College Football Predictions
Here are my predictions on which schools will win their respective conferences in 2013. Click on the conference links at the bottom of the page to check out conference and individual team previews.
SEC Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
The SEC is hands down the best conference in college football. With Alabama’s victory over Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game, the SEC has now won an amazing eight straight National Titles. The Crimson Tide became the first team to win three titles in four years since World War II. With 13 starters coming back, I just don’t see how you can go against Nick Saban and Alabama in 2013. If any there’s going to be a change at the top, it will likely come from either Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M or South Carolina.
Big Ten Conference Champion: Ohio State Buckeyes
The Wisconsin Badgers have represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl each of the last three years, and have won each of the first two Big Ten Championship Games. I fully expect the Badgers’ run to come to an end in 2013. The only reason Wisconsin even had a chance to play in the title game was because Ohio State had to serve a one year postseason ban. Even with nothing to play for, the Buckeyes went out and finished a perfect 12-0 under new head coach Urban Meyer. With the return of starting quarterback Braxton Miller, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Ohio State ran the table again this season. As for the Legends Division, I’m giving a slight edge to Michigan State over Northwestern and Michigan.
Big 12 Conference Champion: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Kansas State shocked everyone last year by earning a share of the Big 12 Title with Oklahoma, as almost everyone had them pegged to finish in the bottom half of the standings. If it wasn’t for a late season loss at Baylor, the Wildcats would have played for a National Championship. With Kansas State expected to take a big step back and Oklahoma losing starting quarterback Landry Jones, the Big 12 is as wide open as ever. At least six teams need to be considered for the top spot. I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb and skipping the likes of Oklahoma and Texas to take the Oklahoma State Cowboys to win their second title in the last three years. Oklahoma State has the offense to matchup with any team in the conference, and a very underrated defense that returns their four best players.
ACC Champion: Clemson Tigers
The consensus from experts is that the winner of the ACC will come from the Atlantic, and that it’s a two team race between Florida State and Clemson. The Seminoles lose starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, but aren’t expected to miss a beat with the addition of red-shirt freshman Jameis Winston. The Tigers, on the other hand, arguably have the two most explosive players in the conference in senior quarterback Tahj Boyd and junior wide out Sammy Watkins. With Clemson getting to host Florida State on Oct. 19, they earn my pick as the top team out of the ACC. While all the attention is being payed to the Seminoles and Tigers, there figures to be quite a battle in the Coastal between Miami, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
Pac-12 Conference Champion: Oregon Ducks
This might come as a bit of a surprise with the Ducks losing head coach Chip Kelly to the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles), but I don’t expect Oregon to miss a beat under Mark Helfrich, who has served as the Duck’s offensive coordinator the last four years. It wasn’t easy picking Oregon over Stanford in the North, as the Ducks do have to go on the road to face the Cardinal this season. However, Oregon avoids both USC and Arizona State out of the South, while Stanford must face both. I give the slight edge to the Trojans over the Sun Devils in the South and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if USC surprised after failing miserably with the huge expectations going into last season.
American Atlantic Conference Champion: Louisville Cardinals
The days of the Big East are gone, but many of its former teams have resided in what is now known as the American Atlantic Conference. The conference lost Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, while adding in UCF, Houston, SMU and Memphis out of Conference USA. In my opinion, what was already considered to be the weakest BCS conference has gotten even worse with the moves. With that said, I don’t see how you can go against the Cardinals with Heisman contender Teddy Bridgewater back at quarterback and 10 starters returning on defense.
Top Independent: Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish surprised everyone last year with a perfect 12-0 season. While they would end up getting blown out by Alabama in the BCS Championship Game, it appears Brian Kelly has returned Notre Dame into the elite class of college football. With 14 returning starters, including eight to a defense that allowed just 12.8 points per game, I’m confident the Fighting Irish will finish 2013 with the best record of the Independents. The only team that even figures to come close is BYU, and they must travel to South Bend on Nov. 23.
Mountain West Conference Champion: Fresno State Bulldogs
With the additions of San Jose State and Utah State out of the WAC, the Mountain West is now a 12-team league, and for the first time will be divided up into two divisions and play a conference championship game. Last year we saw a three-way tie at the top with Fresno State, Boise State and San Diego State. All three are poised to field an even stronger team in 2013, making this one of the more difficult conferences to predict. In the end I went with the team that I feel has the best quarterback and that’s Fresno State, who returns the reigning MWC Offensive Player of the Year in senior quarterback Derek Carr.
Conference USA Champion: Rice Owls
Conference USA loses a lot with UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU leaving for the American Athletic, but that’s not to say this year’s race won’t be entertaining. Both divisions figure to come down to the wire. Marshall and East Carolina will battle it out in the East, while Tulsa and Rice figure to dominate the West. I feel like the popular picks here would be East Carolina or Tulsa, but I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb and take Rice to knock off Marshall in the C-USA Championship Game. The Owls have 19 starters back to a team that finished 4-4 inside the conference – with three of those defeats coming by four points or less.
Mid-American Conference Champion: Bowling Green Falcons
Northern Illinois became the first MAC team to ever play in a BCS bowl game last year and they have completely owned this conference of late. The Huskies have won three straight East titles and back-to-back conference championships over the last three seasons. What’s even more impressive is their 23-1 record during the regular season in the MAC during that same stretch.While I expect Northern Illinois to make their fourth straight appearance in the MAC title game, I think Bowling Green and their top notch defense are poised to take over the top spot.
Sun Belt Champion:
For years the Sun Belt has been one of the toughest conferences to predict from top to bottom. While it’s widely been considered the weakest FBS conference in the country, the parity within it has been about as good as it gets. That figures to change in 2013, as the Sun Belt loses North Texas, FIU, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee, and will replace them with the likes of Texas State and Georgia State. You can pretty much narrow down your selection to one of four teams: Louisiana, Western Kentucky, ULM and Arkansas State. I’m going with the Ragin’ Cajuns. While they have to play both Western Kentucky and Arkansas State on the road in back-t0-back weeks, I feel they are most talented of the four contenders.
BCS Championship Prediction: Alabama Over Ohio State
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|Conference USA||Independents||MAC||Mountain West|