Week 14 is the final one of the 2016 regular season, no offense to next Saturday’s Army-Navy game. It’s also conference championship weekend, and we should have a good idea of the four teams headed to the College Football Playoff by late Saturday night — the final rankings are released Sunday. Here’s a look at five crucial games and their Sports Interaction NCAA football odds. Matchups on Saturday unless noted, and rankings from the most recent College Football Playoff Top 25 so there will be a bit of movement in the next one Tuesday.
No. 5 Washington vs. No. 9 Colorado
When: Friday, 9 p.m. ET Point spread: Washington -7 NCAAF ATS pick: Huskies
It’s the Pac-12 Championship Game from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Washington (11-1) got here with an impressive 45-17 win at No. 23 Washington State in the Apple Cup this past Friday to clinch the Pac-12 North. It was basically over after the first quarter, when the Huskies led 28-3 behind three touchdown passes from Jake Browning. He has a good chance to be a Heisman finalist. The Huskies probably move up to No. 4 in the new CFP rankings and should be in the playoff with a win here.
Colorado had just four victories last year and hadn’t finished with a winning record since 2005 but is 10-2 following last week’s 27-22 victory over No. 22 Utah to take the Pac-12 South. Mike MacIntyre has a great shot at winning national coach of the year honors. I don’t think the Buffs would get into the playoff with a win unless there’s some chaos up ahead of them. So really, Pac-12 officials are probably secretly rooting for Washington here or that conference will miss the playoff for the second year in a row. The Huskies have won the past six meetings vs. the Buffaloes, last in 2014.
No. 10 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Oklahoma
When: 12:30 p.m. ET Point spread: Oklahoma -12 NCAAF ATS pick: Sooners
The Big 12 is the only Power 5 league without a conference title game, but it will add one next season. This Bedlam matchup between 9-2 schools is the de facto Big 12 Championship Game as the winner claims the title. It’s going to be tough for the victor, however, to get into the Top 4 of the CFP rankings, especially if it’s Oklahoma State — but not impossible. The Sooners rolled the Cowboys 58-23 to close last regular season and earn a spot in the national semifinals. Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score. The Sooners gained 524 yards, including 344 on the ground. Oklahoma State did win its last trip to Norman in 2014, 38-35 in overtime, when both teams were having a down season.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 15 Florida
When: 4 p.m. ET Point spread: Alabama -22 NCAAF ATS pick: Gators
The SEC Championship Game from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. It’s the final time that building will host this event as it’s moving to the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium next year. Alabama (12-0) most likely could lose this game and still make the playoff. The Gators (8-3) have no shot at the national semifinals. This is a rematch of the 2015 SEC title game when the No. 2 Tide handled the No. 18 Gators 29-15. Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman winner now with the NFL’s Titans, rushed 44 times for 189 yards and a touchdown as Alabama became the first team since Tennessee in 1998 to win two straight SEC titles. Florida had just 180 yards.
No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 7 Penn State
When: 8 p.m. ET Point spread: Wisconsin -3 NCAAF ATS pick: Badgers
The Big Ten Championship Game from Indianapolis. Could the Big Ten become the first league ever with two teams in the playoff? Very possible as No. 2 Ohio State is probably in no matter what after beating No. 3 Michigan this past Saturday even though the Buckeyes didn’t even win the Big Ten East and lost earlier this season to Penn State (10-2), which took the East via that tiebreaker. What the winner of this game needs to make the playoff would be a loss by either Clemson or Washington (preferably both) this weekend. Yet what does the committee do with Michigan considering it beat both the Badgers and Nittany Lions (in a rout) this year? Will the Badgers (10-2) have starting QB Alex Hornibrook? He left Saturday’s 31-17 win over Minnesota with an injury, and the redshirt freshman is listed as day-to-day.
No. 4 Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
When: 8 p.m. ET Point spread: Clemson -8.5 NCAAF ATS pick: Tigers
The ACC Championship Game from Orlando — it was moved from Charlotte earlier this year because of North Carolina’s controversial transgender “bathroom law.” It’s pretty simple for Clemson: win and the Tigers (11-1) are in the playoff for the second straight year, should move up to No. 3 in the new rankings and thus avoid Alabama in the semifinals. A Virginia Tech (9-3) upset would keep the ACC from the playoff entirely and invite some chaos for that spot. Clemson has won three straight over the Hokies in blowout fashion, but the teams haven’t played since the 2012 season.