Conference Championship Analysis- Week 11 Edition

For the fifth-straight year, I will be publishing weekly November columns analyzing the conference championship races.  Like my bowl bubble watch, there is not really a column like this on any other mainstream college football site.  Bold teams have already clinched their division or conference.  Italicized teams are my predicted champions of their respective conferences/divisions at this point in time.  This list is updated through all week 11 games.

ACC AtlanticFlorida State (The Noles woodshed victory over my beloved Demon Deacons clinched FSU’s second consecutive division title.)

ACC CoastalVirginia Tech (With the current four-way tie atop the standings and two other teams just a game back, we have a wide open race for the ACC Coastal crown.  The Hokies have the easiest remaining schedule, but the Dookies control their own destiny assuming Georgia Tech loses at Clemson on Thursday.)

American- UCF (Thanks to their nail-biting win last night against Houston, the Golden Knights will most likely have to lose two of their remaining games to not clinch the AAC.  The team with the best chance of challenging the Knights is probably Cincinnati, who sits in a tie for second and does not play UCF this season.) 

Big Ten Legends- Michigan State (This week’s matchup between the Spartans and Huskers will go a long way in determining who wins the Big 10 Legends.  The game is in Lincoln, but Michigan State is the better team with the better clinching scenarios.  A Sparty win all but clinches them the title, whereas Nebraska would still need to win at Penn State and against Iowa if they beat MSU.  Believe it or not, Minnesota is still in contention, but they will need some help.)

Big Ten LeadersOhio State (The Buckeyes would have to lose twice for Wisconsin to get back in the picture and given OSU’s remaining slate, I don’t see that happening.)

Big 12- Baylor (The Bears are the front runners, but Texas and Oklahoma State are both in contention and have upcoming matchups against Baylor.)

Pac-12 NorthStanford (Even though the Cardinal picked up a huge win over Oregon on Thursday, they must beat USC and Cal in order to clinch the division crown.  A loss in either of those games opens the door backup for the Ducks.)

Pac-12 SouthArizona State  (Currently, the three most wide open BCS division races are the ACC Coastal, Pac-12 South, and SEC East.  The Pac-12 South features a three-team battle between Arizona State, UCLA, and USC.  The Bruins have won this division every year it has existed, and once again they control their own destiny.  However, I am predicting all three contenders to lose one more Pac-12 game, which would give the Sun Devils the division crown.)

SEC East- South Carolina (After the Gamecocks’ heartbreaking loss at Tennessee, I told everyone I talked to that South Carolina still had a great chance of winning the SEC East.  No one believed me at the time and many still don’t believe me now, but even though the Gamecocks are a game back of Missouri and lost the head-to-head tiebreaker, they have by far the easiest remaining schedule.  South Carolina should beat Florida at home.  Georgia should lose at Auburn.  And Missouri should lose to either Texas A & M or at Mississippi.  If those three things happen, then Gamecocks are off to Atlanta.)

SEC West- Alabama (If you said at the beginning of the season that Alabama would beat LSU and Texas A & M and still be in jeopardy of losing the SEC West, people would think you were crazy.  Well that’s exactly what has happened thanks to the meteoric rise of Auburn.  If the Tigers can win at home against Georgia next Saturday, then the Iron Bowl will become a de facto SEC West title game.  On the other hand, an Auburn loss and Bama victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, will give the Tide their second straight division championship.)

C-USA EastEast Carolina (Barring a huge upset, the day after Thanksgiving clash between ECU and Marshall should be a de facto C-USA East title game.  In the preseason, I predicted the Pirates to edge out the Herd in this division, so I might as well stick with that pick.)

C-USA WestNorth Texas (No one expected this division race to play out as it has, but thanks to Tulsa’s shocking collapse and the Cinderella runs by North Texas and UTSA, the Mean Green’s matchup against the Roadrunners two weeks from now will basically decide the division.  Rice is also still in the hunt but they will need some help as a result of their Halloween loss to UNT.)       

MAC EastBuffalo (Last year, this division possessed one of the most compelling Cinderella stories in all of college football thanks to Kent State’s surprise MAC East championship.  Now they are at it again, as the Bulls of Buffalo have come out of nowhere to take the lead in this division.  Barring a strange turn of events, the day after Thanksgiving clash between Buffalo and Bowling Green should be a de facto MAC East title game.)

MAC WestNorthern Illinois (This Wednesday’s matchup between the Huskies and Ball State will go a long way in determining this division’s champion.  Toledo is still in the mix but will need to beat the Huskies at home the following Wednesday night.)     

MWC Mountain- Utah State (Boise State controls its own destiny, but I am predicting the Broncos to lose a tough road game to San Diego State on November 23rd which would give the Aggies the opportunity clinch the division crown with home wins over Colorado State and Wyoming.)

MWC West- Fresno State (The Bulldogs just need to win one of their remaining two games, against either New Mexico or San Jose State, to clinch the division title.)

Sun BeltUL-Lafayette (The Ragin’ Cajuns need to just win two out of final three games to clinch the conference title, and a pair of those matchups are against the league’s bottom feeders, South Alabama and Georgia State.)

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