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Two weeks from Championship Saturday, here are all of the division-clinching scenarios

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Unbelievably, we’re down to the penultimate full weekend of the 2017 season. And, with that, races for divisional and conference championships are both heating up and winding down — or, in a handful of cases, already settled.

Below is how each of the 10 leagues stands with just two Saturdays remaining before championship weekend.

AAC EAST
The winner of the Nov. 24 USF (6-1) at UCF (6-0) game will win the division, regardless of what happens in UCF’s game against Temple at noon today.

AAC WEST
Memphis (5-1) beat Houston (4-2) in mid-October. Memphis clinches the division with a win in either today’s game against SMU or East Carolina in the regular-season finale, regardless of what Houston does. Houston needs for Memphis to lose both of those games, plus win their final two games Tulane and Navy.

ACC ATLANTIC
Clemson has already clinched the division.

ACC COASTAL
Miami has already clinched the division.

BIG 12
Unless Oklahoma (6-1), which beat both TCU (5-2) and Oklahoma State (5-2) earlier this season, loses its last two games — ROTFL one of them is against Kansas — the Sooners have essentially clinched one of the two spots in the conference title game. TCU needs to either win one of its last two games (at Tech, vs. Baylor) and have OSU lose at least one, or win out regardless of what OSU does in order to claim the other spot. OSU, meanwhile, needs to win out (vs. K-State, vs. Kansas) and have the Horned Frogs lose at least one. West Virginia (5-2), which lost to both TCU and OSU, needs to beat Texas and win at OU while TCU and OSU lose at least one game apiece.

There’s also the possibility that all four teams finish at 6-3, getting there by way of OSU, TCU and WVU winning out.  In such a scenario, Oklahoma and TCU would play for the Big 12 title by virtue of a 2-1 record against the foursome.  At 1-2, Oklahoma State and West Virginia would be eliminated.

BIG TEN EAST
If Ohio State beats Illinois AND Michigan loses to Wisconsin today, the Buckeyes will win the division. If that doesn’t happen, the B1G East race will play out in Week 13. Courtesy of the Big Ten Network, below are all of the scenarios heading into Week 12:

Ohio State (6-1): Win vs. Illinois AND Michigan loss at Wisconsin OR win final two games (vs. Illinois; at Michigan).
Michigan (5-2): Win final two games (at Wisconsin; vs. Ohio State) AND Michigan State and Penn State lose one game.
Michigan State (5-2): Win final two games (vs. Maryland; at Rutgers) AND Ohio State loses final two games.
Penn State (5-2): Win final two games (vs. Nebraska; at Maryland) AND Ohio State loses final two games AND Michigan State loses a game.

BIG TEN WEST
Wisconsin has already clinched the division.

CONFERENCE USA EAST
Florida Atlantic (6-0) clinches the division with a win over Florida International (4-2) later today OR with a win over Charlotte in Week 13 even with a loss to FIU. FIU needs to beat FAU AND Western Kentucky AND have FAU lose to Charlotte as well.

CONFERENCE USA WEST
North Texas has already clinched the division.

MAC EAST
Akron and Ohio are both 5-2, but the Zips beat the Bobcats this past Tuesday night. Thus, Akron wins the division with either a Week 13 win over Kent State OR an Ohio loss to Buffalo. Ohio, meanwhile, needs to win next week AND have Akron lose.

MAC WEST
Toledo (6-1) and Northern Illinois (6-1) are left standing, with Toledo beating NIU in the first week of November. So, Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

MWC MOUNTAIN
Boise State (6-0) beat Wyoming (5-1) Oct. 21. Thus, Boise State wins the Mountain division if it wins its last two games (vs. Air Force, at Fresno State) regardless of what Wyoming does; if it wins one game regardless of what Wyoming does; if it loses its last two games and Wyoming does the same. Conversely, Wyoming needs to win its last two games (vs. Fresno State, at San Jose State) while Boise State loses its last two.

MWC WEST
Fresno State (5-1) beat San Diego State (4-2) Oct. 21. Thus, Fresno State wins the West division if it wins its last two games (at Wyoming, vs. Boise State) regardless of what San Diego State does; if it wins one game regardless of what San Diego State does; if it loses its last two games and San Diego State does the same. Conversely, San Diego State needs to win its last two games (vs. Nevada, vs. New Mexico) while Fresno State loses its last two.

PAC-12 NORTH
And now we come to the somewhat convoluted portion of the program. Stanford and Washington State are both 6-2, while Washington is 5-2. Stanford has beaten Washington but lost to Wazzu, while the Apple Cup awaits next Saturday. So, off we go with how each team can win the division.

Stanford: win vs. Cal in Week 12 AND Washington State loss to Washington in Week 13.
Washington: win vs. Utah in Week 12 AND win vs. Washington State in Week 13 AND Stanford loss to Cal in Week 12.
Washington State: win vs. Washington in Week 13 OR losses by Washington AND Stanford in Week 12.

And, if all three teams finish 6-3? Washington, by virtue of its record in divisional games — 4-1, compared to 3-2 for the others — would get the nod.

PAC-12 SOUTH
USC has already clinched the division

SEC EAST
Georgia has already clinched the division

SEC WEST
This one is really simple: the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl next Saturday will clinch the division.

SUN BELT
There’s Pac-12 North convoluted, then there’s SBC convoluted. Entering Week 12, this conference has four teams with just one loss apiece — Troy, Georgia State and Appalachian State at 5-1, Arkansas State at 4-1. To make matters even worse, there has been just one game played between the four — Troy beat Georgia State — and just two in the remaining three weeks of the season — Troy vs. Arkansas State, Georgia State vs. Appalachian State. Things will become (a little) clearer after Week 12 play for the only FBS league that doesn’t have a league game to determine a champion.

Starting QB Kenny Hill officially ruled out for TCU vs. Texas Tech

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This certainly makes things interesting.

Earlier this week, Gary Patterson revealed that starting quarterback Kenny Hill and starting linebacker Travin Howard were somewhere between “probable and questionable” for the Week 12 game against Texas Tech in Lubbock.  Both players suffered unspecified injuries in the Week 11 loss to Oklahoma.

Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, it’s been confirmed that Hill will not play against the Red Raiders.  Additionally, strong safety Niko Small and kicker Jonathan Song have been ruled out as well.

Howard, the team’s leading tackler, will travel to Lubbock but be a game-time decision.

With Hill sidelined, true freshman Shawn Robinson, who has attempted 10 passes in five games this season, will make his first career start in a game that will carry significant weight in the chase for the Big 12 championship tilt.

Unless Oklahoma (6-1), which beat both TCU (5-2) and Oklahoma State (5-2) earlier this season, loses its last two games — ROTFL one of them is against Kansas — the Sooners have all but clinched one of the two spots in the conference title game. TCU needs to either win one of its last two games (at Tech, vs. Baylor) and have OSU lose at least one, or win out regardless of what OSU does in order to claim the other spot. OSU, meanwhile, needs to win out (vs. K-State, vs. Kansas) and have the Horned Frogs lose at least one. West Virginia (5-2), which lost to both TCU and OSU, needs to beat Texas and win at OU while TCU and OSU lose at least one game apiece.

Texas Tech, TCU reinstating ‘Saddle Trophy’ for annual rivalry game

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Texas Tech and TCU are getting back in the saddle again. Literally.

The two Lone Star State rivals announced this week that they are reinstating and reviving the ‘Saddle Trophy’ for their annual meeting on the football field, with the winner taking home a newly crafted monument to victory that they’ll have to find some place in the football facility to store.

The Red Raiders and Horned Frogs used to compete for the Saddle Trophy from 1961 until 1970 when the two were both in the Southwest Conference. Somewhere along the way the original trophy was lost and, because both schools have bigger rivals in the state and in the conference, they seemingly decided to do away with lugging the massive saddle between Forth Worth and Lubbock every year. Until now that is.

The newly inspired trophy was made special for the occasion by M.L. Leddy’s Boots & Saddlery of Fort Worth according to a release and features both school logos as well as the scores of the 59 previous meetings between the two teams. It is a sight to behold — and perhaps that’s a good thing only if you’re an actual cowboy.

While the Big 12 isn’t known for having the rivalry trophies like the Big Ten and others are, it is kind of cool to see schools try and juice up what are normally just another conference game into something a little more. And if this latest stunt leads to a 300 pound lineman taking the trophy and riding it off to the sunset? Well even better.

TCU could be without starting QB, leading tackler for Texas Tech game

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Injuries to key players are seemingly mounting for TCU.  How severe — and impacting — they are remains to be seen.

Looking to bounce back from a (likely) playoff-crippling loss, Gary Patterson confirmed earlier in the week that leading rusher Darius Anderson could very well miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of an injury to his right foot sustained in the Week 11 loss to Oklahoma. On top of that, Patterson stated Tuesday that starting quarterback Kenny Hill and starting linebacker Travin Howard are listed as somewhere “between probable and questionable” for the Week 12 game against Texas Tech in Lubbock.

Both players suffered unspecified injuries in the loss to the Sooners.

Hill is currently fifth in the Big 12 and 26th nationally in passing efficiency, completing nearly 66 percent of his passes in throwing 16 touchdowns and five interceptions in his 287 attempts. Should Hill be sidelined, true freshman Shawn Robinson, who has attempted 10 passes this season, would get the start.

Despite that inexperience, TCU’s head coach is not exactly concerned, at least outwardly, about what would be the first career start for the four-star 2017 signee.

Howard, meanwhile, leads the Horned Frogs in tackles, by a wide margin, with 83; next closest is Nick Orr‘s 51. He’s also second in tackles for loss with seven and tied for second in passes broken up (four) and tied for third in passes defended (five).

This weekend’s game is huge for TCU when it comes to the conference race, which does nothing but magnify the potential injury issues.

Unless Oklahoma (6-1), which beat both TCU (5-2) and Oklahoma State (5-2) earlier this season, loses its last two games — ROTFL one of them is against Kansas — the Sooners have all but clinched one of the two spots in the Big 12 championship game. TCU needs to either win one of its last two games (at Tech, vs. Baylor) and have OSU lose at least one, or win out regardless of what OSU does in order to claim the other spot. The Cowboys, meanwhile, need to win out (vs. K-State, vs. Kansas) and have the Horned Frogs lose at least one.

Of course, if one of the two loses out, and the other wins at least one, the latter would get the spot. And if both lose out? The head-to-head tiebreaker goes to TCU, which beat OSU in Stillwater Sept. 23.

Alabama the new No. 1 in College Football Playoff ranking; Clemson moves to No. 2, Oklahoma and Miami crack top four

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After quite an active weekend in college football, the selection committee for the College Football Playoff had some work to do with their weekly rankings. Having the benefit of letting the dust settle from the flurry of activity seen over the weekend, the committee gathered as they do on a weekly basis, discussed their thoughts and cooked up a fresh batch of rankings, including a familiar name as this week’s new No. 1.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are back on top of the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time since the final rankings of the 2016 season. What may have been a bit surprising was the rise of Clemson to No. 2, ahead of No. 3 Miami and No. 4 Oklahoma. The committee appears to be giving Clemson credit for their earlier wins because the Tigers have not particularly have been as good as Oklahoma, or Miami. But Clemson was unquestionably going to be in the top four, and the rankings at this point really mean very little as far as the specific seeding is concerned, especially with Clemson locked into the ACC Championship Game against Miami.

What was questioned was how the committee would rank an unbeaten Wisconsin against a two-loss Auburn after last week. The Badgers stayed just ahead of the Tigers, and Wisconsin is the first team out at this point. If Wisconsin wins out, the Badgers will have the door left open with the assumption they would move past either Clemson or Miami after one takes a loss in the ACC Championship Game.

The committee also moved Ohio State and Penn State into the bottom fo the top 10 this week, providing a good path to a possible late playoff push for Wisconsin or Ohio State. USC is the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team at No. 11 this week, suggesting the Pac-12 still needs a good amount of help to get a team in the playoff this year.

UCF remains the highest-ranked team in the Group of Five hunt, but they continue to be joined by their conference allies from the AAC with Memphis moving up one spot this week. There is also a new Group of Five challenger on the selection committee’s radar with Boise State rounding out the top 25 this week.

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Miami
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Auburn
  7. Georgia
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Ohio State
  10. Penn State
  11. USC
  12. TCU
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. Washington State
  15. UCF
  16. Mississippi State
  17. Michigan State
  18. Washington
  19. NC State
  20. LSU
  21. Memphis
  22. Stanford
  23. Northwestern
  24. Michigan
  25. Boise State