Breaking Down The Power Five Conferences

ATT Stadium

Thursday, college football is back.  Three top 25 teams (per AP Poll) kick off their season.  Since there’s only one matchup between top 25 teams in Week 1, there won’t be a What To Watch For, plus, I’m out of town for Labor Day weekend.

I’ve written two columns previewing this season.  Here’s the Grand-Daddy of Them All:  The five conference previews.


The ACC has three ranked teams coming into the season, and all three seem like playoff contenders.  However, Sportsbook doesn’t seem to like Georgia Tech this year, as they have Virginia Tech and the Yellow Jackets at the same odds for the conference.  Let’s remember that Georgia Tech was the 12th highest scoring offense in the country last year!

I think it’s gonna come down to the three ranked teams:  Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech.  Duke was a nice surprise last season, as they were high as No.19 in last year’s AP Poll.  This has been Florida State’s conference for awhile.  It’s gotten much stronger, but not anywhere close to a super-conference.  Three playoff contenders is a start though.

Florida State never seems to have a quarterback issue, and even with Jameis Winston in the NFL, they’ll be fine at that position.  They landed Everett Golson from Notre Dame, and have Sean Maguire. Just yesterday, they named Everett Golson the starter.  Personally, that’s who I’d go with.  There is the saying “If you have two starting quarterbacks, then you don’t have one!”, but both of these guys Florida State has are pretty good.

Landing a transfer, especially of Golson’s caliber, is a big deal.  So, why wouldn’t you play him?

It’s gotta suck for Sean Magurie, who was pretty good last year when he played!  He just keeps getting over-taken and kicked out by other guys.

Clemson has lost a lot of talent over the years, so much that is was amazing they never won a National Championship with that group.  They’re healthy this year, starting with quarterback Deshaun Watson.  Cole Stoudt played well in his absence, but the Tigers’ offense is much more fluid with Watson.  He averaged 10.7 yards per pass last season!  That’s a first down every throw!

Clemson’s biggest losses of talent came from the defense side, with Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony in the NFL.  Those were the leaders of that defense last year.  Someone has to step up.

I’m taking Clemson in the ACC.  Florida State has a ton of talent still, but has an easier schedule.  The Tigers won’t be perfect, but they’ll be darn close.  Bottom line:  They’ll be more impressive.

Big Ten:

Big Ten: Bully :: ACC: Nerd

That’s how these two conferences stack up against each other.  The Big 10 may have less playoff contenders, but that’s not all they have.  There’s multiple good teams in this conference.

It’s so unfair, especially this year, that Michigan State and Ohio State are in the same division within their conference.  The Spartans are the 5th ranked team in the country per the AP Poll, as Ohio State is clearly No.1.

The Buckeyes are probably going undefeated.  As of now, they’re only ranked opponent is the Spartans.  It doesn’t matter if they have players suspended for the first game, it doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback.

Should we answer that question?  I feel like we should.

I can’t believe it hasn’t been announced yet, and I’m so glad I get to talk about it.  The Buckeyes have two guys who could lead them to the title game, one already did, and one led them into position to do it.  J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones’ stats were eerily similar, but Barrett’s leadership and experience is a nice advantage.  Barrett’s mobility is better than Jones’… I mean, Barrett ran for 938 yards last year while throwing for 2,834 yards!

Cardale came in as a 3rd string quarterback, and won three huge games.  He’s clutch, has a huge arm, and had he came out probably would have been drafted after three college games.  He’s still got a ways to go, especially with pocket presence and maturity, but this guy makes things happen.

At this point, I think it’s clear who’s gonna be starting.  Urban Meyer’s gonna pick J.T. Barrett.  That’s who I think should start.  And God forbid he gets hurt, Ohio State will be fine.

The Spartans are gonna be good this year, but they won’t make the Playoff and won’t win the conference.  Yes, they have the best QB prospect in the upcoming Draft, but Ohio State just too good.  That’s all there is to it.

It should be pretty clear who I’m picking in this conference.

Big 12:

Hey look!  It’s the conference that got screwed by the committee last year even though it was kinda their own fault!  Alright, the Big 12 does need a conference championship game that takes two division winners and makes them play each other. But if we had an eight team Playoff, we wouldn’t be as up in arms about it, because both teams would have made it.

The Big 12 has three teams ranked in the preseason AP Poll: TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma.  We know how last year played out.  It’s very likely that it comes down to the November 27th game between the Bears and Horned Frogs again.

Baylor lost their star QB Bryce Petty to the (sigh) Jets (where he should be starting), but have tons of talent else where.  Their defense is still very good… Just remember, they have this dude.

That’s Shawn Oakman, who’s a beast and is probably gonna go top ten in the 2016 NFL Draft.  He’s pretty good!  Don’t screw with him!

Baylor’s front seven is a tad small besides Oakman, which is concerning against the high-yardage offenses of their conference opponent’s.

Baylor has a a hole at QB, but a lot of people like Seth Russell.  He’s a junior, and knows the system.  Baylor isn’t changing their scheme this year.  But I still have my doubts about the defense.  You probably know where I’m going next.

TCU got screwed last year, like Baylor.  I’m not gonna go through who was better than who.  They both should have made it, no matter what happened with the conference title.

But this year, TCU is looking for revenge.  And they have a pretty good shot at getting it.

It starts with Trevone Boykin, who’s an early Heisman candidate.  The guy is a play-maker.  He can do it in the pocket and outside it, or on the run. Boykin can do it all.  They have a great backfield (Boykin’s legs help too).  Aaron Greene averaged 7.1 yards a carry last year (!!!!).  The Horned Frogs were a great offense last year, 5th in the country in terms of total yards.  They’re gonna be up there again this year.

TCU’s defense was much better than Baylor’s last year, and that may continue this year.  I still think this will be settled between the offenses.  Baylor has the better players defensively, but I don’t know how much I can trust them elsewhere.  That’s my main worry for the Bears.  I’m taking TCU in the Big 12.


The Pac-12 is so good this year, oh man.  I’m gonna lay it out right from the beginning… There’s a lot of contenders.

“You’ll be… Pretty good!!!”

  • Oregon
  • Stanford
  • USC

This category of the Pac-12 are the best of the conference.  It’s unbelievable that only one of these teams is gonna win the conference.  All three teams have quarterbacks.  Oregon, Vernon Adams.  Stanford, Kevin Hogan.  USC, Cody Kessler.

“Good, but not playoff worthy”

  • California
  • Arizona State
  • Arizona
  • UCLA

UCLA lost Brett Hundley to the NFL, but has a very talented core still.  I’m not sure how much better they’ll be than these other three however.  The Pac-12 has six teams ranked in the preseason poll.  These are the mid-ranked teams.  None of these teams are gonna be making the Playoff, but they’ll be fun to watch this year.

“(Chris Berman voice) Ehhhhh”

  • Washington State
  • Washington
  • Utah

Doesn’t it seem like we feel like this every year about these three?

“Ew.. Go away”

  • Colorado
  • Oregon State

So who’s winning this thing?  Well, Stanford lost the least talent, and has the most experience.  Oregon has a new QB, who’s good, but is playing against much better teams (originally coming from the FCS).  USC has one of the top QBs in the country.  And who’s ranked the highest??

Yeah, USC’s gotta chip on their shoulder this year, but they’re gonna use it to their advantage.  The Trojans are winning this conference.


Let’s face it, folks!  The Pac-12 is better than the SEC this year.  You could make a case that the Pac-12 has seven playoff contenders, with three big time teams.  Somehow, the SEC got three teams in the top ten of the AP Poll.  It probably won’t be like that in December.

For this conference, to sort it out, I’m gonna go through the biggest strength with every team that should be good, plus who I want to throw in.

Georgia:  The Bulldogs lost their QB for the second straight year, but have an insane run game.  Georgia did well last year, especially within the conference, and it’s likely they’ll do the same this season.

Auburn: Ready for another Nick Marshall like QB?  Yeah, me neither.  But if the receivers can produce like they did last year, they’ll be fine.

Alabama: Remember the slogan “Defense wins championships?”  Yeah, Alabama this year should hope that’s true.  They have other playmakers on offense, but the quarterback situation isn’t fantastic.

Missouri: They have a lot of young guys, and have some injuries to deal with early, but Maty Mauk is good.  He’s not great, but he’ll get the job done.  I really liked him two years ago.  I’ve tailed off a bit on the wagon.  The Tigers will be fine.

LSU:  Not really going into strengths anymore, but how in the world were they ranked 14th in the AP Poll?

Winner: Georgia.  No matter how the QB play is, they’re gonna be good.  The SEC is no longer the SEC we thought it was.  Step off, Bama.

A prediction column will be up prior to Thursday night’s games…..