Projected final top 10 and pre-season top 15

While today is the initiation of the 2013 college football season, I am looking ahead here with how I foresee the final season rankings looking leading into the bowl season. Below is my post-season top 10, which predicts Stanford and Texas to play in the BCS National Championship game. Yes, that means that I think Alabama is going to drop a game at some point during the season. Conventional logic tells you that they’re the best team in the nation, but it also says that winning national titles three years straight is very hard to do, and playing in the SEC, they are a beatable team despite their lighter schedule, Texas A&M did it last year.

Stanford is a great team. If they get past Oregon and Notre Dame, which they are very capable of doing, the rest of the schedule is manageable. On the other hand, Texas is a team that I see similar to Notre Dame of last year — great defense, great offensive line, and a quarterback who while needs improvement, can do enough. Oklahoma, TCU, and Oklahoma State will give them a chance to showcase their talent, win big games and earn their spot in the title game as an undefeated over a one-loss Alabama.

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Projecting the ACC

The ACC brings in two new members this year – Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Both schools come in with fairly good teams from last year, but may be in store for a rude awakening this year. While the Atlantic division is going to come down to the clearly two best teams in the conference – Florida State and Clemson – the Coastal division is going to be fun to watch as there are four legitimate teams who could finish first. Miami is receiving a lot of favor, and Al Golden is a fine coach who is doing well with this program, but I like what Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech present as a whole team more.

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Projecting the Big 12

The Big 12 just doesn’t quite feel complete when Texas isn’t at the top, no offense to the rest of the conference, and this year the Longhorns should be back in mix. Last year we saw the emergence of Kansas State under quarterback Colin Klein which was the surprise of the league. Early on, it looked like West Virginia was going to be unstoppable under their own QB Geno Smith, but as they got into conference play we saw that the previous year’s Big East champions had a lot to prove in the Big 12, a conference which does very well in non-conference games. This year the conference championship appears to be between Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, but will there be another team who breaks out unexpectedly?

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Projecting the Pac 12

The Pac 12 has been mostly about Oregon that past several years. Before that it was USC. But it seems that Stanford is announcing that they are here to stay, and people are starting to finally take notice. Now, the middle road of the Pac 12 also seems to be arriving. UCLA, Arizona State, and Oregon State are all on the rise and look for them to give the top three a lot of trouble this year.

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The Big Ten brings a little excitement this year to the college football picture as many are projecting Ohio State to make it to the national title game in what is head coach Urban Meyer’s second year at the helm, traditionally a good year for him. Northwestern is also entering the season on a high note after a 10 win season in 2012, look for them to compete for the No. 1 spot in the crowded Legends division. In the Leaders, Wisconsin has new head coach Gary Andersen — a great replacement for Bret Bielema, and Penn State proved they may not be as ruined as believed, accomplishing an 8-4 season in head coach Bill O’Brien’s first year.

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Picking the Conferences: SEC

With another exciting season of college football set to begin in two weeks, I am completing all of my preseason research and will be making my conference projections for all to come back to in January and laugh at. I decided to start with the conference that is unanimously agreed upon as the best, the SEC. While it looks like it’s going to be another dominating season for the boys down south, there are still many questions to be answered and room for teams to slip up.As usual, the SEC looks to be very top heavy this year. It will be interesting to follow some of the middling teams such as Mississippi, Auburn, and Arkansas to see how they improve this year and in the bowl season, where the conference hasn’t always been as successful, notwithstanding national title games.

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