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College Football Predictions 2012: Picking Top to Bottom in Every Conference

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2012

College Football Predictions 2012: Picking Top to Bottom in Every Conference

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    While Alabama may still be celebrating their BCS national title, people are already starting to look ahead at the 2012 season. 

    By now, most programs are aware of what players have left for the pros and are starting to round out their recruiting classes.

    With rosters almost set and schedules already out, predictions are being made, and clear-cut conference winners are already being crowned before spring practice even kicks off.

    While months separate college football fans from another season, here is an early look at how the conferences will play out once the 2012 season kicks off. 

WAC: Louisiana Tech

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    The WAC welcomes two new members to the conference this year, but at the end of the season, the outcome will be the same. Utah State will again make the Bulldogs earn it, but look for Louisiana Tech to win the WAC. 

     

    1) Louisiana Tech

    2) Utah State

    3) San Jose State

    4) New Mexico State

    5) Idaho 

    6) Texas State

    7) UTSA

Sun Belt: Arkansas State

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    Last year, Western Kentucky pushed Arkansas State every week, and 2012 will be much of the same. Look for the Red Wolves to win their head-to-head game against Western Kentucky and clinch another conference title. 

     

    1) Arkansas State

    2) Western Kentucky

    3) FIU

    4) UL Lafayette

    5) Troy

    6) UL Monroe

    7) North Texas

    8) Middle Tennessee 

    9) South Alabama

    10) Florida Atlantic

MAC: Northern Illinois

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    If once wasn't enough, look for Ohio and Northern Illinois to go head-to-head in a conference showdown. While Ohio should have no issues winning their division, Northern Illinois will have to make sure they can fend off Toledo to hang onto the West. 

     

    MAC Title Game: Ohio vs. Northern Illinois

     

    East

    1) Ohio

    2) Temple

    3) Kent State

    4) Miami

    5) Buffalo

    6) Akron

    7) Massachusetts

     

    West

    1) Northern Illinois

    2) Toledo

    3) Western Michigan

    4) Bowling Green

    5) Ball State

    6) Eastern Michigan

    7) Central Michigan

Mountain West: Boise State

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    Despite TCU leaving the conference, Boise State still may struggle a bit to hang on and win the Mountain West. All-everything quarterback Kellen Moore is gone this year, so it will be interesting to see if a team like San Diego State or Hawaii can step up and take down the Broncos. 

     

    1) Boise State

    2) San Diego State

    3) Hawaii

    4) Air Force

    5) Fresno State

    6) Nevada

    7) Colorado State

    8) Wyoming

    9) UNLV

    10) New Mexico

Conference USA: Southern Miss

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    With Case Keenum now out of school, other programs need to seize the opportunity and take a shot at winning the conference. 

    Southern Miss appears to be on the inside track to run away with the East Division, and look for SMU to quietly, but convincingly, win the West to take on Southern Miss for the Conference USA title. 

     

    Conference USA Title Game: SMU vs. Southern Miss

     

    East

    1) Southern Miss

    2) East Carolina

    3) Marshall

    4) UAB

    5) UCF

    6) Memphis

     

    West

    1) SMU

    2) Houston

    3) Rice

    4) UTEP

    5) Tulane

    6) Tulsa

Big East: West Virginia

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    In 2011, three teams ended up tied for the conference crown, but ultimately, West Virginia represented the conference in the BCS and did a great job doing so. This year, the Mountaineers again enter the year as the clear-cut favorite, but with the Big East, who knows?

     

    1) West Virginia 

    2) South Florida

    3) Louisville

    4) Cincinnati

    5) Rutgers

    6) Syracuse

    7) Pittsburgh

    8) Connecticut

ACC: Virginia Tech

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    This year, Clemson and Virginia Tech found themselves on a collision course for the ACC title game. Based on the amount of talent that is returning for both teams, expect a rematch. 

    Big news out of the ACC will once again be how disappointing Florida State ends up being, and Maryland will take a step towards returning to relevance. 

     

    ACC Title Game: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech

     

    Atlantic

    1) Clemson

    2) Florida State

    3) Wake Forest

    4) Maryland

    5) NC State

    6) Boston College

     

    Coastal

    1) Virginia Tech

    2) Georgia Tech

    3) Virginia

    4) Miami

    5) North Carolina

    6) Duke

Big 12: Oklahoma

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    New to the Big 12, TCU will push Oklahoma throughout the season, but the Sooners will ultimately be too strong for the Horned Frogs.

    Also, Kansas will remain at the bottom of the conference, but Baylor and Oklahoma State will take major steps back after losing game-changers to the NFL.

     

    1) Oklahoma 

    2) TCU

    3) Kansas State

    4) Texas

    5) Oklahoma State

    6) Texas Tech

    7) Baylor

    8) Iowa State

    9) Kansas

Big 10: Wisconsin

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    In the Leaders Division, the Badgers will end up seizing the division and taking advantage of an Ohio State team that is not eligible for the bowl season. 

    On the other side of the conference, Michigan State lost some talented offensive players, but they will lean on their defense to win the Legends Division and set up a rematch that captivated the nation in 2011. 

     

    Big 10 Title Game: Michigan State vs. Wisconsin 

     

    Legends

    1) Michigan State

    2) Michigan

    3) Nebraska

    4) Iowa

    5) Northwestern

    6) Minnesota

     

    Leaders

    1) Wisconsin

    2) Ohio State

    3) Penn State

    4) Illinois

    5) Purdue

    6) Indiana

Pac-12: Oregon

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    In the South, things appear to be very clear-cut. USC is eligible for the bowl season and conference championships and appears to have no real competitor that will stop them from getting a spot in the Pac-12 title game.

    In the North, Oregon is also an overwhelming favorite, especially after Andrew Luck left for the NFL. While many will look at the loss of Darron Thomas as a huge hit, the country will be introduced to Bryan Bennett, a faster and more accurate version of Thomas.

    While all the talk will be about USC, its hard to underestimate a three-time conference winner.  

     

    Pac-12 Title Game: Oregon vs. USC

     

    North

    1) Oregon

    2) Washington

    3) Cal

    4) Washington State

    5) Stanford

    6) Oregon State

     

    South

    1) USC

    2) Arizona State

    3) Utah

    4) Arizona

    5) UCLA

    6) Colorado

SEC: Arkansas

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    In the SEC, we could see a real shakeup after last year. Arkansas had the unenviable task of heading on the road to take on LSU and Alabama, but this year, they have them both at home. Look for the Hogs to surprise a lot of people and meet up with South Carolina in the SEC title game. 

     

    SEC Title Game: South Carolina vs. Arkansas

     

    East

    1) South Carolina

    2) Georgia

    3) Florida

    4) Tennessee

    5) Missouri

    6) Vanderbilt

    7) Kentucky

     

    West

    1) Arkansas

    2) Alabama

    3) LSU

    4) Texas A&M 

    5) Auburn

    6) Mississippi State

    7) Ole Miss

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