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Conference Title Race Reset: Week 12

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Texas faces its toughest Big 12 competition yet with Oklahoma State visiting Austin in Week 12. (USATSI)
Texas' undefeated Big 12 record will be tested against Oklahoma State 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 12 KEY GAMES

UCF (4-0)

Louisville (4-1)

Cincinnati (4-1)

Houston (4-1)

Cincinnati at Rutgers [Preview]

UCF at Temple [Preview]

Houston at Louisville [Preview]


Outlook: UCF put itself in a great position to clinch a BCS bowl bid by holding Houston out of the end zone in the final 30 seconds for a thrilling 19-14 win. Louisville fans were rooting for Houston, hoping to force a three-way tie if the Cardinals could take down the Cougars this Saturday. Now UCF, ranked No. 14 in the BCS standings, faces a manageable late season schedule (Temple, Rutgers, South Florida and SMU) needing just three wins to clinch at least a share of the inaugural American conference title. Projected BCS representative: UCF



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WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

Atlantic

Florida State (7-0)

(clinched division)

Coastal

Georgia Tech (5-2)

Virginia Tech (4-2)

Duke (3-2)

Miami (3-2)

Georgia Tech at Clemson [Preview]

Maryland at Virginia Tech [Preview]

Miami at Duke [Preview]

Syracuse at Florida State [Preview]

Outlook: As projected, Florida State took care of business on the road at Wake Forest and clinched the ACC Atlantic Division. The Coastal Division, on the other hand, was blown wide open with Virginia Tech's victory at Miami. The Hokies can clinch the division with wins against Maryland and Virginia along with one Duke loss. Georgia Tech wraps its ACC schedule on Thursday night against Clemson, setting the record to beat for the other three teams. Duke has the head-to-head advantage against the Hokies, but the Blue Devils must first defeat a talented Miami team desperate to bounce back after two straight losses. We will dive into three-way tiebreaker scenarios next week once the picture clears up a bit. Projected BCS representative: Florida State



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CONTENDERS

WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

Texas (6-0)

Baylor (5-0)

Oklahoma State (5-1)

Oklahoma (4-2)

Iowa State at Oklahoma [Preview]

Oklahoma State at Texas [Preview]

Texas Tech at Baylor [Preview]


Outlook: A Texas win at home against Oklahoma State eliminates the Cowboys and Sooners from winning the league title outright, setting up a possible Big 12 title game against Baylor in Waco on Dec. 7. A Longhorns loss would give Oklahoma State a boost heading into its matchup with the high-powered Bears in Stillwater next week, not to mention the head-to-head advantage for BCS bid purposes. Texas Tech is coming off three straight losses, but Baylor should not look past the pesky Red Raiders in Arlington on Saturday. Recent history suggests the Big 12 will give us a few more crazy results in these final weeks of the regular season. Projected BCS representative: Baylor



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WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

Legends

Michigan State (5-0)

Nebraska (4-1)

Minnesota (4-2)

Michigan (2-2)

Leaders

Ohio State (5-0)

Wisconsin (4-1)

Ohio State at Illinois [Preview]

Indiana at Wisconsin [Preview]

Michigan State at Nebraska [Preview]


Outlook: Ohio State's schedule and early-season victory against Wisconsin has kept the Leaders race free of drama for most of the season. Luckily the Legends has no shortage of storylines or potential outcomes. Michigan State has looked like the most complete team in the division, but the Spartans are still far from Indianapolis with Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota left on the schedule. The Golden Gophers are one the Big Ten's best stories this season, but after a week off the final two games (Wisconsin and Michigan State) are going to be a struggle. I know I caught some heat for this projection, but I'm sticking with Michigan State over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Projected BCS representative: Michigan State



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WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

North

Stanford (6-1)

Oregon (5-1)

Oregon State (4-2)

South

Arizona State (5-1)

UCLA (4-2)

USC (4-2)

Washington at UCLA [Preview]

Utah at Oregon [Preview]

Stanford at USC [Preview]

Oregon State at Arizona State [Preview]


Outlook: A Stanford win at USC on Saturday leaves Cal as the only obstacle between the Cardinal and a second-straight appearance in the Pac-12 title game. A USC win not only moves the Oregon Ducks back into division contention but keeps the Trojans in the Pac-12 South hunt. A third loss for USC or UCLA before their meeting in the regular season finale would likely result in falling from contention unless Arizona State loses at home to Oregon State. The Sun Devils have the head-to-head advantage against USC but face UCLA and Arizona to close out the schedule after Saturday's showdown with the Beavers. Projected BCS representative: Stanford



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CONTENDERS

WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

East

Missouri (5-1)

South Carolina (5-2)

Georgia (4-2)

West

Alabama (6-0)

Auburn (5-1)

Georgia at Auburn [Preview]

Florida at South Carolina [Preview]

Alabama at Mississippi State [Preview]


Outlook: Missouri is off this weekend, while the rest of the competition in the SEC East sets the stakes for the Tigers' tough finish to the season. A South Carolina win leaves Missouri no room for error against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Georgia is still technically in the race thanks to its head-to-head advantage with the Gamecocks, but one Bulldogs loss or one Missouri win will prevent Mark Richt from returning to Atlanta. Auburn needs to beat Georgia to keep hopes alive for a division title-deciding Iron Bowl against Alabama -- assuming the Tide don't trip on the road at Mississippi State this weekend. Projected BCS representative: Alabama



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CONTENDERS

WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

East

East Carolina (5-1)

Marshall (4-1)

Middle Tennessee (4-2)

West

North Texas (5-1)

Rice (4-1)

UTSA (4-2)

Tulane (4-2)

Louisiana Tech (3-2)

Marshall at Tulsa [Preview]

UAB at East Carolina [Preview]

Louisiana Tech at Rice [Preview]


Outlook: East Carolina and Marshall continue their one-loss dance in the East, each eyeing the regular season finale between the two teams on Thanksgiving Friday. The competition for Week 12, Tulsa and UAB, each have one conference win, so a loss for either the Pirates or Herd would come as a surprise. The title picture in the West won't get much clearer this weekend -- though Louisiana Tech would be mathematically eliminated with a loss at Rice. Division leader North Texas is back in action next week against UTSA and Tulane hosts UTEP in its home finale next week.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

East

Buffalo (5-0)

Bowling Green (4-1)

Ohio (3-2)

West

Ball State (6-0)

Northern Illinois (5-0)

Toledo (4-1)

Ohio at Bowling Green [Preview]

Buffalo at Toledo [Preview]

Ball State at Northern Illinois [Preview]


Outlook: Buckle up and get ready for #MACTION. Ball State at Northern Illinois may be the MAC Game of the Year, but don't sleep on the double-header Tuesday appetizer of Ohio-Bowling Green and Buffalo-Toledo. The scenarios to clinch each division will be determined by the outcome of these top six teams facing off in the next two days. With less than a month of regular season football left, there is no excuse for you to miss on the best the Mid-American Conference has to offer.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

West

Fresno State (6-0)

San Diego State (4-1)

San Jose State (4-2)

Mountain

Utah State (5-1)

Boise State (4-1)

Colorado State (3-2)

Colorado State at New Mexico [Preview]

Wyoming at Boise State [Preview]

San Jose State at Nevada [Preview]

San Diego State at Hawaii [Preview]


Outlook: San Jose State will still get a shot at Fresno State in the final week of the regular season, but the Spartans' 34-30 loss to San Diego State puts Derek Carr and crew just one win away from clinching the West and earning a bid to the inaugural Mountain West title game. Boise State hopes to meet the Bulldogs there for a rematch of the 41-40 thriller from September, but first the Broncos must get by Wyoming on Saturday. Colorado State will have its opportunity to play spoiler against Utah State, but any loss or two Bosie State wins knock the Rams from competition.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 12 KEY GAMES

Louisiana-Lafayette (4-0)

Arkansas State (3-1)

ULM (3-2)

Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia State [Preview]

Texas State at Arkansas State [Preview]


Outlook: Arkansas State should feel good about its chances against Texas State at home this weekend, considering the Bobcats, while bowl eligible at 6-3, fell 21-14 to the same ULM team the Red Wolves just beat 42-14. If Louisiana-Lafayette beats Georgia State on the road -- the Ragin' Cajuns are three touchdown favorites -- it will set up a potential conference-clinching meeting with ULM next week.

 
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