With the final week of the college football season ahead, there are still many conference title races in the balance.
Title games in seven of the 10 college football top-level conferences have yet to be completed within the first 12 weeks of the season. And in cases like AAC, Big Ten, and MAC, there are head-to-head matches where the winner advances to the championship game.
Here’s how the conference title races unfold ahead of Week 13.
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Two from Cincinnati, Tulane and UCF
Cincinnati and Tulane are 6-1 in the AAC and play each other on Friday. The winner will play the AAC title game and the loser can be eliminated entirely. The UCF plays USF modestly in Week 13 and picks up victories over Cincinnati and Tulane. However, Houston is the wild card in this scenario. The Cougars will most likely not win a single tiebreak, but could force a three-way tiebreak for second place with a win in the last week of the season. Since Houston has not played Cincinnati or the UCF, the three-way tiebreaker will include college football playoff rankings and come down to where the committee has the UCF and the underdog Cincinnati-Tulane.
Clemson vs. North Carolina
This issue was resolved before the weekend. And that’s good for the Tar Heels as they lost 21-17 at home to Georgia Tech. This loss ended any chance for UNC to make the College Football playoffs and for QB Drake May to win the Heisman Trophy. Clemson is also probably disappointed. The Tigers needed North Carolina to rank as high as possible ahead of the ACC title game in order to return to the college football playoffs.
Illinois, Iowa, or Purdue vs. Michigan or Ohio State
The winner of Michigan and Ohio states heads into the Big Ten title game as the East’s representative after both teams won 11-0 on Saturday. Iowa became the Western champion by beating Nebraska. If Iowa loses, Perdue wins against Indiana. If both Iowa and Perdue lose, Illinois will win against the Northwest. If all three lose then Iowa gets the bet because she beat Purdue.
TCU vs. Kansas State or Texas
Oklahoma State was officially eliminated from the Big 12 title due to a crushing loss to Oklahoma on Saturday night. Kansas State will make it to the title game with a win over Kansas, while Texas needs Kansas State to lose and defeat Baylor. If Texas loses, Kansas will be in every situation.
UTSA vs. North Texas or Western Kentucky
The Roadrunners are two games ahead of Mean Green and Hilltoppers. WKU hosts Florida Atlantic and North Texas hosts Rice. Mean Green are in a title match with a win over Owls or a loss combined with a loss to WKU. North Texas has a tiebreak thanks to a 40–13 win over WKU.
Ohio or Bowling Green or Buffalo vs. Toledo
The Bulls are looking to play Akron on Sunday after snow delayed their game on Saturday. If Buffalo wins, they need to beat Kent State and Bowling Green to beat Ohio in the final week of the season. This would create a three-way tie with Buffalo winning on one Eastern Division loss and Ohio and Bowling Green on two each. A much simpler scenario is an Ohio win over Bowling Green to secure the division. Bowling Green would win the division by beating Ohio and losing to Buffalo at any moment.
Boise State vs. Fresno State
The Broncos took over the mountain division with a wild victory over Wyoming on Saturday night. Fresno State conquered the West by defeating Nevada.
USC vs. Oregon, Utah, or Washington
The Trojans secured a spot in the Pac-12 title game by defeating an opponent from UCLA. After beating Utah on Saturday night, Oregon just needs to beat Oregon State in the last week of the season to face the Trojans, while Washington and Utah need to win and get help to stand a chance.
Georgia vs. LSU
Both the Bulldogs and Tigers finished their divisions in Week 11 with plenty of time to prepare for each other in an SEC title game.
Coastal Carolina or James Madison vs. Troy or South Alabama
Coastal will play JMU in Week 13 and the winner will advance to the Sun Belt title match. Troy beat South Alabama earlier this year and he just needs a win over bottom-placed Arkansas State to win the West. If Troy is upset, South Alabama needs a win over Old Dominion.
TCU: Another week, another close win for TCU. The Horned Frogs went undefeated, beating Baylor 29-28 on the road in a last-second thriller. At the end of the game, TCU trailed 28–20 but scored with 2:07 left in the game to make it 28–26. When the two-point attempt failed, it looked like TCU’s unbeaten streak might be coming to an end. However, the defense forced three points and Griffin Kell was able to hit 40 yards from the field as time expired, giving TCU a one-point victory. It was a risky approach on the part of Sonny Dykes, who declared continuous play with no timeouts. This meant that his offense had to go out of bounds and the field goal team had to line up in a hurry. It worked, and the Horned Frogs are still in the thick of the national title hunt.
USC: Caleb Williams and the USC offense simply couldn’t be stopped in an epic 48-45 victory over UCLA. In that win, USC threw for 649 yards of attack, Williams threw for 470 yards and landed twice, adding a quick touchdown. The win secured a spot in the Pac-12 title game for the Year 1 Trojans under Lincoln Riley. On top of that, USC’s playoff chances are looking better and better. USC will host Nore Dame No. 18 at 10-1 next week and then face the other team in a Pac-12 title game. If USC wins these two games, the Trojans will have a hard time holding back.
Kansas State: K-State is on the brink of a Big 12 title challenge. After a 48-31 road win over West Virginia, the Wildcats have improved to 8-3 and need to either beat Kansas or make Texas lose next week to earn the spot. in a conference championship game against TCU. The Wildcats got off to a fast start at Morgantown, taking a 14–0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Will Howard, now starting in place of the injured Adrian Martinez, threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns, adding a rushing touchdown to the win.
IowaA: Iowa did it again. Iowa hit the road and eliminated Minnesota 13-10 to somehow get into a great position in the Big Ten race to the West. The Hawks lost again, but got two well-timed losses in the fourth quarter. First, Iowa denied Minnesota running back Mo Ibrahim (who rushed for 263 yards) in the red zone just over five minutes before the game. Minutes later, Iowa beat Minnesota’s Atan Kaliakmanis, who scored the game-winning last-minute field goal. Iowa now has eight consecutive wins over the Gophers and could secure a place in the Big Ten title game by defeating Nebraska next week.
Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt is on the SEC winning streak. The Commodores crushed Kentucky last week and then another followed, this time at home over Florida, 31-24. Vandi lost heavily to the Gators but took advantage of two losses in Florida, including a botched punt kick that was recovered in the endzone for a touchdown. The Commodores also received three touchdown passes from Mike Wright in this win. Wandy is now 5-6 overall and needs even more frustration – over No. 5 in Tennessee – to get to the bowl. However, Vanderbilt won back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2018.
Oregon: Jonathan Smith’s work in Corvallis is nationally underappreciated. Before Smith was hired, the Beavers had gone through four straight losing seasons, including a brutal three-year 7-29 run under Gary Andersen. Since then, Oregon has steadily improved. The Beavers won seven games last year and reached the bowl game for the first time since 2013. The Beavers are now 8-3 this year after a convincing 31-7 road win over Arizona State. OSU has won five of the last six matches and will host an opponent from Oregon next week. Could disorder be in the order of things?
Texas RB Bijan Robinson: Bizhan Robinson went crazy in Texas’ decisive victory over Kansas. Quinn Evers has struggled in recent weeks, so Steve Sarkeesian was content to get the ball to Robinson early and often against the Kansas defense. Robinson scored by running for 243 yards and throwing four touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 55–14 win over Lawrence. Texas has lost two of the last three, but it wasn’t disappointing. UT is now 7-4 this year with Baylor’s home game still on schedule. Don’t be surprised if this is Robinson’s last game in Texas form.
State of Florida: BSS plays quietly at a very high level. The Seminole wiped out Louisiana 49-17 on Saturday and improved to 8-3 this year. FSU was 4-3 before the last week but has since won four games in a row and hit the eight win mark for the first time since 2016. Now with rival Florida next week and a bowl game left, FSU could double-down on Mike Norvell’s season three wins at work. This would be a very significant step forward for the program.
Tulane: After a disappointing loss to UCF last week, Tulane bounced back strongly with a crushing 59-24 victory over SMU. The green wave came out hot and had a 21-0 lead after one quarter and a 49-7 lead at 4:37 in the third quarter. Tulane rushed for 310 yards and Michael Pratt threw for three touchdowns in the win. Tulane is now 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the AAC game ahead of next week’s game in Cincinnati. The winner of this game will host the AAC title game. The loser could be eliminated from the AAC title depending on what happens in the games UCF plays…