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OPINION | WALLY HALL: 5 to make 4 during championship weekend

by Wally Hall | December 2, 2022 at 2:26 a.m.

While there are 11 conference football championship games, this weekend most of the country will be watching or at least keeping up with the big four.

It starts tonight, when Utah takes on Southern Cal in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 championship and these two teams have already faced each other.

On the night after Arkansas beat BYU, the Utes hosted the Trojans. Utah had two losses, including a season-opening upset at the hands of the Florida Gators, who scored a touchdown with less than two minutes to play for the 29-26 win.

The week before taking on then-No. 7 USC, which was undefeated, the Utes lost to No. 18 UCLA 42-32, so the home team was not given much of a chance.

The Utes got their first and only lead when they drove 75 yards in 15 plays, getting a 1-yard touchdown run and then converting the two-point conversion on another run for a 43-42 lead. Seconds later, Caleb Williams -- who had thrown five touchdown passes for the Trojans -- was intercepted, allowing Utah to escape with the win.

The Utes did have four sacks in that game.

Since then, the Trojans have not lost and are currently ranked No. 4 in College Football Playoff rankings.

USC is one spot ahead of No. 5 Ohio State, whose only loss was last Saturday to No. 2 Michigan.

How the selection committee decided USC was better than Ohio State will remain a mystery, but of course, another upset by Utah, who are 21/2-point underdogs, would knock the Trojans out of the picture.

The next big game is Saturday at 11 a.m. in AT&T Stadium when undefeated and No. 3-ranked TCU faces No. 10 Kansas State for the Big 12 championship.

This, too, is a rematch. TCU won the first game 38-28 in Fort Worth.

The Horned Frogs trailed 28-17 at the half but scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half and were the better team. They are favored by 21/2 points.

This one is big because a one-loss TCU would not make the playoffs over a one-loss Ohio State.

Any team with two losses -- sorry Alabama, Tennessee and Clemson -- is not and should not make the playoffs.

LSU vs. Georgia kicks off at 3 p.m. in Atlanta, 72 miles from the Bulldogs' campus, but there may be more Tiger fans at the game because they never miss a chance to go on the road and have adult beverages.

Georgia is No. 1, undefeated and favored by 171/2, but there are no guarantees when SEC teams play. As discussed in this space earlier this week, the CFP would be in a mess if the Tigers pull off the upset.

Would the selection committee take a one-loss Georgia if that loss was to a three-loss LSU?

How could they? If the Tigers win by 100, they aren't getting in the playoffs. In fact, the loss to Texas A&M knocked them out of the Sugar Bowl and into the Citrus Bowl in lovely Orlando, Fla.

The final big game of the weekend is 7 p.m. Saturday in Indianapolis when No. 2 and undefeated Michigan faces unranked Purdue, which is 8-4 and winners of the Big Ten's Least Division.

While it is highly improbable, if Purdue was to win, Michigan probably drops to No. 4 but stays in because the committee couldn't take Ohio State after it lost to the Wolverines.

So all the major conference championships matter. But at this point, it is probably down to five teams for the final four spots: In order, Georgia, Michigan TCU, USC and Ohio State, who needs at least one upset to squeak in.

In all honesty, any combination of those five teams would make a great final four.

Print Headline: 5 to make 4 during championship weekend


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