Conference champ weekend is always a good show, and this last weekend was no different. Western Michigan finally crossed their first finish line, winning the MAC championship in a tight game vs. Ohio U. Temple did what so many other teams could not and stopped Navy on their way to an American Conference championship. Arkansas State, Troy, and Appalachian State all shared the Sun Belt conference title at the end of their regular season games as well.
It’s been a crazy season. The teams that were at the top of the rankings in week one won’t appear in the same places this week. But, just for giggles, let’s check out just how wrong I was. I had UCF as my #5, and they ended up third in their division but did manage to get bowl eligible, if only just. SDSU was at number four, and they did make the MWC championship game with their great RB, Pumphrey, but managed to lose incomprehensibly three times, once to 6-6 South Alabama. I overestimated BYU (always ?), both in play and in propensity to make the Big 12. They went 8-4, losing to Utah, UCLA, WVU, and Boise. Not bad. Problem is, their best win ended up being Toledo, the third best team in the MAC. In second, I had Boise State. Oh, what could’ve been! The same applies to Houston, who I had in the top spot. Both of these teams lost too many games and ended up losing out on their conference championships. Both high powered offenses, when they were on. Both shut down defenses. It’s not that I didn’t see WMU going undefeated, I just thought that everyone else would play better than they did.
The final regular season rankings (Based on votes in the AP and Coaches polls and the final CFP rankings)
5. Houston Cougars
Houston, you could’ve been great. You could’ve had a Heisman winner with Greg Ward Jr. You could’ve been a member of the Big 12 about now, getting ready for a move in to the big time. Instead, the Cougars went 9-3, and ended up in the best possible bowl matchup they could’ve hoped for – SDSU in Vegas. They’re also facing this challenge without their coach, Tom Herman, who bolted for the Texas job in an almost cartoonish fashion once offered. Still, they did take out Oklahoma and Louisville, and that is a feat that not many teams in the country could match.
4. Boise State Broncos
Boise is the cute little team that almost did, again. For the want of one yard against Air Force, goals went unmet. There was a lot about the Broncos to question this season. They seemed capable of putting together spurts of great play, but would also lose solid leads to conservative play calling and poor defense. Sketchy special teams play also put a hamper on some things, but BSU isn’t the type to roll over, especially not with Baylor on the horizon. So, they didn’t win the MWC. They have weeks to prepare for a Baylor team that hasn’t won in over a month, and that should be a great way to release some pent up aggression.
3. Navy Midshipmen
In the two games prior to the American championship game, Navy put up 141 points. They finished the season with 151 points. After that incredible season, to find them in such disarray at the end was a bit sad. The Midshipmen deserved more. Instead, they got a bowl matchup with Louisiana Tech which might prove out to be more interesting than most would think. Navy had an epic season, and likely could be back in the same position next year.
2. Temple OwlsAll year I underestimated Temple. They were 10-3! They lost to Army, FFS! I was so sure that the other side of the American conference was so much stronger that I discounted them completely until they just freaking dismantled Navy last weekend. Unfortunately, we likely won’t get to see what they can really do in a bowl game against a quality opponent, because they got matched up with Wake Forest.
1. Western Michigan Broncos
The Broncos rowed. They rowed hard and fast and beat everybody that set foot on a field with them this season. Going undefeated is not an easy task, in any league. From youth football to the NFL. It’s rare for a team to accomplish this, and win a championship at the end, so the Broncos have earned some respect. However, their next challenge is a few short weeks away. Since Coach Fleck seems to have settled the rumors about him going elsewhere for the time being, WMU is free to prepare for their Cotton Bowl opponent, Wisconsin. The Broncos better be in the best rowing shape of their lives and the best prepared they’ve ever been, because the Badgers aren’t going to hold back.
Games to watch this weekend:
There is only one: Navy @ Army – Saturday, 1:00p Eastern, CBS
Both these teams are pretty good, and this game, what with being the only show in town, is definitely going to get some attention. Add in the fact that our President Elect is planning to attend, and both teams are wearing throwback jerseys that are among the most fire emoji ever created, well, let’s plan to watch and get our season’s worth of patriotism and option football, shall we?
— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 6, 2016
— ArmyWestPoint Sports (@GoArmyWestPoint) December 5, 2016
Go Army! Go Navy! Go America!