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Looks Like the FBS Has Playoffs After All

De facto playoff games will decide conference, division titles this week

by Dave Congrove
November 21, 2011 (Updated 11/23)

Conference championship de facto playoff games, rivalries and bowl play-in games crowd a veritable Thanksgiving week feast of college football action.

Of the 6 conferences that will stage a championship game between its two division-winners, none of them have both participants set and only the ACC, Big Ten and MAC have one division-winner secured.

Clemson's opponent in the ACC title will be determined on the field when Virginia Tech visits Virginia on Saturday for the Coastal Division crown. In the Big Ten, Penn State plays at Wisconsin on Saturday to determine the Leaders Division representative that will face Michigan State in that conference's first championship game. And the Houston-Tulsa winner on Friday will claim the Conference USA West division title and face either Southern Miss or Marshall in its championship confrontation.

Conference Title Games
ACC Clemson vs. Virginia or Virginia Tech
Big Ten Michigan State vs. Penn State or Wisconsin
CUSA Houston or Tulsa vs. Southern Miss or Marshall
MAC Ohio vs. Northern Illinois or Toledo
PAC-12 Oregon or Stanford vs. Arizona State, UCLA or Utah
SEC Georgia vs. Alabama, Arkansas or LSU

Southern Miss will clinch the C-USA East division if it beats Memphis at home on Saturday, or if Marshall loses at home to East Carolina on Saturday. The Herd advance if they beat the Pirates and the Golden Eagles fall to the last-place Tigers. Just last week, Southern Miss lost at UAB to a team that was 2-8 at the time.

In the MAC, East division champ Ohio will find out Friday if its opponent will be Northern Illinois or Toledo. The Huskies host Eastern Michigan and the Rockets visit Ball State. NIU advances if they beat the Eagles, or if Toledo falls to the Cardinals. The Rockets make their way to Detroit only if they win and Northern Illinois loses.

Oregon controls its destiny on the PAC-12 North and will host that conference's first-ever championship game if it wins the Civil War rivalry at home against Oregon State. A loss by the Ducks will make Stanford the host team. The PAC-12 South has three teams alive, but UCLA owns the clearest path as it advances with an upset of USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Utah goes if it beats Colorado at home (Friday) and both UCLA and Arizona State are defeated. Arizona State goes if it wins at home over Cal and the Bruins lose to the Trojans

That leaves the SEC West which owns the top three teams in the BCS Standings. No. 1 LSU controls its destiny and will advance to the SEC Championship game for the first time since its 2007 National Championship season if it beats No. 3 Arkansas at home on Friday. If LSU loses, No. 2 Alabama takes the division title with a win at Auburn in the Iron Bowl rivalry game on Saturday. The Razorbacks advance if they defeat the Bayou Bengals and Alabama falls to Auburn. Another scenario could leave all three teams tied if LSU loses to Arkansas and Alabama wins. In that case, the head-to-head winner of the top two teams in the final BCS Standings will advance.

Other Conferences
Big East Louisville. Rutgers, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are still alive for automatic BCS bid.
Big 12 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State control their destiny. Kansas State can win share of title, but can not earn the automatic BCS bid for the conference due to losses to both the Sooners and Cowboys.
Independents Only BYU (Armed Forces Bowl) and Notre Dame are bowl eligible
MWC TCU has clinched conference's No. 1 bowl bid. Boise State or Wyoming could win share of title.
Sun Belt Arkansas State (GoDaddy.com) has clinched conference's No. 1 bowl bid. Western Kentucky can win share of title. ULL can not win share of title, but has already accepted New Orleans Bowl bid.
WAC Louisiana Tech controls its destiny and clinches this week with the combination of a win vs. New Mexico State and a Nevada loss at Utah State

Elsewhere, the Big East is its typical muddled mess as five teams - Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are still in the hunt for the automatic BCS bowl bid.

In the Big 12, Oklahoma must beat Iowa State at home on Saturday to set up the December 3 "Bedlam" rivalry game at Oklahoma State as the de facto conference championship tussle. Kansas State can earn a share of the conference title if Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, but the Wildcats can not receive the conference's automatic BCS bowl bid due to losses to both the Sooners and Cowboys.

Louisiana Tech can nail down the WAC's top bowl bid with the combination of a home victory over New Mexico State on Saturday and a Nevada loss at Utah State. The Wolf Pack can win the conference if they win their last two games and the Bulldogs stumble this week. Even if Utah State wins out (vs. Nevada, at New Mexico State) and Louisiana Tech loses this week, the Aggies can do no better than a share of the title.

TCU, which is idle this week, has already clinched at least a share of the Mountain title. The winner of the Wyoming-Boise State game on Saturday can still share the title, but the Horned Frogs get the top bowl spot.

Arkansas State, which is idle this week, has clinched no less than a share of the Sun Belt title and has already accepted a bid to the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette, which can finish no better than a tie for second, has already accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl. The question is whether or not Western Kentucky (6-5) and FIU (7-4) will get postseason invitations. Heading into this week, 68 teams are qualified for 70 slots after MIami (Fla.) took itself out of consideration.

Other games to watch this week include Notre Dame-Stanford, Iowa-Nebraska, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Ohio State-Michigan, Baylor-Texas Tech (Cowboys Stadium at Arlington), Florida State-Florida and Washington State-Washington (Qwest Field, Seattle).

MOURNING:
19-year old Arkansas redshirt freshman tight end Garrett Uekman was found unconscious and unresponsive in his dorm room last Sunday morning at 11:15am. An hour earlier, he was last seen playing a video game. On Wednesday, the cause of death was being attributed to a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Georgia broadcaster Larry Munson passed away last Sunday at age 89 from complications caused by pneumonia. He was the voice for the Bulldogs for 42 years, retiring in 2008.

FBS vs. FCS:
There are no more games this season matching FBS and FCS teams. 97 such games were played this year with the FBS going 91-6 (.938) to improve their record to 638-55 (.921) since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/24: North Dakota St. 37, Minnesota 24
9/24: Sam Houston State 48, New Mexico 45 (OT)
9/24: Southern Utah41, UNLV 16
9/17: Indiana State 44, Western Kentucky 16
9/3: Richmond 23, Duke 21
9/3: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

93 FBS teams played at least one FCS foe this year and four of those schools played two such games - Air Force, Eastern Michigan, N.C. State and Wyoming.

STREAKS:
LSU - 12 straight wins overall and 16 straight home wins. The Tigers host Arkansas on Friday.

Houston - 11 straight wins overall. The Cougars visit Tulsa on Friday.

TCU - 23 straight conference wins. The Horned Frogs are idle this week and host UNLV on Dec. 3.

Virginia Tech - 12 straight road wins. The Hokies visit Virginia on Saturday.

FAU - 13 straight losses overall. The Owls host UAB on Saturday.

Colorado - 22 straight road losses. The Buffaloes visit Utah on Friday.

New Mexico - 21 straight road losses. The Lobos are idle this week and visit Boise State on Dec. 3.

Mississippi - 13 straight conference losses. The Rebels visit Mississippi State on Saturday.

LATEST COACHING CHANGES:
WKMG-TV in Orlando reported Wednesday (November 23rd) that for former Florida, Utah and Bowling Green head coach Urban Meyer has agreed to a $40 million, 7-year deal to coach Ohio State. Meyer was denying the report.

Rich Rodriguez was announced on Monday (November 21st) as the new head coach at Arizona. Rodriguez was extremely successful at West Virginia where he was 60-26 with four Big East titles in his last five years and at least ten victories in each of his final three years. But Rich-rod bombed at Michigan, leaving a legacy of some of that school's historically worst seasons. Under Rodriguez, the nation's all-time winningest program won only 15 of 37 games and was blown out 52-14 by Mississippi State in its only bowl appearance. Additionally, Michigan was put on three years probation related to NCAA violations under his watch.

Rodriguez replaces Mike Stoops, who was fired from Arizona on October 10th, and succeeds interim head coach Tim Kish (former defensive coordinator). The Wildcats are 2-3 under Kish.

Bob Davie was hired November 16th by New Mexico. Mike Locksley was fired from the Lobos on September 25th. Defensive coordinator George Barlow was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Lobos, who are 1-6 under Barlow, did not play this week.

Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State on November 9th. Named defensive coordinator Tom Bradley interim head coach (1-1).

Houston Nutt was forced to resign on November 7th from Mississippi, effective at the end of the year. The Rebels have lost 13 straight SEC games.

Tulane's Bob Toledo resigned on October 18th. Named offensive line coach Mark Hutson interim head coach. The Green Wave are 0-5 under Hutson.

NEW COACHES:
At the start of the season, 24 FBS teams had a new head coach. Last season saw 23 new head coaches, only 8 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

See how this year's crop of new coaches is performing, relative to their predecessor, by visiting 2011 Coaching Changes.

3 games this week match new head coaches against each other - Luke Fickell and Ohio State visit Brady Hoke and Michigan on Saturday; Darrell Hazell and Kent State visit Steve Addazio and Temple on Friday; and Todd Graham's Pitt Panthers visit Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia on Friday.

Here is how each of the new head coaches is faring this season:

Team Coach Game
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze (9-2) Idle
Ball State Pete Lembo (6-5) vs. Toledo (Friday)
Colorado Jon Embree (2-10) at Utah (Friday)
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni (4-6) vs. Rutgers
Florida Will Muschamp (6-5) vs. Florida State
Indiana Kevin Wilson (1-10) vs. Purdue
Kent State Darrell Hazell (5-6) at Temple (Friday)
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth (8-3) at Arizona
Maryland Randy Edsall (2-9) at N.C. State
Miami (Fla.) Al Golden (6-5) vs. Boston College (Friday)
Miami (O.) Don Treadwell (4-7) at Ohio (Tuesday)
Michigan Brady Hoke (9-2) vs. Ohio State
Minnesota Jerry Kill (2-9) vs. Illinois
North Carolina Everett Withers (Interim) (6-5) vs. Duke
North Texas Dan McCarney (4-7) Idle
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren (8-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (Friday)
Ohio State Luke Fickell (Interim) (6-5) at Michigan
Pittsburgh Todd Graham (5-5) at West Virginia (Friday)
San Diego St. Rocky Long (6-4) at UNLV
Stanford David Shaw (10-1) vs. Notre Dame
Temple Steve Addazio (7-4) vs. Kent State (Friday)
Tulsa Bill Blankenship (8-3) vs. Houston (Friday)
Vanderbilt James Franklin (5-6) at Wake Forest
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen (7-3) vs. Pittsburgh (Friday)