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What To Watch For On College Football Conference Championship Weekend

Conference titles and several spots in the College Football Playoff are up for grabs this weekend.

Conference championship weekend is pretty straightforward. If No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 TCU and No. 4 USC win, they'll comprise the four-team field in this year's College Football Playoff. 

The Bulldogs and Wolverines appear to be in regardless of what happens in the SEC and Big Ten championship games, but a loss by the Horned Frogs and/or Trojans could open the door for No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Alabama to sneak in.

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With that said, here's what to watch for on conference championship weekend, especially if you're a fan of the Buckeyes or Crimson Tide, with the latter rooting for a pair of upsets.

No. 4 USC vs No. 11 Utah - 8 p.m. on FOX

Utah heads into Friday night’s Pac-12 Championship Game as the only team to beat USC this season, with Utes quarterback Cameron Rising scoring the go-ahead two-point conversion with 48 seconds remaining to beat the Trojans, 43-42, in Salt Lake City back on Oct. 15.

USC needs to avenge that setback in order to become the conference’s first playoff participant in six seasons, but a second loss to Utah would not only knock the Trojans from the four-team field, it would also send the Utes to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season.

No. 3 TCU vs No. 10 Kansas State - 12 p.m. on ABC

The Big XII Championship Game is also a rematch from Oct. 22, when Kansas State opened up an 18-point second-quarter lead in Fort Worth before allowing 28 unanswered in a 38-28 loss. The Wildcats had to play their third-string quarterback in the second half due to injuries.

That was one of TCU's eight wins by 10 points or fewer, including a one-point victory at Baylor two weeks ago that featured a game-winning field goal as time expired. A loss might not knock the Horned Frogs out of the playoff, but it will give the committee something to think about.

No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 23 North Carolina - 8 p.m. on ABC

The ACC Championship doesn’t have any College Football Playoff implications for the second year in a row, but it will determine who will represent the conference in the Orange Bowl. Their opponent will also be determined by the result of the two games mentioned above.

If both TCU and USC win this weekend, that will keep Ohio State out of the playoff. The Buckeyes will then likely head to the Orange Bowl rather than the Rose Bowl to avoid a repeat matchup of 2019 (Washington) or 2022 (Utah), with The Granddaddy of Them All taking Penn State instead.

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