College Football 2011: Predicting Every Conference's Record After Week 1

Elijah HydesContributor IIIJune 30, 2011

College Football 2011: Predicting Every Conference's Record After Week 1

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    Two short months separate us from the beginning of college football's 2011 season. With little to do but keep track of our team's bleacher report site, watch College Football Live, or start fights on message boards, week 1 can't come fast enough.

    The following is a conference by conference breakdown of week 1 schedules and likely results.

Sun Belt Conference

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    History

    The Sun Belt Conference is known as being the worst conference among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences. Bigger conferences (particularly the SEC) jump at the opportunity to schedule an early match up with these teams as tune up games for their future, more difficult schedules. How bad will it be after week one? Let's see... Predicted results are in parenthesis.

    Week 1 Schedule

    Arkansas State @ Illinois (L)

    Florida International vs North Texas (W)

    or:

    North Texas @ Florida International (L-it's a week 1 conference game)

    Louisiana Lafayette @ Oklahoma State (L)

    Middle Tennessee @ Purdue (L)

    Troy @ Clemson (L)

    Louisiana Monroe @ Florida State (L)

    Western Kentucky vs Kentucky (L)

    Record After Week 1

    1-8

    I can't really see any of these games going the other way except maybe Troy at Clemson. If these predictions turn out to be correct, the Sun Belt will start out with an embarrassing, but expected single win--and that win will only come due to an early conference game.  No one can blame the Sun Belt, though. They have probably the hardest OOC schedule on week 1 of all the conferences. All of their games are on the road, except the one conference game between North Texas and Florida International.

Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

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    History

    The poor WAC has taken a beating. They lost their lone Bowl Championship Series (BCS) buster and pillar of the conference: Boise State. Now Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada are leaving the WAC after this season, leaving the helpless WAC with their five weakest teams. As for next year, eight teams still remain. Let's see how they'll fare after week 1. 

    Week 1 Schedule

    Fresno State vs California (L)

    Hawaii vs Colorado (W)

    Idaho vs Bowling Green (W)

    Louisiana Tech @ Southern Mississippi (L)

    Utah State @ Auburn (L)

    San Jose State @ Stanford (L)

    New Mexico State vs Ohio (L)

    Nevada-open date

    Record After Week 1

    2-5

    In breaking down these games, five of them could go either way. Fresno State could beat Cal, LA Tech could beat Southern Miss, and New Mexico State could beat Ohio. But on the flip side, Colorado could beat Hawaii, and Bowling Green could beat Idaho. The only thing that's for sure is that Utah State and San Jose State are going down to Auburn and Stanford, respectively.

     


Conference USA

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    History

    Slightly better than the Mid American Conference (MAC) or Sun Belt, not as good as the Mountain West or WAC. That is what people outside Conference USA think of Conference USA. 2011 will prove to be an interesting year, however. They will outshine their foes in the WAC, yet the MAC will prove to be the better conference.

    Week 1 Schedule

    East Carolina vs South Carolina (L)

    Houston vs California Los Angeles (UCLA) (L)

    Marshall @ West Virginia (L)

    Memphis vs Mississippi State (L)

    Rice @ Texas (L)

    Southern Methodist (SMU) @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (Texas A&M) (L)

    Southern Mississippi vs Louisiana Tech (W)

    Tulane vs Southeastern Louisiana (W)

    Tulsa @ Oklahoma (L)

    Central Florida (UCF)vs Charleston Southern (W)

    Texas El Paso (UTEP)vs Stony Brook (W)

    Alabama Birmingham (UAB)-open date

    Record After Week 1

    4-7

    Many of you might raise an eyebrow on my Houston-UCLA prediction. The way I see it, a decent defense and bad offense beats a good offense and bad defense. While we're at it, East Carolina/South Carolina, and SMU/Texas A&M aren't gimmes either. This is the way I see it all going down, though. I will also say it's not a terrible week 1 schedule.

Mid-American Conference (MAC)

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    History

    The MAC has been traditionally bad. They only claim to be slightly better than the Sun Belt, while producing a couple quality teams every few years. This year, there seem to be a couple of pretty good teams at the top, and a whole lot of awful teams at the bottom.

    Week 1 Schedule

    Akron @ Ohio State (L)

    Central Michigan vs South Carolina State (W)

    Eastern Michigan vs Howard (W)

    Western Michigan @ Michigan (L)

    Toledo vs New Hampshire (W)

    Ball State vs Indiana (L)

    Bowling Green @ Idaho (L)

    Buffalo @ Pittsburgh (L)

    Kent State @ Alabama (L)

    Miami (OH) @ Missouri (L)

    Northern Illinois vs Army (W)

    Ohio @ New Mexico State (W)

    Temple vs Villanova (W)

    Record After Week 1

    6-7

    Not a bad record for one of the worst conferences in the land eh? Of course, the record is inflated a bit from two of the Michigan schools playing teams I've barely heard of, but there are still some legitimate wins to be had. In terms of uncertainty, the only game I can see going the other way is the Kent State/Alabama game, which would bring the MAC's overall record to 7-6. Bowling Green could also just as easily take down Idaho, and my faith in Indiana is shaky at best. Either way, the MAC gives us some interesting week 1 match ups and a couple of really bad ones as well.

    *Bama/SECers, relax. I was joking about the Kent State game.

Mountain West Conference

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    History

    MWC fans' biggest competition throughout the years has been the dreaded WAC. Although they have put up good numbers against other big conferences such as the Pac-10, they always do better overall than the WAC. But the WAC has always had Boise State. So what did the MWC do? They just absorbed Boise State! With Nevada, Hawaii, and Fresno State following behind, the Mountain West Conference has finally shed the WAC for good, and I suspect will now be looking to prove themselves against the Pac-12, who themselves stole one of the MWC's best teams: Utah. 

    Week 1 Schedule

    Air Force vs South Dakota (W)

    Boise State @ Georgia (W)

    Colorado State @ New Mexico (W)

    or:

    New Mexico vs Colorado State (L-conference game)

    San Diego State vs Cal Poly (W)

    Texas Christian (TCU) @ Baylor (W)

    Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) @ Wisconsin (L)

    Wyoming vs Weber State (W)

    Record After Week 1

    6-3

    The only wins of substance will be TCU over Baylor and Boise State over Georgia. I can see these two teams losing, though. Georgia will be improved, but that's not saying much after their underwhelming season last year. If TCU or Boise State drop their first game, it will be a bad opening week for the MWC indeed.

Independents

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    History

    Independents are those square little pegs. The Big Ten keeps beckoning Notre Dame to no avail. Brigham Young couldn't play in the MWC without Utah. Army and Navy refuse to be the first to join a major conference, and settle on only their Army-Navy game being relevant every year. Let's see how these fickle schools will fare in week 1.

    Week 1 Schedule

    Army @ Northern Illinois (L)

    BYU @ Ole Miss (W)

    Navy vs Deleware (W)

    Notre Dame vs South Florida (USF) (W)

    Record After Week 1

    3-1

    Army, BYU, Notre Dame, a tip of the hat, sirs. Navy, err, not so much. There's a slim chance that South Florida will upend Notre Dame, and a better chance that Ole Miss will beat BYU, but I don't see either happening. Ole Miss was the cellar dweller in the SEC West last year, and South Florida is like the rest of the Big East: not great, not terrible--average top to bottom.

Big East

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    History

    The Big East resents the ACC for raiding their best teams. With the best talent gone, the Big East has always put up a few great teams throughout the years, although they don't fare well in bowl games. Cincinnati, South Florida, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia have all been very good in the past, but now all seem to be mediocre. The Big East is mostly average, but I give the advantage to West Virginia who I think will be better than the rest next year. Ergo West Virginia is above average.

    Week 1 Schedule

    Cincinnati vs Austin Peay (W)

    Connecticut vs Fordham (W)

    Louisville vs Murray State (W)

    Pittsburgh vs Buffalo (W)

    Rutgers vs North Carolina Central (W)

    Syracuse vs Wake Forest (W)

    USF @ Notre Dame (L)

    West Virginia vs Marshall (W)

    Record After Week 1

    7-1

    Really Big East? Really? Your one loss is going to come in your only road game, and that game happens to be the only real game on your schedule. I realize that last year's first week was disastrous for the conference (as well as the ACC), but this is pathetic. Your wins come against Football Championship Series (FCS) teams, MAC bottom Dwellers, and the worst team in the ACC--ALL AT HOME. For this, most people will probably be rooting against you in every game. Anything less than a 7-1 week 1 will be disastrous for the Big East.

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

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    History

    Last year, the ACC hit rock bottom along with the Big East. They lost every non conference game that mattered. Their champion lost to an FCS school. For weeks they didn't have a team in the top 25, nor did the Big East. But it was even more embarrassing for the ACC, as they have twelve teams over the Big East's eight. Is there any chance of a similar meltdown this year?

    Week 1 Schedule

    Boston College vs Northwestern (L)

    Duke vs Richmond (W)

    Clemson vs Troy (W)

    Georgia Tech vs Western Carolina (W)

    Florida State vs Lousiana Monroe (W)

    Maryland vs Miami (FL) (L)

    or:

    Miami (FL) @ Maryland (W-conference game)

    North Carolina State vs Liberty (W)

    North Carolina vs James Madison (W)

    Virginia vs William & Mary (W)

    Virginia Tech vs Appalachian State (W)

    Wake Forest @ Syracuse (L)

    Record After Week 1

    9-3

    So this is it, eh folks? Take whatever I said about the disgrace that was the Big East's schedule and multiply it by five. The best game of week 1 is their one conference game! Their OOC wins for week 1 will be over the average Troy and bad Louisiana Monroe teams, and six (SIX!) FCS teams. Only one game is an OOC road game. Apparently the ACC is even more scared of a repeat of last year than the Big East.

Big 12

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    History

    The Big 12 has traditionally been one of the major power conferences. They regularly send teams to BCS bowl games, and their winning percentages against other conferences are respectable. With Nebraska and Colorado gone, the conference looks different. It now looks to me like five good schools and five bad ones. Maybe the Big 12 needs to be carved up more...

    Week 1 Schedule

    Baylor vs TCU (L)

    Iowa State vs Northern Iowa (W)

    Kansas vs McNeese State (W)

    Missouri vs Miamo (OH) (W)

    Oklahoma vs Tulsa (W)

    Oklahoma State vs Louisiana Lafayette (W)

    Texas vs Rice (W)

    Texas A&M vs SMU (W)

    Texas Tech vs Texas State (W)

    Record After Week 1

    9-1

    Ok, so every week 1 game is a home game. At least they play mostly FBS teams.

Big Ten

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    History

    The Big Ten is infamous for its physical "smash mouth"(I hate the phrase) brand of football. Their running backs are big, and their linemen are bigger. They haven't had a great stretch the last decade, and their bowl record reflects it. Their biggest, baddest team, Wisconsin, lost to the smaller and quicker TCU Horned Frogs, and now their best team is being put in its place by the NCAA. Will they have bragging rights after week 1?

    Week 1 Schedule

    Illinois vs Arkansas State (W)

    Wisconsin vs UNLV (W)

    Indiana vs Ball State (W)

    Purdue vs Middle Tennessee (W)

    Iowa vs Tennessee Tech (W)

    Penn State vs Indiana State (W)

    Michigan vs Western Michigan (W)

    Ohio State vs Akron (W)

    Michigan State vs Youngstown State (W)

    Northwestern @ Boston College (W)

    Minnesota @ USC (L)

    Nebraska vs Chattanooga (W)

    Record After Week 1

    11-1

    The Big Ten's schedule for week 1 is hardly impressive, but it's not horrible either. They play three FCS schools, and three road games. That's better than most conferences. They do beat up on teams from weaker conferences, though. Their record after week 1 will be good unless Northwestern loses to Boston College. Then the Big Ten's record will be just pretty good.

Pacific-12 (Pac-12)

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    History

    From the PCC to the Pac-8 to the Pac-10, and now, with Colorado and Utah, the Pac-12. The Pac-12 wanted to be the Pac-16, but Larry Scott couldn't successfully woo Texas into joining. Pac-12 football is a different brand of football than the rest of the country. Fans regularly denounce the "West coast bias" in sports, and have more of an inferiority complex beneath the SEC than any other conference. To their credit, they always do schedule more road games and tougher OOC schedules, and the results have been positive. Pac-12 fans love to wave their winning records against other conferences in other conferences' faces and belittle schools for having soft schedules. Will the Pac-12 have anything to brag about after week 1 in 2011?

    Week 1 Schedule

    Arizona vs Northern Arizona (W)

    Arizona State vs UC Davis (W)

    California vs Fresno State (W)

    Colorado @ Hawaii (L)

    Oregon @ LSU (W)

    Oregon State vs Sacramento State (W)

    Stanford vs San Jose State (W)

    UCLA @ Houston (W)

    USC vs Minnesota (W)

    Utah vs Montana State (W)

    Washington vs Eastern Washington (W)

    Washington State vs Idaho State (W)

    Record After Week 1

    11-1

    Yes, I'm showing my bias in picking Oregon over LSU. The game could really go either way. UCLA could also lose, but Colorado could beat Hawaii. Somewhere between 12-0 and 9-3, I chose 11-1. To the Pac-12's discredit, they only play three road games, and five of their games are against FCS schools. There are really only four good games in the first week. And while that may be good for other conferences, for the Pac-12, I'm a little disappointed. Oregon/LSU can't make up for everyone else.

    ...ok they can.

Southeastern Conference (SEC)

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    History

    Ah, the SEC. The creme de la creme. The conference every other conference hates. And oh do they wave those BCS championships in our face. "Five in a row, 'nuff said." Am I the only one who hears this regularly? Am I the only one who thinks that enough has not been said? Many (including myself) have regularly encouraged the SEC to schedule better games. Let's see how they fare this year.

    Week 1 Schedule

    Florida vs Florida Atlantic (W)

    Georgia vs Boise State (L)

    Arkansas vs Missouri State (W)

    Alabama vs Kent State (W)

    Kentucky vs Western Kentucky (W)

    LSU vs Oregon (L)

    Mississippi State @ Memphis (W)

    Ole Miss vs BYU (L)

    Auburn vs Utah State (W)

    South Carolina vs Eastern Carolina (W)

    Tennessee vs Montana (W)

    Vanderbilt vs Elon (W)

    Record After Week 1

    9-3

    Well, at least only a quarter of SEC teams are playing FCS foes. At least a quarter of the conference is playing good games. At least they have one road game--even if it is at worst-in-the-CUSA Memphis. Even though the SEC's week 1 schedule is hardly strong, I say they're trying to improve. In terms of strength of schedule (SOS), they're oceans above the ACC and Big East this year. Yeah, most of their games are bad, but LSU, Ole Miss, and Georgia deserve credit. I applaud them.


    ...anyone else find it strange that more often than not, the worst teams in conferences are wearing red?