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College football championship Saturday viewing guide

Former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter will face former Bucs assistant Jeff Tedford for a conference title.
Former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter helped save Boise State's season.
Former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter helped save Boise State's season. [ STEVE CONNER | AP ]
Published Dec. 3, 2022

Our final college football gameday guide of the season begins with a look at what to watch Saturday:

Lamest time window: None. Savor the last taste of the season.

Noon: Can No. 3 TCU beat No. 13 Kansas State (ABC) twice in the same season, this time for the Big 12 title?

3:30: There’s a very good chance this is the last time we see Chadwell’s offense at Coastal Carolina, so it’s worth a second-screen look against Troy (ESPN).

4: We’re skeptical No. 11 LSU hangs with No. 1 Georgia (CBS) in the SEC title game, but expect No. 22 UCF to play another entertaining game at No. 18 Tulane (ABC).

8: How does No. 10 Clemson and its strong defense match up against No. 24 North Carolina and its excellent offense, for the ACC championship (ABC)?

Related: USF coaching search: If not Deion Sanders or Jamey Chadwell, then who?

Another UCF thriller?

UCF has played five consecutive tight games, including last week's win at USF.
UCF has played five consecutive tight games, including last week's win at USF. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

We don’t have a great read on the AAC championship, but expect it to be close, like the first Tulane-UCF meeting (a 38-31 Knights road win). That was part of a five-game stretch of tight games for UCF, with all decided by one score (including last week’s “War on I-4″ thriller at USF). In that case, the game could come down to turnovers; the Green Wave are in the top 25 nationally in turnover margin (plus-7), while UCF is tied for 103rd (minus-5).

Local of the week

Clearwater Central Catholic product Jerjuan Newton is Toledo's leading receiver.
Clearwater Central Catholic product Jerjuan Newton is Toledo's leading receiver.

Toledo receiver Jerjuan Newton (Clearwater Central Catholic)

Newton leads the Rockets in every major receiving category (42 catches, 711 yards, nine touchdowns). He could be in for a big day against the nation’s worst passing defense, Ohio.

Tiger to watch

LSU linebacker Harold Perkins has become one of the best freshmen in the country.
LSU linebacker Harold Perkins has become one of the best freshmen in the country. [ SAM CRAFT | AP ]

If No. 11 LSU is going to have a chance at knocking off No. 1 Georgia, linebacker Harold Perkins will have to be a significant factor. The top-10 national recruit from Texas picked the Tigers over Florida in February and has been one of the top freshmen in the country after recording only one tackle in his debut against Florida State. His 10 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks are most on the team.

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Eye on the NFL draft

Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo is a top-tier NFL draft prospect.
Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo is a top-tier NFL draft prospect. [ HYOSUB SHIN / AJC | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ]

LSU and Georgia always have great athletes, which leads to an enticing potential matchup on the perimeter. LSU’s Kayshon Boutte is one of the most talented receivers in the country (he racked up 115 yards against the Gators) and a potential first-round pick. There’s a chance he goes up against Bulldogs cornerback Kelee Ringo, who also has first-round potential and returned an interception for a touchdown in the national title game.

Welcome back, Koetter

Boise State offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has revamped the Broncos' offense.
Boise State offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has revamped the Broncos' offense. [ STEVE CONNER | AP ]

Boise State is playing for its fifth Mountain West Conference title thanks in large part to former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter. The Broncos’ offense took off after he came out of retirement to become the coordinator after the fourth game to set up a showdown against Fresno State (led by former Bucs assistant Jeff Tedford):

Before Koetter

Yards per play: 4.5

Yards per game: 283.3

Points per game: 22

Record: 2-2

With Koetter

Yards per play: 6.5

Yards per game: 438.5

Points per game: 34.3

Record: 7-1

Stat of the week

TCU quarterback Max Duggan will try to move the Horned Frogs to 13-0.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan will try to move the Horned Frogs to 13-0. [ MADELEINE COOK | Fort Worth Star-Telegram ]

TCU will have to overcome some shaky history if it’s going to win the Big 12 outright for the first time in program history. The Horned Frogs already beat Kansas State once (38-28 in October), and it’s notoriously hard to beat the same team twice in one year. Of the last five Big 12 title games, three were won by the team that lost the regular-season meeting (Oklahoma in 2018 and 2020, Baylor last season).

Purdue Spoilermakers

Purdue is a major underdog this weekend against No. 2 Michigan.
Purdue is a major underdog this weekend against No. 2 Michigan. [ DARRON CUMMINGS | AP ]

No, we don’t think Purdue knocking off No. 2 Michigan is very realistic. But if it happens, here are the two stats to know: the Boilermakers led the Big Ten by scoring on 94.1% of their red-zone possessions and were one of only nine teams in the nation with at least three interception returns for a touchdown. Purdue will have to convert on every possible opportunity to have a prayer at the upset.

By the numbers

2017 — The last time Georgia won the SEC title. Since then, the Bulldogs have won one national title (2021) but dropped the conference championship game in 2018 (Alabama), 2019 (LSU) and 2021 (Alabama again)

43 — Tackles by Toledo defensive tackle Judge Culpepper (Plant High)

8-8 — All-time record between Kansas State and TCU

1,199 — Receiving yards for Charlie Jones at Purdue this season

323 — Combined receiving yards by Jones in his two previous seasons, at Iowa

24 — Wins by Michigan over the last two years, the best mark in program history

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