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Conference Championship Viewing Guide staff

Five conference championship games will decide which two teams play in the BCS National Championship game and shape the bowl picture. Bloggers Chip Patterson, Adam Jacobi, Tom Fornelli and Jerry Hinneni will also be providing insight in our updating college football blog all weekend.

We got you completely covered with all the Top 25 previews and picks from our experts.

Note: All times are Eastern.

Conference Championship Guide
7 p.m.
Northern Illinois vs. Miami (Ohio)
ESPN2MAC: No. 25 Northern Illinois at Miami (Ohio): The No. 25 Huskies look to capture the Mid-American Conference title for the first time in 27 years when they take on Miami of Ohio at Detroit's Ford Field. Northern Illinois won the Western Division after going undefeated in conference play for the first time in school history. The Huskies have won nine in a row and outscored their last three opponents 195-54. A trip to the MAC championship game continues an amazing turnaround for the RedHawks, who suffered through four straight losing seasons and went 2-10 in 2008 and 1-11 in '09. They clinched at least a share of the Eastern Division with a 22-3 win over Temple on Nov. 23, then won it outright when Kent State upset Ohio.
SMU at Pittsburgh
ESPN2C-USA: SMU at UCF: SMU earned a spot in this contest by virtue of a thrilling 45-38 overtime victory over East Carolina in the regular season finale. The Mustangs captured the C-USA West Division crown with a 6-2 record and are competing for the conference crown for the first time. UCF enters the contest at 9-3, including last weekend's 37-17 romp over Memphis. The winner of the game will most likely be headed to the Liberty Bowl to face either Georgia, Tennessee or Kentucky, while the loser will go different places. An SMU loss likely sends the Mustangs to the Armed Forces Bowl, while a UCF loss probably sends the Knights to the Hawaii Bowl.
4 p.m.
Auburn vs. South Carolina
CBSSEC: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 18 South Carolina: It's all on the line for Auburn in the SEC Championship, win and play for the BCS National Championship, lose and South Carolina goes to the Sugar Bowl. These teams met earlier in the year when the Tigers trailed South Carolina 20-7 late in the second quarter on Sept. 25. Auburn forced four turnovers and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win. That 35-27 win was just one of eight come-from-behind victories for Auburn this season, half of them after trailing by double digits. The Tigers rank 58th nationally in total defense and 106th against the pass. Eight of the last 10 SEC champions have ranked in the top 20 nationally in yards allowed, with only LSU (75th in 2001) lower than Auburn's current standing.
7:45 p.m.
Virginia Tech vs. Florida State
ESPNNo. 12 Virginia Tech vs. No. 20 Florida State: Virginia Tech has been the ACC's dominant team since joining the league in 2004, winning three championships and favored to capture a fourth. The one team the Hokies haven't dominated is Florida State. The 20th-ranked Seminoles -- who beat Virginia Tech to win the 2000 national championship and the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference title -- are again poised to spoil another Hokies season when the teams meet in Charlotte, N.C. Florida State hasn't been to a BCS bowl game since 2005, and Ponder, a fifth-year senior, relishes the opportunity to lead his team to the Orange Bowl with a victory.
8 p.m.
Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
ABCNo. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Nebraska: The 13th-ranked Cornhuskers haven't won a Big 12 title since 1999, a drought they'll get one last chance to end against No. 10 Oklahoma at Cowboys Stadium in their final conference game before heading to the Big Ten. Nebraska won or shared the final five Big Eight titles before the Big 12 was formed, also winning national championships in 1994 and 1995. The Cornhuskers played in three of the first four Big 12 championship games, but they've only participated in two since 2000. Both were losses -- 21-7 against Oklahoma in 2006, and a 13-12 heartbreaker last season as Texas kicked a game-ending field goal after one second was put back on the clock.

-- J. Darin Darst


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