It’s always fun to predict conference and bowl champs. Then when the end of the season rolls around, you get to laugh at yourself for picking teams that went 3-9 to win their conference (I picked Tulsa to win CUSA last year).
SEC: Alabama over South Carolina
For the 3rd year in a row, I am picking Alabama to win the SEC. I am also picking South Carolina to lose to Alabama for a second year in a row. I was very close to picking Auburn to beat Georgia in this game, but the Iron Bowl is in Tuscaloosa and Georgia has to go to South Carolina. So, my basis for this pick is based on home field advantage. South Carolina might have more experience at the QB position, but I can’t bring myself to pick against the Tide. (If the craziness from last year happens again, I am definitely taking Arkansas over Kentucky in the SEC Champ game.)
Big 10: Michigan State over Wisconsin
You might think I’ve changed this pick since the news about Ohio State QB Braxton Miller got hurt, but I haven’t. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Ohio State, so I don’t like to pick them to win. And I also really like this Michigan State team. They have a relatively easy schedule and shouldn’t have much of a problem in the Big 10 East. Wisconsin’s Big 10 schedule is even easier than Michigan State’s. I’d like to wish Braxton Miller (and any other players who are currently injured) a speedy recovery. Even though I don’t like Ohio State, he is a fun player to watch.
ACC: Florida State over North Carolina
Famous Jameis is back for another season. This team has big, no huge, shoes to fill. I don’t think they will be able to achieve everything they did last season, but they are still going to be a great team. The ACC Coastal division doesn’t look too strong this season. North Carolina seems to be the team to beat in this division. I think FSU will put up a lot of points on everyone again. This one wasn’t too hard of a decision for me.
Pac 12: Stanford over UCLA
The big question in the Pac12 is Stanford or Oregon. Stanford has had Oregon’s number the last two seasons. The Cardinal have been able to hold the Ducks to just 34 combined points in their last two meetings. If you take out those two games, Oregon has averaged 51.68 points per game in the last two regular seasons. I’m taking the Stanford defense again. UCLA finished the season strong last year. The last time UCLA beat Stanford was in 2008. I think the Bruins will lose to the Cardinal twice in a row like they did 2012.
Big 12: Baylor
I was down to Oklahoma and Baylor for the Big 12. And I just really like Bryce Petty. I think the Bears will be able to win the Big 12 once again. They will be playing in brand new McLane Stadium after 64 years in Floyd Casey. Oklahoma will be a great team, but I don’t think the Sooners will be able to outscore Baylor. Texas Tech might sneak into the mix though. Don’t be surprised if they take the Big 12 by storm.
UCF lost some major players last season. QB Blake Bortles leaves a huge hole for the Knights. I like this Cincinnati team. They have some good experience and play an easy conference schedule. I think it’s the Bearcat’s title to lose, but I don’t think they will. East Carolina might surprise some people though.
Mountain West: San Diego State over Boise State
Ah, my hometown conference. The Mountain West has been dominated by Boise State the past few seasons. I am predicting an end to that reign. If you aren’t familiar with this Aztec team, it’s probably because you didn’t want to stay up until 1 or 2am to watch them play. Four of their eight MWC games went to OT and they won 3, beating Nevada, Hawaii and Boise State and losing to Fresno State. (Their only other conference loss came at the hands of my UNLV Rebels 45-19.) The Broncos had a tough year last year compared the their recent success. I think they will do about the same this year and will lose twice to San Diego State.
MAC: Bowling Green over Northern Illinois
No more Jordan Lynch, but NIU returns a lot of starters from last season. I am keeping an eye on this NIU team because they play at UNLV and at Arkansas in back to back weeks. So I’ll get to compare my two teams using the Huskies. Bowling Green should also be good again this year. I’m predicting a rematch of last year’s MAC Championship Game with the same outcome.
C-USA: Marshall over UTSA
I correctly picked Marshall to lose the CUSA championship game last season, so I think I’ll pick them to win this year. I loved watching Marshall’s QB Rakeem Cato in the CUSA Champ game last season and I think he will be impressive again this year. UTSA returns 20 starters from last season. That’s insane. I’m not going to pick against that. Except in the conference championship game.
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette
I saw this Ragin’ Cajun team play live last year, and they were very good. QB Terrence Broadway is fun to watch. I expect this team to have another good year and win the Sun Belt Title. I’m also going to predict they win the New Orleans Bowl (again). South Alabama will probably be their toughest competition with ULM losing star QB Kolton Browning.
And now, just because I like to predict things, here are my predictions for the inaugural playoff and the other 4 major bowls. (Someone needs to come up with a clever name for those 4 bowls that aren’t hosting semifinals…)
Semifinal (Sugar Bowl): 1Florida State over 4Michigan State
Semifinal (Rose Bowl): 2Alabama over 3Stanford
National Championship (Cowboys Stadium): 2Alabama over 1Florida State
Other 4 Host Bowls:
Peach Bowl: Georgia over Cincinnati
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma over UCLA
Orange Bowl: Clemson over LSU
Cotton Bowl: South Carolina over Baylor
We are less than a week away from the best season of the year. College football season is finally back.