The weekend kicks off tonight with the Pac-12 title game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California with No. 8 Colorado taking on No. 4 Washington. The Buffaloes have been the surprise of college football this year and have been on a roll. In the last two weeks, they've beaten two squads ranked in the Top 25 with a 38-24 win over Washington State and 27-22 victory against Utah to clinch the Pac-12 South at 8-1. In their first five years in the conference, they only managed five conference wins in total. So they get this year's Ashy to Classy Award.
The Buffaloes Quarterback Sefo Liufau is one of the best players you might not have heard of yet. The senior has thrown for 2,150 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 483 yards and seven more scores. After this game and their bowl appearance, he'll leave campus as the school's all-time leader in passing yards and total offense.
Colorado will have their hands full with the Huskies, who score about 45 points per game. Washington sophomore QB Jake Browning averages a touchdown for every 12 passes that he throws, and he leads the conference with 40 touchdown passes. And he has some devastating weapons at his disposal. Fellow sophomore running back Myles Gaskin has 1,180 yards thus far, senior John Ross is second nationally with 16 touchdown catches and Dante Pettis isn't far behind with 14 scoring grabs of his own.
This will be a great matchup because Colorado's defensive secondary is legit.
Although the Big 12 doesn't have a title game, the winner of the annual Bedlam game between No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State will be crowned the conference champ. The last time the Cowboys played in Norman, they won an overtime thriller, 38-35. This is the second straight year that this matchup will determine the conference title. Last year, in Stillwater, the Sooners won 58-23 en route to a spot in the college football playoffs.
This contest will feature two very good quarterbacks. Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph has completed 64% of his passes this year for 3,591 yards with 25 touchdowns. OU's Baker Mayfield, a Heisman finalist last year, looks like he should be invited back to New York for this year's ceremony as well. The 6-foot-1 junior from Austin, Texas is completing over 71% of his passes and has thrown for 3,381 yards and 35 TD's. If he keeps playing at the same clip, he's got a chance to break college football's all-time record in career passer efficiency rating.
When the Sooners have the ball, keep your eyes on their senior wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who averages close to 20 yards per catch, has 11 touchdowns of 40 yards or longer and five catches of 60 yards or more. He's been unstoppable after a slow start to the season due to leg injuries, and no one has had an answer for him in October and November. Over the last eight games, he has 15 TD grabs. Add in the dynamic running back tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, and Oklahoma is very fun to watch when they have the ball.
The winner of No. 6 Wisconsin vs No. 8 Penn State in the Big Ten championship game remains alive for a playoff spot, depending on how Washington and Clemson look in their games this weekend. Wisconsin is riding a six-game winning streak. Their defense leads the nation with 21 interceptions and in atypical Big Ten football fashion, the Badgers have averaged close to 43 points over their last three games. Their defensive stud is J.J. Watt's baby brother, T.J. Watt, who has 13 tackles for losses and 9½ sacks this year.
Penn State walks in with an eight-game winning streak, and they've been putting up big points on the scoreboard as well, averaging over 40 per game over the last two months. Both squads have excellent running backs in the Badgers Cory Clement, who has 1,140 rushing yards and 13 TD's, and the Nittany Lions' Saquon Barkley, who has accumulated 1,219 yards and 15 touchdowns.
In the SEC championship game, No.1 Alabama looks to close out the season undefeated against No. 15 Florida. The Crimson Tide have won 24 consecutive games and Jalen Hurts, the only true freshman to ever start for a Nick Saban-led squad at Quarterback, has been a revelation in completing 66% of his throws for 2,454 yards and 21 touchdowns, in addition to his 840 yards with 12 TD's as a runner.
Florida's defensive secondary is top notch, and they'll have to be at their best in order to slow down Hurts and cause some turnovers. Alabama, should they win, will be the first team to win three straight SEC championships since Steve Spurrier had the Gator program humming when Florida won four in a row from 1993 to 1996.
The Florida offense scares no one this year, and Alabama should coast into the playoffs as prohibitive favorites to defend their national championship.
If No. 3 Clemson beats No. 23 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, we could be primed for a playoff semifinal matchup between the Tigers and Alabama, who delivered an all-time classic in last year's national title game. Deshaun Watson is phenomenal, but Virginia Tech's QB, Jerod Evans, ain't too shabby.
Evans completes 64% of his throws and has passed for 3,039 yards. He is the school's single-season record holder with 34 touchdowns accounted for, 26 touchdown passes and 3,752 yards of total offense. Watson has passed for 3,626 yards and 34 scores.