First and 10 - Examining the conference title scenarios
Published: Monday, 19 November 2012 16:45
by Zach Barnett
Congratulations to Gary Andersen and Utah State for wrapping up the final WAC championship with its 48-41 overtime thriller over Louisiana Tech. With one conference title wrapped up, how do the other 10 league championship races shape up as we head into Thanksgiving weekend.
1. The possibility exists for a four-way tie atop the Big 12. If Texas beats Kansas State and Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma (and the four mentioned win all their other games), there will be a four-way tie for the Big 12 title. In that scenario, Texas could emerge from the tiebreakers as the conference's BCS representative. Imagine that occuring when the Longhorns were allowing 197 points in their first four Big 12 games.
2. The ACC Championship is set. Florida State locked up the ACC Atlantic with its 41-14 win over Maryland, and with Monday's self-inflicted postseason ban, Miami is out in the ACC Coastal. In steps another team that struggled mightily on defense this season, Georgia Tech. The eighth ACC title game will be played Dec. 1 in Charlotte, N.C., at 8 p.m. ET on ABC or ESPN.
3. The road to the SEC Championship runs through Auburn. Georgia clinched the SEC East at Jordan-Hare two Saturdays ago, and Alabama can clinch the SEC West with a win over the Tigers on Saturday. Should the unthinkable happen and Auburn shocks the Crimson Tide, through my interpretation of the SEC divisional tie-breakers, LSU would win the West and go to Atlanta.
4. The final Thursday night of the season will be the de facto Big East championship game. Rutgers stands in first place in the Big East at 5-0 and Louisville is second at 4-1. Assuming the Scarlet Knights beat Pittsburgh and Charlie Strong's team defeats Connecticut, the Cardinals will host Rutgers with the league title and an Orange Bowl berth on the line.
5. The Big Ten could be awash in the sea of red. No, not the red of Maryland and Rutgers, at least not yet. Wisconsin has already clinched the Leaders Division for the second straight year, and Nebraska will win the Legends Division with a victory over Iowa on Friday. If Iowa beats Nebraska, Michigan will win the Legends Division if it beats Ohio State. If the Buckeyes win, Bo Pelini's team will slide its way to Indianapolis.
6. The Pac-12 could be headed toward an awkward rematch. Stanford took control of the Pac-12 North with its upset of Oregon, and UCLA clinched the Pac-12 South by beating USC. The Bruins host Stanford on Saturday. If Stanford wins, the teams will meet up again six days later, this time in Palo Alto. UCLA's reward for beating Stanford will be a trip to Eugene to face Oregon, provided the Ducks beat Oregon State. If Oregon State beats Oregon, UCLA can host Stanford again with a Bruins victory. Got it?
7. Conference USA could be headed toward its own rematch. Tulsa clinched the C-USA West with its 23-21 win over Central Florida, and can host the conference championship with a win over SMU. The Knights will win the C-USA East if they beat UAB, which will mean a return trip to Tulsa for the second time in three weeks. If UCF loses, East Carolina wins the division with a defeat of Marshall.
8. The MAC Championship Game is set. 7-0 Kent State and 7-0 Northern Illinois are on a collision course for Detroit. Dave Doeren's team will look to defend its conference title, while Darrell Hazell seeks a MAC title in year two on the job. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
9. The Mountain West is an equilateral triangle. Boise State is 6-1 with a loss to San Diego State, San Diego State is 6-1 with a loss to Fresno State, and Fresno State is 6-1 with a loss to Boise State. If all three teams win out, the conference will declare all tri-champions and ship trophies to each campus.
10. Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee are on course for a de facto Sun Belt Championship Game. The 6-1 Red Wolves have an off week before hosting 5-1 Middle Tennessee, who hosts Troy on Saturday. A Blue Raiders win would set up a winner-take-all showdown in Jonesboro on December 1. Although a possibility exists where Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana - Monroe and Louisiana - Lafayette are all tied atop the standings with two losses. In that scenario, your guess is as good as mine.