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Championships and Chicken BLT Salad

We're getting ever closer to the inaugural College Football Playoffs y'all, but first we've got to crown some conference champions. The culmination of a season's worth of hard-fought inter-divisional play all comes down to this one weekend. The reigning college football champs aim to solidify their rightful spot in the playoff Final Four, Ohio State wants to sneak in the backdoor, and Gary Pinkel hopes he's prepared his Tigers to knock Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide juggernaut off their SEC high horse, Rocky-style.

YOU'RE A BUM, GARY! But seriously, good luck. Photo: United Artists/Courtesy of Getty Images(Rocky) Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images (Gary)

And that's not even the half of it. Pac-12 division winners Arizona and Oregon square off in a rematch this evening to determine West Coast supremacy, and Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats battle Briles's Baylor Bears for Big 12 bragging rights. That's just the cliff notes, as there's plenty of other action to be had outside those games. The long and short of it? Glue yourself to the TV Saturday, and enjoy the show. There are a lot of teams vying to be the champ, but there can be only one.

It's no crystal ball, but this tacky, non-functioning flower vase awaits this year's best team. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Chicken BLT Salad Champions deserve to eat like champions. Ergo, I'm breaking out one of my all-time favorite Cooking Light recipes. It's not exactly tailgate-friendly prep-wise, but it's definitely worth making if you plan on watching the games from home. The homemade dressing is creamy and dreamy, and the fried panko provides finger-licking fried taste minus the guilt. At under 400 calories per serving, it's going to be healthier than most game day fare you'd have otherwise. Prepare it this weekend while rooting for your favorite team and let us know how you enjoy it. Happy conference championship weekend everyone! Cheers.

1 cup fat-free buttermilk, divided

Chicken BLT Salad. Photo: Brian Woodcock

1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 6 wedges
2 cups chopped plum tomato
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (1/2 cup)
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine 1/2 cup buttermilk and egg white in a shallow dish. Place panko in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg white mixture; dredge in panko. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

3. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken. Cook 4 minutes; turn over. Bake at 425° for 14 minutes or until done. Let chicken stand 10 minutes; slice crosswise.

4. Combine 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, mayonnaise, dill, chives, and vinegar. Place garlic on a cutting board; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Chop until a paste forms, scraping with the flat side of knife to mash. Add garlic to dressing.

5. Place 1 lettuce wedge on each of 6 plates. Top each serving with chicken, 1/3 cup tomato, and 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and crumbled bacon.