PSF College Football Weekly Pick’em: Conference Championship Game Previews, Predictions, and Analysis

The PSF CFB pick’em crew is back for the final week of college football before the bowl season begins. Heading into conference championship week, the CFP Committee has released more and more editions of their rankings this season and there were many upsets in rivalry week. The top two teams in the rankings lost their first games of the season and they both moved out of the top four in the rankings. Auburn jumped up to the second spot after a win over formerly top ranked Alabama and Wisconsin is now alive in the top four. The conference championship week is by far one of the best and most hyped up week’s of the college football season as top conference opponents face off in a once in a season opportunity and teams are looking to make one last push towards getting a spot in the college football playoff. This week, the PSF CFB staff is going to pick most of the Conference Title games (NCAA FBS). So heading into this final week before bowl season, let’s take a look at the updated standings for the PSF College Football Weekly Pick’em!

Standings through 13 Weeks:

  1. Jon Butler (358 Points)
  2. Tristan Beckmann (348 Points)
  3. Chris Chastain (336 Points)
  4. Dustin Beard (311 Points)
  5. Eric Jensen (300 Points)
  6. Jack Geary III (296 Points)
  7. Heath Kyser (293 Points)
  8. Brian Willis (N/A)

And don’t forget to check out all of our writers and experts on Twitter:

  • Tristan Beckmann (@TristanBeckmann)
  • Eric Jensen (@Eric18Utah)
  • Jon Butler (@DadSox)
  • Dustin Beard (@DBeard13)
  • Heath Kyser (@HeathKyser)
  • Brian Willis (@RealBrianWillis)
  • Jack Geary III (@JackGeary32)
  • Chris Chastain (@ChrisPSF)

Group of Five Conference Championship Game Predictions:

Akron (7-5) vs. Toledo (10-2)

(Sat., 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN, Toledo -21.5)

  • Tristan Beckmann: TOL, 54-17.
  • Eric Jensen: TOL, 31-17.
  • Jon Butler: TOL, 34-13.
  • Dustin Beard: TOL, 27-21.
  • Heath Kyser: TOL, 34-17.
  • Jack Geary III: TOL, 21-19.
  • Chris Chastain: TOL, 38-17.
  • Brian Willis: TOL, 35-23.

#20 Memphis (10-1) vs. #14 UCF (11-0)

(Sat., 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC, No Line As of Yet)

  • Tristan Beckmann: #14 UCF, 38-24.
  • Eric Jensen: #20 MEM, 30-24.
  • Jon Butler: #14 UCF, 27-20.
  • Dustin Beard: #14 UCF, 28-24.
  • Heath Kyser: #14 UCF, 41-27.
  • Jack Geary III: #14 UCF, 44-32.
  • Chris Chastain: #14 UCF, 42-39.
  • Brian Willis: #14 UCF, 43-34.

North Texas (9-3) vs. FAU (9-3)

(Sat., 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2, FAU -10.5)

  • Tristan Beckmann: FAU, 45-28.
  • Eric Jensen: NT, 35-14.
  • Jon Butler: FAU, 30-20.
  • Dustin Beard: FAU, 28-17.
  • Heath Kyser: FAU, 37-14.
  • Jack Geary III: FAU, 41-34.
  • Chris Chastain: FAU, 70-28.
  • Brian Willis: FAU, 51-24.

#25 Fresno State (9-3) vs. Boise State (9-3)

(Sat., 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN, Boise State -8.5)

  • Tristan Beckmann: BSU, 37-31.
  • Eric Jensen: BSU, 35-21.
  • Jon Butler: BSU, 31-21.
  • Dustin Beard: #25 FRES, 32-28.
  • Heath Kyser: #25 FRES, 31-30.
  • Jack Geary III: BSU, 35-25.
  • Chris Chastain: #25 FRES, 39-36.
  • Brian Willis: BSU, 40-13.

Power Five Conference Championship Game Predictions and Analysis:

PAC-12 Championship Game:

#10 USC (10-2) vs. #12 Stanford (9-3)

(Fri., 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN, USC -4)

Jon Butler: These two teams met up earlier this year and USC dominated the September 9th meeting as was expected. Stanford is a much improved team from the last time these teams met. Bryce Love continued to improve as a running back and the Cardinals developed tight end Dalton Schultz and wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to help create a more balanced offense. However, it won’t be enough in this game as Sam Darnold has really grown throughout the season. Darnold has learned to limit his turnovers throughout the season while his dynamic pass catchers have developed. I fully expect this to be an exciting offensive game where USC comes out on top thanks to some last minute heroics from Sam Darnold. #10 USC 31, #12 Stanford 27.

Eric Jensen: Here’s the breakdown of this game, the better QB is definitely Sam Darnold. Is he an NFL level talent? No, I personally don’t see it. The running game has to go to Stanford although Ronald Jones III is fantastic. But Bryce Love is way better than Christian McCaffery. The Cardinal offensive line is also the better unit of both trenches in this game although their pass rush is formidable as well. The cornerbacks belong to USC as they have some of the best cover guys in the Pac 12. I love this matchup because these truly are the two best teams in the Pac 12. I like the heat in college football and after Stanford stomped down on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish I gotta go with the Cardinal. I’m going Stanford in a tight 35-34 game that comes down to the very end but in the end Bryce Love has a great day and makes the Heisman decision very hard. #12 Stanford 35, #10 USC 34.

Heath Kyser: The PAC-12 title game feels anticlimactic this year. Barring a massively chaotic championship Saturday, there will be no playoff participant from this year’s game. Sam Darnold leads the USC offense amongst speculations of his impending NFL draft status. He will need to put on a show if he wants to continue the talk of a #1 pick. Stanford has had a season of ups and downs. Bryce Love has been the most explosive Running Back in college football so far this year. USC throttled the Cardinal in September, cruising to a 42-24 win. Something feels different in my mind this time around. Stanford has been playing good football over the past few weeks, and I expect a physical defense to shut down the Trojans. Stanford pulls out the upset and wins the PAC-12. #12 Stanford 28, #10 USC 24.

Other Predictions for This Game:

T. Beckmann: #10 USC 42, #12 Stanford 31.

Dustin Beard: #10 USC 35, #12 Stanford 28.

Jack Geary III: #10 USC 31, #12 Stanford 27.

Chris Chastain: #12 Stanford 34, #10 USC 31.

Brian Willis: #10 USC 34, #12 Stanford 24.

SEC Championship Game:

#6 Georgia (11-1) vs. #2 Auburn (10-2)

(Sat. 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS, Auburn -2.5)

Tristan Beckmann: Well. I was completely wrong last week when I predicted a dominant performance in an Alabama win over Auburn. Auburn truly dominated the former top ranked Crimson Tide throughout the game and will be playing for a playoff spot in this SEC Championship Game. Their opponent: the one loss Georgia Bulldogs whom Auburn destroyed a few weeks ago 40-17 in a statement victory. Georgia has looked extremely top notch since that loss. Auburn has defeated two top teams and looks like the second best team in the country right now. Georgia will contend with Auburn with great defensive play early on and strong play from Jacob Fromm. But (assuming Kerryon Johnson plays), I saw nothing from the game a few weeks ago that makes me even think about picking the Bulldogs over Auburn. Kerryon Johnson is an absolute freak and I expect him to dominate in the second half of this game as he wears out the Bulldogs defense. #2 Auburn 27, #6 Georgia 17.

Heath Kyser: This year’s SEC championship is an instant replay of the Oldest Rivalry in the South. Auburn smacked around Georgia just a few weeks back, and looks to ride its power game to a spot in this year’s final four. Georgia will play up the fact that penalties and uncharacteristic mishaps caused their demise in Jordan-Hare. That may be true, but the Bulldogs will need Jacob Fromm to complete some passes and loosen up the box so that Nick Chubb and Sony Michel can find some creases. On Auburn’s side, the Tigers need to continue playing the hottest football in the country. Kerryon Johnson was banged up in the Iron Bowl, but remains confident that he will play Saturday. Look for Jarret Stidham to continue throwing the ball well enough to give the fast paced Malzahn offense enough room to operate at full speed. At the end of the day, I expect the Auburn Tigers to punch their ticket to their first playoff. #2 Auburn 31, #6 Georgia 28.

Chris Chastain: What a epic run by the Auburn Tigers to defeat two teams that were ranked #1. Georgia coming into the game off a blowout win vs Georgia Tech which is quite meaningless in my opinion. I’d be shocked if Georgia is not ready for this game after losing to this same Auburn team in convincing fashion. Georgia had things going on their first drive in that football game before everything just came apart. Penalties were one of the many ways Georgia was holding themselves back. Something HUGE to keep up with going into this game is the health of Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson, one of the top running backs this season. If he misses the SEC Championship Game, the game will fall entirely on the shoulders of Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. I’m still not sure you can count on Stidham for a whole game, especially when Kerryon Johnson was the Tigers primary offense. I am picking the Georgia Bulldogs to win this game in a defensive battle. #6 Georgia 22, #2 Auburn 19.

Other Predictions for this Game:

Eric Jensen: #2 Auburn 24, #6 Georgia 21.

Jon Butler: #2 Auburn 24, #6 Georgia 17.

Dustin Beard: #2 Auburn 27, #6 Georgia 21.

Jack Geary III: #2 Auburn 31, #6 Georgia 24.

Brian Willis: #6 Georgia 26, #2 Auburn 23.

Big 12 Championship Game:

#3 Oklahoma (11-1) vs. #11 TCU (10-2)

(Sat., 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX, Oklahoma -7)

Brian Willis: DE Mat Boesen and the TCU defense look to put a stop to the crotch-grabbing sensation that is Baker Mayfield. Mayfield boasts the nation’s second most passing yards (4,097) to go along with a league leading TD:INT ratio at 37:5. Mayfield has a knack for improvising plays that result in positive yardage when things break down. I expect TCU to have a linebacker spying Mayfield on every play. I don’t see TCU putting up much of a fight in this game. #3 Oklahoma 41, #11 TCU 24.

Dustin Beard: The Big 12 Championship game has high scoring shootout written all over it. The Oklahoma Sooners defeated the TCU Horned Frogs earlier in the season 38-20, and there’s no question TCU wants revenge. The Horned Frogs have little to lose, and I’m sure there’s nothing more that TCU wants than to be the ones to spoil the Sooners playoff dreams. That’s going to be a tall task however as Baker Mayfield and the Sooners offense is rolling. Mayfield is my Heisman pick, and despite his antics on the field, has been phenomenal this year. TCU will find ways to score, as it’s not the hardest thing to do against Oklahoma’s defense, but aren’t going to be able to match OU’s high scoring offense. TCU’s request for revenge is going to coming up just short, as I predict a Sooners victory to clinch a playoff spot 45-32! #3 Oklahoma 45, #11 TCU 32.

Chris Chastain: The return of this game was much needed for College Football. Now Oklahoma actually has a chance to make the playoffs. TCU’s defense is the best in the BIG 12 but they are facing Heisman Candidate and the favorite in quarterback Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma has the best offense in the country. I don’t see TCU shutting down Oklahoma’s offense for four quarters. And of course when I say shutting the offense down I mean keeping it quiet. Oklahoma will have a huge day but I still believe this game will be competitive at least for awhile. But there is way too much offensive firepower for the Sooners. #3 Oklahoma 38, #11 TCU 30.

Other Predictions for This Game:

Tristan Beckmann: #3 OU 41, #11 TCU 23.

Eric Jensen: #3 OU 35, #11 TCU 31.

Jack Geary III: #3 OU 38, #11 TCU 30.

Jon Butler: #3 OU 38, #11 TCU 31.

Heath Kyser: #11 TCU 31, #3 OU 28.

ACC Championship Game:

#1 Clemson (11-1) vs. #7 Miami (FL) (10-1)

(Sat., 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC, Clemson -9.5)

Tristan Beckmann: The ACC Championship Game is finally back to a level in which two playoff contending teams will face off to determine who represents the conference in the four team playoff extravaganza. The Miami Hurricanes are 10-1 and coming in fresh off a disastrous upset loss to Pittsburgh to end the regular season. They’re led by a tough defense “notoriously known as the boys who started the turnover chain”. Malik Rosier is an average starting quarterback whose flaws showed in last week’s loss and he seems to be a major issue for the Hurricanes. It’s one that I believe will end up holding them back from becoming a playoff team. Opposing the Hurricanes on Saturday night is the Clemson Tigers whom are 11-1 and reeling on a win streak since their own disaster of a loss to Syracuse earlier in the year. The difference here: Clemson has an advantage in the experience category which I believe will play a big factor in this game. Kelly Bryant has looked really good all season long and he has high powered offensive weapons all around him to part with that ferocious Tigers defense. This combination will be too much for Malik Rosier and Miami in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson will dominate in all four quarters, in all facets of the game, and I’m predicting them to win BIG! #1 Clemson 63, #7 Miami (FL) 27.

Jack Geary III: Everyone expects Clemson to beat Miami. They’re favored by almost 10 points! Miami is now looked down upon after the devasting first loss to Pittsburgh. I for one, was impressed with Miami’s season and believe a win against Clemson will throw them in the playoffs. I think Malik Rosier has the game of his life and helps the Hurricanes to an upset of the defending champion Clemson Tigers. The U is back! #7 Miami (FL) 30, #1 Clemson 26.

Dustin Beard: The ACC Championship game is sure to be a good one, as the winner of this match up will basically be guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoffs. Miami and Clemson have gone back and forth in the rankings all year. Each team enters this game with 1 bad loss to unranked teams, while Clemson has had the more impressive wins. The Hurricanes lead by dynamic QB Malik Rosier, are coming off their first loss of the season against ACC rival Pitt. A game that lead to Rosier being benched in the 4th quarter. Clemson is coming off a big win over South Carolina, and while their offense isn’t quite as powerful as Miami’s, they have scored 20+ points in all but one game, and their defense has been stout pretty much all season. This game is going to be a close one with a lot on the line, and it’s all going to come down to that turnover chain. If Miami can force Clemson into turning the ball over, they will keep their National Championship hopes alive. However, I expect Dabo Swinney to have this Clemson team as ready as ever, and the experience of the Tigers will really show. It will be a fun one Clemson is going to prove again that they are for real, and an elite football program. #1 Clemson 35, #7 Miami (FL) 21.

Other Predictions for This Game:

Eric Jensen: #7 Miami 14, #1 Clemson 10.

Jon Butler: #1 Clemson 38, #7 Miami 27.

Heath Kyser: #1 Clemson 27, #7 Miami 17.

Chris Chastain: #1 Clemson 48, #7 Miami 13.

Brian Willis: #1 Clemson 42, #7 Miami 27.

Big Ten Championship Game:

#4 Wisconsin (12-0) vs. #8 Ohio St. (10-2)

(Sat., 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX, Ohio State -6.5)

Jack Geary III: Wisconsin has been doubted all year long because of their wimpy schedule. Now, they have a golden opportunity to prove to the committee they belong in the playoffs. It’ll be a tough matchup for Wisconsin based on just pure athleticism and talent. Although, I’m expecting Wisconsin to keep their winning streak alive and narrowly defeat Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. #4 Wisconsin 17, #8 Ohio State 10.

Brian Willis: Wisconsin has been searching all season long for a worthy adversary and a win that would look good on their unblemished resume. A victory over Ohio State would guarantee the Badgers a spot in the final 4. Wisconsin strategy to winning this game is as follows: Keep the Buckeye’s offense off the field. The Badgers will look to their run game to control the time of possession and keep the ball out of QB J.T. Barrett’s hands as much as possible. Barrett has shown that he does have his flaws however. A four interception game against Iowa has surely given the Badger’s a blueprint to work with. #8 Ohio State 24, #4 Wisconsin 23.

Jon Butler: The Ohio State Buckeyes have not been as dominant as most fans expected them to be during the 2017 season. The Wisconsin Badgers have had plenty of questions asked about them, but they answered every single one as the season progressed. The Buckeyes have the clear advantage in this game when it comes to the quarterback position with J.T. Barrett being one of the best in the nation. The Badgers quarterback, Alex Hornibrook, is an average quarterback, but that is about the only spot where the Badgers are at a disadvantage. Wisconsin has one of the best defenses from the 2017 season along with a very powerful running game that will test the Buckeyes. The Badgers will win this game and with the undefeated season, they should be a lock for the college football playoffs. #4 Wisconsin 31, #8 Ohio State 28

Other Predictions for This Game:

T. Beckmann: #8 Ohio St 31, #4 Wisconsin 28

Eric Jensen: #8 Ohio St. 42, #4 Wisconsin 31.

D. Beard: #8 Ohio St. 28, #4 Wisconsin 27.

H. Kyser: #4 Wisconsin 27, #8 Ohio St. 24.

C. Chastain: #8 Ohio St. 26, #4 Wisconsin 23.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed! Let us know what you think about our picks and give us your picks on Twitter! Peace out!


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