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.) 

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