It’s finally here. The college football season starts this month. And this isn’t just any season. This is the FINAL season of the BCS. Take a moment to cheer. So how does this season look to shape up? No one really knows of course. Notre Dame wasn’t even in the top 25 to start last season, and they played in the BCS championship game. We bloggers and “experts” alike really don’t have any better idea than the average fan. So assume all of the following predictions will be wrong, but here they are anyway.
American Athletic Conference
Teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple, UCF
Prediction: Louisville cruises
Honestly, does anyone even care about the conference formerly known as the Big East? We only care about one team, Louisville, and one player on that team, Teddy Bridgewater. I have to admit, I’m a big Charlie Strong fan so I’m rooting for the coach as well. But, unless I’m accidentally leaving someone out, a quick glance at those teams and you wonder if Louisville will even lose a game this year. Want to hear their non-conference schedule? They open against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky and Florida International. They follow that up with 8 conference games. Their hardest test will come in week 1 against Ohio to be honest, but that has no bearing on winning their conference.
I project Louisville easily wins the conference and has an outside chance of getting to the BCS championship game. Slim, but it’s there. They have to go undefeated and there cannot be more than one other undefeated or one loss team from the big conferences. Unlikely, but you never know. As far as their bowl obligations, I bet the AAC falls short. Louisville goes and I can see Cincinnati and UCF easily getting bowl eligible. But the rest will struggle to get there.
Next season doesn’t look any better. They lose Rutgers and Louisville and add Tulsa, Tulane and East Carolina. Pretty pathetic conference.
Atlantic: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Wake Forest
Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Prediction: Miami over Clemson in the ACC championship
Does anyone else have a problem with the naming of these two divisions? Some of the schools in the Atlantic division fall squarely on the coast while some Coastal division schools aren’t on the coast. I guess it beats Leaders and Legends.
Miami shouldn’t have any trouble getting through the Coastal division. Unfortunately for them they have Florida and Florida State both on the schedule. Yikes. No other real tests though. Clemson will have a harder time. They start the season against Georgia and close it against South Carolina. Ouch. Fortunately the conference schedule features only Florida State and no other tests. I pick them simply because Florida State must face both Clemson and Miami while Clemson and Miami don’t meet in the regular season. Probably won’t be an exciting championship though as I’m sure both teams will come in with at least two losses. No BCS championship implications on the line. I don’t see the ACC playing a role or being in the hunt for the final BCS title game.
We will probably see the usual cast of character in bowl games: Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Frankly all the other teams have decent shots at bowl eligibility too. When you play in a mediocre conference that’s how it goes. But all in all, nothing very exciting this year. Maryland leaves after this season to be replaced by Louisville.
Teams: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia
Prediction: Texas by virtue of some kind of tie breaker rule
Let’s be honest, this is going to be the most top to bottom competitive conference this year. Every one of these teams might be bowl eligible by year’s end. And how do you pick a winner? Well the media picked Oklahoma State, so that should eliminate them from contention. I just can’t see the skid at Texas continuing. I think this is Mack Brown’s year to flex his muscle. But my guess is you will see a three or four way tie at the top. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas all look to be at the top. Anyone’s guess how that turns out. But I’m thinking it will come down to some kind of tie-breaker and last time that helped Texas so why not again?
This is one of those conferences actually worth watching this year. Most of the games should be competitive. That doesn’t mean there are a bunch of elite teams here. It simply means they are all pretty evenly matched. I don’t see a BCS championship contender in the mix here as it would be darn near impossible to finish with less than two losses for any of these guys.
Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Prediction: Ohio State beats Nebraska in the Big Ten championship
With Penn State still on probation and Wisconsin getting a new head coach, it’s a foregone conclusion that Ohio State will win the Leaders division. No one in America would argue with that. But the Legends division is a lot more interesting. Minnesota and Iowa probably don’t figure in much but the other four should all be strong contenders to win it. There’s also a very good chance Ohio State runs the table or only suffers one loss this year, so they are a leading contender to get to the BCS championship game.
The only exciting thing to watch for here is to see how wins the Legends division. All six will probably end up bowl eligible so should be fun to watch how it plays out.
I don’t care and neither do you. Based on last year I would guess Southern Miss plays Louisiana Tech or Tulsa for the conference championship. I hardly recognize this conference right now and after this season they are losing three more and replacing them with teams currently in the FCS. What a mess.
Teams: Army, Brigham Young, Idaho, Navy, New Mexico State, Notre Dame, Old Dominion
Old Dominion is playing their first season in the FBS. Don’t count on much. Notre Dame doesn’t have a chance at repeating their success of last year. Army and Navy will have their usual seasons. Idaho and New Mexico State will be just as bad as they were in the now dismantled WAC. BYU has an outside chance at an interesting season and potentially a BCS bowl game. They have a strong enough schedule to get attention but easy enough to win 10 or 11 games. If their defense is anything like last season, they have a shot to win every game they play. And their new QB showed real promise last season before going down with an injury. This is one of those surprise teams this year. Or at least they can be. Any time they have big expectations they tend to choke, so this season will probably be no different than seasons past.
I don’t care and neither do you. Northern Illinois will probably steamroll everyone and demand to be in a BCS bowl. Guess we’ll wait and see. Or not. I won’t see. Because I probably won’t pay any attention to the MAC, just like everyone else who doesn’t live in the midwest.
West: Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV
Mountain: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, Wyoming
Prediction: Boise State over Fresno State in the conference championship
Anyone else ever wonder what it might be like if BYU, Utah and TCU were still in the Mountain West? Oh well. Nothing super exciting here. As usual Boise State will run through their conference. It’s getting old. I wish they would get invited to the Big 12 or something. Oh well.
North: Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Stanford
South: Utah, Colorado, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State
Prediction: Oregon over UCLA in a repeat of last season
This is going to be one interesting conference. Just about everyone is capable of rattling of 10 wins or 5. Lots of new coaches around, so that makes things unpredictable. Everyone wonders how USC is going to do after a disappointing 2012 season. My guess is at least better with Monte Kiffin gone. The surprises might be the two schools in Arizona and the two in Washington. When Mike Leach is around you just never know what to expect, and those others are building solid programs off solid seasons in 2012.
Stanford is probably the most overrated of the bunch. I have no idea how they warrant a top 5 preseason ranking. I fully expect them to be a non-factor.
East: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
West: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Prediction: Alabama over Georgia in a repeat of last season
I’m saying it right now for the record: Texas A&M is the most overrated team this year. Now that the rest of the SEC knows what to prepare for, and with the future of Johnny Football in question, they will crumble. I’m predicting right now that they lost to everyone in their division except Arkansas. The SEC west will be that good and they will be that bad. They’re only blessing this season is that they get Missouri and Vanderbilt from the East. Luckily they didn’t get Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. But this will not be a top 25 season for them. Wait and see.
I want to pick South Carolina but I can’t make my predictions based on one sack by Jadeveon Clowney in a bowl game. I know the rest of America and especially ESPN wants to judge the whole South Carolina team on that one hit, but that doesn’t fly at the College Football Cafeteria. They will choke. They always choke. And Georgia brings back too many pieces from last year’s team. I think they get all the way to a rematch with Alabama and…choke again.
So there you have it. The automatic BCS qualifiers will be Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Miami, Texas and Louisville. The other teams to make the BCS bowls I predict to be Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma State, and Boise State. Rose Bowl will be Boise State and Ohio State. Fiesta Bowl is Texas and Clemson. Sugar Bowl is Georgia and Oklahoma State. Orange Bowl is Miami and Louisville. The BCS championship will be Alabama and Oregon, with Alabama winning and sealing the SEC’s dominance of the BCS era.
So there you have it, my official 2013 predictions. Now you’d better believe that none of it comes to pass because that’s how predictions go around here.