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Conference Title Race Reset: Eyes On Iron Bowl, ACC Coastal

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

The SEC West and BCS title game will be impacted by Alabama's trip to Auburn on Saturday for the Iron Bowl. (USATSI)
The SEC West and BCS will be impacted by Alabama's trip to Auburn for the Iron Bowl. (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 14 KEY GAMES

UCF (6-0)

Louisville (6-1)

Cincinnati (6-1)

SMU (4-2)

SMU at Houston [Preview]

South Florida at UCF [Preview]


Outlook: UCF can mathematically eliminate SMU with win at home against USF. However, Cincinnati's appearance in the Coaches Poll could cause problems if the Knights were to lose in the next two weeks. The Bearcats could potentially steal the BCS bid in a tie at 7-1, depending on how far UCF fell after the hypothetical loss. Louisville is hoping for two UCF losses to close the season and a win next week against Cincinnati to clinch to a BCS bowl for the second-straight year. Projected BCS representative: UCF



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

Atlantic

Florida State (8-0)

(clinched division)

Coastal

Duke (5-2)

Georgia Tech (5-3)

Virginia Tech (4-3)

Miami (4-3)

North Carolina (4-3)

Miami at Pittsburgh [Preview]

Duke at North Carolina [Preview]

Virginia Tech at Virginia [Preview]

Outlook: Duke has the simplest path: beat North Carolina and take a 10-2 football team to Charlotte to face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. The Tar Heels can force a tie at 5-3 by beating the Blue Devils, but cannot clinch a spot in the title game due to the tiebreaker process. Virginia Tech needs a win and a Duke loss, with the Hokies claiming the Coastal Division bid in any four- or five-team tie at 5-3. Miami needs a four-team tie with Duke, UNC and Georgia Tech to win the tiebreaker and punch a ticket to Charlotte. The Yellow Jackets, in the clubhouse already at 5-3, need Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech losses on Saturday for a title game bid. Projected BCS representative: Florida State



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

Oklahoma State (7-1)

Baylor (6-1)

Texas (6-1)

Oklahoma (6-2)

Texas Tech at Texas [Preview]

Baylor at TCU [Preview]


Outlook: Oklahoma State is playing its best football at the right time, getting an inside track to the BCS with back-to-back wins against Baylor and Texas. The Bears and Longhorns are not eliminated yet, with both hoping for a three-way tie at 7-2 with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Big 12 may not have an official championship game, but next week will provide title-game thrills with Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and Baylor-Texas on the same day. Projected BCS representative: Oklahoma State



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

Legends

Michigan State (7-0)

(cliched division)

Leaders

Ohio State (7-0)

(clinched division)

Ohio State at Michigan [Preview]

Minnesota at Michigan State [Preview]

Penn State at Wisconsin [Preview]


Outlook: The Big Ten title game is set, but there are plenty of stories to follow in this final week of play. A Michigan State loss could hurt Ohio State's BCS chances, both in the computers and human opinion. Wisconsin may be shut out of the Big Ten title game, but the red-hot Badgers could play themselves out of a potential BCS at-large spot by stumbling in the final week. Projected BCS representative: Ohio State



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

North

Stanford (7-2)

(clinched division)

South

Arizona State (7-1)

(clinched division)

Arizona at Arizona State [Preview]


Outlook: The Pac-12 title game participants are set, but Arizona State still has plenty to play for beyond bragging rights against Arizona. A Sun Devils win clinches home field advantage for the Pac-12 championship game, letting them avoid a second trip to The Farm in 2013. Stanford dominated Arizona State early in their first meeting, so you can bet the Sun Devils would like to return the favor in Tempe next week. Projected BCS representative: Stanford



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

East

Missouri (6-1)

South Carolina (6-2)

West

Alabama (7-0)

Auburn (6-1)

Alabama at Auburn [Preview]

Texas A&M at Missouri [Preview]


Outlook: The SEC will bring the drama this year, as both division titles will be decided in a six hour block on Saturday. First will be the much-hyped Iron Bowl, with an SEC Championship Game bid going to the winner. Then Missouri will have an opportunity to clinch a program-first SEC East title at home against Johnny Football under the lights. Projected BCS representative: Alabama



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

East

East Carolina (6-1)

Marshall (6-1)

West

Rice (6-1)

UTSA (5-2)

Tulane (5-2)

North Texas (5-2)

East Carolina at Marshall [Preview]

North Texas at Tulsa [Preview]

Tulane at Rice [Preview]

Louisiana Tech at UTSA [Preview]


Outlook: All season ECU and Marshall have eyed this Thanksgiving Friday showdown as a must-win for Conference USA title purposes. The week is here and the stakes are set; so buckle up for a good one because last season it was the Pirates winning a 65-59 triple overtime thriller in the season finale. The West, however, is much more difficult. Rice wins the West Division with a victory at home on Saturday against Tulane. If the Green Wave knock off the Owls, they will need a Louisiana Tech win at UTSA. UTSA can win the division with a win against Louisiana Tech and a Tulane win. North Texas, previously in control of its own destiny, can earn a share of the division title but cannot win any tiebreaker.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

East

Buffalo (6-1)

Bowling Green (6-1)

West

Northern Illinois (8-0)

(clinched division)

Northern Illinois 33, WMU 14 [Recap]

Bowling Green at Buffalo [Preview]


Outlook: Isn't it nice when the schedule works out like this? Bowling Green and Buffalo will put the MAC East on the line this week with a winner-take-all battle for the division. The victor will face Northern Illinois in the MAC title game next week, hoping to become the first MAC opponent to knock off the Huskies since Oct. 1, 2011.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

West

Fresno State (7-0)

(clinched division)

Mountain

Utah State (6-1)

Boise State (5-2)

Fresno State at San Jose State [Preview]

Wyoming at Utah State [Preview]

New Mexico at Boise State [Preview]


Outlook: Utah State was written off by many following the loss of star quarterback Chuckie Keeton, but the Aggies got some help from San Diego State and jumped Boise State in the Mountain Division standings. The Broncos' only hope of a rematch with Fresno State is a win against New Mexico and a Utah State loss against Wyoming.



CONFERENCE

CONTENDERS

WEEK 14 KEY GAMES

Louisiana-Lafayette (5-0)

Arkansas State (4-1)

Arkansas State at Western Kentucky [Preview]

Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette [Preview]


Outlook: Louisiana needs just one win or one Arkansas State loss to clinch at least a share of its first Sun Belt title since 2005. For third-year coach Mark Hudspeth, the stage to notch that honor will not be bigger than a home game against the in-state rivals from Monroe.

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