The trophies could be the only prizes for the winners in several games during championship weekend.
This is not the NCAA basketball tournament. Those titles don’t automatically come with playoff spots, and in some cases, the wrong winner could ruin things for a conference.
No more so than the Atlantic Coast Conference, where No. 19 Virginia Tech can only play spoiler to No. 3 Clemson. Not only would a victory by the Hokies likely cost Clemson and the ACC a chance to win the national championship, but it could also cost the conference $2 million.
The College Football Playoff revenue distribution plan pays each conference $6 million for each team placed in the semifinals. The net loss would only be $2 million because Virginia Tech would be guaranteed a spot in the Orange Bowl as ACC champion (worth $4 million) and Clemson would be a good bet to be ranked high enough to end up in the Cotton Bowl and earn another $4 million for the conference.
A rundown of what is on the line beyond playoff spots this weekend:
SEC — Florida would earn a Sugar Bowl bid by beating Alabama.
Pac-12 — If the winner of No. 4 Washington and No. 9 Colorado does not get into the playoff, it goes to the Rose Bowl. And if the winner does get into the playoff, the loser could very well end up in the Rose Bowl as the next highest ranked Pac-12 team in the last selection committee rankings.
Big Ten — Worst-case scenario for the winner of No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 6 Wisconsin is the Rose Bowl.
Big 12 — No. 11 Oklahoma State is at No. 7 Oklahoma in a de facto conference title game. The winner gets a Sugar Bowl bid and can hold out some very long shot playoff hopes.
No. 4 Washington (minus 7) vs. No. 9 Colorado, Pac-12 championship at Santa Clara, California
The Huskies are tied for tops in the country in turnover margin at plus-18; the Buffaloes are plus-10 … WASHINGTON 31-21.
No. 1 Alabama (minus 24) vs. No. 15 Florida, SEC championship at Atlanta
Yes, the Crimson Tide can lose and still make the playoff. Just don’t tell Nick Saban … ALABAMA 38-10.
No. 3 Clemson (minus 10) vs. No. 19 Virginia Tech, ACC championship at Orlando, Florida
The Tigers (8.67 per game) and Hokies (8.17) both rank in the top six in the country in tackles for loss … CLEMSON 32-24.
No. 6 Wisconsin (minus 2.5) vs. No. 8 Penn State, Big Ten championship at Indianapolis
The Nittany Lions have become a big-play, quick strike team; Badger-ball is slow and steady and tops in the country in time of possession (35:14 per game) … PENN STATE 27-21.
NEW YEAR’S SIX IMPLICATIONS
No. 13 Western Michigan (minus 19) vs. Ohio, MAC championship at Detroit
If the undefeated Broncos get to the Cotton Bowl, will P.J. Fleck still be their coach? … WESTERN MICHIGAN 35-17.
No. 11 Oklahoma State (plus 11) at No. 7 Oklahoma
The folks in Stillwater are still seething about that Central Michigan loss and if the Cowboys do win this game, expect that to elevate to full-on screaming … OKLAHOMA 48-35.
Temple (plus 3) at No. 20 Navy, AAC championship
If Western Michigan does lose, the winner here is likely to get that Cotton Bowl bid, though the selection committee would have to wait until Navy plays Army to make its final decision … NAVY 28-24.
Louisiana Tech (plus 10) at Western Kentucky, Conference USA championship
The Hilltoppers are trying to become the first repeat C-USA champs since East Carolina in 2008 and ’09 … WESTERN KENTUCKY 42-35.
San Diego State (minus 7) at Wyoming, Mountain West Conference championship
Aztecs star Donnel Pumphrey is 92 yards away from 2,000 on the season and 218 from breaking Ron Dayne’s FBS career record (6,397) … SAN DIEGO STATE 28-23.
Baylor (plus 17.5) at No. 14 West Virginia
Bears are trying to avoid a six-game losing streak after a 6-0 start … WEST VIRGINIA 38-17.
Record: Last week 13-8 straight; 6-14 vs. points.
Season: 192-85; 120-151-3.
Upset specials: 4-9.
Best bets: 4-9.