As usual, I am waiting until last the very last minute before the official beginning of the college football season to make my predictions. Nonetheless, here we are, ready with the official picks.
I’ll start with conference champions and finish with BCS games with winners.
ACC Championship – Virginia Tech is clearly the cream of the crop in the ACC. The Coastal division is strong, housing the Hokies, Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina, making the road tough for them all. The Atlantic division is possibly the weakest division in football. Last year’s divisional champion Clemson comes back without CJ Spiller, Jacoby Ford, and Michael Palmer, losing the majority of their offensive production. Florida State will take the easier division, but fall short to Virginia Tech in the Championship Game.
Big 12 Championship – It seems to be the same story every year in my head with the Big 12. It is all driven from the Red River Rivalry. The winner of the Texas/Oklahoma game is in control of the conference. Both programs will field new quarterbacks after losing two of the all time greats. Oklahoma will come out of this game on top on the shoulders of running back DeMarco Murray. Nebraska is the only threat from the North and should take it fairly easily. However, Nebraska will stumble against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, getting the Sooners another trophy.
Big East – The Big East is actually harder to decide on than you may think. Cincinnati will return strong with quarterback Zach Collaros replacing Tony Pike. West Virginia is always a formidable foe and Connecticut will come back will some talent. However, the most talented team in the Big East is Pittsburgh. Dion Lewis is a clear Heisman contender with a strong offensive line and defense to help hold things together. Pittsburgh will come out on top of the Big East.
Big Ten – The Big Ten is stronger this year than it has been in recent memory. Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State will all be in the top tier of college football this season. But in the end, Ohio State will prevail, possibly undefeated. Many think Iowa will come out because they have their three toughest opponents (Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State) at home and a fairly easy road the rest of the way. However, Ohio State has remarkable talent that seemingly cannot be matched. And with Heisman hopefully Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes will make their way through the Big Ten and possibly to a BCS National Championship.
Pac-10 – While many people look at Oregon, I look away. At the end of last year’s campaign, I thought for sure they were the favorites. Without Jeremiah Masoli, the Ducks will be further down than people think. Oregon State will be in good shape and contend, as will Arizona due to their defense. But in the end, West Coast football is quarterback driven and the two best in the Pac-10 are Washington’s Jake Locker and Stanford’s Andrew Luck. When the dust settles, I feel Stanford will stand tall as Pac-10 Champions and smell some roses in January.
SEC Championship – Defending National Champions Alabama defend their crown this season and return Heisman winning running back Mark Ingram. The Crimson Tide will field arguably the strongest team in the country, but face the toughest opponents available. Because of that, I want to go on record now saying that there will not be an SEC team in the BCS National Championship game this year. Every team in the SEC is talented and powerful, and that is your reason. Alabama, the most talented team in the country, could wind up losing two games. Florida, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and even South Carolina will show strongly in the SEC this year and contend. We could see any east/west combination of those teams in the SEC Championship game, but I’m predicting another rematch of Alabama and Florida. Alabama will prevail again, but not unscathed.
The Rose Bowl – Stanford defeats Ohio State. The Buckeyes end the post season in disappointment yet again. They were thinking National Champions, but ended with a loss in the Rose Bowl to the Cardinal. The Pac-10 makes up for Oregon’s debacle last season and gets vengeance on the pesky Buckeyes.
The Sugar Bowl – Alabama defeats Iowa. Iowa gets into the BCS picture again, but draws the short straw and gets forced to play the best team in the country out of the SEC. The Crimson Tide will roll through the Superdome and prove to the world once again that the SEC is in fact the most dominant conference in all of college football.
The Orange Bowl – Virginia Tech defeats Pittsburgh. Dion Lewis will make it to New York for the Heisman presentation, but has a rough showing against the strong Hokie defense. Virginia Tech, behind their own great running game will come out a winner and take home the oranges in a close game.
The Fiesta Bowl – Nebraska defeats TCU. TCU will have another strong showing in the Mountain West and finish undefeated. Nebraska takes the bid as an at-large from the Big 12 and represents them well. The Black Shirt Defense holds strong and takes TCU quarterback Andrew Dalton down for a Fiesta Bowl trophy.
BCS National Championship – Oklahoma defeats Boise State. Revenge for the Sooners. I don’t like the idea of putting a non-BCS team in the BCS National Championship, but Boise State has only two difficult games all season and returns twenty of twenty-two starters. Oklahoma may lose a game, but will still have enough to make it to the title game, and win it.