So it has come to this. The regular season of college football, such as it is, sputters/surges (your choice) to a close, finally, this weekend before Christmas.
Postponements. Cancellations. Or, in some cases, postponement, rescheduling, cancellation, which is to say there shall be no gridiron tussle this annum between Indiana and Purdue for the Ye Olde Oaken Bucket. (Though, unless it too is deep sixed between now and Saturday, Paul Bunyan’s axe, another grande olde Midwestern souvenir of victory, shall be carried back to campus by either Minnesota’s Golden Gophers or Wisconsin’s Badgers.)
Then there’s the case of Tulsa and Cincinnati, whose initial regular campaign meeting was postponed, but rescheduled, then postponed again, rescheduled one more time, then cancelled altogether. Ah, but the duo still are slated for the fourth time to brawl it out to determine the AAC champion. The winner is prognosticated below, should you choose to read on.
One of those DNPs last weekend was Boilermakers vs. Hoosiers. So that one goes in my third column. But Army skunked Navy, Georgia prevailed, and Louisville put its mettle on display while whomping Wake uppaside the head.
3-1-1 increased my winning percentage for the season to 47-26-7.
Now it’s Conference Championship Weekend. Sorta. ‘Cause there’s a whole passel of other games too.
Oregon’s in for a shot at the PAC title, after Washington went the way of COVID. And Ohio State will play for the B10 crown, which the Buckeyes probably, maybe, arguably, perhaps don’t deserve, so their presence comes with a gerrymandered asterisk.
Oregon vs. Southern California. Last year’s league and Rose Bowl champion Quack enter the title battle at 3-2, coming off two straight Ls, to Cal and arch rival Beavers. It’s been an underwhelming year for Mario Cristobal’s underperforming Ducks. Who can thank positive test results among UDub’s Huskies for their admission to this one. Yet they are only slight u-dogs to the hard to figure Trojans. Southern Cal is undefeated in five, but came from behind in the final minute of three of those to prevail. Good? Lucky? And, if the latter, will it keep up? Nope. Quack.
Oklahoma vs. Iowa State. Iowa State has leaped up the CFP standings in this odd year mo’ better than the program’s slow but steady rise to prominence during Matt Campbell’s entire regime. An opening weekend beatdown at home to Louisiana did not derail the 8-2 Cyclones. One of those Ws was by a TD and Try over Boomer Sooner, this weekend’s foe for the championship. Oklahoma has won six straight since that defeat in Ames. Lincoln Riley’s gang is primed to retain its primacy in the B12. Breece Hall and Seedy K say, “Not gonna.”
Louisiana vs. Coastal Carolina. Of the many oddities of this 2020 season, the rise of interest in Sun Belt football may be the strangest. It’s fueled by more exposure, the Rajun’ Cajuns smackdown of Iowa State in their opener, the Chanticleer’s undefeated season, the 11th W of which was a much watched last minute vanquishing of BYU, and the 4th of which was an escape over La. in Lafayette. Billy Napier seems to be the Flav o’ Flav of the Month on the Coaching Carousel. Might he be the next guy at Auburn? Jamey Chadwell is also a hot commodity, whose name keeps cropping up in conjecture. I’m sticking with Teal in what shapes up as the weekend’s most compelling contest. . . .
Cincinnati vs. Tulsa. . . . unless one considers the third attempt at a game between the Bearcats and Golden Hurricane of more engrossment. Since, you know, Cincy and Coastal are the P5 hopefuls for that coveted New Year’s Day slot. (Suggestion: Watch both these G5 battles.) Tulsa’s only defeat was in its opener by a smidge to Okie State. They’ve endured five cancelled games including two most recently in a row to Cincinnati, after an earlier postponement. Cincy secures that Big Bowl slot.
Clemson vs. Notre Dame. It is a testament to how insufferable and arrogant formerly charming Dabo Swinney has become that Brian Kelly comes off as almost statesmanlike while roaming the opposing sideline. Operative descriptor: “almost.” I find myself amusing that, as much as I always root against the Fighting Irish, I believe I could find myself cheering on like an alum named Rudy should ND be looking like it could sweep the season series. Operative word: “could.” Are Trevor Lawrence and a neutral field going to swing this thing into the Orange and Purple’s favor? Probably. OK, yes.
— c d kaplan