Conference Championship Games

2023 Power Five Conference Championship Games Preview

The regular season in college football has ended and that means it’s now time for one of the best dates of the year, conference championship weekend. This year, these games have big impact on the College Football Playoff more than ever. Not only were three of the power five matchups decided in the last regular season game but all five are different matchups than last year’s conference championship games. It has been an exciting year of college football but even more fun begins this weekend.

2023 Power Five Conference Championship Games Preview

Pac-12 Championship: (5) Oregon vs (3) Washington

Date: Friday, 12/1
Time: 8:00 ET
Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas (NV)

The first power five game to kick off championship weekend will be a highly anticipated rematch between number five Oregon and number three Washington. In their first meeting on October 14th, the Huskies gave the Ducks their only loss of the season in a 36-33 shootout. Both quarterbacks put on a show as Bo Nix put up 337 yards and two touchdowns while Michael Penix Jr. put up 302 yards and four touchdowns. Both teams had a 100-yard rusher and at least one 100-yard receiver, with Washington having two.

Coming into this rematch, both teams have one of the best offenses in the nation. Washington is ranked 11th in points scored and total yards while ranking second in passing yards. That’s impressive but Oregon ranks second in both points scored and total yards while ranking first in passing yards. Not only do the Ducks have the advantage on offense but they have a great advantage on defense. They’re a top 10 unit in points allowed and rushing yards allowed while ranked 15th in total yards allowed. Washington on the other hand is down in the ranks in those categories. But with these two offenses, it’s expected to be the thriller it was back in October with talent all around and two Heisman hopefuls under center.

Big 12 Championship: (18) Oklahoma State vs (7) Texas

Date: Saturday, 12/2
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Staduim, Arlington (TX)

Oklahoma State clinched their spot in the Big 12 Championship Game after a double-overtime comeback against BYU last week. They now face Texas, who will play for a conference title for the first time since 2018. This will also be the last time they play in this game as they move to the SEC in 2024.

One area to watch in this game is the run game for both teams. For Oklahoma State, Ollie Gordon has been sensational, leading the nation in rushing with 1,580 and is number two in total touchdowns with 22 (21 rushing). While the Cowboys have him, the Longhorns have one of the best offensive lines in the country, holding opponents to only 85 yards on the ground, which is top-five. For the Texas running game, they lost star Jonathon Brooks. While that’s huge, their backup running backs have each had a 100-yard game. While the Longhorns need a lot of help, they’re still playing for a chance to go to the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma State would love to spoil any chance of that.

SEC Championship: (8) Alabama vs (1) Georgia

Date: Saturday, 12/2
Time: 4:00 ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (GA)

For the third time since 2018, Alabama will face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. These two teams met in this game two years ago and Alabama won. Georgia will look to flip the script and win their second consecutive conference championship after beating LSU last year while Alabama is looking to win their eighth SEC title in 12 years.

Georgia comes in as the number one team in the country and has a chance to lock up their trip to the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs are known for having a great defense to go along with a good offense that can complement it. This year, you could say the roles have reversed, having a great offense and a good defense. While Alabama’s offense isn’t up to par with Georgia’s, something they have going for them is the mobility of Jalen Milroe. Defenses have to account for not only his arm but also his ability to run, which makes him dangerous and a reason why he has only gotten better as the seasons progressed. Even if Alabama can pull off the upset, they’ll need many things to go their way to get into the playoff but this game will be one of the most anticipated of their past meetings.

Big Ten Championship: (16) Iowa vs (2) Michigan

Date: Saturday, 12/2
Time: 8:00 ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (IN)

Both Michigan and Iowa will face off in the Big Ten Championship Game for the second time in three years, also facing each other in 2021 when the Wolverines rolled 42-3. While it might not be that big of a blowout, Michigan is heavily favored against Iowa. Big Blue clinched their spot in the title game after a 30-24 win against bitter rival then-number two Ohio State. J.J. McCarthy only threw for 148 yards and a touchdown but that’s all that was needed when you have Blake Corum rushing for 88 yards and two touchdowns along with a defense that picked off Kyle McCord twice.

Iowa on the other hand only lost two games this season despite having an abysmal offense. They’ve scored over 25 points twice this entire season and have scored 20 or less in six of their last seven games yet they’ve only lost once during that stretch. That tells you how dominant the defense has been for Iowa. That’s their one hope for this game but the one time they faced a ranked opponent (at then-number seven Penn State), they got shutout 31-0. One would think if Iowa wants to keep this close, they have to keep playing defense like they have been all season and dial up some effective plays on offense.

ACC Championship: (14) Louisville vs (4) Florida State

Date: Saturday, 12/2
Time: 8:00 ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte (NC)

After dropping to number five in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, they beat Florida on the road by nine and moved back up to the fourth spot. After losing quarterback Jordan Travis, there are questions surrounding whether Florida State even belongs in the top four anymore. Coming into this game, many thought Louisville had a chance at taking the Seminoles down but after their loss to Kentucky last week, not many are sure anymore.

Florida State still has a talented team despite losing their star QB. On offense, they have Trey Benson at running back, who has rushed for 14 touchdowns this season, and star wide receiver Keon Coleman, who’s had 11 touchdowns. On defense, they have talent throughout the the front end to back end, including the powerful linebacker Kalen DeLoach, who’s registered 63 total tackles, (10.5 for loss), seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. This unit has limited teams to just under 17 points a game, which will also help backup quarterback turned-starter Tate Rodemaker. Even with Lousville’s last loss, they still have a chance to pull this off. They are averaging 33 points per game on offense while only allowing 20 points per game on defense. Florida State is only a slight favorite so the Cardinals have a chance to make this a ball game.

Main Image: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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