We are in the thick of conference play now. Most of the non-conference results are in. Certain teams winning will strengthen their conference while other teams can only hurt the conference. The Big Ten remains the top dog and why not? The conference has three undefeated teams. The ACC is on the verge of falling down. The Sun Belt Conference is just salivating at a slip up by Wake Forest. It nearly came this week, but the Demon Deacons were able to escape Syracuse with an overtime victory. The rankings did not change this week, but there could very well be some moving and shaking this upcoming week. While the ranks didn’t change, you’ll definitely want to read about the importance of upcoming games and the explanation of the chain theory. Also, is Yale better than an SEC school? You definitely don’t want to miss the explanation there.
1. Big Ten Conference (32-9, 7-0 vs. FCS)
Three undefeated teams remain. Penn State’s only loss comes on the road against a currently undefeated Iowa team. It’s hard to argue against this conference. The worst result for the conference was Ohio State’s dismantling of Maryland. Maryland went undefeated in non-conference play. Ohio State lost at home to Oregon. That game actually boosted up the Pac-12. Iowa’s victory over Penn State hurt the SEC and boosted the Big 12. This is the beauty of being the top dog. All of the other conference’s are scoreboard watching to see how your results are having an impact on their strength of schedules. The most important game this week is Michigan State at Indiana. The more the Big Ten weakens Indiana, the weaker Cincinnati becomes. An Indiana upset could boost an undefeated Cincinnati team over a 1-loss Big Ten team, particularly if that team is Michigan State.
2. Big 12 Conference (23-6, 9-0 vs. FCS)
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State remain undefeated. Baylor wins to boost their one-loss record. The worst result, by far, was Texas Tech being destroyed by TCU. What this result did was prop up SMU. The viewpoint is that SMU is better than Texas Tech now. SMU won at TCU. TCU won at Texas Tech. Does this theory always work out perfectly? Not exactly. More on that when you read about the SEC. The most important game this week is Oklahoma State at Texas. If Oklahoma State loses this game, it will be a devastating blow to the Big 12. The SEC will likely jump the conference in these rankings. It’s important to note that BYU is at Baylor this week. I almost placed that as the most important game of the week, but the Big 12 needs the Cowboys to beat the Longhorns more than the Bears need to beat the Cougars. Oklahoma State beat Baylor which means they are vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Texas is all but out of the College Football Playoff. However, it would be a dream for Texas fans to spoil the Big 12’s hopes. Texas and Oklahoma want to hurt the Big 12 Conference, and this was obvious when the one thing that could bring their fans together was chanting S-E-C! on national television. Longhorns and Sooners fans coming together? I might just go get a tin foil hat.
3. Southeastern Conference (35-7, 8-1 vs. FCS)
DOWN GOES BAMA! DOWN GOES BAMA! DOWN GOES BAMA!
This is how the chain works. Memphis beat Mississippi State. Mississippi State won at Texas A&M. Texas A&M beat Alabama. Interestingly enough, Mississippi State now visits Alabama. Let’s not forget, Memphis lost to Tulsa and Tulsa lost to FCS school UC Davis. Using this chain, the theory says FCS school UC Davis is better than Alabama. If you go around saying this though, some people will wonder why you aren’t in a psych ward. So, let’s remember, Mississippi State was screwed out of a victory at Memphis. Do we really think UC Davis is better than Alabama? No. But, the logic of this theory says UC Davis is better than Alabama. Luckily for the SEC, Georgia took care of business with a 24-point road victory at Auburn. It also helped the conference that Kentucky defeated LSU. This sets up a battle of unbeatens between Kentucky and Georgia. It’s the dream matchup for any conference. Two undefeated teams battling it out. Whoever wins will be picking up a quality victory. A loss in this matchup is better than a victory over Vanderbilt. When the College Football Playoff committee sees that your only loss came to an undefeated team, they’re willing to give you some grace. When they see that your schedule included Vanderbilt, it’s kind of frowned upon that they were even on your schedule. This is why the SEC needs to boot the Commodores out of the conference. FCS school Holy Cross won at UConn by more points than Vanderbilt defeated UConn at home. UMass embarrassed UConn this week. UMass is probably better than Vanderbilt. Holy Cross is probably better than Vanderbilt. UConn hosts Yale this week. It’s possible Yale is better than Vanderbilt. You think I’m kidding? I’m not. I would place my money on Yale to beat UConn this week. Speaking of, Vanderbilt failed to cover a 39 point spread this week. Florida defeated the Commodores 42-0. Gators boosters are thrilled!
4. American Athletic Conference (22-18, 9-1 vs. FCS)
The conference’s top teams continued their winning ways this week. Unbeatens SMU and Cincinnati took care of business. Cincinnati defeated Temple by a whopping 48 points, which will help their cause. SMU picked up a road victory over Navy. Houston also won on the road. UCF has a better non-conference record than East Carolina, so the Golden Knights victory helps there too. The worst result came when Tulsa knocked off Memphis. Tulsa lost to FCS school UC Davis, so any conference victory by them is a poor result. The obvious important game this week is UCF at Cincinnati. The future Big 12 matchup has College Football Playoff implications on the line. Both, Big 12 and AAC fans, are rooting for the Bearcats.
5. Mountain West Conference (28-18, 9-2 vs. FCS)
Boise State picked up a massive victory for the Mountain West this weekend, knocking former member BYU out of the unbeaten ranks. The Broncos did so on the road too, which will help the profile of the conference. Nevada routed New Mexico State, adding to the conference’s non-conference win column. There were some bad results though. Colorado State, who lost to FCS school South Dakota State, picked up an 18-point victory over San Jose State. Air Force provided Wyoming with its first loss. On the other hand, San Diego State is quietly 5-0 after a 31-7 victory over New Mexico. The most important game this week will take place Friday. San Diego State is at San Jose State. The Spartans have a pattern of winning one week and losing the next week. They lost last week, which means the trend says they will upset San Diego State this week. That would be devastating for the Mountain West. The conference is rooting for the Aztecs Friday.
6. Atlantic Coast Conference (28-13, 11-1 vs. FCS)
Florida State is destroying this conference. The ACC needs Florida State to lose every conference game this season, yet they sit at 2-2 and could cost Syracuse and North Carolina bowl eligibility. Notre Dame’s victory at Virginia Tech is also a bullet to the foot for this conference. The only reason this conference stays ahead of the Sun Belt this week is because Wake Forest won. They escaped Syracuse with a 40-37 overtime victory. The ACC still has a dog in the College Football Playoff hunt. Unbelievable. Wake Forest is off this week, so the most important matchup is North Carolina State at Boston College. The winner of this matchup will be the frontrunner for the ACC slot in the New Year’s Six Bowls if Wake Forest runs the table and crashes the College Football Playoff party.
7. Sun Belt Conference (19-16, 8-1 vs. FCS)
If you are a fan of a team in this conference, you are rooting for Coastal Carolina except when the Chanticleers play your team. The Chanticleers are now 6-0 with a double-digit victory over a Power Five team. A bad result for the Sun Belt came when Texas State upset South Alabama in quadruple overtime. Texas State lost to FCS school Incarnate Word. The Game of the Week for this conference will be played Tuesday: Appalachian State at Louisiana-Lafayette. Appalachian State lost at Miami (FL) and the Ragin’ Cajuns lost at Texas. Sun Belt fans are rooting for Louisiana-Lafayette because of the horrible season the Hurricanes are having so far. Coastal Carolina is off this week as they have a major matchup Wednesday, Oct. 20 at Appalachian State the following week.
8. Conference USA (23-31, 14-0 vs. FCS)
Conference USA took two more hits to its non-conference record this week. North Texas played at an SEC school and Middle Tennessee visited Liberty. Neither of those results help the conference. However, UTSA is still undefeated after winning a 98-point gunslinging battle at Western Kentucky. Dana Dimel will be a Coach of the Year candidate considering he has brought UTEP from the grave to a 5-1 overall record. The only loss suffered by the Miners thus far is at Boise State. This is the most victories for UTEP since 2015 and they could be bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. Charlotte, Marshall and UAB also helped the cause of this conference. The better these teams do, the more they will boost frontrunner UTSA’s longshot bid to potentially snatch that coveted New Year’s Six spot. The most important game for Conference USA this week is Louisiana Tech at UTEP. Many people think the Bulldogs are better than 2-2 after losses to undefeated SMU and SEC school Mississippi State. Meanwhile, UTEP might be the worst 5-1 team in the nation.
9. Pac-12 (16-17, 7-2 vs. FCS)
If BYU was in this league, the Cougars would be the frontrunner. Heck, Boise State could say they would be the frontrunner too. After all, Boise State won at BYU Saturday. The clear frontrunner is Arizona State right now. Arizona State lost to BYU by double digits. All other results have Arizona State winning by double digits. The closest result was an 18-point victory over Stanford. Also, every team in the Pac-12 needs to root against Washington State. Nick Rolovich may be coaching his final game this upcoming week as it is confirmed he is hoping for a religious waiver to avoid receiving the mandated vaccine. He would have to be fully vaccinated by October 18, and Washington State’s President Kirk Schulz has made it clear he does not have the head coach’s back on this issue. After the firing, look for the Cougars to lose out. The most important game for the Pac-12 this week is Arizona State at Utah. The Pac 12 needs Arizona State to win out and win easily. It would also help if BYU took down Baylor.
10. MAC (21-27, 11-1 vs. FCS)
The MAC is a lost cause. Ball State looks like it’s really coming along, but they lost too much too early to contend for the Group of Five New Years Bowl slot. Heck, they’re just now getting to .500. The Cardinals knocked off frontrunner Western Michigan on the road, just hurting the conference that much more. It didn’t help that Wyoming, a team that won at Ball State, was knocked off from the ranks of the unbeatens. Bowling Green was a team that had hopes for bowl eligibility. That took a major hit when Akron defeated them. There is no clear frontrunner in this league, but Ohio is most definitely the doormat. This is a conference where unity must be thrown out the window. Your goal is simply to become bowl eligible and boost your own program up. This will help with recruiting, and just maybe, next year might be the MAC’s year. Not that it really matters, but an important matchup for this conference is Bowling Green at Northern Illinois.