We have reached the approximate middle of the college football season and it truly needs to slow down. While it may be sad the season is moving too quick, I wanted to take time and predict the conference winners for each power five conference and one sleeper. Some conferences have a clear cut favorite but for others the water is murky. Make sure to give us your feedback on who you think wins each conference!
ACC – Pittsburgh: I realize there is a very likely chance this pick comes back to bite me. Pitt has looked good before and then crawled across the finish line. I personally believe this Pitt team is different. They have scored at least 41 points in every game so far this season. Currently they do not face a ranked opponent on their schedule but do have games at Virginia Tech, vs Clemson, vs Miami, and vs North Carolina. I personally believe they could lose one or two of them but with tiebreakers they will advance to the ACC championship game. Wake Forest has looked good so far but Kenny Pickett has been amazing at quarterback. He has thrown 19 touchdowns with only one interception and completing 72% of his passes.
Sleeper: Clemson – Most people are writing Clemson off but a win against Wake Forest and they are right back in the hunt. Clemson has enough talent to find a way into the ACC championship game. Dabo Swinney is a good enough coach to find ways to win when his back is against the wall.
Big 12 – Oklahoma: At halftime of the Texas game, I would have been singing a different tune but with Caleb Williams at the helm, the Sooners should cruise to another Big 12 title. TCU should give them a fight this weekend and a trip to Stillwater against Oklahoma State still looms at the end of the season. Oklahoma’s offense had sputtered under Spencer Rattler but began to look dynamic under Williams. Kennedy Brooks is currently averaging 6.8 yards per carry to help lead the rushing attack. My main concern is the stability at quarterback. We saw Williams play well against Texas, but what happens if he does not play well against TCU, Baylor, or Oklahoma State? Do the Sooners have enough talent to win a defensive game?
Sleeper: Baylor – The Baylor Bears have quietly worked their way to a 5-1 record with the only loss coming on the road to Oklahoma State. Gerry Bohanon has been efficient with the ball throwing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Baylor is currently 15th in passing yards allowed per game with only 175 yards per game.
Big Ten – Ohio State: Is this a homer pick? One could say, but I do have my reasons. CJ Stroud has looked like a different quarterback in his last two games. It could be he is getting more comfortable in the pocket or his shoulder could have been pretty banged up. No matter the issue, he is completing passes in stride and has not thrown an interception in his last two games while throwing for 10 touchdowns. The Buckeyes also have a freshman phenom in TreVeyon Henderson who is averaging a staggering 8.7 yards per carry so far this season. Henderson has 9 rushing touchdowns which puts him tied for fourth in the country. If the Ohio State defense can continue to improve, they should be in line to repeat once again. The Buckeyes have Penn State and Michigan State at home with Michigan on the road and a tricky road game against Nebraska left on the schedule.
Sleeper: Michigan State – Kenneth Walker is the real deal. Walker has rushed for over 900 yards and could be a legitimate Heisman contender this year. Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor are an outstanding wide receiver duo who will give the rest of the Big Ten defense matchup nightmares. Do not be surprise if the Spartans find their way to Indianapolis at the end of the season.
Pac-12 – Oregon: Gun to my head, I’ll take the Ducks but I have almost no confidence in this pick. Oregon beat Ohio State in Columbus but the defense gave up over 600 yards. Anthony Brown is a mediocre quarterback and he might not finish the season as the starter. The Ducks are losing players left and right to injuries which now include starting running back, CJ Verdell. The Ducks have Kayvon Thibodeaux who could be the best defensive player in the country when he is healthy. He has the ability to change games with his pass rushing ability. Oregon has remaining games at UCLA, at Washington, at Utah, and vs Oregon State. I expect the Ducks to drop one game before the end of the season and enter the Pac-12 championship game with a 10-2 record.
Sleeper: The Field (minus Arizona State) – The Pac-12 has two true contenders for the conference championship. Arizona State is the only undefeated team in the conference so I find it hard calling them a sleeper. UCLA and Oregon State are interesting choices and I will be keeping my eye on both programs.
SEC – Alabama: The Crimson Tide have one game remaining against a ranked opponent (11/20 vs Arkansas) which sets them up well to make the SEC Championship. Alabama does travel to face Auburn would is always a tricky matchup but I expect Nick Saban to run the table with their remaining schedule. We saw the Crimson Tide struggle to move the ball at times against Texas A&M which could be expected if they face Georgia in the SEC championship. The reason for picking Alabama to win the SEC is because Saban always seems to find a way to win the conference. Bryce Young is only going to get better as the season goes on and he has been impressive thus far. Jameson Williams is proving to be his go-to guy at receiver. Williams is averaging a staggering 18.9 yards per catch so far this season.
Sleeper: Kentucky – Just win baby. The Wildcats are 6-0 and have a monumental matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. If Mark Stoops and co. can find a way to win, it all but secures a spot in the SEC championship. Kentucky is not winning by large margins as four of their victories have been decided by single digits but the important statistic is they just keep winning.