Conference Title Race Reset: Week 11

By Chip Patterson | College Writer

Alabama's grip on the SEC West will tighten if the Tide can beat LSU at home on Saturday. (USATSI)
Alabama's grip on the SEC West will tighten if the Tide can beat LSU at home on Saturday. (USATSI)

The Conference Title Race Reset narrows down the list of contenders through the final weeks of the regular season, identifying the key games each week and analyzing each team's path to a championship.


CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

Houston (4-0)

UCF (3-0)

Louisville (3-1)

Cincinnati (3-1)

SMU (2-1)

Rutgers (2-2)

South Florida (2-2)

Houston at UCF [Preview]

Louisville at UConn [Preview]

SMU at Cincinnati [Preview]


Outlook
: It's still relatively early in the conference schedule, but UCF set up a manageable path to a BCS bowl with a win against Houston on Saturday. The Knights already have the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage against Louisville, and a win against the Cougars would build a margin for error down in the final four games -- though UCF should be favored against Temple, Rutgers, USF and SMU. Louisville could use a Houston win this weekend followed by a victory over the Cougars on Nov. 16. As we've learned with this Big East, tiebreaker scenarios are complicated an important with a BCS bid on the line. We'll dive into this more as the title picture clears up. Projected BCS Representative: UCF



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

Atlantic

Florida State (6-0)

Clemson (6-1)

Syracuse (2-2)

Coastal

Miami (3-1)

Georgia Tech (5-2)

Virginia Tech (3-2)

Duke (2-2)

Florida State at Wake Forest [Preview]

Syracuse at Maryland [Preview]

NC State at Duke [Preview]

Virginia Tech at Miami [Preview]


Outlook
: A Florida State win at Wake Forest will clinch the ACC Atlantic Division, punching the Seminoles' ticket to the ACC Championship Game Dec. 7 in Charlotte. If the Seminoles stumble on the road, then Syracuse is back in the mix (In other words, it's going to take a disaster for the Seminoles not to play for the ACC title). The Coastal is much more interesting, though Miami does control its own destiny down the stretch of the season. The Hurricanes play Virginia Tech and Duke in the next two weeks, and already have the head-to-head advantage on Georgia Tech. Projected BCS Representative: Florida State



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

Texas (5-0)

Baylor (4-0)

Oklahoma (4-1)

Oklahoma State (4-1)

Texas Tech (4-2)

Oklahoma at Baylor [Preview]

Kansas State at Texas Tech [Preview]

Kansas at Oklahoma State [Preview]

Texas at West Virginia [Preview]


Outlook
: The Big 12 is barely midway through the league schedule, so there is plenty of shuffling left before we have a clear picture of the contenders. The only team at a disadvantage at this point in the chase is Texas Tech, already with losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on their schedule. The romantic idea of deciding the Big 12 title in Floyd Casey Stadium between Texas and Baylor sounds fascinating, but the Cowboys will have something to say about that in matchups against both teams in the next three weeks. Projected BCS Representative: Baylor



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

Legends

Michigan State (5-0)

Nebraska (3-1)

Minnesota (3-2)

Michigan (2-2)

Leaders

Ohio State (5-0)

Wisconsin (4-1)

Penn State at Minnesota [Preview]

Nebraska at Michigan [Preview]


Outlook
: Michigan State got a leg up on the Legends Division with their dominant victory against Michigan last week, setting up a showdown with Nebraska next week that could clinch the division. The Spartans get to sit back this week and watch their competition, while Ohio State continues to cruise to what looks like an eventual Leaders Division title. The Buckeyes need seven conference wins to clinch the division right now, and two more victories should be manageable against Illinois, Indiana and Michigan down the stretch. As far as the BCS goes, I'm predicting (for now) that the Buckeyes enter the Big Ten title game a week after Ann Arbor and get stunned by the Spartans. Projected BCS Representative: Michigan State



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

North

Oregon (5-0)

Stanford (5-1)

Oregon State (4-2)

South

Arizona State (4-1)

Arizona (3-2)

UCLA (3-2)

USC (3-2)

Oregon at Stanford [Preview]

USC at Cal [Preview]

Arizona State at Utah [Preview]

UCLA at Arizona [Preview]


Outlook
: The Pac-12 North is pretty simple now, but things get complicated if Stanford knocks off Oregon on Thursday night. The Ducks have Utah, Arizona and Oregon State left on the schedule, but if the Cardinal drop to two losses in conference play that should be enough padding in the standings to clinch a Pac-12 title game bid. Stanford must travel to USC after Oregon, so even a victory on Thursday won't lock up the North quite yet. The Trojans are also a sneaky dark horse in the South, particularly if Utah or Oregon State knock off Arizona State in the next two weeks. UCLA rigorous schedule has put the Bruins in a tough spot, but all three contenders are left on the schedule if Hundley and Co. get hot down the stretch. Projected BCS Representative: Oregon



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

East

Missouri (4-1)

South Carolina (5-2)

Georgia (4-2)

Florida (3-3)

West

Alabama (5-0)

Auburn (4-1)

LSU (3-2)

Texas A&M (3-2)

Vanderbilt at Florida [Preview]

Missouri at Kentucky [Preview]

Auburn at Tennessee [Preview]

Mississippi State at Texas A&M [Preview]

LSU at Alabama [Preview]


Outlook
: Missouri controls its own destiny in the SEC East, but one loss (against Kentucky, Ole Miss or Texas A&M) could give South Carolina the opportunity to jump up and use its head-to-head advantage to punch a ticket to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. The Gamecocks are off this week, but have the opportunity to enter the clubhouse first at 6-2 with a victory at home against Florida -- the Gators, meanwhile, are one loss or one Georgia win from being eliminated from contention. Georgia needs help, but a victory at Auburn and against Kentucky could give the Bulldogs a 5-3 record that will stand against South Carolina or Florida. The SEC West still has a lot of odd and fun scenarios with Johnny Manziel, LSU-Bama, and a potential Iron Bowl to decide the division, but we'll wait until after this weekend to untangle that web. Projected BCS Representative: Alabama



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

East

East Carolina (4-1)

Marshall (3-1)

Middle Tennessee (3-2)

West

North Texas (4-1)

Rice (4-1)

Tulane (4-1)

UTSA (3-2)

Louisiana Tech (2-2)

UAB at Marshall [Preview]

Tulane at UTSA [Preview]

UTEP at North Texas [Preview]

Tulsa at East Carolina [Preview]

FIU at Middle Tennessee [Preview]

Southern Miss at La. Tech [Preview]


Outlook
: Messy picture, huh? We will begin knocking teams off the contenders list pretty rapidly in the next two weeks as teams are eliminated from competition with a second or third conference loss. East Carolina and Marshall were the early favorites in the East, and that's still where we sit today. Those two teams will play on Friday, Nov. 29 on CBS Sports Network, in a game that will likely decide the division representative in the Conference USA title game. In the West, things are much more difficult to predict. North Texas, Rice and Tulane are all bowl eligible, but only one team will get a shot at the conference title. Tulane has the head-to-head against North Texas and will finish the regular season at Rice on Nov. 30. Rice lost to North texas last Thursday, launching the Mean Green back into the mix and now we need to research C-USA tiebreaker scenarios. More on that next week.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

East

Buffalo (5-0)

Bowling Green (4-1)

Ohio (3-2)

West

Northern Illinois (5-0)

Ball State (5-0)

Toledo (4-1)

Central Michigan (2-2)

Bowling Green 45, Miami 3 [Recap]

Buffalo 30, Ohio 3 [Recap]

C. Michigan at Ball State [Preview]


Outlook
: With a dominant 30-3 win on Tuesday night, Buffalo controls its own destiny to win the second MAC East title since joining the conference. Ohio, on the other hand, now needs a lot of help to jump both the Bulls and Bowling Green, also a winner on Tuesday night. Bowling Green will travel to Buffalo on Friday, Nov. 29 in a game that could decide the East. The only potential hiccup along the way for the Bulls is a Tuesday trip to the Glass Bowl to play Toledo; a team that beat Bowling Green on the road last month. The Rockets will get their shot at undefeated Northern Illinois later this month, but the Huskies' focus is on a huge division showdown with Ball State next Wednesday.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

West

Fresno State (5-0)

San Jose State (4-1)

San Diego State (3-1)

UNLV (3-2)

Mountain

Boise State (4-1)

Utah State (4-1)

Colorado State (2-2)

Wyoming (2-2)

Nevada at Colorado State [Preview]

Utah State at UNLV [Preview]

Fresno State at Wyoming [Preview]

SDSU at San Jose State [Preview]


Outlook
: Fresno State may have BCS busting plans, but maintaining that undefeated record will require a victory in the inaugural Mountain West title game in December. Getting there will require two big road victories; one this weekend against Wyoming and the regular season finale against San Jose State. Boise State has the head-to-head advantage on Utah State and Colorado State already, but the Broncos need to win out as long as Utah State is a one-loss team in conference play.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 11 KEY GAMES

Louisiana-Lafayette (3-0)

ULM (3-1)

Arkansas State (2-1)

Troy (3-2)

Texas State (2-2)

Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette [Preview]

Arkansas State at ULM [Preview]


Outlook
: Louisiana-Lafeyette's run under Mark Hudspeth (back-to-back 9-win seasons with bowl victories) has put the Ragin' Cajuns in a position to claim the school's first conference title in eight years here in 2013. A victory over Troy at home on Thursday leaves in-state rival ULM (at home on Nov. 30) as the only contender left in ULL's path. Arkansas State needs a victory against the WarHawks on Saturday to remain in the contention, otherwise it looks like the Sun Belt title will be decided later this month down in Louisiana.

 
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