Now we’re down to two weeks remaining in the college football regular season. Some conference races have been decided. Others will come down to the final games.
Here’s a closer look at the conference and divisional races across the country:
American Athletic Conference
UCF (6-0, 9-1): A convincing victory over Rutgers brought the Knights one step closer to winning the American Athletic Conference in its first season in the new league. UCF should be heavy favorites in its last two contests – home against South Florida and at SMU. Even if it loses a game, UCF would have the head-to-head tie-breaker over Louisville. The Golden Knights would need to be ahead of Cincinnati in the BCS standings to win the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Bearcats.
Louisville (6-1, 10-1): If UCF beats South Florida this week, Louisville will be eliminated from AAC contention. Even if Louisville beats Cincinnati in two weeks and UCF loses once, the Cardinals would lose the tie-breaker by virtue of the head-to-head tie-breaker. There can’t be a three-way tie between Cincinnati, Louisville and UCF because the Bearcats and Cardinals play in the final week of the season.
Cincinnati (6-1, 9-2): Any chance Cincinnati has of winning the league starts with the Bearcats beating Louisville on Dec. 5 – the final Thursday night game of the season. If UCF loses once and Cincinnati wins its last game, it can win the conference if it has a better BCS ranking. Currently, Cincinnati ranks 28th in the BCS standings. UCF is 19th.
SMU (4-2, 5-5): Considering SMU ranks 87th in the BCS standings and would have to rank ahead of Louisville (No. 20) in the event of a tie, the Mustangs have no real chance of winning the league. Mathematically, SMU still has a chance – just not a realistic one.
Florida State (8-0, 11-0): The Seminoles clinched the division title by completing a perfect conference season. They now await the winner of the ACC Coastal division. If they can win out, they’ll most like be competing for the national title, so make sure and buy your 2014 BCS National Championship tickets if you’re a Noles fan.
Duke (5-2, 9-2): It’s pretty simple for the Blue Devils. If they beat rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill, they win the division – an amazing feat at Duke. If Duke loses, it has no chance of advancing to the ACC Championship Game.
Virginia Tech (4-3, 7-4): This is another clear-cut scenario: If Duke loses and Virginia Tech beats lowly Virginia, the Hokies advance to the ACC Championship Game. No other outcome would matter.
Miami (4-3, 8-3): Though Miami’s hopes of winning the division are slim, they still exist. The Hurricanes must beat Pittsburgh and need Duke and Virginia Tech to both lose.
Georgia Tech (5-3, 7-4): The only hope Paul Johnson’s team has is for Duke to lose to North Carolina, Virginia Tech to lose to Virginia and Miami to lose to Pittsburgh. In that case – and only in that case – Georgia Tech would win a three-way tie with Duke and North Carolina because the Yellow Jackets beat both teams.
North Carolina (4-3, 6-5): Too many divisional losses leave North Carolina with no chance of winning the division. The best it can do is play spoiler against Duke this weekend.
Oklahoma State (7-1, 10-1): With convincing wins over Baylor and Texas, Oklahoma State simply needs a win over rival Oklahoma to capture the Big 12 championship. If the Cowboys lose, they would have needed a lot of help. Namely, they would need the winner of the Baylor-Texas game to have lost the previous week. Baylor plays TCU this week and Texas hosts Texas Tech.
Baylor (6-1, 9-1): After losing badly at Oklahoma State, the Bears need to regroup and win their final two games – and hope Oklahoma takes care of the Cowboys. If that scenario plays out, Baylor would win the Big 12. In case of a three-way tie with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, the Cowboys would win because Oklahoma would be eliminated in the second tiebreaker (record against the next-best team in the league, which would be Texas) and Oklahoma State beat Baylor.
Texas (6-1, 7-3): For Texas to win the league, it needs to win its last two games – including the season finale at Baylor – and for Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State. In case of a three-way tie with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, the Cowboys would win because Oklahoma would be eliminated in the second tiebreaker (record against the next-best team in the league, which would be Baylor) and Oklahoma State beat the Longhorns.
Oklahoma (6-2, 9-2): Though Oklahoma can actually tie for the conference title, it would need a lot of help and it would not be able to win the tiebreakers. The Sooners would need for Baylor and Texas to lose this week. They would also have to beat Oklahoma State on the final day of the season. Then Oklahoma would tie for the league crown.
Big Ten Legends
Michigan State (7-0, 10-1): A win at Northwestern clinched the division for the Spartans, who look to cap a perfect Big Ten slate with a home win over Minnesota. Michigan State will play Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Big Ten Leaders
Ohio State (7-0, 11-0): The Buckeyes’ dominant win over Indiana clinched the division. They wrap up the regular season at a Michigan team that has lost four of its last six and needed three overtimes to beat Northwestern, which is 0-7 in conference play. Ohio State faces Michigan State in a much-anticipated Big Ten Championship Game.
Conference USA East
East Carolina (6-1, 9-2): The winner of this week’s East Carolina-Marshall game – played on Marshall’s home turf – captures the division crown.
Marshall (6-1, 8-3): The winner of this week’s East Carolina-Marshall game – played on Marshall’s home turf – captures the division crown.
Conference USA West
Rice (6-1, 8-3): There is no complication if Rice beats Tulane this week. In that case, the Owls would win the division. If, however, they lose, it would throw the division into tiebreaker hell. Rice can’t win any of the tiebreakers because it would have divisional losses to Tulane and North Texas. The best-case scenario would be a three-way tie between Tulane, Rice and UTSA, but UTSA would win the division based on going 5-1 in divisional play.
UTSA (6-5, 5-2): Amazingly, Larry Coker’s team – currently in its third year of playing football – needs only to win and for Tulane to beat Rice in order for the Roadrunners to win the division. They would win any tiebreaker because they went 5-1 in divisional play.
Tulane (5-2, 7-4): For the Green Wave to win the division, it must beat Rice and hope UTSA loses to Louisiana Tech.
North Texas (5-2, 7-4): Though the Mean Green can split the divisional crown, it can’t win the league because it has losses to UTSA and Tulane. It’s impossible for North Texas to finish in a two-way tie with Rice, over whom it would own the tiebreaker.
Bowling Green (6-1, 8-3): The winner of this week’s Bowling Green-Buffalo game – played on Buffalo’s home turf – captures the division crown and plays Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game.
Buffalo (6-1, 8-3): The winner of this week’s Bowling Green-Buffalo game – played on Buffalo’s home turf – captures the division crown and plays Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game.
Northern Illinois (7-0, 11-0): Since the Huskies have already beaten Ball State – over whom they have a one-game lead in the standings – they have clinched the division title. They will play the winner of this week’s Bowling Green-Buffalo game in the MAC Championship Game.
Mountain West Mountain
Utah State (6-1, 7-4): Those who stopped paying attention to the Aggies after they lost QB Chuckie Keeton for the season might be surprised to learn they will win their division with a victory over Wyoming. If they lose to the Cowboys and Boise State wins, the Broncos would win the division. Whoever wins the division faces Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game.
Boise State (5-2, 7-4): For Boise State to win the division, it needs to beat New Mexico this weekend. The Broncos must also hope Wyoming can beat division leader Utah State. Since Boise State won the head-to-head matchup with Utah State, it would win a tiebreaker. Whoever wins the division faces Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game.
Mountain West West
Fresno State (7-0, 11-0): By beating San Diego State in overtime earlier this year, the Bulldogs have already sewn up the division crown. It will face Utah State or Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game.
Stanford (7-2, 9-2): The Cardinal owes a debt of gratitude to Arizona, which helped Stanford clinch the division crown by knocking off Oregon. Stanford did its part by beating the snot out of California to clinch the division. Stanford team will hope Arizona can repeat its performance this week and beat Arizona State. If the Wildcats win, Stanford would host the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Championship Game because the Cardinal won the head-to-head matchup. If Arizona State wins, the game would be played in Tempe.
Arizona State (7-1, 9-2): The Sun Devils clinched the Pac-12 South by winning at UCLA this week. Next week’s game against rival Arizona will determine where Arizona State will face Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game. An Arizona State win would mean the game will be played in Tempe. A loss means the Sun Devils would have to play in Palo Alto because they lost to Stanford earlier this season.
Missouri (6-1, 10-1 overall): Beating Texas A&M this week would mean the Tigers win the SEC East and represent the division in Atlanta. If Missouri loses, it would be tied with South Carolina, which owns the tiebreaker.
South Carolina (6-2, 9-2 overall): While the Gamecocks battle rival Clemson this week, their SEC East fate will be determined in Columbia, Missouri – site of the Texas A&M-Missouri game. South Carolina will be rooting hard for Johnny Manziel and company to knock off the Tigers. Since South Carolina beat Missouri earlier this year, it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. A Missouri loss means the Gamecocks advance to the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama (7-0, 11-0 overall): The winner of the Iron Bowl wins the West. It’s that simple.
Auburn (6-1, 10-1 overall): If Auburn can beat No. 1 Alabama in the regular-season finale, the Tigers would win the West.
Louisiana-Lafayette (5-0, 8-2 overall): If the Ragin’ Cajuns win one more game – either this week against rival Louisiana-Monroe or the following week at South Alabama – they win the conference.
Arkansas State (5-1, 7-4 overall): A loss to Louisiana-Lafayette earlier this season leaves the Red Wolves needing ULL to lose its final two games for Arkansas State to repeat as Sun Belt champions.
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