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College Football Championship Weekend Picks, Plus the QB Transfer Portal Shuffle Begins

We have a busy weekend ahead of us. Make sure to get a nap today! Here’s what’s happening in college football Until Saturday (and Friday night) …

ACC: No. 14 Louisville (10-2) vs. No. 4 Florida State (12-0), 8 p.m. on Saturday in Charlotte (ABC)

  • The College Football Playoff committee won’t leave out a Power 5 undefeated conference champion. But a win could be easier said than done for Florida State without star QB Jordan Travis. And how about Jeff Brohm? He has his alma mater in its first-ever ACC Championship Game in Year 1 at the helm. Pick: Florida State  (-2.5)

Big 12: No. 18 Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. No. 7 Texas (11-1), Noon on Saturday in Arlington (ABC) 

  • This isn’t the matchup we expected to see, but the Big 12 sure is happy it had an excuse to name Mike Gundy its coach of the year instead of Steve Sarkisian. Last week, Texas played some of its best football in a 57-7 rout of Texas Tech while the Cowboys looked mediocre in a 40-34 win against 5-7 BYUPick: Texas (-14.5)

Big Ten: No. 2 Michigan (12-0) vs. No. 16 Iowa (10-2), 8 p.m. on Saturday in Indianapolis (Fox) 

  • I fully expect Jim Harbaugh’s welcome-back party to be thrown in our faces all day. This seems like one of the most predictable outcomes of the weekend, especially after the Wolverines continued their dominance against Ohio State last week. I’m super bummed we don’t get to see former Michigan men Cade McNamara and Erick All (both transferred to Iowa but are injured) play in this one. Pick: Michigan (-23.5)

Pac-12: No. 5 Oregon (11-1) vs. No. 3 Washington (12-0), 8 p.m. on Friday in Las Vegas (ABC) 

  • As exciting as the SEC’s national championship-caliber game will be, this one has the biggest star next to it in my book. A rematch of these two Pac-12 powers feels even more important than the game did in October. There is so much on the line: from a Playoff berth to a potential Heisman Trophy to the last-ever (??) Pac-12 title. Pick: Washington (+9.5)

SEC: No. 1 Georgia (12-0) vs. No. 8 Alabama (11-1), 4 p.m. on Saturday in Atlanta (CBS)

  • Bama was written off after losing to Texas, but the Crimson Tide are right in the CFP mix. Meanwhile, the Dawgs are three wins away from a three-peat, an FBS feat this sport hasn’t seen since the 1930s. This is another win-and-in matchupPick: Georgia (-5.5)

Group of Five matchups

AAC: SMU (10-2) at No. 22 Tulane (11-1), 4 p.m. on Saturday (ABC) 

  • SMU has one of the most prolific offenses in the country, but starting quarterback Preston Stone won’t play after suffering a broken leg against Navy in the regular-season finale. That’s not necessarily a reason to rule out the Mustangs, who rank first in the AAC in total defense and passing defense. A New Year’s Six Bowl berth is on the line, too. Pick: SMU (+3.5)

Conference USA: New Mexico State (10-3) at No. 24 Liberty (12-0), 7 p.m. on Friday (CBS Sports Network)

  • Liberty was one of five FBS teams to finish the regular season undefeated. Credit to Jamey Chadwell for getting the Flames there in his first season. Both programs are making their first appearance in this game. Pick: Liberty (-10.5)

MAC: Miami (Ohio) (10-2) vs. Toledo (11-1), Noon on Saturday in Detroit (ESPN)

  • Toledo won 27-17 when these teams met in October, but Miami shut out the Rockets in the second half to nearly pull off a comeback from a 21-3 halftime deficit. The RedHawks’ starting quarterback, Brett Gabbert, has been out since he injured his right leg in that game. Toledo is looking for its second title in a row while the RedHawks are trying for their first since 2019.  Pick: Toledo (-7.5)

Mountain West: Boise State (7-5) at UNLV (9-3), 3 p.m. on Saturday (Fox) 

  • It’s odd that Boise State is in the game while in the middle of a coaching search (the Broncos fired Andy Avalos on Nov. 12), but here we are. Meanwhile, UNLV is in the complete opposite situation while thriving under first-year coach Barry Odom. Pick: UNLV (+2.5)

Sun Belt: Appalachian State (8-4) at Troy (10-2), 4 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN)

  • The Mountaineers have another shot at an upset after beating undefeated James Madison in overtime two weeks ago. App State has won its last five matchups against Troy. The Trojans are tough, boasting the 11th-ranked defense in the nation at 4.74 yards allowed per play. Pick: App State (+6.5)

Fun fact: Six teams playing in championship games are led by coaches in their first or second year as the leaders of their respective programs. (Year 1: Louisville, Liberty, UNLV; Year 2: New Mexico State, SMU, Troy). No wonder it feels like coaches have so little time in these jobs.

Source: The Athletic