The final portion of our college football preview will look at the big NCAA storylines this upcoming season. Mostly, can anyone stop Alabama or will Nick Saban lead the team to the three-peat.
Not going to lie, I don’t know who is even in this conference for certain (or what AAC stands for.) But one thing is certain, Louisville will be the class of this rag-tag bunch of teams. Teddy Bridgewater may win the Heisman trophy and the Cardinals should run away with this conference.
ACC: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
Clemson gets a big test right out of the gate in Georgia tomorrow, but win or lose that game they should still win out in the Atlantic Division. Virginia Tech starts the season against Alabama in a game that will not go well for the Hokie faithful. Hopefully the upcoming beating does not deter this team too much as they have the talent to win Coastal Division. I predict Clemson to win the Championship game between the two in a high scoring affair.
Big 12: Oklahoma
This conference should be pretty good from top to bottom, but the Big 12 doesn’t have that marquee great team that could challenge for a National Championship. Based on its schedule Oklahoma could be a title contender if they go undefeated with games at home against West Virginia and at Notre Dame in the nonconference schedule.
Big Ten: Michigan vs. Ohio State
I believe in Devin Gardner, and I think that he is going to lead Michigan back towards the top of the Big Ten. In five starts last season he had over 1,200 yards passing, 11 touchdowns, 101 yards rushing and seven more touchdowns on the ground. And don’t forget that before becoming the starting quarterback he was the starting wide receiver with 266 yards receiving and four more touchdowns. With a full training camp and season at quarterback I think he will do wonders for the Wolverines and they will win the Legends division just over Northwestern.
As for the Buckeyes they have Urban Meyer, a continuing to develop Braxton Miller and another solid recruiting class to go along with a core that went 12-0 last season. Ohio State should be one of the best teams in the country and have no trouble winning the Leaders division of the Big Ten. In a rematch of the last game of the season, I pick Ohio State to walk away with the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Pac-12: Stanford vs USC
The Pac-12 is going to be very tough and whoever comes out on top is going to be battle-tested and be one of the best teams in the country. The game on Thursday November 7th between Stanford and Oregon will most likely determine the champion of the North. I think that Stanford will pull that one out and need it as a tie-breaker over Oregon to make the Pac-12 Championship.
In the South it will come down to the battle of California between UCLA and USC on November 30th at the Rose Bowl. USC has an easier Pac-12 schedule and will probably win the division by at least one game. When it comes down to the Championship Game I think that the Cardinals will be too much to handle and potentially into the Pac-12 Championship.
SEC: Georgia vs Alabama
Ahh if the NFL does decide to expand, it may just look into moving most of the SEC right into the league as this conference is stacked once again. South Carolina has the best player in Jadeveon Clowney but I don’t trust the talent around him or on the offensive side. Georgia has one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country in Aaron Murray and I think that the Bulldogs will win the East.
As for the West, Alabama has competition from both Texas A&M and LSU. Texas A&M plays Alabama week two with a fresh Johnny Football off of his suspension (more on that later) while LSU has Texas A&M and Alabama on back-to-back weeks so I have to think that Alabama has the advantage in the schedule. I think that the Crimson Tide will still prevail in the West, but it won’t be easy.
As for the Championship Game this should be one of the best games of the college football season, as it usually is. I think very highly of the Bulldogs, but I can’t honestly pick against the two-time defending champs (no matter how bad I want to.) Alabama should win the SEC again.
As for some of the smaller conferences here are my predictions:
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech
MAC: Northern Illinois
MWC: Boise State
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
For the final time in college football we have the BCS Championship Game. As mentioned I think that it will be the SEC Champion Alabama playing the Pac-12 Champs Stanford. I really like everything that David Shaw has done at Stanford, following Jim Harbaugh in resurrecting the Cardinal program.
If anyone is going to be able to take down the giants from Alabama I think it is going to be the Cardinals. I think that the Ivy League school of the West will be able to out-tough the Crimson Tide and Stanford will be the National Champions.
WHO WILL WIN THE HEISMAN?
Last year we had the first freshman, Johnny Manziel, win the Heisman so the competition is literally open to anyone now. Manziel should have a great season again and will most likely be invited to New York, but I don’t see him repeating. Jadeveon Clowney is the best defensive player in college football, but he won’t be able to accrue the stats to win hardware.
Tajh Boyd from Clemson has thrown for over 3,800 yards and at least 33 touchdowns the past two seasons and I see him having an even bigger year this season heading into his senior year. Aaron Murray from Georgia might be the most talented quarterback in the country but if Georgia isn’t able to knock off Alabama I don’t think that he will be able to out stat the winner.
As for the Heisman winner I think that it will be Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville. He has everything going for him heading into the season: top-ten ranking, massive season last year and a very easy schedule. Bridgewater should have a massive season and lead the Cardinals to an undefeated season and a BCS bowl game.
MOST SURPRISING TEAM
For this I am looking at teams outside of the preseason top 25 who should end up inside. For the most likely team to make an appearance in the top 25 to end the season I’m looking at Rich Rodriguez and Arizona. His offense is first perfect for the fast paced Pac-12 and have an easier schedule with both UCLA and Oregon at home, plus a very weak nonconference schedule. I would not be surprised to see them finish third in the North.
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM
For this I’m looking at an overrated top-25 team, and I think Notre Dame is ranked in the top-15 off of last season’s undefeated regular season. Without Everett Golson the offense will have little big-play potential and should be quite the hindrance. The defense should be great, but they aren’t going to be able to carry this team again. Plus having four games against teams in the top-25 isn’t going to help anything (and potentially a fifth in MSU.)