Week Eleven of college football had numerous close calls for undefeated teams, and several fell from the top of the rankings. Clemson was challenged by Syracuse, Oklahoma State needed a comeback to top Iowa State and Michigan pulled out another goaline stand to defeat Indiana. Stanford, Utah, Baylor and LSU weren't so lucky, as Oregon's big plays were too much for the Cardinal to contain, the Utes couldn't finish out in overtime against Arizona and the Bears and Tigers were simply outclassed by Oklahoma and Arkansas, respectively. Four of the committee's top ten suffered a loss in tumultuous Week Eleven.
While the committee may reward perceived dominance on the field, I'm only interested in actual accomplishments. With Stanford and Utah's losses and Oklahoma's big win, the lower portion of my rankings have shifted, while the top remains the same. The top teams all handled opponents, though only Alabama had a truly dominant victory, and is drawing ever closer to jumping the undefeated teams ahead of it. These six teams are all very close; it will be interesting to see who can close out the season.
1 - Clemson 10-0 (@Louisville, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, BC, @Miami, @NC State, FSU, @Syracuse)
2 - Oklahoma State 10-0 (@Texas, K-State, @West Virginia, Kansas, @Texas Tech, TCU, @Iowa St)
3 - Alabama 9-1 (vsWisconsin, @Georgia, Arkansas, @Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, @Miss St)
4 - Florida 9-1 (@Kentucky, Tennessee, Ole Miss, @Missouri, vsGeorgia, Vandy, @South Car)
5 - Notre Dame 9-1 (Texas, @Virginia, GA Tech, Navy, USC, @Temple, @Pitt, @Wake Forest)
6 - Oklahoma 9-1(@Tennessee, West Virginia, @K State, Texas Tech, @Kansas, Iowa St, @Baylor)
Week Eleven clarified the playoff picture by knocking out some big contenders, but the odds of the top four making it to finish line intact is slim. Division titles are being decided in Week Twelve and there is always the chance of an unexpected upset. Here are the key matchups for Division Definition in Week Twelve.
USC at Oregon
These two programs have each had their struggles this season, and yet, due to the parity of the Pac-12, the Trojans still find themselves in a position to win the South Division. If USC can win out, they will continue onto the Pac-12 Championship Game and possibly have a rematch against Stanford. To do so, however, they'll have to top the Ducks, a team that has been a major obstacle throughout the past decade. Oregon can also make the Pac-12 Championship Game, but would need Stanford to stumble in its final game against Cal. At the very least, wins over both the Cardinal and Trojans would make for a successful season after the problems they faced early on.
UCLA at Utah
Staying in the Pac-12, this is another game that will shape the South Division. The Bruins can also play their way to the Championship if they win out, beating the Utes this week and then USC in the season finale. Utah will need to win this game to stay alive in the title hunt, and will hope that the Trojans fall to either the Ducks this week or the Bruins next. Because USC holds a tiebreaker over Utah, they need a little help, but a win against UCLA is a must. While both of these teams are coming off a close loss, the one that rebounds to take this game has new life at the end of their season.
Memphis at Temple
Despite Memphis' early season win over Ole Miss, the Tigers will not be making it to a New Year's Bowl or even to the AAC West Championship due to back to back losses against Navy and a one point comeback loss to Houston. Temple, similarly suffered a tough loss in Week Eleven against South Florida, but is still on track to make the AAC Championship and a potential New Year's Bowl if they can defeat the Tigers in Week Twelve and a struggling Uconn team to close the season. This may not be the matchup it was projected as a few weeks prior, but the Owls must win this one if they want to step past last week's disappointment and continue a successful season.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech
While the Hokies are no longer in the running for an ACC title in Frank Beamer's final season, they are looking to extend their bowl streak to 22, the longest currently active streak in the country. In order to do so, they must win one of their final two games, either in Week Twelve against the Tarheels or in the final week against in state rival Virginia. North Carolina, on the other hand, can clinch an ACC Coastal Division title for the first time in school history with a win over the team with the most such titles, the Hokies. While North Carolina has been a strong team all season, Virginia Tech has played inspired the past few weeks and will be playing Frank Beamer's final home game of his long and storied career.
Michigan State at Ohio State
The matchup between the Spartans and the Buckeyes has been a meaningful one in recent years. The two teams have played with a Big Ten Championship berth on the line several times and often with playoff implications. This Week Twelve clash is no different as the winner will be in line to win the Big Ten and likely claim a spot in the playoff, even with Michigan State's narrow loss to Nebraska in Week Eleven. While this is only the first step of three challenging weeks for the Big Ten as a conference, it is an extremely important one, as the loser is all but eliminated from contention. With such immense implications, Gameday will be making an appearance in Columbus as well.
In addition to these division deciders, Week Twelve features the most important of the ongoing Big 12 gauntlet matchups in the Game of the Week and an AAC pillow fight of the week.
Game of the Week
The Game of the Week is one loss Baylor at undefeated Oklahoma State. While the Bears suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of Oklahoma in Week Eleven, they can breathe life back into their playoff dream with a win over the previously unbeaten Cowboys. If the bears can then close out the season with a victory over TCU, they stand a chance at crashing the playoff party. Oklahoma State, however, is looking to demonstrate to the nation that the narrow win over Iowa State in Week Eleven was the fluke, and not the dominating performance to top TCU the week prior. The Cowboys remain the Big 12's best chance at a playoff contender as they are the last remaining undefeated team, but must win out in a rivalry battle with the Sooners at the end of the season and start it off with a victory over Baylor in the Week Twelve Game of the Week.
Pillow Fight of the Week
The Pillow Fight of the Week is between AAC conference foes Tulane and SMU. The Green Wave's best of three victories this season may have come in Week Eleven when they defeated a two win Army team on the road. The Mustangs, on the other hand, have played a significantly more difficult schedule, but have only managed to win a single game. While the SMU offense has improved and continued to fight, they have not been able to pull out a victory since the second week of the season, and are unlikely to win in the final week against Memphis. If the Mustangs want to double their win total for the season, this is their best chance, in a home game against Tulane in the Week Twelve pillow fight of the week.