Conference Championship Analysis- Week 10 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 3, 2018.

ACC AtlanticClemson (The Tigers will play what could be a de facto ACC Atlantic Championship game next weekend in Chestnut Hill.  Clemson will clinch the division with a victory; while BC will still need to knock off Florida State and Syracuse if they somehow upset the Tigers.)

ACC CoastalVirginia Tech  (While the ACC Atlantic has turned into one of the most predictable division races in the country, the Coastal has become the most unpredictable.  Somehow, the lowly Pitt Panthers have come out of nowhere to take the lead in the division standings. Pittsburgh hosts Virginia Tech next weekend in a matchup to determine the division frontrunner, and despite their recent struggles, I am still going to predict the Hokies to win that one and then win out from there to claim the Coastal crown.)

Big Ten EastOhio State (Even though everyone is hating on the Buckeyes right now and rightfully so, Ohio State still controls its own destiny in the division title race and has a very manageable late season schedule.  I think the Bucks will get by Michigan State next week thanks to their superior athleticism, and then take care of Michigan at home in the season finale to clinch another Big Ten East championship.)

Big Ten WestNorthwestern (Seemingly out of nowhere, Northwestern has emerged to take the lead in this division title race.  With that being said, the Wildcats still have to make the tough trip to Iowa City next week to take on the Hawkeyes.  If they win that one, they will all but clinch their first-ever Big Ten division title. Even with a loss though, the Wildcats will be able to still clinch the West with wins over lowly division bottom-dwellers Minnesota or Illinois, thanks to their head-to-head to head tiebreaker over both Purdue and Wisconsin.   Can you believe a team that lost non-conference home games to both Duke and Akron could be playing for the Big Ten Championship?)

Big 12Oklahoma/West Virginia (Thanks to the Mountaineers wild victory over Texas on Saturday, West Virginia has put itself in great position to play in the Big 12 Championship Game in four weeks.  Iowa State and Texas are still in contention as well, but I am going to predict the Mountaineers to win out, and for the Cyclones and Horns to each lose a game down the stretch.  Interestingly, this would setup a situation where West Virginia and Oklahoma would play each other in consecutive weeks, as the two are already set to meet in the regular season finale in Morgantown on the Friday after Thanksgiving.)

Pac-12 NorthWashington (As long as the Huskies knock off lowly Oregon State at home in two weeks, 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 to claim a third consecutive Pac-12 North title.)

Pac-12 SouthSouthern California (Wow!  Talk about a wild division race… there are currently four teams in this division tied for first and the other two squads are just a game back!  My preseason pick for Arizona to win the Pac-12 South looked early on like it could be one of my worst all-time. Now, the Wildcats are right in the thick of this division race!.  However, Arizona still has to travel to Wazzu so I can’t pick them to take the division crown at this point. Instead, I am going with USC who has the easiest remaining schedule of the group.  How big would that be for playoff purposes if Wazzu could avenge its only loss and beat the Trojans in the Pac-12 Title Game!)

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

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 everyone en route to a 8-0 start.  They, however, have a tough remaining schedule featuring games against two of the other division title contenders: Temple, and Cincinnati, as well as a matchup against the always tricky Midshipmen of Navy.  Fortunately, the Knights get all but one of those contests at home, so I am going to predict for UCF to win out and once again play in the American Athletic championship game.)

AAC WestHouston (I said in last week’s column that Houston’s two game cushion may prove important if they are to stumble, and what do you know, the Cougars get upset by the upstart Mustangs of SMU.  With that being said, Houston is still a game in front of the field, and even though I could see them stumbling to either Temple or Memphis down the stretch, I think SMU also loses to Memphis, which would enable the Cougars to still clinch the division crown.)

C-USA EastFlorida International (This division race was turned upside down on Saturday as the top teams in the division, Marshall and Florida International, were both upset by division rivals.  As a result, Middle Tennessee is back in the driver’s seat holding a half game lead over FIU. However, I predict FIU will rebound from their blowout loss to FAU today to win out and earn a shocking bid to the C-USA title game by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker over Middle Tennessee.  Find me someone who predicted a UAB/FIU conference title game in their preseason predictions please!)

C-USA WestUAB (The Blazers surprised the country last season with their literal rise from the ashes, as they contended for a division title and played in a bowl game in their first year back as a football program.  Now, they look to be taking things one step further as they shockingly sit atop the C-USA West standings at 6-0 in conference play and 8-1 overall. Interestingly, their only defeat came against lowly Coastal Carolina in blowout fashion.  The Blazers have already beaten their two closest challengers: Louisiana Tech and North Texas, so even if UAB were to stumble in their tricky season finale against Middle Tennessee they would still clinch the division by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreakers.  Thus, all the Blazers need to do is beat Southern Miss at home next weekend to clinch a most shocking berth into the Conference USA Championship game.)

MAC EastBuffalo (It appears that it is going to be a battle between the Bobcats of Ohio and the Bulls of Buffalo for the MAC East championship this fall.  The two play on November 14th in what could be a de facto MAC Championship Game; however, if Ohio stumbles to Miami of Ohio next week, then the Bulls could lose to Bobcats and still clinch the division with wins over lowly Kent State and Bowling Green.)

MAC WestNorthern Illinois (Thanks to Ohio’s blowout upset of Western Michigan on Thursday night, the Huskies now have a  two game lead on the field in this division. Their three remaining regular season games are all tough so they still have work to do, but NIU is firmly in the driver’s seat for the MAC West crown.)

MWC MountainBoise State (If the Broncos can get by Fresno next week, then they will get to host division leader Utah State in a de facto division title game in their regular season finale.  Both games will be extremely difficult for Boise to win, but because both are being played at home on the Smurf Turf, I’m going to stick with my preseason prediction and call for the Broncos to win out and repeat as division champs.)

MWC WestFresno State (Just like last season, Fresno and San Diego State are the two teams battling it out for the MWC West Division Championship.  Currently, the Bulldogs definitely look to be the more complete football team of the two, so I am calling for them to knock off the Aztecs at home on November 17th and repeat as division champs.)

Sun Belt EastAppalachian State (It is the first year of division play in the Sun Belt, and we have a pair of interesting division races in this league despite each division only having five teams in it.  For the second straight week, a major upset has shaken up the Sun Belt East standings, as UL-Monroe beat down Georgia Southern in a classic letdown spot on Saturday. As a result, Troy stands alone atop the division with a perfect 5-0 conference mark.  However, the Trojans have to play both Appalachian State and Georgia Southern on the road in November. I am predicting Troy wins in Statesboro next Saturday, but then loses to App State in the de facto division championship game.)

Sun Belt WestArkansas State (Despite only being 2-3 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 in two weeks and then win out. 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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Week 10 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 online sportsbook.

Ole Miss (Pick) vs. South Carolina- 12:00
Georgia (-9.5) at Kentucky- 3:30
Arizona (-4.0) vs. Colorado- 10:30
Kent State (+1.0) at Bowling Green- Tues 8:00
Middle Tennessee (-13.5) vs. Western Kentucky- (Fri) 8:00
San Jose State (+14.0) at Wyoming- 2:00
Louisiana Tech (+22.5) at Mississippi State- 7:30
South Alabama (+16.0) at Arkansas State- 3:00
Clemson (-38.5) vs. Louisville- 12:00
Texas (-1.5) vs. West Virginia- 3:30

Last Week’s Record: 5-5, Overall Season Record: 43-47

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:

Texas A & M (+5.0) at Auburn- 12:00
Texas State (+6.5) at Georgia State- 2:00
Arizona State (+7.0) vs. Utah- 4:00
UL-Monroe (+7.5) vs. Georgia Southern- 3:00
Northwestern (+8.0) vs. Notre Dame- 7:15
Baylor (+8.0) vs. Oklahoma State- 12:00
Penn State (+10.0) at Michigan- 3:45
California (+10.5) at Washington State- 10:45
Navy (+13.5) at Cincinnati- 3:30
San Jose State (+13.5) at Wyoming- 2:00

Last week’s Upset Pick of the Week: Charlotte (+7.5) over Southern Miss

Bowl Bubble Watch- Inaugural 2018 Edition

The most comprehensive analysis of the college football bowl bubble is back!  For the tenth-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 two 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 aren’t filled.  One other thing to consider for this season’s projections is that several teams had games cancelled due to adverse weather early in the season. Some of these teams have rescheduled other games already (see NC State, East Carolina), which are of course included in this analysis, but for the teams that haven’t (see South Carolina, Virginia Tech), this analysis only includes their odds of making a bowl based on their 11 currently scheduled games.  All of the teams below are ordered in descending order of likelihood that they will become bowl eligible. As of now, there are 77 teams on the list with 38 predicted to attain bowl eligibility and 39 predicted to fall short.  As of now, I’m projecting there to be 75 bowl eligible teams for 2018 (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 three 5-7 teams to make bowls based on their APR scores.  This list is updated through all games played on October 27th.

Good Side of the Bowl Bubble: Teams closing in on bowl bids (38):

Wisconsin- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Rutgers, at Penn State, at Purdue, vs. Minnesota; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 99.5%

NC State- Record: 5-2; Remaining Schedule: vs. Florida State, vs. Wake Forest, at Louisville, at North Carolina, vs. East Carolina; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 99%

Middle Tennessee- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Western Kentucky, at UTEP, at Kentucky, vs. UAB; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 98.5%

Michigan State- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Maryland, vs. Ohio State, at Nebraska, vs. Rutgers; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 98%

Marshall- Record: 5-2 (only scheduled to play 11 games unless they reschedule cancelled game); ; Remaining Schedule: at Southern Miss, vs. Charlotte, vs. UTSA, at FIU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 97.5%

Northwestern- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Notre Dame, at Iowa, at Minnesota, vs. Illinois; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 97%

Stanford- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Washington, vs. Oregon State, at California, at UCLA; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 96.5%

Iowa State- Record: 4-3; Remaining Schedule: at Kansas, vs. Baylor, at Texas, vs. Kansas State, vs. Incarnate Word; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 96%

Oregon- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. UCLA, at Utah, vs. Arizona State, at Oregon State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 95.5%

Temple- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at UCF, at Houston, vs. South Florida, at UConn; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 95%

Appalachian State- Record: 5-2 (only scheduled to play 11 games unless they reschedule cancelled game); Remaining Schedule: at Coastal Carolina, at Texas State, vs. Georgia State, vs. Troy; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 94.5%

Mississippi State- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Louisiana Tech, at Alabama, vs. Arkansas, at Ole Miss; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 94%

Texas A & M- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Auburn, vs. Ole Miss, vs. UAB, vs. LSU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 93%

Auburn- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Texas A & M, at Georgia, vs. Liberty, at Alabama; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 92%

Miami (FL)- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Duke, at Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech, vs. Pittsburgh; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 90%

Nevada- Record: 5-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Colorado State, at San Jose State, at UNLV; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 84%

Southern California- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Oregon State, vs.California, at UCLA, vs. Notre Dame; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 81%

Arkansas State- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. South Alabama, at Coastal Carolina, vs. UL-Monroe, at Texas State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 80%

Toledo- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Ball State, at Northern Illinois, at Kent State, vs. Central Michigan; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 78%

Hawaii- Record: 6-4 (needs 7 wins); Remaining Schedule: vs. Utah State, vs. UNLV, at San Diego State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 76%

Memphis- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at East Carolina, vs. Tulsa, at SMU, vs. Houston; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 75%

Northern Illinois- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Akron, vs. Toledo, vs. Miami-OH, at Western Michigan; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 73%

Ohio- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Western Michigan, at Miami-OH, vs. Buffalo, vs. Akron; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 72%

Missouri- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Florida, vs. Vandy, at Tennessee, vs. Arkansas; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 70%

Oklahoma State- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule:at Baylor, at Oklahoma, vs. West Virginia, at TCU; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 68%

Brigham Young- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Boise State, at UMass, vs. New Mexico State, at Utah; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 67%

Duke- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Miami-FL, vs. North Carolina, at Clemson, vs. Wake Forest; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 66%

Texas Tech- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Oklahoma, vs. Texas, at Kansas State, vs. Baylor; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 65%

Virginia Tech- Record: 4-3 (only scheduled to play 11 games unless they reschedule cancelled game); Remaining Schedule: vs. Boston College, at Pittsburgh, vs. Miami-FL, vs. Virginia; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 64%

UL-Lafayette- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Troy, vs. Georgia State, vs. South Alabama, at UL-Monroe; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 63%

Purdue- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Iowa, at Minnesota, vs. Wisconsin, at Indiana; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 60%

Eastern Michigan- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Central Michigan, vs. Akron, at Kent State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 59%

UL-Monroe- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Georgia Southern, at South Alabama, at Arkansas State, vs. UL-Lafayette; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 58%

California- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Washington State, at Southern Cal, vs. Stanford; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 57%

Maryland- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Michigan State, at Indiana, vs. Ohio State, at Penn State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 56%

Coastal Carolina- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: vs. Appalachian State, vs. Arkansas State, vs. Georgia Southern, at South Alabama; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 55%

Colorado- Record: 5-3; Remaining Schedule: at Arizona, vs. Washington State, vs. Utah, at California; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 54%

Arizona State- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Utah, vs. UCLA, at Oregon, at Arizona; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 52%

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Bad Side of the Bowl Bubble: Teams who will likely be home for the holidays (39):

Air Force- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: at Army, vs. New Mexico, at Wyoming, vs. Colorado State;Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 49%

Florida Atlantic- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: at FIU, vs. Western Kentucky, at North Texas, vs. Charlotte;Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 47%

South Carolina- Record: 4-3 (only scheduled to play 11 games unless they reschedule cancelled game); Remaining Schedule: at Ole Miss, at Florida, vs. UT-Chattanooga, at Clemson; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 46%

Arizona- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Colorado, at Washington State, vs. Arizona State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 45%

Wake Forest- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Syracuse, at NC State, vs. Pittsburgh, at Duke; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 44%

Akron- Record: 4-3 (only scheduled to play 11 games unless they reschedule cancelled game); Remaining Schedule:vs. Northern Illinois, at Eastern Michigan, vs. Bowling Green, at Ohio; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 43%

Minnesota- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Illinois, vs. Purdue, vs. Northwestern, at Wisconsin; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 42%

Indiana- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Maryland, at Michigan, vs. Purdue; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 41%

Georgia Tech- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at North Carolina, vs. Miami-FL, vs. Virginia, at Georgia; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 40%

Wyoming- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. San Jose State, vs. Air Force, at New Mexico; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 38%

Tennessee- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Charlotte, vs. Kentucky, vs. Missouri, at Vanderbilt; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 37.5%

Baylor- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: vs. Oklahoma State, at Iowa State, vs. TCU, vs. Texas Tech; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 37%

Vanderbilt- Record: 4-5; Remaining Schedule: at Missouri, vs. Ole Miss, vs. Tennessee; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 36%

Pittsburgh- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Virginia, vs. Virginia Tech, at Wake Forest, at Miami-FL; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 35%

Florida State- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at NC State, at Notre Dame, vs. Boston College, vs. Florida; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 33%

Miami-OH- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule:at Buffalo, vs. Ohio, at Northern Illinois, vs. Ball State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 29%

SMU- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Houston, at UConn, vs. Memphis, at Tulsa; ;Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 25%

Charlotte- Record: 4-4; Remaining Schedule: at Tennessee, at Marshall, vs. FIU, at Florida Atlantic;Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 24%

Tulane- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: at South Florida, vs. East Carolina, at Houston, vs. Navy; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 23%

Kansas State- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: at TCU, vs. Kansas, vs. Texas Tech, at Iowa State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 20%

TCU- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Kansas State, at West Virginia, at Baylor, vs. Oklahoma State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 18%

South Alabama- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: at Arkansas State, vs. UL-Monroe, at UL-Lafayette, vs. Coastal Carolina; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 15%

Illinois- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Minnesota, at Nebraska, vs. Iowa, at Northwestern; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 13%

New Mexico- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. San Diego State, at Air Force, vs. Boise State, vs. Wyoming; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 11%

Southern Miss- Record: 3-4 (only scheduled to play 11 games unless they reschedule cancelled game); Remaining Schedule: vs. Marshall, at UAB, vs. Louisiana Tech, at UTEP; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 10%

Georgia State- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Texas State, at UL-Lafayette, at Appalachian State, vs. Georgia Southern; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 9%

UTSA- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: at UAB, vs. FIU, at Marshall, vs. North Texas; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 8%

Kansas- Record: 3-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Oklahoma, vs. Texas; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 7%

Colorado State- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at Nevada, vs. Utah State, at Air Force; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 6%

East Carolina- Record: 2-5; Remaining Schedule: vs. Memphis, at Tulane, vs. UConn, at Cincinnati, at NC State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 5%

Ball State- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: at Toledo, vs. Western Michigan, at Miami-OH; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 4%

UNLV- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Fresno State, at San Diego State, at Hawaii, vs. Nevada; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 3.5%

Navy Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: at Cincinnati, at UCF, vs. Tulsa, at Tulane, vs. Army; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 3%

Nebraska- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: at Ohio State, vs. Illinois, vs. Michigan State, at Iowa; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 2%

Louisville- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: at Clemson, at Syracuse, vs. NC State, vs. Kentucky; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 1%

Texas State- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: at Georgia State, vs. Appalachian State, at Troy, vs. Arkansas State; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.7%

UMass- Record: 3-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Liberty, vs. Brigham Young, at Georgia; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.5%

UCLA- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: at Oregon, at Arizona State, vs. Southern Cal, vs. Stanford; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.3%

Oregon State- Record: 2-6; Remaining Schedule: vs. Southern Cal, at Stanford, at Washington, vs. Oregon; Odds of Bowl Eligibility: 0.1%

Already Bowl Eligible (37):  Boston College, Clemson, Syracuse, Virginia, Cincinnati, Houston, South Florida, UCF, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, FIU, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, UAB, Army, Notre Dame, Buffalo, Western Michigan, Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Georgia Southern, Troy

Already Ineligible for a Bowl Game (16):  Ole Miss, Liberty, UConn, Tulsa, North Carolina, Rutgers, Old Dominion, Rice, UTEP, Western Kentucky, New Mexico State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, San Jose State, Arkansas

Current Stats:

Already Bowl Eligible: 37

Predicted to be Bowl Eligible: 38 (75)

Already Ineligible for a Bowl Game: 16

Predicted not to become Bowl Eligible: 39 (55)

Conference Championship Analysis- Inaugural 2018 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 (which should be published on here in the next day or so), 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 October 28, 2017.

ACC AtlanticClemson (The Tigers have all but clinched this division by virtue of their back-to-back beat downs of NC State and Florida State.  Clemson still hasn’t played Boston College though, who sits only a game behind them in the currently conference standings.  If Dabo’s group wins that game in two weeks and beats Louisville next week, the division crown will once again be theirs.)\

ACC CoastalVirginia Tech  (This division, along with the Big Ten West and Pac-12 South, serve as most wide open races in major college football.  Virginia currently has a half game lead on both Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh but Miami is also in the mix just a game back.  I picked the Hokies to win this division in the preseason and I am going to stick with it, but VT does have a formidable late season schedule that includes games again all three of the aforementioned division challengers as well as Boston College.)

Big Ten EastOhio State (Even though everyone is hating on the Buckeyes right now and rightfully so, Ohio State still controls its own destiny in the division title race and has a very manageable late season schedule.  I think the Bucks will get by Michigan State in two weeks thanks to their superior athleticism, and then take care of Michigan at home in the season finale to clinch another Big Ten East championship.

Big Ten WestNorthwestern (Seemingly out of nowhere, Northwestern has emerged to take a game a half lead over Wisconsin, Purdue, and Iowa in this wide open division title race.  With that being said, the Wildcats still have to make the tough trip to Iowa City in two weeks to take on the Hawkeyes. If they win that one, they will all but clinch their first-ever Big Ten division title.  Even with a loss though, I think Iowa will stumble to Purdue which will enable the Wildcats to win the division by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreakers over both Wisconsin and Purdue. Can you believe a team that lost non-conference home games to both Duke and Akron could be playing for the Big Ten Championship?)

Big 12Oklahoma/Texas (Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State are technically still in contention, but the race to the Big 12 title game is essentially a battle between Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia.  All are tied at 4-1 and all still have to play each other, except Texas has already knocked off Oklahoma. I am predicting Texas gets upset in Lubbock by the Red Raiders and the Mountaineers lose to both the Horns and Sooners, which will set up a Red River rematch for the Big 12 title.)

Pac-12 NorthWashington (This division title race is shaping up to be a battle between all the usual suspects: Washington, Washington State, and Stanford.  The Cougars currently lead the field by half of a game, but the Huskies have absolutely owned Wazzu in the Apple Cup over the past few seasons, so I am going to predict that game to once again be the Cougars undoing.  Washington also gets to host Stanford next Saturday, so I think the Huskies will win out, despite their recent struggles, and take home a third consecutive Pac-12 North title.)

Pac-12 SouthUtah (Shockingly, every team in this entire division is within a game and a half of first place in the Pac-12 South.  That’s what you call a wide open division title race. I am going to pick Utah to come out on top here though, for several reasons.  First, the Utes are currently a game up on the rest of their competitors. Second, they already have the head-to-head tiebreaker over USC, UCLA, and Arizona.  And third, and most importantly, they are playing really good football right now. As a result, watch out for the Utes to win out and claim their first-ever Pac-12 South championship, which would make this the first division in all of FBS to have all its members claim at least one division crown.)

SEC EastGeorgia (Interestingly and somewhat shockingly, both divisions in the SEC will essentially be having de facto division championship games next Saturday.  The Georgia vs. Kentucky game is a true de facto division title game as the winner will clinch a berth in the SEC Championship. The Cats are one of the great feel good stories of the year this season in college football but the magic will run out next Saturday, as Kentucky will fail to generate the offense to keep up with the Dawgs.)     

SEC WestAlabama (The more predictable division championship game will take place in Baton Rouge next weekend as the Tide and Tigers look to engage in another classic slobber knocker.  I am interested to see how Tua plays against an elite defense, but it may not matter, as I don’t foresee LSU able to score at all on Bama. Like Georgia, Bama will clinch a berth in the SEC Championship game with a road victory on Saturday.)

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Side Note: Interestingly, only two of my predicted Power 5 division champs have changed since the preseason, as I now have Northwestern instead of Wisconsin winning the Big Ten West and Utah instead of Arizona in the Pac-12 North.  The same cannot be said about the Group of Five conference races, which are full of surprise contenders.

AAC EastUCF (The defending national champion Knights have once again bowled everyone en route to a 7-0 start.  They, however, have a tough remaining schedule featuring games against all three of the other division title contenders: USF, Temple, and Cincinnati, as well as a matchup against the always tricky Midshipmen of Navy.  Fortunately, the Knights get all but one of those contests at home, so I am going to predict for UCF to win out and once again play in the American Athletic championship game.)

AAC West Houston (The Cougars look like the top threat to another UCF run to a New Year’s Six Bowl, as they find themselves in prime position to play the Knights in what could be a de facto New Years Six play-in game in the AAC title game.  Houston does have a tough remaining schedule as well, but their current two game cushion in the division standings will prove important if they do somehow stumble.)

C-USA EastMarshall (In the preseason, most everyone though the defending league champs FAU were a shoe-in to repeat as division champs.  That has turned out not to the case as we head into the final month of conference play with the Owls possessing a disappointing 1-3 conference record.  Instead, their arch rival, FIU stands alone in first place in the Conference USA East division (4-0), a game ahead of Middle Tennessee and my preseason pick Marshall.  Despite the Golden Panthers surprise success, I am sticking with my own surprise pick, Marshall, to clinch a spot in the conference title game by winning out and knocking off FIU in their regular season finale.)

C-USA WestUAB (The Blazers surprised the country last season with their literal rise from the ashes, as they contended for a division title and played in a bowl game in their first year back as a football program.  Now, they look to be taking things one step further as they shockingly sit atop the C-USA West standings at 5-0 in conference play and 7-1 overall. Most importantly, the Blazers have already beaten their two closest challengers: Louisiana Tech and North Texas, so even if UAB were to stumble in their tricky season finale against Middle Tennessee they would still clinch the division by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreakers.  Thus, all the Blazers need to do is beat lowly Southern Miss and UTSA at home to clinch a most shocking berth into the Conference USA Championship game.)

MAC EastBuffalo (In the preseason, I predicted we would see a battle between Miami of Ohio, Ohio, and Buffalo to become the champs of this division, and with a month to go in the regular season, that is exactly what has emerged.  The Bulls have a one game lead over the Bobcats and Redhawks in the conference standings and also have the most favorable remaining schedule of the three, so I am predicting Buffalo to clinch a berth into their first MAC championship game since they won the conference crown under Turner Gill ten years ago.)

MAC WestNorthern Illinois (The past three MAC West champions have been Western Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois and those are the same three teams contending for the division crown this season.  The Huskies of NIU currently sit alone atop the conference standings at 4-0, and I think they will hold on to take this division title despite having to make the trip Kalamazoo to play Western Michigan in their regular season finale.)

MWC MountainBoise State (If the Broncos can get by Fresno in two weeks, then they will get to host division leader Utah State in a de facto division title game in their regular season finale.  Both games will be extremely difficult for Boise to win, but because both are being played at home on the Smurf Turf, I’m going to stick with my preseason prediction and call for the Broncos to win out and repeat as division champs.)

MWC WestFresno State (Just like last season, Fresno and San Diego State are the two teams battling it out for the MWC West Division Championship.  Currently, the Bulldogs definitely look to be the more complete football team of the two, so I am calling for them to knock off the Aztecs at home on November 17th and repeat as division champs.)

Sun Belt EastAppalachian State (It is the first year of division play in the Sun Belt, and we have a pair of interesting division races in this league despite each division only having five teams in it.  Thanks to the Eagles upset of App State on Thursday, Georgia Southern and Troy stand alone atop the conference standings at 4-0 with the Mountaineers sitting a game back. I think when all is said and done each of these teams will have one win and one loss to the other two, but the Mountaineers will come back to claim the division crown by virtue of a UL-Monroe upset over Georgia Southern next weekend.  This feels like a classic letdown spot for the Eagles on Saturday.)

Sun Belt WestArkansas State (Despite only being 1-3 in conference play, the Red Wolves are only a game back in their division title race.  Arkansas State also has a much easier remaining schedule than the two teams ahead of them, UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette, so I am sticking with my preseason prediction here and picking the Red Wolves to both win out and get the help needed to earn a trip to the first-ever Sun Belt Championship Game.)

Week 9 College Football Picks

These are in order from my most confident pick to least confident.  Lines are based on the current spreads at statfox.com.

Vrginia Tech (-3.5) vs. Georgia Tech- (Th) 7:30
Georgia (-7.0) vs. Florida- 3:30
Stanford (-3.0) vs. Washington State- 7:00
Pittsburgh (+3.0) vs. Duke- 3:30
Boston College (+3.5) vs. Miami-FL- (Fri) 7:00
Florida International (-4.0) at Western Kentucky- 7:30
Middle Tennessee (-4.0) at Old Dominion- 3:30
Coastal Carolina (-3.5) at Georgia State- 2:00
Texas A & M (+2.0) at Mississippi State- 7:00
Oregon (-9.5) at Arizona- 10:30

Last Week’s Record: 5-5, Overall Season Record: 38-42

 

Week 9 College Football Upsets to Watch Out For

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

Iowa (+5.5) at Penn State- 3:30
Toledo (+6.0) at Western Michigan- (Th) 7:00
Northwestern (+6.5) vs. Wisconsin- 12:00
Kentucky (+6.5) at Missouri- 4:00
Charlotte (+7.5) vs. Southern Miss- 2:00
SMU (+8.5) vs. Cincinnati- 3:30
Florida State (+16.0) vs. Clemson- 12:00

Last week’s Upset Pick of the Week: Virginia (+7.0) over Duke