College Football Playoff and bowl game selections are just one day away, but before we get there, Championship Week must play out. And if it’s anything like the rest of the 2021 college football season has been to this point, it’s going to be a wild Saturday. While there are two handfuls of games across Friday and Saturday that will determine conference champions, there’s six in particular that could directly affect the CFP race and New Year’s Six bowl assignments.
No. 10 Oregon needed to win the Pac-12 and was going to need a lot to go right — and go crazy — to find their way into the four-team field. But after No. 17 Utah rolled over the Ducks on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Games, those dreams are over.
No. 5 Oklahoma State will be looking to hold serve against No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. While the Cowboys edged the Bears in a defensive slugfest earlier this season, the Utes absolutely crushed the Ducks a couple weeks ago. Oklahoma State appears to be in contention for a CFP spot if it wins the Big 12, while Baylor with a Big 12 win,
Cincinnati, which finds itself No. 4 in the CFP Rankings, must hold off No. 21 Houston in the AAC Championship Game for the opportunity to become the first Group of Five team to play for a national championship in the modern era. Meanwhile, No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Alabama are meeting in a clash of the titans. The Bulldogs would likely remain in the playoff field win or lose, while a second loss in the SEC Championship Game would make a berth far less likely for the Crimson Tide should everyone else hold serve.
In the nightcap, No. 2 Michigan looks to maintain its momentum from crushing Ohio State during rivalry week as it looks to win its first Big Ten Championship Game in a battle with No. 13 Iowa. The Wolverines have been revitalized with coach Jim Harbaugh being given a second lease on life in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the result would be a certain CFP placement if they can take down the defensive-minded Hawkeyes.
While winning is all that matters for playoff and New Year’s Six contention, we care about whether these teams will cover their spreads. Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day for college football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for a loaded Championship Week to close out the 2021 season.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
Big 12 championship: No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State
Featured Game | Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Baylor Bears
Noon | ABC, fuboTV (Try for free) — When these teams last played, it was a touchdown by Jaylen Warren with two minutes remaining that pushed the lead out to 10 points. A second time around, the score could be even lower now that each defensive staff has a chance to reassess. Oklahoma State finds a way to win the football game, but the Bears are well-positioned to make it dangerously close. Prediction: 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 been unable to run block on a consistent basis all year, and last week against Auburn was its worst performance of the season. Now, it is suddenly going to get right against Jordan Davis and the Bulldogs front seven? Nope. No chance. Georgia will keep Alabama in check all afternoon, which will allow quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and the rest of that offense the ability to dictate the style and tempo 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 has been presented with a showcase opportunity, it’s responded with its best performances. Cincinnati beat 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 an opportunity to make a national statement. Prediction: 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 against the Wolverines here. It’s not that I don’t have plenty of respect for the Hawkeyes, it’s that this is a bad matchup for them. Michigan is essentially Iowa on steroids. It has an excellent defense and strong special teams, but where the two differ most is on offense. Michigan has one; Iowa does not. Given Iowa’s inability to move the ball this year, it’s hard for me to buy into the idea the Hawkeyes will suddenly find success against a Michigan defense that held an explosive Ohio State offense in check. Plus, Iowa thrives on turnovers, and Michigan has turned the ball over only nine times. Only five teams in the country have fewer. Lay it with the maize and blue. Prediction: Michigan (-10.5) — Tom Fornelli
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 sensible pick is Pitt because Kenny Pickett has the edge at quarterback and the Panthers have been better, when needed, on the defensive of the ball. But there’s something special to the wild ride that the Demon Deacons have been on here in 2021 that I think better prepares them for a tense, high-scoring shootout. Prediction: Wake Forest (+3) — Chip Patterson
Which college football picks can you make with confidence during Championship Week, and which two underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,700 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.