The Big 12 took a massive hit this week. It is pretty much the conference’s worst week of the season. Iowa State, a team that lost a non-conference game, took out one of the Big 12’s two remaining unbeatens. This strengthened the Big Ten and weakened the Big 12. Congratulations to Iowa State though! This is why the games are played. The Sun Belt Conference no longer has an undefeated team. Two weeks ago, they Sun Belt had two. Houdini should not be welcome by any conference, but sometimes he just shows up and poof, the unbeatens disappear. Thus, a change was made. How far did the Sun Belt drop? Also, who moved ahead of them and why? Future Big 12 Conference member BYU is also playing a major role in these conference rankings. Obviously, they are 4-0 against the Pac-12. The Cougars are now a team involved in the most important game for another conference. Which conference is that? Also, why is Texas at Baylor more important to the Big 12 Conference than Oklahoma continuing to win? All of these questions answered plus more when you read below.
1. Big Ten Conference (33-9, 7-0 vs. FCS)
Michigan and Michigan State remained undefeated. This is the only Power Five Conference with two unbeatens remaining. It will also be the final week for the Big Ten to be able to say that. Michigan and Michigan State are going to play each other. The winner will be the final remaining undefeated team in the Big Ten Conference. A positive result for this conference came when Ohio State humiliated Indiana. This weakens Cincinnati. The Bearcats and Buckeyes do not meet this season. Indiana lost to Cincinnati by 14 points. They lost to Ohio State by 47. The College Football Playoff committee will take those two scores into account. An awful result came when Illinois went to Penn State and scored an upset. All of a sudden, it looks like UTSA could waltz into Happy Valley and beat a top 10 team. This was a black eye to the Big Ten. Still, they are the best conference in the nation. Two undefeated teams will meet in this week, but it’s not the most important game. The most important game is No.20 Penn State at No.5 Ohio State. A Penn State victory likely takes the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff. A Buckeyes victory makes the Big Ten Conference the ultimate College Football Playoff conference. Multiple teams duking it out in November for a chance to be selected. It will be College Football Playoff central.
2. Big 12 Conference (24-6, 9-0 vs. FCS)
Wow! The Big 12 was on the brink of disaster during an awful week for the conference. First off, congratulations to Iowa State. Sadly, your victory over Oklahoma State put a massive dent into the conference’s resume. This is why you need to win against teams like Iowa. West Virginia, congratulations to you as well. Unfortunately, your victory at TCU also hurts the perception of the conference.
I know what the fans of Iowa State and West Virginia want to rebuttal with: Are you saying we should root for losses? Absolutely not. Iowa State and West Virginia fans should be excited their teams won. As Herm Edwards once said, “HELLO!!!! You play to win the game.” Why even take the field if you’re not playing to win? The deal is, Oklahoma State had a chance to go to the College Football Playoff. Their chances at getting selected decrease dramatically with the loss.
Now, for the elephant in the room: Oklahoma. Goodness, Sooners. Kansas nearly beat the Sooners. In fact, Kansas was screwed out of a chance to win this game. Sooners fans, you know damn well the Kansas defense stopped the forward progress of Kennedy Brooks. This was an officiating error. I’m not saying Kansas would have won. The Jayhawks made the stop though, and they should’ve been provided the chance to win. You were gifted a victory, that quite frankly, the Sooners didn’t deserve. When you are shutout by Kansas for a full half, you don’t deserve to win. Luckily for the Big 12, if Oklahoma makes it to the College Football Playoffs, the conference reaps benefits. The SEC is starting to catch up with the conference. In fact, it’s Vanderbilt that is a major reason why the SEC is still below the Big 12 Conference. If I’m one of the 13 other schools, I’m voting to expel Vanderbilt from the conference. They do not belong there. The most important game this week is Texas at No.16 Baylor. Texas has three losses, including one to an SEC team. Baylor’s only loss comes on the road to Oklahoma State. The SEC is nipping at the heels of the Big 12 now. Every time a Big 12 team beats Texas, it says that team can compete better than Texas in a road game at Arkansas. A Baylor victory holds the SEC off from overtaking the Big 12 Conference.
3. Southeastern Conference (36-7, 9-1 vs. FCS)
Nothing went wrong for the SEC this week. First off, Georgia didn’t lose. The Bulldogs had a bye which means they remain undefeated. All teams with a better record won. Not only did they win, but the closest margin was 14 points. Finally, Arkansas forced UAPB into a running clock situation. You might not think anyone would bet on this game, but Las Vegas actually was forced to give refunds to bettors because Arkansas and UAPB failed to reach 55 minutes of play. UAPB may have actually covered too. In hindsight, the running clock may have saved some Razorback boosters money. Yes, that’s the biggest news in the SEC this week. It was business as usual. Now, for the most important game of the week: Missouri at Vanderbilt. God forbid Vanderbilt actually pick up a victory. Here’s my weekly reminder: East Tennessee State defeated Vanderbilt by 20 points at Vanderbilt. UConn lost at Vanderbilt by just two points. Holy Cross beat UConn in Storrs by 10 points. Holy Cross holds losses to Merrimack and Harvard this year. That’s a lot of FCS teams who likely would win at Vanderbilt. Again, God forbid Missouri lose this game. The SEC hopes the Tigers win this game by 50 points. Can we please have promotion and relegation?
4. American Athletic Conference (22-18, 9-1 vs. FCS)
Cincinnati won. SMU won. The American Athletic Conference has a shot at the College Football Playoff and two shots at the Group of Five New Year’s Six Bowl. This conference has plenty of depth thanks to the teams who will soon be members of the Big 12 Conference. Houston’s only loss is against a Big 12 team. A poor result came when South Florida defeated Temple. Temple could be a bowl eligible team. That is not the case with South Florida as the Bulls will likely have to beat Houston or Cincinnati in addition to all of its other remaining games just to reach 6-6. The most important game, is of course, No.2 Cincinnati at Tulane. However, No.19 SMU at Houston is almost just as important. Even though the Bearcats have an opponent with a much worse record, they are in the College Football Playoff conversation. SMU is not. That means Cincinnati will always take precedent over the Mustangs until the Bearcats suffer a loss.
5. Atlantic Coast Conference (30-13, 11-1 vs. FCS)
The ACC scored multiple non-conference victories this week, including Wake Forest putting 70 up on the board against Army. Pittsburgh defeated Clemson, which means the Panthers continue to rise up the rankings. The worst result came when Miami (FL) upset North Carolina State. What this did was trade a potential New Year’s Six at-large berth for what the conference hopes to be a bowl eligible team. Miami would’ve had five losses if the Wolfpack took care of business. Instead, they’re now 3-4 and North Carolina State must wait to clinch bowl eligibility. It is worth noting that Virginia is bowl eligible at 6-2. The most important game for the ACC this week is Virginia at No.25 BYU. The Big 12 is 1-0 against BYU. The Mountain West is 1-0 against BYU. However, the Pac-12 is 0-4 against the Cougars. If Virginia loses to BYU, it may drop the ACC below the Mountain West Conference. The Cavaliers are bowl eligible, and a loss hear gives the perception that BYU would be near the top of the ACC had the Cougars been in the conference.
6. Mountain West Conference (29-18, 9-2 vs. FCS)
There were some major positives for the Mountain West this week. First off, Utah State survived a scare from Colorado State. The Rams have dropped home games to South Dakota State and Vanderbilt this year. Had they defeated one of the teams who’ve beaten a Pac-12 team, it would’ve been devastating for the conference’s profile. Yes, Colorado State is rapidly improving, but it’s best for the conference if Utah State wins this game. Utah State won, and the conference can breath a sigh of relief. San Diego State remains undefeated after a road victory against Air Force. That’s great news for the Mountain West. Another positive result is Hawai’i’s non-conference victory over New Mexico State. The conference is now 11 games over .500. San Jose State had to come from behind to beat UNLV, but the Spartans got it done to provide themselves as a more quality team to beat. Wyoming, however, is falling off a cliff. They have failed to score a touchdown in two consecutive home games. There is no excuse for this against a New Mexico team who lost to UTEP. The most important game of the week is Fresno State at No.21 San Diego State. The Aztecs are undefeated. They are the only hope for the Mountain West to snatch a New Year’s Six berth.
7. Conference USA (24-32, 14-0 vs. FCS)
UTSA won. That’s what matters to Conference USA this season. Sadly, Conference USA is going to lose UTSA and five other programs as the American Athletic Conference, whose primary broadcast partner is ESPN, raided Conference USA, whose primary broadcast partner is CBS Sports. The poor fans of those six schools will likely have to pony up a monthly donation to Bristol, Conn. if they want to see their teams play. Another positive result came when Middle Tennessee destroyed UConn on the road. It is clear that MTSU is better than Vanderbilt. Really, it’s not even close. MTSU could certainly beat South Carolina too. This means, that had MTSU played in the SEC, they would basically need to pull off one upset to become bowl eligible assuming it schedules an easy non-conference slate and winds up 4-0. Poor results included North Texas dropping a home game to Liberty, which the Mean Green actually led for most of the game, and Rice pulling a shocker at UAB. Rice was a 24-point underdog on the road. The most important game this week is UTEP at Florida Atlantic. If UTEP wins, they may start deceiving voters as a good team with a 7-1 record. That would be major publicity for the program and the conference. I’m still not bought on this UTEP program. If Florida Atlantic wins, the Owls will be a step closer to bowl eligibility.
8. Sun Belt Conference (20-16, 8-1 vs. FCS)
This week was a disaster for the Sun Belt Conference. Coastal Carolina goes down. There are no more unbeatens. The Sun Belt will not be in a New Year’s Six bowl this season. It was a horrible week for the Sun Belt, but there is one positive: Louisiana-Lafayette survived at Arkansas State. Had the Red Wolves pulled that victory off, it would have been a horrible display for the conference this week. The Ragin’ Cajuns took down an undefeated Appalachian State team last week. Appalachian State took down the final unbeaten this week. This is a massive let down avoided. The Coastal Carolina loss drops the Sun Belt Conference down two spots this week. The most important game this week is Texas State at Louisiana-Lafayette. Texas State lost at home to FCS Incarnate Word earlier this year. It would help this conference tremendously if the Ragin’ Cajuns torched the Bobcats by at least five touchdowns.
9. Pac 12 (16-19, 7-2 vs. FCS)
Two more non-conference losses were added to the Pac-12’s non-conference record this weekend. Both of these losses came against Independents. BYU is now 4-0 against the Pac-12 after they scored a road victory against Washington State. Notre Dame shellacked USC at the golden dome. Washington State may have won had politics not played a role. Head Coach Nick Rolovich was fired for not getting a COVID-19 vaccination. He was seeking a religious exemption and it was not granted. This has caused a lawsuit, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it is taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Washington State’s three-game win streak is snapped and they are down five coaches. The good news for the Pac-12 is that Oregon won at UCLA. Oregon’s only loss comes against a Pac-12 team and they have a road win against Ohio State. Washington also defeated Arizona. The Wildcats were not going to be bowling, so pushing the Huskies closer to bowl eligibility is a positive for the conference. The most important game for the conference this week is Colorado at No.7 Oregon. Oregon is the final hope for the Pac-12’s longshot bid at the College Football Playoff.
10. MAC (21-27, 11-1 vs. FCS)
There is really not much reason to read this far down. The MAC isn’t going to move up until bowl season. There were three positive outcomes. Eastern Michigan was all over Bowling Green. Northern Illinois picked up a nice win at Central Michigan. Buffalo destroyed Akron on the road. The worst result was Western Michigan’s loss at Toledo. The MAC has only one game in Week 9. By default, the “most important” game is Bowling Green at Buffalo. MAC fans are rooting for the Bulls to win.