Fewer weeks in college football have the same implications than this year’s Conference Championship week. College Football Playoff hopes for teams like Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, and non-participant Notre Dame hang in the balance of these 10 title games. This year, only two of the matchups are rematches– the Pac-12 and Big 12 games. Can Oregon and Baylor extract revenge? Below, we’ll take a look at Conference Championship odds for all five Power Five conferences and the AAC.
College Football Conference Championship Odds
College Football Conference Championship Top Games
#10 Oregon vs. #17 Utah ()
The closest spread among these conference championship odds, desite just two weeks ago the Utes throttled the Ducks at home by 31 points. The loss bounced Oregon (10-2) from the College Football Playoff conversation and secured the Pac-12 South for Utah (9-3). Utah is a favorite in Las Vegas but as we know, it’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season. For Oregon, they do hold a slight advantage in the self-scouting department, being able to take away what didn’t work against Utah the first time around.
This game being away from Rice-Eccles Stadium is another reason for it to be closer in the conference championship odds than Week 12. However, the Utes left no doubts on the table that they are the superior team at the line of scrimmage. They dominated time of possession (59.1%) and third down (converted 11/14 on offense). Utah also held Oregon to a season-low 63 total rushing yards– the only instance which the Ducks were held under 120 as a team.
We can expect Travis Dye to receive more than six carries, which was a result of Utah blowing the game open early. However, for Oregon to turn this matchup from a 31-point blowout to a one-point loss or better would be a remarkable turnaround given the recency of the last matchup.
#9 Baylor vs. #5 Oklahoma State ()
The first time these two teams played in Week 5, Oklahoma State (11-1) won in Stillwater despite Spencer Sanders’ three interceptions. The Pokes held Gerry Bohanan to zero touchdowns and controlled the line of scrimmage (10 TFLs). Baylor (10-2) comes into this game potentially without Bohanan (hamstring). Redshirt freshman Blake Shapen is the stand-in and he led the Bears to a 27-24 win over Texas Tech a week ago.
This is a potentially-volatile line with the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback situation for Baylor. In college football, championship experience matters, be it conference or national. Either Oklahoma State faces an injured Bohanan or an inexperienced Shapen. A week ago against Oklahoma, the Pokes defense recorded six sacks, including two on Oklahoma’s final two drives to ice the game.
Twice in big games has Oklahoma State’s defense been able to overcome losing the turnover battle and secure wins. However, the market favored Baylor midweek to push the line down from OKST -5.5 to OKST .
#3 Alabama vs. #1 Georgia ()
The marquee matchup of the weekend is in Atlanta. Georgia’s defense is allowing 0.36 points per drive (excluding garbage time, per BCF Toys)– the best mark since the metric has been kept (2007) and the only mark ever under 0.5. The incredible effort by the defense and the competent play of Stetson Bennett & Co. also leads to the Dawgs outscoring their opponents by 3.3 points per drive– the first team since 2013 Florida State to outscore opponents by at least a field goal per drive.
As a result, Georgia is a favorite against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Tide will be without leading receiver Jameson Williams for the first half, who was ejected for targeting in the first half of last week’s Iron Bowl. Williams poses the biggest threat to Georgia’s defense who, despite the seeming invincibility, does allow yards to receivers.
Alabama fields some defensive talent of their own, including game wrecker Will Anderson, who’s recorded a lucrative 30.5 tackles for loss this season. Georgia’s offensive line has been nearly as terrific as their defense this season, fielding two second-team All-SEC selections per PFF. This game has an over/under suit for an NFL game at points.
#21 Houston vs. #3 Cincinnati ()
The Houston Cougars are the quietest 11-1 team in the nation. Their sole loss came on a bizarre Week 1 game where they blew a 21-7 halftime lead to Texas Tech in a game that was plagued by Cougar turnovers. However, it can’t go unmentioned that Houston has the 129th strength of schedule per ESPN’s FPI.
Per SP+ (ESPN’s Bill Connelly), Cincinnati has a 76% chance to win this game with a projected point margin of 12.3 points. Currently, the Bearcats are favored by . Despite some lackluster wins in the middle of the season, Cincinnati is third nationally in net points per drive (1.85) and point margin (+22.8) on the year.
Ultimately, Cincinnati is in a position to make the College Football Playoff, but needs one more convincing win. The effort instilled in this game from both sides alone will be worth a watch.
#13 Iowa vs. #2 Michigan ()
This season, Iowa (10-2) has predicated its success on turnovers and short fields. They lead the nation in net field position (per Football Outsiders), starting an average 9.3 yards ahead of their opponent on the season. In two losses this season, the Hawkeyes forced one total turnover and the offense scored 14 total points; Iowa is also 104th in the nation in third down conversation on the season.
Michigan (11-1) excels at two specific things this season: Taking care of the football and out-producing their opponents on third down. Against Ohio State, Michigan went 5/8 on third down while forcing the Buckeyes to 8/18 on third down; they also began their third downs with an average 3.5 yards to go versus Ohio State’s average 10.1 yards to go. Coupled with 0.8 turnovers per game (eighth), the Wolverines do two things that counter Iowa’s success well.
Iowa’s Spencer Petras has struggled when facing pressure this season and now faces Michigan’s Aiden Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Presenting a matchup nightmare on both sides of the football, Michigan is a favorite in Indianapolis.
#15 Pittsburgh () vs. #16 Wake Forest
Are you a fan of points? Then this is your game. Wake Forest (10-2) has been exceptional on offense this year, ranking second in the nation in points scored on long drives (BCF Toys) and fourth in overall points per drive (3.4). Sam Hartman, while firmly out of the Heisman race, is top-10 nationally in passing yards and passing touchdowns this season. The Achilles heel for Wake has been their defense that’s allowing 2.3 points per drive– 78th nationally.
Both teams run at a breakneck pace, both running over 80 plays per game this year. Pittsburgh (10-2) is every bit as capable of scoring as Wake is behind Heisman contender Kenny Pickett. The Panthers are favored by in Charlotte. Standout wide receiver Jordan Addison leads the nation in touchdown receptions (17) and gets a favorable matchup on Saturday. The Demon Deacons roster six freshman in the defensive secondary and the inexperience has led to them bleeding yards through the air this year.
This game competes for the highest point total on the week () and the winner will be the team that makes the most stops. Pittsburgh has the superior defense, ranking nearly 50 spots higher in points per drive allowed.