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Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cameron Thomas (99), a Carlsbad High graduate, leads San Diego State into the Mountain West championship game Saturday vs. Utah State. File photo/ Courtesy SDSU Athletics
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Inside Information: Conference championship weekend

So, let the crowning begin. After a long and crazy college football season, it’s time for conference championship weekend. Let’s take a look at the key games (all times Pacific Time):

Friday, Dec. 3

Pac-12   

• No. 10 Oregon Ducks (10-2) vs. No. 14 Utah Utes (9-3)

• 5 p.m., ABC

• Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

• Line: Utah -2.5    

• Total: 60

• Pick: Utah 

Notes: Utah embarrassed Oregon, 38-7, two weeks ago, a loss that ruined the Ducks’ playoff aspirations. What’s on the line now? A Pac-12 title and a trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl … Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has reached coaching milestones this year and could capture his first outright Pac-12 title … The Utes are appearing in their third championship game in the last four seasons but came up empty in the previous two, including a 37-15 beat-down by Oregon two years ago … Oregon got here after taking down in-state rival Oregon State last Saturday … Utah has the better all-around game, and Oregon brings a big reputation into the contest.

Conference USA

• Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-4) vs. Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners (11-1)

• 4 p.m.  CBS

• Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

• Line: Western Ky. -1.5   

• Total: 72

• Pick: Western Ky.

Notes: This game will be a track meet, with both teams featuring high-powered offenses … UTSA lost its first game of the season last Saturday to North Texas … Western Kentucky has been on a solid roll and are 8-3 against the spread (ATS) this season … The Roadrunners have been underdogs three times and covered all three times … Western Kentucky has local athlete WR Ben Ratzlaff (Westview High) … The Hilltoppers love to throw the ball and are riding high right now.

Saturday, Dec. 4

Big 12   

• No. 9 Baylor Bears (10-2) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1)

• 9 a.m., ABC

• AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

• Line: Oklahoma St. -5

• Total 46.5

• Pick:  Baylor +5

Notes: Baylor or Oklahoma State will win its first Big 12 championship game … Both teams are on winning streaks — Baylor has won three in a row, Oklahoma State five in a row … Each team has a much-improved defense and both have covered the spreads nicely all season — Baylor is 6-3 ATS and Oklahoma State is 8-0-1 … The Cowboys beat the Bears 24-14 earlier this season … Oklahoma State has never played in the Big 12 Championship … The Cowboys will win but not cover the five-point spread.

ACC

• No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers (10-2) vs. No. 18 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-2)

• 5 p.m., ABC

• Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina.

• Line: Pitt -3   

• Total: 72.5

• Pick:  Pitt

Notes: Both teams make their way back to the title game for the second time. Wake Forest won in 2006, and Pitt lost to Clemson in 2018 … Clemson had made the championship game every year since 2014, winning six straight titles … Pitt was 50-1 to make it to the championship game before the season; Wake was anywhere from 50-1 to 100-1 to win the ACC … Pitt is 9-3 ATS and has averaged over 40 points per game. … Both teams have tremendous quarterbacks, Wake’s Sam Hartman (3,475 yards passing, 31 touchdown passes) and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett (3,857 yards, 36 TDs) …  This is the Panthers’ year. They’ve been the most consistent team in the ACC this season, and Pickett will light up the Demon Deacons.

SEC

• No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) vs. No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (12-0)

• 1 p.m., CBS

• Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

• Line: Georgia -6.5

• Total 50

• Pick: Georgia

Notes: You might have to go back to the days of dial-up internet to find the last time Alabama was an underdog … Georgia is going for its first 13-0 record in school history …  The Bulldogs have given up an unbelievable 6.9 points per game, and haven’t allowed more than 17 points in a game … Both teams are led by California QBs and freshman Bryce Young is a Heisman trophy favorite … On offense, Georgia has averaged 40.7 points per game this season, while Alabama has averaged 42.6 … SEC Commissoner Greg Sankey would love to see Alabama win and get two SEC teams in the College Football Playoff … Georgia returns to Atlanta for the second straight week, while Alabama has been jittery on the road — the Tide had to go 97 yards with no timeouts to send last week’s Auburn game into overtime.

AAC   

• No. 16 Houston Cougars (11-1) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)

• 1 p.m., ABC

• Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

• Line:  Cincinnati -10.5

• Total 54

• Pick:  Houston

Notes: Win and you’re in. That is the mantra around Cincinnati this week, as the Bearcats try to become the first team from outside the power conferences to make the College Football Playoff … Houston has reeled off 12 straight wins after losing its opening game to Texas Tech … Cincinnati is one of only two teams to finish the regular season unbeaten, joining 12-0 Georgia … The Cougars’ speed is dangerous and the betting line is over-inflated. Cincy could win but it won’t cover the point spread.

Big Ten

• No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2) vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (11-1)

• 5 p.m., Fox

• Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

• Line: Michigan -10.5

• Total: 43.5

• Pick: Michigan

Notes: This is the Big Ten championship game that no one predicted, or even imagined, but both teams earned their way with solid football down the stretch … Michigan is flying high after its epic win over rival Ohio State last Saturday, while Iowa back-doored its way in with Wisconsin’s loss to Minnesota and Nebraska’s meltdown Saturday to the Hawkeyes in Lincoln … Michigan has won 42 Big Ten football titles but none since 2004 … Coach Jim Harbaugh finally has beaten the evil empire (Buckeyes) and has the Wolverines lined up for a College Football Playoff appearance with a win … Michigan has too much offense, and Iowa’s has been anemic … Michigan is smelling victory and knows more than this game is at stake. This could get ugly quick.

Mountain West   

• Utah State Aggies (9-3) vs. No. 19 San Diego State Aztecs (11-1)

• Noon, Fox

• Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson

• Line: SDSU -6   

• Total: 50.5

• Pick: SDSU

Notes: The Aztecs are playing in the Mountain West championship game for the first time since they won back-to-back titles in 2015-16, their only two appearances in the game … This is likely SDSU’s last “home” game in Carson, as the school expects to inaugurate its new football stadium in 2022 … Utah State lost to Fresno State in the first MWC championship game in 2013 … This year, the Aggies are one of the most improved programs in the conference under second-year coach Blake Anderson … San Diego State DL Cameron Thomas (Carsbad High) and P/PK Matt Araiza (Rancho Bernando High) were named Mountain West defensive player of the year and special teams player of the year, respectively.

Let the games begin … and see you on the radio Saturday 9 a.m. on AM 1090, The Mightier 1090.

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