It began on August 28.
Illinois and Nebraska gave us a truly meaningless Big Ten rock fight to open yet another year of triumph and heartbreak, rivalries and rent-a-wins, hirings and firings. Through all of its beautiful disasters, college football once again reminded us why it’s the best sport in the land.
But now, we sit about 48 hours from the end of that road.
By the NFL’s kickoffs on Sunday, we’ll know the four teams heading to the College Football Playoff and competing to be this year’s conquering heroes.
Yes, those games are part of the season, but it’s not the same as our fall Saturdays. For many like Florida State, the year is over. For others, there’s still one last chance to claim a banner, make history and potentially hear their name called on Sunday.
Saturday will be the last vestiges of our typically football weekends until Labor Day rolls around on the calendar so let’s treat it with the reverence it deserves on the way out especially since it’s providing you with some very high stakes.
The day opens in Dallas where Oklahoma State will have a top-ten showdown to show the committee why they deserve a shot at the top four.
Then in Atlanta, it’s Georgia and Alabama battling for the SEC Championship and potentially take that playoff spot away. A Bama win would likely have both the Tide and Dawgs claiming one of Cinderella’s glass slippers.
At the same time in Cincinnati, Luke Fickell’s Bearcats have a chance to claim the AAC title and make history as the first Group of 5 team invited to the party. They’re No. 4 now, but we’ve seen teams drop out of the final rankings before. If everyone holds serve, Cincinnati likely won’t feel comfortable until their name is called.
And the nightcap in Indianapolis — Michigan against Iowa — will give Jim Harbaugh’s team one last chance to flounder or cement themselves as one of the nation’s elite teams this season.
Must watch all the way around. But of course, we’ve got more for you too as other conferences hold their title games as well with plenty at stake — plus one game with literally no stakes at all that we’ll get to in a bit. In total, 11 games on the slate so we’ll pick them all.
It’s more than 10 but still not the super-sized article we did for rivalry week.
That did go in my favor though as I landed again on the plus side at 8-7. On the season, I am 64-76 so even a perfect championship week won’t get me back to .500, but hey, we tried.
Top commenter goes to UkedadNole who delivered an impressive 10-5.
(Quick aside: I’m planning to do an ESPN pool for the bowl games that we can all join for fun. Let me know in the comments if we’re interested and I can look to get that started)
Reminder, all lines come from Tallysight.com.
- C-USA Championship Game: Western Kentucky (-3) at UTSA (7:00pm ET Friday, CBSSN)
It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I opened one of these articles upset that the Roadrunners (Meep Meep) weren’t getting the respect they deserved by the CFP committee. They were unbeaten and probably not that not good, but who cares, right? If you’re unbeaten in November, not being in the top 25 sends the message that you don’t belong at this level of football.
Well since then, the Roadrunners (Meep Meep) have been really underwhelming. They’ve got a 10-point win over an awful Southern Miss team, a 3-point win against a better UAB team and a 22-point loss to North Texas. It’s been less than ideal. Recent form is poor for UTSA, but they do have a road win already under their belt against Western Kentucky. Vegas isn’t buying it though. And neither am I. The Hilltoppers QB Bailey Zappe is worth the watch if you have CBSSN.
Prediction: Western Kentucky -3
- Pac-12 Championship Game: No. 10 Oregon (+2.5) vs. No. 17 Utah in Las Vegas (8:00pm ET Friday, ABC)
The Ducks were the plucky underduck who kept on fighting earlier this year. The win at Ohio State had Oregon flying high until their trip to Salt Lake City. I felt like the Ducks were the better team entering the game, but it also felt inevitable that the field would be covered in red shirts when the clock hit zeroes. Turns out, Utah claim the win convincingly. Now, they’re the favorite on a neutral field so precedent again says to take the Utes. But these teams are pretty evenly matched and it’s really hard to beat a comparable team twice in the same year (even if their coach may potentially destined for Coral Gables).
Prediction: Oregon +2.5
- Big 12 Championship Game: No. 9 Baylor (+5.5) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma St in Dallas (Noon ET Saturday, ABC)
Another title game rematch. This one fell in the favor of Oklahoma State, 24-14, in early October and I don’t expect the result to be much different this time around. The Cowboys have been one of the best defensive teams in the country this year — something that isn’t easy to do in the Big 12 — and Baylor’s Dave Aranda-led defense isn’t too far behind. This will likely be low scoring so it favors the idea of taking the points, but it’s unclear who will start at QB for Baylor after their starter Gerry Bohanon got injured two weeks. It’s enough of a mystery to push me away from the points and over to Mike Gundy’s crew.
Prediction: Oklahoma State -5.5
- MAC Championship Game: Kent State (-3.5) vs. Northern Illinois in Detroit (Noon ET Saturday, ESPN)
If this is your first time partaking this year, welcome to MACtion. I apologize that your initiation is a weekend variety and would welcome you to return on Tuesdays next season to enjoy the chaos. The conference that has made a name for itself doing everything it can to market its games to gamblers will crown its best at the home of the NFL’s worst in Detroit on Saturday. Quite frankly, I’m not going to fake analysis on this one. I’ve seen Northern Illinois play a half of football. No clue what Kent State has going on. With that research, Huskies it is.
Prediction: Northern Illinois +3.5
- Mountain West Championship Game: Utah State (+6) at No. 19 San Diego State (3:00 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX)
I have actually seen both of these teams play a few times and have included them in this article before so I feel plenty more confident in my ability to speak on them. San Diego State is the decent-sized favorite here and the one everybody will lean to because they’re ranked. They’ve been excellent all season outside of one game against Fresno State, especially on defense. The Aztecs are top ten in scoring defense in the country. Utah State’s offense though has been pretty good this year as well. The key to it all is WR Deven Thompkins who has north of 1,500 yards on the season. The Aggies have been great all year too with the exception of losses to Boise State and BYU — both great teams. OHHH and they just lost handily to a pretty rough Wyoming team.
Prediction: San Diego State -6
- Sun Belt Championship Game: App State (-3) at No. 24 ULL (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)
Future Florida head coach Billy Napier gets one final hoorah with his Ragin Cajuns on Saturday where the fan base will have a chance to say goodbye to one of the most successful coaches in program history at home. It’s sure to be an emotional ride for the Cajuns that could certainly propel them to victory. But it’s App State that is favored to win and I actually agree. The Cajuns smoked the Mountaineers in Lafayette earlier this year, but have also squeaked by in a lot of close games as well. I’ve said it a bunch because I mean it. It’s tough to beat a team twice especially when you’re trying to lead another program as well.
Prediction: App State -3
- SEC Championship Game: No. 1 Georgia (-6.5) vs. No. 3 Alabama in Atlanta (4:00 p.m. ET Saturday, CBS)
It’s the game every fan should be watching. Even Cincinnati fans — whose team plays at the same time — should have their eyes on this one. As I mentioned at the top, an Alabama win here would all but guarantee two SEC teams in the playoff because I believe Georgia has already done enough to punch their spot in the committee’s eyes. There certainly are some holes to poke in their resume as they really haven’t played any good teams, according to analytics. Alabama, of course, qualifies as a good team, but they aren’t the Alabama of old. They’ve had issues on both sides of the ball at different times. As long as those don’t line up, you can still be very successful. This will be the ultimate test of those issues because this UGA defense is an NFL caliber unit that will draw comparisons to that LSU offense from a few years ago when we look back at some of the stars. At the end of the day, Georgia has given me no reason to doubt them with their play so I won’t.
Prediction: Georgia -6.5
- AAC Championship Game: No. 21 Houston (+10.5) at No. 4 Cincinnati (4:00 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC)
This game likely won’t find its way onto my TV very often going up against Alabama-UGA, but I’ll definitely flip it on towards the end. The Bearcats will either be fighting for their lives or celebrating what should be their playoff berth. This game should be plenty of fun though. Both teams have top 10 scoring offenses (UH is No. 9 while UC is No. 8) and top 20 scoring defenses (UC is No. 3 while UH is No. 19). This will likely be a very competitive game and I do think the spread is a bit bigger than it should be, but I believe Cincinnati is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel which should pull them through.
Prediction: Cincinnati -10.5
- Big Ten Championship Game: No. 2 Michigan (-10.5) vs. No. 13 Iowa in Indianapolis (8:00 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX)
Nothing, and I mean nothing, would make me laugh harder this weekend than Michigan losing this game. Jim Harbaugh has finally put together the season he was expected to when he was brought to Ann Arbor. They finally cleared the Ohio State hurdle that has plagued them during his tenure and now find themselves in the final four, controlling their own destiny. Now, they get to face an Iowa team that feels underrated despite their early No. 2 ranking. They rattled off a pair of losses to Purdue and Wisconsin that sunk them way down, but four straight wins has them back in this title game with a shot at a NY6 bowl. I think the Wolverines should punch their ticket to the playoff, but I’m taking the points on this one.
Prediction: Iowa +10.5
- ACC Championship Game: No. 15 Pittsburgh (-3) vs. No. 16 Wake Forest (8:00 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC)
If you’re looking for a fun game, this could be it right here. Pitt and Wake Forest have been super fun while also being totally unpredictable as well. Kenny Pickett will be one of the first quarterbacks off the board in this year’s NFL Draft. He’s led Pitt to an incredibly impressive season that could be getting playoff buzz if it didn’t include the inexplicable loss to Western Michigan in Week 3. Wake counters Pickett with Sam Hartman who still has some more years left in Winston-Salem before his turn at the Draft, but he’s been nearly as impressive this year. His arm has navigated the Deacs to one of the most surprising 10-2 seasons this year. I could definitely see a scenario where the defenses in this game take the fireworks away, but I’m hoping for an absolute shootout, in which case I’ll take the field goal.
Prediction: Wake Forest +3
- Totally Meaningless Football Game: USC (+4.5) at Cal (11:00 p.m. ET Saturday, FS1)
Friends, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Sickos Committee but allow me to enlighten you. It’s essentially a Twitter account whose sole purpose is to love bad football like a son. They hunt down the grossest game on the slate that no one should want to watch unless they are a sicko. This game should be the Sickos Game of the Century. USC and Cal had to postpone this game from early November to now because of COVID-19 issues at Cal and it has berthed one of the most meaningless football games ever played. Both teams are 4-7 so bowl games are long out of the picture. Obviously, they aren’t in the conference title picture because the Pac-12 championship game will be played more than 24 hours before this even kicks off. There’s probably a way to force Lincoln Riley into this article, but I don’t even care to try. What a wonderful disaster this is. Thank you to whoever decided this still needed to be played especially as a standalone game.
Prediction: USC +4.5