TheSportsNotebook has been on a boot camp run of college football coverage, having previewed all ten conferences and the major independents. With the season set to start on Thursday night, it’s time to summarize it all and make closing arguments.
Below are the links to the previews for each conference, with TheSportsNotebook’s pick to win each league noted. We’ll then move on to predicting how the BCS landscape will shake out.
SEC: South Carolina
Big 12: Texas
Big Ten: Ohio State
American Athletic: Louisville
Mountain West: San Diego State
Sun Belt: UL-Monroe
MAC: Bowling Green
Conference USA: Rice
There are then four-at large spots for the BCS bowl games. The choices for those spots start with Alabama, Notre Dame and Oregon, whom I see as absolute locks. The fourth spot is a little more open, and will come down to a race between Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Florida State.
Note that this is also a berth that could be grabbed by one the latter four non-automatic conferences, if they qualify. But I’m leaning Wisconsin for the final nod. In part because I think they’re going to close the season strong with eight straight wins to finish 10-2. And in part because I’m a Badger fan, fired up to go to Camp Randall for Saturday’s season opener, and if it’s close, I’m picking them.
FINAL BCS BOWL PREDICTIONS
A previous post noted a possibility where Alabama goes 12-0 and loses the SEC Championship Game, yet still finishes in the top two in the BCS rankings. I’m predicting that comes to pass.
There is no logic to having Alabama-South Carolina play for the conference title on December 7 in Atlanta and then rematch on January 6 in Pasadena for the national championship. But the fact something is illogical won’t stop it from happening.
That prediction can either be seen as a cop-out, or going to the other extreme and trying to be too precise. Lest I be vulnerable to such accusations, let me make clear that I consider Stanford the best team on the non-SEC side of the bracket, with Ohio State second and Notre Dame third. I’d give Texas a very outside shot at making it to Pasadena.
The rest of the bowls are slotted with the Big Ten and Pac-12 champs meeting in the Rose, the ACC going to the Orange, the SEC going Sugar and the Big 12 going to the Fiesta. The “draft order” for filling out the matchups is Orange-Sugar-Fiesta, although that is superseded by the right of bowls to take a “replacement team” if they lose their natural conference champ to the BCS title game.
That means the Sugar, who would lose South Carolina, would pick first, and then the draft order kicks in. Here’s how I would project those matchups shaking out…
BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: South Carolina-Alabama
Rose: Ohio State-Stanford
Sugar: Notre Dame-Oregon
And to win the whole thing? I’ll take Alabama. Under my scenario, beating the Tide—or any good team for that matter—twice in a month is too challenging. This would give Alabama three straight national championships and two of them done the cheap way, including their ridiculous rematch opportunity against LSU after the 2011 season. I should note I’m also picking Alabama because they might just go 14-0 and leave no doubt about it either.