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Conference races heat up down home stretch
The race to the national championship game has been well defined.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State are in control. No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Baylor are on deck. There is a group of one-loss teams crossing their fingers and hoping for chaos.
Then there are the conference races, where there is still plenty of sorting out to do.
American Athletic Conference _ Simple. Only a major collapse could keep UCF out of the BCS as the American’s representative and conference champ.
Atlantic Coast Conference _ Florida State has already locked down the Atlantic Division spot in the championship Dec. 7 in Charlotte, N.C. The Coastal is messy with four teams with two losses, but could be become far less cluttered if Georgia Tech losses to Clemson on Thursday night and if Duke beats No. 24 Miami on Saturday. That would give Duke a clear path to its first ACC title game by winning out. A Hurricanes win puts Virginia Tech in the driver’s seat.
Big Ten _ Not one, but two huge upsets would be necessary to keep Ohio State out of the conference title game as the Leaders division champ. And No. 14. Michigan State would be in great shape in the Legends division by beating Nebraska on Saturday.
Big 12 _ No. 4 Baylor (5-0), No. 12 Oklahoma State (5-1) and No. 23 Texas (6-0) have yet to play each other. The sorting out starts this week when the Cowboys play at the Longhorns.
Pac-12 _ The North Division is Stanford’s if it can win out, but one slip gets Oregon back in the hunt. Over in the South, No. 21 Arizona State at No. 13 UCLA next week could decide it, but Southern California still has a chance to work its way back in the mix by upsetting Stanford on Saturday.
Southeastern Conference _ Alabama-Auburn will decide the West, if both get through this weekend. In the East, Missouri is in control if it wins out, but a slip or two by the Tigers could put South Carolina and Georgia back in play.
In conferences without an automatic BCS bid:
Mid-American Conference _ After beating Ball State, No. 20 Northern Illinois still has to contend with Toledo in the West. Bowling Green-Buffalo on Nov. 29 will decide the East.
Conference USA _ North Texas can lock up the West Division this week by beating Texas-San Antonio. The East could come down to the regular season-finale between Marshall and East Carolina.
Mountain West _ No. 16 Fresno State can lose one of its final two games and still win the West. Boise State and Utah State are in a tight race in the Mountain division, but the Broncos hold the tiebreaker.
Sun Belt _ Louisiana-Lafayette has a one-game lead on Arkansas State, a win in the bank over the Red Wolves and still play two of the league’s worst teams (Georgia State and South Alabama). The Ragin’ Cajuns are cooking.
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
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