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Conference Title Race Reset: While most leagues are up for grabs, SEC could be set by mid-November

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer
If the Gators can beat Georgia, Florida will clinch the SEC East with a 7-0 conference record. (US Presswire)

Believe it or not, we have turned the corner and are heading down the stretch of the regular season. In the next six weeks each FBS conference will determine a champion, either by regular season standings or a championship game between division winners. The Conference Title Race Reset will update you on where things stand heading into the weekend, and what games could play a role in the race for a league title.

This is a glimpse at the contenders in each conference, with most leagues just a few weeks into conference play. There are definitely teams not listed here that have a chance to win their conference, but less-than-ideal starts have given those teams a steep hill to climb toward a title.



ATLANTIC
1. Florida State (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
2. Clemson (6-1, 3-1)
3. NC State (5-2, 2-1)
3. Maryland (4-3, 2-1)

COASTAL
1. Duke (6-2, 3-1)
2. Miami (4-4, 3-2)
3. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2)
NOTE: North Carolina (5-3, 2-2) is ineligible for the ACC Championship Game

Outlook: Florida State and Clemson have been considered the Atlantic Division frontrunners since the beginning of the season, but NC State has positioned itself well with the head-to-head advantage over the Seminoles and Terrapins. But while there is no room for error in the Atlantic, the Coastal will be wide open again if Florida State hands Duke its second ACC loss on Saturday.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Clemson at Wake Forest (Thurs.) Game Preview
N.C. State at North Carolina Game Preview
Maryland at Boston College Game Preview
Duke at Florida State Game Preview



1. Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
2. Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1)
2. Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1)
4. Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1)

Outlook: If Kansas State can survive four quarters with the giant-killers from Texas Tech, they will hold the tiebreaker over both of their most likely competitors for the Big 12 title. That will be particularly important with Oklahoma, TCU, and Texas all left on the Wildcats' schedule. I'm including Oklahoma and Notre Dame here, less for the title race, but more for a chance to get a read on the surging Sooners.

Week 9 Games to Watch
TCU at Oklahoma State Game Preview
Texas Tech at Kansas State Game Preview
Notre Dame at Oklahoma Game Preview



1. Rutgers (7-0, 4-0 Big East)
2. Louisville (7-0, 2-0)
3. Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0)
4. Temple (3-3, 2-1)
4. Syracuse (3-4, 2-1)

Outlook: Rutgers will spend the next couple of weeks playing out-of-conference opponents, before finishing the season with three Big East games in a 12-day span in late November/early December. We'll keep them on the watch list for entertainment purposes, but the next weeks will be a slow elimination to see who can test the 4-0 Scarlet Knights. Louisville is the most likely candidate, and it can start taking out the competition on Friday by winning the Keg of Nails from Cincinnati.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Cincinnati at Louisville (Fri.) Game Preview
Temple at Pittsburgh Game Preview
Kent State at Rutgers Game Preview
Syracuse at South Florida Game Preview



LEGENDS
1. Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten)
2. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1)
2. Iowa (4-3, 2-1)
4. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2)

LEADERS
1. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1)
NOTE: Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) and Penn State (5-2, 3-0) are ineligible for the Big Ten championship game.

Outlook: Wisconsin has the Leaders locked up thanks to NCAA sanctions on Ohio State and Penn State, but the Legends Division is far from set. Nebraska and Michigan's showdown this week could open up the race significantly, while Northwestern will fight to keep its long shot alive against Iowa. A 7-1 league record should win the division, 6-2 could, but 5-3 seems unlikely at this point.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Iowa at Northwestern Game Preview
Michigan State at Wisconsin Game Preview
Ohio State at Penn State Game Preview
Michigan at Nebraska Game Preview



NORTH
1. Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12)
1. Oregon State (6-0, 4-0)
3. Stanford (5-2, 3-1)

SOUTH
1. USC (6-1, 4-1)
2. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1)
3. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)

Outlook: Oregon State and Oregon both have rigorous schedules down the stretch, so a battle of undefeated teams in the Civil War, while incredibly enticing for fans, is no guarantee. But unless Stanford can turn a corner fast, the division title appears to be headed to one of the two Oregon schools. Arizona State can knock UCLA from the race in the South with a win this weekend, and will have its chance at USC on Nov. 10. The Trojans also have to face Oregon on Nov. 3, so there are plenty of opportunities for each division to open up.

Week 9 Games to Watch
UCLA at Arizona State Game Preview
Colorado at Oregon Game Preview
USC at Arizona Game Preview
Washington State at Stanford Game Preview
Oregon State at Washington Game Preview



EAST
1. Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC)
2. Georgia (6-1, 4-1)
3. South Carolina (6-2, 4-2)

WEST
1. Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
2. Mississippi State (7-0, 3-0)
3. LSU (7-1, 3-1)

Outlook: Florida can lock up the SEC East with a win over Georgia in the Cocktail Party this weekend. That's not very exciting down the stretch, but that would be the Gators' advantage for playing most of their SEC schedule early in the season. Alabama's hold on the West will be put to the test first this weekend, then in Week 10 with its trip to Baton Rouge. If the Tide roll, the SEC could be basically set by mid-November.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Tennessee at South Carolina Game Preview
Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla.) Game Preview
Mississippi State at Alabama Game Preview

Conference USA

EAST
1. UCF (5-2, 3-0 Conference USA)
2. East Carolina (5-3, 4-1)
3. Marshal (3-4, 2-1)

WEST
1. Tulsa (7-1, 5-0)
2. SMU (3-4, 2-1)
2. Houston (3-4, 2-1)

Outlook: Conference USA did not perform well as a league in nonconference play, which keeps teams like Houston and SMU in the mix despite lackluster starts. Tulsa is off this week, but the 5-0 start likely leaves no room for error for either challenger. Both teams have Tulsa left on the schedule, but a head-to-head win is worth little unless they are undefeated down the stretch. The East Division is wide open, and Marshall could make things very interesting with a win at home over UCF on Saturday.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Memphis at SMU Game Preview
Navy at East Carolina Game Preview
UTEP at Houston Game Preview
UCF at Marshall Game Preview

MAC

EAST
1. Kent State (6-1, 4-0 MAC)
2. Ohio (7-0, 3-0)
3. Bowling Green (5-3, 3-1)
4. Miami (OH) (3-4, 2-1)

WEST
1. Northern Illinois (7-1, 4-0)
1. Toledo (7-1, 4-0)
3. Ball State (5-3, 3-2)

Outlook: The MAC race will be one of my personal favorites to follow down the stretch, with several very good teams in the hunt. The conference could end up producing six bowl eligible teams, and each of them will be fighting for a spot in the MAC Championship Game in the coming weeks. Obviously, Ohio at Miami takes center stage this week, with the rest of the contenders facing teams from the bottom of the conference. But buckle up, there is plenty of mighty MACtion ahead.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Ball State at Army Game Preview
Northern Illinois at Western Michigan Game Preview
Kent State at Rutgers Game Preview
Eastern Michigan at Bowling Green Game Preview
Ohio at Miami (Ohio) Game Preview
Toledo at Buffalo Game Preview

Mountain West

1. Boise State (6-1, 3-0 Mountain West)
2. Nevada (6-2, 3-1)
2. Fresno State (5-3, 3-1)
2. San Diego State (5-3, 3-1)
2. Air Force (4-3, 3-1)

Outlook: Nevada's loss to San Diego State hurt its chances to challenge Boise State for the league title, but with five conference games left there are no promises the Broncos will enter that season finale in Reno undefeated. Fresno State needs to hope for two Boise losses and running the table to be in the hunt, while San Diego State will get its own shot on Nov. 3.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Nevada at Air Force (Fri.) Game Preview
Fresno State at New Mexico Game Preview
Boise State at Wyoming Game Preview
UNLV at San Diego State Game Preview

Sun Belt

1. Louisiana-Monroe (5-2, 3-0 Sun Belt)
2. Arkansas State (5-3, 3-1)
3. Western Kentucky (5-2, 2-1)
3. Middle Tennessee (4-3, 2-1)
3. North Texas (3-4, 2-1)

Outlook: Arkansas State's win over Louisiana-Lafayette on the road was a big statement for Gus Malzahn's squad. Back-to-back conference victories over Florida International and South Alabama did not exactly raise eyebrows, but now the Red Wolves are 3-1 with an upcoming Thursday night showdown against Louisiana-Monroe. The Sun Beast promises plenty of action in the coming weeks, with most of the contenders toting backloaded schedules.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Arkansas State 50, Louisiana-Lafayette 27 (Tues.)
North Texas at Middle Tennessee Game Preview
Western Kentucky at Florida International Game Preview
South Alabama at Louisiana Monroe Game Preview

WAC

1. Utah State (6-2, 2-0)
2. Louisiana Tech (6-1, 1-0)
2. Texas State (3-3, 1-0)

Outlook: There is still a lot of WAC conference play left, and San Jose State is certainly a sleeper not listed above. Louisiana Tech and Utah State appear to be the clear cut front runners from on-field performance, but both teams must take care of business for the next three weeks to set up a meeting in Ruston, La., that could decide the conference title.

Week 9 Games to Watch
Utah State at Texas-San Antonio Game Preview
Texas State at San Jose State Game Preview
Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State Game Preview

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