PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 2018
On Friday, Utah will match up against Washington in Santa Clara, CA for the PAC-12 Championship. When these two teams met in Utah back in September, the Huskies emerged with a 21-7 road win as 4-point favorites. Washington RB Myles Gaskin had one of his best games of the season against the Utes defense with 143 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown and has averaged 151 yards in their last three games (one of those games was Oregon State, but still). The Huskies secondary may have been able to shut down then-Utah QB Tyler Huntley, only allowing one touchdown by RB Zack Moss, who actually surpassed Gaskin in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game but suffered a season-ending injury on Nov. 8, but they will be facing a new Utah offense with QB Jason Shelley at the helm. Over the last three games, Shelley has thrown for 624 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 58.5 percent of his passes. In wins over Oregon and Colorado, Shelley connected with receivers on deep passes at critical junctures. Then, against BYU, rushed for a career-high 61 yards. Whittingham credits offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Troy Taylor for scripting plays that highlight Shelley’s specific skills as a dual-threat quarterback.
Coming off their Apple Cup victory in Pullman, the Huskies are 5-point favorites, and on paper, they look like the obvious choice to cover the spread, as long QB Jake Browning can remain out of the sights of Utah's cunning quarterback-turned-safety-turned-linebacker Chase Hanson. However, Whittingham's 11-1 bowl record could translate into a post-season upset in Levi Stadium on Friday, if the head coach has a solid strategy for containing Gaskin and getting a lot of production from Jason Shelley. Coach Trout's CFT PICK - UW 40 UT 24
CFB CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES 2018
With the 2018 regular season in the books and the CFB Conference Championship games drawing closer, it's time to revisit the exhausted argument for an expanded College Football Playoff system. On Nov. 18, Merf Trout put forth his proposal for an 8-team playoff which consists of the winners of each Power Five conference championship games and three wildcards. Now that the conference championships have been officially set, let's see what this 8-team playoff would look like. - PART ONE
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 2018
In the first Power Five Championship game on Sat., Dec. 1, the Oklahoma Sooners will once again face off against the Texas Longhorns in a sold out AT&T Stadium. Back in October, the Coach Herman and the Longhorns delivered Lincoln Riley and the Sooners their only defeat of the season in a 48-45 offensive shootout that was decided by a 40-yard field goal with :09 left in the 4th quarter. Both Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray and Texas QB Sam Ehlinger threw for more than 300 yards, which makes the state of Ehlinger's shoulder all the more critical to the Longhorns' ability to compete with the Sooners' offensive production. While Texas has fallen to two Big-12 rivals in Oklahoma State and West Virginia, showing they are vulnerable to aggressive Big-12-style pass option offenses, the Sooners too gave up a whopping 539 passing yards in their win over West Virginia, where many receivers had free releases and ran virtually untouched. In fact, neither of these teams even break the top 100 in the FBS in passing yards allowed.
I don't think anyone expects Herman or Riley to come up with a brilliant secondary defense to shut down the other's passing game. And since Kyler Murray has been the more productive of the two quarterbacks especially in the last few weeks, it's not difficult to pick the Sooners as the winner in what will likely be another high-scoring, Big-12-style shootout.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 2018
In another highly anticipated matchup No. 1 Alabama and No. 4-5 Georgia will be heading into the New Orleans Superdome to battle it out SEC-style. Alabama has been unbeatable all season following their victory against Georgia in the CFB Championship back in January, where Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa made his debut in a performance that landed him on Heisman watch lists prior to even being named as Saban's starting quarterback. Kirby Smart has been waiting for this since January and you can bet he has been tirelessly studying film in developing his game plan for containing Tagovailoa and his trio of sophomore receivers: Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith, not to mention TE Irv Smith Jr. and standout freshman WR Jaylen Waddle.
During the exhausted offseason discussion of Tua vs. Jalen, College Football Today made an argument for Hurts that it was not a lack of skill or talent that lead to his replacement in the final championship, but the fact that the Georgia defense had been fluent in his style of play. Thus, Coach Saban needed to make a change mid-game, and it worked. If Smart can repeat what he did last year with his defense and shut down Tua and Alabama's receiving corps, it will leave Saban with little options, and the Bulldogs could walk away with a W.
ALABAMA vs GEORGIA
The Dawgs' best hope for upsetting the Tide is to challenge the Alabama secondary. Unfortunately, like I said over the Summer, Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney are working with a number of undeveloped freshmen. In my articles How to Beat Alabama Part One and Part Two, utilizing the screen pass to keep Alabama's defense guessing and exploiting their weaknesses on special teams are the tools to defeating Alabama. However, this plan of action does not account for the fact that Nick Saban is well prepared for QB Jake Fromm and Georgia's defense.
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