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Three Things To Watch during the Conference Championships

Ohio State fans are bystanders during this weekend’s action.

Notre Dame v USC Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Virginia Graham was an American talk-show host from the 1950s through the 1970s. While Ms. Graham was well-educated and well-spoken, I feel comfortable that Ms. Graham was not necessarily thinking about college football when she made the above statement, but it certainly applies to Ohio State fans as we collectively approach the conference championship weekend as interested observers.

The collective autopsies on Ohio State’s grisly defeat last week are all available for anyone to peruse. The unfortunate reality is now Ohio State’s coaches, players, and fans must all await to see what bowl game destination awaits the Buckeyes after this weekend.

Below are Three Things To Watch during the Conference Championships...

  1. The Pac-12 Championship (Utah vs. USC) on FOX at 8 p.m. ET

Every Ohio State fan has this one down cold — if Utah can defeat USC, perhaps Ohio State can move up from the currently slotted 5th spot into the 4th spot that USC has, and the Buckeyes would earn a College Football Playoff berth. USC presently sits as a -2.5 favorite.

Utah did defeat USC by one point at home on Oct. 15, 43-42. And this is the kind of game that could favor the superior defensive team, as Utah is only giving up an average of 20 points per game.

Before Ohio State fans ask the obvious rhetorical question of “What is a Ute?!?”, here are some things to remember — 1) USC quarterback Caleb Williams is now the favorite for the Heisman Trophy, so do not be surprised if Williams makes several spectacular throws in this effort, and 2) USC has Alex Grinch as their defensive coordinator. If that name does not ring a bell, just fire up the old YouTube machine for some 2018 Ohio State clips, and you will feel better about Utah’s ability to put points on the board against the Trojans.

This has all the feels of a shoot-out, so Friday night could get interesting.

2. The Big 12 Championship (Kansas State vs. TCU) on ABC, Saturday at 12 p.m. ET

Here is the other possible domino to fall that could impact Ohio State. TCU sits 3rd in The College Football Playoff rankings, and the same logic about USC applies here — perhaps if TCU loses, Ohio State moves up into the 4th spot. Also like USC, TCU is a -2.5 favorite by the oddsmakers.

The problem with that is twofold. For one thing, TCU would have only one loss, the same as Ohio State. Would the College Football Playoff committee punish the Horned Frogs for losing their conference championship game, while the Buckeyes did not even qualify for their conference championship game?

And another problem, TCU defeated Kansas State more decisively than Utah beat USC, as the Horned Frogs rallied past the Wildcats back on Oct. 22, 38-28. Will Kansas State have enough to take TCU on this bigger stage?

3. The B1G Championship (Purdue vs. Michigan) on FOX, Saturday at 8 p.m. ET

“That Team Up North” is favored by 17 points, and should be able to win this game comfortably. Wouldn’t it be something if the Boilermakers trip up the Wolverines? Purdue would get the Rose Bowl trip it so desperately wants, and then the Wolverines would slide down in the rankings.

Don’t laugh, stranger things have happened in conference championship games. I can vividly recall Kansas State upsetting Oklahoma in the 2003 Big 12 Championship, and how that created chaos and controversy for the BCS Championship. Do I believe that will happen on Saturday night? No, but if it does, Ohio State fans may be reflecting upon that quote from Virginia Graham when it comes to the Buckeyes’ postseason destination.