It's been a difficult and winding path to get here, but the date has finally arrived: Conference Championship week in college football. Playing in a Championship game is always a major accomplishment, and in a year as volatile as this one, it’s as much a testament to a team’s fortitude as its talent.
For teams near the top of rankings, this weekend’s Championship games are the last opportunity to make a case for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. No. 1 Alabama (10-0) is virtually assured one of the slots; even if they fall to No. 7 Florida (8-2) in the SEC Championship (8pm ET, Sat. Dec. 19, CBS), the Gators’ loss to unranked LSU last weekend will leave them on the outside looking in. According to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, there’s still a roughly one-in-three chance for No. 5 Texas A&M (7-1) to also make the Playoff, as their only loss this season was to the Crimson Tide.
Outside of the SEC, things get interesting. A rematch of what was the college football game of the year, No. 3 Clemson (9-1) likely needs to beat No. 2 Notre Dame (10-0) in the ACC Championship game to make the Playoff. That’s because they were leapfrogged in ESPN’s Playoff Predictor by USC, who have a chance to get to 6-0 if they can beat Oregon (subbing for PAC-12 North champs Washington, which is dealing with COVID issues) the PAC-12 Championship game (8pm ET, Fri. Dec. 18, FOX). If No. 4 Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship (Noon ET, Sat. Dec. 19, FOX) over No. 14 Northwestern, they will claim one of the four playoff spots.
This would leave the Big 12 as the odd conference out of the Playoff, despite playing almost twice as many games as the PAC-12 or Big Ten. No. 6 Iowa State will take on No. 10 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (Noon ET, Sat. Dec. 19, ESPN3), but with both teams already having lost twice, it’s hard to see the winner taking a Playoff spot.
However, if there’s one team with a legitimate gripe with the CFP selection committee, it’s No. 9 Cincinnati (8-0), which slipped one spot in the rankings despite not playing a game. Sitting idle is part of the problem for the Bearcats; due to COVID cancellations, the team hasn’t played a game since Nov. 21. Still, most experts agree that Cincinnati—which faces No. 24 Tulsa (6-1) this weekend in the AAC championship game (8pm, Sat., Dec. 19, ESPN3)—has reason to be upset, as they’re ranked behind five other teams with at least one loss, including three teams with two. If they defeat Tulsa, they’re all but assured of playing on New Year’s Day, but it’s doubtful that they make the leap into the four-team Playoff field.
All this is to say, there’s still plenty to play for as we head into the final full weekend of the college football season. Check out the full list of championship games on below, along with the full Week 16 schedule.
UPDATE: Due to COVID issues at Coastal Carolina, Saturday's Sun Belt Championship game between #19 Louisiana and # 12 Coastal Carolina has been cancelled. The Ragin' Cajuns and Chanticleers will be recognized as Sun Belt co-champions.
The game between Florida State and Wake Forest was also cancelled on Friday, due to COVID issues in the Seminoles program. The updated schedule is below.
#15 USC (5-0) vs. Oregon (3-2)
8pm ET, Fri. Dec. 18, FOX^
Line: USC by 3
Big Ten Championship
#4 Ohio State (5-0) vs. #14 Northwestern (6-1)
Noon ET, Sat., Dec. 19, FOX^
Line: Ohio State by 20.5
Big 12 Championship
#7 Iowa State (8-2) vs. #11 Oklahoma (7-2)
Noon ET, Sat., Dec. 19, ESPN3
Line: Oklahoma by 5.5
#2 Notre Dame (10-0) vs. #3 Clemson (9-1)
4pm ET, Sat., Dec. 19, ESPN3
Line: Clemson by 10.5
#8 Cincinnati (8-0) vs. #24 Tulsa (6-1)
8pm, Sat., Dec. 19, ESPN3
Line: Cincinnati by 14.5
#1 Alabama (10-0) vs. #6 Florida (8-2)
8pm ET, Sat., Dec. 19, CBS*
Line: Alabama by 17.5
Full Week 16 Schedule
|Away Team||Home Team||Time||Channel|
|UAB||Marshall||7:00 PM (12/18)||CBSSN*|
|Ball State||Buffalo||7:30 PM (12/18)||ESPN|
|Nebraska||Rutgers||7:30 PM (12/18)||BTN|
|Oregon||#13 USC||8:00 PM (12/18)||FOX^|
|#14 Northwestern||#4 Ohio State||12:00 PM||FOX^|
|#5 Texas A&M||Tennessee||12:00 PM||ESPN|
|#10 Oklahoma||#6 Iowa State||12:00 PM||ESPN3|
|Washington State||Utah||1:30 PM||FS1|
|Air Force||Army||3:00 PM||CBSSN*|
|Ole Miss||LSU||3:30 PM||SECN|
|Missouri||Mississippi State||3:30 PM||SECN Alt|
|#3 Clemson||#2 Notre Dame||4:00 PM||ESPN3|
|Boise State||#24 San José State||4:15 PM||FOX^|
|Illinois||Penn State||5:30 PM||FS1|
|Michigan State||Maryland||7:30 PM||BTN|
|#1 Alabama||#7 Florida||8:00 PM||CBS*|
|#23 Tulsa||#9 Cincinnati||8:00 PM||ESPN3|
|Arizona State||Oregon State||10:30 PM||ESPN|
|Georgia Tech||#18 Miami||Canceled||N/A|
|#19 Louisiana||#12 Coastal Carolina||Canceled||N/A|
|Florida State||Wake Forest||Canceled||N/A|
*Full game not available on Sling
^Games may be restricted based on market