Alabama-Georgia headlines conference championship weekend
The 2021 regular season has now come to a close, and the conference title games are officially set in college football.
There's plenty of jockeying still to be done before the final College Football Playoff Rankings come out next Sunday, with only Georgia likely guaranteed a spot in the semis regardless of the result in the SEC championship.
Here's how the matchups break down for the 10 conference title contests next weekend.
Power 5 conferences
SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama
Georgia rolls into next Saturday's contest looking to hit the CFP with a perfect 12-0 record. It's Kirby Smart's fourth trip to the conference championship in five years, and it presents another opportunity for him to get a win over his former boss, Nick Saban. The Bulldogs are likely in the semifinals no matter the result versus Alabama, but the Crimson Tide need to pull the upset to reach the CFP.
Pac-12: Utah vs. Oregon
The Pac-12 gets the Power 5 conference party started Friday night with a rematch of Utah and Oregon from two weeks ago. The Ducks will be hoping for a better result than the 38-7 thrashing the Utes handed them in Salt Lake City. These two programs met in the 2019 title contest, with Oregon coming away victorious.
Big Ten: Michigan vs. Iowa
Michigan is participating in the Big Ten title game for the first time ever thanks to Saturday's incredible upset of Ohio State. While Jim Harbaugh's first Big Ten championship would be a huge moment for the program, the Wolverines could also book a spot in the CFP with a win over Iowa. The Hawkeyes return to the game for the first time since 2015 thanks to Minnesota's win over Wisconsin on Saturday. They'll look to become the first team from the West division to ever win the championship game.
ACC: Pitt vs. Wake Forest
There's virtually no chance that either of these teams is in CFP contention, but don't be shocked if the ACC title game is the most entertaining of the weekend. Both Pitt and Wake Forest boast top-five scoring offenses in the country, and the quarterback matchup of Kenny Pickett versus Sam Hartman should produce a ton of points on the scoreboard in Charlotte. The Panthers are looking for their first ACC championship game win in program history, while the Demon Deacons are trying for their first since 2006. It's also the first time in seven years that Clemson won't be involved in the contest.
Big 12: Oklahoma State vs. Baylor
It took two dramatic finishes Saturday for it to happen, but Oklahoma State will meet Baylor for the Big 12 title next week. The Bears survived against Texas Tech earlier in the afternoon to give them a chance if the Cowboys could handle Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series at night. Oklahoma State survived a furious last-minute rally by the Sooners to win the rivalry contest and secure a matchup with Baylor next Saturday. Both schools will be gunning for history in the contest, as neither has ever won a Big 12 conference championship game.
Group of 5 conferences
AAC: Houston vs. Cincinnati
C-USA: Western Kentucky vs. UTSA
MAC: Northern Illinois vs. Kent State
Mountain West: Utah State vs. San Diego State
Sun Belt: Appalachian State vs. Louisiana
The major one to note here is Cincinnati looking to remain perfect with an AAC title game win over Houston. There's never been a Group of 5 team in the CFP before, but the Bearcats will likely enter this contest in a top-four spot following Tuesday's rankings. It won't be easy for Luke Fickell's outfit, as the Cougars have ripped off 11 straight victories after losing the opening game of the season.