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College Football Watch Guide - Championship Week

Conference crowns and playoff spots are on the line this week

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve crunched all the numbers and it just doesn’t check out.

I’ve run the figures and formulae through the world’s most advanced supercomputers, consulted the most brilliant mathematical minds, and journeyed to remote mountain shrines to ask the wisest of sages. The answers were not encouraging.

Iowa is not going to make the College Football Playoff this year.

Okay, so this wasn’t Iowa’s year. However, this week we did get one step closer to determining just who will be left standing once the smoke clears at the end of this week. Things were looking pretty solid for three of the previous top four teams, but with Michigan grabbing Ohio State by the buckeyes in the second half of The Game last Saturday it was clear which team was going to be on the outside looking in. The questions became: who would take Ohio State’s spot in the top four, and who would need an upset this week to sneak in?

On Tuesday, we got our answers.

All things considered, I think they got the top four right. Entering last Saturday I would’ve said the loser of Michigan-Ohio State stays in as long as the game stayed close. After the Wolverines’ big win and the way the Buckeyes looked in the second half they had to drop out. USC, being the most impressive 1-loss team remaining, rightfully inherited the final spot.

That said, we still have one last week for things to go haywire. We’ve finally made it to Championship Week. Fans of Ohio State and Alabama will keep a close eye on the Pac-12 and Big 12 championships. The way I see it, Georgia is safe no matter what happens. Michigan should roll, but even if they get upset they’re probably safe. Being undefeated and their strong showings this year should insulate them from falling out.

That leaves the Horned Frogs and Trojans. TCU is also undefeated and boasts five wins over then-ranked teams. Moving up to #3 certainly helps protect them somewhat, but proponents of the traditional powers will be clamoring for the blue chips to replace the Frogs should they lose on Saturday. USC is in danger simply by having no room for error. Lose and you’re out. It’s as simple as that.

There are a lot fewer games this weekend, but they’re all for conference championships. So the stakes are high no matter what you watch. Let’s take a look, shall we?

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Friday, December 2

Conference Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Conference Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Conference USA North Texas @ UTSA 6:30 PM CBSSN
Pac-12 #11 Utah @ #4 USC 7:00 PM FOX

All eyes will be on Las Vegas Friday night for the Pac-12 Championship, #11 Utah @ #4 USC. Utah doesn’t have a shot at the playoff but a win would put the Utes back in the Rose Bowl for the second straight year. A loss would likely grand such a berth to the Washington Huskies. Utah was the only team to defeat the Trojans during the regular season, and the common belief is it’s much harder to beat the same team twice in one year. USC is walking the razor’s edge of playoff eligibility, so both teams have plenty to play for here in addition to a conference title.

Saturday, December 3

Conference Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Conference Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Big 12 #10 Kansas State @ #3 TCU 11:00 AM FOX
MAC Toledo @ Ohio 11:00 AM ESPN WatchESPN
Sun Belt Coastal Carolina @ Troy 2:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN
SEC #14 LSU @ #1 Georgia 3:00 PM CBS
AAC #22 UCF @ #18 Tulane 3:00 PM ABC WatchESPN
Mountain West Fresno State @ Boise State 3:00 PM FOX
Big Ten Purdue @ #2 Michigan 7:00 PM FOX
ACC #9 Clemson @ #23 North Carolina 7:00 PM ABC WatchESPN

The Big 12 Championship lost a little bit of its impact after the Horned Frogs were bumped up to a #3 ranking. #10 Kansas State @ #3 TCU is another regular season rematch with the Wildcats looking to spoil TCU’s unbeaten season. The Frogs have a bit more room for a loss but I wouldn’t assume anything with this committee. If the game is a close TCU loss I could still see them making the playoff. But why tempt fate?

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

#14 LSU @ #1 Georgia. The Tigers blew their chance at a fringe playoff run with a bewildering loss to Texas A&M. Even a win this Saturday night won’t help, nor would it likely knock the Bulldogs out of the top four. Georgia is safe, no matter what goes down this weekend.

Also safe are the Wolverines. Purdue @ #2 Michigan looks just like last year’s Big Ten Championship. A powerhouse and a hopeless underdog. As much as I wanted to win the West this year, I also didn’t relish the idea of going back up against Michigan on national television. I’ll happily let the Boilers play that role this year so I can watch the game stress-free.

Finally, there’s #9 Clemson @ #23 North Carolina. I don’t know about you but I’m pleased as punch we’ll finally have a playoff without having to see either Clemson or Alabama (most likely). I love a good upset, and the Tigers were on the wrong side of a 31-30 final against in-state rival South Carolina last weekend. Meanwhile the Tar Heels are riding a two game losing streak and have seen their own playoff hopes collapse these last few weeks. Unless you just can’t get enough east coast football there’s not a lot of greater impact here.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Cincinnati

While the spotlight will be on the power five championships, don’t forget about the other conferences. #22 UCF @ #18 Tulane, Fresno State @ Boise State, Coastal Carolina @ Troy and Toledo @ Ohio are all sprinkled in throughout the day. Saturday may not be as packed full as the regular season weekends are, but with all being conference championships they all should be entertaining.