CFB conference championship games: CFB rankings on the line, as we brace for debate

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It could all be so simple in the CFB conference championship games this weekend. We could get four undefeated teams to win their conference title and advance to the College Football Playoff. That should settle it. No hand wringing, no complaining. Straightforward and simple.

But we know there will be grumbling. We know that fans of certain one-loss teams will be upset. We know they’ll downplay the final CFB rankings. We know they’ll downplay Final Four teams. We know they’ll downplay the championship game. It happens every year. It happened last year (we’re looking at you TCU)!

Still, if the four undefeated teams win, then that’s it. Those four teams are playing for the College Football Playoff 2023 national championship. Complain all you want. Blame the committee. Blame TV. Blame your coach for going for it on fourth down. It doesn’t matter.

But, is that what will happen this weekend, those four undefeated teams winning? Let’s examine the games and see what they’re telling us.

Pac-12 Championship Game

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Washington (12-0) vs. No. 6 Oregon (11-1), Friday, 7 p.m. (ABC)

Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas

Team Points per game PPG allowed
Washington Huskies 38.0 23.0
Oregon Ducks 45.3 15.9

Betting odds

  • Line – Oregon -9.5
  • Over/Under – 65.5

If Washington wins, the Huskies are in. They would have two wins against Oregon. It would also be the last year of the Pac-12 as we know it, so the committee would have to put them in, if nothing else for sentimental reasons! (That’s not supposed to matter …).

If Oregon wins, buckle up. Most voters of the AP poll and college football coaches poll, as well as the college football rankings, have believed that the Ducks were better than Washington despite that regular-season loss. The Ducks have been the highest-ranked one-loss team all season. The sentiment is there to put Oregon in the playoff. And, the committee would have to put them in, if nothing else for sentimental reasons! (Again, that’s not supposed to matter …).

At least the Pac-12 is playing Friday so we’ll have all night and Saturday morning to be worked into a frenzy about what this game means.

SEC Championship Game

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Georgia (12-0) vs. No. 7 Alabama (11-1), Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (CBS)

Mercedes-Benz Dome, Atlanta

Team Points per game PPG allowed
Georgia Bulldogs 39.6 15.8
Alabama Crimson Tide 35.8 17.9

Betting odds

  • Line – Georgia -6.5
  • Over/Under – 55.5

If Georgia wins the Bulldogs will be the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, looking for a third straight title. The last time a team won three straight college football national championships was Minnesota – Minnesota!!!??? – in 1934, 1935 and 1936.

If Alabama wins then welcome to grumbling (see above). The SEC champion has never been left out of the College Football Playoff (and there are a LOT of people out there who would love for that to happen, but we digress …).

The Crimson Tide would certainly have a case to be in the College Football Playoff. They have just beaten the No. 1 team in the country and beat five Top 25 teams. (Even though it’s not supposed to matter …) they’ve been here almost every year, so the committee is certainly familiar with Alabama being in this position. The only downside is that it lost a regular season game to Texas, which also comes into conference championship weekend with one loss. And, we’ll know if the Longhorns still have just one loss because the Big 12 Championship will be over when this game kicks off. So, a win here could get Alabama into the College Football Playoff.

But wait, there’s more. What happens to Georgia? It would only have one loss. It has been in the Top 4 all season. It’s the back-to-back national champion for (bleep’s) sake! (Again, that’s not supposed to matter …). Yeah, Alabama winning will create debate and we were supposed to be doing away with debate when we left the bowl system, right?

Championship Weekend: Players to watch in 2023 title games

Big Ten Championship Game

Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Michigan (12-0) vs. No. 17 Iowa (10-2), Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (Fox)

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Team Points per game PPG allowed
Michigan Wolverines 37.6 10.3
Iowa Hawkeyes 18.0 12.2

Betting odds

  • Line – Michigan -22.5
  • Over/Under – 34.5

If Michigan wins then the Wolverines are in the College Football Playoff. Can you believe it would be three in a row? Yeah, we had to look that up to make sure. Three in a row. In 2021, Michigan lost to Georgia in the semifinals 34-11 and then last year, it lost to TCU 51-45 in one of the craziest games ever played.

If Iowa wins, well … does anybody see that happening? OK, it could. If Iowa wins, then Michigan is out. The question is, will it open the door for Ohio State to get in? The Buckeyes were ranked ahead of Georgia for most of the season, so the committee could say “this is what we thought would happen all along” and move the Buckeyes in. Remember that grumbling we were talking about? This is one of the things that would cause it.

ACC Championship Game

Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Florida State (12-0) vs. No. 10 Louisville (10-2), Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ABC)

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Team Points per game PPG allowed
Florida State Seminoles 36.1 20.6
Louisville Cardinals 33.0 20.0

Betting odds

  • Line – Florida State -2.5
  • Over/Under – 47.5

If Florida State wins, the Seminoles are in. Yes, they don’t have starting quarterback Jordan Travis, but backup Tate Rodemaker has 510 yards and five touchdowns in relief and the defense has come through when it was needed. Plus, they’re undefeated! That’s almost always a ticket to play for a title.

If Louisville wins, we can all say we saw it coming for Florida State. We can say the Seminoles weren’t really that good, especially without Travis. They almost lost several times this season. That win against LSU was a long time ago, way back in Week 1.

Then again, we’d feel much better about Louisville pulling this off if the Cardinals hadn’t lost to Kentucky last week, which had lost to South Carolina the week before.

Big 12 Championship Game

No. 7 Texas (11-1) vs. No. 20 Oklahoma State (9-3), Saturday, 11 a.m. ET (ABC)

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Team Points per game PPG allowed
Texas Longhorns 34.5 21.6
Oklahoma State 30.2 27.3

Betting odds

  • Line – Texas -14.5
  • Over/Under – 55.5

If Texas wins, then brace yourself for a debate to end all debates. The Longhorns beat Alabama to start the season and if you don’t remember that, there are plenty of Longhorn fans, would-be Longhorn fans and Alabama haters to remind you. Texas should claim a spot in the College Football Playoff if just one of the undefeateds lose, those people will say. The committee will have to go into witness protection if they move Alabama ahead of the Longhorns if both teams win.

If Oklahoma State wins, an entire region of football fans, mostly those in the Big 12 who are not fans of Texas, will be cheering. Texas is leaving to join the SEC next year and it will hurt the rest of the conference financially, so the Longhorns have no fans outside of their own. The new hairstyle of the region might just be Mike Gundy mullets if the Cowboys pull off an upset.

American Conference Championship Game

No. 22 Tulane (11-1) vs. SMU, Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (ABC)

Yulman Stadium, New Orleans

Team Points per game PPG allowed
Tulane Green Wave 27.9 18.3
SMU Mustangs 41.8 17.7

Betting odds

  • Line – Tulane -3.5
  • Over/Under – 47.5

If Tulane wins the Green Wave will most likely be the Group of Five conference member to make a New Year’s Six Bowl. Tulane has been consistent all season with its only loss to a Top 10 Ole Miss team that it led late in the third quarter. If you recall, the Green Wave knocked off Southern Cal 46-45 in the 2022 Cotton Bowl. So this is no fluke team.

If SMU wins, then everybody will call Tulane a fluke team. Still, the Mustangs are 10-2 and the losses are to Oklahoma and TCU. They are a good offensive team that has scored 45 or more points five times. A win here could get SMU into a New Year’s Six Bowl.

How we see the games playing out

  • Washington 42, Oregon 39 – Huskies are tired of pundits saying the Ducks are better
  • Georgia 37, Alabama 35 – For once, the ball doesn’t bounce Alabama’s way
  • Michigan 18, Iowa 7 – This will be a field position game that coaches of yesteryear would love
  • Florida State 21, Louisville 17 – The Seminoles are vulnerable, but they’re better than Louisville
  • Texas 49, Oklahoma State 35 – The Cowboys don’t have the studs to pull off the upset
  • Tulane 33, SMU 29 – The Green Wave has a record of 23-3 the past two seasons

There, simple. Washington, Georgia, Michigan and Florida State win and advance.

CFB Title game watchability rankings

Make sure you don’t miss these games.

  1. Washington vs. Oregon
  2. Alabama vs. Georgia
  3. Tulane vs. SMU
  4. Texas vs. Oklahoma
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