With conference championships and berths in the College Football Playoff on the line, this weekend’s slate of games can’t get any bigger. Not to mention, those games that won’t have an impact on the four-team field have the opportunity to be entertaining and high scoring.
That includes No. 10 Oregon vs No. 17 Utah in Las Vegas on Friday night (8 p.m. on ABC), as well as No. 5 Oklahoma State vs No. 9 Baylor in Arlington (12 p.m. on ABC), No. 1 Georgia vs No. 3 Alabama in Atlanta (4 p.m. on CBS), No. 21 Houston at No. 4 Cincinnati (4 p.m. on ABC), No. 2 Michigan vs No. 13 Iowa in Indianapolis (8 p.m. on FOX) and No. 15 Pittsburgh vs No. 16 Wake Forest in Charlotte (8 p.m. on ABC) on Saturday.
The Ducks and Utes meet just 13 days after the the latter knocked the former from College Football Playoff contention with a blowout victory in Salt Lake City. There’s still a lot on the line this time around, too, as the winner will head to Pasadena.
Utah has never played in the Rose Bowl, having lost its three previous trips to the Pac-12 title game. That includes a loss to Oregon in 2019, when the Ducks won the first of what they hope is three straight conference championships.
The Cowboys have a chance to make it to the College Football Playoff with a convincing win over the Bears, though that also depends on what happens with the Bulldogs, Wolverines, Crimson Tide and Bearcats.
Baylor, meanwhile, can capture their first conference title since 2014 with a win. They’ll likely head to the Sugar Bowl in that situation, though a trip to the playoff can’t entirely be ruled out if there’s chaos this weekend.
While Georgia has effectively locked up its spot in the College Football Playoff, defending national champion Alabama likely needs to pull an upset in order to make the four-team field – or at least have a really close loss that still shows it is still one of the best teams in the country.
Either way, a win for the Bulldogs would be a good omen for a program that hasn’t won a national championship since 1980, as 14 of the last 15 SEC champions have gone on to play in the national title game. Unfortunately for them, the Crimson Tide have won six straight games in the series.
While the American Athletic Conference title is on the line for both Cincinnati and Houston, the stakes are much higher for the Bearcats, who could become the first Group of Six team to make it to the College Football Playoff with a win.
The Cougars, meanwhile, enter Saturday on an 11-game winning streak, which is the second-longest in the county behind Georgia (16) and Cincinnati (12). Their only loss this season was the season opener against Texas Tech in Houston’s NRG Stadium.
For the first time in seven seasons, Clemson will not play for the ACC championships. Instead, it will be Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, who are two of the most gifted offensive teams in the country – particularly throwing the ball.
Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett has thrown for 4,066 yards and 40 touchdowns, while Demon Deacons signal-caller Sam Hartman has thrown for 3,711 yards and 34 scores. Expect a number of big plays through the air and a lot of points.
After an emotional win over rival Ohio State, Michigan is playing in its first Big Ten Championship Game and looking for its first conference title since 2004, when Lloyd Carr was still the head coach.
Interestingly enough, that was the last time Iowa won the Big Ten, too, as the two teams split the conference title. It’s time for one of those teams to end the lengthy drought.
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