Unbeaten Power Five teams enter critical Week 12 amid playoff pressure
With two weeks left in the 2023 college football regular season, pressure intensifies as five unbeaten Power Five teams are preparing for Week 12 matchups. As of Friday, four of the five power-conference title games retain at least one available spot for the postseason.
The SEC Championship Game is locked in, with a clash between the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC East and the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide representing the SEC West. This marks their third face-off in six years, with Alabama emerging victorious in the past two encounters. This will also be their first appearance since 2014, when they defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Apart from this, the postseason race remains wide open. The Florida State Seminoles managed to secure a clear path to the ACC Championship Game with an undefeated 8-0 conference record. Their upcoming challenges include the North Alabama Lions and a road duel with in-state SEC rival Florida Gators.
The outcomes of the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 title games are currently uncertain. The competitiveness and the number of teams in the race differ. As such, there is a possibility of complex tiebreakers influencing the results.
Aside from Florida State, the spotlight in ACC also turns to the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals are to clinch a bid with a crucial matchup against the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday.
Since joining the ACC in 2014, the team has yet to play for a conference title. A win against Miami will further solidify their position, while a loss opens the door for the Virginia Tech Hokies and No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels.
Virginia Tech's path to the title game starts with winning out, coupled with a Louisville loss to Miami. Even so, the Hokies have a superior record against common opponents, including victories against Virginia, NC State and Pitt.
As for North Carolina, securing a spot requires winning out, Louisville losing to Miami and Virginia Tech suffering another loss. In this tiebreaker scenario, the Tar Heels depend on "winning percentage versus common opponents based on the order of finish," with Miami needing to finish ahead of Georgia Tech in the conference standings.
Big 12 and Pac-12 tiebreakers
On the other side, the No. 7 Texas Longhorns have seized control for the Championship Game of Big 12. While they need to win their remaining games, a potential three-way tie for second place involving No. 21 Kansas State Wildcats, No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners, and No. 23 Oklahoma State Cowboys make things difficult.
The conference has further clarified tiebreaker rules, which emphasize head-to-head wins. Oklahoma State secures a spot if all three teams win due to a 2-0 record against Kansas State and Oklahoma. For other contenders, Oklahoma must win, while Kansas State and Oklahoma State each lose once.
The Iowa State Cyclones, widely considered a dark horse, must also win out, with Oklahoma losing at least once. Despite losing to Oklahoma, Iowa State holds potential tiebreakers with a win against Oklahoma State.
Furthermore, the Pac-12 sees the No. 5 Washington Huskies in a favorable position. Washington needs just one win to secure a championship game spot. The No. 6 Oregon Ducks and No. 11 Oregon State Beavers must also win out, with the latter facing a challenging two-week stretch against Washington and Oregon.