Conference Championship Analysis- Week 14 Edition

For the eleventh-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 relevant games played on November 30, 2019.  All conference title games are now set, so check out all the matchups below.

ACC AtlanticClemson 

ACC Coastal Virginia 

Big 12Oklahoma/Baylor (The Bears will get their shot at revenge in the Big 12 Title Game against the Sooners, a team they blew a 28 point home lead against just last weekend.) 

Big Ten EastOhio State 

Big Ten WestWisconsin 

Pac-12 NorthOregon 

Pac-12 SouthUtah 

SEC EastGeorgia 

SEC WestLSU (A much anticipated LSU/Georgia SEC title game is now officially set!)    

————————————————————

AAC East Cincinnati 

AAC West Memphis 

C-USA EastFlorida Atlantic 

C-USA WestUAB 

MAC EastMiami-OH 

MAC West- Central Michigan 

MWC MountainBoise State (The Broncos are headed back to the Mountain West Title Game to possibly contend for a New Year’s Six berth!)

MWC West Hawaii 

Sun Belt EastAppalachian State

Sun Belt WestUL-Lafayette (The Ragin’ Cajun’/App State rematch is set for the Sun Belt Championship Game on the next Saturday!)  

Week 14 College Football Picks

These are in order from my most confident pick to least confident.  Lines are based on the current spreads from the Five Dimes sportsbook.

Wisconsin (-2.5) at Minnesota- 3:30
Appalachian State (-13.0) at Troy- (Fri) 6:00
Missouri (-12.0) at Arkansas- (Fri) 2:30
Ohio State (-9.0) at Michigan- 12:00
Western Michigan (-8.0) at Northern Illinois- (Tu) 7:00
South Florida (+24.0) at UCF- (Fri) 8:00
Alabama (-3.5) at Auburn- 3:30
Virginia Tech (-2.5) at Virginia- (Fri) 12:00
Army (+3.0) at Hawaii- 12:30 AM
Colorado (+28.5) at Utah- 7:30

Last Week’s Record: 7-3, Overall Season Record: 81-49

Week 14 College Football Upsets to Watch Out For

These are in order from least shocking to most shocking according to the current consensus lines on the Vegas Insider website.

Louisville (+3.0) at Kentucky- 12:00
Army (+3.5) at Hawaii- 12:00 AM
Syracuse (+4.5) vs. Wake Forest- 12:30
Kansas State (+5.0) vs. Iowa State- 7:00
Purdue (+7.0) vs. Indiana- 12:00
Georgia State (+7.5) at Georgia Southern- 6:00
NC State (+8.0) vs. North Carolina- 7:00
Southern Miss (+9.5) at Florida Atlantic- 3:30
Cincinnati (+11.0) at Memphis- (Fri) 3:30
Oklahoma State (+13.0) vs. Oklahoma- 8:00

Last week’s Upset Pick of the Week: Eastern Michigan (+5.0) over Northern Illinois

Conference Championship Analysis- Week 13 Edition

For the eleventh-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 23, 2019.

ACC AtlanticClemson 

ACC Coastal Virginia Tech (Next Friday’s Commonwealth Cup will be a defacto ACC Coastal Championship game, and even though the advantage on paper goes to UVA as all they are the slightly more talented team playing at home, Virginia has lost 15 straight to Virginia Tech and 19 of the last 20 meetings.  Because of that and because the Hokies seem to be peaking at the right time, I am picking the Virginia Tech to beat Virginia next weekend for a surprise ACC Coastal Championship and Orange Bowl berth in Bud Foster’s final season.)

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Virginia Tech at Virginia- (Friday) 12:00 on ABC

Big 12Oklahoma/Baylor (The Bears will get their shot at revenge in the Big 12 Title Game against the Sooners, a team they blew a 28 point home lead against just last weekend.) 

Big Ten EastOhio State (The Buckeyes clinch another division title thanks to their home win over Penn State.)

Big Ten WestWisconsin (ESPN College Gameday is finally going to Minneapolis for the Badger/Gopher division championship game next weekend.  And even though Minnesota is playing at home, I think the Wisconsin team is the more talented team and will gash the Gophers on the ground en route to a division title and a not so anticipated rematch against the Buckeyes.)  

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Wisconsin at Minnesota- (Saturday) 3:30 on ABC

Pac-12 NorthOregon 

Pac-12 SouthUtah (The Utes currently have a one game lead over Southern Cal as they head into their final two games of the Pac-12 slate. Utah just needs to beat Colorado at home to clinch a second straight trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game, and I think they will do that in convincing fashion.  Unfortunately, the Utes playoff hopes took a big hit tonight as Oregon dropped a road game against Arizona State, while will in turn devalue a potential conference title win over the Ducks in two weeks.) 

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Colorado at Utah- (Saturday) TBD

SEC EastGeorgia 

SEC WestLSU (A much anticipated LSU/Georgia SEC title game is now officially set!)    

————————————————————

AAC East Cincinnati (The Bearcats survived a massive scare from Temple tonight to clinch their first-ever American East division championship.  Now, Cincy needs to win back-to-back tough games against a tough Memphis squad and whoever emerges as the AAC West Championship in order to earn a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl.)

AAC West Memphis (The Midshipmen have applied the pressure to the Tigers by virtue of their win over SMU today.  Now, Navy just needs to knock off a struggling Houston squad and hope Cincinnati beats Memphis to clinch a division crown.   Next Friday’s blockbuster matchup Cincinnati will be a tight game for the Tigers, but because Memphis will be playing at home, I am going to call for them to win and earn a bid into the AAC conference championship game.  If that happens, Memphis and Cincinnati will play each other in consecutive weeks as the two face would then face off in the conference title game. Interestingly enough, if these two teams split those games, then the AAC may get left out of the New Year’s Six bowls in favor of a one-loss Group of Five champion like Boise State or Appalachian State.)

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Cincinnati at Memphis- (Friday) 3:30 on ABC; Navy at Houston- (Saturday) 7:00 on ESPN 2

C-USA EastFlorida Atlantic (The Thundering Herd of Marshall majorly stubbed their toe on Saturday by losing at Charlotte, and now FAU just needs to knock off Southern Miss at home next Saturday to clinch the C-USA East.  I expect the Golden Eagles to push the Owls to the limit, but in the end I am calling Florida Atlantic to pull out a victory and earn a berth in the Conference USA Championship Game. If Florida Atlantic loses, then we could have a three way tie between the Owls, Hilltoppers, and the Thundering Herd, and as long as Marshall bets FIU then they would claim the division crown.  If both Marshall and FAU somehow lose, then the berth into the conference title game would go back to Florida Atlantic.)

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Southern Miss at FAU- (Saturday) 3:30 on NFL Network
    •  FIU at Marshall (Saturday) 12:00 on CBS Sports Network

C-USA WestUAB (We officially have a three team logjam atop the C-USA West thanks to UAB’s win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.  The Ragin’ Cajuns, Blazers, and Golden Eagles all sit atop the division at 5-2 with one conference game remaining for each.  If all three win or lose next weekend, then Southern Miss will clinch the division thanks to a complicated tiebreaker sequence, but I am predicting the Golden Eagles to lose to FAU while LA Tech beats UTSA and UAB knocks off North Texas.  As a result, Louisiana Tech and UAB will be tied atop the division, and because the Blazers knocked off LA Tech this past weekend, then UAB will advance to the Conference USA Championship Game for the second consecutive season.)

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Southern Miss at FAU- (Saturday) 3:30 on NFL Network
    • UAB at North Texas- (Saturday) 4:00
    • UTSA at Louisiana Tech- (Saturday) 3:30 on ESPN+

MAC EastMiami-OH 

MAC WestWestern Michigan (The Broncos have firm control of this division race, as all they need to do is beat that a mediocre NIU squad on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to clinch the MAC West.  A loss there would send the Chippewas of Central Michigan to Detroit for the MAC title game, if Central Michigan can knock off a floundering Toledo squad next Friday. If both teams lose, then Western Michigan will clinch the division based on their head-to-head victory over CMU.)

  • Next week’s game(s) that will decide the division title
    • Western Michigan at Northern Illinois- (Tuesday) 7:00 on ESPNU
    • Toledo at Central Michigan- (Friday) 12:00 on ESPNU

MWC MountainBoise State (The Broncos are headed back to the Mountain West Title Game to possibly contend for a New Year’s Six berth!)

MWC West Hawaii (The Cinderella Rainbow Warriors won a thriller late Saturday night over Fresno  to clinch the division and earn a rematch against Boise State. The bad news is that this Hawaii squad lost to by 22 to Boise when the two played on October 13th of this year.)

Sun Belt EastAppalachian State (The Mountaineers took care of Texas State on Saturday to earn a second consecutive trip to the Sun Belt title game.)

Sun Belt WestUL-Lafayette (The Ragin’ Cajun’/App State rematch is set for the Sun Belt Championship Game on the first Saturday in December.) 

Bowl Bubble Watch- Week 13 Edition

The most comprehensive analysis of the college football bowl bubble is back!  For the eleventh-straight season, I will be publishing weekly late season 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 three years ago with Mississippi State and North Texas, sometimes a squad can fall short of bowl eligibility and still garner a bowl bid at 5-7 based on APR, if all spots are not filled.  All of the teams below are ordered in descending order of likelihood that they will become bowl eligible. As of now, there are 14 teams on the list with 6 predicted to attain bowl eligibility and 8 predicted to fall short.  As of now, I’m projecting there to be 79 bowl eligible teams for 2019 (see full stats at the bottom of this entry).  Keep in mind that there are a total of 78 bowl slots to be filled, so at this point, I am predicting there to be an even number of bowl eligible teams as there are bowl bids.  This list is updated through all games played on November 23rd.  

Good Side of the Bowl Bubble: Teams closing in on bowl bids (6):

Ohio- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: at Akron; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 83% (previous odds: 81%, 68%, 63%) 

Michigan State- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Maryland; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 79% (previous odds: 91%, 81%, 72%) 

TCU- Record: 5-6; Remaining vs. West Virginia; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 66% (previous odds: 54%, 52%, 69%) 

Liberty- Record: 6-5 (needs 7 wins); Remaining Schedule: vs. New Mexico State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 60% (previous odds: 64%, 61%, 61%) 

Mississippi State– Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Ole Miss; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 56% (previous odds: 56%, 56%, 54%)

North Carolina- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: at NC State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 55% (previous odds: 55%, 55%, 53%)

——————————————————————————————

Bad Side of the Bowl Bubble: Teams who will likely be home for the holidays (8):

Army- Record: 5-6 (need 7 wins); Remaining Schedule: at Hawaii, vs. Navy; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 45% (previous odds: 43%, 44%, 45%)

Kent State- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: at Eastern Michigan; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 44% (previous odds: 31%, 27%, 37%)

Nebraska- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Iowa; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 40% (previous odds: 39%, 39%, 38%)

Boston College- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: at Pitt; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 32% (previous odds: 58% 36%, 36%) 

UL-Monroe- Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Coastal Carolina, at UL-Lafayette; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 31% (previous odds: 29%, 47%, 34%) 

Troy– Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Appalachian State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 21% (previous odds: 18%, 24%, 28%) 

Colorado– Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: at Utah; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 18% (previous odds: 10%, 15%, 15%) 

Oregon State– Record: 5-6; Remaining Schedule: at Oregon; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 16% (previous odds: 34%, 22%, 35.5%) 

 

Already Bowl Eligible (72):  (1) Clemson, (2) Pittsburgh, (3) Virginia, (4) Wake Forest, (5) Cincinnati, (6) Memphis, (7) Navy, (8) SMU, (9) Tulane, (10) UCF, (11) Baylor, (12) Kansas State, (13) Oklahoma, (14) Oklahoma State, (15) Indiana, (16) Iowa, (17) Michigan, (18) Minnesota, (19) Ohio State, (20) Penn State, (21) Wisconsin, (22) Florida Atlantic, (23) Louisiana Tech, (24) Marshall, (25) UAB, (26) Central Michigan, (27) Air Force, (28) Boise State, (29) San Diego State, (30) Wyoming, (31) Oregon, (32) Utah, (33) Alabama, (34) Auburn, (35) Georgia, (36) Florida, (37) LSU, (38) Texas A & M, (39) Appalachian State, (40) Georgia State, (41) UL-Lafayette, (42) Notre Dame, (43) Toledo (previous odds: 83%), (44) Western Michigan (previous odds: 74%), (45) Temple (previous odds: 98%), (46) Washington (previous odds: 81.5%), (47) Western Kentucky (previous odds: 60%), (48) Virginia Tech (previous odds: 77%), (49) Southern Miss (previous odds: 78%), (50) Miami-FL (previous odds: 86%), (51) Texas (previous odds: 80%) (52) Southern Cal (previous odds: 65%), (53) Illinois (previous odds: 57%), (54) Nevada (previous odds: 59%), (55) Miami-OH (previous odds: 79%, 96%), (56) Florida State (previous odds: 48%, 98%), (57) BYU (previous odds: 99%, 99.5%), (58) Iowa State (previous odds: 84%, 83%), (59) Arkansas State (previous odds: 79.5%, 79.5%), (60) Hawaii (previous odds: 63%, 75%), (61) Utah State  (previous odds: 51%, 67%), (62) Georgia Southern (previous odds: 68%, 63%), (63) Louisville (previous odds: 76%, 72%), (64) Eastern Michigan (previous odds: 50.5%, 50.5%, 55%), (65) Buffalo (previous odds: 82%, 82%, 70%), (66) Kentucky (previous odds: 62%, 59%, 98%), (67) Tennessee (previous odds: 51.5%, 66%, 66%), (68) Arizona State (previous odds: 66%, 62%, 58%), (69) Charlotte (previous odds: 54.5%, 57%, 57%), (70) California (previous odds: 41%, 48%, 46%), (71) FIU (previous odds: 35%, 33%, 33%),(72) Washington State (previous odds: 67%, 51%, 64%) 

Already Ineligible for a Bowl Game (44):  (1) UConn, (2) East Carolina, (3) Tulsa, (4) Northwestern, (5) Rutgers, (6) Old Dominion, (7) Rice, (8) UTEP, (9) Akron, (10) New Mexico, (11) UNLV, (12) Arkansas, (13) Missouri, (14) South Alabama, (15) New Mexico State, (16) UMass, (17) Vanderbilt (previous odds: 2%), (18) Maryland (previous odds: 0.5%), (19) Georgia Tech (previous odds: 1%), (20) Bowling Green (previous odds: 3%, 3%), (21) Kansas (previous odds: 4%, 4%), (22) Middle Tennessee (previous odds: 45%, 45%), (23) Houston (previous odds: 9%, 9%), (24) South Carolina (previous odds: 32%, 6%), (25) Texas State (previous odds: 1.5%, 2%), (26) Ole Miss (previous odds: 16%, 18%), (27) Northern Illinois  (previous odds: 8%, 8%, 26%), (28) NC State (previous odds: 47%, 46%, 39%), (29) Colorado State (previous odds: 7%, 7%, 6%), (30) West Virginia (previous odds: 36%, 23%, 31%), (31) Ball State (previous odds: 37%, 35%, 34.5%), (32) North Texas (previous odds: 52%, 51.5%, 51.5%), (33) Duke (previous odds: 53%, 52%, 42%), (34) Coastal Carolina (previous odds: 42%, 38%, 35%), (35) Syracuse (previous odds: 20%, 20%, 33.5%), (36) San Jose State (previous odds: 33%, 30%, 30%), (37) Texas Tech (previous odds: 40%, 42%, 25%), (38) Stanford (previous odds: 52.5%, 43%, 20%), (39) Arizona (previous odds: 21%, 21%, 19%), (40) UTSA (previous odds: 5%, 19%, 18%), (41) Purdue  (previous odds: 6%, 16%, 16%), (42) South Florida (previous odds: 30%, 16%, 11%), (43) Fresno State (previous odds: 70%, 60%, 56%), (44) UCLA (previous odds: 35.5%, 35.5%, 32%)

Current Stats:

Already Bowl Eligible: 72

Predicted to be Bowl Eligible: 6 (78)

Already Ineligible for a Bowl Game: 44

Predicted not to become Bowl Eligible: 8 (52)

Week 13 College Football Picks

These are in order from my most confident pick to least confident.  Lines are based on the current spreads from the Five Dimes sportsbook.

Wyoming (-6.5) vs. Colorado State- (Fri) 9:30
Louisiana Tech (+4.5) at UAB- 3:30
Duke (+7.0) at Wake Forest- 7:30
Michigan State (-20.5) at Rutgers- 12:00
Kansas (+24.5) at Iowa State- 12:00
Marshall (-7.0) at Charlotte- 3:30
Tulane (+5.5) vs. UCF- 12:00
Colorado (+14.5) vs. Washington- 10:00
Arkansas (+44.0) at LSU- 7:00
Virginia Tech (-4.0) vs. Pitt- 3:30

Last Week’s Record: 7-3, Overall Season Record: 74-46

Week 13 College Football Upsets to Watch Out For

These are in order from least shocking to most shocking according to the current consensus lines on the Vegas Insider website.

Kent State (+3.5) vs. Ball State- 12:00
SMU (+4.0) at Navy- 3:30
Louisiana Tech (+4.5) at UAB- 3:30
Eastern Michigan (+5.0) at Northern Ill.- (Tu) 7:30
Texas (+5.5) at Baylor- 3:30
Tulane (+6.0) vs. UCF- 12:00
Duke (+7.0) at Wake Forest- 7:30
UTEP (+7.0) at New Mexico State- 4:00
West Virginia (+7.0) vs. Oklahoma State- 12:00
Indiana (+8.0) vs. Michigan- 3:30
Utah State (+8.0) vs. Boise State- 10:30

Last week’s Upset Pick of the Week: Kent State (+6.0) over Buffalo