Welcome to Week 15 of the 2019 college football season, better known as conference championship week.
Two teams in the top four of the latest College Football Playoff rankings will face off in Atlanta for the SEC title. No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson will put their undefeated records on the line in their conference championships, and ranked teams will battle in conference championships across the country.
These are some of the most highly anticipated games of the season, and the outcomes will surely have impacts on the final playoff rankings.
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The Sooners and Bears met just a few weeks ago, with the Sooners coming away with a tight win thanks to a late rally led by Heisman candidate Jalen Hurts. Both teams have won every game since and find themselves matched up again with the Big 12 title and a potential playoff berth on the line. The Sooners have the fifth-best scoring offense in the nation, but the Bears have the 13th-best defense. The winner of this showdown in Arlington will surely be discussed by the playoff committee as they piece together their final rankings.
There's a lot on the line in this game for both the Bulldogs and the Tigers. A win for LSU would cap off an undefeated regular season, give them their first SEC title since 2011 and make their case for the No. 1 seed in the playoff even stronger. A win for Georgia would give the Bulldogs their second SEC title in three years and secure their playoff spot for this season. The Bulldogs could be eliminated from the playoff picture with a loss, as one-loss teams in Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor are saddled just outside the top four this week.
Dabo Swinney's Tigers are seeking their fifth straight ACC title. Standing in their way in Charlotte is a feisty Virginia team that has won four straight games. Clemson has the fourth-best offense in the nation, scoring 45.3 points per game, and the best defense, allowing just 10.10 points per game. Clemson hasn't lost a game since January 2018.
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A dominant performance from the Buckeyes in this game could seal up the top seed in the playoff. But if the game is close, or if Wisconsin pulls off an upset, they could fall in the rankings. The Badgers are a long-shot to make the playoff at this point with two losses on their resume, but if they win and there's chaos elsewhere, they could sneak in. Ohio State beat Wisconsin 38-7 earlier this season.
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How will the G5 race be settled?
No. 17 Memphis is in the driver's seat for the Group of Five's bid to a New Year's Six Bowl, it seems. Should the Tigers beat the No. 20 Cincinnati Bearcats for the second straight week, they'll likely find themselves playing in the Cotton Bowl in a few weeks. But if Memphis slips up at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC, a few other Group of Five contenders loom.
There's Cincinnati, of course, who would have a strong case for the bid if they beat Memphis and claim the AAC crown. The Bearcats also have wins over UCLA and UCF this season.
Aside from AAC teams, there's No. 19 Boise State, which faces an 8-4 Hawaii team in the Mountain West Conference championship at 4 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN. The Broncos have just one loss this season, to BYU, and have also beaten Florida State and Air Force.
Should Memphis and Boise State lose, the committee might also consider one-loss Appalachian State, which is ranked 21st this week and takes on the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in the Sun Belt title game at Noon ET Saturday on ESPN. The Mountaineers' lone loss this season was to rival Georgia Southern, but they also posted wins over North Carolina of the ACC and South Carolina of the SEC.
Week 15 College Football Playoff rankings