Conference Championship Analysis- Week 11 Edition

For the tenth-straight season, I will be publishing weekly columns late in the season which analyze all of  the FBS conference championship races. Like my bowl bubble watch, there is not really a column like this on any other mainstream college football site.  Bolded 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 10, 2018.

ACC AtlanticClemson (Not surprisingly, the Tigers have clinched the ACC Atlantic for a fourth consecutive season.)

ACC CoastalPittsburgh (By virtue of their dominant win over Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Panthers just need to either beat Wake or Miami to clinch the division.  However, even if the Panthers drop both games, they will still win the Coastal if Virginia loses to either Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.)

Big Ten EastOhio State (As long as the Buckeyes get by Maryland next Saturday, then Michigan and Ohio State will play for the Big Ten East on the final weekend of the season.  And until Michigan can prove it can beat the Buckeyes, then I’m picking Ohio State to win that game, especially at home.)

Big Ten WestNorthwestern (The Cinderella Cats have clinched the Big Ten West with their win over Iowa on Saturday.  Now, they have a chance to spoil either Ohio State or MIchigan’s college football playoff hopes in the Big Ten Title Game.)

Big 12West Virginia/Texas (Now that the Horns’ have beaten Texas Tech, I am going to pick them to win out and sneak into the Big 12 Title Game when West Virginia knocks off Oklahoma at home in the season finale.)

Pac-12 NorthWashington (As long as the Huskies knock off lowly Oregon State at home next week, this year’s Apple Cup will be a de facto division title game.  Because Washington has owned Wazzu in that contest over the past few seasons, I am going to predict that Washington wins out and claims a third consecutive Pac-12 North title.)

Pac-12 SouthUtah (Wow!  It seems like every weekend this division race takes a new surprising turn.  Last Saturday it seemed like the Utes had blown their chance to claim a division championship by losing not only their game to Arizona State but also their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury season.  Now, just a week later, Utah is back in the driver’s seat thanks to their thrilling victory over Oregon and USC’s upset loss to California. The Utes just need to beat Colorado next weekend and have Arizona State lose at either Oregon or Arizona in order to win their first-ever Pac-12 South Championship.)

SEC EastGeorgia (The Bulldogs became the first team in college football to clinch a berth in their league’s conference title game, thanks to their dominant victory over Kentucky last weekend.)     

SEC WestAlabama (The SEC Championship Game will be exactly what everyone expected and what everyone wanted to see after last year’s national title classic.  Alabama and Georgia will play each other in postseason play again in Atlanta. This one should end up being a CFP play-in game.)

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AAC EastUCF (The defending national champion Knights have once again bowled over everyone en route to a 9-0 start.  If UCF knocks off Cincy next Saturday, then they will once again clinch the AAC East.)

AAC WestSMU (The Cougars seemed to have this division on lock two weeks ago, but after back-to-back losses, they find themselves in a three-way tie for the division lead with SMU and Tulane.  The Mustangs have the advantage at this point thanks to their head-to-head wins over both Tulane and Houston. SMU was one of my preseason surprise picks, but even I only had them as 3rd in this division.  The Mustangs are one of the leading candidates for surprise team of the year in 2018, as Phil Steele predicted them to finish 6th in this 6th team division.)

C-USA EastFlorida International (Middle Tennessee is still in first place in this division holding a half game lead over FIU.  However, I predict FIU will win out and earn a shocking bid to the C-USA title game by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker over Middle Tennessee.)  

C-USA WestUAB (Thanks to their thrilling win over Southern Miss, the Blazers have clinched the C-USA West just two years removed from their program literally being destroyed.  Find me someone who predicted a UAB/FIU conference title game in their preseason predictions this season please!)

MAC EastBuffalo (The Bulls are just a win away from clinching the MAC East championship thanks to Miami of Ohio’s upset win over Ohio on Wednesday night.  Buffalo has to travel to Ohio this coming Wednesday, but even if they slip up there, they just need to beat lowly Bowling Green to clinch the division crown the following weekend.)

MAC WestNorthern Illinois (As a result of the Huskies’ big victory over Toledo on Wednesday night, NIU just needs to beat either Miami of Ohio or Western Michigan in their final two games to clinch the division crown.)

MWC MountainBoise State (Thanks to their huge win on Friday night over Fresno, the Broncos simply need to beat New Mexico next weekend to setup a massive de facto division championship game against Utah State on November 24th.)

MWC WestFresno State (This division race took a strange turn this weekend as both Fresno and San Diego State suffered upset losses.  As a result, the Wolfpack of Nevada climbed into the division race as they only sit a game behind Fresno in the conference standings.  I think the Bulldogs will knock off SDSU next weekend to clinch this division crown, but if they do somehow get knocked off at home, the season could end with a wild three-way tie between these teams.)

Sun Belt EastAppalachian State (Just as I predicted, Troy knocked off Georgia Southern on Saturday, to setup a de facto Sun Belt East Championship game, assuming App can knock off Georgia State next weekend.  I’m giving the Mountaineers a slight edge in that one since they will be hosting the Trojans, but if there is ever such a thing as a must watch Sun Belt conference football game, this will be it.)

Sun Belt WestArkansas State (Despite only being 3-3 in conference play, the Red Wolves are only a game back in their division title race.  I am predicting the Red Wolves to beat division frontrunner UL-Monroe next week and then end the season with a win over lowly Texas State. Meanwhile, I think UL-Lafayette will lose its season finale against Monroe to send Arkansas State to the first-ever Sun Belt Championship Game.)

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