FBS Week 12 Preview - 12 of 20 Conference Championship Game Spots Still To Be Decided

November 16, 2023 by Rich Cirminiello, VP of College Awards at Maxwell Football Club, and CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

It's the penultimate week of the FBS college football season, and it seems a little light on top games. However, heading into this week, only 7 of the 20 conference championship spots were filled. An 8th was taken care of on Wednesday night when Miami (Ohio) clinched the MAC East bid, opposite Toledo.

The CUSA and SEC title games are also set, while FSU (ACC) and Troy (Sun Belt) have each clinched a spot in their respective conference championship games.

Some of the remaining races are extremely convoluted. The odds for this week's games provide some insight but, of course, no finite reality.

AAC: ? vs. ?

(Home site of Regular Season champion)
Tulane, SMU and UTSA are all 6-0, Memphis is 5-1.  
8 conference games are played. All the above have 2 conference games remaining. There are no divisional races so the top two teams go.
Everyone else is out.
Tulane doesn't play SMU
UTSA doesn't play SMU
Memphis doesn't play UTSA, and has a loss to Tulane

Remaining games for contenders:
(at Memphis, vs. Navy)
Tulane (at FAU, vs. UTSA)
UTSA (vs. USF, at Tulane)
Memphis (vs. SMU, at Temple)

This week's computer picks have SMU by 9.87 at Memphis in the only contest between the four remaining teams in the chase. The other picks have Tulane by 6.57 at FAU, and UTSA by 28.71 at home over USF.

If those predictions become reality, Memphis is eliminated while SMU, Tulane and UTSA will be 7-0. That would set up a conference title game of SMU vs. the winner of UTSA at Tulane.

ACC: Florida State vs. ?

(at Charlotte)
8 conference games are played. There are no divisional races so the top two teams go.
Florida State is locked-in. Louisville (6-1) clinches with a win at Miami this Saturday.
North Carolina is 4-2 and still alive.
Virginia Tech is 4-2 and still alive.

If Louisville doesn't win at Miami, we'll see how next week sets up when this weekend is over.

Remaining games for contenders:
Louisville (at Miami, vs. Kentucky)
North Carolina (at Clemson, at NC State)
Virginia Tech (vs. NC State, at Virginia)

Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are ALL computer underdogs this week.. The Cardinals are 2.38-point dogs at Miami, the Tar Heels are 4.14-point dogs at Clemson, and the Hokies are 2.85-point dogs at home to NC State. UNC would then be favored at NC State, and the Hokies would likely be favored at Virginia. That would leave Louisville at 6-2, and all of the others (North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and NC State) at 5-3.

B1G: ? vs. ?

(at Indianapolis)
9 conference games are played.
East: Ohio State (7-0) at Michigan (7-0) winner on 11/25 advances to title game, regardless of what happens on 11/18. The big news here came on Thursday when Michigan and Jim Harbaugh announced they accept the head coach's 3-game suspension that was issued by the Big Ten prior to the Penn Sate game. The suspension is related to alleged illegal in-person sign-stealing practices of upcoming opponent games. The suspension only affects game day. This means Harbaugh will not be on the sideline for this week's game at Maryland and, more importantly, for the home game against Ohio State that will determine the east division champion. In exchange for the school and Harbaugh accepting the punishment, the Big Ten will end its investigation. However, the NCAA investigation will continue and Michigan has pledge to cooperate.

Remaining games for contenders:
(at Maryland, vs. Ohio State)
Ohio State
(vs. Minnesota, vs. at Michigan)

West: Purdue is out. Everyone else is still alive. Iowa (5-2) has the inside track to the western half after Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota all fell to 3-4 with losses on Saturday, while Illinois and Northwestern joined that logjam with wins. Iowa only needs 1 more win - either at home vs. Illinois on 11/18, or at Nebraska on 11/25. Iowa would have to lose twice for anyone else to have a shot.

Remaining games for contenders:
(vs. Illinois, at Nebraska)
(at Iowa, vs. Northwestern)
Northwestern (vs. Purdue, at Illinois)
Wisconsin (vs. Nebraska, at Minnesota)
Nebraska (at Wisconsin, vs Iowa)
Minnesota (at Ohio State, vs. Wisconsin)

Big 12: ? vs. ?

(at Arlington)
9 conference games are played.
There are no divisional races so the top two teams go.
Texas (6-1) leads four teams at 5-2 (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas State). The Cowboys, despite a 45-3 loss at UCF, still control their destiny due to wins over OU and Kansas State.

Remaining games for contenders:
Texas (vs. Iowa State, at Texas Tech)
Oklahoma State (at Houston, vs. BYU)
Kansas State (at Kansas, vs. Iowa State)
Oklahoma (at BYU, vs. TCU)
Iowa State (vs. Texas, at Kansas State)

CUSA: Liberty vs. New Mexico State

(at Lynchburg, home site of Regular Season champion)
There are no divisional races so the top two teams go.
Liberty (10-0, 7-0) was locked-in before this past weekend's games. The guest spot goes to New Mexico State (8-3, 6-1) after its 38-29 win at Western Kentucky because Jax State is ineligible..

Liberty is in the hunt for the one automatic bid that all non-Autonomy schools have in a New Year's Six bowl game. The Flames host UMass and finish at UTEP.

MAC: Toledo vs. Miami (O.)

(at Detroit)
8 conference games are played.
East: Miami (6-1) secured the east on Wednesday night with its 23-10 home win over Buffalo.
West: Toledo secured the west with a 49-23 win over Eastern Michigan, and Central Michigan's 38-28 loss at Western Michigan.

MWC: ? vs. ?

(Home site of Regular Season champion)
8 conference games are played. There are no divisional races so the top two teams go. Best as we can tell, the only eliminated teams are Colorado State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and San Diego State.
Air Force and UNLV are 5-1 and the Falcons host the Rebels this week, before visiting Boise State. UNLV's only conference loss was at Fresno State. Air Force was just upset at Hawaii.
A trio of 4-2 teams consists of Boise State, Fresno State and San Jose State.
Wyoming and Utah State are 3-3.

We will explore the options when things get, perhaps, a little cleared up this weekend.

PAC-12: ? vs. ?

(at Las Vegas)
9 conference games are played. There are no divisional races so the top two teams go.
The final year of the conference, as we know it, looks like it will come down to a rematch of Washington and Oregon. The Huskies won 36-33 at home on October 14 and sit alone atop the standings at 7-0 with the Ducks at 6-1.  Oregon State and Arizona are 5-2. USC (5-3) was eliminated by the loss at Oregon, but we believe Utah (4-3) still has a shot.

The best game to watch this week is Washington at Oregon State (more on that below).

We will explore the options when things get, perhaps, a little cleared up this weekend.

SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama

(at Atlanta)
8 conference games are played.
Eastern: Georgia (7-0) beat Ole Miss on Saturday night but had already secured the division title when Missouri whipped Tennessee earlier in the day.
Western: Alabama secured the division title with a a 49-21 win at Kentucky.

SUN BELT: Troy vs. ?

West: Troy secured the divisional title with a 45-14 win at ULM on Saturday.

East: James Madison is not eligible. Coastal is in the driver's seat at 5-2, App State is 4-2, and Georgia Southern (4-3) is alive because it owns the tie-breaker with the Chants.

Remaining games for contenders:
5-2 Coastal Carolina (at Army, vs. James Madison)
4-2 Appalachian State (at James Madison, Georgia Southern)
3-3 Georgia Southern (vs. Old Dominion, at Appalachian State)

Games To Watch

Georgia (10-0) at Tennessee (7-3) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Dawgs and the Vols meet for the 53rd time in a border battle that Georgia has dominated of late.

The Bulldogs have won six straight and 11 of the last 13 meetings between these rivals. And having already sewn up the SEC East, this weekend will be about remaining unbeaten and on track for a shot at a third straight national championship. Kirby Smart has the Dawgs in postseason form, mauling Ole Miss, 52-17, as star TE Brock Bowers made his return from an ankle injury. Meanwhile, the Volunteers are reeling from a lopsided loss to Missouri in Week 11. Nothing when right in Columbia for Tennessee, which is still searching for a bona fide statement win this season. Josh Heupel’s team will get its chance to shock the nation if they can somehow end Georgia’s 27-game winning streak.

Kansas State (7-3) at Kansas (7-3) - Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET (FS1)

Kansas will have plenty of motivation when it hosts the 121st edition of the Sunflower Showdown.

The Jayhawks have lost 14 straight in the series, an excruciating level of futility versus an instate rival. A win would not only snap the nasty losing streak, but it would also likely end Kansas State’s bid for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Kansas will need to rebound from last week’s loss to Texas Tech while sorting out a quarterback situation that’s been hit hard all year by injuries. The Wildcats, conversely, have the wind at their backs. Spearheaded by the proven backfield tandem of QB Will Howard and RB DJ Giddens, K-State pummeled Baylor, 59-25, a week ago. The team currently sits in four-way tie behind Texas in the Big 12 Conference.

Washington (10-0) at Oregon State (8-2) - Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)

Now, this ought to be fun.

Primetime in Corvallis with titles potentially hanging in the balance is the Pac-12 at its finest. Washington enters Reser Stadium battle-tested, having won each of its last six games by 10 or fewer points, including last Saturday versus Utah. The offense remains elite, but the defense is vulnerable, giving up 5.6 yards per play. Life will not get any easier at Oregon State, which is unbeaten at home and just tagged 62 points on Stanford. Like the Utes, U-Dub will be facing a physical and well-coached squad for a second week in a row. The Beavers want to run it behind 232-pound Damien Martinez who had four scores and went over the 1,000-yard mark last Saturday. The last three meetings between Washington and Oregon State were decided by six points or less, a possible harbinger of things to come in Week 12.

Texas (9-1) at Iowa State (6-4) - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (FOX)

Matt Campbell has had a lot of good seasons in Ames. This might be his best coaching job so far.

Iowa State has no business being bowl-eligible and in the hunt for a Big 12 title game berth. Yet, here are the Cyclones, enduring even after losing key players to a gambling scandal and starting the season 2-3. They’ve won four of their last five behind a gritty defense that scraps and claws in Campbell’s blue-collar image. Plus, Iowa State has played Texas very well of late, winning three of the last four meetings. Everyone is chasing the Longhorns, who sit atop the conference. They’ve won four straight since their lone loss to Oklahoma, and the Week 2 win at Alabama keeps increasing in value. Texas is seeking its first league crown since 2009 and, with a little help, a bid to the College Football Playoff

Players To Watch - Offense

The Maxwell Football Club honors the nation’s best offensive player with the Maxwell Award. Here’s a look at last week’s standout offensive players.

RB Blake Corum, Michigan

Michigan played big-boy football in Happy Valley to remain undefeated and capture the biggest victory of Week 11. The Wolverines practically abandoned the pass in favor of their mammoth package, controlling the clock and wearing out the Penn State D in a 24-15 win. Corum, who leads the nation in touchdowns, was the centerpiece of the ground-and-pound attack. He rushed 26 times for 145 yards and two scores, capped by a back-breaking 30-yarder late in the fourth.

QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

Last week, Daniels was in concussion protocol. This past Saturday, he was in the NCAA record books. Daniels added an exclamation point to a sensational senior season by torching visiting Florida in a 52-35 victory. Playing like the embodiment of a dual-threat quarterback, he became the first player in FBS history to throw for more than 350 yards and rush for more than 200 yards in a single game. Daniels wound up accounting for 606 yards and five touchdowns in arguably the finest all-around performance by a quarterback this season.

QB Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma

The Sooners entered Week 11 in a slump, but Gabriel put an end to that real fast. With upset-minded West Virginia in Norman, No. 8 fittingly accounted for a school-record eight touchdowns as Oklahoma rolled to a 59-20 thumping of the Mountaineers. Gabriel connected on 23-of-36 passing for 423 yards, five touchdowns and no picks, with WR Drake Stoops being his go-to target. Gabriel added 50 yards and three scores on the ground to complete his historical night.

RB RJ Harvey, UCF

Don’t mess with UCF in its annual Space Game. The Knights, aka Citronauts on this day, knocked No. 15 Oklahoma State into another galaxy Saturday, 45-3, for their seventh consecutive win in the game that celebrates space exploration and the unique beginnings of the university. Cowboy Ollie Gordon II is the Maxwell Award candidate, but Harvey was the offensive star in this one. He became the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher in five years, ripping off a career-high 206 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.

QB Jayden Maiava, UNLV

Led by a first-year coach and a first-year starting quarterback, the resurgent Rebs have won eight games for the first time since 2000. UNLV, which won seven games the last three years combined, has been a completely different program with Barry Odom as coach and Maiava under center. Maiava, who replaced injured starter Doug Brumfield early in the year, has not skipped a beat running OC Brennan Marion’s attack. In Friday’s 34-14 win over 6-3 Wyoming, the redshirt freshman threw for 232 yards and a score while rushing for a team-high 40 yards and two touchdowns.

QB Jalen Milroe, Alabama

Milroe might be the hottest quarterback in America right now. A week after outdueling LSU’s Jayden Daniels in Tuscaloosa, he eviscerated Kentucky in Lexington with a double-hat trick. Milroe became the first player in school history with three rushing and three passing TDs in a game, leading the Crimson Tide to a comfortable 49-21 win and a berth in the SEC Championship Game. The Katy, Tex. native is peaking at a most opportune time, as Bama makes its climb up the CFP rankings.

QB John Paddock, Illinois

For the second week in a row, Paddock was heroic in place of injured starter Luke Altmyer. Last Saturday, the Ball State transfer came off the bench to toss the game-winner versus Minnesota. And this past weekend, he delivered one of the best performances ever by an Illini quarterback. Paddock rallied Illinois back against Indiana with 507 yards and four touchdowns on 24-of-36 passing. Just like in Week 10, he hit WR Isaiah Williams for the clincher, beating the Hoosiers in OT, 48-45.

RB Cody Schrader, Missouri

In a ranked-on-ranked battle that’ll impact bowl positioning, Tennessee was no match for Mizzou. The Tigers rebounded flawlessly from last week’s Georgia loss with a 36-7 drubbing of the Vols. Schrader had a game for the ages in the win, becoming the first SEC player to ever have 200 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in a single game. The sneaky-great transfer from DII Truman State amassed 321 total yards and a touchdown in a game that’s sure to go down in school lore.

Players To Watch - Defense

The Maxwell Football Club honors the nation’s best defensive player with the Chuck Bednarik Award. Here’s a look at last week’s standout defenders.

LB Kalen DeLoach, Florida State

Longtime rival Miami pushed Florida State for 60 minutes in Tallahassee, but the Noles survived to remain undefeated. The Canes struggled to move the ball, save for one late 85-yard bomb to WR Jacolby George, and managed just 13 first downs. The veteran DeLoach roamed the field with a sense of purpose throughout, finishing with a game-high 10 tackles and a pair of sacks of young QB Emory Williams.

DE Ashton Gillotte, Louisville

In Jeff Brohm’s return to his alma mater, Louisville remains on track to face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. It was harder than expected, but the Cards survived a Thursday night visit from Virginia, 31-24, to remain undefeated at home this season. Gillotte was once again the leader of the D, both in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. He had seven tackles, two stops for loss, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery, and ranks among the nation’s leaders in total pressures.

CB Shelton Lewis, Clemson

Georgia Tech arrived at Clemson on a roll, having scored 91 combined points in back-to-back wins over North Carolina and Virginia. However, the Yellow Jackets got buried in Death Valley, 42-21. After jumping out to a 7-0 lead, Tech did not score until the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach. Playing the most significant minutes of his first season, Lewis was terrific in coverage. He had a pick-six, four pass breakups and was the second-ranked corner of Week 11, according to Pro Football Focus.

EDGE Jalen McLeod, Auburn

Now that McLeod is comfortable with SEC competition, he’s been a wrecking ball off the edge for the Tigers. The Appalachian State transfer was quiet in the first half of the season, but he’s been borderline unblockable over the last month. McLeod’s performance peaked in Saturday’s 48-10 road rout of Arkansas. Despite playing just 28 snaps, the Washington D.C. native produced nine tackles, four stops for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble. His 92.7 Pro Football Focus grade was the highest among all Week 11 edge rushers.

S Kitan Oladapo, Oregon State

Oladapo is one of the nation’s most underrated DBs, except for opponents who must face him. He is the perfect blend for a next-level safety, a 6-1, 217-pound thumper who defends the pass like a cornerback. He was at his multidimensional finest in Saturday’s 62-17 bludgeoning of Stanford, making two tackles and two picks while earning Pro Football Focus’ top mark for a Week 11 safety.

DE Javon Solomon, Troy

The Trojans rolled to a 45-14 victory Saturday, as the front seven staged a flash mob in the Louisiana-Monroe backfield. Solomon and veteran Richard Jibunor were unblockable from start to finish. Solomon had eight tackles and four sacks to tie the Troy single-game record held by Osi Umenyiora. His four sacks also tied for the most in a game at the FBS level this season and the most by a Group of Five player.

CB Tarheeb Still, Maryland

The Terps are bowl-bound after snapping a four-game losing streak on a last-second field goal to beat Nebraska. The defense came to play in Lincoln, picking off four passes and holding the Huskers to just 269 yards of total offense. Still and fellow DB Dante Trader Jr. had two picks apiece in the win. Still also had a team-high seven tackles, including five solos, to solidify his spot as one of the Big Ten’s most complete cornerbacks.

LB Cade Uluave, Cal

To say that Uluave was active in Saturday’s 42-39 win over Washington State would be an understatement. In a game dictated by the offenses, the rookie made his presence felt from the defensive side of the ball. Uluave had nine stops, including six solos, 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, an interception, and two fumble recoveries, the first one which was taken back 51 yards to open the game’s scoring.

The Maxwell Football Club supports former Alabama and Seattle Seahawks star RB Shaun Alexander in annually naming the top college freshman.

Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award Player of the Week

LB C.J. Allen, Georgia

Defensive captain Jamon Dumas-Johnson was out with a left arm injury, leaving the Dawgs to lean on a rookie this past weekend. So, what did Allen do in Georgia’s toughest test of the season so far? He performed like a veteran at inside linebacker, despite being just months removed from Lamar County (Ga.) High School. After starting slowly, Allen quickly got on track in his first career start, making a game-high nine tackles and one sack as the Dawgs rolled No. 10 Ole Miss, 52-17, in Athens.


This season has 117 of the 133 FBS schools facing one FCS opponent, and Army playing two such games for a total of 118 FBS-FCS matchups.

Of the 16 FBS schools that do NOT play a FCS program, 7 are in the B1G (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin). 6 more are evenly split between the Big 12 (Houston, Oklahoma, Texas) and Pac-12 (Colorado, USC, Washington). The other three are Liberty (CUSA) , UTSA (American), and Virginia Tech (ACC).

One FBC-FCS game took place last week with Holy Cross falling 17-14 at Army. There are 4 such games this week with Abilene Christian at Texas A&M, Chattanooga at Alabama, North Alabama at Florida State, and Sacred Heart at UConn.

The FBS programs are 110-4 this year against the FCS schools. Over-all, the FBS is a collective 1,796-152 (.922) since we began tracking this in 2003.

Here are the FCS wins in 2023, so far:
September 9: Idaho 33, Nevada 6
September 9: Southern Illinois 14, Northern Illinois 12
September 9: Fordham 40, Buffalo 37
September 16: Sacramento State 30, Stanford 23

Streaks - Current FBS Longest

GEORGIA - Won 25 straight home games, 27 straight over-all, and 13 straight true road games.
Last: 52-17 home win over Ole Miss on Saturday, November 11.
Next: Visits Tennessee on Saturday, November 18.

MICHIGAN - Won 22 straight conference games.
Last: 24-15 win at Penn State on Saturday, November 11.
Next: Visits Maryland on Saturday, November 18.

VANDERBILT - Lost 9 straight over-all.
Last: 47-6 loss at South Carolina on Saturday, November 11.
Next: After a bye week, visits Tennessee on Saturday, November 18.

STANFORD - Lost 7 straight home games.
Last: Lost 62-17 at Oregon State on Saturday, November 11.
Next: Hosts Cal in "The Big Game" on Saturday, November 18.

TEMPLE - Lost 13 straight true road games.
Last: Lost 27-23 at USF on Saturday, November 11.
Next: Visits UAB on Saturday, November 18.

ULM - Lost 9 straight conference games.
45-14 loss at home to Troy on Saturday, November 11.
Next: Visits Ole Miss on Saturday, November 18.

Rich Cirminiello is the VP of College Awards at Maxwell Football Club.