First look at conference title games

Welcome to championship week, where the slate has something for just about everyone.

If you enjoyed last season's national title game, championship week delivers a rematch -- on the same field, no less. If you enjoy an extra helping of a top rivalry, Oklahoma and Texas meet again, not at the Cotton Bowl but 22 miles west at Jerry's World. You'll see familiar championship-game participants Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State, as well as newcomers like Pitt, Utah and Northwestern.

I spoke to coaches on participating teams, as well as coaches who have faced these teams earlier this season, to size up what to expect this coming weekend in the Power 5 championship games.


No. 16 Washington (9-3) vs. No. 17 Utah (9-3) in Santa Clara, Calif.
Friday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox

Scouting report

Two 9-3 teams with zero Heisman candidates isn't the matchup the Pac-12 hoped for before the season, but Washington and Utah should produce an incredibly physical game. Both defenses are excellent, ranking in the top 20 nationally in points allowed (Washington is 10th at 16.5 points per game; Utah is 17th at 19.25 PPG) and yards per play (Utah is 16th at 4.66 YPP; Washington is 17th at 4.69 YPP).

Coaches expect the championship game to resemble the first meeting in Week 3, when the teams combined for only 28 points and 588 yards. Washington's defense forced three turnovers and held Utah to just 3.5 yards per completion. The Huskies will be facing a different Utes backfield as quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss both are out for the season with injuries. Freshman Jason Shelley will start at quarterback with junior Armand Shyne at running back.