College Football Playoff and bowling squads are just days away, but Championship Week must be over before we get there. And if it’s anything like the rest of the 2021 college football season so far, it’s going to be wild. While there are two handfuls of games on Friday and Saturday that will determine the conference champions, there are six in particular that could directly affect the CFP race and the New Year’s Six-bowl allotments.
Two rematches are looming, with Oklahoma State and Utah looking to hold on to service against Baylor and Oregon, respectively. While the Cowboys defeated the Bears in a defensive slugfest earlier this season, the Utes absolutely crushed the Ducks a few weeks ago. Oklahoma State looks set to be in contention for a CFP spot if it wins the Big 12, while Baylor with a Big 12 win and Oregon with a Pac-12 win will take a lot to do well — and go crazy — to make their way to the field of four teams.
Cincinnati, which is number 4 in the CFP rankings, has to hold off Houston from the AAC Championship Game to stand a chance of becoming the first group five team to play for a national championship in modern times. Meanwhile, Georgia and Alabama meet in a clash of the titans. The Bulldogs would likely continue to win or lose in the playoff field, while a second loss in the SEC Championship Game would make a berth much less likely for the Crimson Tide when everyone else is serving.
In the nightcap, Michigan appears to be maintaining momentum from crushing Ohio state during rivalry week as it looks set to win its first Big Ten Championship Game in a battle with Iowa. The Wolverines have been revived with coach Jim Harbaugh given a second life in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the result would be a surefire CFP placement if they can take out the defensive Hawkeyes.
While winning is all that matters for the playoffs and New Year’s Six competition, we think it’s important that these teams will cover their spreads. Be sure to stick with CBS Sports all day for coverage of college football from kick-off. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for a loaded Championship Week to close out the 2021 season.
Opportunities through Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
Pac-12 Championship: No. 10 Oregon vs. no. 17 Utah
Featured game | Utah Utes vs. Oregon Ducks
Friday, 8 p.m. | ABC,fuboTV(Try for free) —Oregon won’t be the bumbling wreck it was when these teams first met, but it’s reasonable to wonder how motivated the Ducks will be for this game. It’s a been there, done that spot for Oregon, which has won the last two Pac-12 title games. For Utah, this is an opportunity to reach a new frontier as it strives for its first conference championship win. Look for Utah as the more physical team, conquer the revenue battle and win a game that will be closed until late in the fourth quarter.Prediction: Utah (-2.5) — David Cobb
Big 12 Championship: No. 9 Baylor vs. no. 5 Oklahoma State
Featured game | Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Baylor Bears
afternoon | ABC,fuboTV(Try for free) —When these teams last played, it was a touchdown from Jaylen Warren with two minutes left that lifted the lead to 10 points. A second time, the score could be even lower now that each defending staff gets a chance to re-evaluate. Oklahoma State finds a way to win the football game, but the Bears are well positioned to make it dangerously close.Forecast: Baylor (+5.5) – Shehan Jeyarajah
SEC Championship: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 Alabama
Featured game | Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs
4 p.m. | CBS,CBSSports.com,CBS Sports App—Simply put, this is a matchup nightmare for the Crimson Tide. The offensive line has failed to block on a consistent basis all year, and last week against Auburn was the worst performance of the season. Now, is it suddenly going to get good against Jordan Davis and the Bulldogs for seven? New. No chance. Georgia will keep Alabama in check all afternoon, giving quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and the rest of that offense the ability to dictate the style and pace of the matchup. The Dawgs will win by double digits.Prediction: Georgia (-6.5)–Barrett Sallee
AAC Championship: No. 21 Houston at No. 4 Cincinnati
Featured game | Cincinnati Bearcats vs Houston Cougars
4 p.m. | ABC,fuboTV(Try for free) — Every time Cincinnati had a showcase opportunity, it was answered with its best performances. Cincinnati defeated No. 6 Notre Dame by 11 points and SMU by a whopping 34 points. Houston is one of the best teams on Cincinnati’s schedule, but don’t expect the Bearcats to pass up an opportunity to make a national statement.Forecast: Cincinnati (-10.5)– Shehan Jeyarajah
Big Ten Championship: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 13 Iowa
Featured game | Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines
8 p.m. | Fox,fuboTV(Try for free) —It’s hard for me to go up against the Wolverines here. It’s not that I don’t have enough respect for the Hawkeyes, it’s that this is a bad match-up for them. Michigan is essentially Iowa on steroids. It has excellent defense and strong special teams, but where the two differ most is on offense. Michigan has one; Not Iowa. Given Iowa’s inability to move the ball this year, it’s hard for me to believe the idea that the Hawkeyes will suddenly have success against a Michigan defense that controlled an explosive offense by Ohio State. Plus, Iowa thrives on turnover, and Michigan has only turned the ball nine times. Only five teams in the country have fewer. Put it with the corn and blue.Prediction: Michigan (-10.5)– Tom Fornell
ACC Championship: No. 15 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 Wake Forest
Featured game | Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
8 p.m. | ABC,fuboTV(Try for free) —The wise choice is Pitt because Kenny Pickett has an edge as a quarterback and the Panthers have been better, when needed, in defense of the ball. But there’s something special about the wild ride the Demon Deacons took here in 2021, which I think better prepares them for a tense, high-scoring shootout.Forecast: Wake Forest (+3)— Chip Patterson
Which college football pick can you confidently make during Championship Week, and which two underdogs will outright win?Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread— all from a tried-and-true computer model that’s brought in nearly $3,700 in profits over the past five seasons — and find out.
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