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The Week That Will Be: Championship Saturday

Championship Saturday finds a lot of coaches that won't be fired. Probably.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU

For the Year: 44-32-2 (.579) ($740) ATS 57-22 (.722) SU

We learned last week:

  • Urban Meyer is now 4-0 against Michigan. The Wolverines had better hope he starts to feel the need to spend more time with his family soon.
  • For the first time in the rivalry, Florida State now has three straight victories in the Swamp, as Florida averaged less than 4 yards per carry and just over 4 yards per pass attempt. Yuck.
  • Kevin Hogan threw 4 touchdown passes against Notre Dame, and Stanford coach David Shaw laughs at your assertions he doesn't manage his timeouts correctly.
  • The final 32 (!) regulation possessions of Baylor and TCU ended in zero points. Not exactly the game we waited for all off-season.
  • Oklahoma managed to rush for 200 yards in their seventh straight game as a 28-0 Sooner run in the first half ruined any sense of drama in the de facto Big 12 championship game.
  • The difference between bowl eligibility and pressing F5 on Flight Aware all next week? 7 points. That was the margin of victory in the Longhorns' three home losses this season (45-44 Cal; 30-27 Oklahoma State; 48-45 Texas Tech).

If you are just waking up from a tryptophan induced coma, you might have missed the news that Mark Richt is now at Miami, Kirby Smart could be simultaneously coaching Alabama's defense in the college football semi-finals while recruiting against Nick Saban and Alabama as the head coach of Georgia, USC fans are trying to talk themselves into the idea of Clay Helton as their head coach, Iowa State said "if you can't beat them, join them" and hired Toledo's head coach, Doug Meacham told North Texas "LOL, no thanks", Jeff Tedford defected from Canada, Justin Fuente couldn't get to Virginia Tech fast enough, Sonny Dykes is that guy begging a girl at 1:59 AM to go home with him, Scott Frost needs to stock up on sunblock...

And yes, Les Miles is still employed by Louisiana State University.

And it is all Nick Saban's fault.

Saban was hired by Alabama in 2007, and since then he has won 3 national titles, and has racked up a 57-5 record in the regular season in that time frame. Quite simply, he's the G.O.A.T. (at least the current day one), and everyone else pales in comparison.

But that doesn't mean that rich boosters accept that.

Miles deserved better from LSU. Yes, he had his recent troubles against Saban and Alabama, and yes, he doesn't have a quarterback (who does in the SEC?), which has caused him to lose more games recently than they probably "should have" in recent years, but this isn't a Mack Brown situation where he simply stopped trying three years ago. LSU was ranked #2 six weeks ago and has the top-ranked recruiting class coming in next year.

Miles's only crime is that he coaches in the same sport, the same conference, the same division as Nick Saban.

He's no Mark Richt.

The national media held a cry session for Richt when he was fired earlier this week, declaring that he was such a nice guy, full of character who did win a lot of games at Georgia, no?

Correct on all counts.

But Richt was at Georgia for 15 years and never once even played for a national title, much less won one (like Miles did at LSU). He won 2 conference championships in that time, despite winning 10 games nine times. He did win 6 SEC East titles, but recently failed to take advantage of the Florida and South Carolina downturn, letting Missouri go to the SEC Championship two years in a row, the same Tiger team that was an also ran for most of their Big 12 tenure.

Can you do a lot worse than Richt? Of course. But when you fail to win a national championship at a school that has the resources to do so in fifteen tries, and fail to even play for one in that time period, it certainly shouldn't be a shock when your school decides that maybe someone else can get them over that hump.

But that doesn't mean that Georgia doesn't carry some risk, a risk that LSU ultimately didn't want to take.

Look at the last 20 years. Notre Dame has their Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weiss hires. USC replaced Pete Carroll with Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Nebraska hired Bill Callahan. Oklahoma had John Blake and Tennessee had Derek Dooley.

And even Alabama had Mike Shula before they had the G.O.A.T.

We understand, but be careful of what you ask for, college football fans.

Unless you have $10 million for Nick Saban.

AAC Championship: Temple vs. Houston -6:

Take away a two-game November stretch against SMU and South Florida and the Owls haven't given up more than 24 points in a game since the second game of the season against Cincinnati.

The winner of this one likely goes to a "New Years" bowl, and I just don't see Temple staying with the Cougars.

Houston 34 Temple 21

ATS - Houston

SU - Houston

PAC-12 Championship: USC vs. Stanford -4:

There are two ways of looking at this one. USC has won 2 out of 3 in this series, or Stanford has won 5 of 7, including a 41-31 thriller in the Coliseum in September (not bad considering whatever the current state of Steve Sarkisian might have been).

USC has the talent to win this one, but Stanford seems determined to get back to the Rose Bowl...or to sneak into the playoff.

Stanford 28 USC 21

ATS - Stanford

SU - Stanford

ACC Championship: Clemson -5.5 vs. North Carolina

North Carolina lost their season opener to South Carolina 17-13 in a game that likely slipped under the radar of most of the country, but since then they have reeled off 11 straight victories. They're doing it with offense, namely behind running back Elijah Hood, who is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and has rushed for 16 touchdowns.

Quarterback Marquise Williams has rushed for 10 more while throwing for 18 touchdowns, but there also has to be an element of who have they played in here, as their highest ranked opponent in the S&P+ rankings was last week's opponent, N.C. State (28).

The Tar Heels keep it a game for a half, but Clemson is too good to falter now.

Clemson 38 North Carolina 24

ATS - Clemson

SU - Clemson

Big 10 Championship: Michigan State -3 vs. Iowa

Iowa is 12-0 for the first time in school history, and no matter how they got there, you have to tip your cap to them for pulling off that. That having been said, eventually you do have to play somebody, and that somebody is Michigan State, who really seems to be hitting their stride, only allowing 37 points in their last three games.

I don't see them tripping up here.

Michigan State 27 Iowa 17

ATS - Michigan State

SU - Michigan State

SEC Championship: Alabama -17.5 vs. Florida

This is the eighth meeting between these two teams in the SEC Championship game, with Florida holding a 4-3 record in those previous matchups. That might be the only bit of good news for the Gators this week.

They have looked like a mess since the loss of Will Grier to suspension, and after giving up more than 180 yards to Dalvin Cook last week, they get Derrick Henry this week, who is averaging 176 yards per game against nine Power 5 opponents and has 4 200-yard games this season, tying a SEC record shared by Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker.

I just don't see Florida scoring many points here, but their defense keeps them in it for a little bit.

Alabama 27 Florida 13

ATS - Florida

SU - Alabama

Texas @ Baylor -21:

Whelp, this is a "bowl game" for Texas, without the two weeks of practice, the ridiculous parade and the gift package that includes all you can eat Chain Restaurant Steakhouse for a year.

Texas hasn't been an underdog of this size in quite some time, but it is hard to say it isn't warranted as Baylor is averaging 55.4 points per game in Waco this year...albeit most of those points came with Seth Russell or Jarrett Stidham under center.

The Bears will start Chris Johnson, who has moved back to quarterback after being moved to wide receiver earlier in the year. Johnson was impressive against Oklahoma when he replaced Stidham, but not so much last week, when he only managed 62 passing yards in the deluge in Fort Worth and missed on all 10 of his second half pass attempts.

The best hope for Texas is that they can replicate last year's defensive performance, when they "held" the Bears to 111 yards passing and 389 yards overall, but of course Texas doesn't have the senior leadership that they had last year.

Tyrone Swoopes gets the start for Texas, and if the Longhorns get off to one of their patented slow starts on the road once again, they'll be buried before the hour strikes noon.

This one is all uphill for the Horns, and while Chris Warren might be able to give them a chance to extend drives, I just don't think they have the man power, the firepower or the defensive prowess to pull off the upset here.

Baylor 41 Texas 24

ATS - Texas

SU - Baylor

For entertainment purposes only.  Save your money for chain restaurant steakhouses.