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2014 College Football Preview: Predicting the Conference Standings

College Football Teams Will Allegedly Try And Win This Trophy In 2014. My Predictions For Who Does That Are Below.
College Football Teams Will Allegedly Try And Win This Trophy In 2014. My Predictions For Who Does That Are Below.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Guess what! College football starts soon! Like, tomorrow. But it's never too late for some more season preview material.

SEC

West:

1. Alabama

2. Auburn

3. LSU

4. Mississippi

5. Mississippi State

6. Texas A&M

7. Arkansas

East:

1. Georgia

2. Florida

3. South Carolina

4. Missouri

5. Tennessee

6. Kentucky

7. Vanderbilt

Need to Know: Keep an eye on Florida to be this year's surprise team from the nation's best conference. Four win seasons don't exactly sit well with the players and coaches down there, and you can expect them to bounce back in a big way. They'll make a major bowl game if they pull an upset against Alabama, Georgia, or Florida State.

Big Ten

East:

1. Michigan State

2. Ohio State

3. Michigan

4. Maryland

5. Indiana

6. Penn State

7. Rutgers

West:

1. Northwestern

2. Wisconsin

3. Iowa

4. Nebraska

5. Illinois

6. Minnesota

7. Purdue

Need to know: While the loss of quarterback Braxton Miller severely hinders Ohio State's chances of making the College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes are still very talented and their schedule sets up nicely. The east division will come down to their game at Michigan State on November 8. Over in the west, I think this is the year Northwestern finally breaks through. Eight of its starters on the offensive side of the ball will be seniors and both Wisconsin and Michigan have to travel to Evanston.

ACC

Atlantic:

1. Florida State

2. Clemson

3. Syracuse

4. Louisville

5. NC State

6. Wake Forest

7. Boston College

Coastal:

1. North Carolina

2. Virginia Tech

3. Pittsburgh

4. Miami (Florida)

5. Georgia Tech

6. Duke

7. Virginia

Need to Know: Yes, Florida State and North Carolina should win their respective divisions, but this league is deeper and more intriguing than it has been in recent years. Any team from Clemson, to Pittsburgh, to Syracuse has the talent to compete for the conference title. That being said, however, it's tough to pick against Jameis Winston and company.

Pac-12

South:

1. UCLA

2. Arizona

3. USC

4. Arizona State

5. Colorado

6. Utah

North:

1. Oregon

2. Washington

3. Stanford

4. Oregon State

5. Washington State

6. California

Need to Know: While UCLA and Oregon can out-talent anyone in the conference, watch out for teams like Arizona and Washington to make some noise. Games featuring those four teams will be must-see television and will decide how many, if any, teams from the Pac-12 make the four team playoff come January.

Big 12

1. Oklahoma

2. Texas

3. Baylor

4. TCU

5. Kansas State

6. Oklahoma State

7. Texas Tech

8. Iowa State

9. West Virginia

10. Kansas

Need to Know: I love what Charlie Strong has done in his first few months in Austin and think that this Texas team will surprise a lot of people in his opening season. The offense is loaded with David Ash at quarterback and Jaxon Shipley at wide receiver, and what should be a much-improved defense returns eight starters. Unfortunately, the Longhorns two toughest games will be played away from home, which could hurt their chances of finishing in the top four.

Independents

1. Notre Dame

2. BYU

3. Navy

4. Army

Need to Know: This Notre Dame team isn't as talented as the one that went to the national championship two years ago, but I wouldn't be shocked if it made a lot of noise this season. The only problem is it might face the toughest schedule in the nation. The Fighting Irish will play Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Northwestern, and Louisville in South Bend in addition to games against Syracuse, Florida State, Arizona State, and USC away from home. That is insane.

AAC

1. UCF

2. Cincinnati

3. Houston

4. East Carolina

5. Memphis

6. Tulsa

7. SMU

8. Tulane

9. South Florida

10. Connecticut

11. Temple

Need to Know: This is going to be one crazy year in this ever-evolving conference. UCF and Cincinnati could very well both go 8-0 in league play and they will not play each other because of a lack of conference championship game. The key for one of them to make a national title run, however, will be the four out of conference games. Both will have to run the table to get a look from the selection committee.

Mountain West

Mountain:

1. Boise State

2. Utah State

3. Air Force

4. Colorado State

5. Wyoming

6. New Mexico

West:

1. Fresno State

2. San Diego State

3. San Jose State

4. Nevada

5. Hawaii

6. UNLV

Need to Know: Boise State might be the best team this year with a first-year head coach. The offense will run circles around over-matched MWC defenses, and if it is able to upset Mississippi on the first Thursday of the season, there is a great chance the Broncos run the table. The question is if they will impress enough to finish the year in the top four.

MAC

West:

1. Northern Illinois

2. Toledo

3. Central Michigan

4. Ball State

5. Western Michigan

6. Eastern Michigan

East:

1. Akron

2. Bowling Green

3. Ohio

4. Buffalo

5. Miami (Ohio)

6. Kent State

7. Massachusetts

Need to Know: Some of the most exciting football you'll watch all week will often come from places like DeKalb or Mt. Pleasant on a Tuesday night in October. That won't change this year. I don't see any team making a high profile bowl game come the holiday season, but there will be many points scored night in and night out.

C-USA

East:

1. Marshall

2. Middle Tennessee

3. Florida Atlantic

4. Western Kentucky

5. Old Dominion

6. UAB

7. Florida International

West:

1. UTSA

2. North Texas

3. Louisiana Tech

4. Rice

5. Southern Miss

6. UTEP

Need to Know: The C-USA is interesting because both Marshall and UTSA could very well be playoff busters this season, but the style of play and fact that it might be impossible to view any game played by a member of this league makes it tough to get excited about. The Thundering Herd are a sexy pick to go 13-0 but I'm calling for a week four upset at Akron to crush those dreams. #MACtion.

Sun Belt

1. Louisiana

2. South Alabama

3. Louisiana-Monroe

4. Arkansas State

5. Troy

6. Texas State

7. Georgia Southern

8. Idaho

9. New Mexico State

10. Appalachian State

11. Georgia State

Need to Know: I have liked this Louisiana team for a few years now and the Ragin' Cajuns should definitely improve on their nine-win season a year ago. If not for back-to-back road games against Mississippi and Boise State, a 12-0 campaign doesn't seem too far-fetched. In conference play, a November 1 date with South Alabama should decide who takes home the Sun Belt crown.