Vince Young (with football) about to score a touchdown in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game
Vince Young (with football) about to score a touchdown in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game

The following is a list of conference championship games in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football. With the Sun Belt Conference holding its first championship game in 2018, all 10 active FBS conferences now have championship games.

History

Before the 2016 season, the NCAA required that a conference have a minimum of 12 teams and play in two divisions in order to hold a football championship game that did not count against the limit of 12 regular-season games per team.[1]

Twelve-team conferences

The first post-regular season conference championship game played in Division I-A football (what is now Division I FBS) was the 1992 SEC Championship Game, won by Alabama over Florida.[2] The SEC had gone from being a 10-team conference in 1991, to being a 12-team conference—divided into two six-team divisions—in 1992.[3] The next championship games to debut were that of the Big 12 Conference and Western Athletic Conference (WAC), starting in 1996.[4] That year, the Big Eight Conference and Southwest Conference dissolved and were essentially replaced by the Big 12,[5] with twelve teams divided into six-team divisions; while the WAC expanded to sixteen teams, divided into eight-team divisions. This was followed in 1997 by the Mid-American Conference, which expanded from ten to twelve teams, divided into six-team divisions. Prior to the 1999 season, eight schools left the WAC to form the Mountain West Conference (MW); the WAC thus discontinued its championship games (the conference would stop sponsoring football after 2012; it reinstated football in 2021 in Division I FCS). New championship games were next added in 2005, when both the Atlantic Coast Conference and Conference USA expanded from eleven teams to twelve teams and implemented six-team divisions.

To date, the Big 12 is the only conference to discontinue and restart its scheduling of championship games.
To date, the Big 12 is the only conference to discontinue and restart its scheduling of championship games.

The requirement for a conference to have 12 teams in order to stage a championship game caused the Big 12 to discontinue its championship game after the 2010 season, as the conference contracted to 10 members in 2011 (while retaining its name).

In 2011, the Big Ten Conference added its twelfth team (while retaining its name), split into six-team divisions, and added a championship game. That same season, what had been the Pacific-10 Conference added two teams, split into six-team divisions, renamed itself the Pac-12 Conference, and initiated its own championship game. The MW grew to twelve teams in 2013, as did the American Athletic Conference in 2015; both structured themselves into six-team divisions and began staging championship games.

Smaller conferences

At the conclusion of the 2015 season, only the Big 12 and the Sun Belt Conference did not have championship games, as neither conference had the required minimum of 12 teams. In January 2016, the NCAA approved championship games for smaller conferences, provided the championship game features either (1) the top two teams at the end of a full round-robin conference schedule, or (2) the winners of each of two divisions, with each team playing a full round-robin schedule within its division.[6] Following that change to NCAA rules, the Big 12 reinstated its championship game in 2017,[7] operating with 10 teams in a single division while playing a full round-robin schedule.

In 2017, the Sun Belt Conference grew to 12 members with the addition of Coastal Carolina.[8] At that time, the Sun Belt operated with all teams in a single division but did not play a full round-robin schedule and did not hold a championship game. The conference dropped to 10 football members after the football-only memberships of Idaho and New Mexico State were not extended following the 2017 season.[9] The conference announced that it would begin playing a championship game in 2018,[10] which it facilitated by splitting into two five-team divisions.[11] Thus, 2018 was the first season that all FBS conferences held a championship game.

Championship games

Rankings are pre-game and from the AP Poll.

Conference Inaugural year Most recent Venue
Date Winning team Losing team
AAC Championship Game 2015 December 4, 2021 No. 4 Cincinnati dagger 35 No. 16 Houston 20 Nippert StadiumCincinnati, OH
ACC Championship Game 2005 December 4, 2021 No. 17 Pittsburgh ^ 45 No. 18 Wake Forest 21 Bank of America StadiumCharlotte, NC
Big Ten Championship Game 2011 December 4, 2021 No. 2 Michigan dagger 42 No. 15 Iowa 3 Lucas Oil StadiumIndianapolis, IN
Big 12 Championship Game 1996[a] December 4, 2021 No. 9 Baylor ^ 21 No. 5 Oklahoma State ^ 16 AT&T StadiumArlington, TX
Conference USA Championship Game 2005 December 3, 2021 UTSA 49 Western Kentucky 41 AlamodomeSan Antonio, TX
MAC Championship Game 1997 December 4, 2021 Northern Illinois 41 Kent State 23 Ford FieldDetroit, MI
Mountain West Championship Game 2013 December 4, 2021 Utah State 46 No. 19 San Diego State 13 Dignity Health Sports ParkCarson, CA
Pac-12 Championship Game 2011 December 3, 2021 No. 14 Utah ^ 38 No. 10 Oregon 10 Allegiant StadiumLas Vegas, NV
SEC Championship Game 1992 December 4, 2021 No. 4 Alabama dagger 41 No. 1 Georgia dagger 24 Mercedes-Benz StadiumAtlanta, GA
Sun Belt Championship Game 2018 December 4, 2021 No. 20 Louisiana 24 Appalachian State 16 Cajun FieldLafayette, LA
dagger - Denotes team subsequently received a CFP berth
^ - Denotes team subsequently received a non-CFP NY6 berth
  1. ^ Discontinued after the 2010 edition; reinstated for 2017 and beyond.

Discontinued games

Conference Inaugural year Final year
WAC Championship Game 1996 1998

References

  1. ^ "NCAA vote allows Big 12 to hold football championship game". Longview News-Journal. Longview, Texas. AP. January 14, 2016. p. B1. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  2. ^ McEwen, Tom (December 6, 1992). "Langham's pickoff energized low Tide". The Tampa Tribune. p. 38. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Dame, Mike (January 29, 1992). "Citrus Bowl, SEC closing in on deal". Orlando Sentinel. p. 19. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Big 12, WAC, SEC title games set for Dec. 7 TV tripleheader". Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. February 2, 1996. p. 28. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Stone, Jason (March 19, 1996). "Big Sky should take look". Arizona Daily Sun. Flagstaff, Arizona. p. 7. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Dan Wolken (January 13, 2016). "NCAA members OK football championship games for all conferences". USA Today. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  7. ^ "Bowlsby feels good about Big 12 despite negative perceptions". The Danville News. Danville, Pennsylvania. AP. July 18, 2017. p. B6. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  8. ^ "Coastal Carolina to Join Sun Belt Conference" (Press release). Sun Belt Conference. September 1, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  9. ^ Buckley, Tim (March 1, 2016). "Sun Belt drops football members Idaho, New Mexico State". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  10. ^ "Inaugural Sun Belt Football Championship to be played in 2018" (Press release). Sun Belt Conference. June 8, 2016. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  11. ^ "Sun Belt Concludes Spring Meeting as Upward Rise Well-Displayed" (Press release). Sun Belt Conference. May 23, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017.