This week’s gonna be a little different. Normally, I would tell you everything I noticed about Saturday’s action and make stupid predictions for the upcoming weekend. Instead, I’m going to fill this space with even more stupid predictions: I’m going to pick the conference and division winners before most teams have even played three conference opponents. Here I go (in alphabetical order)!
ACC: In the Atlantic division, Clemson and Boston College look like the only contenders. Both teams beat NCState by essentially the same score, so it’s hard to say who is better. BC has to travel to Clemson , so I’ll pick the Tigers.
In the Coastal division, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami all look like possibilities. (GT has two conference losses already with one to UVA, so they are an unlikely candidate.) None of them look that good. Just to be crazy, I’ll go with Virginia. The Atlantic division champion will win the conference anyway.
Big 12: The conference champion is pretty clear: Oklahoma will run the tables in the South and continue towards this year’s installment of “BCS Conundrum”.
Kansas hasn’t played anyone of consequence yet, but they are the only team in the North to take care of business. I’m going with the Jayhawks here, although Nebraska will probably pull it off. (These predictions are getting more and more ridiculous.) The two face off on November 3.
Big East: Connecticut…ha, just kidding. West Virginia will win the conference unless they lose at South Florida this Friday (8 PM ET, ESPN2). They could slip at Rutgers or Cincinnati, but I doubt it. USF has had an early run of success, but I don’t think it will last.
Big Ten: Dang. This looked reasonably easy until Michigan beat Penn State Saturday 14-9. That throws the whole Big Ten picture out of focus. I’m not sure how Wisconsin is still ranked in the top ten, because they look pitiful. Ohio State has looked a little better, and Michigan State has squeaked by mediocre opponents.
Michigan already beat Penn State, so they look like a safe pick. They should be able to coast until November 3, when they go to East Lansing. Then they host Wisconsin (11/10) and travel to the Horseshoe of Buckeye Stadium (11/17). Lloyd Carr could yet save his job.
C-USA: Southern Mississippi or Central Florida could win the East, while Houston or Tulsa could win the West. I bet Houston will win the whole shebang. Not that it means much.
MAC: Buffalo (Bowling Green) for the East, Central Michigan (Ball State) for the West. Central Michigan overall.
MWC: BYU (UNLV). I’m getting tired of evaluating these second-tier conferences.
Pac-10: I’m gonna go against what I know will happen and pick Oregon. They crushed Michigan and took care of their other opponents to date. You probably expected me to pick USC like the rest of the sports media (is it presumptious to place myself in that company?).
Before you pounce all over me like a bunch of things that pounce, take a look at the Trojans’ schedule. They have to travel to Oregon (10/27), California (11/10), and Arizona State (11/22). They are basically unstoppable in the Coliseum, but they don’t fare so well on the road. The Ducks travel to Washington, Arizona, and UCLA. I don’t see any stumbling blocks among that bunch.
SEC: Despite LSU’s offensive struggles against South Carolina, the West is still fairly clear. The Tiger defense will help Les Miles survive Florida (10/6), Kentucky (10/13), Auburn (10/20), Alabama (11/3), and Arkansas (11/23). (Of course, Auburn and Florida are the only teams that will pose a threat to the Tiger offense.)
In the East, Florida just tripped against Ole Miss. The Gators have to go to LSU (10/6), Kentucky (10/20), and Georgia (10/27) back-to-back-to-back. Then they get a week off (play Vanderbilt) before going to South Carolina (11/10). I guess Kentucky could be a dark horse; Woodson went crazy against Louisville and Arkansas, and the Wildcats have a favorable schedule. My guess is Florida will pull it together, though.
Regardless, LSU will win the conference on their way to their national championship embarrassment of USC (can you tell how much faith I have in my Oregon prediction?).
Sun Belt: Troy posted points against Florida and Arkansas and beat Oklahoma State. If they don’t win this conference, something is wrong. Florida Atlantic is the only other team I could offer. Analyzing the Sun Belt feels like such a waste of time, because it is.
WAC: Hawaii is the clear leader here, but Boise State could pull another “Cinderella” season (a cliche that should not be used outside of March Madness, although I just did that). The rest of this conference is trash. I can’t believe Hawaii gets a ranking out of this.
Well, this has been ridiculously long. See you guys next week!