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Week 12 Takes On Playoff Feeling

Major Conference and Division Battles On Tap

by Dave Congrove
CollegeFootballPoll.com
November 12, 2013

The stretch run begins this week with a lot left to be decided. Except for the ACC Atlantic, all of the division and conference titles are on the table and only 56 teams have achieved bowl eligibility for the 70 slots available.

This week's schedule seems to fall short on scintillating marquee matchups, but that doesn't mean they aren't hugely important.

A week 51-game schedule begins with back-to-back nights of key MAC games. Tonight, Bowling Green hosts Ohio and Toledo entertains Buffalo. On Wednesday, Northern Illinois welcomes Ball State.

Bowling Green trails Buffalo by a game in the East and must beat Ohio to stay in the chase and potentially set up a de facto playoff game with the Bulls on November 29. BGSU is favored by 9.86 tonight.

Buffalo also plays tonight and is a 4.82-point underdog at Toledo in a cross-divisional game. The Rockets aren't completely out of the west race, but a loss tonight would all but mathematically seal their fate. Northern Illinois and Ball State lead that division by a game in the loss column over Toledo, and the Cardinals are the team that handed Toledo its lone conference loss. NIU is favored by 4.20 on Wednesday over BSU.

Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that Miami at Duke would playa key role in determining the ACC Championship pairing? Florida State is already in, but the Coastal is in play with Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech all sitting at 2 losses. The Blue Devils are only a 3-point Vegas underdog and a 1.72-point dog in the Congrove Computer Rankings. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech is a hefty favorite at home over Maryland and Georgia Tech is a 4.75-point computer underdog at Clemson on Thursday. If all of those predictions become reality, the Hokies will be in the driver's seat of another Coastal crown.

UCF controls its own destiny in the American as the Knights are unbeaten in conference play and are the reason Louisville and Houston each of those teams have 1 loss to trail by game. Cincinnati also has just 1 conference loss, but doesn't play the Knights as the 10-team league has an 8-game conference schedule. UCF is a 14.42-point road favorite at Temple while Louisville is projected to win by 11.41 at home over Houston. The Bearcats are a mere 0.90-point choice at Rutgers.

Michigan State (5-0) and Nebraska (4-1) are the top two contenders in the Big Ten Legends and they face-off in Lincoln on Saturday with the visitors projected to win by 2.37.

The Big Ten Leaders is Ohio State's to lose. The Buckeyes essentially lead 4-1 Wisconsin by 2 games because they handed the Badgers their only conference loss. Ohio State is a 29.99-point pick at Illinois this week while Wisconsin gets a 16.12-point nod at home over Indiana.

Texas and Baylor are the only unbeatens in Big 12 play and they're not scheduled to go toe-to-toe until December 7 in the season finale. This week, the Longhorns are the slimmest of underdogs at Oklahoma State (0.01) and Baylor is a 17.13-point projected winner over TCU at Arlington. An Oklahoma State win and a Baylor loss puts 5-1 Oklahoma State firmly back in the picture.

East Carolina and Marshall are the only teams with 1 league loss in Conference USA play in the East division and they don't face each other until their regular season finale on November 29. Rice and North Texas are in the same position in the West, but the Mean Green have the advantage after beating Rice 2 weeks ago. This week, the Pirates are 23.33-point favorites over visiting UAB; the Herd is a 7.51-point pick at Tulsa on Thursday, and the Owls get a 19.42-point nod at home over Louisiana Tech. North Texas is idle.

Boise State (4-1) owns the heads-up tie-breaker over Utah State (5-1) in the MWC Mountain. The Broncos are 20.29-point favorites over visiting Wyoming while the Aggies are idle.

Fresno State (6-0) has a 1-game advantage on 4-1 San Diego State, plus the heads-up tie-breaker, in the MWC West. The Bulldogs are idle this week while the Aztecs are a 10.60-point favorite in Hawaii.

Of course, Stanford (6-1) has the advantage over Oregon (5-1) in the PAC-12 North, but the Cardinals visit a hot USC team this week as a 7.39-point favorite. Oregon is a 23.27-point choice at home over faltering Utah.

The PAC-12 South is solidly in Arizona State's hands for the moment. The Sun Devils lead UCLA and USC by a game and have already knocked off he Trojans. They visit the Bruins on November 23. ASU is a 9.60-point choice at home over Oregon State on Saturday, while UCLA is only a 0.89-point home pick over Washington on Friday.

Missouri is the top dog in the SEC East with a 1-game lead over South Carolina, but the Gamecocks would own the tie-breaker if the Tigers slip-up. That's not going to happen this week because Missouri is idle while the Gamecocks are forecasted 8.41-point home winners over Florida.

Alabama leads Auburn in the SEC West with Iron Bowl looming as a possible de facto playoff game on Thanksgiving Day weekend. 'Bama is favored by 15.41 points at Mississippi State on Saturday, but the Tigers are 0.65-point underdogs to visiting Georgia.

Louisiana-Lafayette is the only unbeaten team in Sun Belt play and the Ragin' Cajuns are 28.40-point favorites at Georgia State this week.

FBS vs. FCS:
1 FBS team faces a FCS school this week as BYU hosts Idaho State.

FBS teams lost just 10 matches to FCS schools in all of 2012. This year, the FBS is 89-15 (.856) vs. the FCS, and 825-80 (.912) in such matchups since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
9/7: UT-Chattanooga 42, Georgia State 14
9/7: Maine 24, Massachusetts 14
9/7: Nicholls State 27, Western Michigan 23.
9/14: Fordham 30, Temple 29
9/14: Bethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13
9/21: Jacksonville State 32, Georgia State 26 (OT)
11/9: Old Dominion 59, Idaho 38

Eastern Washington, McNeese State and North Dakota State also had wins vs. FBS teams last year.

Originally, 106 FBS schools scheduled a total of 110 games against FCS foes this year. But Colorado later replaced a game it lost vs. Fresno State (due to flooding) with Charleston Southern. Thus, 106 FBS schools will play a total of 111 games vs. FCS foes. The schedule change also made Colorado the 4th FBS team to face at least two such schools this year. The others are Clemson and Georgia Tech with 2 apiece while FBS newcomer Georgia State scheduled 3 FCS teams and lost to each of them.

STREAKS:
Ohio State - Won 21 straight overall. Visits Illinois on Saturday

Northern Illinois - Won 24 straight at home and 22 straight vs. conference foes. Hosts Ball State on Wednesday.

LSU - Won 45 straight regular season nonconference games. Idle this week.

Southern Miss - Lost 21 straight overall. Hosts FAU on Saturday.

New Mexico State - Lost 21 straight to FBS teams. Idle this week.

Kansas - Lost 27 straight conference games and 23 straight road games. Hosts West Virginia on Saturday.