With the Big 12 joining the rest of the Power 5 in holding a winner-take-all conference title game on the first weekend of December, there will be more hardware than ever on the line in the 24 hours before the College Football Playoff field takes shape. Who will prevail in the win-and-in matchups in the ACC and SEC? Will Wisconsin or UCF stay perfect and make an impression on the playoff committee in the process?
Below, our experts make their picks for all nine title games, taking turns defending their selections.
Chris Johnson: 111–37 (75%)
Molly Geary: 108–40 (73.0%)
Andy Staples: 110–53 (67.5%)
Bruce Feldman: 102–51 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 99–50 (66.4%)
Eric Single: 105–58 (64.4%)
Joan Niesen: 104–59 (63.8%)
Pac-12: No. 10 USC vs. No. 12 Stanford (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Bruce Feldman picks Stanford: The Cardinal offense has been much better with K.J. Costello taking over at quarterback, and they’ll get a chance at payback after the Trojans had arguably their most impressive performance of this season when they handed Stanford a 42–24 loss in Week 2. Expect Sam Darnold and the skill talent at his disposal to give Stanford problems in the first half, but the hunch here is that Bryce Love will make a few more big plays and David Shaw’s team will avoid the repeat loss.
AAC: No. 20 Memphis at No. 14 UCF (Saturday, Noon ET, ABC)
Joan Niesen picks UCF: This one’s going to be a shootout, and we know both teams are capable of winning high-scoring games. But UCF gets the nod, in large part because it’s playing at home. Scott Frost and company deserve the benefit of the doubt—and perhaps more of a place in the playoff conversation—at this point.
MAC: Akron vs. Toledo (Noon ET, ESPN)
Eric Single picks Toledo: Akron made an unexpected late-season push to even make it to Ford Field over frontrunning Ohio, while the Rockets have blasted most of their MAC competition (and even gave Miami a spirited game in September). Quarterback Logan Woodside may be the conference’s best NFL prospect—he’s thrown just three interceptions all year.
Conference USA: North Texas at Florida Atlantic (Noon ET, ESPN2)
Eric Single picks Florida Atlantic: The Owls have had one of FBS's most lethal offenses in the past two months, hitting the nitro boosters after settling on Jason Driskel as their quarterback and Devin Singletary as their primary ballcarrier. Both these teams are going to win almost any bowl game they get sent to, but there's no stopping Lane Kiffin right now.
Big 12: Oklahoma vs. TCU (12:30 ET, FOX)
Scooby Axson picks Oklahoma: Betting against Baker Mayfield in a big game isn’t that wise of a decision. The Sooners better score early and often against TCU. The Horned Frogs have allowed a grand total of three points in the second half of their last seven games.
SEC: Georgia vs. Auburn (4 p.m. ET, CBS)
Chris Johnson picks Auburn: That this will be Auburn's second time playing Georgia this season caused me to think long and hard about this pick, but the Tigers looked really good in downing Alabama last weekend, and they should be able to carry the momentum from that win into their second victory over the Bulldogs.
Mountain West: Fresno State at Boise State (7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Molly Geary picks Boise State: It’s tough to beat the same opponent two weeks in a row. It’s even tougher to have to win the second one on the road. Before falling in Fresno, Boise State hadn’t lost since September. It should be extra motivated to avenge last week’s loss and capture the Mountain West title.
ACC: Miami vs. Clemson (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Andy Staples picks Clemson: Miami couldn’t run the ball against Pittsburgh last week and the Hurricanes couldn’t throw their way to a win. Clemson ranks eighth in the nation in yards per rush allowed (3.1). That’s not good for the Canes.
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State (8 p.m. ET, FOX)
Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: The Badgers have been facing skeptics all season. It's obviously not without reason, but the hunch here is that Wisconsin's stout offensive line and defense are going to hold up and be the difference in by far their toughest challenge of the season.