Conference Championship Picture

The college football regular season is winding down, which means it’s time to look at the major conference races. In several conferences, teams in the hunt still have to play each other, which should make for an exciting finish.

Favorite: Central Florida (5-0 in conference)
Still alive: Louisville (5-1), Cincinnati (5-1), Houston (4-2), SMU (3-2)

UCF has survived close calls the last two weeks to remain unbeaten in conference. The Knights are expected to win their final three—home against Rutgers and South Florida; at SMU—but can probably lose one and still win the American. That’s because they already beat Louisville and should they find themselves tied with Cincinnati, UCF would probably win the tiebreaker by virtue of a better BCS ranking. Houston and SMU are not mathematically eliminated, but are eliminated by any other measure.

ACC Coastal
Favorite: Duke (4-2)
Still alive: Georgia Tech (5-3), Virginia Tech (4-3), North Carolina (4-3), Miami (3-3)

While Florida State has already wrapped up the Atlantic, the Coastal is still wide open. Duke will reach the title game with road wins over Wake Forest and North Carolina to close the season, but that’s no guarantee. Four other Coastal teams currently have three losses, so expect chaos if Duke falls. Whichever team emerges will be a heavy underdog against the Seminoles in Charlotte.

Big 12
Favorite: Baylor (6-0)
Still alive: Oklahoma State (6-1), Texas (6-1)

The Bears have passed big tests the last two weeks but close with road games against No. 10 Oklahoma State and TCU before returning home to play Texas. The fact that Texas still has to play Texas Tech and Okie State still has Oklahoma means Baylor can probably win the league even if it drops a game. But they’re still hoping for an Alabama or Florida State loss and a spot in the national championship.

Big Ten Leaders
Favorite: Ohio State (6-0)
Still alive: Wisconsin (5-1)

You should be proud of me because I didn’t even have to look up the division names. I also didn’t have to do any research to know the Buckeyes have all but locked up a spot in the conference title game. Since they already beat Wisconsin, they’d have to lose at home to Indiana and at Michigan in order to give the Badgers a chance.

Big Ten Legends
Favorite: Michigan State (6-0)
Still alive: Minnesota (4-2)

After Michigan State’s win over Nebraska last weekend, Minnesota would need to beat Wisconsin and Michigan State (on the road) and have the Spartans lose at Northwestern this week in order to prevent the Spartans from reaching Indianapolis.

Pac-12 North
Favorite: Oregon (6-1)
Still alive: Stanford (6-2)

Like last year, Oregon’s loss to Stanford sent the Ducks from national championship contenders to second place in their own division. But with Stanford’s loss on Saturday to USC, Oregon is back in the driver’s seat. Oregon finishes with Arizona and Oregon State.

Pac-12 South
Favorite: Arizona State (6-1)
Still alive: UCLA (5-2), USC (5-2)

The South’s challengers will settle this on the field the next two weeks, as UCLA hosts Arizona State before USC hosts UCLA. The Sun Devils already beat USC.

SEC East
Favorite: Missouri (5-1)
Still alive: South Carolina (6-2)

Missouri still has two tough games: at Ole Miss and home against Texas A&M. If the Tigers lose one then South Carolina, which wrapped up its conference schedule and shocked Missouri earlier this season, is the champ.

SEC West
Favorite: Alabama (7-0)
Still alive: Auburn (6-1)

A year after going winless in the SEC, Auburn hosts Alabama for a spot in the SEC championship. This Iron Bowl figures to be more competitive than the last two, which Alabama has won by a combined 91-14.

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