Miami Upset; TCU, UCF and Toledo Clinch Conference Championship Game Berths

November 24, 2017 by Dave Congrove

Miami (FL) saw its' 15-game winning streak, and its' chance at an undefeated season, come to an end with a 24-14 upset loss at Pittsburgh (5-7) on Friday. The Panthers were ranked 96th in the Congrove Computer Rankings at going into the game.

However, the Hurricanes could still reach the College Football Playoff with a win over Clemson next week in the ACC Championship game. But the conference, as a whole, suffers with the loss as it almost assuredly has no shot now at getting two teams into the Final Four. And if the Tigers lose at South Carolina on Saturday, and Clemson then beats Miami in the conference title game, the ACC could wind up without even a single representative in the Final Four.

TCU will get a rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game. Oklahoma had already clinched the #1 seed. TCU captured the second slot with a 45-22 home win over Baylor (1-11) on Friday. The Sooners defeated the Horned Frogs 38-20 in Norman two weeks ago. The championship game will be played in Arlington, Texas next Saturday.

UCF won a wild War On I-4 in Orlando, 49-42 over USF, to claim the East division title in the American Conference. The teams combined to score 22 points in the last 2:21 of the game. The Knights took a 42-34 lead on a 23-yard TD pass, but the Bulls countered 40 seconds later with an 83-yard scoring strike and 2-point conversion to knot the score at 42. All that happened next was a 95-yard kickoff return by Mike Hughes, followed by a USF fumble on its last possession, to seal the win and an undefeated regular season (11-0) for UCF. The Knights will host Memphis for the AAC Championship in a rematch of  a regular season game that UCF won 40-13 at home. USF dropped to 9-2 with the loss.

We also learned on Friday that Toledo will be Akron's opponent in the MAC Championship game next Saturday in Detroit. The Rockets clinched the West division title with a 37-10 win at home over Western Michigan. It will be Toledo's first appearance in the conference title game since winning the crown in 2004, and Akron's first appearance since capturing the title in 2005.

The Zips clinched the MAC East with a 24-14 win at home over Kent State on Tuesday.

In other games, Arkansas lost 48-45 at home to Missouri on a late field gold and Brett Bielema was fired immediately afterward. The Razorbacks were just 29-34 in 5 seasons under Bielema, including an 11-29 mark in the SEC and 1-2 bowl record.

Is Mike Riley out at Nebraska? I wouldn't be surprised. Iowa broke away from a 14-14 halftime tie with 42 unanswered points to dump Nebraska 52-14. The game was indicative of Nebraska's season. The Cornhuskers were 4-4 before ending the season on a 4-game losing streak and becoming the first Nebraska team to fail to qualify for bowl selection since 2007. Former Bleacher Report writer Lars Anderson says "a source he trusts" has told him that Nebraska has reached an agreement to have Scott Frost replace Mike Riley as head coach, but that the announcement won't come until after UCF's AAC championship game with Memphis next Saturday.

The Virginia Tech defense pitched its third shutout of the season, beating Virginia 10-0. The Hokies (9-3) have won 14 straight over the Cavaliers (6-6) and shut them out in 3 of those matches. Virginia Tech is 14-0 vs. Virginia as ACC rivals. They ran their overall record against the Wahoos to 57-37-5. Virginia was 5-1 at mid-season, but went 1-5 down the stretch. Nonetheless, the Cavs are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.

Meanwhile, Florida International improved to 7-4 with a 41-17 win over Western Kentucky (6-6). A win for the Golden Panthers at home over UMass next Saturday would tie the program's best record of 8-4 (2011), and that would be quite an accomplishment in Butch Davis' first season as head coach at the Miami school.

Troy clubbed Texas State 62-9 and can claim an outright Sun Belt title if the Trojans win at Arkansas State next Saturday and Appalachian State loses either this Saturday against Georgia State, or next Saturday at home over Louisiana Lafayette.

Texas Tech scored the last 14 points of the ball game to notch a 27-23 upset win at Texas. Nik Shimonek came off the bench to throw a pair of 4th quarter TD passes to help the Red Raiders become bowl eligible at 6-6. Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech athletic director and the College Football Playoff Committee's chair, said after the game that Kliff Kingsbury's job was safe as head coach, despite a 30-32 overall record in 5 seasons at the Lubbock school and a dismal 16-30 mark in conference play with zero winning seasons.

In the final Friday game, UCLA, in its final regular season game and without Jim Mora on the sideline as head coach, and with QB Josh Rosen knocked out of the game late in the first half, defeated Cal 30-27 on J.J. Molson's 37-yard field goal with 4 seconds left and became bowl eligible at 6-6. The kick came 2 minutes and 18 seconds after the Golden Bears had rallied from a 27-17 deficit to tie the game with 2:22 remaining.

Conference Championship Games

Conference Matchup
AAC Memphis at UCF
ACC Miami (Fla.) vs. Clemson (at Charlotte)
Big Ten Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (at Indianapolis)
Big 12 TCU vs. Oklahoma (at Arlington)
CUSA North Texas at FAU
MAC Akron vs. Toledo (at Detroit)
MWC Fresno State vs. Boise State (most likely at Boise State)
PAC-12 USC vs. Washington State or Stanford (at Santa Clara)
SEC Georgia vs. Alabama or Auburn (at Atlanta)


98 FBS teams played 98 games vs. FCS members this year, down substantially from the 110 FBS schools that played 113 games vs. FCS squads last year. FBS teams finished 89-9 (.908) vs. the FCS this season, and are now 1,219-117 (.912) since 2003.

These are the FCS victories in 2017:
September 23: Western Illinois 52, Coastal Carolina 10
September 16: North Carolina A&T 35, Charlotte 31
September 16: Idaho State 30, Nevada 28
September 9: South Dakota 35. Bowling Green 27
September 9: New Hampshire 22, Georgia Southern 12
September 2: Liberty 48, Baylor 45
September 2: Howard 43, UNLV 40
September 2: James Madison 34, East Carolina 14
August 31: Tennessee State 17, Georgia State 10.


Alabama - Won 39 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 18 straight home games (FBS longest). Won 14 straight road games (FBS second-longest). Won 24 straight conference games (FBS longest). Visits Auburn on Saturday.

Oklahoma - Won 16 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts West Virginia on Saturday.

Miami (Fla.) - Had won 15 straight overall (FBS longest) before 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday.

Wisconsin - Won 12 straight overall (FBS longest). Visits Minnesota on Saturday.

UTEP - Lost 11 straight overall (FBS longest). Visits UAB on Saturday.

Ball State - Lost 13 straight conference games (FBS longest). Lost 28-7 vs. Miami (O.) on Tuesday.

Kansas - Lost 45 straight road games (FBS longest). Visits Oklahoma State on Saturday.