Through some teamwork with my good friend Gamecockrock, we dove into the realm of college football with our predictions for the upcoming 2011-12 season. I will be featuring Conference and Bowl predictions in this special section. I am going to break these predictions into two parts. Part I (which is this post) will feature predictions for each conference. Part II will feature bowl game predictions. It is without a doubt very difficult to foresee what will happen this season as it is every season. College football is an ever changing landscape in which every little detail has to be examined or you will miss something. These predictions are based on mine and Gamecockrocks' insight and research into each team. No personal bias will be included in this section by myself or Gamecockrock. It is what we believe will truly happen this upcoming season. Now keep in mind that myself and Gamecockrock differed in some of our views. I hope you enjoy...
Let's start off with conference predictions. In each conference, I will preview each conference winner and possible darkhorses. Here we go...
ACC: As of late, the ACC has been a wide open race for the crown. Parity has ruled this conference the past couple of seasons. As we know, Virginia Tech has won 3 of the past 4 ACC titles and appears to have a foothold on this conference. But that could very well change this season with VT breaking in a new quarterback and running back after losing three of their best players in Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, and Darren Evans. Florida State appears to be on the upswing after pulling in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. The 'Noles and Jimbo Fisher appear poised and ready to reclaim their position amongst the ACC elite. We believe the ACC Atlantic Division will be a 3-way race between Florida State, Clemson, and Boston College. The Coastal will also be a 3-way race between Virginia Tech, Miami, and UNC. We believe the ACC Championship Game will be FSU v. UNC. Winner: Florida State
Big East: This conference appears to be another wide open race. This could very well be a 3-way race between West Virginia, South Florida, and Louisville. The traditional power in this conference has been WVU and I just don't see that changing anytime soon. But they will no doubt have some competition as this could be WVU's weakest team to date. South Florida will make a strong push for the title, but I believe WVU will prevail in a close, heated race. Winner: West Virginia
Big 10 (12): The new look Big 10 with the addition of Nebraska looks to be another heated race for the crown. Ohio State has had a stranglehold on this conference as of late, but I believe that is coming to an end with all drama and changes that have been made at Ohio State. Wisconsin appears poised to take over with their power running game and make a statement. Myself and Gamecockrock believe this conference will boil down to two teams; Wisconsin and Michigan State. Those two teams will meet in the inaugural championship game with the Badgers taking the title. I believe the darkhorse in this conference will be Penn State. The Nittany Lions will be worth keeping an eye on as they return key starters. Winner: Wisconsin
Big 12 (10): In a whittled down, new look Big 12, this conference will still feature traditional powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas. Myself and Gamecockrock believe this conference will be decided between 3 teams; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M. Oklahoma has received a lot of pre-season hype and deservedly so as they return 17 starters. The only question mark is at the running back position as they will be breaking in a new back with the loss of DeMarco Murray. It is up to new running back Roy Finch to step up and prove his worth. This Sooners team can climb new heights and possibly reach the National Championship Game if Finch does enough to take the pressure off of Landry Jones and his crop of stand out wide receivers. Winner: Oklahoma
C-USA: Myself and Gamecockrock believe this conference race will come down to East Carolina and Houston, but look out for darkhorses Southern Miss. East Carolina returns two of their star players while Houston returns their star quarterback Case Keenum. It should make for an interesting conference championship game. Winner: East Carolina
MAC: This conference race usually comes down to two teams; Northern Illinois and Miami (OH). Temple will no doubt take a step back with the loss of Al Golden Miami (FL). Winner: Northern Illinois
MWC: The Mountain West conference said goodbye to the Utah Utes while welcoming a new team in the Boise State Broncos. With TCU not departing for the Big East until next year, this conference looks to come down to the winner of the Boise State v. TCU game. It will be an interesting year for this conference with two BCS busters. TCU will be hurting with the loss of starting quarterback Andy Dalton while Boise State looks forward to another year with Kellen Moore as their starting quarterback. Winner: Boise State
PAC-12: The new look PAC-10 gave myself and Gamecockrock a bit of trouble. Putting rising powers Oregon and Stanford in the same division was not a smart move on this conference's part. The North Division will no doubt be the dominant force in the PAC-12. We believe the PAC-12 will be decided by the winner of the Oregon v. Stanford matchup. Those two teams are clearly the class of the PAC-12 this season. The conference championship game will be Stanford v. Arizona. Winner: Stanford
SEC: This conference has been dominant on the college football landscape as of late by winning six straight national titles. The East Division will come down to 3 teams; South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The West will be a power struggle between Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas. The winner of the South Carolina v. UGA could very well decide the winner of the East, so that will be an early and crucial contest between those two. We believe South Carolina will represent the East while Alabama represents the West. This is where myself and Gamecockrock differ in our views. Gamecockrock (A Gamecock fan by the way if you haven't figured that out by now, lol) believes the Gamecocks will hoist the SEC Championship trophy with the talent returning on their offense (Garcia, Lattimore, and Jeffery) while I believe Alabama will take the title. Winner: Alabama
WAC: With the loss of Boise State to the MWC, this conference will no doubt be weaker. We believed the team poised to take over this conference is Hawaii. The darkhorse in this conference will be Fresno State as long as Pat Hill continues to coach there. Winner: Hawaii
Sun Belt: Myself and Gamecockrock believe the title for the Sun Belt is Troy's to lose. Scheduling big-name programs helps for the Trojans. Winner: Troy
I will release Part II (Bowl Game Predictions) tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed my post. Go Tigers!!!