Through a bit of teamwork with my good friend TigerTown90, we plundered the deep dark depths that is the College Football season to try and attempt the impossible... predict the outcomes of each conference and the BCS Bowls plus 5 other important ones (which traditionally has shown who the contenders the following year might be). I will try and keep it as short and sweet as possible, but there will obviously be some explanations to be done. Predictions beyond the jump...
We shall start with determining the Conference predictions, there was on a few occasions some teams we felt had to be included on as "darkhorses", although several of these are obviously brighter than darkhorses. Without further ado...
ACC - The ACC should look fairly similar to what it did last year, with a couple really good teams and then thinning out substantially the lower you get. Each division is a proverbial 3 team race, with the Atlantic Division containing FSU, Clemson and BC; the Coastal Division looks to be a repeat of last year with Va. Tech, Miami and UNC battling it out. When it comes down to it all 6 of these teams have a shot to make it to the ACC-CG but the one key difference is that FSU and UNC get much easier schedules. For that reason we see those 2 meeting up in Charlotte with FSU edging out the Championship. Winner: FSU
Big 12(10) - In the first year of a shrunken conference out in Big 12 country, it will take some getting use to for fans to not see a Big 12 Championship Game. This conference is seemingly a 3 team race, with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M appearing to be the cream of the crop. Coming into the season most see Oklahoma as a National Championship caliber team, and for this reason we pick them to come out on top, although they have a slight skeptic in me while they will be breaking in a new RB. Winner: Oklahoma
Big East - With TCU entering this conference next year, the teams in it will be looking to dog it out for this years Championship before a possible powerhouse enters the fray. The Big East seems to be watered down considerably this year (so no surprise they lose out on their AQ spot), but we feel like the tradition power in this conference (West Virginia) will prevail by seasons end... although the Mountaineers better watch out for the Bulls in South Florida, a hiccup by WVU and USF could be raising the trophy. Winner: WVU darkhorse: USF
Big 10(12) - This conference gave myself and TigerTown90 a bit of trouble. While I felt like a traditional power (Michigan) will emerge again, we had to debate it, and felt like the State school would have an easier path. The other side of the puzzle looks to be locked down fairly secure with Wisconsin holding a large lead. So as much as a return to glory for Michigan would be in the inaugural B1G Championship Game, it doesn't look likely to happen this year, while Michigan State does battle against Wisconsin. Winner: Wisconsin darkhorse: Michigan, Penn State
C-USA - It seems like every year, we turn around and there is another team fighting for dominance in this ever-changing conference. Houston with Case Keenum has to be the favorite in their division, while the other one is fairly open for interpretation. We feel like East Carolina should be the class of their division though, but it is up to them not to play their-selves out of the Championship Game. In the end, we came to the conclusion that Houston just doesn't have enough playmakers to stay with an ECU team, that looks pretty decent on paper. Winner: ECU darkhorse: USM
MAC - The MAC looks to be becoming a 2 team race yearly, with Northern Illinois and Miami (OH) pulling away from the others a little each year. NIU has looked pretty impressive in years past, and there is no reason to think that will change this year. Winner: NIU
MWC - Boy this conference had a chance at being something for a pretty good while, with the top 3 BCS Busters all being apart of it... too bad that will only last for 1 season though, as it is probably a good move for TCU to jump ship for their own sake. Boise State will come in and make this a fun conference to watch for a season as they match-up with TCU and Utah during the regular season. In the end, Boise has been the premier BCS buster, so there is no reason to think they won't be able to handle business in the MWC as well as they did in the WAC. Winner: Boise State
Pac-12 - This conference really required alot of in depth research to try and figure it out... the scary thing is, it was just for one division (the North Division could compete with the West in the SEC for top division IMO). Make no mistake, the North will be a dogfight throughout the season, and it WILL get ugly before season's end. Both Stanford and Oregon lose major pieces to their team, most notably half of each teams defense has to be replaced, as well as Oregon losing Jeff Maehl (what many expected to be their top WR this year) and Stanford losing their Iron Man. But when all is said and done, Stanford has a slightly easier schedule, with their only tough road game being @Arizona. So the nod has to go to Stanford to go to the inaugural Championship Game to face off with Arizona. Winner: Stanford side-note: don't count Oregon out, if their new defensive guys can step up, they will be right there to snatch their spot in the CG.
Sun Belt - In mine and TigerTown90's honest opinion this has been and will continue to be one teams conference to lose... Troy has made a habit of scheduling tough Out of Conference competition, and it has helped them build confidence for their conference schedule throughout the last several seasons. Winner: Troy darkhorse: FIU
WAC - This conference might just be partying the hardest this season, now that they don't have to contend with Boise State anymore... but wait a second, there is another team in this conference that has the ability to dominate the rest of the conference, and that team is Hawaii. The Warriors have always had a brilliant offense that can outscore the best of em in the WAC, and for this reason, they have to be the new favorites (unless another Colin Kaepernick is unveiled elsewhere). Winner: Hawaii darkhorse: Fresno State
SEC - Every SEC season seems to get more exciting than the previous, and we don't foresee this one being any different. With the 3 headed monster in the SEC West lurking, its not a good time to be the other 3 teams in that division (just ask UGA, UK, UT baseball teams... it ain't fun). Those 3 games in the regular season should have Championship Atmospheres about them, and they more than deserve it. In the end, Alabama appears to be just a little too much. While the West looks to be a vicious dogfight, the East is shaping up to be a David vs Goliath kinda fight. South Carolina emerged last season from a "watered down" East, and showed just how much talent they have on both sides of the ball, so this year with nearly every bit of that talent coming back plus some nice looking newcomers, there is no reason to think that will change (the rest of the East may have talent yes, but it is almost entirely unproven at this level). So as we see it, the showdown in Atlanta will come down to another Alabama school (only this time, the name sake) and South Carolina. After much deliberation, this is the one game we couldn't reach a compromise on, as I think last years game between the two teams shines a lot of light on what would happen in a rematch this year. Alabama lost their 3 most important offensive weapons, and their defense is only slightly better if not on par with last years. So for those reasons I see South Carolina claiming their first SEC Championship this year. Winner: South Carolina darkhorses: UGA, Arkansas
I will be releasing the BCS Bowls + 5 Important Ones later in the day.