College football teams across the country are turning their attention to the final week of a long regular season. While some know they have more contests to play this season after next Saturday, including a conference championship game, some still have to win to get such an opportunity. Here is a look at the scenarios and tiebreakers for each conference title game ahead of Week 13.
American Athletic Conference
Teams in contention: Tulane (10-1, 7-0), SMU (9-2, 7-0), UTSA (8-3, 7-0)
For SMU itʻs win and in to the AAC Championship. The Mustangs high-powered offense hosts Navy on Saturday as heavy favorites. Rhett Lashleeʻs SMU squad leads the conference with over 40 points scored per game. The Mustangs have spent the recent part of their schedule bullying the bottom half of the American Athletic, but had their work cut out for them this past weekend in Memphis, eventually defeating the Tigers 38-34.
As for the other two, itʻs winner-take-all in New Orleans next Saturday. Tulane, currently the only Group of Five team in the College Football Playoff committee rankings, hosts AAC newcomer UTSA led by seventh-year quarterback Frank Harris. The Green Wave are the defending champions of the American, and have reached double-digit wins in back-to-back years.
In Tulaneʻs most recent win over Florida Atlantic, quarterback Michael Pratt became the schoolʻs all-time leading passer, surpassing 9,239 passing yards in his illustrious career.
Owenʻs Pick: SMU vs. Tulane
Atlantic Coast Conference
Teams in contention: Florida State (11-0, 8-0), Louisville (10-1, 7-1)
With Louisvilleʻs 38-31 win over Miami on Saturday, the Cardinals set up a meeting with Florida State for Dec. 2 in Charlotte. Ahead of Week 13, both Florida State and Louisville have completed their conference schedules. The Seminoles will put their unblemished record on the line against rival Florida while Louisville faces Kentucky in a Bluegrass battle.
Big 12 Conference
Teams in contention: Texas (10-1, 7-1), Oklahoma State (8-3, 6-2), Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2), Kansas State (8-3, 6-2), West Virginia (7-4, 5-3), Texas Tech (6-5, 5-3), Iowa State (6-5, 5-3)
The most chaotic conference in college football has seven teams still in the running for a spot in Dallas. Here is what could happen.
Black Friday sees both Texas and Oklahoma in action. If the Longhorns can get by Texas Tech, then they are through to the title game. Simple as that. Oklahoma, who has the head-to-head win over Texas, will play TCU in Norman where a loss could eliminate the Sooners.
On Saturday, Oklahoma State faces BYU knowing a win will get them a trip to AT&T Stadium. Picked seventh by the media in the preseason (they did get one first-place vote), the Pokes have defied most all expectations to be in this spot this late in the season. Donʻt look past BYU however, the Cougars gave Oklahoma a run on Saturday and are in search of bowl eligibility at 5-6.
As for Kansas State, things are not as easy. The Wildcats will need to win and also get some help. The perfect scenario for Chris Kliemanʻs Cats is a win over Iowa State along with losses by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Although it is not out of the realm of possibility, the chances are slim that K-State will be able to defend their Big 12 title.
And the other three, well a lot would have to happen in order for either West Virginia, Texas Tech or Iowa State to clinch.
Owenʻs Pick: Texas vs. Oklahoma
Big Ten Conference
Teams in contention: Michigan (11-0, 8-0), Ohio State (11-0, 8-0), Iowa (9-2, 6-2)
Iowa is already in as Big Ten West champions following a comeback win over Illinois.
Michigan and Ohio State will fight for the East division crown in Ann Arbor in The Game. For the third consecutive season, this intense rivalry will determine who moves on to Indianapolis. Michigan has won the last two, putting the pressure on Ryan Day and the Buckeyes to overcome the hurdle.
Catching all the mid-week headlines lately has been Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who will not be on the sideline for the matchup as he finishes out a three-game suspension implemented by the Big Ten for the ongoing sign-stealing scandal.
Owenʻs Pick: Ohio State vs. Iowa
Teams in contention: Liberty (11-0, 7-0), New Mexico State (9-3, 6-1)
With Jacksonville State (8-3, 6-1) ineligible for the postseason due to the FCS-to-FBS transition rules, no matter the result of next weekʻs game between the Gamecocks and New Mexico State, it will be Jerry Killʻs New Mexico State Aggies heading to Lynchburg to take on currently unbeaten Liberty. Coach Killʻs impressive rebuild in Las Cruces was highlighted by the Aggiesʻ recent 31-10 upset win over Auburn in Week 12.
As for Liberty, the Flames were the first team in the FBS to clinch a spot in a conference championship game, doing so in Week Nine. In Jamey Chadwellʻs first season as head coach, Liberty is one of six remaining undefeated teams in FBS football. This wll be the first CUSA Conference Championship for either team as they were previously independent before switching this year.
Teams in contention: Toledo (10-1, 7-0), Miami (OH) (9-2, 6-1)
Miami (OH)ʻs only loss in MAC play came in Week Eight at home to Toledo. In that game, the RedHawks lost starting QB Brett Gabbert to an injury, but the transition to backup Aveon Smith has been seamless. Miami took the MAC East title in Week Nine with a 14-point victory over Ohio. The RedHawk offense might be the slowest moving in all of college football (running a play roughly every 42 seconds), but they still believe an upset is in the works in Detroit in the rematch with the Rockets.
Toledo has won ten straight games after falling just shy of an upset in Week One against Illinois. The Rockets star signal-caller Dequan Finn leads the conference in passing yards and is joined in the backfield by Peny Boone, who is on top of the MAC leaderboard in yards from scrimmage. After narrowly avoiding a loss to rival Bowling Green a week ago, Toledo is still in the hunt for a New Yearʻs Six bowl. Toledo will need to take care of business in the Conference Championship to accomplish the feat with Group of Five frontrunner Tulane playing the toughest portion of their schedule.
Mountain West Conference
Teams in contention: UNLV (9-2, 6-1), Air Force (8-3, 5-2), Boise State (6-5, 5-2), San Jose State (6-5, 5-2)
While some teams are peaking near the end of the season, some teams in the Mountain West are in complete free fall, including some in the hunt for a conference championship.
Following an 8-0 start to the season, Air Force has lost three in a row with two such losses coming in conference play. In Week 12, the Falcons fumbled away the game against UNLV. Air Force will head north to the blue turf in Boise where the winner will take a spot in the Mountain West Championship.
UNLV is on all systems go under first year head coach Barry Odom. The Rebels have won nine games in a season for just the third time in program history although the 1984 team had their wins removed by the NCAA. Freshman QB Jayden Maiavaʻs top target Ricky White is the only player in the MWC to have over 1,000 receiving yards this season.
The Rebels one issue has been pass defense. UNLV will face San Jose State and their talented quarterback Chevan Cordeiro in Week 13 in the other win-and-in Mountain West matchup. The Spartans have won five straight after a 1-5 start to the season.
Owenʻs Pick: UNLV vs. Air Force
Teams in contention: Washington (11-0, 8-0), Oregon (10-1, 7-1), Arizona (8-3, 6-2)
While Oregon State did fall out of the running for the Pac-12 Championship, the Beavers can still play a factor in deciding who goes to Vegas. Oregon State travels to Eugene for the final Pac-12 edition of the Oregon rivalry.
Oregon will be playing for a rematch with Washington, the only team to defeat the Ducks this year. The Pac-12 Conference Championship could prove to a CFP qualifier as Washington and Oregon both sit on the doorstep of a coveted top-four ranking.
Arizona will be the Beavsʻ biggest supporters as the Wildcats need an Oregon loss along with their own win over Arizona State.
Washington defeated Oregon State on Saturday and are already off the the Pac-12 Championship game. Heisman-hopeful Michael Penix Jr. has led the Huskies to an 11-0 season and top-five ranking this year and he looks to punctuate the regular season with an Apple Cup victory over Washington State.
Owenʻs Pick: Washington vs. Oregon
Team in contention: Georgia (11-0, 8-0), Alabama (10-1, 7-0)
It will be a battle of two heavyweights in Atlanta as the defending conference champion Georgia Bulldogs take on Alabama, who has won eight such championships under Nick Saban.
Georgia was recently promoted to number one in the latest CFP rankings and proved their ability once again with a 28-point win in Knoxville.
Alabama has been climbing the charts since dropping an early-season non-conference contest to Texas. The offense is on a tear (not just against Chattanooga) and is looking to shake things up when it comes to who is in and who is out of the College Football Playoff.
Sun Belt Conference
Teams in contention: Troy (9-2, 6-1), Coastal Carolina (7-4, 5-2), Appalachian State (7-4, 5-2)
Troy claimed the West division and a Sun Belt Conference Championship game appearance for a second consecutive season with a close win over Louisiana on Saturday. Aside from James Madison who is ineligible for the postseason, the Trojans have the top defense in the conference, allowing 16 points and 301 total yards per game.
They are a scary opponent for whoever should come out of the Sun Belt East division. It is down to two with Georgia Southernʻs loss in the final seconds to Old Dominion. The Eagles will try and spoil the season for Appalachian State now as they host the Mountaineers this upcoming Saturday.
All Coastal Carolina has to do is beat the division leaders James Madison to clinch a spot in the title game. That is a tall task knowing James Madison is the best run defense in the FBS and the Chanticleers will likely be without starting QB Grayson McCall as he recovers from a concussion.
In the case that both App State and Coastal Carolina lose and Old Dominion defeats Georgia State, there would be a three-way tie for the qualifying spot. The tiebreaker would go the way of Coastal, because of the Chants head-to-head wins over both App State and ODU.
Owenʻs Pick: Troy vs. Appalachian State
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