The penultimate week of the FBS college football season opens Tuesday night in the wake of the tragic shooting on Sunday night that killed three Virginia football players and left two others wounded. Everyone at CollegeFootballPoll.com joins the entire college football community in sending thoughts and prayers to the family, friends, teammates, coaches and fellow students.
As of Tuesday morning, an announcement had not yet been made concerning the Cavaliers' scheduled home game on Saturday against Coastal Carolina. Virginia is supposed to close out its season with the annual rivalry game at Virginia Tech on November 26.
We can not imagine the difficulty of anyone preparing for a football game under the circumstances.
It seems callous of us to prepare for what is supposed to be another week of enjoying the sport we love, while so many ache, but on we must go...
Only two conference championship pairings have been decided. 65 teams are already bowl eligible for the 82 slots. 37 have yet to be eliminated.
The Tigers (Atlantic) and Tar Heels (Coastal) have already clinched their respective division titles and will meet in Charlotte on Saturday, December 3 in one of the the ten conference championship games. When that game is over, the ACC will officially say farewell to the two-division system. The PAC-12, American Conference, and CUSA have already switched to staging a title game between the top two teams in the entire conference. The Mountain West, like the ACC, will implement that type of format next year while the B1G, SEC, MAC and Sun Belt will continue to use divisions.
The biggest games in the ACC this week are the renewal of the Boston College-Notre Dame and Miami-Clemson rivalries. However, the Eagles (3-7) and 'Canes (5-5) are both having down years and are 3-TD underdogs against the Irish and Tigers.
Bowl eligible members (9): Clemson, UNC, Florida State, NC State, Wake Forest., Syracuse, Louisville, Duke, Pittsburgh.
Still Bowl possible (2): Miami (5-5), Georgia Tech (4-6).
UCF, Cincinnati and Tulane are tied atop the conference standings, but each has two league games left to play. UCF has the inside track to hosting the conference championship game with victories over both the Bearcats and Green Wave.
Here lies the problem with non-division formats. Those three schools are joined by SMU and Houston as the top five schools in the conference, and UCF will not have faced the Mustangs or Cougars. Meanwhile, Tulane will have played each of the other four top teams while Cincinnati will have played all but Houston. Division formats at least insure round-robin competition among six or or 7 teams.
Anyhow, we're not likely to know who plays who for the conference title until the final weekend's games are played, but UCF is set up well as it hosts Navy this week, and visits USF for the "War On I-4" rivalry finale. Tulane has the toughest finish as it follows this past Saturday's home loss to UCF with hosting duties against SMU this week before traveling to Cincinnati on Thanksgiving weekend. The Bearcats go to Philadelphia to play Temple this week before hosting the Green Wave.
Bowl eligible members (6): UCF, Cincinnati, Tulane, Houston, SMU, East Carolina.
Still bowl possible (1): Memphis (5-5).
Once again, the season-ending rivalry game between Ohio State and Michigan will be a de facto East division championship game. The western half of the conference is an inferior mess with four teams leading the way at 4-3 - Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue. Wisconsin (3-4) is not mathematically eliminated.
The Illini appeared to be a shoo-in three weeks ago but have since lost consecutive games to Purdue and Michigan State.
This week, Illinois will likely drop to 4-4 after it travels to the "Big House" for a date with Michigan.
Minnesota hosts Iowa so one of those teams will get to 5-3.
Purdue should also improve to 5-3 as the B-makers host Northwestern.
Wisconsin could be 4-4 after visiting Nebraska.
Bowl eligible members (8): Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Purdue.
Still bowl possible (3): Michigan State (5-5), Wisconsin (5-5), Rutgers (4-6).
The Horned Frogs (7-0) punched their ticket to Arlington with Saturday's win over Texas. Kansas State (5-2) sits alone in second and travels to West Virginia on Saturday. Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas are all a game behind the Wildcats, but also lose the tie-breaker with KSU. Texas owns the tie-breaker with Kansas State. Texas Tech (3-4) is out of the race, but Kansas (3-4) has a mathematical shot that, among other things, requires the Jayhwaks to win out and Kansas State to lose at WVU to set up an all-Sunflower State showdown with Kansas at Kansas State in the finale.
Bowl eligible (6): TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, Kansas.
Still bowl possible (4): Everybody else - Texas Tech (5-5), Oklahoma (-5-5), West Virginia (4-6), Iowa State (4-6).
UTSA is in the title game as the Roadrunners can't finish worse than 6-2 and own the tie-breaker over North Texas and WKU which are tied for second at 5-2, along with FAU at 4-2. The Mean Green own the tie-breaker over the Hilltoppers and FAU. WKU goes to FAU in the season finale.
UTSA can secure hosting duties with a win this week at Rice. North Texas is he only team in the entire FBS that has a bye week before finishing at home against Rice. Western Kentucky is at Auburn this week while FAU visits MTSU.
Bowl eligible (3): UTSA, North Texas, Western Kentucky.
Still bowl possible (5): FAU (5-5), Rice (5-5), UAB (5-5), MTSU (5-5), and either UTEP (4-6) or FIU (4-6) as the Miners host FIU Saturday and the loser will be eliminated from bowl eligibility.
If there were a championship game among Independents, Liberty would be in it for the third time in the last four years. Despite an astonishing loss at UConn this past Saturday, the Flames have the best record (8-2) among the 7 independent programs with Notre Dame trailing at 7-3.
Liberty hosts Virginia Tech on Saturday and opened as a 9.5-point favorite.
Bowl eligible (3): Liberty, Notre Dame, UConn
Still bowl possible (3): BYU (5-5), New Mexico State (4-5), Army (3-6)
Toledo is in the championship game for the first time since 2017 when the Rockets beat Akron in the championship game at Detroit.
On the east side of the ledger, Ohio has a 1-game lead on Buffalo and Bowling Green. The Bobcats own the tie-breaker with the Bulls and host the Falcons in their season finale on Tuesday, November 22. Ohio can clinch tonight with a win at Ball State and a BGSU loss at Toledo.
Bowl eligible (3): Toledo, Ohio, Eastern Michigan.
Still bowl possible (6): BGSU (5-5), Ball State (5-5), Buffalo (5-5), CMU (4-6), Kent State (4-6), Miami (4-6).
The Bulldogs and Broncos are both in position to win their respective divisions while Boise had the best conference record across both divisions, and the best record over-all. But, that could change on Saturday when Boise takes its 6-0 MWC record on the road to face a 5-1 Wyoming team. Boise opened as a 13,5-point favorite and gets a slightly larger edge of 14.60 from the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com.
Fresno has a 1-game lead over San Diego State and San Jose State and owns the head-to-head tie-breaker over both, so a win this Saturday at Nevada would secure the Bulldogs' spot in the MWC Championship.
Bowl eligible (6): Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force.
Still bowl possible (2): Utah State (5-5), UNLV (4-6).
This conference has two major games this week as UCLA hosts USC and Oregon hosts Utah. If the Trojans win the battle of Los Angeles, they can do no worse than clinch the 2- seed for the PAC-12 Championship game in Las Vegas. If Utah beats Oregon and doesn't get upset at Colorado in the season finale, the Utes would be the 1-seed and set up a revenge match for USC with Utah. If USC and Oregon both win, and the Ducks win the Civil War game at Oregon State, the Trojans would be the 1-seed.
UCLA is obviously still in the chase, despite the surprising 34-28 loss at home to Arizona this past Saturday, but the Bruins MUST beat USC to live on. Likewise, Washington must beat Colorado at home on Saturday to have a shot, and it would be extremely helpful for the Huskies if Oregon loses to Utah.
By the way, there is a not-too-far-fetched scenario where the conference ends in a five-way tie. (Read).
Bowl eligible (7): USC, Oregon, Utah, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State, Washington State.
Still bowl possible (1): Arizona (4-6).
LSU is one of the more surprising success stories of the 2022 season. The Tigers are 8-2 and could possibly be 9-1 were it not for a blocked PAT at the end of regulation in the opener against FSU. Georgia is what was expected of Georgia. Alabama is having a down year with 2 losses by a total of 4 points.
Bowl eligible (9): LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina.
Still bowl possible (4): Arkansas (5-5), Auburn (4-6), Missouri (4-6), Vanderbilt (4-6).
Coastal Carolina (6-1) plays at Virginia this week if that game gets played following the shooting tragedy at UVa that occurred this past Sunday night. JMU hosts Georgia State and must win that game to set up a de facto championship game for the East division title next week when the Dukes host the Chanticleers.
Troy and South Alabama are not really tied atop the West, despite both teams being 5-1, because the Trojans own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Jaguars. Troy hosts ULM this week and visits Arkansas State its season finale, while South Alabama visits Southern Miss before hosting ODU.
Bowl eligible (5): Coastal, JMU, Marshall, Troy, South Alabama.
Still bowl possible (6): App State (5-5), Georgia Southern (5-5), Louisiana (5-5), Southern Miss (5-5), Georgia State (4-6), ULM (4-6).
The last of the 119 FBS vs. FCS matchups this season will take place on Saturday with Austin Peay at Alabama, Utah Tech at BYU, ETSU at Mississippi State, and North Alabama at Memphis.
116 of the 131 FBS schools played at least one such game while with Appalachian State, Army and Marshall each played two.
The FBS is 107-8 vs. the FCS this year, and 1,681-148 (.919) since we began tracking this in 2003.
Here are the FCS wins in 2022:
September 2: William & Mary 41, Charlotte 24
September 3: Delaware14, Navy 7
September 10: Weber State 35, Utah State 7
September 10: Incarnate Word 55, Nevada 41
September 10: Holy Cross 37, Buffalo 31
September 10: Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57 (7 OT's)
September 17: Southern Illinois 31, Northwestern 24
September 24: Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10
CLEMSON - Won 38 straight home games. Had 14-game over-all winning streak end at Notre Dame two weeks ago.
Last: Won 31-16 at Louisville on Saturday, November 12.
Next: Hosts Miami (FLA) on Saturday, November 19.
MICHIGAN - Won 12 straight conference games.
Last: Won 34-3 at home over Nebraska on Saturday, November 12.
Next: Hosts Illinois on Saturday, November 19.
GEORGIA - Won 10 straight true road games.
Last: Won 45-19 at Mississippi State on Saturday, November 12.
Next: Visits Kentucky on Saturday, November 19.
AKRON - Lost 9 straight over-all, and 12 straight conference games.
Last: Lost 34-28 at home to Eastern Michigan on Tuesday, November 8.
Next: Visits Buffalo on Saturday, November 19.
MASSACHUSETTS - Lost 13 straight to FBS schools, and 23 straight road games.
Last: Lost 35-33 at Arkansas State on Saturday, November 12.
Next: Visits Texas A&M on Saturday, November 19.
NORTHWESTERN - Lost 7 straight at home.
Last: Lost 31-3 at Minnesota on Saturday, November 12.
Next: Visits Purdue on Saturday, November 19.
VANDERBILT - Had lost 26 straight conference games.
Last: Won 24-21 at Kentucky on Saturday, November 12.
Next: Hosts Florida on Saturday, November 19.