Conference championship games include some familiar matchups
Some familiar matchups in conference championship games should help sort out the playoff picture.
In the Southeastern Conference championship game, No. 6 Georgia (No. 6 College Football Playoff ) seeks revenge against No. 4 Auburn (No. 2 CFP) with a playoff berth on the line. No. 2 Oklahoma (No. 3 CFP) figures to earn a playoff spot as well if it beats No. 10 TCU (No. 11 CFP) for a second time this season in the Big 12 championship game.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten have championship games that aren’t rematches, but both contests have playoff implications.
No. 1 Clemson (No. 1 CFP) meets No. 7 Miami (No. 7 CFP) for the ACC title. No. 3 Wisconsin (No. 4 CFP) faces No. 8 Ohio State (No. 8 CFP) for the Big Ten championship.
Georgia vs. Auburn in Atlanta
This year’s Southeastern Conference championship game is a rematch of a mismatch. Auburn is on a five-game winning streak that includes a 40-17 home blowout of Georgia on Nov. 11.
The big question heading into their second meeting involves the health of Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for 167 yards against Georgia in the regular season. Johnson injured his right shoulder last week in a 26-14 victory over Alabama . Auburn coach Gus Malzahn calls Johnson’s status ”a day-to-day deal.”
Saturday’s Auburn-Georgia matchup ends Alabama’s three-year reign as SEC champions.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Heisman Trophy has pretty much been Mayfield’s to lose ever since he threw for a school-record 598 yards in a 62-52 victory over Oklahoma State on Nov. 4. A big performance against TCU would make Mayfield even more of a front-runner. Mayfield threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-20 victory over TCU on Nov. 11.
Mayfield leads the nation in completion percentage (.714), pass efficiency (203.3), yards passing per attempt (11.8) and yards per completion (16.6). The guy who finished fourth in the Heisman balloting in 2015 and third last year likely will take home the trophy this time.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
23 – That’s the magic number for Clemson. The Tigers have won the last 55 games in which they’ve held an opponent under 23 points.
26 – Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary has run for 26 touchdowns this season. He’s three shy of the Conference USA record held by Florida Atlantic running backs coach Kevin Smith, who ran for 29 touchdowns in 2007 with Central Florida.
35 – That’s how many consecutive seasons Florida State has reached a bowl game, which represents the nation’s longest active streak. The Seminoles must beat Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday to become eligible for a 36th straight bowl appearance.
95.3 – The combined scoring averages for No. 12 UCF (CFP No. 14) and No. 16 Memphis (CFP No. 20), who will meet in the American Athletic Conference championship game. UCF scores 48.3 points per game to lead all Football Bowl Subdivision teams . Memphis averages 47 points to rank second.
120 – The number of yards Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor needs to break the FBS freshman record held by former Oklahoma star Adrian Peterson. Taylor has rushed for 1,806 yards. Peterson ran for 1,925 yards in 2004.
7-1 – Oklahoma’s record in Big 12 championship games. This marks the first Big 12 championship game since 2010.
2004 – The last time Toledo played in the Mid-American Conference championship game before this week. Toledo is facing Akron, which is making its first MAC championship game appearance since 2005.
UNDER THE RADAR
No. 25 Fresno State (CFP No. 25) at Boise State
These two teams just met last week, with Fresno State winning 28-17 at home. Now they meet again in Boise with the Mountain West Conference championship at stake. This is the first time two teams have faced each other in a regular-season finale and a conference championship game since Stanford and UCLA did it in 2012. Former California coach Jeff Tedford has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in his first season at Fresno State. After going 1-11 last season, the Bulldogs are 9-3.
HOT SEAT WATCH
Mark Whipple, Massachusetts
Whipple owns a 12-35 record in four seasons during his second stint at UMass but has rallied the Minutemen lately. After losing its first six games this season, UMass has won four of five. The only loss during that stretch was a 34-23 decision at No. 24 Mississippi State (No. 23 CFP). Whipple could help his cause and cap this solid finish to the season Saturday when UMass visits Florida International. Whipple previously coached UMass from 1998-2003 and led the Minutemen to a 1998 NCAA Division I-AA title.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Follow Steve Megargee at www.twitter.com/stevemegargee
- Auburn Tigers
- Baker Mayfield
- Big Ten
- Conference USA
- FBS (I-A)
- Florida Atlantic Owls
- Fresno State Bulldogs
- Jonathan Taylor
- Kerryon Johnson
- Massachusetts Minutemen
- Mountain West
- TCU Horned Frogs
- UCF Knights