The complexions of the division races in the SEC changed dramatically on Saturday. No. 3 Georgia easily beat No. 1 Tennessee to take control of the SEC East and likely assume the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings on Monday. And No. 10 LSU took down No. 6 Alabama in dramatic fashion in a 32-31 overtime victory after the Tigers went for two.
Georgia and LSU are now on track to meet in the SEC championship game on Dec. 3, barring any upsets in the next three weeks. And Tennessee and Alabama need a lot of help to make the College Football Playoff.
With the SEC title race taking shape on Saturday, we decided Week 10 was a good opportunity to take a look at how the conference championship races are looking with three weeks to go in the regular season.
The top two teams in the regular-season standings will meet for the conference title. Tulane is 5-0 in the conference and has a one-game lead over Cincinnati and UCF at 4-1. UCF has the tiebreaker over Cincinnati thanks to a 25-21 win earlier in the season. Tulane meets UCF in Week 11 and then plays Cincinnati in the final week of the season after a game against SMU. Two wins over the final three weeks should be enough for the Green Wave to get into the title game.
Atlantic: Clemson clinched the division title on Saturday before its surprising non-conference loss to Notre Dame. The Tigers have two conference games to go and a three-game lead on everyone else. But an ACC title may not be enough for Clemson to make the College Football Playoff.
Coastal: North Carolina clinches the division with a win over either Wake Forest, Georgia Tech or NC State. The Tar Heels are 5-0 in ACC play while Duke is in second in the division at 3-2 with a loss to UNC.
TCU is atop the conference at 6-0 while Baylor, Kansas State and Texas are all at 4-2 following the Longhorns’ win over the Wildcats on Saturday. TCU still has Baylor and Texas to play, so a win over one of them coupled with a win over Iowa State in the final week of the season is enough to make the conference title game. The race for second will probably go down to the final week. In addition to TCU, Baylor has Kansas State and Texas still to play. The Bears can get a spot in the title game by winning out.
East: The division is likely going to once again come down to the final week of the season and the game between Michigan and Ohio State. The Buckeyes host this season after losing at Michigan in 2021. Penn State is eliminated from title game contention because it lost to both UM and OSU and it is impossible for both teams to finish the season at 0-3.
West: Illinois lost to Michigan State as a 16-point favorite on Saturday but still is in the driver’s seat to win the West. The Illini have Michigan still remaining on the schedule but wins over Purdue and Northwestern will be enough to win the division. If Illinois loses multiple games, things could get tricky and Wisconsin and Purdue’s chances to make the title game could increase.
UTSA moved to 5-0 in conference play with a double-overtime win over UAB on Saturday. North Texas is in second at 5-1 and its loss came to UTSA. Western Kentucky is at 4-2 but has losses to both North Texas and UTSA. A matchup of UTSA and North Texas seems likely.
East: The best division race in the country may be in the MAC East. Buffalo, Ohio and Bowling Green are all tied at 4-1. Buffalo beat Bowling Green and lost to Ohio while Bowling Green and Ohio meet on the final week of the season. Buffalo may have the edge as its three remaining opponents have a combined conference record of 4-11.
West: Toledo leads the division at 4-1 ahead of Ball State at 3-2. The Cardinals and Rockets meet on Tuesday night in what could be a division-deciding game. Ball State plays Ohio and Miami (Ohio) in the final two weeks of the season while Toledo has Bowling Green and Western Michigan.
Mountain: Boise State leads the division at 5-0 while Wyoming is in second at 4-1. The two teams play on Nov. 19. Utah State is at 3-2 in the division and plays Boise State on the final week of the season. But a loss to Wyoming earlier this year doesn’t help Utah State’s tiebreaker odds.
West: Fresno State and San Jose State are tied atop the division and Fresno has the tiebreaker thanks to a 17-10 win over the Spartans. San Diego State is a game back to both of them but lost to Fresno State earlier this season.
This could get complicated. Oregon is 6-0 while USC, UCLA and Utah each have one conference loss. USC and UCLA still have to play each other on Nov. 19. That’s the same day the Ducks face the Utes. We’ll have a lot more clarity about the Pac-12 title race in two weeks. Start studying up on your three-way tiebreaker scenarios just in case.
East: Georgia just needs a win over Mississippi State or Kentucky to clinch the division.
West: LSU has Arkansas and Auburn remaining on its conference schedule. If Alabama beats Ole Miss next week, LSU just needs a split against the Razorbacks and Tigers thanks to head-to-head wins over both the Rebels and Crimson Tide.
East: Coastal Carolina is in control of the division after its Thursday night win over Appalachian State. But James Madison is lurking. If the Dukes can beat Old Dominion and Georgia State, they can win the division with a victory over CCU in the regular-season finale.
West: Both Troy and South Alabama have one loss but the Trojans beat the Jaguars earlier this season. The Trojans have a clear path to the Sun Belt title game. Its remaining two conference games of the season are against Louisiana-Monroe (2-3) and Arkansas State (1-5).
Here are this week's winners and losers.
Georgia: UGA left no doubt. The Bulldogs were No. 3, two spots behind Tennessee in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. But that is sure to change after UGA trounced Tennessee 27-13 in a game that was not as close as the final score may indicate. Tennessee entered Saturday’s game with the No. 1 offense in the country, averaging 553 yards and 49.4 points per game. In this game, Tennessee only gained 289 yards, many of which came in the fourth quarter when Georgia had a commanding lead. UGA should be No. 1 when the new rankings come out Tuesday.
LSU: Brian Kelly went for the win and Jayden Daniels delivered. LSU was a 13.5-point underdog at home against Alabama, and the two SEC West rivals went into overtime. Alabama opened the extra frame with a touchdown and Daniels responded with a touchdown run on the first play of LSU’s possession. Instead of going into 2OT, Kelly put the ball in his quarterback’s hands. He made the play, hitting Mason Taylor in stride for the game-winning two-point conversion. With the 32-31 win, LSU, improbably, moves into first place in the SEC West. Who could have ever expected that?
TCU: The Horned Frogs just keep on winning. TCU improved to 9-0 with a 34-24 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. TCU fell behind 17-13 midway through the third quarter but responded with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to flip that four-point deficit into a 34-17 advantage. TCU wasn’t at the top of its game offensively, but the defense made several fourth-down stops in the second half. Kendre Miller also had a big game, running for 158 yards and a touchdown. TCU is in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 race with a trip to Texas coming next week.
North Carolina: UNC is one win away from clinching a spot in the ACC title game. The Tar Heels held on to beat Virginia 31-28 on Saturday to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-0 on conference play. UNC trailed 21-17 midway through the third, but Drake Maye led the Tar Heels on a second half rally en route to another win. Maye threw for 293 yards, rushed for 74 and had three total TDs in the win. With a win next week at Wake Forest, the Tar Heels will clinch the ACC Coastal and earn their first trip to the conference title game since 2015.
Baylor and Texas: The Big 12 race is getting mighty interesting. While TCU is undefeated and alone atop the standings, there are three teams with 4-2 conference records — Baylor, Texas and Kansas State. Baylor knocked off Oklahoma 38-35 behind a career high 192 yards and two touchdowns from Craig Williams. Later Saturday, Texas turned in an excellent performance in a 34-27 road win over Kansas State. Bijan Robinson was the best player on the field in UT’s win. While Baylor hosts K-State next week, Texas hosts TCU. Baylor also has an upcoming home game vs. TCU. This race to the Big 12 title game will likely come down to the final weekend.
Tulane: With UCF coming to town next week, Saturday’s trip to Tulsa seemed like a potentially tricky spot for Tulane. But the Green Wave were up to the task. Tulane, the top-ranked Group of Five team in the country at No. 19, improved to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in AAC play with a 27-13 win over Tulsa. Tulane ran for 357 yards in the win with Tyjae Spears and Shaadie Clayton-Johnson both topping 100 yards on the day. Tulane remains in first place in the AAC with UCF, SMU and Cincinnati remaining on the schedule.
Kansas: Kansas is going to a bowl game. After a drought of 13 seasons, Kansas got to win No. 6 on Saturday and did so in emphatic fashion, blowing out Oklahoma State, 37-16. Oklahoma State was without starting quarterback Spencer Sanders and an array of other contributors and the Jayhawks took advantage by jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead. The highlight of the day was a 73-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jason Bean. Bean finished the day with 203 yards passing, 93 yards rushing and three total TDs. Additionally, Devin Neal went off for 224 yards in the win. Now 6-3 on the year, Kansas needs one more win to clinch a winning record for the first time since 2008.
Did we really bring a real bowling ball into the locker room? Yes yes we did 🎳 pic.twitter.com/a7I1Zg84Jk
— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) November 5, 2022
Coastal Carolina: This Coastal Carolina team doesn’t have the weapons that it had the last two seasons, but Jamey Chadwell and Grayson McCall keep finding ways to win. Coastal Carolina beat Appalachian State 35-28 on Thursday night to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Sun Belt play. CCU has struggled defending the run this season, but managed to hold App to just 88 yards on the ground. With the win, the Chanticleers have a commanding lead in the Sun Belt East.
Michigan State: After an ugly incident at Michigan resulted in eight indefinite suspensions, Michigan State responded by posting a big upset. The Spartans went into Champaign and knocked off No. 16 Illinois 23-15. MSU, now 4-5 on the year, was outgained 441 yards to 294 but its defense made big stops when needed, limiting Illinois to just 1-of-6 on fourth down tries. MSU also took advantage of a brutal special teams mistake by Illinois, whose punter kicked the ball off the backside of one of his own blockers. That gaffe gave MSU a short field and led to a touchdown.
SMU: SMU beat Houston 77-63 on Saturday in the highest-scoring regulation game in modern college football history. The two teams combined for 1,352 yards — 710 by Houston and 642 for SMU. But three Houston turnovers, all interceptions thrown by UH quarterback Clayton Tune, ended up being the difference. SMU’s Tanner Mordecai combined for 10 touchdowns in the win — nine passing and one rushing.
BYU: After losing its last four games, BYU pulled off a road upset on Saturday night by beating Boise State 31-28 on the blue turf. BYU trailed 28-24 in the final minutes but went ahead on a juggling fourth-and-goal touchdown catch by Puka Nacua with 1:46 to play. It was a much-needed win for the Cougars on the heels of losses to Notre Dame, Arkansas, Liberty and East Carolina. Now 5-5, a winning season is very attainable with Utah Tech and Stanford next on the schedule following a much-needed bye week.
Troy: Troy trailed Louisiana 17-0 midway through the third quarter but stormed all the way back and won 23-17. Troy tied the score at 17-17 with 2:41 to go and then won with a 22-yard Kimai Vidal touchdown run with just five seconds remaining. The Trojans went just 5-7 last year but are now 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play and on the verge of a Sun Belt West title.
UConn: UConn won a combined five games in its last three seasons. Now, in Year 1 under Jim Mora, the Huskies are 5-5 and a game away from being bowl eligible after beating UMass 27-10 on Friday. It’s the first time UConn has had a .500 record in the month of November since 2015. To get to six wins, UConn will have to upset either Liberty or Army.
— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) November 5, 2022
Miami: To say things are not going as planned for Miami in Mario Cristobal’s first season would be a massive understatement. Miami dropped to 4-5 with an ugly 45-3 home loss to rival Florida State on Saturday. It was the program’s most lopsided loss since the 58-0 loss to Clemson in 2015 that got Al Golden fired. FSU jumped out to a 31-3 halftime lead and never looked back as Miami had just 188 yards of offense and turned it over four times. Miami played three quarterbacks and they went a combined 10-of-19 for 62 yards with two interceptions. It was ugly all around. Now Miami needs to win two of its final three games to reach a bowl game. With the way the Canes are playing, that seems highly unlikely.
Clemson: Clemson got exposed in South Bend. Just days after being ranked No. 4 in the first CFP rankings, Clemson was destroyed on the road by unranked Notre Dame, 35-14. All of the Tigers’ flaws were on display and even their perceived strengths fell miserably flat. The offense was terrible and even the mighty Clemson defensive line got pushed around for 60 minutes by a one dimensional Notre Dame offense. Clemson knew Notre Dame was going to run the ball and could not stop it. With the loss, Clemson's College Football Playoff hopes took a serious — and potentially fatal — blow.
Texas A&M: Things keep getting worse for Texas A&M. The Aggies lost 41-24 at home to Florida on Saturday to drop to 3-6 on the season. In this one, A&M — a team already decimated by injuries — was without several other key players due to the flu. Nonetheless, A&M took a 24-20 lead into halftime. Things changed dramatically in the second half, however, as the Aggies were shut out in the final two quarters of play. Texas A&M has now lost five straight games, the longest losing streak for the Aggies since 1980. This was expected to be a contender in the SEC, but now Jimbo Fisher’s team will likely miss a bowl game.
Arkansas: Arkansas played a home game for the first time since Oct. 1 on Saturday and promptly laid an egg, losing 21-19 to Liberty. The Razorbacks were two-touchdown favorites, yet were lifeless on offense. Liberty had a 21-3 lead at halftime and held on for dear life. Arkansas scored with 1:11 remaining to make it 21-19, but got stuffed on the two-point conversion. That allowed Hugh Freeze and the Flames to escape Fayetteville with a big upset.
Wake Forest: Turnovers doomed Wake Forest yet again. On the heels of an eight-turnover second half in a loss to Louisville, Wake Forest turned it over three more times and lost 30-21 to NC State — a team with a true freshman making his debut start at quarterback. That freshman, MJ Morris, outplayed Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, a four-year starter. Hartman has thrown six interceptions in the past two weeks as the Demon Deacons look destined to go from No. 10 in the AP poll to unranked in the CFP rankings.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies keep finding ways to lose. Virginia Tech led Georgia Tech 27-16 entering the fourth quarter but ended up losing 28-27. The Hokies turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter, two of which led to Georgia Tech touchdowns. A fumble allowed GT to cut the lead to 27-22 with 9:02 to go and then a Grant Wells interception opened the door for the Yellow Jackets’ winning touchdown with 3:30 to go. And to make matters worse, Wells fumbled near midfield in the final minute when Virginia Tech still had a chance to win the game. The Hokies are now 2-7 in Brent Pry’s debut season.
Stanford: Stanford has been decimated by injuries this season, but that’s no excuse to lose the way it lost on Saturday. The Cardinal got destroyed 52-14 at home by Washington State to fall to 3-6 overall and 1-6 in Pac-12 play. Stanford had four turnovers in the loss and allowed Washington State to rush for 306 yards. Before Saturday, Washington State ranked No. 126 nationally in rushing offense, averaging just 83.1 yards per game. David Shaw’s team now needs to win out to get to a bowl. Good luck.
Nebraska: Nebraska had Minnesota on the ropes. The Huskers took a 10-0 lead into halftime and knocked Tanner Morgan, Minnesota’s starting quarterback, out of the game. Nebraska was playing without its own starting QB, Casey Thompson, but controlled things early on. But Minnesota was able to completely flip the script in the second half. The Gophers, even with a backup QB, turned that 10-0 deficit into a 20-10 lead by early in the fourth and then held on for a 20-13 victory. Nebraska is now 3-6 on the year with Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa remaining on its schedule. Yikes.
West Virginia: Congratulations to West Virginia, you officially have earned the crown for worst team in the Big 12. WVU fell to 3-6 (1-5 Big 12) thanks to an ugly 31-14 road loss to Iowa State. ISU was previously winless in conference play, but had no troubles dispatching the hapless Mountaineers. WVU could muster only 200 yards of offense on the day. The score was just 10-7 entering the fourth, but ISU scored three touchdowns in the final frame to pull away to a decisive victory. Neal Brown’s seat in Morgantown could be getting hot.
USF: Jeff Scott’s time at USF has to be running out. The Bulls fell to 1-8 with a 54-28 loss at Temple on Saturday. Before Saturday, Temple had lost four straight and hadn’t scored more than 30 points in a game all season. In this one, the Owls put up 54 points and 621 yards. During Scott’s tenure at USF, the Bulls are now 4-26 overall, 1-19 in AAC play and 1-26 vs. FBS teams. That’s not a misprint.