Who’s playing in conference title games and how do tiebreakers work?


A full 60 percent of seats in the Football Bowl Subdivision’s conference title games were sorted out before the final weekend of the regular season. But that other 40 percent is enough to make someone give up math for a while.

For every ACC or SEC that has their matchup set, there’s a Pac-12 that goes deep on the tiebreaker list. For every Big 12 with a simple set of scenarios, there is an American Athletic addressing a computer formula tiebreaker.

Here’s the full rundown of how to sort it all out while digesting a Thanksgiving feast (or its leftovers) this weekend.

College Football Playoff Rankings: LSU holds USC 5th

ACC: No. 8 Clemson (10-1, 8-0) and No. 17 North Carolina (9-2, 6-1) had previously won their divisions last Week. They meet in Charlotte in the final ACC title game using the Atlantic and Coastal Division format.

Big Ten: The East Division is easy to understand. Michigan (11-0, 8-0) No. 3 and Ohio State (11-0, 8-0) will settle that at Saturday’s Horseshoe, and the winner likely lands in a playoff berth as a result.

Unsurprisingly, the West could be a mess. Iowa (7-4, 5-3) can take the league with a home win over Nebraska on Friday. The Hawkeyes hold a head-to-head tiebreaker against Purdue (7-4, 5-3) who can win the division with a win over Indiana and a loss to Iowa. If both Iowa and Purdue lose and Illinois (7-4, 4-4) takes down Northwestern, the Illini head to Indianapolis.

And what if Iowa, Purdue and Illinois all lose, which would be a very Big Ten West thing? Iowa will claim the partition.

Big 12: No. 4 TCU (11-0, 8-0) sewed up a point. No. 12 Kansas State (8-3, 6-2) can claim the other with a win over Kansas or a Texas loss to Baylor. No. 23 Texas (7-4, 5-3) would grab a rematch of its 17-10 loss to the Horned Frogs if it beats Baylor on Friday and falls to Kansas State the next night.

Pac-12: No. 6 Southern California (10-1, 8-1) is through with conference play and earning a spot in the title game. No. 9 Oregon (9-2, 7-1) can join the Trojans in Las Vegas with a win over No. 21 Oregon State.

What if the ducks stumble? They can still do it if No. 13 Washington (9-2, 6-2) loses to Washington State in the Apple Cup. The Huskies and No. 12 Utah (8-3, 6-2) still have some hope, Pac-12 Hotline’s Jon Wilner explained.

Washington’s path is to win his game, earning wins from Oregon State and Cal (via UCLA). Utah needs to win its game (versus Colorado, so it’s probably good to go) and then let Washington, Oregon State and UCLA triumph.

Nothing beats fourth tiebreakers to turn someone’s head.

SEC: He was locked up two Saturdays ago. No. 1 Georgia (11-0, 8-0) won the East Division again, while No. 5 LSU (9-2, 6-1) will conquer the West even if it loses to Texas A&M. The Tigers have a head-to-head tiebreaker against No. 7 Alabama (9-2, 5-2) if it comes to that.

American Athletics: The winner of Friday’s Tulane-Cincinnati game will win the regular season championship and host the conference title game. Both teams are 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the league.

The No. 22 from Central Florida (8-3, 5-2) can secure second place with a win over South Florida (1-10, 0-7). But a Knights loss would ruin things. Coupled with a Cincinnati win over Tulane, it would send the No. 19 Green Wave back to No. 24 Cincinnati for the title game. Along with a Tulane win and a Houston loss to Tulsa, Cincinnati would travel to Tulane.

And then there would be the combination of losses to Central Florida and Cincinnati and a win in Houston that would send the Bearcats and Cougars (7-4, 5-2) into a tiebreak where the top-ranked team in four computer formulas would earn the Trip to New Orleans.

Conference USA: Texas San Antonio (9-2, 7-0) earned hosting on their way out of Conference USA. (The Roadrunners are one of six C-USA schools heading to the United States next season.) North Texas (6-5, 5-2) will take the other spot with a win over Rice or a loss from Western Kentucky secure against Florida Atlantic. Western Kentucky (7-5, 5-2) needs a win and a loss in North Texas to play for the championship title.

Kickers save TCU and Michigan (College Soccer Winners and Losers)

Central America: Ohio (9-3, 7-1) won the East Division thanks to Bowling Green’s 38-14 win on Tuesday. The Bobcats, who are seeking their first MAC title since 1968, meet West Division winner Toledo (7-4, 5-2) in Detroit on December 3. Toledo is a game ahead of Eastern Michigan (7-4, 4-3) but holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

mountain west: Boise State (8-3, 7-0) hosts Fresno State (7-4, 6-1) regardless of how this weekend plays out. The Broncos earned a 40-20 victory over the Bulldogs on the blue turf on October 8th.

sunbelt: Under different circumstances, Coastal Carolina (9-1, 6-1) would play for a division title at James Madison (7-3, 5-2) this week. However, with the Dukes ineligible for the postseason as part of their FBS transition, the Chanticleers will represent the East Division.

In the West, Troy (9-2, 6-1) owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against South Alabama (9-2, 6-1), so the Trojans need a win (vs. 3-8 Arkansas State) or one Loss in South Alabama (vs. 3-8 Old Dominion). South Alabama needs a win and a loss against Troy to secure a spot in the title game.

Five where the stakes are the highest

A look at teams that have a lot to play for over Thanksgiving weekend

1. Southern California. The Trojans’ playoff path will need some help, particularly in the form of at least one LSU or TCU loss in the next two weeks. But they also have their part to play, which means they have to face Notre Dame (8-3) in 15th place in their regular-season finale. All the playoff chatter will go away if USC can’t handle an Irish team that has won eight of nine.

Caleb Williams and USC catch a wave and ride it to a comeback win over UCLA

2a. State of Ohio and 2b. Michigan. There is a case for placing these teams a little lower. After all, the price of losing might not even be getting bumped outside of the playoffs. But whoever wins the undefeated showdown has a near-certain passage to the playoffs, regardless of what happens in the Big Ten title game. That’s quite a reward, even if the risk isn’t as great as for others.

3. TCU. The Horned Frogs remain in Survival and Advance mode. And although it is not the It’s hard to conjure up a scenario where TCU loses the Big 12 title game and still earns a playoff spot (let’s say if Clemson, LSU and Southern Cal lose at least once in the next two weeks) can turn Sonny Dykes’ team did not afford a home loss to bottom-placed Iowa State (4-7, 1-7 Big 12).

4. Klemson. While some skepticism about the Tigers’ resume is warranted, a 12-1 Clemson team with an ACC title would spark some debate for a semifinal berth. The Tigers can’t go 12-1 without beating South Carolina (7-4), and the Gamecocks should have Clemson’s full attention after losing 63 points to Tennessee in a shellacking that knocked the Vols out of the playoff picture .

5. Georgia. The Bulldogs can bow out on their playoff spot a week early by defeating rival Georgia Tech (5-6), who has shown valor under caretaker coach Brent Key. Georgia is scoring lower than the unbeaten Big Ten for one simple reason: win or lose, it’s played next week. The math isn’t hard: win a game to earn a spot in the semifinals, and win both to earn first seed.

A weekly look at the race for college football’s favorite statue.

1. QB Caleb Williams, Southern California (3,480 yards, 33 TDs, three INTs passing; 316 yards, seven TDs rushing). With a big stage and a crosstown foe with his own conference title designs, Williams threw 470 yards to make his strongest impression yet. He will have two more high-profile opportunities to shine – against Notre Dame this weekend and then in the Pac-12 title game. (Last week: 3)

2. QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State (2,991 yards, 35 TDs, four pass INTs). In any other year, Stroud’s chances would likely have dwindled further after allowing for a touchdown or fewer in three of the Buckeyes’ last four games. But there’s an excellent opportunity for a Heisman moment when Michigan comes to town on Saturday. (LB: 1)

3. QB Bo Nix, Oregon (3,061 yards, 25 TDs, six INTs; 509 yards, 14 TDs rushing). He clearly wasn’t much of a threat in the running game with a sore right ankle against Utah (other than a critical first down late in the game), but he still threw for 287 yards to keep the Ducks in the Pac-12 title chase. (LV: 5)

4. RB Blake Corum, Michigan (1,457 yards, 18 TDs rushing). The Wolverines star suffered a knee injury against Illinois last week and his status for the Big Ten East de facto title game in Ohio state is uncertain. If he plays and records a ninth straight rushing day for 100+ yards, his chances of a call to New York will improve. (LB: 6)

5. QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (3,135 yards, 27 TDs, two INTs passing; 430 yards, five TDs rushing). The sixth-grader’s college career ended with a cruciate ligament tear he sustained in a loss in South Carolina last week. He’ll still end up on some Heisman ballots — and rightly so. Hooker’s 10-plus games were better than most players’ 12 or 13. (LW: 2)

6. QB Max Duggan, TCU (2,858 yards, 26 TDs, three INTs passing; 291 yards, five TDs rushing). He threw for 327 yards, rushed for 50 and had two touchdowns in a comeback win at Baylor. He and the Horned Frogs wrap up the regular season at home against Iowa State, where he has 15 passing touchdowns and no interceptions this season. (LW: Not ranked)