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Reviewing Our Conference Champion Predictions

Everyone correctly picked at least one playoff team with some correctly predicting three of the four playoff contenders.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Wisconsin vs Penn State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the start of the college football season, 11 STS staff members shared predictions on who’d wear the crown in each Power Five conference. Now it’s time to see if we knew what we were talking about!


Eight of 11 picked the Clemson Tigers to win their second consecutive ACC Championship. The Tigers delivered, continuing their reign over the conference they helped found 60 years ago.

Though only eight picked the Tigers as ACC Champs, 10 of 11 picked Clemson to make the college football playoff. While FSU and Clemson didn’t BOTH make the playoff as four of us picked, the prediction hinted at an openness to a non-conference champion making the playoff if truly deserving. Ohio State ended up being that team, not Florida State or Clemson. Nevertheless, it happened and I’m glad for it.

Big 10

While we did exceptionally well in the ACC, there was the flop of all flops in the Big 10. Eight predicted Ohio State to win the conference. Three of us thought we were being bold mavericks when we picked Michigan. As it turned out, an even bigger surprise team took the crown, as the Penn State Nittany Lions announced their return to relevance and made us go 0/11 in trying to pick the correct Big 10 Champion.

The Big 10 was very good this year with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska all putting together respectable seasons. With the late season decline of Louisville and the SEC only having one team with 9+ wins (Alabama), the Big 10 was arguably the best conference in college football. Now they’ll get a chance to prove it in interesting bowl matchups against teams like: Clemson, FSU, USC, Western Michigan, Tennessee, and Florida.

Big 12

For as poorly as our predictions in the Big 10 went, they couldn’t have gone better in the Big 12. Eight of 11 picked the Oklahoma Sooners to repeat as conference champions. It seems strange and maybe even a little hollow since they didn’t win a conference championship game, but they went undefeated in a true round robin format (they played all nine other conference members) making them the truest of conference champions. If they had beaten Ohio State early in the season, they’d likely be in the playoff.

The three who picked against the Sooners failed in taking TCU, who struggled to 6-6 and will face Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.


The Pac-12 had some of the most interesting divisional races in football this year. Many were on the Washington hype train from the start because of all the talent they had returning and the job Chris Peterson did to rapidly improve the program.

Meanwhile, Christian McCaffrey returned for Stanford making them threat to repeat as champs. UCLA, with Josh Rosen at QB, was supposed to win the South. As it turned out, McCaffrey couldn’t do it all himself and UCLA was among the biggest disappointments in college football.

Utah and Colorado battled it out in the South as USC took itself out of contention early with a poor start to the season. In the north, it came down to the Apple Cup, one of the more underrated in-state rivalries in football.

Of our 11 pickers, four took Stanford, a safe status quo pick. Four others took UCLA, Oregon, or USC. Just three (including myself!) picked the Washington Huskies.


In the SEC, 8/11 saw the glut of starters LSU had returning and the loads of talent leaving Alabama and picked the Bayou Bengals. Well, we were wrong. Alabama hasn’t been stopped, yet.

Overall and Playoff Predictions

STS staff members Calvin Craft and Drew Schneider took home the gold for correctly picking three of the five conference champs (Clemson, Oklahoma, and Alabama).

Every single one of our pickers got at least one playoff team correct. Brian Goodison and John McElhaney each got one (#CalledOut). Six pickers got two playoff teams correct with five getting Clemson and Ohio State and myself getting Clemson and Alabama. Finally, three staff members (Calvin, Drew, and Thomas) hit home runs by picking Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State to all make the playoff.

There are always surprise teams that we don’t see coming. Nobody had Penn State winning the Big 10 or Washington making the playoff, but by in large the season played out somewhat as expected. Pre-season projections proved to hold some merit and a few of us seem to know what we’re doing.

Thank you for reading STS in 2016. We appreciate the voice you give us. We know you’re busy and have loads of options for college football content and we appreciate your reading our work and sharing your opinions in the comments. We look forward to continuing to share with you on the Tigers’ drive to a national championship.