Ladies and gentlemen, we have made it to the biggest weekend of the college football season, because it’s Championship Saturday across the land. By the time the dust settles today, the College Football Playoff should be completely set and we’ll know who will be playing for the big trophy.
A couple of other points first:
The local team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, finished their season a 8-4 after a complete collapse against Wisconsin last weekend. They’re still waiting to hear which bowl game they’ll be heading to. The favorites appear to be the Holiday Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl, and the Music City Bowl, but obviously nothing has been finalized yet. Our friends at The Daily Gopher will be following all the news about the Gophers post-season travels.
For the five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time reigning and defending FCS Champions, the North Dakota State University Bison, the road to Frisco begins today in earnest after their bye last week. They will take to the field at the FargoDome this afternoon for a matchup against the San Diego Toreros of the Pioneer Football League. This one will kick off at 2:30 PM Central time, and will be shown on ESPN3
as well as on NBC affiliates across the state of North Dakota. (My mistake, it’s not going to be on NBC in North Dakota after all. My apologies.)
Now, let’s review the Top 10 in the College Football Playoff Standings and what Championship Saturday will mean for them.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0)
- Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
- Clemson Tigers (11-1)
- Washington Huskies (12-1)
- Michigan Wolverines (10-2)
- Wisconsin Badgers (10-2)
- Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)
- Colorado Buffaloes (10-3)
- Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-2)
Let’s start at the top:
- The SEC Championship game between Alabama and Florida will kick off on CBS at 3:00 PM Central time. The Crimson Tide appear to be locked into the four-team playoff, regardless of whether they win or lose this one. . .and, given that they’re a whopping twenty-four point favorite over the Gators in this one, it doesn’t appear that a lot of people think they’re going to lose anyway. I get that stranger things have happened, but a loss by Nick Saban’s team will likely only drop them a spot or two at worst. . .they’ll still be in the playoff.
- Ohio State does not play this weekend, and they also appear to be locked into the four-team playoff. Obviously some people aren’t going to be huge fans of a team that didn’t win its own conference being a part of the playoff, but that’s the way these things go.
- The greatest source of possible drama might come to us from the ACC Championship Game, which kicks off at 7:00 PM Central time on ABC. That game will see Clemson taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies for the ACC title. Obviously, if Clemson loses, that’s going to open the door for a lot of other teams to potentially jump in and grab a spot in the four-team tournament. I don’t think the other three spots are in doubt, but this one might be.
- Washington is sitting pretty at #4 and having already clinched the Pac-12 title with a 41-10 thrashing of Colorado on Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game. You have to think that solidifies a spot in the playoff for them.
- Michigan is also not playing this week, and you can bet they’re pulling for a Virginia Tech victory in the ACC Championship, since that appears to be their only path into the playoff at this point. They need someone to stumble this weekend, and a Clemson loss would definitely make a jump into the Top 4 a possibility.
- Wisconsin and Penn State will meet in the B1G Championship Game, kicking off at 7:00 PM Central on FOX. A Clemson loss could also, potentially, give one of these two teams a boost. At that point, the debate would become whether or not the Badgers or the Nittany Lions would deserve to get bumped ahead of Michigan, given that they would have a conference title to their credit and the Wolverines would not. The winner of this game will find themselves in the Rose Bowl if they don’t find a way into the playoff.
- At 11:30 AM Central on FOX, we get what amounts to a de-facto Championship Game in the Big 12, as Oklahoma travels to Oklahoma State for the annual “Bedlam” matchup. The winner of this game will be crowned the Big 12 Champion, though it’s highly unlikely that the winner would be able to vault so many other teams into a playoff spot.
There’s also a bit of mild intrigue in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game, which will see the Temple Owls take on the #19 team in America, the Navy Midshipmen. A win by Navy (who comes in as a 3-point favorite) would give the Middies a chance at possibly sneaking into the Cotton Bowl as the highest-rated “Group of Five” champion that is not in the playoff.
Right now, that spot belongs to Western Michigan, which is rated #17 and won the MAC Championship yesterday by defeating Ohio University. If Navy defeats Temple today and takes down Army in their annual battle next weekend, there’s at least a chance they could move ahead of WMU in the rankings and take that spot. The AAC Championship Game kicks off at 11:00 AM Central time on ABC.
That’s a look at Championship Saturday in college football and all of the action for this weekend, ladies and gentlemen. If you’re going to be watching the games, you can talk about all of it right here.