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Title games grant shot at CFP spots

by The Associated Press | November 29, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.
Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara greets fans as he exits the field after the second half of an NCAA college football game against Ohio State, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

                              

Conference champions will be crowned, bowl selection pecking orders will be locked in and more clarity will emerge about which teams will and won't be among the four picked for the College Football Playoff.

It's Championship Week, and while the matchups for the conference title games Friday and Saturday include many of the usual suspects, there are some joining the party for the first time -- or the first time in a while.

Start with Michigan, which had zero appearances in the previous 11 Big Ten championship games. The Wolverines are in after knocking off Ohio State to win the East Division. Their opponent, Iowa, is in for the second time and the first since 2015.

Oklahoma State clinched its first appearance in the Big 12 championship game a week before its breakthrough win over six-time defending league champion Oklahoma.

Wake Forest is back in the Atlantic Coast Conference game for the first time since 2006.

In the Group of Five, UTSA will make its debut in the Conference USA game, Kent State is back in the Mid-American Conference game for the first time since 2012 and Utah State is in the Mountain West game for the first time since 2013.

A rundown of the games, with CFP ranking:

PAC-12

NO. 11 OREGON (10-2, 7-2)

vs. NO. 19 UTAH (9-3, 8-1)

WHEN Friday, 7 p.m. CST (ABC)

WHERE Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas.

LAST MEETING Utah won 38-7 on Nov. 20.

SERIES Oregon leads 23-11.

STAKES Winner to Rose Bowl.

NOTABLE Oregon is first team to make title game three straight times and will be appearing for fifth time. Ducks are 4-0 in the game, including a 37-15 win over Utah in 2019.

BIG 12

NO. 8 BAYLOR (10-2, 7-2)

vs. NO. 7 OKLAHOMA STATE (11-1, 8-1)

WHEN Saturday, 11 a.m. CST (ABC)

WHERE AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.

LAST MEETING Oklahoma State won 24-14 on Oct. 2.

SERIES Oklahoma State leads 22-18.

STAKES Oklahoma State to CFP or Sugar Bowl if it wins; Baylor to Sugar Bowl if it wins.

NOTABLE Cowboys held Baylor to season lows of 107 rushing yards and 280 total yards in their previous meeting.

SEC

NO. 3 ALABAMA (11-1, 7-1)

vs. NO. 1 GEORGIA (12-0, 8-0)

WHEN Saturday, 3 p.m. CST (CBS)

WHERE Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.

LAST MEETING Alabama won 41-24 on Oct. 17, 2020.

SERIES Alabama leads 41-25-4.

STAKES Winner to CFP, and loser could be in line for CFP spot depending on score margin and results of other conference championship games.

ACC

NO. 18 WAKE FOREST (10-2, 7-1)

vs. NO. 17 PITTSBURGH (10-2, 7-1)

WHEN Saturday, 7 p.m. CST (ABC)

WHERE Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

LAST MEETING Pittsburgh won 34-13 on Nov. 17, 2018.

SERIES Pittsburgh leads 1-0.

STAKES Winner to Peach Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.

NOTABLE In the team's only previous meeting, current QB Kenny Pickett and the Panthers beat the Demon Deacons to clinch a spot in the 2018 ACC title game, where they lost to Clemson.

BIG TEN

NO. 16 IOWA (10-2, 7-2)

vs. NO. 5 MICHIGAN (11-1, 8-1)

WHEN Saturday, 7 p.m. CST (Fox)

WHERE Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.

LAST MEETING Michigan won 10-3 on Oct. 5, 2019.

SERIES Michigan leads 42-15-4.

STAKES Michigan to CFP if it wins; Iowa in line for Rose Bowl bid if it wins.

NOTABLE Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are 1-2 in the Big Ten in sacks with a combined 24; Iowa is 94th nationally in sacks allowed.

GROUP OF FIVE GAMES

CONFERENCE USA

WESTERN KENTUCKY (8-4, 7-1)

vs. NO. 22 UTSA (11-1, 7-1)

WHEN Friday, 6 p.m. CST (CBS Sports Network)

WHERE Alamodome, San Antonio.

LAST MEETING UTSA won 52-46 on Oct. 9.

SERIES Tied 1-1.

STAKES Both teams will go to a bowl.

NOTABLE Western Kentucky has won seven in a row since losing to the Roadrunners, all by at least 15 points.

MAC

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-4, 6-2)

vs. KENT STATE (7-5, 6-2)

WHEN Saturday, 11 a.m. CST (ESPN)

WHERE Ford Field, Detroit.

LAST MEETING Kent State won 52-47 on Nov. 3.

SERIES Northern Illinois leads 21-8.

STAKES Both teams will go to a bowl.

NOTABLE Huskies have won seven of the nation-leading nine one-score games they've played. The loss to Kent State was one of the two they didn't.

MOUNTAIN WEST

UTAH STATE (9-3, 6-2)

vs. NO. 21 SAN DIEGO STATE (11-1, 7-1)

WHEN Saturday, 2 p.m. CST (Fox)

WHERE Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, Calif.

LAST MEETING San Diego State won 38-7 on Oct. 31, 2020.

SERIES San Diego State leads 13-2.

STAKES Winner goes to Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

NOTABLE Utah State, picked fifth in the Mountain Division, won six games after trailing by double digits and went 6-0 on the road.

SUN BELT

APPALACHIAN STATE (10-2, 7-1)

vs. LA-LAFAYETTE (11-1, 8-0)

WHEN Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CST (ESPN)

WHERE Cajun Field, Lafayette, La.

LAST MEETING Louisiana-Lafayette won 41-13 on Oct. 12.

SERIES Appalachian State leads 8-2.

STAKES Both teams will go to bowls.

NOTABLE This will be the third time these teams have met in the four-year history of the game. App State won the previous two.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC

NO. 24 HOUSTON (11-1, 8-0)

vs. NO. 4 CINCINNATI (12-0, 8-0)

WHEN Saturday, 3 p.m. CST (ABC)

WHERE Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati.

LAST MEETING Cincinnati won 38-10 on Nov. 7, 2020.

SERIES Houston leads 15-12.

STAKES Cincinnati is in line for CFP spot if it wins; Houston will go to bowl win or lose.

NOTABLE The defending champion Bearcats have won 15 in a row against conference opponents and 19 of their last 21.

A fan celebrates with Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) after Oklahoma State's 37-33 win over Oklahoma during an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP)
A fan celebrates with Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) after Oklahoma State's 37-33 win over Oklahoma during an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP)

Print Headline: Title games grant shot at CFP spots

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