Buckle in. It’s time for the conference championships and the outcome of these games will ultimately shape the College Football Playoff landscape. The rankings currently have Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, and Cincinnati as the Top 4 teams in the country. On the outside looking in are Oklahoma State and Notre Dame at number five and six. There are three games that could truly impact how the final rankings are decided.
Before we jump into those three games, let me add that No. 4 Cincinnati will play No. 21 Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship. I believe that if Cincinnati wins this game, they deserve to be in the playoff, but we have already seen what the committee thinks about non-Power 5 schools. Let’s look at the three most important games of the conference championship weekend.
SEC: No. 1 Georgia vs No. 3 Alabama
The Crimson Tide are rarely in a position where their backs are against the wall. After losing to Texas A&M earlier in the season, it feels like Alabama must win this game to make the CFP as no two-loss team has ever made it. The Tide barely escaped the Iron Bowl with a 4 OT win against an Auburn team that won just six games. By no means was it a great performance but it was impressive that they managed a comeback in the 4th quarter and persevered in overtime. If Alabama wins, they will be in the CFP. That means either Cincy gets the axe or will stay at 4 depending on the outcomes of the Michigan and Oklahoma State games. But if Alabama loses, does a 2-loss team, that didn’t win their conference championship game, deserve a spot? Nick Saban teams know how to rise to the occasion. Prediction: Alabama
Big 12: No. 5 Oklahoma State vs No. 9 Baylor
Oklahoma State finally won a Bedlam game and quite literally sent Lincoln Riley packing for the USC job. Now Mike Gundy’s team is just a win away from playing in the College Football Playoff. Despite any other performance this weekend, I believe the Cowboys should be in the playoff if they beat the ninth-ranked team in the country in a championship game. They already beat a ranked Baylor team and have taken down ranked Oklahoma as well. This defense is not to be messed with and there is a chance that the Bears are without their star QB Gerry Bohanon. Baylor has had quite the dream season, but I am not sure they are healthy enough to win this game against a very motivated OSU team. For my money, I think OSU deserves a spot if they win this game and I think that’s what will happen. Prediction: Oklahoma State
Big 10: No. 2 Michigan vs No. 13 Iowa
Michigan is coming off a massive upset of Ohio State, the first in the Jim Harbaugh era as a head coach for the Wolverines. It was a shocking game and one that catapulted Michigan into the CFP rankings and the Big 10 Championship game. This is a huge game for Big Blue because win-and-in is pretty much the situation. If Iowa can pull off an upset, the conference is likely without any CFP teams. At that point, every school would have at least two losses. If the Wolverines pull this off, they should be either the second or third ranked team in the country depending on the outcome of the SEC Championship game. Prediction: Michigan
Final CFP Ranking Predictions:
- Oklahoma State