Conference championship games! A bowl game! And MORE regular-season games! This weekend of college football literally has a little bit of everything to offer. This week's batch of picks will focus on the conference championship game action carrying some weight in the final turn of the race to the College Football Playoff.
Note: All times are ET and games are on Saturday, Dec. 19.
Ohio State (-20.5) vs. Northwestern, 12 p.m. (Big Ten Championship Game)
The Buckeyes know they could benefit from having a few style points on their side. Northwestern's offense will struggle to put many scoring opportunities together, so it will be up to the Buckeye offense to pile it on. Justin Fields may take some time to get going, but Ohio State will flex their muscle for the College Football Playoff selection committee. Ohio State 40, Northwestern 17
Oklahoma (-5.5) vs. Iowa State, 12 p.m. (Big 12 Championship Game)
Death, taxes, and the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma is an overwhelming 10-1 all-time in the Big 12 Championship Game, including three wins in each year since the game returned in 2017. Oklahoma has revenge on the mind as well and should be counted on to get it. Oklahoma 34, Iowa State 26
Notre Dame (+10.5) vs. Clemson, 4 p.m. (ACC Championship Game)
Notre Dame managed to clip the Tigers in South Bend in one of the games of the year, but now they must try to do it with Trevor Lawrence available for Clemson. Even with Lawrence, giving Notre Dame 10 points feels risky even for Clemson. The Irish are a legitimate threat to claim the ACC crown. We won't go quite that far, but covering the spread feels manageable for this Irish squad. Clemson 36, Notre Dame 30
Alabama (-17) vs. Florida, 8 p.m. (SEC Championship Game)
Maybe Florida was looking past LSU to this weekend's matchup with Alabama. But what Florida did against LSU compared to what Alabama did to the Tigers the previous week shouldn't help to convince you to feel confident taking the Gators here. Alabama will put this one on cruise control before halftime, and it won't take too long after that for the Gators to appear in the Crimson Tide's rearview mirror. At the same time, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones could close the door on the competition for the Heisman Trophy (unless his teammate DeVonta Smith has anything to say about it). Alabama 42, Florida 23
Tulsa (+14) at Cincinnati, 8 p.m. (AAC Championship Game)
These two teams did not get to play last weekend in the regular-season finale, so the conference awarded home field this week to the Bearcats based on ranking. Cincinnati's defense is among the best in the Group of 5, and that should make life difficult for Tulsa. Cincinnati has scored roughly 130 more points than Tulsa this season and has given up 19 fewer points than the Golden Hurricane. So call this pick purely a gut feeling. Logic says Cincinnati at home will cover, but we'll ride with Tulsa here to keep things interesting. Cincinnati 27, Tulsa 17
Last Week: 3-2
Podcast: Path to the Playoff + Championship Game Previews and Picks