Ere we get to the build-up to the 2011 college football season, we must first close out the 2010 campaign. This I began doing yesterday, when I revisited and reviewed my general preseason predictions from last summer, and I now continue that exercise by looking back at my specific conference championship forecasts, which went as follows:
Sun Belt Conference: Middle Tennessee State. I’ll be pulling for Louisiana-Lafayette to win the league title, of course, so that we can point to the Ragin’ Cajuns when touting our strength of schedule (that’s a joke, folks), but I like the Blue Raiders to capture their first outright Sun Belt championship. I’m already looking forward to hearing the announcers covering the New Orleans Bowl speculate about the exact identity of MTSU’s costumed sideline mascot.
Really, I could probably tell you I got this one right, and you’d never be any the wiser, would you? Unfortunately, my honesty gets the better of me, so I must confess that Florida International and Troy shared the conference crown.
Mid-American Conference: Temple. After an offseason as topsy-turvy as this one has been, it’s only fitting that I perpetuate the head-slapping wackiness of it all by picking the Owls to win a conference championship.
The correct answer was Miami (Ohio). Wait, that can’t be right, can it? Ah, the heck with it; I’m not looking it up again to make sure.
Conference USA: Houston. The Cougars have something to play for this year, as the winner of this league will get not only an automatic bid to the Liberty Bowl, but also an automatic invitation to join the Mountain West. Houston should have no problem earning the opportunity to step up in weight class by joining what will become the next automatically-qualifying BCS conference.
The league championship instead went to Central Florida. You may remember the Knights.
Western Athletic Conference: BYU. (No, wait, they’re not joining now, are they? Sorry; my bad.) Boise State. The Broncos are the class of the league by leaps and bounds.
Technically, I was only partially right about this one, as the Broncos shared the WAC championship with Hawaii and Nevada.
Mountain West Conference: Boise State. (No, wait, they haven’t joined yet, have they? Sorry; my bad.) TCU. The Horned Frogs have a shot at running the table and earning a second straight BCS bowl invitation.
I could not have been more completely correct about this prediction.
Big East Conference: Pittsburgh. I have a special level of disdain for the Panthers---Georgia has a frustrating history with Pitt---and I have little inclination to repose faith in Dave Wannstedt, but Brian Kelly, Jim Leavitt, and Rich Rodriguez all are gone from what was never a deep league, putting the Panthers in a position to finish atop the conference.
Well, I sort of got this one right. Pittsburgh was one of three teams that finished in a tie atop the Big East standings, but the BCS bowl bid went to Connecticut.
Atlantic Coast Conference: VPI. Rarely will a prognosticator go wrong by anointing the Hokies as the ACC frontrunners. I predict Virginia Tech will beat Clemson in the conference championship game, unless, of course, Virginia Tech and Clemson play in the same division, in which case I retract that portion of the forecast.
The Country Gentlemen did not make it to whatever city hosts the ACC Championship Game as the representatives of whichever division it is in which the Tigers play, but the Hokies were, in fact, the conference champs.
Pacific-10 Conference: Utah. (No, wait, they haven’t joined yet, have they? Sorry; my bad.) Oregon. Even with all the upheaval, the Ducks appear solid and they are the team in the best position to take advantage of the end of Southern California’s hegemony.
Once again, I nailed this one.
Big Ten Conference: Nebraska. (No, wait, they haven’t joined yet, have they? Sorry; my bad.) Ohio State. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about moving The Game, The Game hasn’t so much been The Game lately. Whatever their woes on the biggest of stages, the Buckeyes own Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten.
This one is in the eye of the beholder. The Buckeyes won it on the field, but they have vacated it in the record book. I’ll leave it to you to judge for yourself whether this one counts.
Big 12 Conference: N/A. (No, wait, they haven’t disbanded yet, have they? Sorry; my bad.) Texas. I ain’t buying Oklahoma, so that means the Big 12 winner will be either the Longhorns or a team from the North. Texas it is, then.
I should’ve bought Oklahoma, since the Sooners wound up winning the conference title and the Longhorns limped to a losing record.
Southeastern Conference: Georgia, of course! Sadly, not really. Actually, Florida. I know I ranked the Crimson Tide higher than the Gators, but I reserve the right to plead alternately and inconsistently. Alabama lost more on the side of the ball that wins championships, Nick Saban’s club carries the lofty expectations that weighed upon the Gators a year ago, and I simply cannot shake the sense that the Sunshine State Saurians are just lying in the weeds waiting to take a bite out of ‘Bama and every other team that crosses their path.
Yeah, I was wrong all the way around on this one, wasn’t I?
As badly as I fared in my conference championship predictions, I was even worse in my bowl prognostications, in which I went a woeful 10-25, including a 2-8 mark in games involving SEC contestants. This caused my season-long ledgers to fall to 55-21 in games featuring SEC participants and 45-42 when neither combatant was a member of the league. Now you know why we call it "Don’t Bet On It!"
Coming Soon: Reviewing Mark Richt’s record after a decade at Georgia.