Welcome to Championship Week!
In a week that should be about the teams vying for a championship in their respective conferences, the annual coaching carousel has taken center stage. Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t this take place after at least the conference championships have been played. I’m all for anyone trying to improve their life or lifestyles but I’m tired of hearing about Brian Kelly moving on to supposed greener pastures. I want to read and hear about the matchups and the players through out the week. I guess Brian Kelly didn’t have enough time to work on his fake southern drawl, one more week and maybe he could have possibly perfected it. But I digress.
There is another shake up in the College Football Rankings, after the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes. Coach Harbaugh, to the chagrin of some Michigan fans, may have saved his job for another year at least. The rankings are as followed.
1 - Georgia Bulldogs - Next opponent - Alabama in the SEC Championship 4:00 CBS
2 - Michigan Wolverines - Next opponent - Iowa in the Big Ten Championship 8:00 FOX
3 - Alabama Crimson Tide - Next opponent - Georgia in the SEC Championship 4:00 CBS
4 - Cincinnati Bearcats - Next opponent - Houston in the American Athletic Championship 4:00 ABC
Outside Looking In
5 - Oklahoma State Cowboys - Next opponent - Baylor in the Big 12 Championship
6 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Idle
I’m still pulling for the Bearcats, but the evil side of me wants Notre Dame to make the Playoffs. So bear with me a moment. If Georgia beats Alabama, probably still gets in as a two loss team, Iowa beats Michigan and Baylor beats Oklahoma State. Could Notre Dame make the dance? Wouldn’t it be a great if the Irish won the whole thing? Then again, I would be rooting for a Notre Dame team that fired Tyrone Willingham because he wasn’t winning enough games. At least that’s what my memory tells me. So I guess they reap what they sow?
On to this week’s Conference Championship games.
Baylor Bears #9 vs Oklahoma State Cowboys #5 Noon ABC Big 12 Championship
Something to get us primed for the games later in the day. Someone please tell me how Oklahoma State are ranked over Notre Dame, whose only loss is to Cincinnati the number 4 ranked team in the nation. I guess there is a slim chance that OSU slides into the playoffs. Baylor may have something to say about that. In case you are watching
Jalen Pitre #8 SAF - plays football with solid instincts and has intriguing skill set. Has the nuances of zone play and can provide some underneath coverage with short area quickness. Has some blitzing ability
Josh Sills #72 LG - Part of the problem with the Steelers I believe is not having the length required to keep defenders up off of their bodies. Sills has that length and in fact has played some at both tackle spots.
Kent State Golden Flashes at Northern Illinois Huskies Noon ESPN - MAC Championship
We always dipping into the MAC in some form or fashion.
Dustin Crum QB Kent State
Marques Cox LT Northern Illinois
Utah State Aggies at San Diego State Aztecs #19 3:00 FOX Mountain West Championship
Let’s not kid ourselves, we are only checking this game out while we wait on Georgia/Alabama. I have not watched any of Utah State and very little San Diego State.
Justin Rice #3 LB 6’2” 225lbs - Has bounced from Fresno State to Arkansas State and now found a home at Utah State. Not sure why all the movement but he did rack up 105 tackles 15 TOL and 3 picks while playing for the Aggies.
San Diego State
Cameron Thomas #99 DE/EDGE 6’5 275lbs - Watched very little of SDS but seen enough to know this guy can bring it. Honestly I can see him putting on some weight and moving to the 5 Tech spot. In a weak D line class you have to find gems.
Appalachian State Mountaineers at Louisiana Ragin Cajuns #24 3:30 ESPN Sun Belt Championship
Max Mitchell #74 RT - Senior Bowl invite
Tayland Humphrey #99 NT - East-West Shrine Game invite
Corey Sutton #2 WR 6’3” 205lbs - Don’t sleep on this young man’s skill set
Thomas Hennigan #5 WR 6’1 200lbs - Same could be said about this route runner
Steven Jones Jr. #6 DB
Georgia Bulldogs #1 vs Alabama Crimson Tide #3 4:00 CBS SEC Championship
Obviously this is the marquee match up of the weekend. The Georgia Bulldogs have the best defense in the nation, giving up 6.9 points a game. In a world of high flying offenses the boys from Athens get it done. The disruption starts up front with Jordan Davis and filters into the aggressive backers. All Steeler fans should have an eye on this game and in particular Davis. I’m pretty sure the Steelers could use some help defending the run. In 2001 the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Casey “Big Snack” Hampton at pick 19.
For Alabama it falls at the feet of Bryce Young, the super talented Sophomore signal caller. If the Steelers do not draft a QB in 2022, this young man becomes #1 on my list in 2023. To coin a phrase from the late Stuart Scott, he is cooler than the other side of the pillow. Meaning, in the games that I have watched, he never gets rattled. He is joined by a pair of talented Wide Receivers in John Metchie and Jameson Williams who could find their names being called fairly early in the draft. I would love to add Williams and his “take it to the house at any moment” play ability. Keep an eye out for Will Anderson Jr. #31( 14.5 sacks)for the 2023 draft.
Houston Cougars #21 at Cincinnati Bearcats #4 4:00 ABC American Athletic Championship
This is a make or break game for the Group of 5 conferences and their chance of getting a team into the College Football Playoffs. That can only happen if the Bearcats can defeat a red hot Cougar team who has won 11 games in a row. The Bearcats have continued to remain undefeated despite some unconvincing wins leading up to this game. All I can say is this is a true team, when one unit is down and not playing well the other unit picks up the pieces. Unlike our favorite team these talented units compliment one another.
Since the start of the season I have been on the Desmond Ridder train and even though he has fell a few spots in my personal rankings, he is the QB with the most professional upside. He has a big game with big consequences on Saturday. I believe he will answer that challenge.
This game isn’t all about my man crush, the Cougars have a couple of interesting play makers on defense and special teams.
Logan Hall #92 DE/EDGE 6’6” 260lbs - play maker used in a variety of ways and has been productive in those roles.
Marcus Jones #8 5’8” 185lbs Nickel Corner - Can cover from the slot and has return ability. Also has played some on offense as a receiver.
Michigan Wolverines #2 vs Iowa Hawkeyes #13 8:00 FOX BIG10 Championship
Two solid defenses who like to run the football. Sounds like Big 10 football to me. Early hype fell into the Hawkeyes lap with a #2 ranking but with back to back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin soon fell out of favor despite having one of the best defenses in the nation.
Credit has to be given to Coach Harbaugh, after 5 years he finally beat THE Ohio State Buckeyes.
The cupboard looks bare without TJ Watt in the line up, not giving up on Alex Highsmith just yet but? The Michigan defense boasts a couple of nasty Edge Rushers, in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. With the current state of affair concerning the Steelers, I’m not saying no to anything.
Iowa has some good players in their secondary. Matt Hankins and Riley Steele.
Pittsburgh Panthers #15 vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons #16 8:00 ABC ACC Championship
No Clemson, Hokies or Canes? Well who in god’s green earth is playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship? I’ll tell you who Heisman hopeful Kenny Pickett and the Pitt Panthers and the Demon Deacons from Winston-Salem North Carolina. These two teams are not bashful about putting points on the board so this one will be fun to watch. Just like Kenny Pickett who basically came out of nowhere, Sam Hartman has put his name into the draft world. All I know is he can run that Wake offense. Has a decent weapon in Jaquarii Roberson
Side Note: Jordan Addison is currently 4th in the nation in receiving yards(1343 yards on 85 catches and 17 TDs) as a Sophomore. Let’s not forget about those stats with Pickett at the helm, not sure about the Pitt future at QB.
There is one make up game from an earlier postponement
Let us know what game and who you would like to see in the Black and Gold. As always stay safe and Go Steelers!