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College football viewers' guide: Playoff spots and New Year's six bowls are up for grabs

College football viewers' guide: Playoff spots and New Year's six bowls are up for grabs
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa runs during the second half of the College Football Playoff championship game against Georgia in Atlanta on Jan. 8. The two teams will meet this Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship. (David Goldman / Associated Press)

It’s conference championship weekend in college football, which means it’s time to cancel your other Friday and Saturday plans to binge-watch games from morning until late night. The Times’ Eduardo Gonzalez lets us know what will be on our televisions and computer screens the next two days.

FRIDAY

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No. 17 Utah (9-3) vs. No. 11 Washington (9-3), 5 p.m., Channel 11

Although the Pac-12 will be left out of the College Football Playoff for a second consecutive season, a trip to the Rose Bowl is never a bad consolation prize. Utah was the only Pac-12 South team never to appear in the conference title game until now. USC is the only South team to win the Pac-12. Washington beat Utah 21-7 in Salt Lake City in September and enters the rematch at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara after a 28-15 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup. The Utes came back from 20 points down to defeat Brigham Young 35-27 last week.

4 p.m.: Northern Illinois vs. Buffalo (Mid-American Conference championship), ESPN2.

SATURDAY MORNING

No. 14 Texas (9-3) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma (11-1), 9 a.m., Channel 7

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger leaps into the end zone to score against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The rivals will meet in the Big 12 Conference championship game.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger leaps into the end zone to score against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The rivals will meet in the Big 12 Conference championship game. (Nick Wagner / Associated Press)

The spotlight will be on the quarterbacks in this rematch for the Big 12 title in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray helped the Sooners escape West Virginia 59-56 by passing for 364 yards and three touchdowns. Sam Ehlinger helped the Longhorns beat Kansas 24-17, passing for two scores and running for another. For Oklahoma, a win would avenge a 48-45 loss to Texas in October and possibly push the Sooners into the College Football Playoff.

9 a.m.: Louisiana at Appalachian State (Sun Belt Conference championship), ESPN; Akron at South Carolina, SEC Network.

10:30 a.m.: Alabama Birmingham at Middle Tennessee (Conference USA championship), CBS Sports Network.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Stanford (7-4) at California (7-4), 12 p.m., Pac-12 Network

The Big Game was originally scheduled for Nov. 17, but was postponed to this weekend because of the poor air quality resulting from wildfires. Stanford escaped a motivated UCLA team 49-42 last week behind K.J. Costello’s 344 passing yards and five touchdowns. Cal forced five turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, in a 33-21 win over Colorado. Stanford has won eight in a row against Cal.

Memphis (8-4) at No. 8 Central Florida (11-0), 12:30 p.m., Channel 7

Central Florida running back Adrian Killins Jr. (9) runs the ball against Memphis during the second half on Oct. 13. Central Florida won 31-30.
Central Florida running back Adrian Killins Jr. (9) runs the ball against Memphis during the second half on Oct. 13. Central Florida won 31-30. (Mark Zaleski / Associated Press)

Memphis came close to ruining Central Florida’s perfect season in October, but the Knights rallied for a 31-30 win. Central Florida has won 24 in a row but enters the American Athletic Conference championship game without quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a potential career-ending knee injury last week against South Florida. Memphis has won its last four games and is coming off a 52-31 victory over Houston that put the Tigers in the title game.

No. 1 Alabama (12-0) vs. Georgia (11-1), 1 p.m., Channel 2

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It only has been 11 months since these teams played a memorable national championship game that Alabama won in overtime. They again will play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the winner this time earning the Southeastern Conference title. Georgia coach Kirby Smart gets another shot at trying to become the first Nick Saban disciple to beat the Crimson Tide coach.

No. 2 Clemson (12-0) vs. Pittsburgh (7-5), 5 p.m., Channel 7

The Atlantic Coast Conference will be decided at Charlotte, N.C. Clemson is 0-2 all-time against Pittsburgh, including a 43-42 loss that was the Tigers’ only defeat during their 2016 national championship season. Clemson is looking to make the College Football Playoff for the fourth season in a row. The Panthers are coming off a 24-3 loss to Miami last week.

No. 21 Northwestern (8-4) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (11-1), 5 p.m., Channel 11

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins plays against Michigan on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes won 62-39.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins plays against Michigan on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes won 62-39. (Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

A month ago, this matchup for the Big Ten Conference title seemed unlikely. But both teams made late surges to reach the game in Indianapolis. Ohio State might even make it to the playoffs with a statement win. The Buckeyes made a case last week in their 62-39 win over Michigan as Dwayne Haskins passed for 396 yards and six touchdowns. The Wildcats survived against Illinois 24-16, with Isaiah Bowser rushing for 166 yards.

4:45 p.m.: No. 25 Fresno State at No. 22 Boise State (Mountain West Conference championship), ESPN.

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