College Football Bowl First Thought Predictions, Analysis For All 41 Games, National Championship

College Football Playoff, bowl game first quick predictions. early lines, analysis before starting the deep dive into all 41 matchups & the CFP National Championship

College Football Playoff and bowl game first quick-thought predictions. early lines, and analysis before starting the deep dive into the matchups.  


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College Football Playoff, Bowl Game First Thought Predictions, Analysis

The real work and deep dives into all of the bowl games are coming over the next few weeks. With the matchups just released, here’s the first-thought, off-the-top-of-the-head, knee-jerk reactions, predictions, and analysis.

This can and will all change with opt-outs, injury updates, coaching changes, and all the other parts of the fun. But we’re here. It’s bowl game time.

Always go with your first answer.

Before yelling at me too much, how did I do last season with this in the same sort of sleep-deprived, unsound-mind-and-body state? 26-11, but I horribly whiffed on the national championship call.

I picked Georgia to beat Alabama 34-17. Georgia beat Alabama 33-18. I’ll try to do better this year.

Happy bowl season everyone.

All times Eastern 

HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl

UAB vs Miami University
Friday, December 16, 2022
11:30 am, ESPN

No Research Instant Analysis: I’m actually likely going to love the Blazers more than I probably should. Trent Dilfer isn’t starting his coaching debut yet, Miami University has a sound team, and the Bahamas Bowl always seems to go against conventional wisdom. The Blazers can score and the RedHawks struggle to put points on the board.

No Research Bowl Prediction: UAB 27, Miami University 20
Early Bowl Line Guess: UAB -10.5
Actual Line: UAB -10.5

Duluth Trading Cure Bowl

Troy vs UTSA
Friday, December 16, 2022
3:00, ESPN

No Research Instant Analysis: This NEVER works like it’s supposed to. Two conference champions should put on a great show, especially if the Troy offense rolls like it did at the end of the season on the way to the Sun Belt title. UTSA games are always high-flying, but the Troy D might keep this from being a back-and-forth blast.

No Research Bowl Prediction: UTSA 34, Troy 30
Early Bowl Line Guess: UTSA -2.5
Actual Line: Troy -2.5

2022-2023 Bowl First Thought Analysis 
Bahamas: UAB-MU | Cure: UTSA-Troy
Fenway: UC-UofL | Celeb: JSU-NC Central
New Mexico: SMU-BYU | LA: Wazzu-Fresno
LendingTree: Rice-USM | Vegas: UF-Oregon St
Frisco: UNT-Boise | Myrtle: Marshall-UConn
Potato: EMU-SJSU | Boca: Libery-Toledo
NO: WKU-USA | Armed Forces: AF-Baylor
Ind: La-Houston | Gasparilla: WF-Missouri
Hawaii: SDSU-MT | Quick: NMSU-BGSU
Camellia: GaSo-UB | 1st Resp: Memphis-USU
Birm: Coastal-ECU | GuarRate: Wisc-Ok St
Military: UCF-Duke | Libery: KU-Arkansas
Holiday: Oregon-UNC | Texas: TTech-Ole Miss
Pinstripe: Minn-Syr | Cheez-It: FSU-OU
Alamo: Texas-UW | Mayo: MD-NC St
Sun: UCLA-Pitt |
Gator: ND-USC
Arizona: Ohio-Wyoming |
Music: Iowa-UK
ReliaQuest: Ill-Miss St | 
Citrus: LSU-Purdue
Orange: Tenn-Clemson |
Sugar: Bama-K-State
Cotton: USC-Tulane |
Rose: Penn St-Utah
CFP Fiesta: UM-TCU 
CFP Peach: UGA-OSU
CFP Nat’l Champ | 
Bowl Schedule, Game Times

College Football Expert Picks Predictions Championship Week

College football expert picks and predictions for Championship Week with all the conference title games

College football expert picks, predictions for Championship Week with the conference title games for the American Athletic Conference, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC and Sun Belt


College Football Expert Picks, Predictions Championship Week

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* next to the pick means the team will win, but not cover.
Click on each game for the game preview and CFN Prediction

Championship Week College Football Expert Picks 
Akron at Buffalo | North Texas at UTSA
Utah vs USC | Kansas State vs TCU
Ohio vs Toledo | Coastal Carolina at Troy
LSU vs Georgia | UCF at Tulane
Fresno St at Boise St | Purdue vs Michigan
North Carolina vs Clemson | Experts Picks Results
Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews, Predictions
College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Akron at Buffalo

Line: Buffalo -11.5, o/u: 55.5

Eric Bolin, RazorbacksWire.com: Buffalo
Evan Bredeson, CornhuskersWire.com: Buffalo
Tony Cosolo, ColoradoBuffaloesWire.com: Buffalo
Jeff Feyerer, CFN: Buffalo*
Pete Fiutak, CFN: Buffalo
Cami Griffin, LonghornsWire.com: Buffalo
Dan Harralson, VolsWire.com: Buffalo
Phil Harrison, BuckeyesWire.com: Buffalo*
Jeremy Mauss, MWwire.com Buffalo
Kevin McGuire, NittanyLionsWire.com: Buffalo*
Big Game Ben Niewoehner, CFN Buffalo*
E, CFN Buffalo
Tyler Nettuno, LSUTigerswire.com Buffalo
Zack Pearson, TarHeelswire.com Buffalo
Johnny Rosenstein, SportsBookWire.com: Buffalo*
Nick Shepkowski, FightingIrishWire.com: Buffalo
Scott Steehn, WinnersandWhiners.com: Buffalo
Joe Vitale, UGAWire.com: Buffalo*
Clucko the Chicken (a coin flip), CFN: Akron
CONSENSUS PICK: Buffalo

NEXT: North Texas at UTSA Expert Picks Predictions

College Football Schedule Game Previews Scoreboard Predictions Championship Week

College football schedule, predictions, game previews, lines, scoreboard, and TV listings for Championship Week

College football predictions, schedule, game previews, lines, scoreboard, and TV listings for the 2022 Championship Week


College Football Championship Week Schedule

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Click on each game for the preview and prediction

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

ACC Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 74-34, ATS 60-46-2, o/u 69-38-1

Saturday, December 3

Clemson vs North Carolina
Prediction: Clemson 44, North Carolina 34
Line: Clemson -7.5, o/u: 63.5
Final Score: Clemson 39, North Carolina 10
North Carolina vs Clemson Experts Picks

American Athletic Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 69-20, ATS 53-36, o/u 54-35 

Saturday, December 3

UCF at Tulane
Prediction: Tulane 31, UCF 27
Line: Tulane -3.5, o/u: 56.5
Final Score: Tulane 45, UCF 28
UCF at Tulane Experts Picks

Big Ten Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 83-22, ATS 65-38, o/u 57-45

Saturday, December 3

Purdue vs Michigan
Prediction: Michigan 34, Purdue 17
Line: Michigan -16.5, o/u: 51.5
Final Score: Michigan 43, Purdue 22
Purdue vs Michigan Experts Picks

Big 12 Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 50-25, ATS 32-41-2, o/u 48-28

Saturday, December 3

Kansas State vs TCU
Prediction: TCU 34, Kansas State 31
Line: TCU -1.5, o/u: 61.5
Final Score: Kansas State 31, TCU 28 OT
Kansas State vs TCU Experts Picks

Conference USA Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 64-21, ATS 40-45, o/u 51-34

Friday, December 2

North Texas at UTSA
Prediction: UTSA 41, North Texas 31
Line: UTSA -8.5, o/u: 67.5
Final Score: UTSA 48, North Texas 27
North Texas at UTSA Experts Picks

Independents

Independent Results So Far
Straight Up 51-26, ATS 36-39, o/u 45-30

Saturday, December 3

Valparaiso at New Mexico State
Prediction: New Mexico State 44, Valparaiso 17
Line: New Mexico State -31, o/u: 55
Final Score: New Mexico State 65, Valparaiso 3

Saturday, December 10

Army vs Navy
3:00 CBS
Line: Army -1.5, o/u: 33.5
Final Score: COMING  

MAC Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 61-34, ATS 53-40-1, o/u 53-42-1

Friday, December 2

Akron at Buffalo 
Prediction: Buffalo 34, Akron 23
Line: Buffalo -12.5, o/u: 54.5
Final Score: Buffalo 23, Akron 22
Akron at Buffalo Experts Picks

Saturday, December 3

MAC Championship: Toledo vs Ohio
Prediction: Ohio 30, Toledo 27
Line: Toledo -1.5, o/u: 55.5
Final Score: Toledo 17, Ohio 7
Ohio vs Toledo Experts Picks

Mountain West Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 75-20, ATS 46-49, o/u 47-48

Saturday, December 3

Fresno State at Boise State
Prediction: Fresno State 30, Boise State 27
Line: Boise State -3.5, o/u: 54.5
Final Score: Fresno State 28, Boise State 16
Fresno State at Boise State Experts Picks

Pac-12 Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 69-20, ATS 43-46, o/u 42-48

Friday, December 2

Utah vs USC
Prediction: USC 38, Utah 34
Line: USC -2.5, o/u: 67.5
Final Score: Utah 47, USC 24
Utah vs USC Experts Picks

SEC Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 83-31, ATS 68-45, o/u 56-55

Saturday, December 3

LSU vs Georgia
Prediction: Georgia 37, LSU 16
Line: Georgia -17.5, o/u: 50.5
Final Score: Georgia 50, LSU 30
LSU vs Georgia Experts Picks

Sun Belt Conference Championship

Results So Far
Straight Up 80-37, ATS 61-55, o/u 68-47

Saturday, December 3

Coastal Carolina at Troy
Prediction: Troy 27, Coastal Carolina 24
Line: Troy -10.5, o/u: 48.5
Final Score: Troy 45, Coastal Carolina 26
Coastal Carolina at Troy Experts Picks

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Predictions of Every Game
Bowl Projections | Rankings

Georgia vs LSU SEC Championship Prediction Game Preview

Georgia vs LSU SEC Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the SEC Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

Georgia vs LSU SEC Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


Georgia vs LSU SEC Championship Prediction Game Preview

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Georgia vs LSU How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
How To Watch: CBS
Record: Georgia (12-0), LSU (9-3)
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Why LSU Will Win

The pressure is totally off.

That’s not necessarily a good thing – whiffing against Texas A&M in a 38-23 loss last week kept LSU from being able to make a case for the College Football Playoff with a win in the SEC Championship – but now the team can turn it loose.

This is WAY ahead of where things were supposed to be under Brian Kelly.

The first year was supposed to be good, but Alabama was supposed to be in Atlanta this Saturday. If it wasn’t Alabama, it was going to be Texas A&M. If it wasn’t A&M, if might have been Ole Miss. It certainly wasn’t supposed to be LSU coming off a dud of a 6-7 2021 and in need of a slight rebuild.

The team is playing with house money. There might not be a national championship this season, but an SEC Championship? That would be massive.

On the flip side, the pressure is off Georgia, too.

It can say it really wants to win this, but it’s in the College Football Playoff no matter what. If LSU brings the intensity, this could be more than just interesting.

Do pull this off, though, the running game has to continue to work. It’s averaging five yards per carry, and it at least has to come close. Georgia hasn’t allowed five yards per pop yet this year, but Missouri hung around averaging 4.9, Oregon ran well even though it got destroyed. Just about everyone else who couldn’t run got blasted.

That means QB Jayden Daniels has to be on the move from the start, the offense has to convert on third downs – it’s second-best in the conference at that – and it has to keep the clock moving. Georgia can strike quickly, but the more LSU can grind this out, the better.

The O should be efficient, Daniels is accurate, and …

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Georgia Will Win

You don’t think Stetson Bennett and that crew wants this?

The 2021 Georgia team was epic. It broke through and gave the school its first national championship since 1980.

It wasn’t the SEC Champion.

The 2021 Dawgs lost to Alabama 41-24 last year, and that means the 2022 version loaded with a whole slew of new starters and parts doesn’t get that. This is this team’s chance to put a stamp on its own legacy. Of course, it needs to win the national title to make this season a true success, but around that program, yeah, this matters.

Georgia has to strike fast. This isn’t exactly one of those teams that needs momentum to win, but when it gets rolling early, forget it.

LSU is hardly bad in the first quarters of games, but defensively the first is the worst allowing 71 points – it scored 74, by the way.

Georgia has outscored its opponents 101 to 16 in the first quarter and 244 to 60 in the first half.

LSU has the pop to come back and make this a battle even if it gets down, but that’s a big ask. Georgia is No. 1 in the SEC and fifth in the nation in third down conversions, No. 1 in the SEC and third overall in third down stops, and No. 1 in the SEC and seventh overall in time of possession.

Get up fast, take the air out of ball with the running game and effective drives. That starts with the lines, and it continues with Bennett who should be able to hit the third down throws against this secondary without a problem.

There won’t be any reason to take any big chances.

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

Yes, LSU beat Alabama. Alabama isn’t playing defense like Georgia is. No one is playing defense like Georgia is.

It’s going to start with the nation’s second-best run defense – James Madison is No. 1, by the way. LSU is 0-2 – going to Florida State and Tennessee – when it failed to get to 140 rushing yards, and so far this year only Oregon was able to run on the Dawgs for 140 and they lost 49-3.

Daniels really is that good, and he’s going to have to get hot right away, but he can only run so much.

LSU won’t get steamrolled, but Georgia will score early and keep it all steadily going. There will be a few big plays, but it’ll be a methodical SEC Championship win.

Get comfortable. Georgia will be back in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31st for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the first round of the College Football Playoff.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

Georgia vs LSU SEC Championship Prediction, Line

Georgia 37, LSU 16
Line: Georgia -18.5, o/u: 50.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Georgia vs LSU SEC Championship Must See Rating (out of 5): 4

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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Bowl Projections | Rankings

Michigan vs Purdue Big Ten Championship Prediction Game Preview

Michigan vs Purdue Big Ten Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

Michigan vs Purdue Big Ten Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


Michigan vs Purdue Big Ten Championship Prediction Game Preview

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Michigan vs Purdue How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 8:00 ET
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
How To Watch: FOX
Record: Michigan (12-0), Purdue (9-3)
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Why Purdue Will Win

Michigan is playing for fun.

Last year the Wolverines had to beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship to cement a spot in the College Football Playoff. Here’s the big difference – the 2021 team was 11-1, this one is 12-0. Last year’s team had to win, this one can lose and still – almost certainly – be in.

That doesn’t mean Michigan won’t care, and it would sure like to be a back-to-back Big Ten champion, but from star RB Blake Corum’s season-ending knee injury, to star DT Mazi Smith facing a felony weapon charge that was filed this week, to coming down off the high of rocking Ohio State 45-23, there’s a chance the full focus and intensity might not be all there.

Think 2021 Georgia. Of course it wanted to beat Alabama, but it didn’t bring its A game to the SEC Championship, and the other side cranked up the intensity to win with the College Football Playoff possibly on the line. What’s Purdue’s motivation? How about the Rose Bowl as the 2022 Big Ten Champion?

There’s one other big difference between this year’s Big Ten Championship and last year’s version. Purdue will bring the offense Iowa didn’t.

The passing game hasn’t ripped it up lately, but it’s been steady, effective, and it’s been able to come through when needed. Turnovers aren’t an issue over the three-game winning streak to get here, the running game hasn’t been bad, and QB Aidan O’Connell has been around long enough to not be fazed by the big setting.

The offensive line is good at keeping everyone in the backfield clean, the defense has been great on third downs and getting off the field, and …

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Michigan Will Win

The Michigan running game should work.

It took a while to get going against Ohio State last week, and not having Corum for more than two carries appeared to be an issue. Donovan Edwards took over late and finished with 216 yards and two scores, QB JJ McCarthy hit the big plays, and the team pulled off the shocker.

Was it totally crazy that Michigan beat Ohio State? A little bit, but it was how. It came up with the home run shots the Buckeyes are used to hitting, and more than anything else, Michigan was just … Michigan.

Very, very, very consistent, all year long the Wolverines would start a little slow, let the offensive line go to work, and then the avalanche rolled over opponents time and again.

Michigan was down 20-17 at halftime, the defense held up, the O line took over, and Edwards tore off a 75-yard touchdown run, an 85-yard scoring dash, and that was that.

Purdue’s run defense is fine, but nothing amazing.

It’ll hold up early, and it’ll get in the backfield here and there, but the yards will come from the Wolverine backfield. Purdue allowed a season-high 215 rushing yards to Indiana last week, got hammered on by Iowa for over five yards per carry, and …

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

Michigan isn’t going to turn the ball over enough to matter. The offense has given it up only six times all year without an interception in the last five games.

Like always, the other side will look like it has Michigan in a little bit of trouble.

Purdue will throw well, it’ll get out to a lead, and there will be enough big plays on both sides of the ball to get the social media world buzzing. And then Michigan will go Michigan.

The amazing offensive line will take over, two good scoring drives will come, the defense will clamp down, and the Wolverines will pull away late on the way to the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl as – at worst – the 2 seed in the College Football Playoff.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

Michigan vs Purdue Big Ten Championship Prediction, Line

Michigan 34, Purdue 17
Line: Michigan -16.5, o/u: 52.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
Michigan vs Purdue Big Ten Championship Must See Rating (out of 5): 4

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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Bowl Projections | Rankings

Clemson vs North Carolina ACC Championship Prediction Game Preview

Clemson vs North Carolina ACC Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

Clemson vs North Carolina ACC Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


Clemson vs North Carolina ACC Championship Prediction Game Preview

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Clemson vs North Carolina How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 8:00 ET
Venue: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
How To Watch: ABC
Record: Clemson (10-2), North Carolina (9-3)
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Why North Carolina Will Win

Here comes the passing game.

It struggled a wee bit over the last few games in losses to Georgia Tech and NC State, but Drake Maye and company should cranking it back up against a shaky Clemson secondary.

The ACC Championship and an Orange Bowl appearance are on the line. The offense will be pushing from the start.

Clemson might be loaded with NFL talent – the line has its share of next-level starters – but the pass defense couldn’t hold on against a hot South Carolina passing game last week allowing 360 yards in the stunning loss. It had a hard time against Louisville’s attack, got bombed on by Wake Forest, and got run over by Notre Dame.

Even with the problems of the last few games, North Carolina is still No. 1 in the ACC in total offense and scoring, averaging 481 yards and 37 points per game.

It’s doing this without a slew of turnovers – just two in the last five games – or penalties, and there’s a good chance the defense finally starts to take the ball away.

Forcing mistakes has been a problem for the Tar Heels, but Clemson can’t stop screwing up. The penalties have been kept to a bare minimum, but the O turned it over 15 times in the last five games.

If this is going to be a shootout, Clemson can’t blink.

However …

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Clemson Will Win

Even if the Clemson passing game struggles like it did against South Carolina, the running game should pick up the slack if needed.

DJ Uiagalelei didn’t get a whole lot of help from the receiving corps, but he wasn’t great completing just 8-of-29 passes for 99 yards with a touchdown and a pick in the loss. However, he ran for 51 yards, Will Shipley went off, and the round attack came up wit 237 yards averaging over six yards per carry.

Keeping the momentum going shouldn’t be a problem against the North Carolina defensive front.

The Tar Heels don’t get gashed too much, but they get picked apart with teams having no issues cranking up the carries because they can.

Six teams ran the ball 40 times or more against the UNC defensive front – all ran for 170 yards or more. Notre Dame was the only team that ran it more than 40 times against Clemson.

North Carolina is a dangerous team for Clemson because of the way it can throw and throw some more. On the flip side, it’s a great fit with no pass rush, no plays in the backfield, and almost no takeaways – the D hasn’t come up with multiple turnovers since mid-October.

The Tiger skill parts need all the time and room they can get. That won’t be a problem.

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

Clemson is back in the ACC Championship.

The loss to South Carolina might have been a massive disappointment with a possible College Football Playoff trip still in play, but after missing out last year, Clemson has a chance to make it seven ACC Championships in eight years.

Of course the bar is set at a whole lot higher for the program, but being that dominant in conference play is amazing no matter what.

It’s going to take a lot of points to get there, though. This won’t be quite like the 51-45 Clemson win over Wake Forest, but it might not be far off.

North Carolina will get to 300 passing yards, the defense will give up over 450 yards of total offense, and it’ll be an entertaining back-and-forth fight before the Tiger running game takes over in the fourth quarter.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

Clemson vs North Carolina ACC Championship Prediction, Line

Clemson 44, North Carolina 34
Line: Clemson -7.5, o/u: 63.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
Clemson vs North Carolina ACC Championship Must See Rating (out of 5): 4.5

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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Bowl Projections | Rankings

Coastal Carolina vs Troy Sun Belt Championship Prediction Game Preview

Coastal Carolina vs Troy Sun Belt Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Sun Belt Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

Coastal Carolina vs Troy Sun Belt Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


Coastal Carolina vs Troy Sun Belt Championship Prediction Game Preview

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Coastal Carolina vs Troy How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Venue: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, AL
How To Watch: ESPN
Record: Coastal Carolina (9-2), Troy (10-2)
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Why Coastal Carolina Will Win

It was a rocky road, but it’s here.

It only seems like Coastal Carolina is in its third straight Sun Belt Conference Championship Game.

It didn’t get a shot against Louisiana with the 2020 title game cancelled, and last year Louisiana and Appalachian State played for the third time in the four years of the Sun Belt Championship creation.

Coastal Carolina suffered a weird home loss to Old Dominion, got destroyed by James Madison – who should actually be in this representing the Sun Belt East, but wasn’t eligible in its first year up in the FBS world – and lost star QB Grayson McCall for the season.

Again, it’s here.

It managed to win close game after close game – five victories were by a touchdown or less – thanks to another year of high-powered passing efficiency and just enough takeaways to make up for the problems on defense.

The amazing Troy defense might be a rock, but it’ll give up passing yards. The offense will also turn it over just enough to matter.

Coastal Carolina has to be quick-hitting with the passing game, there have to be a few early scores to make Troy’s offense press a bit, and the takeaways have to be there to help the O.

However …

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Troy Will Win

The loss of Grayson McCall really did hurt the Chanticleer offense.

James Madison might be No. 1 in the nation against the run, but Coastal Carolina wasn’t able to do anything through the air, either, in the 47-7 loss last week.

The Troy defense isn’t quite as strong, but it isn’t far off.

The pass rush will be coming from the start – the Coastal Carolina timing should be off from the start.

Troy has won nine straight partly because the competition has been mediocre, but it’s also because the D keeps on coming up with takeaways, it’s fantastic at generating a pass rush, and it always finds ways to keep the score low and stay in control.

Coastal Carolina’s passing game might be great, but it has a problem when the running game isn’t rocking. It has to average at least four years per carry to keep everything moving, but that’s a problem – Troy allows just 3.3 yards per pop.

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

The Troy formula should continue to work. Run well, rely on the defense, repeat.

The Trojans are 8-0 when at least getting to 70 rushing yards – and 1-2 when it didn’t – and Coastal Carolina hasn’t allowed fewer than 90 against any FBS team.

This might not be scintillating, but it should be close throughout before Troy finally breaks through with the ground game. Coastal Carolina’s two losses came in the two worst days of the season against the run. This won’t be that bad, but Troy will come up with a time crunching drive to survive.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

Coastal Carolina vs Troy Sun Belt Championship Prediction, Line

Troy 27, Coastal Carolina 24
Line: Troy -8.5, o/u: 48.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
Coastal Carolina vs Troy Sun Belt Championship Must See Rating (out of 5):  4

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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Fresno State vs Boise State Mountain West Championship Prediction Game Preview

Fresno State vs Boise State Mountain West Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

Fresno State vs Boise State Mountain West Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


Fresno State vs Boise State Mountain West Championship Prediction Game Preview

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Fresno State vs Boise State How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
How To Watch: FOX
Record: Fresno State (8-4), Boise State (9-3)
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Why Fresno State Will Win

Fresno State didn’t have its guy the first time around.

It held up well in the meeting with Boise State with the score tied at 20 late in the third quarter before allowing 20 unanswered points in the 40-20 loss. Bulldog QB Logan Fife struggled without a slew of downfield completions with no touchdowns with two picks.

That was the last time Fresno State lost.

Fife and the team picked it back up with two straight wins after losing in Boise, and then star QB Jake Haener returned and everything took off.

Starting with a miraculous comeback to beat San Diego State, the Bulldogs got rolling from there. The O led the Mountain West in yards and scoring, it’s great on third downs, and it lost just one turnover in the last four games.

Boise State was able to get by Utah State last week despite allowing over 300 passing yards. It lost the other two games when it for over 200 passing yards – BYU threw for 377 and Oregon State went for 292 – and faced no one else that could throw, a Haener-less Fresno State team aside.

However …

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Boise State Will Win

There’s something about San Diego State that allowed the stars of the Mountain West to find themselves.

Fresno State’s season kicked it into gear with two touchdowns in 13 seconds, and Boise State’s run to the Mountain West title game got rolling in the second half of the 35-13 win over the Aztecs. That’s when the rushing attack became almost unstoppable.

Air Force was able to keep it down, and BYU allowed just 104 yards in Boise State’s only loss over the last eight games, but it has been dominant on the ground with 200 yards or more in six of the last eight games after sputtering a wee bit to start the season.

The Broncos are 7-0 when running for 140 yards or more. Fresno State is 1-4 when allowing 160 rushing yards or more.

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

It’ll be cold in Boise on Saturday, but the weather won’t affect the Fresno State passing game enough to matter.

The Boise State defense might be fantastic, but it also piled up big stats against a slew of teams that couldn’t do anything offensively.

It got San Diego State before Jalen Mayden took over – the O hit just 2-of-16 passes.

New Mexico finish the regular season with the nation’s worst offense. Colorado State wasn’t far off, Nevada was 122nd in the nation, Wyoming 117th, San Diego State 116th.

It beat the teams with struggling offenses and lost or had problems with the ones that could get past 300 yards. Fresno State will get past 300 yards.

It’s not like Fresno State beat a slew of teams with killer offenses, either – it played a lot of the same teams Boise State did. But Boise State will be able to run the ball.

The passing attack will overcome the running game in a fun 60-minute fight.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

Fresno State vs Boise State Mountain West Championship Prediction, Line

Fresno State 30, Boise State 27
Line: Boise State -3.5, o/u: 54.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Fresno State vs Boise State Mountain West Championship Must See Rating (out of 5): 4

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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UCF vs Tulane American Athletic Conference Championship Prediction Game Preview

UCF vs Tulane American Athletic Conference Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

UCF vs Tulane American Athletic Conference Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


UCF vs Tulane American Athletic Conference Championship Prediction Game Preview

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UCF vs Tulane How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA
How To Watch: ABC
Record: UCF (9-3), Tulane (10-2)
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Why UCF Will Win

What did UCF do right a few weeks ago in the 38-31 win at Tulane? The passing attack wasn’t anything special, but the defense came up with two takeaways. The D struggled in the second half after the O came up with a 31-14 lead, but the running game took over when it had to.

The offense finished the regular season as the best in the AAC, it was the best on the ground, and it lead the way on third downs. To do it again, it all starts with the offensive line taking over right away and the running game rolling for well over 200 yards again.

The Knights mixed it up with QB John Rhys Plumlee running for 176 yards, running backs Isaiah Bowser and RJ Harvey combined for 137 yards, and that wasn’t even their best rushing performance of the season.

200 yards is the norm for the UCF ground game with 300 or more in four games. Tulane’s defense has been good overall but the line doesn’t get in the backfield enough, the disruption isn’t there, and …

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Tulane Will Win

Tulane’s defense didn’t generate any takeaways in the first meeting. That’s not the norm.

UCF didn’t turn the ball over in the win. That’s not the norm.

UCF is -5 on the year in turnover margin with six in the last two games and 13 over the last five – the Tulane game was the only one without a giveaway in the bunch. It gave it up multiple times in six of the last ten games.

On the flip side. Tulane beat SMU with five takeaways, got by Memphis with four, and force multiple takeaways in five games, winning them all on the way to finishing +7 in turnover margin.

Tulane’s offense is efficient, effective, and controlling. No, it can’t hang yard-for-yard with UCF if this gets into a battle of ground attacks, but it can keep the other O on the sidelines for long stretches.

But it needs those takeaways.

Not only is Tulane 8-0 when it forces at least one turnover, but it won by double-digits in all five games with multiple takeaways. Which is why …

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

Tulane will win this and be off to the Cotton Bowl with a good enough defensive performance to survive.

It’ll give up yards, and UCF’s offense will take over at times, but the turnovers will be there. Tulane will be +2 in turnover margin, and that will be just enough of a difference.

That, and the running of Tyjae Spears. The star back was used as a workhorse last week with 35 carries for 181 yards and two scores in the win over Cincinnati, but that’s not normally his his role. He ripped off big yards in the first meeting with UCF, and in this he’ll take over late.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

UCF vs Tulane American Athletic Conference Championship Prediction, Line

Tulane 31, UCF 27
Line: Tulane -3.5, o/u: 56.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
UCF vs Tulane American Athletic Conference Championship Must See Rating (out of 5): 4.5

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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Ohio vs Toledo MAC Championship Prediction Game Preview

Ohio vs Toledo MAC Championship game preview, prediction, and breakdown for the MAC Championship Week game on Saturday, December 3

Ohio vs Toledo MAC Championship prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. Championship Week, Saturday, December 3


Ohio vs Toledo MAC Championship Prediction Game Preview

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Ohio vs Toledo How To Watch

Date: Saturday, December 3
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
How To Watch: ESPN
Record: Ohio (9-3), Toledo (7-5)
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Why Ohio Will Win

Oh would this be sweet for the Ohio program.

Four times the bridesmaid but never the bride in the MAC Championship, Ohio became known for consistent excellence under Frank Solich, but it could never quite get over the hump and win the thing.

Eastern Michigan and Kent State are the only other MAC programs that haven’t won the championship game yet.

Successor Tim Ablin was supposed to keep it all going, but the 3-9 2021 season and 2-3 start wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring.

And then it all kicked in.

Ohio is here with a chance at winning its first MAC Championship game because the offense exploded, the passing game was amazing, and the defense made up for a slew of issues with lots and lots of takeaways.

The team is +13 on the year in turnover margin, the running game is good enough to balance things out over the last few weeks, and now it all gets a semi-reeling Toledo team that lost its last two games and three of the last five helped by a whole bunch of turnovers.

They weren’t a problem over the first half of the year, and then things got ugly with six in the loss to Buffalo has part of a run of 16 given up over the last five games.

College Football Playoff Final Top 25 Prediction
What it means for CFP: Utah beats USC for Pac-12 title

Why Toledo Will Win

Oh would this be sweet for the Toledo program.

It’s gone 13 seasons without a losing campaign, but there’s always been that one misfire here and there that kept ruining shot after shot at the MAC title. The lone exception was the 2017 MAC Championship under Jason Candle, but that wasn’t the springboard it appeared to be at the time.

Getting it done this time would be a huge moment for Candle. It wouldn’t put him back in the Next Big Thing category of coaches, but it wouldn’t hurt.

After a year with a rough late collapse at San Diego State, a 77-21 loss at Ohio State, and a rocky finishing kick with no consistency whatsoever, this one game would make everything okay.

The big plays are there, but the accuracy with the passing game isn’t. That’s okay. Keep throwing it and eventually everything will open up against the nation’s worst pass defense.

Ohio allows over 300 passing yards per game with 200 or more in every game but the win over Northern Illinois. On the flip side, the Bobcat offense lost heart-and-soul star QB Kurtis Rourke for the season just before the finale. The 196 passing yards last week against Bowling Green were the fewest outside of the blowout loss to Penn State.

Championship Week Schedule, Game Previews

What’s Going To Happen

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.

Toledo is 1-5 when giving it away multiple times – the lone win over Eastern Michigan was a 27-24 right – and 6-0 when it doesn’t.

Ohio will give up a ton of yards, but it’ll make up for it by generating those two takeaways it’ll need. No, the offense won’t be able to throw like Toledo will, but the running game will get enough to take control when the pass defense needs a break after getting roasted.

By the way, the USA World Cup showdown with The Netherlands should be close to over just as this gets started – unless it goes into extra time. If this gets into a shootout, it’ll be halftime before the fun is over in Doha.

Expert Picks College Championship WeekNFL Week 13

Ohio vs Toledo MAC Championship Prediction, Line

Ohio 30, Toledo 27
Line: Toledo -1.5, o/u: 54.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 1.5
Ohio vs Toledo MAC Championship Must See Rating (out of 5): 4

CFN 1-131 Rankings | Rankings by Conference
Path to the Playoff: 6 teams still in the race 

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