The opening of camp is still a little less than a week away so lets take a look around the country and guess who the various conference champions will be.
Pac 12 Conference
This is the first year of divisional play and a championship game. The site of the championship game will be played at the home of the top seed in the conference. At first glance the North Division looks to be top heavy with the two best teams in the conference (Oregon - Stanford) residing in it. The South Division is more of a free for all with ASU and USC listed as the favorites. Keep an eye on Utah who just may surprise everyone.
Pac 12 North - Oregon
Pac 12 South - Arizona State
Pac 12 Champion - Oregon
Alabama and LSU are my favorites in the SEC West. Auburn graduated quite a bit of talent and is still under continued NCAA scrutiny. In the East Division Georgia looks like the team to beat but never count out Florida even though they are breaking in a new coach. In the end the Crimson Tide return to the SEC championship game and win a berth in the national championship game..
SEC East -Georgia
SEC West - Alabama
SEC Champion - Alabama
Atlantic Coast Conference
This conference isn't exactly the powerhouse that most predicted it to be when it expanded to twelve schools. One of the disappointments has been the play of Miami and Florida State since they joined the conference. Both programs have been down in comparison to past glory years. I think this is the year that both of the aforementioned schools compete for divisional championships. Florida State has the easiest road to the championship game. Miami on the other hand will have to get by always tough Virginia Tech.
ACC Atlantic - Florida State
ACC Coastal - Virginia Tech
ACC Champion - Virginia Tech
Big Ten Conference
Leaders and Legends? Perhaps the worst names for divisions since the NHL went with Patrick Smythe. Wisconsin should be able to take advantage of all the chaos going on in Columbus and win the Leaders Division. Nebraska and Michigan State will fight it out for the Legends.
Big Ten Leaders - Wisconsin
Big Ten Legends - Nebraska
Big Ten Champion - Wisconsin
12 10 Conference
Nebraska and Colorado have moved on to greener pastures. Texas is coming off a season without a bowl game so that leaves Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M as my favorites. Whoever wins in 2012 could be this conferences last champion since Texas seems intent on blowing the entire thing up over the Longhorn Network.
12 10 Champion - Oklahoma
Big East Conference
This is a weak conference that is bereft of a true top 25 team going into the 2011 season. The only thing that keeps this league in the BCS is simple geography...the schools are where the population is. Look for this conference to undergo major restructuring if the Big 12 blows up. In the meantime West Virginia looks like the team to beat in 2011.
Big East Champion - West Virginia
Mountain West Conference
Boise State and TCU look like the immediate front runners to me with Air Force lurking behind them as a possible dark horse. The league lost BYU (Independent) and Utah (Pac 12). They lose TCU to the Big East next season while adding Nevada, Hawaii, and Fresno State.
Mountain West Champion - TCU
Not sure who really cars about this one but after reading some reviews it looks like Steve Largent's alma mater has the most horses going into the season along with perennial mid major toughie ECU.
CUSA East - East Carolina
CUSA West - Tulsa
CUSA Champion - Tulsa
Mid American Conference
The rockets have been tough ever since our old friend Gary Pinkel was running the program. Things haven't changed much and the Rockets remain a power in this conference.
MAC East - Ohio
MAC West - Toledo
MAC Champion - Toledo
Western Athletic Conference
This conference was the big loser during the last round of expansion. Hawaii, Nevada, and Fresno State play one final year before moving on to the MWC. Just so happens that those three schools are the pick-em favorites. I am going with Pat Hill and Fresno using that old gut feel.
Western Athletic Champion -Fresno State
I don't know much or anything about this conference but I do know that Troy wins it about every season. Why should this year be any different?
Sun Belt Conference Champions - Troy