After a season full of twists and turns — who knew Alabama actually was allowed to lose two games? — we have reached the end of the regular season line. All that stands between us now and the long, dark offseason are these set of games, Army-Navy and then a bunch of exhibitions named after oil-change places, credit unions and cheese crackers. Oh, and the College Football Playoff in like a month. That’s fun, too.
All times Eastern.
|Noon||Big 12: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Baylor||ABC|
|Noon||Sun Belt: Louisiana at No. 21 Appalachian State||ESPN|
|Noon||Mid-American: Miami (Ohio) vs. Central Michigan||ESPN2|
|1:30||Conference USA: UAB at Florida Atlantic||CBS Sports Network|
|3:30||AAC: No. 20 Cincinnati at No. 17 Memphis||ABC|
|4||SEC: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 4 Georgia||CBS|
|4||Mountain West: Hawaii at No. 19 Boise State||ESPN|
|7:30||ACC: No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 23 Virginia||ABC|
|8||Big Ten: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Wisconsin||Fox|
Big 12 championship game
In Arlington, Tex.
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Baylor
The Bears jumped out to a 25-point second-quarter lead against the Sooners in the teams’ regular season meeting Nov. 16, then suffered a power outage in the second half and lost, 34-31. Oklahoma’s hole was so big because of consecutive first-half turnovers that Baylor converted into touchdowns, and the Sooners had three more giveaways in the close-shave win over TCU that followed. But Oklahoma played a clean game to close the regular season, and the result was a relatively easy win over Oklahoma State.
Sun Belt championship game
In Boone, N.C.
Louisiana at No. 21 Appalachian State
This could be the final game as Ragin’ Cajuns coach for Billy Napier because he is seen as a candidate for multiple openings. If it is, he would like to go out on a seven-game winning streak that began one game after Appalachian State scored a 17-7 road win Oct. 9. Mountaineers Coach Eli Drinkwitz, meanwhile, has stepped in admirably after Scott Satterfield left for Louisville, leading Appalachian State to its highest national ranking and an 11-1 record.
Mid-American championship game
Miami (Ohio) vs. Central Michigan
Momentum might be a worry for the Redhawks: Their past two games were a three-point win over Akron, perhaps the nation’s worst team, and a loss to 5-7 Ball State (though many Miami starters watched from the sideline in the second half). The Chippewas feature a Tennessee transfer at quarterback (Quinten Dormady) and two running backs who have either surpassed or are approaching 1,000 rushing yards this season (Jonathan Ward and Kobe Lewis).
Conference USA championship game
In Boca Raton, Fla.
UAB at Florida Atlantic
Owls Coach Lane Kiffin also has been connected to high-profile openings, specifically the one at Arkansas, so this could be his FAU swan song. The Owls, a team that had two all-time bowl appearances before his arrival in 2017, have earned bowl bids in two of Kiffin’s three seasons. The Blazers’ three losses this year were all against teams that also are going bowling (Western Kentucky, Tennessee and Southern Miss), and UAB lost those games by an average of nearly 22 points.
AAC championship game
No. 20 Cincinnati at No. 17 Memphis
It’s another championship game featuring a coach who could be on a different sideline next year. This time it’s Memphis’s Mike Norvell, 37-15 in four seasons and seemingly on the verge of a step up in class. But first his Tigers must play a Bearcats team they saw only eight days earlier in a 34-24 Memphis win. Cincinnati kept usual starting quarterback Desmond Ridder on the bench for that one to protect a balky shoulder, but he is expected back Saturday.
SEC championship game
The game with the biggest College Football Playoff ramifications probably will result in one of two things happening: The Bulldogs upset the Tigers and both probably get into the playoff, or LSU hands Georgia its second loss of the season and opens up all sorts of questions about which team should fill the fourth playoff spot (Utah? Big 12 winner? Two-Loss Team X?).
Mountain West championship game
Hawaii at No. 19 Boise State
On the surface, the Rainbow Warriors don’t seem too worried about playing in 45-degree, possibly rainy conditions in Boise, with Southern California-bred quarterback Cole McDonald saying it will be “nice to get in some little cold sweater weather.” Nevertheless, Hawaii is 0-7 all-time in Boise, losing by an average of 33.1 points. That includes a 22-point loss Oct. 12.
ACC championship game
No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 23 Virginia
Only three of 10 championship games feature double-digit spreads, and this one is the biggest: The Tigers are favored by somewhere around four touchdowns. And why not? Since its scare against North Carolina in late September, Clemson has won its games by 31, 35, 52, 45, 45, 49 and 35 points. Virginia doing any better than that, especially after finally getting over the Virginia Tech hump last weekend, could be a tall order.
Big Ten championship game
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
The undefeated Buckeyes’ season-long dominance — they’re averaging 38.1 points per game more than their opponents — probably means they are making the playoff no matter the result of Saturday night’s game. The teams’ first meeting Oct. 26 was competitive for about a half before Ohio State stepped on the gas in a 38-7 win. Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor, the nation’s second-leading rusher, had 20 carries for only 52 yards in that game, 14 of which came on one early run.