Take ‘em to the bank…
ACC: Miami over Boston College
The problems in Chapel Hill have thrown this league into upheaval. I very nearly junked my initial league forecast after seeing how teams’ schedules changed with the Tar Heels no longer looking so formidable. In the end, though, I stuck with my original picks. B.C. has the D and schedule to outlast Florida State, while the Hurricanes should get a tiebreaking head-to-head win against Virginia Tech at Margaritaville Stadium.
Big East: Connecticut
UConn has the dream schedule this season, drawing Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Cincinnati in Storrs.
Big Ten: Iowa
I covered this one previously. Technically, I’m betting on a three-way tie, with the three top dogs all knocking each other off.
Big 12: Oklahoma over Nebraska
The Sooners and Longhorns are awfully close. The unknowns surrounding Texas’ offense are nudging me to Oklahoma. NU benefits from a very weak North division and will probably be in the hunt for a bid to the national title game.
C-USA: Houston over Central Florida
Tulsa could give Houston a run for its money, but these Cougars are experienced. UCF… Why not?
Pac-10: USC (*Oregon to receive BCS bid)
Sanctions or not, USC still has the edge on every team in the Pac-10 in terms of talent. The rest of the league is a crapshoot, so I’ll ride with the Ducks because they get Arizona in Eugene.
SEC: Alabama over Florida
This will make three years in a row that the Crimson Tide and Gators will square off for the conference crown. Although I suspect both of these squads will be out of the national title hunt at this point, they will bear that wistful title of “the team playing the best football in the country” at the end of season.
The only potential slip-up for the Horned Frogs in conference play comes Nov. 6, as TCU travels to Utah. Otherwise, looks like smooth sailing for Gary Patterson’s team.
WAC: Boise St.
MAC: Temple over N. Illinois
Temple strikes me as a no-brainer in the MAC East in what should be Al Golden’s final season in Philly. I could see the Owls losing their regular season clash with NIU in October and then exacting some revenge in the conference championship game.
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee St.
The bizarre legal situation involving MTSU’s dangerous quarterback Dwight Dasher obviously muddies the waters here. Still, the Blue Raiders almost get the title by default. They host Troy in a Tuesday night game, and the Trojans have some big holes to fill on both sides of the ball. (Including aspiring MC Josh Jarboe.)
Heisman Trophy: Terrelle Pryor
If this year goes down like I think it will, it would be a great chance for the voters to tell convention to kiss their collective asses. (If you have a say and are so inclined, the People’s Choice for Heisman merits watching this year.)
I have to assume that’s asking too much, though. Pryor will hoist the hardware in December, because he’s the one who fits the pre-conceived idea of a Heisman winner.
National Championship: Ohio State over TCU
Should this national championship game come to pass, count on plenty of ESPN and BCS executives committing harakiri around a Brad Edwards spreadsheet. The casual fan watching this snoozer will probably want to join them by about the third minute of the second quarter.
We couldn’t reach such a brutal resolution without a regular season rife with chaos. I envision this season ending up much like 2007 – a whole mess of solid teams in the automatic-bid conferences with two losses. The Buckeyes, however, will somehow sneak through the back door after sustaining just one loss to Wisconsin.
What about the Horned Frogs? Well, TCU is starting the season high enough in the polls to work its way into the top two in the final BCS standings. By the end of the year, a pristine record should bowl over the voters.
As for the game itself, the Buckeyes probably have a talent edge at every single position. TCU coach Gary Patterson is one of the best around, but outscheming OSU won’t take his team to the title.