It’s that time of year again, college football season. Tomorrow starts the most glorious 4 1/2 months of the year. Here are my predictions.
East Winner: South Carolina
West Winner: LSU
Yes, LSU is the popular pick. The way I see it, the west division comes down to Bama at LSU on November 3rd. It’s not that Bama doesn’t have the talent to win that game, it’s that the game is in Death Valley at night, which along with Thursday night at Lane Stadium, are the toughest environments to go into and get the W. A lot of people have Georgia winning the east, which isn’t a bad pick, but they have to go into The Cockpit (which I don’t think is the nickname of Williams-Brice Stadium, but that’s what I decided I’m gonna call it) and win which is never easy. I see South Carolina getting that W and taking the division.
Arkansas gets the sleeper pick because they get all of their “tough” games at home. Their offense is SICK, and they have 2 players that could be Heisman contenders. Their downside however, is pretty big. Their defense is hardly SEC quality, and who knows how John L. Smith’s play calling is going to be, and let’s face it, they’ve got some pretty tough road tests even if they do get the big dogs at home.
Coastal- Virginia Tech
Sleeper- Florida State
I don’t want to say that the conference is wide open, but it’s pretty close. The way I see it, there are 4 legit contenders and probably 2 more teams that could surprise people. Basically, each division comes down to 2 games. The atlantic is Florida State/Clemson and the coastal is Virginia/Virginia Tech. VT gets the nod because they’re playing that game at home, Lane Stadium is always hyped and a rivalry game is only going to add to that (cue “Enter Sandman“). Picking Clemson over FSU was tough. The game is at Doak, but Clemson will have The Sammy Watkins Show back by then.
Florida State gets the sleeper pick because quite frankly, I’m not brave enough to make them my actual pick. If you watch ESPN, I’m sure you’ve heard how all of the analyst love the Seminoles and how they expect them to go undefeated and play in the National Championship game. None of those analyst have mentioned Thursday, November 8th in Lane Stadium, and the fact that FSU consistently loses games that they’re not supposed too. Seminole fans will say “not this year” but I’m going to say that they need to prove me wrong.
Sleeper- South Florida
Rutgers is probably the least sexy pick ever. Am I worried about it? No, and here’s why. They have a phenomenal 2 headed running game and a quality defensive back 7 complete with a stud middle linebacker and corners with SEC size. Let’s face it, they play in the Big East, which means their schedule is pretty easy. Their toughest test is one the road at Arkansas. If the Razorbacks are looking ahead, they could be key targets for an upset.
South Florida could very easily win the conference. They get the Scarlet Knights at home and their only other is Florida State, which is also at home and could be one of the teams that isn’t supposed to win that game but somehow comes up on top.
Legends- Michigan State
I’d like to first point out that the winner of the Leaders division can finish as low as 3rd and still win the division because of Penn St. and Ohio St. being on postseason bans. It doesn’t hurt knowing that you could win your division with your B game. That being said, I believe that Wisconsin will win the division based on merit and not having it given to them. Montee Ball is ridiculous. He could easily rush for 2500 yards. On top of Ball, they have a Ball clone and a quality QB. Any pressure those players take off of Ball is a bonus. Michigan State returns several skill players but are starting a QB with 26 career attempts. Michigan could be a contender in the division but as Denard Robinson goes, so goes Michigan, and I doubt he plays more than 8 games. I don’t really like the Michigan St. pick but none of the other teams really make sense. That’s why I’ve got Wisconsin winning it all.
Iowa could be dangerous, like top 5 BCS dangerous. They’re loaded everywhere. If their schedule wasn’t so tough I’d have them winning the division.
Don’t sleep on the Huskies. Keith Price is a phenomenal West Coast offense QB. He’s got great players to spread the ball around too. They do have to play USC and go to Oregon, but I see no reason they couldn’t win one if not both of those games. The Trojans are looking like the Trojans of old. They’ve got at least 5 first round draft picks on their starting offense and 2 possible Heisman trophy winners. It doesn’t hurt when you’ve got 2 thousand yard rushers in your backfield.
It’s hard to call Oregon a sleeper. We all know how talented they are on offense. The problem isn’t their offense, it’s their defense. Basically they have none. They’re gonna get in high scoring affairs, and if their defense can’t make stops, it’s gonna cost them games.
Sleeper- West Virginia
OU is a very safe pick. They’ve got a lot of talent and plenty of returning players to be successful. However, they also lost a ton of quality players. On top of players, they lost Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. As much as I hate to say it, he’s part of the reason the Sooners have been successful over the last several years.
It’s hard to believe that West Virginia could contend in their first year in the league, but they’ve got talent, and a lot of it. Geno Smith and Tavon Austin are both on the long list of Heisman contenders. The Mountaineers are gonna score points and lots of them. The only question is if their
3-3-5 defense is going to confuse their opponents enough to win games.
*Edit- West Virginia has moved from the 3-3-5 to the 3-4. How well they adjust to a new scheme could impact their record. I still have them as my sleeper pick in the conference.
East- Southern Miss
Southern Miss most likely wont have the best record in their division and honestly I don’t know that much about them. Central Florida is probably the best team in the entire conference but aren’t eligible for the post season. It’ll be interesting to see how well the Golden Eagles do, they’ve got a new coach and a new starting QB. This is the pick that I’m the least confident in. I have a lot of confidence in SMU however, They could seriously be a BCS buster. Now that Sumlin and Keenum are gone from Houston, the crown falls into the Mustangs’ hands, and they’re more than capable of taking the reins and running with them, no pun intended. June Jones has a reputation for taking non AQ teams and doing yeoman’s work with them. Look for the ‘Stangs to return to the glory they experienced in the 70’s and 80’s.
Look for transfer Cody Greene (a former high school football opponent of mine) do easily fill the void that GJ Kinne left. The way I see it, the conference comes down to the game between Tulsa and SMU, whoever wins that game, wins the conference.
Champ- Boise State
Does this pick really need and explanation. They’ll win the conference handily. No questions asked.
Sleeper isn’t exactly the right word in this situation. “Second Place” is more appropriate.
Sleeper- Northern Illinois
I don’t know much about the MAC, but I do know that I love watching their games. Toledo has a 2 headed QB attack and a quality rushing attack. Honestly, Ohio is the best team in a terrible division. They’re not great, but they’ll win be default.
Northern Illinois is always at the top of the conference, I don’t see this year being any different.
Champ- Louisiana Tech
Sleeper- Utah State
Teams need to be put on upset alert against the Bulldogs. Honestly, there’s potential for them to go undefeated. I personally hope they lose at least one game. They’re gonna be successful. A 10 win season is definitely not out of reach. They’ll excel in a conference that got significantly weaker through realignment.
Utah State gets the sleeper pick by default.
Champ- Arkansas State
Even without Michael Dyer and a new head coach, Arkansas State is by far the most talented team in the conference.
The Trojans are a quality team. They have the potential to win the conference should something happen with Arkansas State.
Winner- Matt Barkley
Others to watch- Landry Jones, Montee Ball, Marcus Lattimore, Aaron Murray
The trophy has pretty much been given to Barkley. It’s his to lose. Since the trophy is no longer given to the best player, but the best player on the best team with the best marketing, picking Barkley is a no brainer.
The others on the list are there because they have the talent to win. Whether or not they have the other intangibles is still suspect.
National Championship Prediction-
Both of these teams are LOADED with talent. I’m giving the nod to LSU because of their defense, and that they finally have a QB that’s better than me. It’s gonna be a great game regardless. I can’t wait. The official hashtag is gonna be #7straight.
Vanderbilt will win 8 games.
Mike Leach will lead Washington State to a bowl victory.
Texas loses 5 games
Oklahoma State doesn’t make a bowl game
Someone will wear a uniform worse than Maryland’s
Florida State will lose a game they’re not supposed too.
Jadeveon Clowney literally kills someone on the field.
No more than 7 wins
Cmike rushes for 1250+ yards but doesn’t get any Heisman hype
Swope, Cmike, and Tre Williams are all conference.
Swope breaks all WR records
Defense will be better than expected.
We’ll see how accurate these are after the season is over.