CSJ Group of Five Conference Championship Previews

AAC Football Championship: Memphis at UCF

Kickoff: Saturday Dec. 2 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Stadium: Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

The Memphis Tigers and UCF Knights meet Saturday in the college football AAC Championship at Spectrum Stadium—the home field of the Knights.

The Memphis Tigers have a chance to win 11 games for the first time in school history while earning their sixth conference title. The Memphis Tigers have won three straight road games to this point in the season.

Riley Ferguson is completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 3,500 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ferguson has three or more touchdown passes in five of his last seven games. Anthony Miller and Phil Mayhue have combined for 1,648 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns while Tony Pollard has 28 receptions. The Memphis Tigers ground game is averaging 202.4 yards per contest, and Darrell Henderson leads the way with 1,045 yards and eight touchdowns.

Defensively, Memphis is allowing 30.8 points and 453.5 yards per game. Austin Hall leads the Memphis Tigers with 74 tackles, Genard Avery has 6.5 sacks and Terrell Carter has four interceptions.

The UCF Knights hope to continue their perfect season while winning their fifth conference title in school history. The UCF Knights have won six straight home games.

McKenzie Milton is completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,301 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. Milton has a combined 10 touchdown passes and one interception in his last three games. Tre’Quan Smith and Dredrick Snelson have combined for 1,432 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns while Jordan Akins has 26 receptions. The UCF Knights ground game is averaging 198.3 yards per contest, and Adrian Killins, Jr. leads the way with 711 yards and nine touchdowns.

Defensively, Central Florida is allowing 22.5 points and 399.1 yards per game. Pat Jasinski leads the UCF Knights with 83 tackles, Shaquem Griffin has 3.5 sacks and Kyle Gibson has four interceptions.

Coach’s Pre-game Press Conferences

UCF’s Scott Frost

Memphis’ Mike Norvell

UCF beat up Memphis in the meeting back in September, 40-13, but the Tigers are a different team right now, as the defense has improved and the offense has scored no less than 41 points in the last five games.

Last week was the play-in game for the Florida teams when UCF beat USF to get into this play-in game. And now, barring something crazy from the Mountain West, the winner of this game will get the New Year’s Six bowl invite on Sunday.

UCF has the offensive firepower to match Memphis, but I also trust the Knights defense more than I do the Tigers. I will take the Knights by double digits in this contest as they complete the 12-0 season.

UCF 55, Memphis 45

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My Other Conference Championship (and Sun Belt) Picks

Conference USA

North Texas at Florida Atlantic, 12:00 EST (TV: ESPN2)

FAU won the earlier season meeting in impressive fashion, defeating the Mean Green 69-31.The Owls gained more than 800 yards of total offense.  This one will be closer but not by much as Lane Kiffen will get a conference title. 

FAU 49 UNT 33

 

Mid-American (MAC)

Toledo vs. Akron (at Detroit, Mich.), 12:00 EST (TV: ESPN)

The Rockets will take a close look at the game film from the 48-21 win Oct. 21 against the Zips at the Glass Bowl.  But a lot has changed since.

Akron is 3-1 since the game and has broken in a new quarterback in redshirt freshman Kato Nelson, who has replaced senior Thomas Woodson, who was suspended before a Nov. 7 loss to Miami (OH) and has not played since. I think Akron gets the revenge in this one but will come down to the wire.  Akron 38 Toledo 35

 

Mountain West

Fresno State at Boise State 7:45 EST (TV: ESPN)

In the fourth of four rematches for the G5 conference championship games, the Bulldogs must travel to the Broncos this week.  The computer polls that the MWC gave Boise State an average position of 30.25 while relegating Fresno State to an average of 34.25. Meaning the Broncos get to host the conference championship – even though the two teams finished the regular season with identical records (9-3 overall, 7-1 MW) and the Bulldogs were victorious in an actual, honest-to-goodness contest of football. 

I like Boise State in this one now that they have the home field and home temperature.  And for the fact that the two just played last week.  It is easier to see what went wrong and correct than to see what went right and continue.  Boise State 31 Fresno State 21

 

Sun Belt Regular Season games to determine champion

Louisiana at Appalachian State, 2:30 EST, (TV: ESPN3)

The Mountaineers (6-1 conference; 7-4-over-all) are part of a three-way tie with Troy (6-1 conference; 9-2 over-all) and Arkansas State (6-1 conference; 7-3 over-all) for first place in the Sun Belt Conference.  Appalachian State will win a share of the conference championship with a win over Louisiana.  I think they will do just that.  App State 48 Louisiana 31

Troy at Arkansas State, 7:30 EST, (TV: ESPN2)

In this pseudo Sun Belt championship game, both teams are coming into this game with confidence, having played well against premier programs, and playing well against conference opponents. This game should be close as both teams are both well-coached and should be well-prepared. This one may come down to whichever team commits a turnover, or has the ball last with time running out.  And I also like the home field of the Red Wolves.  ASU 33 Troy 30

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