4th & Inches College Football: Conference Championship Week - Austin Snyder- Raleigh NC

4th & Inches College Football: Conference Championship Week - Austin Snyder- Raleigh NC

Regular season is over. For most, anyway. Now it’s time to determine who truly reigns supreme in each conference. And despite being the end of the season, there is still plenty at stake. Automatic bowl bids, jockeying for better bowl games, and last efforts to lock up the coveted playoff spots.

With the selection committee making their picks on Sunday, it’s only right that we squeeze ours in beforehand too. So be on the lookout for a special edition of 4th & Inches on Sunday, December 3rd. We’ll tell you who we think fill out the 4 bracket seeds, who will be first man out, and who we see as the biggest snub.

Getting to the end for us – once bowls are announced we’ll put together a bowl game edition, and be following through the national championship. But after this weekend, probably only 2-3 more editions of 4th & Inches. But let’s stay focused on the immediate future and dive into the conference championship matchups. Just one order of business beforehand…

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 10.53.57 AM.png

Ya main man still got it. Can either of these chuckleheads pull off a last second upset? Doubt it. But let’s at least humor them…

 

1st & 5: Matchups for Top 10 Teams

1 Clemson at 7 Miami - December 2nd, 8:00 PM ET (Charlotte, NC)

Clemson.png
Miami.png

Austin: Miami was a bit of a dark horse this year. Climbed almost to the top of the mountain and stumbled right at the end. A loss here definitely keeps them out of the playoffs, but a win - especially a dominant win - could be enough to boost them back into contention. Unfortunately for the Canes, I think the Tigers have are more athletic, bigger up front on both sides of the ball, and have a fantastic one-two combo in between Dabo’s coaching and on-field execution. Unless the Turnover Chain is out all night, Clemson will win their third straight ACC title and punch their third ticket to the College Football Playoff.

Final Pick: Clemson

Clackers: At the beginning of the year I thought Miami would be an underdog in the Coastal but not to this extent. While they continued to wow me throughout the year, the loss to Pitt was abysmal. There is a lot on the line in this game, as I believe the winner will advance to the CFP. I think Clemson has more experience on this stage and are playing some of their best ball right now. Dabo will know how to prepare for this game and get his team ready. Basically a home game for the Tigers, which will be a big help. Tigers pull it out in what I think we be a relatively low scoring game, 20-17ish.

Final Pick: Clemson

Gumpa: Clemson and Oklahoma. I said it here before. Clemson has been there, done that and Miami is the new kid on the block. Do they have the ACC Coach of the Year? Yeah. Is Dabo still a better coach? Yeah. Miami has played hot and cold all year, nearly losing several games. Winning the close ones that you don’t play well in is usually the mark of a great team, but I just don’t see Miami getting over on Clemson, who has played well all year, save for the perfect storm game against Syracuse, where they were on the road, lost their QB and Syracuse executed a perfect game plan.

Final Pick: Clemson

2 Auburn vs 6 Georgia - December 2nd, 4:00 PM ET (Atlanta, GA)

Auburn.jpeg
Georgia.png

Austin: I’ve said this a lot this season, but I won’t be surprised if I get this one wrong. This is my toughest pick of the week. Gut instinct says Auburn. After the way they dismantled Georgia 3 weeks ago and then stopped Bama last week, it’s an easy reaction to have. But here’s the thing - beating the same team twice in a year is not an easy thing to do, unless you get to play someone as bad as ECU twice this year. Further, I think there would be universal agreement that Georgia is a better team than what was shown in that first matchup. I expect Georgia to come out pissed off and bring heavy push and pressure on both sides of the line. Kerryon Johnson’s injury only helps tilt the table in Georgia’s favor. I foresee this game being a closer affair than the first time around.

Final Pick: Georgia

Clackers: Flat out Auburn is playing some of the best football in the nation right now. They are riding high after blowing out Georgia a few weeks ago and taking down Bama in their rival game. Georgia will need to play fearless football in order to win this; it can be just as much a mental game as a physical game and you better believe Auburn is in their head. Yes, beating a team twice in a year is tough but game 1 was a blowout and Auburn has only improved. They will take this one.

Final Pick: Auburn

Gumpa: Auburn has been rolling lately, but I think Georgia is the better team here. They got shellacked by Auburn earlier in the season at Auburn and I think they come in to this one fired up. I think we’ll see a bit of a hangover for Auburn after the big win over rival Bama last week. They’ll come out a bit flat and Georgia will jump on them.

Final Pick: Georgia

3 Oklahoma vs 11 TCU - December 2nd, 12:30 PM ET (Arlington, TX)

OK.png
TCU.png

Austin: Like Auburn and Georgia, these two teams have already met once in the last several weeks. Sooners came out on top, winning by 18. I know I just said it’s exceedingly difficult to beat the same team twice, but it’s hard to bet against Baker Mayfield. The guy is undoubtedly the best QB in college football this year, and has some serious weapons around him in that Sooner offense. I think TCU is a fantastic team and could hang with just about any other team in the nation. I just don’t think they quite have enough to outlast Oklahoma. Have a feeling TCU will make it a fight, but ultimately it will be a fairly similar result - let’s call it 14 instead of 18 this time.

Final Pick: Oklahoma

Clackers: TCU has been a great team all season, but I just don’t see how they can beat Oklahoma. Mayfield is killing the game and put all my money on him as Heisman. Sure, TCU has a good defense, points wise, but have played an arguably weak schedule. This will be a shootout, but we know Oklahoma will always come out victorious in those games.

Final Pick: Oklahoma

Gumpa: Again, Clemson v. Oklahoma. TCU is a good team, but they have a history of not finishing out seasons. Oklahoma has the best QB in college football. Baker puts on a show in this one and Oklahoma wins in a shootout. Their offense is just so much better, putting up close to 600 total yards per game and 45 points.

Final Pick: Oklahoma

4 Wisconsin at 8 Ohio State - December 2nd, 8:00 PM ET (Indianapolis, IN)

Wisconsin.jpeg
Ohio State.jpeg

Austin: I have never wanted Ohio State to win a game more than this one. I think that’s the best shot at keeping Wisconsin out of the playoffs. I realize they are undefeated, but they haven’t played a single team worth mentioning. UCF and USF had an absolute thriller last week and the Knights only moved up one spot. AND still have a stronger schedule than Wisconsin. How the Badgers are sitting in 4th absolutely blows my mind. It’s a clear-cut illustration of the Power 5 bias. Wisconsin has looked great this season, but again - they haven’t been tested. If they truly are that good, the Buckeyes may be in for a long day given how they played Oklahoma, Penn State and Michigan. I’m inclined to believe the Badgers aren’t the studs everyone else thinks they are and will be exposed Saturday evening.

Final Pick: O-H-I-O

Clackers: Wisconsin has been the same team for the past 10+ years:  power running behind a huge line and mediocre QB play. They have had the easiest schedule this season of any of the top 5 teams and they won’t have enough to hold off Ohio State (I hate myself for making this pick)

Final Pick: Fuckeyes

Gumpa: OSU takes this one. And then they don’t make the playoff. Yeah, they’re a conference champion. But they’ll be a two-loss conference champion and Alabama is a better team, even without the championship. Wisconsin hasn’t had a game like this all season. I just want to see all of the Ohio State fans cry about being left out after they bumped Penn State last season and stood around justifying it.

Final Pick: Ohio State

10 USC at 12 Stanford - December 1st, 8:00 PM ET (Santa Clara, CA)

USC.png
Stanford.jpg

Austin: USC beat Stanford by 18 when they met in week 2. USC lost to Notre Dame by 35 just over a month ago. And Stanford just beat Notre Dame by 18 last week. So, you can make an argument for either team here, really. USC already won a head-to-head, so it is implied they should do it again. But looking at common opponents, that Notre Dame game is the only differentiator. That matchup would suggest Stanford should win round 2. I’m inclined to agree with the latter. We’ve had our doubts about USC all season and they never really solidified their supposed dominance since that first meeting. Sure, they’ve won games and gotten to the conference championship, but a few of those games were a lot closer than they should have been. Granted, the same argument could be made for Stanford. Several of their wins, after the first USC game, have been closer than expected. But there are 2 games that stand out to me in Stanford’s favor, Notre Dame and Washington. USC has been a lock for the Pac-12 South since week one, basically, while the Pac-12 race got interesting towards the end of the season. Washington, Washington State and Stanford all jockeying for that top spot. Despite their struggles, Washington has a great squad and outlasting them late in the season says a lot to me about the grit Stanford is capable of. Round 2 will be closer than round 1, with the Cardinal taking the edge.

Final Pick: Stanford

Clackers: Heard on the radio today some analyst say that USC still has a chance at the CFP - I couldn’t stop laughing. Clemson, Miami, Georgia, and Alabama are still better teams than USC regardless of a Pac-12 Championship. This game will be for bragging rights and a spot in a decent bowl game. You will see the typical struggles for Darnold which, with the way Stanford played last week against Notre Dame, will cost them the game.

Final Pick: Stanford

Gumpa: This will be the first time that a team beats Stanford’s football team twice in a season since the New Zealand All Blacks did it in 1913. Yes, Stanford’s official football team played rugby then. The Trojans have had an up and down year, but so has Stanford. I agree with Brian that this will not be for a spot in the playoff, USC will only jump to about the 6 or 7 spot with a win here. I don’t love this pick, but here it is.

Final Pick: USC

 

2nd & 3: Sleeper Matchups

Army vs Navy - December 9th, 3:00 PM ET (Philadelphia, PA)

Army.png
Navy.png

Austin: Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here as this game isn’t technically until next week, but I wanted to make sure we covered it. It’s not always a contest, but it’s one of my favorite games of the season for the sheer pomp & circumstance. One of the best parts? The special uniforms. Those Airborne uniforms Army wore last year? Baller AF. And the Blue Angels inspired uniforms for this year? Get the fuck right outta here. Are you shitting me? Those things are AWESOME. As for the game? Army is the better of the two teams, and won their first game in this series in 14 years last year. But like we said last week, throw out the rules for rivalry games.

Final Pick: BEAT ARMY!

Clackers: This game is always a great matchup and fun to watch. This year Army has the better record; however, Navy has had the tougher schedule. I think Navy has the upper hand skill wise and will pull this one out. But we all know who the real winners are...

Final Pick: ‘Merica!

Gumpa: Navy has some dope unis for this one. I just hope the Blue Angel inspired uniforms gives us a dick in the sky jet trail touchdown celebration. I don’t know who to pick and I don’t really care, but since a bunch of my good friends are Navy guys and they have sick get ups, I’ll go for them.

Final Pick: Navy

14 UCF vs 20 Memphis - December 2nd, 12:00 PM ET

UCF.png
Memphis.png

Austin: I don’t think these two teams are as far apart as the rankings would suggest. Memphis is in a good position to pull an upset and end UCF’s perfect record. Not sure how this game could be more exciting than the UCF-USF game last week, but it still has the potential to be a thrilling game. I’m buying into the Knights hype.

Final Pick: UCF

Clackers: This is the only other matchup between two Top 25 teams this week. More than just the AAC Championship on the line here as UCF looks to cap off a perfect season. UCF destroyed the Tigers earlier in the season by 27 points. Both teams have high powered offenses but in the end UCF has the advantage defensively and will get their undefeated season in a home game.

Final Pick: UCF

Gumpa: Clackers has this weird love affair with UCF. I don’t get it. Who gives a shit about a mid-major that is undefeated? Yeah, it’s impressive, but they also didn’t play three games. They drilled Memphis earlier in the season at home. I don’t think this one ends up 40-13 again, but I don’t think UCF drops this one and they end up ranked in the top 10 at the end of the season.

Final Pick: UCF

25 Fresno State at Boise State - December 2nd, 7:45 PM ET

fresno state.jpeg
Boise State.jpeg

Austin: Yet another two-time matchup. I’d like Fresno State’s chances of a repeat better if they were on neutral ground, but I think Boise comes out fired up and ready to avenge that loss in front of the home crowd.

Final Pick: Blue Turf

Clackers: They played each other last week at Fresno State and the Bulldogs won by 11. However, Boise State is just too good at home; over .900 since 1999. That statistic is too hard to overlook, and Fresno is overrated.

Final Pick: Blue Mountain State

Gumpa: Haven’t heard from Boise State in a while. But they are the winningest D1 college football program in something like the last 10 years. Incredible. Fresno State has been better more recently, thanks to a guy named Derek Carr. This is a repeat of last week’s rivalry game between these two teams, one that Fresno State took 28-17. But that was at home. These are two good defensive teams in a rivalry game that just happens to also be the Mountain West Championship. There is something about Boise State playing at home on the Smurf turf that I think helps them pull this one out.

Final Pick: Boise State

 

3rd & Long: Goin’ for broke

FSU vs Louisiana-Monroe - December 2nd, 12:00 PM ET

FSU.jpeg
Louisiana Monroe.png

Austin: FSU rescheduled this game that was cancelled by hurricanes in a last-ditch effort to secure enough wins for bowl eligibility. There’s no way around it, it hasn’t been a good season for the Noles. They’ve managed to claw back a little bit of respect. And really, only a few plays away from an 8-3 record. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Fact is, they must win this game. The biggest question here is - how does the team respond, on the field, given the distraction caused by rumors that Jimbo is headed to Texas A&M? I’m not sure myself, but I’d be more worried if there were a better team on the other side of the ball.

Final Pick: FSU

Clackers: FSU needs this win to finish, a rather disappointing season, with a .500 record. This is a rescheduled cupcake game due to the hurricane that rolled through Florida in the beginning of September. Seminoles will beat the Warhawks like an Aguayo brother at a Fraternity party. A parting W for Jimbo.

Final Pick: FSU

Gumpa: Another great game in championship weekend. Wait, no it isn’t. This is a sad desperation play by FSU to get bowel eligible. Yeah, that wasn’t a typo. Even Austin can barely stomach them. Maybe this win gets them into the high school national championship game and Jimbo doesn’t bail on them for Texas A&M.

Final Pick: FSU

 

Agree? Disagree? Conference championship we missed that should have been covered? Let us know! And don’t forget to check back in tomorrow for our College Football Playoff Selection special!

Austin considers himself an adopted Raleigh native, having lived here for almost fifteen years. A graduate of the NC State Poole College of Management he currently works in finance for a Raleigh-based contract research organization. In his spare time he can be found at the gym learning Gracie Jiu Jitsu, or working on his startup, Osprey Small Business Consulting. He also enjoys traveling and trying new, local eateries with his wife, Kassy.