NCF Nation: conference race 110613

Big Ten race update: Week 11

November, 6, 2013
There are only four weeks left in the regular season. Let that sink in for a moment. Where did the time go?

We're entering the real home stretch of the season now. So let's update the Big Ten division races and see where they stand:

Leaders Division

Driver's seat: Ohio State. The Buckeyes are 5-0 in the conference and hold a one-game lead and the tiebreaker over Wisconsin. If the Buckeyes simply beat Illinois and Indiana in their next two games, they will clinch a spot in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game.

Top contender: Wisconsin (4-1) would need to win out and have the Buckeyes lose twice. With Ohio State's schedule, that seems highly improbable.

Still alive: Penn State (2-2) and Indiana (1-3) could still win the division but would need Ohio State to lose out (the Nittany Lions have already lost to the Buckeyes). Not happening.

Eliminated: Illinois (0-4), Purdue (0-4)

Legends Division

Driver's seat: Michigan State is also 5-0 in league play and holds head-to-head tiebreakers with Michigan and Iowa. The Spartans are off this week before finishing at Nebraska, at Northwestern and home vs. Minnesota.

Top contender: Nebraska is the only other Legends team with fewer than two losses and gets the Spartans at home in Week 12. But first the Huskers have to go to Michigan this week, and they haven't exactly been rolling along lately.

Still alive: Minnesota (3-2) would need to win out, including a victory over Michigan State in the season finale, and have the Spartans lose somewhere else. The Gophers would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over MSU and Nebraska in that scenario. Michigan (2-2) needs a lot of help after losing to the Spartans last week. The Wolverines would need to win out and have Michigan State lose its final three games. If that were to happen, Michigan would go to Indy because it would own the head-to-head tiebreakers against Nebraska and Minnesota.

Virtually eliminated: Iowa (2-3). Since the Hawkeyes lost to Michigan State, they'd need to win out, for the Spartans to lose out and hope for a multi-way tie atop the division at 5-3. Iowa would then hold head-to-head tiebreakers against Minnesota, Nebraska and Michigan. To say that's a long shot would be an understatement.

Eliminated: Northwestern (0-5)

Pac-12 race update: Week 11

November, 6, 2013
Checking in once again on where things stand in the divisional races. Here’s where we are heading into Week 11.


Much will be decided Thursday night with Oregon’s trip to Stanford. The Ducks are in the driver’s seat as the league’s only undefeated team (both overall and in conference play). A win at Stanford gives them a 6-0 mark in league play and it would take an epic collapse over the final three games for anyone else to win the North. Their final three after Stanford include home games against Utah and Oregon State with a trip to Tucson sandwiched in between. Stanford is Oregon’s biggest challenger. The Cardinal are 5-1 in conference play with a head-to-head tie breaker over Oregon State -- which slipped further in the race following its loss to USC. If Stanford holds serve at home against Oregon and then both teams win out, they will finish with identical 8-1 records (for the third straight season) with the Cardinal winning by way of their head-to-head victory. Oregon State needs (I think) to win out and finish 7-2, have Oregon beat Stanford and then lose out to finish 6-3, and then have Stanford finish with three conference losses to negate the tie-breaker. Hip-hip hoo ra’int gonna happen.


Much messier with four teams still in play. Arizona State leads the pack with a 4-1 record. But Arizona, UCLA and USC are all 3-2. The course the Sun Devils and Bruins is clear. Win out, and they’ll win the division. And that includes ASU’s Nov. 23 trip to Pasadena. But the Bruins have to win this weekend in Arizona, a place they haven’t won since 2003, and still be able to handle a dangerous Washington team at home a week later. ASU has a trip to Utah as well as Oregon State and Arizona right after the UCLA showdown. USC still has tough sledding with Stanford and the season finale against the Bruins. This one is way too close to call with so many pecking-order-altering games still to be played. But ASU and UCLA have the inside track. USC and Arizona need to help themselves and get a little help along the way.

As a reminder, here’s how the Pac-12 handles tie-breakers.

Two-Team Tie
  1. Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams. (a.) If no game is played between the two tied teams or that game ends in a tie, the following tie-breaking procedures would be applied:
  2. Record in games played within the division.
  3. Record against the next highest placed team in the division (Based on record in all games played within the conference), proceeding through the division.
  4. Record in common conference games.
  5. Highest BCS Ranking following the last weekend of regular-season games.
  6. Total number of wins in a 12-game season. The following conditions will apply to the calculation of the total number of wins: (a.) Only one win against a team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision or lower division will be counted annually. (b.) Any games that are exempted from counting against the annual maximum number of football contests per NCAA rules (current Bylaw 17. 9.5.2) shall not be included.
Multiple-Team Ties

The following procedures will only be used to eliminate all but two teams, at which point the two-team tie-breaking procedure will be applied.
  1. Head-to-head (Best record in games among the tied teams).
  2. Record in games played within the division.
  3. Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on record in all games played within the conference), proceeding through the division.
  4. Record in common conference games.
  5. Highest BCS ranking following the last weekend of regular-season games.

ACC race update: Week 11

November, 6, 2013
The race in the Atlantic is all but over. The Coastal is a different matter, as four teams remain in serious contention.

  • Florida State (8-0, 6-0) clinches a berth in the ACC championship game with a win against Wake Forest on Saturday. Wins against Wake Forest and Syracuse next week give the Seminoles the outright Atlantic Division title.
  • Clemson (8-1, 6-1) can make the ACC championship game with a win against Georgia Tech on Nov. 14 and Florida State losses its final two ACC games. OR Clemson can win the Atlantic with a loss to Georgia Tech should Syracuse win out and FSU drop its games against Wake Forest and Syracuse. Under this scenario, Clemson, Syracuse and FSU would end up in a three-way tie in the Atlantic, each 1-1 against the other two teams. The next tiebreaker is divisional record. Syracuse and Clemson would be 5-1 in the division (Syracuse lost to Clemson, Clemson lost to FSU) while the Seminoles would be 4-2 (losses to Wake and Syracuse). This would then revert to the two-team procedure, in which Clemson beat the Orange head-to-head.
  • Miami (7-1, 3-1) remains in control of the race to the ACC championship. If the Hurricanes win all four of their remaining games -- Virginia Tech, at Duke, Virginia at Pittsburgh -- they are in. The Canes' next two games, against Virginia Tech and Duke, could potentially serve as Coastal Division elimination games.
  • Virginia Tech (6-3, 5-2), on a two-game losing streak, will stay in the race for the division crown with a win against the Hurricanes. If the Hokies win out, they need Duke to lose at least once more because the Hokies would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker. OR Virginia Tech can win the Coastal if it wins out and finishes in a three-way tie with Duke and Georgia Tech. The teams would be 1-1 against each other and the tiebreaker would go to divisional records. The Hokies would be 5-1 in the Coastal (loss to Duke), while Georgia Tech and Duke would both be 4-2 (GT losses to VT and Miami, Duke losses to GT and Pittsburgh).
  • Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2) and Duke (6-2, 2-2) also have two conference losses each. Duke can win the Coastal with wins in its final four games -- NC State, Miami, at Wake Forest, at North Carolina -- AND a Georgia Tech loss to Clemson. The Jackets need help to make a return trip to Charlotte. They have to beat Clemson next week, then avoid tie-breaking scenarios with Miami and Virginia Tech -- the teams responsible for their losses this season.

Big 12 race update: Week 11

November, 6, 2013
And then, there were four.

Oklahoma State all but knocked Texas Tech out of the conference race with its victory in Lubbock last weekend, bringing a little more clarity to the Big 12 title picture.

A quick refresher on the Big 12’s three-way tiebreakers:
  1. Head-to-head.
  2. Records against the next highest placed teams.
  3. BCS rank, unless two teams are ranked within one spot of the other; then, head-the-head is invoked again.

Here’s what the race for the Big 12’s automatic BCS bowl berth the looks like heading into the backstretch:

• Texas (6-2, 5-0 Big 12): The Longhorns control their own destiny, with a victory over fellow contender Oklahoma in their hip pocket. The key game for Texas is Nov. 16 against Oklahoma State. If the Longhorns can hold off the Cowboys in Austin, they would be playing for a Big 12 title and the automatic BCS bowl berth at Baylor on Dec. 7 just by splitting games with West Virginia and Texas Tech.

• No. 6 Baylor (7-0, 4-0): Baylor has been the most impressive team in the Big 12 so far. But the Bears still have OU, Texas Tech, OSU and Texas left on the schedule. While the Bears could knock OU out of the mix Thursday night with a win in Waco, they would still be alive with a loss. But they would have to win out, then hope someone like Oklahoma State could hand the Sooners a second loss.

• No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1): The Sooners are the only ones here that do not control their destiny. Even if they won out, OU would still need Texas to lose at some point. Possibly even twice, since the Longhorns claim the head-to-head edge. OU probably has the toughest remaining slate of the contenders, too, with road games at Baylor and Oklahoma State as well as surging Kansas State. Because of the Texas loss, the Sooners have no margin for error. But they could take a major step forward with a win Thursday.

• No. 14 Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1): Even with the loss at West Virginia early in the season, the Cowboys still control their destiny. The key game for them is Texas on Nov. 16. If they can topple the Horns in Austin, then the Pokes would have a chance to clinch the league with back-to-back home games against Baylor and OU.

SEC race update: Week 11

November, 6, 2013
We're only about a month away from the SEC championship game in Atlanta, but both of the conference's divisional races are still wide open as we enter the stretch run. Let's take a look at some of the scenarios in play for the remaining contenders:

Western Division

" Saturday's Alabama-LSU could throw this race open a bit if LSU wins, but the truth is that top-ranked Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) could still lose this game and win the West. The Crimson Tide would probably drop out of the BCS championship race -- at least temporarily -- but even with one loss, they could return to Atlanta by beating Mississippi State and Auburn even if they lose to LSU.

" No. 13 LSU (7-2, 3-2) probably has to win out -- that means beating Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas -- and hope for some help from Alabama and Auburn's remaining opponents. The Tigers are the only team to beat Auburn this season, so they'd have a head-to-head tiebreaker edge, but Auburn must lose again to be tied with LSU. Same thing with a win against Alabama on Saturday. The Tigers still need Alabama to lose once more afterward to enter a tie with the Tide.

For fun, let's say Auburn, Alabama and LSU all finish with two SEC losses and that Alabama's two losses are to Auburn and LSU. That's how LSU can play in Atlanta based on its hypothetical head-to-head wins against Auburn and Alabama. See the league's tiebreaker rules for more details.

" No. 9 Auburn (8-1, 4-1) is still very much in the mix here. If the Tigers win out, they will represent the West in Atlanta. Simple, right? Of course, that means posting wins at Tennessee and at home against Georgia and Alabama. No big deal.

" No. 15 Texas A&M (7-2, 3-2) would need a miracle to reach Atlanta. Having lost to Alabama and Auburn already, the Aggies are still mathematically alive, but time is running out on A&M. If the Aggies win out, however, they can create some mayhem in the SEC East -- as we'll detail in a moment.

Eastern Division

" The West still has two teams that still control their destiny in Alabama and Auburn. The only Eastern Division team that can make that claim is No. 8 Missouri (8-1, 4-1). The Tigers have a one-game edge in the loss column over both South Carolina and Georgia and own a head-to-head edge against Georgia. As long as they win out -- they have road dates against Kentucky (2-6, 0-4) and Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3) and a home game against Texas A&M remaining -- the Tigers will claim their first SEC East title.

" With its overtime win at Mizzou two weekends ago, No. 12 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) put itself in position to win a tiebreaker against the Tigers should they lose once more. The Gamecocks are idle this weekend and must beat Florida (4-4, 3-3) in their Nov. 16 SEC finale to stay in the race.

" Georgia (5-3, 4-2) stayed in the hunt by knocking Florida out of the picture last weekend. But the Bulldogs still have only an outside shot of making it back to Atlanta for a third straight season. They have a head-to-head edge against South Carolina, but not Missouri. If all three teams finish with two SEC losses and Missouri's second league loss comes to Texas A&M -- seemingly the most likely way that would happen -- Mizzou would still hold the tiebreaker edge.

To reach Atlanta, Bulldogs fans must hope for Georgia to win out and for Missouri to lose twice down the stretch, in which case it wouldn't matter what happens with South Carolina since Georgia won their head-to-head matchup.