College football is in conference championship week. Storylines are forming and teams are making their pushes for the postseason. Here are five things to watch for in college football conference championship week.
1. A Win or Out Situation in the SEC Championship
LSU and Georgia are meeting in the SEC Championship this weekend in Atlanta. The Tigers have had a great season and are undefeated. They have done so well, that even if they lose, they should still be considered for the College Football Playoff. LSU will still be playing to keep their undefeated record alive, but they at least have a small safety net if they lose.
Georgia doesn’t have that same luxury. They lost to South Carolina earlier in the season, who is now 4-8. Their good wins over Notre Dame, Auburn and Florida have kept them ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, but another loss and they won’t be considered for the playoff. Georgia’s defense has been great all season, now they have to find a way to slow down Joe Burrow to get to the CFP.
2. A Rematch in the Big Ten Championship
Ohio State has won every game this season and hasn’t had too many struggles. Their offense has playmakers and their defense has played lights out. They are undefeated and now play Wisconsin for the second time this season. Last time they played, Ohio State destroyed Wisconsin, winning 38-7. It was one of the many good wins for the Buckeyes this season.
Wisconsin has lost two games this season, one to Ohio State, and the other to Illinois. They have operated behind a good running game led by Jonathan Taylor, who continues to rise up the all-time leading rushers in college football, and a solid defense. A lot is on the line for Wisconsin in this game, if they can pull off the upset, they can make a New Year’s Six Bowl.
3. Utah’s Chance at the CFP
In the Pac-12 Championship Game, Oregon and Utah will match up. Oregon has two losses and for all intents and purposes, are out of the CFP race. They will still want to make a Rose Bowl and can do so with a win. Justin Herbert, an experienced offensive line and a good defense will all have to step up to help the Ducks get the win.
Utah lost a game to USC earlier this season, which many thought would keep them out of the CFP race. USC is a quality loss, as the Trojans finished the year with eight wins. Since that point, Utah has played their typical brand of physical football and has won games. If their defense shows up in the Pac-12 Championship Game, they could be heading to the College Football Playoff, with a Georgia loss.
4. Two One-Loss Big 12 Teams
Baylor and Oklahoma will meet again in the Big 12 Championship Game. In their first meeting, Oklahoma got a big win. The Sooners still have a shot to make the CFP, but will have to jump a few teams to do so. They’ll be looking for Jalen Hurts to have yet another big game and their defense to hang on for dear life to win and get to the CFP.
The Bears only lost to Oklahoma this season, which has kept their CFP chances alive. They are slim though, as the committee has ranked them low relative to their record this season. A defense that allows 18.4 points per game will need to find a way to slow down Hurts for a chance to win the Big 12 Championship Game.
5. Who Will Represent the Group of 5?
The AAC Championship Game features Cincinnati and Memphis for the second straight week. Memphis won the first matchup and will now host Cincinnati again. The winner will be in contention for the Group of Five spot in the CFP, but Memphis has the best chance given that they won last week.
Boise State and Appalachian State are both still in contention for the New Year’s Six spot, if they can jump the AAC Champion in the rankings. The Broncos will have to beat Hawaii for the second time this season to keep their chances alive. Appalachian State needs to make a statement against Louisiana and get some help to make a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.