Conference Championship Races and More - Michigan, Oklahoma State Among Rivalry Winners

November 28, 2021 by Staff

In a nutshell, here has what happened this week:

  • Oklahoma State defeated Oklahoma which puts Baylor in the Big 12 title game against the Cowboys.
  • Michigan clinched Big Ten East
  • Minnesota upset Wisconsin to let Iowa clinch Big Ten West
  • Wake Forest clinched ACC Atlantic
  • Oregon clinched PAC-12 North
  • Cincinnati clinched home field for ACC Championship vs. Houston
  • Western Kentucky clinched CUSA West
  • Kent State clinched MAC East with 48-47 win on OT over Miami when RedHawks failed on a  2-point conversion attempt
  • San Diego State and Utah State clinched their MWC divisions and SDSU clinched home field advantage

With time running out, Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams was sacked on 4th and 10 for a loss of 8 to the Oklahoma State's 32-yard line and the Cowboys win Bedlam 37-33. The game was tied 24-all at halftime, but Oklahoma took a 33-24 lead less than 5 minutes into the third quarter on two fumble recoveries. The first resulted in a safety and the latter resulted in a touchdown. Oklahoma State took back the lead with 8:54 to go in the fourth quarter and made it stick. The go-ahead TD drive covered just 5 yards after a muffed punt recovery.

Oklahoma State had previously locked up a spot in the Big 12 Championship game, but the win by the Cowboys moved Baylor in as their opponent.

Hassan Haskins had 5 rushing TD's on 28 carries for 169 yards and Michigan never trailed as it snapped an 8-game losing streak to Ohio State with a 42-27 upset win. The Wolverines advance to the Big Ten Championship game next week in Indianapolis. Later, Minnesota upset Wisconsin 23-13 to knock the Badgers out of the title game and let Iowa in.

North Carolina State stage a miraculous comeback win, 34-30, at home over North Carolina Friday night. After the Tar Heels went up 30-21 with 2:12 remaining on a 50-yard field goal, the Wolfpack pulled back to within 30-28 just two plays later on a 64-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 to play, then recovered the onside kick and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 24-yard pass with 1:09 remaining. North Carolina's desperation pass from the NCSU 30 was intercepted in the end zone as time expired to preserve the win. The victory kept the Wolfpack in the ACC Atlantic hunt for the until Wake Forest won 41-10 at Boston College on Saturday to take the division title.

Here's what we now know about the conference championship race.

Conference Championship Matchups


(Charlotte): Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest
Clemson was eliminated from the Atlantic division race Friday night when NC State rallied past North Carolina 34-30 at home. In the end, it didn't matter, as Wake Forest then clinched the Coastal with a 41-10 rout at Boston College on Saturday.


(Cincinnati): Houston at Cincinnati
Cincinnati clinched hosting duties for the championship game with a 35-13 win at East Carolina, and secured its second straight undefeated regular season. Houston on Saturday was a 45-17 winner at UConn.

Big 10:

(Indianapolis): Michigan vs. Iowa
As mentioned at the top of this article, Michigan upset Ohio State 42-27 to clinch the Big Ten East.

Iowa avoided the upset at Nebraska on Friday by scoring 19 unanswered points over the final 15:27 to win 28-21 in Lincoln and knock Minnesota out of contention. Wisconsin simply needed to win at Minnesota on Saturday to punch its ticket to Indianapolis, but the Golden Gophers played spoiler and upset the Badgers 23-13. Iowa advances through the back door.

Big 12:

(Arlington, TX): Oklahoma State vs. Baylor
Oklahoma State won Bedlam in Stillwater for the first time since 2011 with a wild 37-33 win. Earlier in the day, Baylor survived Texas Tech 27-24 when Jonathan Garibay's 53-yard FG attempt sailed right for the Red Raiders as time expired. The Bears needed a win by the Cowboys to get their ticket punched to Arlington. The odds of that happening weren't great, considering the Sooners had taken 16 of the last 18 meetings, and the last 6 in-a-row.


(San Antonio): Western Kentucky at UTSA
Marshall had a 14-0 lead, then got its doors blown off 53-21 in Huntington. Western Kentucky (8-4, 7-1 CUSA) now heads to San Antonio to face UTSA which saw its unbeaten season come to an end with a 45-23 loss at North Texas as the Mean Green became bowl eligible with a 5th straight win after a 1-5 start.


(Detroit): Northern Illinois vs. Kent State
Northern Illinois lost 42-21 at home to Western Michigan on Tuesday, but already had the MAC West wrapped up. On Saturday, Kent State outlasted Miami in overtime, 48-47, in OT as the Golden Flashes broke up a the RedHawks' 2-point conversion pass attempt. Kent State will be making its first title game appearance since 2012 when Northern Illinois prevailed 44-37 in double-OT. Kent State's only MAC Championship was won in 1972.


(Carson, CA): Utah State at San Diego State
San Diego State won 27-16 at home over Boise State on Friday to clinch the MWC West and home field advantage in the conference championship game. Utah State clinched the Mountain with a 35-10 win at New Mexico.


(Las Vegas): Utah vs. Oregon
The Ducks were favored by 7.5 in the sportsbooks and 4.84 by the computer to win at Oregon State on Saturday to move on to face Utah in a rematch of last weekend's humiliating 38-7 loss to the Utes. Oregon lived up to expectations by jumping out to a 24-3 halftime lead and never looked back in the 38-29 win as the Beavers were playing catch-up throughout and scored their last TD with 1:09 left to shrink the final margin.

Oregon State could have advanced with an upset victory on Saturday, but only if Washington State had lost on Friday at Washington in the Apple Cup rivalry and that didn't happen. Instead the Cougars notched their largest margin of victory in an Apple Cup game with a 40-13 rout that topped a 26-point win in 1973..


(Atlanta): Georgia vs. Alabama
For the Bulldogs and Tide, it was all about the playoffs and Georgia coasted to a 45-0 win over its state rival, Georgia Tech while Alabama needed a 10-point 4th quarter that culminated with a 28-yard TD pass with just 24 seconds left to force OT at 10-10. The Tide then prevailed in the 4th overtime, 24-22. The teams traded touchdowns in the first extra period, field goals in the second, and 2-point conversions in the 3rd. But when 'Bama broke up Auburn's 2-point attempt in the top of the 4th, it set the state for Bryce Young's 2-point pass to John Metchie to win the game.

Sun Belt:

(Lafayette, LA): Appalachian State vs. Louisiana
The 2020 matchup between Coastal Carolina and Louisiana was canceled due to Covid issues in the Chanticleers' program, so Louisiana and Appalachian State have actually appeared in all three Sun Belt Championship games with the Mountaineers winning both previous encounters. The Ragin' Cajuns have never won the Sun Belt title outright and last tied for the title in 2013. This week, Appalachian State whipped Georgia Southern 27-3 in Boone while Louisiana fought of UL-Monroe 21-16 in Lafayette.

SEE: Weekly Picks, Scores

Other Games:

Georgia's scoring defense went unchallenged in a 45-0 rout of Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Jackets were held to 9 first downs and 166 total yards.

Notre Dame finished the regular season 11-1 with a 45-14 romp at Stanford. As an independent, the Irish will have to wait and see how everything shakes out in the conference championship games and, of course, pay close attention to the College Football Playoff Committee's next set of rankings which will be released on Tuesday night.

The Sunshine Showdown between Florida State and Florida still meant something, in addition to bragging rights, on Saturday in Gainesville - the winner was going bowling, and the loser was staying home home for the holidays. In the end, Florida State's losing fate was sealed in strange fashion when the kicker nearly whiffed on an onside kick attempt after the 'Noles had pulled to within 24-21.

LSU became bowl eligible with a 27-24  win in Baton Rouge over Texas A&M. Jaray Jenkings caught the 28-yard game-winner from Max Johnson with just 20 seconds left to play. Jimbo Fisher's team lost two of its last three games as Texas A&M finished 8-4 overall and just 4-4 in the SEC West. .

Kentucky obliterated Louisville 52-21 for the Wildcats' first consecutive wins in the series since 2009-2010. Kentucky ends the regular season 9-3 while Louisville drops to 6-6. It's the second-best regular finish for Kentucky since 1984. The 2018 'Cats were also 9-3 in the regular season, and then defeated Penn State in the Gator Bowl.

Virginia Tech became bowl eligible with its 21st win in the last 23 meetings with rival Virginia for the Commonwealth Cup. The 29-24 victory evened the Hokies' record at 1-1 under interim head coach J.C. Price after firing Justin Fuente.

Old Dominion won its 5th straight game after a 1-6 start and became bowl eligible with a 56-34 win at home over Charlotte. The Monarchs only led 35-31 at the start of the 4th quarter.

Army and Navy both won in advance of their December 11th showdown. The Black Knights (8-3) improved to 8-3 with the 31-16 win at Lynchburg, Virginia and Liberty finished 7-5 with its third straight loss. Army has won 4 in-a-row.

Purdue brought Indiana's horrendous season to an unmerciful conclusion, whipping the Hoosiers 44-7 in West Lafayette. Indiana began the year with major preseason expectations and the Congrove Computer Rankings even predicted a Big Ten title. Virtually everyone had Indiana at least 2nd or 3rd in the division and ranked in the Top 25. Instead, Indiana floundered to a 2-10 finish and 0-9 in the Big Ten. Purdue went the opposite way by finishing 8-4 overall, 6-3 in the Big Ten, after being picked to finish next-to-last by nearly everyone.

Because it plays 13 games, Hawaii became bowl eligible at 6-7 with a 38-14 win at Wyoming as a 10.5-point underdog.

Southern Cal (4-7) needed a win at home over BYU to have a shot at bowl eligibility but fell 35-31. The Trojans have a make-up game to play next week vs. Cal which is 4-7 after a 42-14 loss at UCLA. BYU finished 10-2.

Coaching Search - Things to Consider

Tulsa handed SMU a 4th loss in its last 5 games after starting 7-0. It makes the hiring of SMU head coach Sonny Dykes by TCU look pretty questionable. The same could be said for anyone looking to hire Jamey Chadwell away from Coastal Carolina as the Chanticleers needed OT to beat South Alabama on Friday, even with Grayson McCall back at QB. Yes, Coastal Carolina went 10-2, but McCall seemed to be a one-man show. But even Billy Napier and Louisiana had issues this week as the Ragin' Cajuns only managed a 21-16 victory at home over Louisiana-Monroe as a 21.5-point favorite in the sportsbooks and a 32.27-point computer pick. To us, Napier still stands head-and-shoulders above Dykes or Chadwell as 'promotable' to the next level. But, no doubt, the biggest 'get' would be luring Luke Fickell away from Cincinnati.

Playoff Committee Rankings Prediction

The penultimate rankings from the playoff committee will be released Tuesday night. Here's what we believe they will have as the Top Six:

1. Georgia
2. Michigan
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati
5. Notre Dame
6. Oklahoma State


2 teams played 2 FCS teams this fall (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams played 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups.

The FBS finished the season 105-12 vs. the FCS and are 1,574-140 (.918) since we began tracking this in 2003.

Last year, 30 FBS teams played a total of just 34 games against FCS schools and the FCS won just 1 game (1-33). That honor also went to Jacksonville State with its 19-10 victory over FIU.

These were the FCS wins in 2021:
September 2: UC Davis 19, Tulsa 17
September 2: Eastern Washington 35, UNLV 33 (2 OT)
September 3: South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23
September 4: Holy Cross 38, UConn 28
September 4: Montana 13, Washington 7
September 4: ETSU 23, Vanderbilt 3
September 11: Duquesne 28, Ohio 26
September 11: Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17.
September 18: Incarnate Word 42, Texas State 34.
September 18: Northern Arizona 21, Arizona 19
November 6: Rhode Island 35, Massachusetts 22
November 13: Maine 35, Massachusetts 10

This was the only FCS win vs. the FBS in 2020:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10

In 2019, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games. These were the only FCS wins that season:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)


GEORGIA - Won 16 straight overall-all (FBS longest).
Last: Won 45-0 at Georgia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Faces Alabama in SEC Championship in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 4.

OHIO STATE - Had won 29 straight conference games (was FBS longest), and 13 straight road games (was FBS longest). Both streaks ended.
Last: Lost 42-27 at Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Regular season complete (10-2).

CINCINNATI - Won 15 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 35-13 at Cincinnati on Friday, Nov. 26.
Next: Hosts Houston in American Championship on Saturday, Dec. 4.

NOTRE DAME - Won 9 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 45-14 at Stanford on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Regular season complete (11-1).

CLEMSON - Won 34 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 30-0 at South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Regular season complete (9-3).

FIU - Lost 11 straight over-all (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 37-17 at Southern Miss on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Season complete (1-11).

VANDERBILT - Lost 21 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 45-21 at Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Season complete (2-10).

NEW MEXICO STATE - Lost 18 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 44-27 at home versus Massachusetts on Saturday, Nov. 27
Next: Season complete (2-10).