It’s conference championship weekend around college football in Week 14, and we will know each bowl matchup by Sunday evening. Of course, the grand prize for four schools is a spot in the College Football Playoff national semifinals.
However, the first conference title game of the weekend, the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday featuring No. 11 USC against No. 14 Stanford (rankings from new AP Top 25), is likely to have no bearing on the semifinals because there’s not really a scenario where the victor can climb that high in the College Football Playoff rankings even with a blowout win.
Southern Cal is a 3.5-point betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for the game at Levi’s Stadium outside San Francisco.
It will be the second time in three years the Pac-12 will miss out on the College Football Playoff. There’s no Rose Bowl as a consolation prize, either, as while the Pac-12 champion usually gets to play in that game, the Rose Bowl is one national semifinal this season.
Southern Cal routed Stanford 42-24 in Los Angeles back on September 9. Sam Darnold threw for 316 yards and four scores as the Trojans put up 623 yards of offense, the most ever allowed by a David Shaw-coached Cardinal team. However, USC has failed to cover its past five neutral site games.
On Saturday from Charlotte, No. 1 Clemson faces No. 7 Miami in the ACC Championship Game with the defending national champion Tigers as 9.5-point favorites after opening at -8. This is presumably a CFP quarterfinal game. The winner will be in the playoff – 100 percent if it’s Clemson – while the loser likely heads to the Orange Bowl.
It’s the first meeting between the schools since Clemson trashed Miami 58-0 on October 24, 2015, in south Florida. It was the worst loss in Miami history, and they fired Coach Al Golden the next day. Hurricanes fans couldn’t be happier how it all worked out with the school eventually landing Mark Richt.
Also Saturday, No. 3 Wisconsin faces No. 8 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes are 6-point favorites even though UW is one of just two unbeaten teams in the country and OSU has two losses.
In addition, star Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is a bit banged up. Barrett reportedly was injured before last Saturday’s game when a cameraman ran into his knee. The senior did start against the Wolverines but had to leave in the third quarter. Urban Meyer is confident Barrett will go, and he’s listed as probable.
Wisconsin will be in the playoff with a victory, while OSU needs an impressive win to have a shot. Perhaps something like the 2014 season when the Buckeyes were No. 6 in the CFP rankings and destroyed Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten title game. That jumped OSU into the playoff, and it would go on to win the national title. Ohio State has covered six of its past nine against the Badgers.
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