At the end of the college football regular season, each of the conferences will have a championship game, usually between their division champions in a non-pandemic season. The Power Five conferences have received well-justified criticism about putting on championship games that are typically dull mismatches. The pandemic brought up questions about the worth of the conference championship games and whether they should be forsaken for an expanded College Football Playoff. But TV contracts and money for the leagues mean that things will continue as they are for the foreseeable future. From a gambling perspective, the handle is quite lucrative at sportsbooks for these games.
SEC Championship Game
It is no surprise that college football's premier conference instituted the first major college conference championship game in 1992. And it should also come as no surprise that the Alabama Crimson Tide won that initial SEC title game 28-21 over the Florida Gators. Alabama has played in seven SEC championship games since 2009 and six of the last eight. In 2020 the Crimson Tide beat the Florida Gators 52-46 for the SEC title. Since 1994, the SEC championship game has been held in Atlanta, Georgia, first at the Georgia Dome from 1994 through 2016, and then at Mercedes Benz Stadium beginning in 2017. Alabama and Florida each have an SEC-best 13 championship game appearances, with the Crimson Tide boasting a record nine wins.
Big Ten Championship Game
Inaugurated in 2011, the Big Ten championship game has always been held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Last year the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 22-10 for their fourth consecutive Big Ten championship game triumph. Ohio State has won the Big Ten championship game in five of the last seven years. The Wisconsin Badgers won the first two editions of this game, which are UW's only two wins in this event's history. Ohio State and Wisconsin have a Big Ten record six appearances each.
Big 12 Championship Game
The Big 12 championship game was inaugurated in 1996 and has been played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, since 2009. From 2011 through 2016, the Big 12 did not have a championship game because of conference realignment and the subsequent loss of four of its teams to other leagues. Since the return of the Big 12 championship game, the Oklahoma Sooners have won all four seasons. In 2020 the Sooners beat the upstart Iowa State Cyclones 27-21. Oklahoma has a record 12 appearances in the Big 12 Championship Game with 11 wins.
ACC Championship Game
The ACC championship game was inaugurated in 2005 and has been played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past four years and 10 of the last 11 overall. In 2020 the Clemson Tigers defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 34-10 for the ACC championship. Clemson has utterly dominated the ACC like no other team in no other conference. The Tigers have posted six consecutive wins in the ACC championship game. Overall, the Tigers have a record eight total appearances in this event with seven total wins. The Virginia Tech Hokies have six ACC championship game appearances with three wins, and the Florida State Seminoles have five appearances with four wins.
Pac-12 Championship Game
Inaugurated in 2011, the Pac-12 championship game is the weak link of the Power Five conferences. The game draws terrible crowds and the lowest TV ratings of any Power Five League. At first, the Pac-12 Championship Game was held on the campus of one of its division champions. From 2014 through 2019, the event took place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
In 2020 the Pac-12 title game was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, home of the USC Trojans, because of the pandemic. The Oregon Ducks defeated USC 31-24. Ironically, Oregon was a fill-in for the North Division champion Washington Huskies, who had to stay home because of a COVID-19 outbreak on their team.
Group of Five Championship Games
The American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, and Mountain West Conference run their own championship games. Ironically enough, these leagues produce more entertaining and competitive games than the Power Five leagues.