Conference Championship Analysis- Week 10 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 4, 2017.

ACC AtlanticClemson (By virtue of the Tigers controversial win over the Pack on Saturday, all Clemson needs to do is beat lowly Florida State at home next weekend to clinch the ACC Atlantic.)

ACC CoastalMiami-FL (The Canes are the ACC Coastal Champs thanks to their big victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday night.)

Big Ten EastOhio State (This division race just got a whole more interesting thanks to Saturday’s upsets of the Buckeye and Nittany Lions.  Now, both Michigan and Michigan State, find themselves back in the race with a legitimate chance of representing the Eastern Division in the title game.  The winner of next week’s matchup between OSU and Michigan State will be the division front runner, and I have to give the Buckeyes the edge there, especially at home.  Nevertheless, even if Ohio State wins next Saturday, if they were to lose their season finale in Ann Arbor, then we could have a wacky 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 10 Title Game.)

Big Ten WestWisconsin (As predicted, Wisconsin has become the first team in the country to clinch their division’s championship thanks to their win over Indiana on Saturday.)

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 thrilling win over the Pokes on Saturday really puts them in the driver’s seat for the league’s regular season champion.  I think they beat TCU next Saturday in Norman but then will have to beat the Frogs again in the conference championship game at Jerry’s World.  Iowa State actually has the head-to-head tiebreaker over both squads but I feel like they will lose one of their last three contests, vs. Oklahoma State, at Baylor, and at Kansas State which will likely setup a rematch of next weekend’s Oklahoma/TCU game.)

Pac-12 NorthWashington (The Huskies have a huge game next Friday night at Stanford, but given the injury concerns of Bryce Love, I think Washington finds a way to win that one to take a stronghold on the division race.  They may need to also beat Wazzu in the Apple Cup to clinch the Pac-12 North, but that shouldn’t be too tall of a task based on the way the Cougars have played on the road recently.)  

Pac-12 SouthSouthern California (By virture of USC’s dominant win Saturday night over Arizona, the Trojans just need to beat either Colorado or UCLA to clinch their first division championship in the Clay Helton era.)    

SEC EastGeorgia (The Dawgs join Wisconsin and Miami as the only major conference teams to clinch division championships at this point in the season.)

SEC WestAlabama (The Tide are in firm control of the SEC West thanks to their win over LSU last night, but if Auburn can somehow knock off the top two teams in the country in their final two conference games, Alabama and Georgia, then they will emerge as the outright SEC West champions.  Bama can clinch the division next weekend, however, with a win over Mississippi State and a Georgia win over the Tigers.)

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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 (Before the season, no one pegged Memphis’ November 18th matchup against SMU as a potential division championship game, but that is what it may very well end up being.  First, however, SMU will need to beat Navy next Saturday.  If they don’t, Memphis will clinch the division crown with a win over either the Mustangs or lowly Pirates of ECU.  

C-USA EastFlorida Atlantic (When Butch Jones and Lane Kiffin respectively took over FIU and FAU this past offseason, a lot of people, including me, laughed at how far these former coaching titans had fallen.  With that being said, both have done an incredible job in their first year at their new programs.  The two coaches will face off in two weeks in what could be a de facto division championship game between the two squads currently sitting atop the C-USA East  standings.)

C-USA WestNorth Texas (I finally have to back off my preseason prediction that LA Tech claims the Conference USA West now that they’ve lost at home to their main challenger North Texas.  Now, it is the Mean Green’s title to lose as all they need to do is beat either lowly Rice or UTEP to claim a shocking C-USA West title.  A North Texas/Florida Atlantic C-USA title  game would certainly been one of the most shocking conference championship games ever to be played, as both squads were predicted to finish near the bottom of their respective divisions.)

MAC EastOhio (In what was supposed to be a two-team race between Ohio and Miami-OH, the Zips of Akron have surged to a surprising lead in this division.  Akron plays both of those teams in the upcoming weeks, so we’ll see what they are truly made of in November.  Ohio actually has the tougher remaining schedule and has to play the Zips on the road, but I still think they win the MAC East by first falling to Toledo but then beating Akron six days later.)

MAC WestToledo (The Rockets now have firm control of this division thanks to their win over the Huskies of Northern Illinois on Thursday night.  They just need to win two of their final 3 contests, at Ohio, at Bowling Green, and vs. Western Michigan, to clinch the division.)

MWC MountainBoise State (In the preseason, this division race looked to be as wide open as ever, and through nine weeks, that assessment hasn’t changed.  The Broncos were my reluctant preseason MWC Mountain Champion pick, and I’m going to stick with them despite their difficult remaining schedule.  I think they will lose either at Colorado State or Fresno, but they can still afford one conference loss thanks to their head-to-head victory over Wyoming back on October 21st.)

MWC WestSan Diego State (This was supposed to be San Diego State’s division to dominate this season, and it sure looked that way through the month of September.  However, the Bulldogs of Fresno State, have come out of nowhere to seize the MAC West lead and emerge as the early front runner for surprise team of college football in 2017.  UAB, Arizona, Florida Atlantic, Iowa State, and North Texas are also in the running for that crown, but none of those teams posted the putrid 1-11 mark that the Bulldogs did last season.  Nevertheless, Fresno has a brutal schedule down the stretch (at Hawaii, at Wyoming, and Boise), and even though they possess the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Aztecs, I think Fresno loses two of those contests to allow San Diego State to eek out a division title.)    

Sun BeltArkansas State (My buddy told me all year that Appalachian State was immensely overrated and that was proven true on Saturday, when the Mountaineers fell to lowly UL-Monroe.  Now, the conference championship is the Red Wolves’ to lose, and given the way they have dominated their conference competition so far, they may just win out despite a difficult season finale against Troy.)

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Bowl Bubble Watch- Week 10 Edition

The most comprehensive analysis of the college football bowl bubble is back!  For the ninth-straight year, I will be publishing weekly November columns analyzing which teams will get bowl bids and which will not.  Below, I have written a report for every team that has yet to be declared either bowl eligible or ineligible.  Each week this list will be updated and new odds will be provided for each team.  Please note that these odds only represent the chances that a particular team will get enough wins to be eligible to receive a bowl bid.  They do not represent the odds a team has for actually receiving a bid.  This discrepancy likely won’t affect the bowl chances for most teams, but as we saw last year with Mississippi State and North Texas, sometimes a squad can fall short of bowl eligibility and still garner a bowl bid at 5-7 if all spots aren’t filled based on their APR.  The teams are ordered in descending order of likelihood that they will become bowl eligible.  As of now, there are 59 teams on the list with 26 predicted to attain bowl eligibility and 33 predicted to fall short.  As of now, I’m projecting there to be 76 bowl eligible teams for 2017 (see full stats at the bottom of this entry).  Keep in mind that there are a total of 78 bowl slots to be filled.  This list is updated through all games played on November 4th.  

Good Side of the Bowl Bubble: Teams closing in on bowl bids (26):

Arkansas State- Record: 5-2; Remaining Schedule: at South Alabama, vs. Texas State, at UL-Monroe, vs. Troy; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 99.9% (previous odds: 99.9%)

Southern Miss- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: at Rice, vs. Charlotte, at Marshall; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 97% (previous odds: 97.5%)

Texas A & M- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. New Mexico, at Ole Miss, at LSU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 96% (previous odds: 98%)

Appalachian State- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Georgia Southern, at Georgia State, vs. UL-Lafayette; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 95% (previous odds: 99.5%)

Akron- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: at Miami-OH, vs. Ohio, vs. Kent State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 94% (previous odds: 94%)

Western Michigan- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Kent State, at Northern Illinois, at Toledo; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 91% (previous odds: 98.5%)

Georgia State- Record: 5-3 (only plays 11 games); Remaining Schedule: at Texas State, vs. Appalachian State, vs. Idaho; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 78% (previous odds: 64%)

Boston College- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. NC State, vs. UConn, at Syracuse; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 76% (previous odds: 76%)

Central Michigan- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Eastern Michigan, at Kent State, vs. Northern Illinois; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 75% (previous odds: 49.5%)

Oregon- Record: 5-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Arizona, vs. Oregon State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 74% (previous odds: 77%)

Louisville- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Virginia, vs. Syracuse, at Kentucky; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 73%  (previous odds: 73%)

Arizona State- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: at UCLA, at Oregon State, vs. Arizona; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 71% (previous odds: 61%)

Navy- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. SMU, at Notre Dame, at Houston, vs. Army; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 70% (previous odds: 78%)

Western Kentucky- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: at Marshall, vs. Middle Tennessee, at FIU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 67% (previous odds: 74%)

Texas- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Kansas, at West Virginia, vs. Texas Tech; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 66% (previous odds: 69%)

Middle Tennessee- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Charlotte, at Western Kentucky, vs. Old Dominion; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 65% (previous odds: 57%)

Wake Forest- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: at Syracuse, vs. NC State, vs. Duke; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 64% (previous odds: 66%)

Utah- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Washington State, at Washington, vs. Colorado; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 63% (previous odds: 55%)

Utah State- Record: 5-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Hawaii, at Air Force; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 62% (previous odds: 45%)

New Mexico State- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at UL-Lafayette, vs. Idaho, vs. South Alabama; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 60% (previous odds: 55.5%)

UNLV- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. BYU, at New Mexico, at Nevada; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 59% (previous odds: 51%)

Louisiana Tech- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Florida Atlantic, at UTEP, vs. UTSA; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 55% (previous odds: 62%)

Missouri- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, at Arkansas; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 53% (previous odds: 41%)

UTSA- Record: 5-3 (only plays 11 games); Remaining Schedule: vs. UAB, vs. Marshall, at Louisiana Tech; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 52% (previous odds: 60%)

UCLA- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Arizona State, at Southern California, vs. California; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 51% (previous odds: 56%)

Kansas State- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, vs. Iowa State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 50.5% (previous odds: 48%)

Bad Side of the Bowl Bubble: Teams who will likely be home for the holidays (33):

Syracuse- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Wake Forest, at Louisville, vs. Boston College; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 49% (previous odds: 52%)

Air Force- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Wyoming, at Boise State, vs. Utah State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 48% (previous odds: 63%)

Tennessee- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Missouri, vs. LSU, vs. Vanderbilt; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 47.5% (previous odds: 47%)

UL-Lafayette- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Ole Miss, vs. New Mexico State, vs. Georgia Southern, at Appalachian State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 47% (previous odds: 29%)

California- Record: 5-5; Remaining Schedule: at Stanford, at UCLA; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 44% (previous odds: 43%)

Georgia Tech- Record: 4-4 (only plays 11 games); Remaining Schedule: vs. Virginia Tech, at Duke, vs. Georgia; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 43% (previous odds: 67%)

Duke- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Army, vs. Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 42% (previous odds: 42%)

Temple- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Cincinnati, vs. UCF, at Tulsa; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 41.5% (previous odds: 28%)

Vanderbilt- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Kentucky, vs. Missouri, at Tennessee; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 41% (previous odds: 39%)

Texas Tech- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Baylor, vs. TCU, at Texas; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 40% (previous odds: 54%)

Colorado- Record: 5-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Southern California, at Utah; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 39.5% (previous odds: 46%)

Nebraska- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Minnesota, at Penn State, vs. Iowa; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 39% (previous odds: 53%)

Florida- Record: 3-5 (only plays 11 games); Remaining Schedule: at South Carolina, vs. UAB, vs. Florida State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 38% (previous odds: 50.5%)

Indiana- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at Illinois, vs. Rutgers, at Purdue; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 37% (previous odds: 38%)

Eastern Michigan- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at Central Michigan, at Miami-OH, vs. Bowling Green; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 36% (previous odds: 32%)

Cincinnati- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Temple, at East Carolina, vs. UConn; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 35.5% (previous odds: 19%)

Purdue- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Northwestern, at Iowa, vs. Indiana; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 35% (previous odds: 30%)

Minnesota- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Nebraska, at Northwestern, vs. Wisconsin; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 34.5% (previous odds: 40%)

Pittsburgh- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, vs. Miami-FL; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 34% (previous odds: 34%)

Arkansas- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at LSU, vs. Mississippi State, vs. Missouri; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 33.5% (previous odds: 33%)

Miami-OH- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Akron, vs. Eastern Michigan, at Ball State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 33% (previous odds: 35%)

Idaho- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Coastal Carolina, at New Mexico State, at Georgia State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 32% (previous odds: 37%)

Tulane- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at East Carolina, vs. Houston, at SMU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 25% (previous odds: 44%)

Old Dominion- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at FIU, vs. Rice, at Middle Tennessee; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 22% (previous odds: 18%)

South Alabama- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Arkansas State, at Georgia Southern, at New Mexico State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 18% (previous odds: 36%)

Buffalo- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Bowling Green, at Ball State, vs. Ohio; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 15%  (previous odds: 15%)

Hawaii- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Fresno State, at Utah State, vs. BYU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 10% (previous odds: 12%)

Rutgers- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Penn State, at Indiana, vs. Michigan State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 8% (previous odds: 5%)

Florida State- Record: 3-5 (only plays 11 games); Remaining Schedule: at Clemson, vs. Delaware State, at Florida; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 4% (previous odds: 2%)

UConn- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at UCF, vs. Boston College, at Cincinnati; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 1% (previous odds: 4%)

Maryland- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Michigan, at Michigan State, vs. Penn State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.7% (previous odds: 3%)

New Mexico- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. at Texas A & M, vs. UNLV, at San Diego State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.5% (previous odds: 6%)

UL-Monroe- Record: 4-5 (only plays 11 games); Remaining Schedule: at Auburn, vs. Arkansas State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.4% (previous odds: 0.3%)

Already Bowl Eligible (50):  UCF, South Florida, Memphis, SMU, Clemson, NC State, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Marshall, Notre Dame, Army, Ohio, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State, Southern California, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Troy, Florida Atlantic (previous odds: 96%), Houston (previous odds: 99%), North Texas (previous odds: 97%), UAB (previous odds: 95%), Northwestern (previous odds: 91%), West Virginia (previous odds: 68%), Iowa (previous odds: 65%), FIU (previous odds: 88%), Virginia (previous odds: 49%), Wyoming (previous odds: 93%), Fresno State (previous odds: 92%)

Already Ineligible for a Bowl Game (21):  Tulsa, North Carolina, Kansas, Baylor, Charlotte, Rice, UTEP, Brigham Young, Bowling Green, Nevada, San Jose State, Oregon State, Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, Kent State (previous odds: 1%), Ball State (previous odds: 1.5%), UMass (previous odds: 0.6%), East Carolina (previous odds: 0.2%), Illinois (previous odds: 0.1%), Texas State (previous odds: 0.1%)

Current Stats:

Already Bowl Eligible: 50

Predicted to be Bowl Eligible: 26 (76)

Already Ineligible for a Bowl Game: 21

Predicted not to become Bowl Eligible: 33 (54)

 

Week 10 College Football Picks

These are in order from my most confident pick to least confident.  Lines are based on the current consensus spreads according to vegasinsider.com.

Arizona State (-4.5) vs. Colorado- 9:00
Iowa (+18.0) vs. Ohio State- 12:00
Tennessee (-7.0) vs. Southern MIss- 7:30
SMU (+14.5) vs. UCF- 3:30
Notre Dame (-13.5) vs. Wake Forest- 3:30
Florida (+3.5) at Missouri- 12:00
California (-7.5) vs. Oregon State- 5:00
Houston (-24.5) vs. East Carolina- 12:00
Georgia State (-4.0) at Georgia Southern- 3:00
Marshall (+7.5) at FAU- Fri 6:00

Last Week’s Record: 3-7, Overall Season Record: 42-48

Week 10 College Football Upsets to Watch Out For

These are in order from least shocking to most shocking according to the current consensus lines on vegasinsider.com:

Oklahoma (+3.0) at Oklahoma State- 4:00
Florida (+3.5) at Missouri- 12:00
Army (+6.5) at Air Force- 3:30
Arizona (+7.0) at USC- 10:45
NC State (+7.5) vs. Clemson- 12:00
Marshall (+8.0) at FAU- Fri 6:00
SMU (+14.5) vs. UCF- 3:30
Iowa (+17.5) vs. Ohio State- 12:00

Last week’s Upset Pick of the Week: Texas State (+8.0) over Coastal Carolina