BCS Rankings Week 13: Who Will Win Each Conference And Who Will Be Left Out?
Though it seems hard to believe, the college football season is winding down, with each week carrying increased importance for teams trying to reach the all-important college football bowl postseason.
One of the biggest distinctions for teams in college football is winning their respective divisions. For teams in the bigger conferences, finishing at the top of the conference standings can mean illustrious bowl berths and chances to play in the biggest games of the season.
But even for the smaller conferences not bound for BCS glory, the esteem of being conference champion can be everlasting and extremely important.
Here we'll cover the races for the title in 14 conferences and try and project who will walk away conference champion in each instance. All the big conferences will be covered, as well as a few of the smaller ones on the national radar.
The Big Ten race is extremely unsettled thanks to three teams being so closely matched and bunched together at the top of the standings in Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Wisconsin and Michigan State have the inside track in the conference race, but there are a myriad of different scenarios for how each team can get to Pasadena as the Big Ten champion taking part in the Rose Bowl.
In Week 13 Wisconsin soundly beat Michigan on the road, another stamp in what's been an extremely solid season for the Badgers. Meanwhile Michigan State had to rally back in the fourth quarter to barely escape with a win against Purdue at home, allowing them to stay atop the Big Ten for another week.
Wisconsin is heading in the right direction heading into the season's final week, whereas Michigan State has a tough game on the road against Penn State to decide their Big Ten championship hopes.
I think Wisconsin will handle Northwestern in their final game, and Penn State is poised to upset Michigan State and send the Badgers to the Rose Bowl.
It's a similarly cloudy picture in the Big 12, and as of this writing, Oklahoma State has beaten Kansas and waits on the result of Oklahoma vs. Baylor to decide whether or not they'll clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game outright or have to beat Oklahoma next week to stamp their ticket to Cowboys Stadium for the conference championship game.
Even if Oklahoma knocks off Baylor, I think Oklahoma State is winning out the rest of their conference schedule, en route to a Big 12 championship for the first time in school history.
Nebraska is a great defensive team, but Oklahoma State's attack led by quarterback Brandon Weeden and elite receiver Justin Blackmon will be too much to keep the Cowboys from a birth in the Fiesta Bowl.
Auburn is already guaranteed a spot in the SEC Championship game, and while that game will be tough, I expect Cam Newton to lead the Tigers through undefeated and cement their place in the BCS Championship game in January.
This is one of the less exciting conference races considering Auburn and Alabama have been consistently the top teams in the conference, yet they can't play in the title game. Their meeting in the Iron Bowl should be a huge game, but I expect Auburn to prevail in that game as well.
The high-powered Oregon Ducks offense will be tested by Arizona next Friday, but I expect Oregon to win their remaining two games including the inter-state show down with Oregon State and head into the BCS Championship game as the Pac 10 champion.
Stanford is having a great year of their own and is poised to finish second in the conference, but even an Oregon loss wouldn't change the standings thanks to the head-to-head win Oregon gained a number of weeks back.
The ACC title game seems poised to pit Virginia Tech against either Florida State or North Carolina State, but Virginia Tech currently looks like the class of a balanced conference towards the end of this season.
They have played the best in-conference and I think they will handle whatever team they might face in the ACC championship, and will win the automatic berth in the Orange Bowl.
Pitt has two very tough conference games left on their schedule, but they seem to be the best of a very mediocre conference and I expect them to win out on their way to the Big East title and the hotly-debated automatic BCS bowl bid.
Conference USA should make for an exciting title game and finish to their season. A potential meeting between Tulsa and UCF would be an exciting way to end a tough conference season, but I like Tulsa's chances of pulling off a win in the season's final game.
Undefeated in conference play and having lost only to two teams in larger conferences (Iowa State and Illinois), Northern Illinois is the team to beat in the Mid-American Conference. A potential title game shouldn't lead to the Huskies' first conference loss of the season, as they will cruise to a bowl appearance as the class of their conference.
The Horned Frogs dismantled hte one team that posed a true threat in the Mountain West conference with their resounding victory over Utah on the road. They have sat close to the top of the BCS standings throughout the season, and they've got the Mountain West title in the bag, and should appear in one of the top BCS bowls.
Florida International upset Troy two weeks ago and they stand to emerge as the Sun Belt champions, from an extremely weak conference. They knocked off the team that long stood at the top of the conference, and they should find themselves as conference champions when all is said and done.
Boise State will play Nevada next weekend and they are the clear top teams in the WAC, although Hawaii has had a solid season along with the two top dogs. Nevada beating Boise State is not out of the question but I don't see it happening, as Boise is a notch above the rest of the conference.
Penn ran the table in the Ivy League this year and finished an impressive 9-1 overall, with their one loss coming to in-city rivals Villanova.
Liberty knocked off Stony Brook in the final game of their regular season to emerge atop the Big South conference, earning the distinction of top team in a pretty competitive FCS conference.
Appalachian State finishes with the top record in the Southern conference even in spite of losing in two of their final three games, their last game of the regular season being a beating at the hands of the Florida Gators. They head into the FCS playoffs on a down note, but are nonetheless atop their conference.