CFP points, pot holes are at stake
Conference champions will be crowned, pot selection orders will be closed and more clarity will emerge about which teams will and will not be among the four teams selected for the college football game.
It’s championship week, and while matches for the conference title on Friday and Saturday feature many of the usual suspects, there are some joining the party for the first time — or for the first time in a while.
Start with Michigan, which has not appeared in the previous 11 Big Ten Championship matches. The Wolverines reside after defeating Ohio State to win the Eastern Division. Their opponent, Iowa, is participating for the second and first time since 2015.
Oklahoma State snatched its debut in a Big 12 championship game a week before its big win over six-time champions Oklahoma.
Wake Forest is back at the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since 2006.
In the Group of Five, UTSA will make their Conference USA debut, Kent State will return to their Mid-American Conference game for the first time since 2012, and Utah State will make their Mountain West game for the first time since 2013.
Summary of the games, in AP order:
No. 10 Oregon (10-2, 7-2) v. No. 14, Utah (9-3, 8-1), Friday, 8 p.m. EST (ABC)
Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas.
Last meet: Utah won 38-7 on November 20.
Series: Oregon leads 23-11.
Stakes: Rose Bowl Winner.
Note: Oregon is the first team to play the title match three times in a row and will appear for the fifth time. Ducks 4-0 into the game, including a 37-15 win over Utah in 2019.
9 Baylor (10-2, 7-2) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1), Saturday, noon EST.
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
Last meet: Oklahoma State won 24-14 on October 2.
Series: Oklahoma State leads 22-18.
Bets: Oklahoma State to CFP or Sugar Bowl if they win; Baylor to Sugar Bowl if he wins.
Note: The Cowboys managed to keep Baylor at 107 yards and 280 yards lows in their previous meeting.
No. 4 Alabama (11-1, 7-1) against No. 1 Georgia (12-0, 8-0), Saturday, 4 p.m. EST (CBS).
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.
Last meet: Alabama won 41-24 on October 17, 2020.
Series: Alabama leads 41-25-4.
Bets: The winner can be in the CFP, and the loser can be in line for the CFP place depending on the score margin and the results of other conference championship games.
No. 18 Wake Forest (10-2, 7-1) v. No. 17 Pittsburgh (10-2, 7-1), Saturday, 8 p.m. EST (ABC)
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Last meeting: Pittsburgh won 34-13 on November 17, 2018.
Series: Pittsburgh leads 1-0.
Bets: Winner of the Peach Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.
Note: In the only previous team meeting, current QB Kenny Pickett and the Panthers defeated the Demon Deacons to seal a place in the 2018 ACC title game, losing to Clemson.
No. 15 Iowa (10-2, 7-2) v. No. 2 Michigan (11-1, 8-1), Saturday, 8 p.m. EST (Fox)
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.
Last meet: Michigan won 10-3 on October 5, 2019.
Series: Michigan leads 42-15-4.
Stakes: Michigan to CFP if she wins; Iowa aligns with the Rose Bowl bid if she wins.
Note: Michigan Aidan Hutchinson and David Ogabo are 1-2 in the Big Ten in sacks with a total of 24; Iowa is 94th in bags allowed nationwide.
A set of five matches
Western Kentucky (8-4, 7-1) vs UTSA (11-1, 7-1), Friday, 7 p.m. EST (CBS Sports)
Where: Almodome, San Antonio.
Last meeting: UTSA won 52-46 on October 9th.
Series: 1-1 draw.
Bets: Both teams will go to the pot.
Note: Western Kentucky has won seven straight times since losing to the Road Runners, all by at least 15 points.
Northern Illinois (8-4, 6-2) vs Kent State (7-5, 6-2), Saturday, noon EST (ESPN)
Where: Ford Field, Detroit.
Last meet: Kent State won 52-47 on November 3rd.
Series: Northern Illinois leads 21-8.
Bets: Both teams will go to the pot.
Note: Huskys have won seven of the nine games on a single point total they played. The loss to Kent state was one of two that did not.
Utah State (9-3, 6-2) v. No. 19 San Diego State (11-1, 7-1), Saturday, 3 p.m. EST (Fox)
Where: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California.
Last meet: San Diego State won 38-7 on October 31, 2020.
Series: San Diego State leads 13-2.
Stakes: The winner goes to the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.
Note: Utah State, fifth in the mountain division, won six games after trailing by two digits and went 6-0 down the road.
Appalachian State (10-2, 7-1) vs. No. 20 Louisiana Lafayette (11-1, 8-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Where: Cajun Field, Lafayette, Louisiana.
Last meet: Louisiana-Lafayette won 41-13 on October 12th.
Series: Appalachian State advances 8-2.
Bets: Both teams will go to the plates.
Note: This will be the third time these teams have met in the game’s four-year history. App State has won the previous two.
No. 16 Houston (11-1, 8-0) against third place Cincinnati (12-0, 8-0), Saturday, 4 p.m. EST (ABC).
Where: Niebert Stadium, Cincinnati.
Last meet: Cincinnati won 38-10 on November 7, 2020.
Series: Houston leads 15-12.
Stakes: Cincinnati is in line for a CFP spot if it wins; Houston will go to the bowl, win or lose.
Note: Defending champion Bearkats has won 15 consecutive wins against conference opponents and 19 of the last 21.
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