Weekend Preview: Bragging Rights, Conference Titles, and Playoff Berths On the Line

November 23, 2021 by Staff

Every single team in the FBS sees action this weekend with a slate that begins tonight (Tuesday) with some MACtion as Buffalo visits Ball State and MAC West champ Northern Illinois hosts Western Michigan.

However, the most important MAC game takes place on Saturday when the MAC East crown will be decided in a head-to-head confrontation with Miami (Ohio) visiting Kent State as a slim 0.80-point computer favorite. The sportsbooks favor the Golden Flashes by a range of 1 to 1-1/2 points.

Turkey Day only has a couple of FBS games on-tap as the college football universe gives way for the traditional NFL games. Nonetheless, Fresno State is involved in a must-win game when the Bulldogs host San Jose State as a 7.5-point favorite by the oddsmakers and a 4.18-point computer choice. A Fresno State win puts the pressure on San Diego State to knock off Boise State on Friday to clinch the MWC West, but the Aztecs are a 2.5-point underdog at the Sportsbooks and a 3.69-point computer dog. If San Jose State upsets Fresno State on Thursday, a San Diego State win would guarantee that the Aztecs will host the conference championship game.

The MWC Mountain race still involves three teams - Air Force, Boise State and Utah State. None of those three teams completely control their destiny. Air Force either needs all three to win, all three to lose, or for Utah State to lose while the AFA wins. Utah State moves into the championship game if the Aggies defeat New Mexico and Boise State loses at San Diego State. The Broncos need to win at San Diego State and hope Air Force loses to UNLV.

The other Thanksgiving Day is the "Egg Bowl" with Ole Miss traveling to Mississippi State as 1-point underdog, but a 0.44-point computer favorite.

Here are the rest of the scenarios:

Conference Championship Matchups


(Charlotte): Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest, Clemson or N.C. State
Wake clinches the Atlantic with a win at Boston College on Saturday. NC State moves on if it knock off North Carolina at home on Friday and then gets cooperation from Wake by losing at BC on Saturday. Clemson's ACC slate is done, but the Tigers can head back to the championship game through the back door if NC State and Wake both lose.


(Location to be determined): Cincinnati vs. Houston
Though both teams are in, both also need a win this week to keep hopes alive for a New Year's Six bowl bid and, in Cincinnati's case, a Final Four playoff bid. The Bearcats have to visit an East Carolina team that has won 4 straight and is suddenly the No. 3 team in the American Conference. Houston visits UConn in what should be a laugher, but stranger things have happened.

Big 10:

(Indianapolis): Ohio State-Michigan winner vs. Iowa, Wisconsin or Minnesota
Wisconsin moves on with a win at Minnesota, but Minnesota moves on with an upset victory and an upset loss by Iowa at Nebraska. The Hawkeyes advance with a win at Nebraska and some losing assistance from Wisconsin.

Big 12:

(Arlington, TX): Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma or Baylor
Oklahoma is in with a win over the Cowboys in Stillwater which would force a rematch ("Bedlam 2") in Arlington a week later. But Oklahoma State is actually favored in this game and that result would bring about a Baylor-Oklahoma State championship showdown.


(San Antonio): UTSA vs. Marshall or Western Kentucky
This one is easy to figure out as Marshall hosts Western Kentucky in a de facto division championship game with the Herd favored by just 1 point by the oddsmakers, and 4.53 points by the computer. But the Hilltoppers come in as one of the hottest teams in the country with 6 straight victories after a 1-3 start..

Meanwhile, UTSA looks to close out an undefeated season and an outside shot (way outside) at a New Year's Bowl game. The Roadrunners visit North Texas as an 11.5-point favorite and a 7.25-point computer play. However, the Mean Green will be looking to become bowl eligible and an upset win would push their winning streak to five.


(Detroit): Northern Illinois vs. Kent State or Miami (O)
See opening paragraphs of this article


(Location to be determined): San Diego State or Fresno State vs. Air Force, Boise State or Utah State
See opening paragraphs of this article


(Las Vegas): Utah vs. Oregon, Oregon State or Washington State
The Ducks are favored by 7.5 in the sportsbooks and 4.84 by the computer to win at Oregon State on Saturday and move on to face Utah in a rematch of last weekend's humiliating 38-7 loss to the Utes. Oregon State gets in with an upset victory on Saturday, but only if Washington State ahd already helped them out on Friday by losing at Washington in the Apple Cup rivalry.  The Cougars are a 1-point betting favorite and a 5.53-point computer choice.


(Atlanta): Georgia vs. Alabama (at Atlanta)
For the Bulldogs and Tide, it's all about the playoffs. Alabama goes to Auburn for the Iron Bowl as a whopping 19/5-point betting favorite, but a much more conservative 10.52-point computer play. Meanwhile, Georgia is a massive 35.5-point favorite at Georgia Tech, but also a much more conservative 20.95-point pick by the computer. If the SEC Championship were held this weekend, the computer take Georgia by just 1.14 points.

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 is a 25-point favorite and 23.05-point computer pick at home over Georgia Southern, while Louisiana is a 21.5-point favorite and 32.27-point computer pick at home over Louisiana-Monroe.

Rivalries Aplenty

In addition to those games already mentioned, such as the Civil War, Apple Cup, Egg Bowl and Bedlam, this week also delivers such notable rivalries as Clemson at South Carolina (Palmetto Bowl), Virginia Tech at Virginia (Commonwealth Cup) and Florida State at Florida (Sunshine Showdown). There's also USF at UCF (War on I-4),Arizona at Arizona State (Territorial Cup), Northwestern at Illinois (Land of Lincoln Trophy), Indiana at Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket), Kentucky at Louisville (Governor's Cup), 

We also get North Carolina at NC State, and Vanderbilt at Tennessee.

SEE: Weekly Picks


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 15 straight overall-all (FBS longest).
Last: Won 56-7 at home vs. FCS Charleston Southern on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Visits Georgia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 27.

OHIO STATE - Won 29 straight conference games (FBS longest), and 13 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 56-7 at home vs. Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Visits Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 27.

CLEMSON - Won 34 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 48-27 at home vs. Wake Forest on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Visits South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 27.

FIU - Lost 10 straight over-all (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 49-7 at home vs. North Texas on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Visits Southern Miss on Saturday, Nov. 27.

VANDERBILT - Lost 20 straight conference games (FBS longest)..
Last: Lost 31-17 at Ole Miss on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Visits Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 27.

NEW MEXICO STATE - Lost 18 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 56-16 at Kentucky on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Hosts Massachusetts on Saturday, Nov. 27