Conference Title Race Reset: Indiana's B1G dreams on line in Week 11

For Indiana's unlikely Big Ten run to continue, the Hoosiers must beat Wisconsin on Saturday. (US Presswire)

Believe it or not, we have turned the corner and are heading down the stretch of the regular season. In the next four 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 just a few weeks remaining in 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.

1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC)
1. Clemson (8-1, 5-1)

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

Outlook: If Florida State can survive the trip to Blacksburg, Va., things are looking good for the Seminoles to return to Charlotte for the second time in three years to compete for the ACC championship and a BCS bowl bid. All that is left after Virginia Tech is the injury-plagued Maryland Terrapins, and I like Florida State's chances there. The Coastal is far more intriguing, as Miami actually enters the Virginia game as a slight underdog. A loss opens up the race even to Georgia Tech, while Virginia Tech hangs on hoping for a Canes meltdown in the final weeks.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Florida State at Virginia Tech (Thurs.) Game Preview
Miami at Virginia Game Preview
Georgia Tech at North Carolina Game Preview
Maryland at Clemson Game Preview

1. Kansas State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12)
2. Oklahoma (6-2, 4-1)
3. Texas (7-2, 4-2)
4. Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-2)

Outlook: Kansas State's Big 12 title chase has become the focus of national attention as the Wildcats sit at No. 2 in the BCS standings. One loss could keep them in the Big 12 title hunt but would end the national championship dreams in Manhattan. Oklahoma would need two Kansas State losses to claim the Big 12 title, while Texas needs one before they get their shot on Dec. 1 in Manhattan -- if, and only if, they beat Iowa State and TCU. My gut says this will be a process of elimination down the stretch, but let's see if Kansas State can escape TCU first.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Iowa State at Texas Game Preview
West Virginia at Oklahoma State Game Preview
Baylor at Oklahoma Game Preview
Kansas State at TCU Game Preview

1. Louisville (9-0, 4-0)
1. Rutgers (7-1, 4-0)
3. Cincinnati (6-2, 2-1)

Outlook: Cincinnati is holding onto the hope that Louisville stumbles before its regular-season finale with Rutgers, allowing the Bearcats to jump into the top spot if they can win out down the stretch. Otherwise, this is a two-horse race between the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights. With the two contenders meeting on Nov. 29, both teams could actually afford one conference loss before that game. But both teams -- the Cardinals in particular -- are playing for national respect and have no interest sleepwalking through any games left on the schedule. The best scenario for the Big East would be for both teams to enter that nationally televised Thursday night game with unbeaten conference records, setting up a true Big East Championship Game for the eight-team conference.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Louisville at Syracuse Game Preview
Cincinnati at Temple Game Preview

1. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
1. Michigan (6-3, 4-1)
3. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2)

1. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2)
2. Indiana (4-5, 2-3)
NOTE: Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) and Penn State (6-3, 4-1) are ineligible for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Outlook: Wisconsin and Indiana will play this weekend for the driver's seat in the Leaders Division. Take a moment and let that sink in. Got it? Here's why -- Wisconsin faces both Penn State and Ohio State in the final two weeks of the season. A loss to Indiana, and one of those teams allows Indiana to steal the division with a win over Purdue or Penn State. But a loss to Indiana can be overcome if the Badgers knock off both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions -- and Indiana loses one of their final two games.

The Legends Division is equally confusing, with Michigan navigating a tough home stretch without the head-to-head against Nebraksa. Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State are left for the Wolverines, who need to win all of those games and get some help to win the division. The Cornhuskers' toughest test will be this week against Penn State, but they do face Iowa on the road to close the regular season. Northwestern is holding on with a chance to knock off Michigan but would need two more Nebraska losses to jump into the Big Ten title game. I find it interesting that two of the teams in the middle of this title race are the two that cannot participate in the title game.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Wisconsin at Indiana Game Preview
Northwestern at Michigan Game Preview
Penn State at Nebraska Game Preview

1. Oregon (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12)
2. Oregon State (7-1, 5-1)
2. Stanford (7-2, 5-1)

1. UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12)
2. USC (6-3, 4-3)
3. Arizona State (5-4, 3-3)

Outlook: First, let us tackle the easier race: the North. The winner of Oregon State and Stanford will face Oregon in the next couple of weeks, likely to determine who wins the division and earns a bid to the Pac-12 title game. OK, now the South. USC and UCLA play next week in the Rose Bowl with a much-needed head-to-head tiebreaker on the line. The Bruins might have a game up on the Trojans, but have to face Stanford in the regular-season finale. But if UCLA can beat Washington State this week, then a win over the Trojans clinches the South. The Trojans can knock Arizona State from contention this week, and clinch the division with a win next week over the Bruins. If Arizona State beats USC and Washington State beats UCLA? Well then, we're back to square one in the South.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Oregon State at Stanford Game Preview
Arizona State at USC Game Preview
Oregon at California Game Preview
UCLA at Washington State Game Preview

1. Florida (8-1, 7-1 SEC)
2. Georgia (8-1, 6-1)

1. Alabama (9-0, 6-0)
2. Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2)

Outlook: The SEC might dominate the headlines nationally. But when it comes to the conference title race, the league is pretty boring. Here we are in mid-November, in the midst of exhilarating conference play as teams battle for tiebreakers, and the SEC could have its Dec. 1 title game booked by Sunday. It is up to Texas A&M and Auburn to keep this race going, or else Georgia and Alabama will have this thing wrapped up.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Texas A&M at Alabama Game Preview
Georgia at Auburn Game Preview

Conference USA

1. UCF (7-2, 5-0 Conference USA)
2. East Carolina (6-4, 5-1)

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

Outlook: Tulsa's backloaded conference schedule will give it a test on its path to the Conference USA Championship Game. A win over Houston knocks the Cougars from contention, but SMU is hoping for at least one Golden Hurricane loss before Tulsa comes to town for the regular-season finale on Nov. 24. If Tulsa beats Houston and UCF next week, it will clinch the division regardless of that outcome. If it stumbles, then SMU can earn the West Division bid with a win in that game. Since UCF holds the tiebreaker over East Carolina, it would need two losses down the stretch to give up its hold on the East Division. It is possible that UCF and Tulsa could play next week to clinch divisions then rematch two weeks later for the C-USA title.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Tulsa at Houston Game Preview
Southern Miss at SMU Game Preview
UCF at UTEP Game Preview


1. Kent State (8-1, 5-0 MAC)
2. Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1)
3. Ohio (8-2, 4-2)
4. Miami (OH) (4-5, 3-2)

1. Northern Illinois (9-1, 6-0)
2. Toledo (8-2, 5-1)
3. Ball State (7-3, 4-2)

Outlook: Toledo's loss to Ball State marks the second time a MAC team has fallen to a conference foe once breaking into the Top 25. The competition is so tight in the MAC, it is not safe for any team to get comfortable with any kind of success. With the Toledo loss, Northern Illinois just needs a win over the Rockets on Wednesday to lock up the West Division. Kent State has a much more challenging path to lock up the East, with Miami (OH) this week, then Bowling Green and Ohio left on the schedule. Miami has the least margin for error and is likely eliminated if it doesn't pull the upset. If the RedHawks can defeat Kent State at home on Saturday, Bowling Green moves into the top spot with a chance to ice the division next week. Time is ticking in the MAC race, but there is still more than a handful of teams in the mix. 

Week 11 Games to Watch
Ball State 34, Toledo 27 (Tues.)
Bowling Green 26, Ohio 14 (Wed.)
Kent State at Miami (OH) Game Preview

Mountain West

1. Fresno State (7-3, 5-1 Mountain West)
1. San Diego State (7-3, 5-1)
3. Boise State (7-2, 4-1)
3. Air Force (5-4, 4-1)
5. Nevada (6-3, 3-2)

Outlook: San Diego State has become the unlikely frontrunner in the Mountain West -- a thought that seemed foreign when the Aztecs started the season 2-3. Unfortunately, with a loss to Fresno State earlier in the season, the best-case scenario is to win out and hope the Bulldogs suffer their second conference loss at Nevada. Air Force is in a unique position because it plays San Diego State and Fresno State in the final three weeks, but does not face Boise State this year. With all those one-loss teams, my best guess is there will be a shared conference title.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Air Force at San Diego State Game Preview
Boise State at Hawai'i Game Preview
Fresno State at Nevada Game Preview

Sun Belt

1. Arkansas State (6-3, 4-1 Sun Belt)
1. Louisiana-Monroe (6-3, 4-1)
1. Middle Tennessee (6-3, 4-1)
4. Western Kentucky (6-3, 3-2)
4. Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3, 3-2)

Outlook: I had a gut feeling this would be a fun conference race to follow down the stretch. And with Louisiana-Monroe taking its first conference loss of the season, the race is wide open. Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Kentucky play next week in an elimination game, but each is likely out of the picture if Arkansas State cannot beat Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday. The Red Wolves still have Troy and Middle Tennessee left on their schedule, meaning the battle is far from over if they can knock off ULM at home. Troy -- out of the conference race with a 3-3 Sun Belt record -- can do a lot of spoiling down the stretch against both Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee.

Week 11 Games to Watch
Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas State (Thurs.) Game Preview
Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky Game Preview


1. Utah State (8-2, 4-0 WAC)
2. Louisiana Tech (8-1, 3-0)
3. San Jose State (7-2, 3-1)

Outlook: Louisiana Tech is the assumed frontrunner in the WAC, but Sonny Dykes' squad will have to earn that conference title with three tough tests in the next three weeks. After Texas State, the Bulldogs face Utah State, then San Jose State on the road to close the regular season. Utah State already has the head-to-head advantage on San Jose State, but the point will be moot if the Aggies cannot knock off Louisiana Tech next week.

Week 11 Games to Watch
San Jose State at New Mexico State Game Preview
Louisiana Tech at Texas State Game Preview

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, has you covered with thisdaily newsletter. View apreview.

Get College Football updates on Facebook

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories