The 2015 College Football season is almost underway and man am I excited, as I am sure you all are as well! Just last year in 2014, we had a dose of this new final four thing and overall it was not that bad. I still think six teams are the perfect number with #1 and #2 getting a BYE. Just imagine last year getting to see a TCU/Ohio State match-up, just saying. But hey, who am I? Maybe I should have you all petition to get me on the competition committee? Okay, enough rambling, let us all take a look at the upcoming season and see what we got brewing.
So here we are, 2015 is just about to kickoff and anyone and everyone are making their preseason national champion picks. Just like every year over the last decade or so, the usual suspects are the names being thrown around. Teams like Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and the list goes on, but as always, there is always a highly thought of team that falls well short of expectations and then there is the team that makes a run out of nowhere that many did not see coming. According to Vegas, right now, the top ten favorites to win the national title are in this order from most favorite to least:
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
Well, maybe I was wrong earlier about all the "usual suspects." Florida State, after losing Jameis Winston and a few other key players do not even crack Vegas' top ten favored teams, while Oregon is all the way down to number eight. Remember though, in week seven last year, Vegas had the Georgia Bulldogs as their favorite to win it all and they ended the season at 9-3 and did not even participate in the SEC Title Game after a let down loss to Florida to seal their fate in the SEC East race. Then a late season heartbreaking loss to their instate rival, Georgia Tech, left the "Dawgs" at 9-3. Point is, do not always think Vegas knows what will happen. Let me breakdown the conferences that are most likely to have their teams make the final four and try to make an educated guess on who will win it all.
First off, let us go ahead and breakdown last year's national champion, THE Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State was a shock to myself. After getting dominated at home by Virginia Tech, I thought their season was over. Not only that, but having to play their last few games with the third string quarterback, Cardale Jones, I really thought the Buckeyes were in deep trouble, especially in the Big Ten title game. As we know, Jones in all honesty became the best quarterback that Ohio State had seen all season and he led them to wins over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title Game, Alabama in the National SemiFinal, and of course Oregon in the National Title Game. Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are again picked to win the Big Ten Title, and rightly so. Not taking anything away from what they did last season, but take a look at the schedule. Not just Ohio State's 2014 schedule, but look at what they have coming up in 2015: They open up at Virginia Tech which to me is not as much of a challenge as people are making it out to be. After that they do not face a legit opponent until they travel to Indiana on October 3rd, but Indiana has lost all of it's offensive weapons so even then, I see a two touchdown win by the Buckeyes. To be completely honest, I only see two, well one and a half potential losses for Ohio State in 2015. Michigan State and Michigan. The only reason I say Michigan is due to the hype around Jim Harbaugh and just maybe he will have the Wolverines up for the challenge. To be completely honest, there is not much more detail to go into in the Big Ten. Can someone slow down Ohio State? I do not think so. I am not an Ohio State fan, at all, but facts are facts....Urban Meyer has these guys heads and shoulders above the rest of the conference. Big Ten Champs: OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.
Now to the SEC....the greatest conference in the country some may argue. Five years ago, I would agree and yeah, I still think top to bottom the SEC is still the best, but I think the Big Ten and Pac 12 have caught them as far as the top tier teams are concerned. This season is a bit interesting in the SEC. Bama is picked to win the SEC by experts, but Auburn is picked to win the SEC-West. They do realize this is absolutely impossible, right? Anyhow, the SEC West has been the more dominant side of the conference in the last few years, well, at least ever since Tim Tebow left Florida. In the west, there are three (and some even say four) potential SEC Champs. Alabama, Auburn, and LSU are the three that many say, but Ole Miss is also getting some love as well. I am not there yet, but Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas are strong enough to make things interesting for the three teams that are considered to be the heavy faves. Both Auburn and Alabama also have to play Georgia, who is the clear cut favorite in the SEC East, so that in itself could get interesting. On the east side, of course, I have already mentioned that Georgia is the favorite but there are rumblings that people think the Tennessee Volunteers and Florida Gators have something to say about that. Oh, and lets not forget that Georgia has been favored the two years prior only to stumble in games they should have won and let Missouri take home the SEC East title. Will this season be any different? Georgia has a very tough in conference schedule with Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina all on their plate. Yeah, South Carolina... for some reason they have been a thorn in the side of Georgia ever since Steve Spurrier took over the reigns in Columbia. Wow, my SEC prediction: This is tough. I say somehow, someway, Georgia finds a way to get through the SEC East and Alabama is the winner of the west based on a tie breaker. I like Alabama to beat Georgia in a rematch in the SEC Title Game. The only catch is, I think quite possibly, this year's SEC Champ may have two losses and that could make for an interesting decision for who makes this year's Final Four.
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The ACC will be up for grabs this season, as Florida State has lost a decent amount of its fire power. As we speak, the Coastal Division appears to be wide open like always. Georgia Tech is primed to repeat, but North Carolina, Miami, and Pittsburgh all think they have a shot to sneak into the ACC Title game as well. The Atlantic Division may finally go to someone besides the Florida State Seminoles. Clemson, with second year quarterback, Deshaun Watson believes they are the favorite to win the division, and I somewhat agree with this. I see a very wide open ACC this season, and just like the SEC, I would not be completely stunned to see a two loss ACC Champion. I am predicting a Clemson/Georgia Tech ACC Title game with the Clemson Tigers winning it in a shootout.
The Big 12 is a mystery to me. Talk about a conference that has a complete power shift! I remember the days of Oklahoma and Texas battling it out and everyone else just along for the ride. Well, now things just are not the same. Just like last season, the top two preseason teams appear to be TCU and Baylor, with Oklahoma sitting in 3rd. Only TCU and Baylor received any first place votes with the Horned Frogs getting 32 of the picks, and Baylor taking 10 of the top votes. The rest of the conference appears to just be playing for third place, but hey, this is college football, you never know! An injury here or there, and a team pulling off one big upset could change the landscape of any conference, and potentially the nation. With that said, I do believe these predictions are spot on. Oklahoma is building their way back to the top, but without having a sure fire starting quarterback, it will be tough with teams like Baylor and TCU who can put up points in a big way. There really is not much detail to get into here. I feel TCU and Baylor will play in their season finale and the winner of that game will take home the conference title, but I will say that you never count out a team like Kansas State, so keep a rather close eye on them. With that said, I think this season is a little different. I am taking Baylor to win the Big 12 and potentially lock down one of those Final Four spots.
Finally, the last of the "power five" conferences, the Pac-12. This conference is always a lot of fun because they hate playing defense. Well, I say that, but Oregon actually was not too bad on the defensive side of the ball, which is why they nearly won the national title. Coming into 2015, Oregon and USC are highly respected. Oregon will have the challenge of replacing Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota in 2015, but this has not kept the Ducks from being the favorite to win the North Division. Oregon will look to Eastern Washington transfer quarterback, Vernon Adams, to take the reigns from the start. Adams does not have any FBS experience and he will need to get over that pretty quick due to the Ducks taking on Michigan State very early in the season. Also in the North Division is Stanford. Up until the 2014 season, they were a legit contender not only for the division, but for the Pac-12 conference title. Stanford could return to a contender if they continue to play great defense and get more production from their offense, mainly quarterback, Kevin Hogan. On the southern side of the conference, it appears the USC is trying to regain national prominence being considered the favorite by most pundits across the nation. This division should be a lot of fun due to it being a three and even potentially a four team race. USC, Arizona State, UCLA, and Arizona all believe they can make a run at this years division, and Pac-12 conference championship. I see this conference being a shootout to the very end. I for one am not totally ready to say USC is back, so I will have some fun this pick: Oregon will defeat UCLA for the Pac-12 title and make a return to the Final Four!
There you have all of my conference picks. And yes, I have picked five conference champions, and there are only four spots, which in my opinion is a travesty but anyhow, we cannot control that. So, my final four this season is going to be a bit different than what most would expect:
1) Ohio State
National Semi Final: Ohio State over Baylor
National Semi Final: Alabama over Oregon
2016 National Championship Matchup: Alabama over Ohio State (The best paying college football futures odds can be found at 5Dimes Sportsbook)
2015 National Champions: Alabama Crimson Tide
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