A total of ten conference championship games will be played between Friday night and Saturday. Now, obviously, some of these games have more implications than others, but all are important. Let’s get into what each game means for the two teams and maybe even some teams who are not involved.

Conference USA Championship Game

UTSA celebrates against Western Kentucky earlier this year. WKU and UTSA play again for the C-USA conference championship.

When and Where : 7pm Eastern Friday at the Alamodome (UTSA home)

Who: Western Kentucky (8-4) at UTSA (11-1)

Betting lines: WKU -2.5, O/U 71.5

The Roadrunners are looking for their first C-USA championship title. Ranked as high as #23 in the college football playoff rankings, this has been the best season in UTSA history. However, UTSA is coming off their first loss of the season. They got smoked on the road by North Texas, but this is their chance for a bounce back and the first C-USA title in school history. Everything is on the line for the Roadrunners, as they have a chance to cap off a dream season with a conference championship.

The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky are there to ruin the dream season. WKU has put together a good season with a record of 8-4. A much more established program with some recent success, winning the C-USA championship in 2015 and 2016. After winning their first game of the season to FCS opponent, UT-Martin, the Hilltoppers lost four straight, including one to UTSA. They then went on to win seven straight and are still rolling coming into this game.

Prediction: The first game between these two was a shootout, in which the Roadrunners won 52-46. That would crush the over. I expect a little lower scoring, but I think UTSA bounces back to cap off this dream season, 40-32.

PAC – 12 Conference Championship Game

When and Where: 8pm Eastern Friday night in Vegas at Allegiant Stadium

Who: #10 Oregon (10-2) vs. #17 Utah (9-3)

Betting Lines: Utah -2.5, O/U 59.5

Everybody knows what happened the last time these two got together. Utah won convincingly knocking Oregon out of the playoff picture. Utah started the season a little slow, but finished strong winning the last five. The change at QB has served the Utes well, as Cameron Rising has been playing out of his mind. The Ducks are going to be looking for revenge in Vegas Friday night. After getting knocked off by this Utah team, there is no doubt in my mind they will be a lot more ready to play than a couple weeks ago.

Although, both teams are out of talks for the playoff, the winner of this game gets a trip to Pasadena to play in the “Granddaddy of them all.” So expect no shortage of effort.

Prediction: I think being at home for the Utes had a lot to do with the previous matchup with the Ducks. Oregon finds revenge and wins 31-28.

Big 12 Conference Championship Game

Spencer Sanders of Oklahoma State runs between Baylor defenders earlier this year. The two teams rematch this Saturday for the Big 12 Conference Championship.

When and Where: 12pm Eastern Saturday in ‘Jerry World.’

Who: #9 Baylor (10-2) vs. #5 OK State (11-1)

Betting Lines: OK St. -4.5, O/U 46.5

Another rematch finds the Cowboys back up against the Bears. Mike Gundy has Oklahoma State firing on all cylinders. Led all year by their defense, the offense led by Spencer Sanders has rounded into form. In their mid season matchup the Cowboys handled business easily beating Baylor at home 24-14. This should be one of the better games of the weekend. Oklahoma State has everything to play for. If they win and just one of Michigan, Alabama, or Cincinnati loses they are in the playoff. Baylor would love to play spoiler, but also give themselves a great chance to play in the Sugar Bowl.

Prediction: I do think this one stays close, with Baylor ultimately covering. Gundy and company, however, make the stop they need to win 28-24.

One Last MACtion Game – MAC Championship

When and Where: 12pm Eastern Saturday in Detroit at Ford Field

Who: NIU (8-4) vs. Kent. St. (7-5)

Betting Lines: Kent. St. -3.5, O/U 74.5

Expect another shootout in this one. These two teams played earlier in the season to a final of 52-47, Kent State on the winning side. NIU was predicted to be dead last in the MAC preseason polls. Coming off an 0-6 season, nobody expected the Dogs to be in Detroit this weekend. Kent State was the favorite out of the East. The winner gets a better bowl game, plus who doesn’t love some good MACtion.

Prediction: Another shootout, even with a total of 73 points, I do think there is a good chance it still goes over. In terms of who is going to win, to me it is a coin flip. I’ll go Kent State 42 – NIU 40.

Mountain West Conference Championship Game

San Diego State celebrates during their previous game against Boise State. San Diego St. plays Utah state for the Mountain West Conference Championship.

When and Where: 3 pm Eastern Saturday in Carson, California

Who: Utah St. (9-3) at #19 San Diego St. (11-1)

Betting Lines: SDSU -5.5, O/U 49.5

San Diego State is the favorite in this game and rightfully so. At 11-1 and 21st in the CFP ranking the Aztecs have been the best team in the Mountain West. Led by their defense, allowing just over 17 pts/game, SDSU has become one of the best Group of 5 teams this year. Currently the third highest ranked Group of 5 there is a path for them to reach a New Year’s Six bowl. If Cincinnati can make the playoff, there is a chance the Aztecs could jump BYU and be the next highest ranked Group of 5 team. Although, unlikely that this would happen, it definitely won’t happen if San Diego State goes out and loses.

Utah State put up a good season as well, going 9-3, winning the Mountain division of the Mountain West. Their strength was their offense, which was the 38th best in the country in scoring. Putting up 32 points a game, the Aggies will present the Aztecs with some challenges. A balanced attack on the ground and through the air will have to put up their best performance of the season if they want to spoil the Aztecs season. The winner most likely gets to play in the Jimmy Kimmel LA bowl and the loser in a lesser bowl.

Prediction: The Aztec defense gives one more dominant performance in front of the home crowd, while the offense does just enough. Utah State hangs around in the first half, but SDSU pulls away late for a final of 28-20.

The Fun Belt Conference Championship Game

When and Where: 3:30pm Eastern Saturday in Lafayette

Who: App St. (10-2) at #24 Louisiana – Lafayette (11-1)

Betting Lines: Appalachian St. -2.5, O/U 52.5

A little bit of a surprise in this one. Everyone probably thought, after last year, this would be Coastal Carolina vs. Louisiana. However, Appalachian State pulled off the upset against Coastal and find themselves in the conference championship. The Mountaineers are familiar with the Sun Belt Championships, as they have won four since 2016. The 2021 Mountaineers are great on both sides of the ball. They are a top 20 team in terms of scoring offense and defense, and that is what has gotten them to this point.

The Ragin’ Cajuns come into the championship with just one loss, that came at Texas to start the year. They then rattled off 11 straight wins. The Cajuns are great on both sides of the ball as well putting up points and playing outstanding defense. The offense is led by QB Levi Lewis who has been just as good as expected. These two teams did play earlier this season and Louisiana rocked the Mountaineers 41-13. It was a dominant performance from the Cajuns, as they put up 455 total yards of offense and turned Appalachian State over four times.

Prediction: This game will be a lot closer. I do predict a lower scoring game in which the Mountaineers find revenge. Appalachian State 25 – Louisiana 22

SEC Championship Game

Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate a defensive play. Georgia Plays Alabama for the Southeastern Conference Championship.

When and Where: 4pm Eastern Saturday in Atlanta

Who: #3 Bama (11-1) vs #1 Georgia (12-0)

Betting Lines: Georgia -6.5, O/U 50.5

This game needs no introduction. Three vs. one. Nick Saban vs. Kirby Smart. Win and you’re in. Does it get much bigger than this? The Georgia Bulldogs have dominated every game they have played. The best defense in the nation, with a more than competent offense, led by Stetson Bennett. All year it has been Georgia, then a huge gap, then everybody else. Can they finish this season, and get the number one spot in the CFP?

Standing in the other corner is the inevitable Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Although, the Tide have struggled with some mediocre opponents this year, I wouldn’t think about counting them out. Their most recent struggle came in a 4OT game to an Auburn team that was without their starting QB. Alabama looked dead in that game until Heisman favorite Bryce Young led the Tide 97 yards down the field to send the game to OT. If Bama wants to make the playoff yet again Bryce Young is going to have to play his best game. The importance of this one goes beyond just Georgia and Bama. Oklahoma State and Notre Dame will be watching, cheering for Georgia to knock Bama off and out of the Playoff.

Prediction: Georgia faces their toughest test yet, but ultimately come out on top. The Dawg defense is too good. Georgia 24 – Bama 20.

AAC Championship

When and Where: 4pm Eastern Saturday in Cincinnati.

Who: #21 Houston (11-1) at #4 Cincinnati (12-0)

Betting Lines: Cincy -10.5, O/U 53.5

Again, everyone knows what is at stake in this one. Cincinnati wins and they break through the seal of Group of 5 teams in the playoff. It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Bearcats. They started the season strong blowing out some teams and then beating Indiana and ND on the road. They then went through a stretch of struggling with some bad teams like Tulsa and Navy. They did finish strong, however, blowing out SMU and ECU to end the year. It’s simple for Luke Fickell and company are in.

Houston makes the trip to Cincy in hopes of causing some chaos. They’ll have some fans in South Bend, hoping they can knock the Bearcats off. Houston could have an undefeated season as well if it wasn’t for a Week 1 loss to Texas Tech. Outside of the first game the Cougars have looked really good. Can they pull off one of the biggest upsets this season?

Prediction: I can’t help but think this game stays close. Houston is too good of a team to lose by more than 10. I do think Cincinnati will get it done, but not as easy as some are saying. Cincinnati 30 – Houston 24.

Big Ten Conference Championship

Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Ross run through the snow in Michigan's win over Ohio St. last week. Michigan plays Iowa for the Big 10 conference championship.

When and Where: 8pm Eastern Saturday Night in Indy, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Who: #13 Iowa vs. #2 Michigan

Betting Lines: Michigan -10.5, O/U 43.5

Harbaugh FINALLY won THE game. After dominating Ohio State, Michigan finds themselves in the driver’s seat for the first time in what feels like forever. The key to success for Michigan is obvious after Saturday. Feed Hassan Haskins. Haskins rushed for 169 yards and 5 touchdowns. The offensive line had a whole lot to do with this and they’ll have to play like that again if they want to reach the playoff. Once the run game gets going it really opens up opportunities for Cade McNamara to make plays. The biggest question is, can Michigan stay focused and avoid a letdown in now their most important game of the year?

All the talk going into this game is Michigan this and Michigan that. I’m sure Kirk Ferentz is seeing all this and is channeling it to the Hawkeyes. I would not count this Iowa team out. They have a great defense that keeps them in games. The offense tends to struggle, but you never know what will happen in these types of games.

Prediction: The importance of this game is obvious for Michigan. After beating Ohio State they have to find a way to bring it back in and focus on the Hawkeyes. I think Harbaugh has finally gotten over the hump and they win the Big 10 and head to the playoff. Michigan 28 – Iowa 10.

ACC Championship

When and Where: 8pm Eastern Saturday Night in Charlotte.

Who: #15 Pitt (10-2) vs. #16 Wake Forest (10-2)

Betting Lines: Pitt -2.5, O/U 72.5

A shootout to end the night. Neither of these teams play very much defense. Points should be easy to come by and the stars should be out in Charlotte. Heisman candidate Kenny Pickett and Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman will be slinging the ball around. The winner goes to a New Year’s six bowl.

Sure, the ACC is down this year, but that doesn’t mean this game won’t be electric. Expect points and lots of them. These two teams know how to score but could not stop a high school offense.

Prediction: I am hoping for a ton of points, hoping these two teams blow the 72.5 point total out of the water. So with that being said and a lot of wishful thinking, Pitt 56 – Wake Forest 52.

What to Expect

As always, college football will create chaos. It is the best sport in the world for that reason. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the last full weekend of college football.

For more college football discussion make sure to follow me on twitter. For the best coverage of all sports make sure to check out Belly Up Sports.

About Author

Logan McConkey

I have been watching football since I was 5 years old. Growing up in Northern Illinois, I am a HUGE Chicago Bears fan. On this page you'll find college football and NFL takes, along with College Basketball

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