The 2012 College Football season is upon us, and the SEC again looks to continue its amazing streak of dominance in the BCS. While there is a lot of pre-season hype surrounding USC and Barkley, as well as teams like Oklahoma, Oregon and Florida State, I put Alabama as the clear cut favorite, looking to lock up their 3rd BCS Championship in 4 seasons.
Here is a breakdown of the major conferences.
The National Championship goes through the SEC….simple as that. Doesn’t look to be any different this year, as the SEC makes up half of the top 10 in both major polls. As always, the only thing that could possibly prevent a team from the SEC making the BCS Championship game is if they beat each other up too much during the regular season. The SEC sometimes takes heat for not playing enough tough games out of conference, but last year LSU opened the season with Oregon, and this year Alabama opens up with Michigan. With two major road tests at Arkansas and at LSU, if Bama can run the table, as I expect them to, no reason to not see them return to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game and then try to bring a 7th consecutive BCS Championship to the SEC. I look for Georgia to be the other top team and face off vs Bama in Atlanta. The Bulldogs luck out by not having to play Arkansas, Bama or LSU in the regular season, so if they are ever to head to Atlanta with a shot at making the National Championship Game, this is the year. I look for UGA to take care of business at South Carolina this year, and while Florida may surprise a few teams and be better than expected, they will not challenge the Dawgs for the SEC East. Bama over Georgia 27-17 in Atlanta, and returns to the National Championship game.
Not too long ago we weren’t sure if the Big 12 was going to survive. They had already lost Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac 12. Then when Texas A&M and Missouri jumped ship to the SEC, with only 8 teams remaining, it looked like the league was about to fold, with rumors of several teams joining the Pac 12 to make a super 16 team league. But at the last moment there was a revival, and with West Virginia and TCU added, this conference remains a juggernaut. Oklahoma is the powerhouse and most talented team, but with games against K-State, Oklahoma State, Texas and road games at West Virginia and TCU, not to mention a home game vs Notre Dame, if Oklahoma can escape unscathed, they will be headed to Miami for the National Championship game. But there is a lot of talent in the conference. West Virginia has a high powered offense, Texas should bounce back and be a top 10 team, and TCU finally gets a chance to prove itself in a major conference. Any of those teams could make a run like Oklahoma State did last year and put itself in the National Championship discussion. I will stick with Sooners running the table here though, with the game at West Virginia being one of the must watch games of the season.
While most of the offseason talk around this conference centered around the happenings at Penn State, there are a lot of great teams that still remain in this conference. While all of the preseason hype this year is around the SEC and their string of 6 straight National Championships, and USC and Barkley, and the Sooners and deep Big 12, the Big Ten conference may not have a top 5 preseason ranked team, but they have a handful of good ones. Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska all have the talent to get in the National Championship discussion. If the Big 10 is going to get some respect, Michigan needs to come up big or at least respectful vs Bama opening weekend, and Michigan State needs to easily handle Boise State. Those are 2 major non-conference games to start the season. Overall I see this as a strong conference, but no team clearly dominates the field, so there will be a lot of teams beating up on each other, and several upsets as well. I will give the edge to Wisconsin with their biggest games down the stretch vs Ohio State and Michigan at home. I see Nebraska winning a 3 team tiebreak to face the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game, but Michigan State will get the 2nd BCS bid with a higher rating in the polls. Wisconsin over Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship game, 24-17.
With Andrew Luck gone to the NFL, Stanford will no longer be much of a factor this season, and while a few teams had looked to be on the rise, this year really not much to talk about other than USC vs Oregon. They match up on November 3rd at USC. Look for both teams to be unbeaten here, and the Trojans to win this one. But the teams will rematch in the Pac-10 Championship, and while USC will host this game, the Ducks will win a shootout here, 38-35 to advance to the Rose Bowl, and knock USC out of the Championship Game.
All the predictions have Florida State back to old form on top of the ACC. With a weak early schedule, and then getting Clemson at home, I see them coasting until the November 8th matchup in Blacksburg vs the Hokies. Its possible the Seminoles might run the table, especially if Clemson and Virginia Tech don’t put up much of a fight, but with a weak schedule, even an unbeaten season would unlikely put an ACC team in the Championship game. I will predict the Hokies to win the regular season match, but then the Seminoles will win the rematch in the ACC Championship game. FSU 20 Va Tech 17.
Bowl Championship Series Predictions
Rose Bowl Oregon vs Wisconsin : Oregon wins in a high scoring affair, 42-31
Orange Bowl Florida State vs Michigan State : Florida State blows out the Spartans, 38-17
Sugar Bowl Georgia vs USC : Both these teams might be in the Final 4 if it were 2014. USC wins behind a yard 5 TD performance from Barkley, 38-28
Fiesta Bowl Virginia Tech vs West Virginia : West Virginia has another huge bowl game, 31-13
Discover BCS National Championship
Alabama vs Oklahoma : Make it 7 in a row for the SEC, and 3 in 4 years for the Tide. Bama wins a tight one, 27-24.