Conference Championship Analysis- Week 10 Edition

For the seventh-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 10 games.

ACC AtlanticClemson (My surprise preseason playoff pick is turning out very well.)

ACC CoastalNorth Carolina (The Heels hold a de facto two game lead in the division with three very winnable games remaining.)

Big Ten East- Ohio State  (If Ohio State knocks off Michigan State at home in two weeks, then the Ohio State-Michigan game should become a de facto division championship game.)

Big Ten West– Iowa (The Hawkeyes essentially hold a two game lead in the division standings by virtue of their head to head win over second place challenger Wisconsin. Three games remain for Iowa and the Hawkeyes should be favored in all of them.)

Big 12- Oklahoma State (As we head down the stretch, we have a wide open four-team race for the conference crown featuring Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and TCU. As it stands now, Baylor and Oklahoma State currently have a one game lead over TCU and Oklahoma. I believe all four of these teams drop at least one more game down the stretch and as a result, OK State and Baylor will end up tied at 8-1 in the final Big 12 Standings. I’m predicting the Pokes to win the head to head matchup between the two teams and as a result be crowned the Big 12’s “one true champion”.)

Pac-12 NorthStanford (The Cardinal are in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 North as they have a two game lead over the rest of the division.   Stanford can clinch the North crown with a win next Saturday over perennial rival Oregon.) 

Pac-12 SouthUtah (The Pac-12 South race is usually one of the tightest and most exciting in college football each year and this season appears to be no exception.  The Utes survived the first of two tough road tests this Saturday in Seattle.  A Utah win over Arizona in Tucson next weekend could setup a division title game against UCLA on November 21st.)

SEC East- Florida (The Gators become the first team in the country to clinch a conference or division title this season by virtue of their narrow win over Vandy.)

SEC West- Alabama (Poor Ole Miss! Has a team ever absorbed two home losses in consecutive seasons as heartbreaking as last year’s defeat to Auburn and this year’s loss to Arkansas. Now the Tide control their own destiny in the SEC West.)

AAC East- Temple (The Owls can clinch the division crown with a win over South Florida next Saturday.)

AAC West- Houston (The Cougars host both the Tigers of Memphis and the Midshipmen of Navy which is why I give them the slight edge in what should be a tight battle for the AAC West title. Could anyone have predicted a potential Temple vs. Houston conference title game in the preseason?)

C-USA EastWestern Kentucky (The C-USA East crown should come down to the season’s final weekend as the Hilltoppers host co-leader Marshall on the day after Thanksgiving. I expect the more-battled tested Hilltoppers to win that game easily.)

C-USA WestLouisiana Tech (I picked Louisiana Tech to win the division crown in 2014 and that’s exactly what they did. In 2015, I predicted them to repeat and it looks like they may very well do exactly that. Their season finale against co-leader Southern Miss could serve as de facto conference title game.)

MAC EastBowling Green (The Falcons have cruised through MAC play so far this season and now have a de facto three game lead over the rest of the division. They can clinch the division crown with a win against Western Michigan on Wednesday.)

MAC WestNorthern Illinois This division race got really wild as a result of Northern Illinois’ road upset of Toledo. The Broncos currently find themselves in the driver’s seat but they have a brutal finishing stretch of games where they play Bowling Green, at NIU, and at Toledo. I’m going to call for them to lose two of those three games and for the Huskies of Northern Illinois to retain the MAC West title for the sixth consecutive season.)

MWC MountainBoise State (It was a bad week for my group of five preseason conference championship picks as Utah State and Toledo both suffered shocking upset losses. The Aggies loss puts Boise back in the driver’s seat and sets up a de facto division title game between Boise and Air Force, if both squads win next weekend.)

MWC WestSan Diego State (This division was the worst in all of college football last season, and while it hasn’t improved a lot in 2015, the Aggies of San Diego State have clearly emerged as the class of the MWC West in 2015. They currently have a two game lead over the rest of the division and clinch a spot in the conference championship game with wins over lowly Wyoming and UNLV in the next couple of weeks.)

Sun BeltArkansas State (It took me all season to finally get on the App State bandwagon and was off that bandwagon before the weekend even began. As a result of their upset loss to the Red Wolves, Arkansas State stands alone in first place in the Sun Belt with three very winnable games left against lowly UL-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Texas State.)

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