Conference Championship Analysis- Week 12 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 12 games.

ACC AtlanticFlorida State

ACC CoastalDuke (Thanks to an impressive win over the Canes, Duke is now in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal.  Wins over UNC and Wake Forest clinch the division for the Blue Devils, but a loss to the Heels would likely create a wild 5-way for the division championship!)

American- UCF (The Golden Knights will most likely have to lose their last 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 (Sparty just either needs a win at Northwestern or a Wisconsin win over Minnesota next weekend to clinch the division.)

Big Ten LeadersOhio State (The Buckeyes clinch the Leaders next Saturday with either a home win against Indiana or a Wisconsin loss to Minnesota.)

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 NorthOregon (The Ducks are back in the Pac-12 North driver’s seat as a result of the Trojans upset win over Stanford.  Now, Oregon needs to beat Arizona and Oregon State to seal the deal.)

Pac-12 SouthArizona State (The Pac-12 South championship comes down to 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, the Sun Devils can clinch the division title with a win at UCLA on Saturday, and even if ASU falls short there, a Southern Cal victory over the Bruins the following weekend would likely give the Pac-12 South to ASU.)

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 but now look where we are!  A Missouri loss to either Ole Miss or Texas A & M sends the Gamecocks 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.  The Iron Bowl will be the de facto SEC West title game for the first time ever.)

C-USA EastEast Carolina (Barring a shocking upset of FIU over Marshall next Saturday, the day after Thanksgiving clash between ECU and Marshall will 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 (The Mean Green control their own destiny, but they do have two dangerous games left: vs. UTSA and at Tulsa.  A loss in either one of those contests will put Rice in first place.  Believe it or not, the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio also have a decent shot at getting to the C-USA Championship Game in their very first year in the league.)             

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.  No matter what happens this week, the day after Thanksgiving clash between Buffalo and Bowling Green will be a de facto MAC East title game.)   

MAC WestNorthern Illinois (The Huskies can clinch the division this Wednesday night with a road victory over Toledo.  If the Rockets can pull the mild upset, we will likely see a three-way tie between NIU, Ball State, and Toledo.)

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

MWC WestFresno 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 can clinch the conference crown with a home win against Monroe on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.)

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