Conference Championship Analysis- Week 11 Edition

For the ninth-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 games played on November 11, 2017.

ACC AtlanticClemson

ACC CoastalMiami-FL

Big Ten EastOhio State (This Buckeyes now have the outright lead in the Big 10 East as a result of their dominant win over Michigan State.   If the Bucks were to lose their season finale in Ann Arbor, then we could have a 4 way tie for the division crown between Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State.  In such an instance, Ohio State would still represent the East in the Big Ten Title Game.  It is going to take a monumental upset or two for OSU not to make it to another Big Ten Championship Game.  Also, with all the recent chaos, don’t count the Bucks out of the national title race just yet.)

Big Ten WestWisconsin

Big 12Oklahoma/TCU (So now that there is an official Big 12 title game, the battle for the # 2 spot is more important than actually winning the regular season championship.  Oklahoma’s dominant win over TCU on Saturday really puts them in the driver’s seat to become the league’s regular season champion.  In fact, unless the Jayhawks pull off the biggest upset in the history of humanity next Saturday in Lawrence and actually beat the Sooners, then Oklahoma will clinch the regular season Big 12 crown next weekend.  Meanwhile, TCU is still the favorite to earn the second berth to the Big 12 title game despite their loss to OU on Saturday.  The reason being is that they have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the other two 2-loss Big 12 teams, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, so as long as the Frogs take care of business against Texas Tech and Baylor then we’ll be seeing a Oklahoma-TCU rematch in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Pac-12 NorthStanford (This division title race was turned upside down thanks to the Cardinal’s impressive win over Washington.  Now, the Cardinal can clinch the Pac-12 North with a win against California at home next weekend and a Washington State loss to Washington in the Apple Cup.  I predict both of those things will happen, and we’ll see Stanford come out of nowhere to win the Pac-12 North title.)  

Pac-12 SouthSouthern California    

SEC EastGeorgia

SEC WestAlabama (For the first time since the “Kick Six” play in 2013, the Iron Bowl will serve as a de facto SEC West Championship game.)

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AAC EastUCF (As long as South Florida can get by Tulsa on November 16th, the end of season clash between the Bulls and UCF should still be a de facto division title game.  I’m giving the Knights the advantage in that one thanks to home field advantage and an overall more talented roster.  Keep in mind, UCF finished 0-12 just two short seasons ago.  Scott Frost has engineered one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college football and deserves to be the hottest major conference coaching candidate in the country.)

AAC WestMemphis (The Tigers are now in firm control ot the AAC West race, as all they need to do is beat either SMU or East Carolina to clinch the division crown.)  

C-USA EastFlorida Atlantic (Shockingly, the Owls of FAU just need to beat either FIU or lowly Charlotte in the upcoming weeks to clinch a surprise division championship.)

C-USA WestNorth Texas (The Mean Green are the Conference USA West Division champions!  Unbelievable!)

MAC EastOhio (Tuesday’s Akron/Ohio game should ultimately be a de facto division title game.  The Bobcats officially clinch with a victory; while the Zips will just need to beat lowly Kent State if they upset Ohio.)

MAC WestToledo (Ohio’s upset of the Rockets last night has made this division title race a lot more interesting.  Toledo still controls its own destiny but a loss either at Bowling Green or against the surging Broncos of Western Michigan will send Northern Illinois or Western Michigan to the MAC title game, if either of those squads can win out.  Central Michigan is also surprisingly back in the race but will need help to clinch the division.)

MWC MountainBoise State (The Broncos mounted a shocking comeback overtime win over Colorado State on Saturday, which puts them in prime position to win the division title.  All Boise needs to do is beat either Air Force or Fresno State, and they will head to the Mountain West Championship Game.)

MWC WestSan Diego State (The Fresno State Bulldogs are the only team in the division who controls their own destiny, as they just need to beat either Wyoming or Boise to clinch the Mountain West.  However, I suspect Fresno will be underdogs in both of those contests, so I am still sticking with my preseason prediction and picking the Aztecs of SDSU to play Boise in the conference championship game.)    

Sun BeltArkansas State/Appalachian State (The Sun Belt championship race has been blown wide open as a result of South Alabama’s upset over Arkansas State.  There is currently a virtual four-way tie for the conference lead between Troy, Georgia State, Appalachian State, and Arkansas State, all of whom all have only one conference loss.  There are two head-to-matchups between these four down the stretch, as App plays at Georgia State on November 25th and Troy visits Arkansas State the following Saturday.  After everything plays itself out, I believe Arkansas State and Appalachian State both win their remaining games and end up sharing the conference title since the two never played each other during the season.  Sadly, this league does not have a conference championship game until next season.)

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