With just one game to play in the regular season, we’ve still got a lot left to play for. Several of our ranked teams will be playing for spots in title games, and all but two of our teams have secured bowl eligibility. And those two that haven’t yet? Well, with seven losses they are now locked out of consideration barring a lack of eligible teams.
We did have one team in our rankings with an upset loss, and another that managed to avoid a massive upset. But really it was a pretty standard week and we didn’t have any big movers aside from UCF’s drop.
We’ve got one week left, let’s do this!
The Horned Frogs managed to pull another victory out of their hats, squeaking by Baylor 29-28 thanks to a last-second field goal make. But it’s what the Frogs have done all year, they’ve found ways to win even when things haven’t always gone their way. At 11-0 headed into the final regular season game, the Frogs are in very good position for a berth in the College Football playoff. Though to keep that dream alive, they’ll need to get past a pesky Iowa State team that has nothing to play for except to ruin TCU’s dreams (and a potential big payday for the conference if TCU makes the CFP). Thankfully this game is in Fort Worth, because goofy things happen in Ames, and an undefeated TCU is better for everyone around here.
(3:00pm CT, FOX)
2. Kansas State
Because an undefeated TCU team means that if K-State makes the Big 12 championship game, they are basically guaranteed a trip to the Sugar Bowl, win or lose.
But that’s not something the Wildcats should be concerned with right now. They did their part to keep their grip on the second spot in the title game with a 48-31 win over West Virginia in Morgantown, but didn’t get any help from the Jayhawks, and so head into Sunflower Showdown needing to beat KU to lock in to that final spot. Might as well just write that in with sharpie, right? Well, not so fast. K-State is good, and should win this game and extend the streak to 14, but KU isn’t going away without a fight this year, especially when they are finally capable of playing spoiler to a great season in Manhattan. There has likely never been this much at stake for either team headed into this rivalry game.
(7:00pm CT, FOX)
The Green Wave are still in control of their own destiny after beating a decent SMU team last Thursday, 59-24. But they can’t afford to drop the season finale to Cincinnati if they want to claim their place in the AAC championship game. Technically they could still make it with a loss, but they’d need a bad USF team to beat UCF. Which would be the upset of the season. So really it’s win and you’re in, lose and you’re out for the Green Wave. But even with the pressure for the finale, it’s easily been a great season for Tulane, who will finish with at least nine wins and their best program record since Tommy Bowden’s squad went 12-0 in 1998. It’s the kind of season that will have Willie Fritz on the radar for job openings at Power 5 jobs.
(11:00pm CT, ABC)
At 9-2 and on the cusp of their fourth-straight appearance in the AAC title game, it’s weird that it feels like this season has been a let down for the Bearcats. Sure, we all expected them to not be able to repeat their run to the CFP from last season, but at the same time that 9-2 record has felt awfully meh. Their best wins are over 6-5 ECU and 6-5 SMU, and their biggest margin of victory in AAC play came this past weekend when they beat Temple 23-3 in Philly. But they’ll need to actually beat someone really good to make it back to the AAC title game, and Tulane is going to put up a fight on the road. The winner of this game finishes the regular season at 10-2 and hosts the AAC championship game. The loser will be 9-3 and has to hope UCF face-plants hard in Tampa.
After their 17-10 loss to TCU that wasn’t even really that close, it looked like the Longhorns might finally be ready to put themselves out of the picture for the Big 12 championship game. But then the decided that they weren’t going to lose to Kansas again, and did just a lot of really mean things to the Jayhawks on the way to a 55-14 blowout victory in Lawrence. With the win, they are still alive for the second spot in the Big 12 title game, but they need to both beat Baylor and have K-State lose to KU in Manhattan on Senior Day. The first part of that shouldn’t be all that difficult, though the Bears do have the third-best rush defense in the conference after Iowa State and UT. But the Bears have a better offense than the Cyclones, who nearly knocked off the Longhorns back in October.
The Knights are weird. They have wins over Cincinnati and Tulane, but just dropped a game to Navy at home, 17-14 this past weekend. Despite that, the 8-4 Knights are still basically a lock for the AAC championship, and just need to beat the hapless Bulls of USF to earn the second spot in the title game. Of course, if they play like they did against Navy then anything is possible, especially on the road in Tampa, but expect the Knights to roll and get back to the championship for the first time since 2018.
(6:00pm CT, ESPN2)
The Cougars opened the season by losing three of their first five, and we seriously wondered if Houston was going to win many more this season. But then they reeled off three straight wins, and five of their last six to get to 7-5 and somehow, technically, have a shot at playing in the AAC championship game. I mean, they need a ton of help, but it’s possible. They had their most complete performance of the season this past weekend in a 42-3 romp over ECU, and will look for a similar performance against Tulsa this weekend so they can try and improve their ranking.
(6:30pm CT, ESPNU)
8. Texas Tech
Congrats to the Red Raiders for bouncing back from a skid where they lost four of five to reel off two straight wins to earn bowl eligibility for the second-straight season. It wasn’t pretty, which is fine because most games against Iowa State have been pretty ugly this season, but the Red Raiders managed to hold off an Cyclones team that just couldn’t score, despite putting up a ton of yards. ISU did manage to take the lead early on in the 4th, but the vaunted Cyclones defense couldn’t hold up the Red Raiders on the next drive as Tech drove 77 yards to regain the lead. They’ll have a good shot at one more win to cap Joey McGuire’s first season in Lubbock, as the Sooners are in town for Senior Day.
(6:30pm CT, FS1)
The Bears opened the season as favorites to repeat as Big 12 champs. But despite a run of three straight wins from late October to early November, the Bears are in a position where they need to beat a suddenly resurgent Texas squad just to finish with a record better than .500. To their credit, they nearly pulled off the massive upset over rival TCU, but that just makes it all the more likely they are emotionally drained headed into the finale in Austin. Beating Texas is good for the Big 12 and K-State, but at this point it feels unlikely that the Bears can pull off one more victory in the regular season.
(11:00am CT, ESPN)
10. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are going to limp to the finish line this season, and Mike Gundy just has to be happy that his team gets to finish with West Virginia in Stillwater where they will still have a shot at an 8-win campaign. The Sooners raced out to a huge early lead in Bedlam thanks in large part to Spencer Sanders throwing two interceptions in the first period and four for the game. It ended up being just a two score game, but it never really felt that close. And after starting the season 6-1, and with a chance at the Big 12 title game still techincally on the table and against a meh OU squad, the Cowboys 4th loss of the season had to sting a little extra. But an 8-win Pokes team is still good for the conference, so hopefully they can put it together one more time this weekend before they get a long rest before their bowl game.
(11:00am CT, ESPN2)
So much for the assist, Jayhawks. If KU could’ve knocked off Texas, the Wildcats would’ve already secured their spot in the Big 12 CCG. Instead they got rocked by the Longhorns, and so the Wildcats will have to do it themselves by doing something they’ve done 13-straight times: beat KU. But for the first time since the current streak began, this game has some real intrigue going for it. This game could’ve meant something in 2018, but David Beatty was fired prior to the game, a game that KU nearly won anyway, before a win over K-State could’ve saved his job. This Sunflower Showdown won’t look like that one that KU lost 21-17 in Manhattan, or even the 17-10 game in 2009 that started the current streak. But it’s also likely to be much closer than the last three of the series where the Wildcats have won by an average margin of 31 points.
It took to the 11th game of the season, but the Sooners are finally bowl eligible after a 28-13 win over an Oklahoma State team that looks like it’s being held together with medical tape. This hasn’t been a great start for Brent Venables tenure in Norman, but at least now he’s going to get all that extra practice time before the bowl game. Despite being bowl eligible, the Sooners are locked in to post their first sub-.500 conference season since John Blake went 3-5 in his final season in Norman (1998 if you don’t remember that far back). They can get to 4-5 and 7-5 overall this weekend, matching Bob Stoop’s overall record from his first season, but Texas Tech isn’t going to lay down for the Sooners in Lubbock. It’s very possible that the Sooners finish the regular season 6-6.
Like Oklahoma, it took a while, but the Cougars finally locked up bowl eligibility this past weekend, dumping FCS Utah Tech 52-26 in Provo to improve to 6-5 on the season. BYU junior QB Jaren Hall threw five touchdown passes and ran in another in the rout as the Cougars had their best game offensively since they beat USF 50-21 to open the season. They do have a good shot to get to seven wins as they head out to the west coast to take on 3-8 Stanford.
(10:0pm CT, FS1)
14. East Carolina
After going through a stretch where they beat Memphis, UCF, and BYU in consecutive weeks, the Pirates have dropped two straight, with the latest being a 42-3 pasting at the hands of Houston. Thankfully, they secured bowl eligibility with the win over BYU, but they’ll get a good opportunity for a 7th win and to finish with .500 in AAC play when they visit 3-8 Temple this weekend to close out the regular season.
(12:00pm CT, ESPN+)
*The following two teams are locked out of bowl eligibility — the only two teams on this list with that fate. We’re going to continue to rank them, but they were bad this year and they know it.
15. West Virginia
It looked like it was going to go downhill fast in Morgantown after the Mountaineers gave up two quick touchdowns to the Wildcats. But then two quick touchdowns of their own, and a crazy first quarter overall gave them signs of life. But really, it just prolonged the inevitable as the ‘Eers finally succumbed to their fate, falling to K-State to drop to 4-7 on the season and officially out of bowl contention. It will be the second time in his four season that Neal Brown’s squad has missed the postseason, and his teams have yet to post better than 6-wins. At this point, the only thing saving Brown’s job is a weird insistence from the WVU brass on waiting until a new AD has been named. Oh well. The Mountaineers finish things up with a trip to Stillwater to face the injury-plagued Cowboys. They might pick up a 5th win, but it’s not going to mean much in the grand scheme.
16. Iowa State
From GOAT to goat, Matt Campbell’s star has quickly fallen this season as the Cyclones are on the verge of Campbell’s worst season in Ames since his first, when Iowa State finished 3-9 recovering from the mess Paul Rhoads left in Ames. Despite the loss to Texas Tech that dropped them out of bowl contention, Campbell isn’t on the hot seat, though he’s likely starting to feel the temperature rise a bit. Though the Cyclones could still make noise before the season is out, and could royally screw over the conference if they can pull off an upset like in 2011. Thankfully, this game isn’t in Ames.
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