Monday Measure: Our early picks for all 10 conference championship games

Welcome to conference championship week.

With the 2019 college football regular season behind us, it’s now time to figure out who the champions of each of the 10 conferences at the top level of college football will be. And there are some intriguing matchups. Below are brief previews of each game and our picks to win for each. An upset or two in the right games will go a long way to giving us some drama heading into the final College Football Playoff rankings show of the season on Sunday.

(Games on Saturday unless otherwise noted. All times ET. Point spreads from betMGM.)

Pac-12: No. 5 Utah (11-1) vs. No. 13 Oregon (10-2)

Location: Santa Clara, California | Time: 8 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ABC | Line: Utah -6.5

How these teams got here

Utah: The only blemish on Utah’s schedule is a Sept. 21 loss to USC on a Friday night. Running back Zack Moss also left that game with a shoulder injury. Since Moss has returned, Utah has been awesome. The Utes have won every game since then by multiple scores save for a 33-28 win over Washington.

Oregon: The Ducks lost to Auburn in Week 1 and then lost to Arizona State in Week 13. In between those games were nine wins and then a win over Oregon State followed that loss to Arizona State. During that run of nine wins, Oregon’s defense had established itself as one of the best in the country.

What’s on the line

Utah: A potential College Football Playoff spot if Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC championship game. A Georgia loss and a Utah win would mean the Utes would be compared to a 12-1 Big 12 champion for the final spot. Utah is probably the better team in that scenario. But who knows what the committee would think.

Oregon: The Rose Bowl if Oregon wins. And the Rose Bowl if Oregon loses. The Ducks look locked into a trip to Pasadena no matter the outcome.


Sam Cooper: Utah 28, Oregon 24

Nick Bromberg: Utah 23, Oregon 13

Big 12: No. 8 Baylor (11-1) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma (11-1)

Location: Arlington, Texas | Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: Oklahoma -9.5

How these teams got here

Baylor: Baylor, two years removed from a 1-11 season, stormed out to a 9-0 start before finally slipping up against Oklahoma on Nov. 16. The Bears blew a 28-3 lead in a heartbreaking 34-31 loss to the Sooners. From there, BU trounced Texas and Kansas to get to 11-1 and set up a rematch against the Sooners with the conference crown on the line.

Oklahoma: With Jalen Hurts at quarterback and a (somewhat) improved defense, Oklahoma cruised to a 7-0 start until it was shockingly upset 48-41 by Kansas State on Oct. 26. After a bye week, OU won its next three games by eight points combined — including the Baylor comeback — before a more decisive victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday.

What’s on the line

Baylor: Baylor is on the precipice of its first Big 12 title since 2014. The College Football Playoff is still a possibility, too, though the CFP committee has seemingly been down on the Bears to this point in the year. Baylor was No. 9 in the most-recent rankings, making a jump up from No. 14 after a win over Texas.

Oklahoma: With a second win over Baylor, the Sooners would win the Big 12 for the fifth consecutive season. On top of that, Oklahoma’s CFP hopes are still alive. Thanks to Alabama’s loss to Auburn, the No. 4 spot could be open if LSU handles Georgia in the SEC title game as expected. A win over a top 10 team like Baylor could propel the Sooners into that spot.


Sam Cooper: Baylor 34, Oklahoma 31

Nick Bromberg: Oklahoma 37, Baylor 27

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) carries the ball as he cuts back on Baylor cornerback Jameson Houston, right, during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Oklahoma won 34-31. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)
Oklahoma won 34-31 in the first meeting with Baylor. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)

Sun Belt: Louisiana (10-2) at No. 20 Appalachian State (11-1)

Location: Boone, North Carolina | Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: App State -6

How these teams got here

Louisiana: The Ragin’ Cajuns got to the 10-win mark for the first time in program history and enter the Sun Belt title game on a six-game winning streak. UL-L, in Year 2 under Billy Napier, opened the season with a loss to Mississippi State. The only other loss was a 17-7 defeat to App State on Oct. 9.

App State: In its first year under Eliah Drinkwitz, App State easily won the Sun Belt East, slipping up only against Georgia Southern on Halloween. Along the way, the Mountaineers picked up wins over both North Carolina and South Carolina.

What’s on the line

Louisiana: The Ragin’ Cajuns can win their first outright Sun Belt championship in program history. UL-L has twice had a share of the league title.

App State: The Mountaineers can win the Sun Belt for the fourth straight season, include twice as the outright winner. App State is also still in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl, though well behind teams from the AAC and Mountain West.


Sam Cooper: App State 27, Louisiana 24

Nick Bromberg: App State 41, Louisiana 34

MAC: Miami, Ohio (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (8-4)

Location: Detroit | Time: Noon | TV: ESPN2 | Line: CMU -6.5

How these teams got here

Miami: The RedHawks started the season 1-3 in the non-conference slate with losses to Iowa, Cincinnati and Ohio State. Things then got going as Miami reeled off five straight wins after a 38-16 loss to Western Michigan on Oct. 12. Miami lost 41-27 to Ball State on Friday but had the division clinched before that.

Central Michigan: CMU got a gift on Tuesday when Western Michigan lost at Northern Illinois. That set up a win-and-in situation for the Chippewas and they responded beautifully with a 49-7 win over Toledo on Friday. CMU lost to WMU to start MAC play and lost to Buffalo on Oct. 26. But the Chips won every other game including a 45-44 nail-biter against Ball State on Nov. 16.

What’s on the line

Miami: Miami hasn’t won a conference title since 2010 when it beat NIU 26-21. That was also the last time Miami had won eight games as well. This year is already Miami’s first winning season since that conference championship year.

Central Michigan: CMU hasn’t won nine games in a season since 2006. That was Brian Kelly’s final season at the school. A win would be CMU’s first MAC title since 2009 and could set up the Chips for a bowl game with Michigan State in the Quick Lane Bowl.


Sam Cooper: CMU 31, Miami 20

Nick Bromberg: CMU 34, Miami 31

C-USA: UAB (9-3) at Florida Atlantic (9-3)

Location: Boca Raton, Florida | Time: 1:30 p.m. | TV: CBSSN | Line: FAU -7.5

How these teams got here

UAB: The Blazers rebounded from a two-game losing streak at the start of November to win three straight games to close out the season. UAB lost 30-7 to Tennessee on Nov. 2 and then 37-2 to Southern Mississippi on Nov. 9. In the weeks that followed the Blazers beat UTEP, Louisiana Tech and North Texas to clinch the West Division title.

Florida Atlantic: The Owls opened the season 0-2 with blowout losses to Ohio State and Central Florida. Since then, FAU has gone 9-1 with the only loss a 36-31 defeat to Marshall on Oct. 18. FAU has won five straight games entering the C-USA title game and has scored 30 or more points in nine of its 12 games this season.

What’s on the line

UAB: A win gives UAB back-to-back conference titles and its second straight season with 10 or more wins. Pretty amazing for a program that spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons on hiatus after it got shut down. Clark’s team was 6-6 in 2014 before the break and has gone 28-11 in the three years back from the shutdown.

Florida Atlantic: FAU is looking for its second conference title in three seasons and will go to a fourth bowl game in program history no matter the outcome. Much like UAB, a win would also give FAU its second 10-win season in program history.


Sam Cooper: FAU 31, UAB 21

Nick Bromberg: FAU 32, UAB 27

AAC: No. 21 Cincinnati (10-2) at No. 16 Memphis (11-1)

Location: Memphis | Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Memphis -10

How these teams got here

Cincinnati: Until this past weekend, Cincinnati’s only loss came from the best team in the country, Ohio State. Following that 42-0 beatdown in Week 2, the Bearcats won nine consecutive games and won the AAC East title. But UC lost home field in the title game with its 34-24 loss at Memphis on Saturday.

Memphis: Memphis opened the season 5-0 before losing 30-28 to Temple in a game that had a controversial finish involving replay. After the loss in Philly, the Tigers won six straight entering the AAC title game. The 54-48 win over SMU was one of the more entertaining games of the year.

What’s on the line

Cincinnati: Cincinnati can win its first outright conference title since 2009, when it went 12-1 and won the Big East under Brian Kelly. The Group of Five spot in a New Year’s Six bowl could still be in play as well.

Memphis: Memphis hasn’t won an outright conference title since 1969, when it won the Missouri Valley. The Tigers had a share of the AAC crown in 2014. Beyond that, Memphis is the G5 favorite to go to the Cotton Bowl. A win here could seal that spot.


Sam Cooper: Memphis 33, Cincinnati 24

Nick Bromberg: Memphis 41, Cincinnati 27

SEC: No. 4 Georgia (11-1) vs. No. 1 LSU (12-0)

Location: Atlanta | Time: 4 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: LSU -7

How these teams got here

Georgia: It hasn’t been the prettiest of football at times but the Bulldogs have ridden a dominant defense to the SEC East title. The Bulldogs have allowed 10.4 points per game in 2019, second-best in college football. The only blemish on Georgia’s record is a home loss to South Carolina where QB Jake Fromm threw three interceptions. Those were the only three interceptions Fromm has thrown all season.

LSU: The Tigers haven’t lost all season thanks to an offense that’s gone from zero to hero in the span of a season and made Joe Burrow the clear favorite for the Heisman Trophy. The Tigers are averaging nearly 49 points per game in 2019. Only Ohio State scores more. While LSU’s defense has looked vulnerable at times, Georgia’s offense hasn’t been consistent getting the ball down the field in the passing game. This game is truly going to be a battle of strength vs. strength.

What’s on the line

Georgia: A College Football Playoff berth and the chance to win a second SEC title in three seasons. Georgia and Florida are the only two SEC East teams to win conference titles in the last 20 years and the Bulldogs could tie LSU for the third-most SEC title game wins with a victory on Saturday. It would also cement Georgia’s status as one of the four best teams in the country this season and put the Bulldogs into the playoff for the second time.

LSU: A chance to be No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. LSU may be in the playoff no matter what happens on Saturday. But getting the No. 1 spot is important this year with both Clemson and Ohio State playing excellent football. With just four teams in the playoff, two of Clemson, LSU and Ohio State will have to play each other in a semifinal. Getting to No. 1 is the best way to not face either of those two teams.


Sam Cooper: LSU 38, Georgia 17

Nick Bromberg: LSU 34, Georgia 20

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Ed Orgeron (L) of the LSU Tigers and head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs meet on the field before a game at Tiger Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Georgia will almost certainly lock up a playoff spot with an upset win over LSU in the SEC title game. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Mountain West: Hawaii (9-4) at No. 19 Boise State (11-1)

Location: Boise | Time: 4 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Boise State -14.5

How these teams got here

Hawaii: The Warriors started the season with a crazy win over Arizona and then beat Oregon State. Hawaii fell to 5-4 after that thanks to three losses in four games including a 41-38 loss. But the Warriors won the Mountain West’s West division with three straight conference wins to close out the season. A 14-11 win over San Diego State clinched the West and a rematch with the Broncos who beat Hawaii 59-37 on Oct. 12.

Boise State: Boise State went on the road to start the season and beat Florida State 36-31. The Broncos were 6-1 before losing 28-25 to BYU on Oct. 19. But since BYU is an independent that had no effect on the Broncos’ Mountain division hopes. Boise State has won five straight games heading into Saturday’s contest even as quarterbacks Jaylon Henderson and Chase Cord have split time in relief of the injured Hank Bachmeier.

What’s on the line

Hawaii: Hawaii hasn’t won 10 games in a season since 2010 when the Warriors went 10-4 and lost in the Hawaii Bowl. A win in the Mountain West title game and a win in a bowl game would give Hawaii its first 11-win season since the Warriors went 12-1 in 2007. That was the final season of the June Jones era.

Boise State: The Broncos could get to the Cotton Bowl if Cincinnati cooperates. A win by Boise State coupled with a Cincinnati win over Memphis in the AAC title game would likely put Boise State as the highest-ranked Group of Five team in the College Football Playoff rankings and in line for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game.


Sam Cooper: Boise State 45, Hawaii 31

Nick Bromberg: Boise State 30, Hawaii 24

ACC: No. 22 Virginia (9-3) vs. No. 3 Clemson (12-0)

Location: Charlotte | Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Clemson -28.5

How these teams got here

Virginia: The Cavaliers got a Commonwealth Cup win over Virginia Tech to clinch the Coastal on Friday. It’s the first time Virginia had beaten Tech since 2003 and just the second time the Cavaliers had won since notching back-to-back victories in 1997 and 1998. Since falling to 5-3 after a loss at Louisville on Oct. 26, Virginia won four straight games to help clinch the division.

Clemson: The Tigers aren’t losing. And they’re demolishing opponents after a scare against North Carolina on Sep. 28. After the Tar Heels went for two at the end of the game and failed in a 21-20 loss, Clemson has outscored its opponents 353-61 in the following seven games. The closest contest in that span was a 45-14 win over Florida State. Yeah, Clemson is rolling.

What’s on the line

Virginia: The Orange Bowl is obligated to take the next-highest ranked team in the ACC if the top team is heading to the playoff. That means Virginia is heading to the Orange Bowl with an upset win over the Tigers and likely heading to the Orange Bowl with a loss to the Tigers.

Clemson: The College Football Playoff. Clemson can run its streak of playoff appearances to five — and tie Alabama’s now-defunct playoff streak in the process — with a win over the Cavaliers.


Sam Cooper: Clemson 45, Virginia 17

Nick Bromberg: Clemson 51, Virginia 21

Big Ten: No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (10-2)

Location: Indianapolis | Time: 8 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Ohio State -16.5

How these teams got here

Ohio State: Ohio State has been the most dominant team in the country, winning all 12 of its games by a double-digit margin. Most recently, the Buckeyes beat No. 8 Penn State 28-17 to clinch the Big Ten East before blowing out its biggest rival, No. 13 Michigan, 56-27 in Ann Arbor.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin had a more circuitous route to the Big Ten title game. After a 6-0 start, the Badgers were upset by Illinois and also lost 38-7 to the Buckeyes in Columbus. But UW rallied from there, winning its final four games. Saturday’s 38-17 road win over No. 8 Minnesota clinched the Big Ten West championship.

What’s on the line

Ohio State: Ohio State would probably still make the playoff with a loss, but a convincing win over Wisconsin could clinch the No. 1 seed in the CFP field for the Buckeyes. It would also mark OSU’s third consecutive Big Ten crown.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin hasn’t won an outright Big Ten title since 2012. A win would also likely punch Wisconsin’s ticket to the Rose Bowl.


Sam Cooper: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 17

Nick Bromberg: Ohio State 41, Wisconsin 13

Ohio State defenders Chase Young (2) and Tyreke Smith (11) cause Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan to fumble the ball on fourth down during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Wisconsin 38-7. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio State DE Chase Young had four sacks in an October win over Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

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