College Football Week 11: Conference Races Heat Up

This week we officially move into the final stretch of the college football season. Everyone has played about 3/4 of their regular season games, and with four weeks remaining before the official National Championship is set, we are into some very important match ups. The conference races are getting exciting and key match ups over the next few weeks will determine the conference championship match ups or the automatic bowl bids for teams.

In the Pac-12 this weekends matchup between Oregon and Stanford should decide the Pac 12 champion, but also which of the two teams has a shot remaining at the National Title. Oregon would need more help than Stanford to get there, but the loser is clearly eliminated from both races. While this will on determine the North division of the Pac-12, it is hard to imagine either team falling to a foe like Arizona State from the South.

The Big Ten also is the heat of its first race towards a conference championship. Right now the race is still wide open. In the Legends division Michigan State has the lead with a 4-1 record, but Iowa, Nebraska, and Michigan all remain in contention with 3-2 records. In the Leaders division Penn State currently stands at 5-0 with a two-game lead over Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions face a tough stretch to end the season and could lose grasp of that lead quickly. Overall the Big Ten has disappointed again this year with no top-ten teams or National Title Contenders. It did look for a while like Wisconsin could contend but back to back painful loses to Michigan State and struggling Ohio State now have the Badgers far the National spotlight.

The Big 12 race is looking to come down to the last day of the season when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State face off in Stillwater. While Kansas State, Texas and Texas A&M all have had decent seasons, they have fallen from the ranks of contenders and that final game will likely determine the Big 12 champ and whether or not Oklahoma State gets a shot at a National Title. Oklahoma is not out of the running, but they need some things to happen in order to get a chance.

The Big East is gross this year. I thought West Virginia would emerge from the pack but they have been upset by two bad teams now. Cincinnati has the clear lead to take the conference, but you can’t help but be unimpressed with them. The Bearcats best win of the year is at home over NC State, a struggling ACC team, and their loss to Tennessee doesn’t look good at all. Cincinnati has found a way to win a lot of close games against mediocre competition and may end up in a BCS bowl again. The good news is the days of the Big East ruining a BCS game are coming to an end, as their status as an automatic qualifier should be revoked once West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse leave. Even with the additions of teams like Boise State, UCF, Houston or Navy won’t be enough to help this conference which currently ranks behind the Mountain West and Conference USA this season. Pitiful.

The ACC Atlantic Division race will most likely be decided on Saturday in Death Valley when Wake Forest comes to town to face Clemson. The Tigers clinch the division with a victory, while Wake Forest would need to win this and their game next week. In the Coastal Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech also face off for what should decide that division. Neither team can clinch Saturday, but the victor has a very clear path to the championship game. The ACC might actually be better on top this year than it has been in the past. Clemson and Virginia Tech are top-10 teams, while Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, North Carolina and maybe even Virginia look to be pretty solid squads despite not earning enough victories to garner National respect. The ACC still has problems on the bottom though as Maryland, Duke and BC are all horrible this year.

The SEC is LSU’s to lose, but Arkansas can still make things interesting if they somehow upset the Tigers in a couple weeks. That would create a mess of a three way tie in the West, likely resulting in Alabama going to the title game over the other two. The East is even worse this year than last, and Georgia looks to be the favorite to take the division now. If the Bulldogs can beat Auburn and Kentucky the next two weeks they will claim the title with South Carolina’s loss to Arkansas. If not the Gamecocks would take it with a victory over Florida Saturday. Either way it looks like the West should be a heavy favorite in that title game as well.

Elsewhere Boise State should take the Mountain West title with a victory over a struggling TCU team Saturday, while Arkansas State, Nevada and Northern Illinois look to be the favorites in their respective conferences.

Predictions for Week 11:

Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 24

Clemson 38, Wake Forest 24

Nebraska 20, Penn State 17

West Virginia 35, Cincinnati 28

South Carolina 6, Florida 3

Florida State 24, Miami FL 17

Texas A&M 34, Kansas State 31

Georgia 31, Auburn 21

Boise State 41, TCU 21

USC 42, Washington 24

Alabama 24, Mississippi State 14

Stanford 42, Oregon 35

Top 25:

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Stanford

4. Oklahoma

5. Oklahoma State

6. Oregon

7. Clemson

8. Boise State

9. Arkansas

10. Virginia Tech

11. Nebraska

12. Wisconsin

13. Michigan State

14. Georgia Tech

15. Penn State

16. Florida State

17. Texas

18. Houston

19. Kansas State

20. Auburn

21. South Carolina

22. Georgia

23. Arizona State

24. USC

25. Notre Dame

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