Conference championship weekend is here in college football and spots in the College Football Playoff are officially on the line. Four teams can probably feel incredibly safe with their playoff positioning if they win this weekend, but a chaotic season such as this one deserves one last bout of mayhem before the selection committee for the College Football Playoff makes their final call.
This particular championship weekend is missing a few regulars from past seasons. Ohio State, Clemson, and Oklahoma are all sitting at home watching the thrones in the Big Ten, ACC, and Big 12 see a new champion take its place. Meanwhile, the SEC features a highly-anticipated matchup between Georgia and Alabama. And Cincinnati will get their chance to make one last statement to the selection committee as the Bearcats look to make history as the first Group of 5 program to crack the four-team playoff field.
As for picking these games against the spread, which has proven to be a mighty challenge in recent weeks for this particular picker, it's time to end the year with a bang. And given how the last few weeks have gone, we need it.
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Saturday, Dec. 4.
When you think of the Big 12, you are probably quick to think about offense and high-scoring games. This Big 12 Championship Game will go against that stereotype of Big 12 football as the defenses for both teams should lead to a lower-scoring output for a title tilt. Neither team is giving up more than 20 points per game this season, and this could easily turn into a race to that mark. As such, there may not be much room for separation on the scoreboard. Pokes win, but the Bears cover. Oklahoma State 20, Oklahoma State 18
Georgia has been the nation's most consistently dominant team all season long, while Alabama has shown some vulnerability. This Bulldogs defense is expected to give the Crimson Tide the biggest test we have seen in the Nick Saban era, but there is something about Saban and the SEC Championship Game that is difficult to bet against. This year seems to have been set up perfectly for Georgia, and Alabama is the only team that can throw a wrench in those plans. And they will. Alabama 26, Georgia 24
The success of Cincinnati this season is well documented and it may have overshadowed the work Dana Holgorsen has done with Houston this season. The Cougars haven't lost a game since the season opener to Texas Tech, and they have very similar numbers to Cincinnati this season in a variety of statistical categories. That's why Houston covering a big spread is the pick to ride with here. Cincinnati 27, Houston 23
Iowa won't have the manpower to outwork this Michigan team, which is now one win away from sending Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff. This is more of a defensive scrapple, just the kind of game the Hawkeyes need to come out on top. Iowa's secondary has to make some big plays as they have all year long, but Michigan will be content to keep things on the ground with Hassan Haskins coming off a monster performance against Ohio State. Michigan 24, Iowa 18
Expect plenty of scoring between these two teams with an over/under set at 71 points. Both teams are capable of easily getting into the 30s, and it could even happen by halftime! But Kenny Pickett and the Panthers will get the last laugh by separating themselves from the Demon Deacons in the second half to capture Pitt's first ACC championship and secure a spot in a New Year's Six bowl game for the first time since the 2004 season. Pitt 46, Wake Forest 42
Last Week: 1-3-1
Podcast: Championship Weekend Preview and Predictions