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These 52 teams still control their own conference title destinies

As the season enters its second half, a quick rundown of the teams leading the race for each of the 10 FBS conference championship games.

The dictionary definition of destiny is "the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future." It's a matter of debate whether destiny is something that can be controlled, or whether your destiny controls you. It's my destiny that I'll have a turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow, because I have a turkey sandwich for lunch almost every day. It's also my destiny that I'll spend my wife and I's 20th anniversary trip to Cancun hugging a toilet after a dinner of bad shellfish because of all the million tiny decisions I'll make between now and then.

In this instance, "destiny" is just a fancy way of saying "FBS teams that will play for their conference title if they win every one of their remaining games." This is not a list of teams that are still in the hunt for their conference title, but merely a look at each team that will play for their conference title (or, forge a multi-way tie at the top at the very least) if they win out. 

As we enter this season's second half, I count 47 of the 123 eligible teams that are just a mere five or six victories away from Championship Saturday. 

Houston -- 3-0
No. 2 Cincinnati -- 3-0
No. 21 SMU -- 2-0
Tulsa -- 2-1
East Carolina -- 1-1

Tulsa's loss came at Houston's hand, but the Cardiac Cane still has Cincinnati and SMU ahead. East Carolina has Houston and Cincinnati ahead, while fellow 1-1 Temple does not control its fate with a loss to Cincinnati and no SMU on its schedule.  

No. 16 Wake Forest -- 4-0
No. 18 NC State -- 2-0

The Wolfpack visit Winston-Salem on Nov. 13. Wake Forest visits Clemson (2-1) the following week, and it's still quite within the realm of possibility all three teams finish 7-1. In that event, the tiebreaker could come down to the fellas at SportSource Analytics.

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No. 23 Pitt -- 2-0

The Panthers host Clemson on Saturday and, though it's a non-divisional game, it's absolutely crucial in their hunt for their second ACC Coastal title. With a loss, 3-2 Virginia, with their Nov. 20 trip to Heinz Field, would also control their fate and 1-1 Virginia Tech would be right there lurking.

Big 12
No. 3 Oklahoma -- 4-0
No. 8 Oklahoma State -- 3-0
No. 20 Baylor -- 3-1
Iowa State -- 2-1

As of today, we're looking at Bedlam in Stillwater on Nov. 27, and then a rematch in Arlington a week later. Awkward. In between then and now, though, Iowa State and its best-in-the-conference defense plays both OU and OSU -- starting with a home game vs. OK State on Saturday -- and Baylor hosts OU on Nov. 13. This tiebreaker can come down to point differential (point b3) so run it up, boys.

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Big Ten
No. 9 Michigan State -- 4-0
No. 6 Michigan -- 3-0
No. 5 Ohio State -- 3-0
No. 7 Penn State -- 2-1

Hooooo boy. Here's the remaining round-robin:

Oct. 30: Michigan at Michigan State; Penn State at Ohio State
Nov. 13: Michigan at Penn State
Nov. 20: Michigan State at Ohio State
Nov. 27: Penn State at Michigan State; Ohio State at Michigan

Minnesota -- 2-1
Northwestern -- 1-2
Wisconsin -- 1-2

Not a misprint. The Gophers' only B1G loss came on the opening Thursday night, 45-31 to No. 5 Ohio State, they already own a victory over No. 25 Purdue, and they visit No. 11 Iowa on Nov. 13. So if PJ Fleck's team wins the remainder of its games, they're going to Indianapolis for the first time ever. If not, 2-1 Purdue is right behind them. Iowa, No. 2 in the country just last week, now needs help to win its own division but 3-3 Northwestern and Wisconsin do not.

Both teams are below .500 in conference play (Northwestern lost to Nebraska 56-7!), but both have the trio of Minnesota, Purdue and Iowa ahead of them, meaning they could finish 7-2 in conference play and own the tiebreaker of whomever ended up 7-2 in that hypothetical scenario as well. 

As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes can still go 8-1... but so can Purdue, and last Saturday decided that tiebreaker. 

Conference USA
Charlotte -- 2-0
Marshall -- 2-1
Florida Atlantic -- 1-1
Western Kentucky -- 1-1

None of these four teams have yet to play each other, so the race is really just beginning. But Charlotte does begin one step ahead. The round-robin:

Oct. 21: FAU at Charlotte
Oct. 30: Charlotte at WKU
Nov. 6: Marshall at FAU
Nov. 20: FAU at WKU, Marshall at Charlotte
Nov. 27: WKU at Marshall

No. 24 UTSA -- 3-0
UTEP -- 3-0
UAB -- 3-0

The Big Ten East may have the highest stakes of the divisional races, but C-USA West's race will be just as fun to follow. UAB has won the division three years running (and won the whole league in 2018 and '20); UTSA and UTEP have never done it. The round-robin:

Nov. 6: UTSA at UTEP
Nov. 20: UAB at UTSA
Nov. 26: UTEP at UAB

U got all that?

Miami (Ohio) -- 2-1
Kent State -- 2-1
Ohio -- 1-2

Kent State hosts Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 27, but Ohio -- 1-6 on the season -- is still in this hunt, for now, because they've yet to play either team.

Northern Illinois -- 3-0
Ball State -- 2-1
Western Michigan -- 2-1
Central Michigan -- 2-1

NIU is in the lead, but they've yet to face any of the 1-loss teams below them.

Mountain West
Colorado State -- 2-0
Utah State -- 2-1
Air Force -- 2-1

Air Force has one MW loss, and it came to Utah State. Colorado State has yet to play the Aggies and the Falcons. As it happens, Utah State comes to Fort Collins on Friday.

No. 22 San Diego State -- 2-0
Nevada -- 2-0
Fresno State -- 2-1

Fresno State can surge to the top of the division by Halloween. The Bulldogs host Nevada on Saturday, then visit San Diego on Oct. 30. San Diego State gets both enemy combatants at home; the Wolf Pack come to Ron Burgundy's home town on Nov. 13. 

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No. 10 Oregon -- 2-1
Oregon State -- 2-1

In 2008-09, Oregon State headed into the Civil War with the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl trip (they haven't been since 1964) on the line. They lost both games and haven't contended for the conference title since. Here's hoping they get another shot this Nov. 27. 

Utah -- 3-0
UCLA -- 3-1

UCLA's loss came to Arizona State (3-1) who just lost to Utah this past Saturday. That means the Utes are the only team in the clear, but the Oct. 30 UCLA-Utah game in Salt Lake City could make things interesting.

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No. 1 Georgia -- 5-0

The top-ranked team in the land is off this week, which means they can't clinch their ninth East Division title and their fourth in five seasons until their Nov. 6 game with Missouri.

No. 4 Alabama -- 3-1
No. 19 Auburn -- 2-1

We're a long, long, long way from this point in the schedule, but there have been three Iron Bowls that doubled as an SEC West Championship Game. Auburn won both games at Jordan-Hare; the Nov. 27 game will be at Jordan-Hare

1994: No. 4 Alabama 21, No. 6 Auburn 14
2013: No. 4 Auburn 34, No. 1 Alabama 28
2017: No. 6 Auburn 26, No. 1 Alabama 14

Sun Belt
No. 14 Coastal Carolina -- 2-0
Troy -- 2-1
Appalachian State -- 1-1
Georgia State -- 1-1

Coastal is the clear leader here, and the Chanticleers can knock off their challengers in (near) rapid succession: at App State on Wednesday, home against Troy next Thursday, and then home against Georgia State on Nov. 13. 

Louisiana -- 3-0
Texas State -- 1-1

Texas State may be 2-4, but an Oct. 30 win in Lafayette (and a win in every other game) earns them a shot at their first conference title since 2008.