The college football season is getting closer by the minute. With the first games coming on August 25th, a lot of things have changed. Teams like Alabama, Notre Dame, and Clemson will have to decide who will play QB while teams like Wisconsin and others return many of their key players from last year. We will also get to see how Oklahoma, Penn ST, and USC will fare without their best players from last season.
In this article I preview every single conference in the FBS. I will also make my final top 25 predictions and new year’s six bowl game predictions while predicting every single conference winner.
American Athletic Conference:
The American Athletic Conference is most likely the best group-of-five conference in the FBS. They were home to the only undefeated team in the FBS last year with UCF going 13-0 overall. However, UCF will look a lot different without head coach Scott Frost, and defensive leader Shaquem Griffin. Houston will look to improve this year to what they were in 2015 when they beat Florida ST in the Peach Bowl. They will be bringing back defensive tackle, Ed Oliver, who is likely the best player in college football. Navy is always a team to look out for with their option run game being the best in college football. Teams like Memphis, USF, and Temple have slim chances to win the conference this upcoming year. UConn, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Tulsa, SMU, and Tulane will fight for a bowl game.
- East Carolina
Conference Title Game: UCF VS Houston
I believe that the American Athletic Conference title game will feature defending champs, UCF, and 2015 champs, Houston. UCF brings a high-powered offense into the game led by quarterback, Mckenzie Milton. Milton had over 4,000 passing yards for the knights last year while throwing 37 touchdowns and 9 INT. Houston enters with the best player in college football, Ed Oliver. It is unlikely that defensive tackle leads a team to the title game, but Oliver is just that good. I believe Houston will win this game 23-20 mostly because of Houston’s defense and the loss of Scott Frost for UCF.
The ACC has claimed that it is the best conference in college football. They are home to powerhouse, Clemson, who will look to avenge their loss to Alabama last year, and win the National championship. Clemson has the second best odds to win the National championship, trailing only Alabama. Quarterback, Kelly Bryant, looks to improve from last year, while the entire front seven, excluding Dorian O’Daniel returns next season. Even though Virginia Tech has lost a lot of starters, they have a favorable schedule. They do not play Clemson, and play Miami very late in the season in Blacksburn. They are a sneaky team to make the ACC title game.
Other teams like Florida ST and Miami are expected to have big years with expectations being ACC title or bust. Boston College is probably the biggest dark horse in the entire FBS. They went on a surge late in the season beating Louisville 45-42, beating Florida ST 35-3, and Virginia 41-10. BC will bring back Heisman hopeful, A.J. Dillon, and most of their team from a year ago.
- Boston College
- Florida ST
- Wake Forest
- North Carolina ST
- Virginia Tech*
- Georgia Tech
- North Carolina
Conference Title Game: Clemson VS Virginia Tech
This conference title game will be a rematch of the ACC championship from 2016. Clemson won that game 42-35 en route to a national championship. This Virginia Tech team is a lot worse than the one from 2016 though. With the high-powered offense and stacked front seven for Clemson, this game could get ugly. I believe Clemson will win by a score of 49-13 to advance to the college football playoff.
The Big 12 is a very interesting conference this year. Players like Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph were drafted into the NFL, so it will be fun to see how those teams fare without them. Texas will be looking to live up to high expectations under head coach Tom Herman, and win the conference for the first time since 2009. They were dissapointing last year under Herman, but they have a very solid recruiting class and have a chance of winning this conference. There are other recognizable teams in the Big 12 like West Virginia, Oklahoma, and TCU who will all also battle for a shot in the Big 12 title game. West Virginia has arguably the best QB in the whole country in Will Grier, while Oklahoma has to fill the void of Baker Mayfield.
- West Virginia*
- Iowa ST
- Kansas ST
- Oklahoma ST
- Texas Tech
Conference Title Game: West Virginia VS Texas
My prediction for the Big 12 conference title game is Tom Herman’s Longhorns versus Will Grier’s Mountaineers. Texas has a few things to work out on the offensive side of the ball, specifically at QB. However, their defense can compete with anyone in the Big 12, and Tom Herman is a mastermind at head coach. On the other hand, West Virginia will look to have the best offense in the country. I see this game leaning towards West Virginia, as Will Grier puts on a note-worthy performance. West Virginia beats Texas 31-28.
The Big Ten seems to have the highest amount of quality teams this upcoming college football season. Michigan has disappointed under Jim Harbaugh, but they have always had a top defense, and now bring in Ole Miss transfer, Shea Patterson, at QB. Ohio ST is in a little bit of trouble with head coach Urban Meyer under investigation from the NCAA. They have probably the best team in the Big Ten talent-wise, but they have a dark-cloud hanging above them which could be a distraction. Penn ST loses Saquon Barkley, but brings back most of their team including Heisman candidate, Trace McSorley. Michigan ST brings a top defense to the table, and Rutgers look to finally show that they belong with a strong showing this season.
On the other side of the conference there is Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Purdue. Wisconsin got some love from the AP as they are ranked #4 to start the year which is their highest since 2000. They are bringing back almost their entire team including running back Jonathan Taylor and QB Alex Hornibrook. They also make the case for the best offensive line in the country. Purdue and Nebraska will look to fight it out for the second spot in the division. They both have some of the best head coaches in the nation in Scott Frost and Jeff Brohm.
- Ohio ST
- Penn ST
- Michigan ST
Conference Title Game: Michigan VS Wisconsin
This title game will be the first for Michigan under the Jim Harbaugh era. They will look to finally overcome Ohio ST in the last game of the season since they have a legit QB in Shea Patterson. Michigan also brings in one of the best defenses with Rashan Gray holding down the d-line while Devin Bush continues to add to his defensive highlight reel. Wisconsin has all the makings of going undefeated in the regular season with most of their starters returning. I see this game being a defensive battle with Wisconsin running back being the deciding factor in a 24-17 win for the Badgers.
The C-USA has one of the most fun teams to watch in college football in FAU. Lane Kiffin has turned FAU into a group-of-five powerhouse, and they only look to get better. Running back Devin Singletary will look to lead the offense while the ball-hawking defense does what they do best. Marshall has a QB problem with the loss of Chase Litton. However, they still have many ways to win on both sides of the ball. The other side of the conference is razor thin with Louisiana Tech, UTSA, North Texas, UAB, and Southern Mississippi. Louisiana Tech brings in the best defense in the West division, but the running game will be a problem they will have to resolve.
- Middle Tennessee
- Western Kentucky
- Old Dominion
- Louisiana Tech*
- North Texas
- Southern Mississippi
Conference Title Game: FAU VS Louisiana Tech
The C-USA conference title game will be a matchup between Louisiana Tech and defending champs, FAU. FAU is just so good under Lane Kiffin that it is hard to pick against them. They won last years C-USA championship by a score of 41-17 against North Texas, and will look to do the same here. I believe FAU beats Louisiana Tech 52-16.
The MAC has been one of the funnest conferences to watch in college football. They have most of their games early in the week which is a fun gimmick to have to get a wider audience than playing on Saturday with no coverage. This year will be very competitive in the MAC. Starting off with Northern Illinois they have the best offensive and defensive lines in the entire conference. However, they do lack in skill positions on offense. Toledo has seemed to be the powerhouse of this conference, but this year they will be without QB Logan Woodside, but they have a great wide receiver group.
Miami (OH), Ohio, Akron, and Buffalo will all battle for a spot in the title game. Ohio brings one of if not the best offenses in the MAC, but their defense is shaky. Miami is coming in with two QBs that can play right away, and James Gardner at wide receiver.
- Miami (OH)*
- Kent ST
- Bowling Green
- Northern Illinois*
- Eastern Michigan
- Western Michigan
- Central Michigan
- Ball ST
Conference Title Game: Miami (OH) VS Northern Illinois
My prediction for the MAC title game is Northern Illinois versus Miami of Ohio. Northern Illinois have a glaring hole on offense, but defense is the reason they are in the title game. Miami is an offensive powerhouse which will be a nice contrast of styles in this game. I see Northern Illinois beating Miami 23-20 to claim their fourth conference title.
Mountain West Conference:
The Mountain West Conference is home to the best group-of-five team since the 2000s. Boise ST is the front-runner for a New Year’s Six Bowl with QB Brett Rypien and RB Alexander Mattison. They also have a great secondary, and a defensive line that is not far behind. Wyoming will have to deal with the loss of Josh Allen, but still bring back a great defense led by safety Andrew Wingard. San Diego ST is Boise ST’s biggest threat in the conference this year. They always produce great running backs, and it will be no different this year with Juwan Washington. The Aztecs also have the best o-line in the conference, and a great defense.
- Boise ST*
- Utah ST
- Colorado ST
- New Mexico
- Air Force
- San Diego ST*
- Fresno ST
- San Jose ST
Conference Title Game: Boise ST VS San Diego ST
This conference title game will be one of the best in Mountain West history. Both Boise ST and San Diego ST are group of five powerhouses, and have a legit shot in a New Year’s Six Bowl game. In the end, Boise ST’s defense will be able to stop San Diego ST’s running attack as the Broncos win 27-20.
The Pac-12 is wide open this year. Washington is the favorites to win it all with no major holes for the Huskies. Their backfield is the best in the conference, and both offensive tackles are NFL-caliber. They also have one of the best defenses in the league even with the loss of Vita Vea, but there is not a lot to complain about. Oregon brings in what could be the first overall pick come 2019 in Justin Herbert, while Stanford brings back Heisman runner-up, Bryce Love. USC will bring a great defense, but will have to fill the Sam Darnold void with an 18 year-old QB. Utah is a team to look for as they have a high-powered offense led by QB Tyler Huntley, and a solid defense.
- Washington ST
- Oregon ST
- Arizona ST
Conference Title Game: Utah VS Washington
The Pac-12 conference title game looks to feature a great defense versus a great offense. A story as old as time as Washington will take on Utah. Washington at this time will be looking to get into the CFB playoffs with an emphatic win against the Utes. Utah’s up tempo offense is no match for the Huskies top defense as Washington wins 26-7.
The SEC has long been the powerhouse conference in football. They even had two teams in the National Championship last year as Alabama beat Georgia in overtime. Georgia will look to repeat as SEC champions as Jake Fromm will enter his second year, and they have a loaded offense. Missouri really came into their own last year under potential top pick, QB Drew Lock. South Carolina has one of the best offenses in the conference, but defense could come back to bite them. The Gators look to rebound after an abysmal season as they bring in head coach Dan Mullen to reinvigorate their offense.
On the other side of the conference their is Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi ST, and LSU. Alabama has run the college football world for years, but they will have a tough decision to make at QB between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. Their defense will also be great as always. Their secondary is a cause of concern with the losses of Ronnie Harrison and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Auburn looks to beat Alabama again with returning QB, Jarrett Stidham. Their defensive line competes with the best in the country led by Derrick Brown.
- South Carolina
- Mississippi ST
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss (Ineligible for Postseason Play)
Conference Title Game: Alabama VS Georgia
The SEC title game looks to be a rematch of the 2017 National Championship between Georgia and Alabama. Alabama will enter this game without missing the playoffs so far since its induction. Meanwhile, Georgia will look to get revenge from the National Championship. In the end, I believe Georgia’s high-powered offense is enough to beat Alabama’s hard-nosed, gritty defense.
Sun Belt Conference:
The Sun Belt conference is probably the worst conference in the FBS in terms of depth. However, Appalachian ST, Arkansas ST, and Troy are no joke in the college football world. Appalachian ST has the best cornerback group in the entire group of five, and an offense led by running back, Jalin Moore. Troy will look to repeat as conference champs as they bring back their great defense from a year ago. Arkansas ST is hands down the best team in the Western division. The offense is one of the most fun in the nation led by QB Caleb Evans, but their defense won’t stop anyone.
- Appalachian ST
- Georgia Southern
- Coastal Carolina
- Georgia ST
- Arkansas ST*
- South Alabama
- Texas ST
Conference Title Game: Troy VS Arkansas ST
The Sun Belt title game will feature defensive-minded, Troy versus offensive minded Arkansas ST. I believe Troy’s defense will be too much for Arkansas ST to handle as they bring home their second consecutive Sun Belt title.
The FBS Independents feature nation-wide powerhouse, Notre Dame, and other bowl-worthy teams. Notre Dame will look to finally make the CFB playoff after many years. Their offense is led by Brandon Wimbush, with a great backup QB option in Ian Book. Their defense is some of the best in college football. They are strong at all three levels with Jerry Tillery on the d-line, Te’Von Coney at linebacker, and All-American Julian Love at corner. Another team to look for in the Independents is UMass Amherst. UMass played in 8 games that were decided by 8 points or less last year including almost upsetting Tennessee and Mississippi ST. Their offense is dangerously good led by QB Andrew Young, but they have a bad defense.
- Notre Dame
- UMass Amherst
- New Mexico ST
At the end of the year I believe the Top 25 in college football will look like this:
- Notre Dame*
- West Virginia
- Michigan ST
- Ohio ST
- Boston College
- Boise ST
- Florida ST
- Penn ST
- Virginia Tech
The four playoff teams for the upcoming season are SEC champions Georgia Bulldogs, ACC champions Clemson Tigers, Big Ten champions Wisconsin Badgers, and the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish from the Independents. This would mean that Alabama would not make the playoff for the first time ever. It also means that even though Washington and West Virginia won their conferences, they still do not make the playoffs.
Non-Playoff New Year’s Six Bowls:
Rose Bowl: #6, Washington VS #7, Michigan
The Rose Bowl will look to feature Pac-12 Champion Washington Huskies against Big Ten runner-ups, the Michigan Wolverines. Both of these teams are very balanced on both sides of the ball, but Washington’s defense will be too much to handle for Michigan’s offense as the Huskies win 30-17.
Sugar Bowl: #5, Alabama VS #8, West Virginia
Alabama will be playing in their first non-playoff New Year’s Six Bowl game since the playoffs were introduced. They will take on one of the best offenses in the country led by QB Will Grier. Overall, I believe Alabama will look to make a statement in this game by beating Big 12 champions by a score of 42-20.
Peach Bowl: #9, Auburn VS #10, Texas
The Peach Bowl will feature SEC powerhouse, Auburn versus Big 12 runner-up Texas. Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham is one of the best in the country as he takes on the best defense in the Big 12. I believe Auburn vs Texas will be one of the best bowl games as Auburn wins 43-42.
Fiesta Bowl: #11, Michigan ST VS #16, Boise ST
The Fiesta Bowl will feature Michigan ST vs Boise ST. These teams met once before where Michigan ST won 17-13 in 2012. Now they meet with a lot more on the line. Boise ST will look to place themselves at the top of the group-of-five college football world with a win while Michigan ST’s top defense tries to shut them down. I see this game going a lot like the last time these teams played as Michigan ST wins 21-17.
College Football Playoffs:
Cotton Bowl (CFP Semi-Final): #1, Georgia VS #4, Notre Dame
In the first playoff semi-final game, SEC champ, Georgia takes on FBS Independent Notre Dame. These teams met in a thriller in 2017 with Georgia edging out the win. This year is different as Notre Dame has improved a lot on defense, and Georgia has developed more on offense. I see this game going in Notre Dame’s favor with them winning 34-31, and advancing to the National Championship.
Orange Bowl (CFP Semi-Final): #2, Clemson VS #3, Wisconsin
In the second playoff semi-final game, ACC champ Clemson takes on Big Ten champ Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. Clemson has made the CFB playoffs the last three years with them winning one under head coach Dabo Sweeney. This is Wisconsin’s first trip to the playoff as they are led by running back Jonathan Taylor. I believe this game will be won by Wisconsin due to their defensive ability, and ability to chew the clock with Jonathan Taylor. Wisconsin beats Clemson 17-16 to advance to the National Championship to play Notre Dame.
National Championship: #3, Wisconsin VS #4, Notre Dame
The 2019 National Championship will feature Wisconsin against Notre Dame. Notre Dame is arguably the biggest brand in college football history, and Wisconsin will look to prove that they are the best in the country for the first time in their long history. This game is between two very evenly matched teams on both sides of the ball. Both QB’s are good, both o-lines are good, both defenses are good, so it will come down to a few key players for each team. I believe Notre Dame’s defense, specifically Te’Von Coney, will lead Notre Dame in stopping Jonathan Taylor en route to their first National Championship win since 1988. Notre Dame beats Wisconsin by a score of 22-19.
This will wrap up my college football season preview and predictions. A lot has changed as Ohio ST, Alabama, Washington, and Oklahoma did not make the playoffs, and Notre Dame finally won. Be sure to watch this upcoming college football season, and see how correct I am in my predictions.