It’s championship week and like any respectable college football fan, you are all about prioritization: which bars have the best food/drink deals, what friends are the most fun to watch games with and which championship games deserve your undivided attention.
While we can’t exactly plan your menu or your social circle, we can help you prioritize kickoff times, making sure to maximize your college football viewing experience. Here is a guide to help you watch this weekend’s college football championships games, ranked in order of importance and entertainment. Best enjoyed with hot wings and cold beverages.
AAC Championship: No. 20 Memphis at No. 14 UCF
When: Saturday Dec. 2, 12 PM EST/9 AM PST on ABC
Where: Spectrum Stadium; Orlando, FL
Why: Contrary to popular belief, and what Georgia head coach Kirby Smart alluded to last weekend in his post game press conference; there is good football outside the SEC. So I’m starting this championship watch list with the American Athletic Conference championship game between the gun-slinging Memphis Tigers and the undefeated UCF Knights. It’s veritable quarterback buffet: Riley Ferguson vs. McKenzie Milton – a combined 61 touchdowns this season.
It’s a grudge match: the first time these two teams were supposed to meet, a hurricane stopped the game – and I don’t mean a turnover-chain clad defensive back. When the Tigers and the Knights finally did meet, UCF put a 40-13 smackdown on Memphis. So Mike Norvell & Co. will be looking for some payback. Plus there is a spot in the New Year's Six bowl game on the line.
SEC Championship: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 2 Auburn
When: Saturday Dec. 2, 4 PM EST/1 PST on CBS
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Atlanta, GA
Why: It’s an SEC championship game that doesn’t include Alabama.
Oh that’s not a good enough of a reason.
How about this: If Auburn wins, it’s in the national title mix for the second time in five years. But if Georgia wins, the Bulldogs could have a legitimate chance of winning the school’s first national championship since 1980.
Fun defensive fact: Auburn hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown run since its loss to Clemson in Week 2, and Alabama was the first team to average more than five yards per carry and get to 200-yards last week.
ACC Championship: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 7 Miami
When: Saturday Dec. 2, 8 PM EST/5 PST on ABC
Where: Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte, NC
Why: Don’t you want to watch the team that beat Auburn play the team that destroyed Notre Dame? Clemson enters the game a 9.5-point favorite, which at first blush seems like a lot, but the Tigers have scored at least 20 points in every game since their win against Auburn, they have three players with over 300 rushing yards and nine different players have caught a touchdown pass. Plus they have a little thing called momentum. But if the Turnover Chain and Malik Rosier both make big comebacks, then 'The U' would have a decent playoff case.
Big 12 Championship: No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 TCU
When: Saturday Dec. 2, 12:30 PM EST/9:30 AM PST on FOX
Where: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, TX
Why: Baker Mayfield: 4,097 yards, 37 touchdowns, 5 interceptions.
I mean Mayfield’s stat line should be enough of a reason. But I’ll continue. The first time these two met, Oklahoma put up over 200 yards rushing on the No.1 rushing defense in the nation. The Sooners have scored two rushing touchdowns in every game but two and they lead the Big-12 in rushing yards. But if Kenny Hill can keep the offense moving, keeping Oklahoma’s offense off the field, TCU has a chance. TCU leads the conference in time of possession and third down conversions. And they will be playing their little Horned Frog hearts out in order to make a serious playoff push.
Big Ten Championship Game: No. 8 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
When: Saturday Dec. 2, 8 PM EST/5 PST on FOX
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis, IN
Why: The weirdest part of this game is that Penn State isn’t in it. Also, if Ohio State wins, it is a chance for everyone that is just holding their breath to say, “I told you so” about Wisconsin’s weak schedule. But the truth is, the Badgers boast the best red zone defense in the country, so for Ohio State to win, they will need to capitalize on every opportunity. The Buckeyes may have J.T. Barrett, but Wisconsin has been extremely effective in the passing game, thanks to tight end Troy Fumagalli, who leads the team with 38 total catches this season. This is significant because Ohio State has struggled against running backs and tight ends as pass catchers.
Fun fact: Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook has thrown 13 interceptions this season.
Pac-12 Championship Game: No. 10 USC vs. No. 12 Stanford
When: Friday Dec. 1, 8 PM EST/5 PST on ESPN
Where: Levi's Stadium; Santa Clara, CA
Why: Even though this game is the very first conference championship to be played schedule-wise, it is the last on my list for one reason: it is meaningless in the grand college football scheme. Any shot the Conference of Champions had at a playoff spot went out the window when Stanford beat Washington that warm night in Palo Alto. Don’t get me wrong, this game will be good – a close, hard-fought bout between gritty defenses and exciting offenses. And the early start gives the East Coast folks a chance to watch the one-legged wonder, Bryce Love. But don’t get mad if the game goes into like five overtimes. #PAC12problems
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.