the Tigers did not make the ACC Championship game. This year, they return to the game to face the number 23-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. With the Tar Heels basketball team falling from being the top-ranked side in the country to number 18 ranked in a week, North Carolina needs something to smile about. Could it come here?
It could not. While the Tar Heels had the opening score of the game, they could not keep this lead. North Carolina would completely collapse in the second half, giving the Clemson Tigers a 39-10 victory over them. Apologies for glossing over this game, but in relation to the College Football Playoffs, this game has no effect. Clemson is a 2-loss team, and there are more than enough 1-loss teams who will challenge for the remaining spots. Well done Clemson for winning the ACC. You’re nowhere near a national championship thoughEmbed from Getty Images
My Prediction for the Playoffs
So, who do I think will make the final 4? Obviously, Georgia will be ranked number 1, with Michigan number 2. I still think that TCU will still make the playoffs as either a 3 or a 4 rank. The other team in my eyes will be Ohio State, who are probably one of the best one-loss teams. Prove me wrong selection committee, prove me wrong.