How to Watch College Football Conference Championships
Justin Fields and Ohio State look to make the College Football Playoff with just six wins. But first they will have to get past Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship. GETTY IMAGES

Conference Championships are here whether teams are ready or not. What impact will these games have on the College Football Playoff? Without further ado, here are are previews of the College Football championships in chronological order this weekend.

Pac 12 Championship

Friday, December 18

The first championship game of the weekend was supposed to be between Washington and USC but the Huskies could not field enough scholarship players because of COVID-19. The Ducks will instead take their place in a game that the Trojans should be even more favored to win than if they were playing Washington. But with these teams only playing a sample size of five games, anything could happen in this one. Click here for a full preview.

Big 10 Championship

Saturday, December 19

This is another matchup where the better team only has played five games. There was a lot of controversy when the Big 10 Conference broke its own rule to start the season, stating that to qualify for the championship game, each team would have to play at least six games. That hasn't been the case for Ohio State as their matchups against Maryland, Illinois and Michigan were cancelled all due to the pandemic. The last time these two historic rivals didn't play each other was 1917.

If the conference didn't change it's rule, Indiana would have been the replacement in the East Division of the Big 10 as they played seven games and only lost to the Buckeyes. To be fair, they are the best team in the conference by a long shot, but it just shows you how much cache the team has from winning so consistently.

They're the best team in the conference this year because of their transcendent quarterback Justin Fields who will likely be the second-overall pick in next year's draft behind Trevor Lawrence. He only struggled in one game against Indiana but it was enough to kick him out of the Heisman race, mostly because the team only played five games. He still won the BIG-10's offensive player of the year. A 15-3 touchdown to interception ratio will do that for you. Before that Indiana game he had as many touchdowns as he had incompletions with 11. He threw three picks in the game against the Hoosiers but rebounded in their next game as Ohio State won 52-17 against Michigan State. Fields had a 95.1 QBR just edging out his overall QBR for the season at 94.8. This offense can just simply score at will.

Northwestern will have a lot on their plate but thankfully for the Wildcat faithful, their defense is outstanding. In their six wins they did not give up more than 20 points. They only gave up more than once and it was their only loss, when they fell to Michigan State 29-20. Unfortunately for the club, their offense isn't up to par with OSU's, as they average 25.3 points per game. The Buckeyes comparatively average 46.6. The Wildcats defense are going to have play the game of a lifetime to pull off this upset.

Big 12 Championship

Saturday, December 19

When the Big 12 went through realignment after the 2010 season, the conference didn't have a championship game until 2017. Oklahoma has been in and won every one of those championship games since. It helps when your quarterbacks are Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts. They are back in the championship again but this will be the first year since they brought back the championship game where the Sooners won't be the highest ranked team in the game.  

That's because the Iowa State Cyclones are having one of their best seasons in school history with an 8-2 record and a No. 6 overall ranking. The last time the Cyclones won their conference was in 1911 and 1912 when they were in the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. That conference later become the Big Eight Conference which now of course is the Big 12. They are doing it under Matt Campbell which has led the program to four bowl games in the past five seasons at the helm. To put that in perspective, the program has been to 15 bowl games total before this year.

On the other side, it's amazing how consistent the success has been for Oklahoma even though they've had a new quarterback every year in these last four championship games. They struggled early in the season including a loss to Iowa State 37-30 in Week 3. But ever since they beat Texas in a wild four-overtime game, they have rebounded and no game since has been close for the Sooners. QB Spencer Rattler was benched in that Texas game but came back and led the Sooners to that victory. He has been the starter ever since and has really developed. He will be the quarterback for some time to come and this team is only going to get scarier moving forward. Their two losses are by only a combined 10 points and they have the same number of losses as the Cyclones. This is going to be a close rematch.

Sun Belt Championship: UPDATE

CANCELLED

  • #19 Louisiana at #12 Coastal Carolina, CANCELLED

The Sun Belt Conference announced that their championship game would be cancelled because there was a positive COVID-19 test on the Coastal Carolina team. This positive test would have made an entire position group unavailable to play in the game. Both schools have been recognized as co-champions. Just another way this pandemic has affected this unparalleled college football season. The following is what might have happened if they played.

Iowa State's first game and loss of the season came at the heels of Louisiana. This Ragin' Cajuns team was projected to be at the top of the Sun Belt Conference and they've held up their end of the bargain. The biggest surprise in the Sun Belt and really throughout college football has been the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

They weren't expected to make any noise this season and they did the exact opposite by going undefeated and arguably playing one of the best games of the season in a last second stop against BYU.  The Chanticleers have had a great baseball team for years winning the national championship in 2016, but they didn't start playing FBS football until the very next year. These two played back in October in a narrow 30-27 Coastal Carolina win. Expect another close matchup in this one.

ACC Championship

Saturday, December 19

Speaking of one of the best games of the season. These two played in a double-OT thriller in South Bend last month that made the Notre Dame faithful storm the field in jubilation. Notre Dame is finally part of a conference this year and have a shot at winning the ACC. But the best QB in the country, Trevor Lawrence, will start for Clemson. A luxury the Tigers didn't have last time due to COVID-19. Whoever wins this one is a lock for the College Football Playoff. For a full preview of this matchup, click here.

Mountain West Championship

Saturday, December 19

In a battle of the states, this game is between a Mountain West mainstay and a first timer. San Jose State is making their first appearance in the Mountain West Championship game since joining the conference in 2013 with an undefeated record. They haven't won a conference championship since 1991 when they were a part of the Big West Conference.

From 1996-2012 they were in the Western Athletic Conference where they never won a conference championship. The Spartans are looking to change the course of their history with a strong receiving game and a defense that ranks in the top-25 in points allowed.  

As for the Boise State Broncos, they have won four Mountain West titles and are the defending champs. These two used to be WAC rivals and BSU won that conference champion eight times. This Broncos team is 5-1 but got pummeled against BYU 51-17 knocking them out of the rankings. They shouldn't be underestimated in this one though because of their thorough experience.

SEC Championship

Saturday, December 19

In college football's premier conference, the Crimson Tide and and Gators face off in a showdown of two of the best offenses in the country. The Gators were on their way to a chance in the College Football playoff until they lost a tight matchup against LSU last week giving them two losses on the season. The Gators offense will have to match Alabama score for score because there is little hope of slowing down the Tide. They're easily the best team in the country for a reason. For a full preview of this matchup, click here.

AAC Championship

Saturday, December 19

The night will finish with these top-ranked teams teams out of the AAC. Tulsa has only lost one game and it was their first of the season against Oklahoma State 16-7. The OSU Cowboys have been ranked all season.

The same can be said about the Cincinnati Bearcats as they've earned an undefeated season so far. Every year there is a call for the sport to expand the College Football Playoff. Those calls were louder than ever with the difficulties the pandemic has brought to this season. If that happened and Cincy stayed undefeated, they'd certainly be in the playoff. Here's to hoping for expansion one day. Until then, where just happy we made it this far in the college football season. Happy Holidays and Happy Bowling to you and yours.

*Game availability may be subject to your area