You have heard the tag line before. Originally associated around Christmas and most recently around the college bowl season. You know the one “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Well for me anything to do with the College Football season is the most wonderful time of the year. And on Thursday night the time has finally arrived. Now as a Notre Dame fan I can tell you that the Irish faithful have waited for weeks and months for this time to arrive. So in the spirit of this wonderful time I will put on my swami hat and summon my psychic ability to give you my 2013 College Football Predictions.
This conference has always been sort of an enigma during the BCS era. The once dominant conference has just 1 National Title since the system was put into place, which came during Florida State’s run of three straight appearances to end the 90’s. Ironically it came against current ACC member Virginia Tech who belonged in the Big East that season. It has twelve seasons since that run by the Seminoles and no ACC member has made the game while in the league. Of course Miami played in the ’01 and ’02 seasons but they were a member of the Big East as well.
ATLANTIC CHAMPION- Clemson
COASTAL CHAMPION- Miami
SURPRISE TEAM- UNC
ACC CHAMPION- CLEMSON: Clemson has always been a great team on paper but somewhere along the line they are tripped up. This year that game will be early against Georgia but the rest of the way will be smooth sailing. Because of the early season loss the final BCS season will not have an ACC member in the final installment as the Tigers and their star QB Tajh Boyd will play in the Orange Bowl.
Of course everyone will probably struggle with the new name for a while but after they get it down this first season should be a lot of fun for college football fans. The name by the way is the American Athletic Conference. And the league will benefit greatly by having future ACC member and SEC killer Louisville as part of the fold this year. But just because people watch for the Cardinals doesn’t mean that is all that will excite.
SURPRISE TEAM- SMU: This will be the team that really takes advantage of their new conference and begins to make some noise I believe. Last year the Mustangs managed a 7 win campaign but another year in June Jones’ system for Garrett Gilbert should put this offense into another gear. Of course avoiding Louisville in Conference play could land them in a BCS bowl if all things gel.
What makes the Big 12 exciting is the fact that there is a lot of unknown within the position that made the league so exciting last year, the QB. Gone are Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Collin Klein, Seth Doege and Wes Lunt but some new faces as well as old will return. On paper I do not see a dominant force that is a lock to take it all the way this season. But the league should not disappoint.
SURPRISE TEAM- BAYLOR
BIG XII CHAMPION- OKLAHOMA STATE
The Cowboys have 15 returning starters and many sites have them penciled in where I do as the Champ of the Big 12. This all hinges on new D-coordinator Glenn Spencer and his ability to field a defense after last year’s team gave up 47.2 points in the Cowboys 5 losses.
Of course this is another conference that fails in basic addition but even more than that they fail at naming their divisions. This will be the last year though of the poorly named Leaders and Legends. Next year they will be East and West and they will be broken down by location.
LEADERS CHAMPION- OHIO STATE
LEGENDS CHAMPION- NEBRASKA
SURPRISE TEAM- NORTHWESTERN
B1G CHAMPION- Base it on schedule, base it on talent, base it on coaching. I really do not see Ohio State not winning this conference. They will take their big game up north to end the season but I do see them playing Buckeye ball on the road and falling to a team they shouldn’t. The three trap games are all on the road and they are against Northwestern October 5th, Purdue November 2nd and Illinois November 16th. Even with my predicted loss look for the Buckeyes to rep the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl.
If you are a football fan may I recommend that you watch as many Pac 12 games as possible this season. The SEC gets all the hype and sure it is well deserved but top to bottom this conference may be the best. By the end of the year the country may see two of these teams play in the BCS for the fourth year in a row.
PAC 12 NORTH CHAMPION- STANFORD
PAC 12 SOUTH CHAMPION- UCLA
SURPRISE TEAM- ARIZONA
PAC 12 CHAMPION- Last year Stanford beat UCLA twice to end the season before beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Now this year’s title game will also take place in Pasadena and Stanford will end up there again. I figure that just like last year the Cardinal will lose a game or two. Look for the tough 3 out of 4 games to end the season to do in the Cardinal. In back to back weeks they play Oregon then at USC the following weekend. Then they get their chance to get revenge on rival Notre Dame after last years goal line stand.
Until someone can knock these guys off the mountain the rest of the country will have to hear the wonderful fans yell things such as “Roll Tide,” or “War Eagle.” While the rest of the land acts shocked that these fans can even spell SEC. Of course I may have a bit of an axe to grind after my team Notre Dame got taught a lesson back in January but as we witnessed in Louisville’s upset of Florida and LSU’s loss to Clemson, the SEC is not unbeatable.
SEC EAST CHAMPION- SOUTH CAROLINA
SEC WEST CHAMPION- ALABAMA
SURPRISE TEAM- OLE MISS
SEC CHAMPION- I would love to say Bama falls far but they have a machine that is humming right now. Next year they will slow down but this year they will win the SEC again. I do see another loss on their resume and this time it stops them from the Title game.
Now let me be straight with you I am a HUGE Notre Dame fan but before you stop reading I am not saying we will win the National Title. Yet! A lot has taken place since January as players have left the program, girlfriends have been proven fake, kids have committed and then de-committed, and we even lost our staring QB. But hey last year had a bit of crazy too. So here we go again. The task of making it to Pasadena will be large and full of trap games. Michigan, Oklahoma, USC and Stanford as well as others block the way to another undefeated season. But Coach Kelly has led teams to high ground and stayed there everywhere he has been so I doubt year 4 will be any different in South Bend. I look for one game to slip up the Irish and after the showing in January and the pre season ranking screw job the Irish will not get the chance to become the champion this year. However they will make lots of noise and cement themselves at the table for years to come.
THE REST- BOISE STATE, FRESNO STATE, BYU, NEVADA, NORTHERN ILLINOIS AND TULSA. All these teams will make some noise this season and maybe find themselves in a BCS tilt if they have luck on their side.
BCS BOWLS (FINAL INSTALLMENT):
Honestly I see about 12 contenders to hoist the crystal ball this January and rather than pick each bowl game for the BCS I will give you my 12 contenders for the BCS Championship.
Now if someone outside of those twelve make it to the title game I will be shocked. These are the best schools out there and maybe a South Carolina wins a big game or Florida pulls a run off but outside of them the BIG 12 champ may make it just by going unbeaten, but they will not have deserved to be there. I could see this being a season to remember with one team left out as an unbeaten or a group of one loss programs adding fuel to the already smoking wood pile that we need 8 not 4 to have the playoff be successful. No matter how it turns out my friends the time has arrived, the most wonderful time of the year.