Dec 6, 2019

College football's conference championship weekend is here

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Conference championship weekend is upon us.

Why it matters: The action begins tonight in Santa Clara, Calif. and continues through Saturday, with the outcomes dictating who makes the playoff and who makes the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

Pac-12: No. 5 Utah vs. No. 13 Oregon, 8pm ET (tonight)

  • Lines: UTAH -6.5 | O/U: 46
  • What to watch: The game-within-the-game matchup between Utah's dominant D-line (nation's best rush defense) and Oregon's talented and experienced O-line.

Big 12: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Baylor, 12pm ET

  • Lines: OKLA -9 | O/U: 64
  • Fun fact: Oklahoma is the only school to win at least three straight Big 12 titles (2006-08 and 2015-18), while Baylor is the only other school to win two straight (2013-14).

SEC: No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 2 LSU, 4pm ET

  • Lines: LSU -7 | O/U: 55.5
  • What to watch: LSU has the nation's No. 2 scoring offense, so they should have the advantage if this turns into a shootout. Georgia has the nation's No. 2 scoring defense, so they should have the advantage if it turns into a slugfest.

ACC: No. 23 Virginia vs. No. 3 Clemson, 7:30pm ET

  • Lines: CLEM -28.5 | O/U: 57
  • Fun fact: Virginia is the seventh different ACC Coastal champ in as many seasons, with the first six all losing in the title game (Duke and Georgia Tech lost to FSU, while UNC, Virginia Tech, Miami and Pitt all lost to Clemson).

Big Ten: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Wisconsin, 8pm ET

  • Lines: OSU -16.5 | O/U: 56
  • Consider this: If Oregon beats Utah, LSU beats Georgia, Baylor barely beats Oklahoma in a gross game and Wisconsin beats Ohio State 52-7 ... the Badgers could make the playoff! As the great Kevin Garnett once yelled at the top of his lungs, "Anything is possible!!!"

Other conferences:

  • American: No. 20 Cincinnati vs. No. 17 Memphis (-9.5)
  • Mountain West: Hawai'i vs. No. 19 Boise State (-14)
  • Sun Belt: Louisiana Lafayette vs. No. 21 Appalachian State (-6)
  • MAC: Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan (-6.5)
  • C-USA: UAB vs. Florida Atlantic (-7.5)

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Alabama's loss sets up a final College Football Playoff scramble

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama's 48-45 loss to Auburn on Saturday knocked the Crimson Tide out of the playoff race — and made life a whole lot easier for the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Why it matters: Heading into conference championship weekend, four one-loss teams from three Power Five conferences — Georgia, Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor — have at least a shot of earning the final playoff berth behind undefeated LSU, Ohio State and Clemson.

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CFP rankings: Utah to No. 5, top 4 unchanged

Screenshot: @CFBPlayoff (Twitter)

With the top four sports unchanged, Utah moved to No. 5 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, with Oklahoma moving to No. 6 and Baylor gaining two spots to No. 7.

The case for Utah: Four of the last five teams ranked No. 5 entering conference championship weekend went on to make the playoff. So a win over Oregon could put the Utes through.

Go deeperArrowDec 4, 2019

Schedule: Full college football bowl game slate

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The argument against bowl games is that they are relatively meaningless exhibition games designed to make money — mostly for Disney, which not only broadcasts but actually owns many of them.

Yes, but: "There's something nostalgic and fun about sitting down around the holidays and binge-watching football games between obscure teams you wouldn't have watched otherwise," writes FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine.

Go deeperArrowDec 9, 2019