It's hard to imagine, but for a number of teams this Saturday will be their sixth game, marking the halfway point in the 2011 college football regular season.
So far, 2011 has been a year much like many others. It's provided its fair share of upsets, controversies and surprises. Conferences are continuing to reshuffle, and rumors of more teams bolting their current affiliations are everywhere.
So with a 2011 season already rife with surprises, what can we expect over the second half of the season?
Here are 50 bold predictions about what we're going to see from now until December.
By now, it's no secret that the Big 12 is in dire straits.
Texas A&M has followed the lead of Colorado and Nebraska, and became the third team in less than two years to announce their withdrawal from the conference.
That leaves the Big 12 with just nine members.
What's worse, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State—and now possibly even Texas—are potentially headed to the Pac-12. That would leave the Big 12 with just six teams.
The Big 12 has already dismissed their commissioner after it became apparent that he was completely incapable of holding the conference together.
But can anyone hold the conference together?
In short, yes.
Expect the conference to begin aggressively recruiting new members—and names like TCU, SMU, BYU—and maybe even Boise State—could be on the short list.
Okay, so this isn't a bold prediction, per se, but how long can the new Michigan Man's magic last in Ann Arbor?
Besides, Michigan fans have been fooled before with fast starts only to watch the floor fall out from underneath.
At the beginning of the season, the Western Michigan Broncos weren't considered a contender in the MAC.
Now, after an “almost” against a Top 25 Illinois and a “definitely” against defending Big East champ Connecticut, the Broncos are suddenly looking like a real contender in the MAC this season.
Toss in a 44-14 dismantling of arch-rival Central Michigan, and now you have a team that's motivated more so than any WMU team in recent memory.
Western has seven games remaining, all against beatable MAC opponents. It's not a crazy thought to see WMU as a 10-2 team headed into the MAC Championship with their only two losses against No. 12 Michigan and No. 19 Illinois.
An 11-2 MAC Champion Western Michigan with both losses to Top 25 teams would equal a bowl game a touch more prestigious than the Pizza Bowl, and a Top 25 ranking of their own isn't out of order, either.
After Pittsburgh and Syracuse unceremoniously told the Big East what it could go do with itself, a few other programs decided to dip their toes in the waters of conference realignment.
Funny enough, West Virginia was told—point blank by the ACC—to stay on the sand. A rather rude, and funny rejection by the ACC has left West Virginia feeling slighted and insecure.
The ACC's reason for rejection was fairly simple. West Virginia University doesn't measure up on the academic side of things to join the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Clemson.
Okay, fair enough.
But what about Rutgers or Connecticut?
The ACC is clearly positioning itself to compete with the new SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12. The addition of UConn and Rutgers would put the ACC at 16 teams—right where everyone else wants to be.
It would also reduce the Big East to a non-viable football conference from the NCAA's perspective (a conference must have six teams).
In short, the Big East is in bigger trouble than the Big 12 these days, as hard as that is to believe.
It seems like the days of the mighty Trojans may be behind us, at least for the immediate future.
The question now becomes what will USC fans do with themselves when they don't have the rest of the nation to taunt? At least we'll discover if they can take it as well as they dish it out.
So the Michigan gig didn't quite work out. Does that mean we all have to suffer through Rich Rod commentary on CBS?
Sooner or later a coach as successful as Rich Rod was (at West Virginia anyway) will get an offer from a program to come and try to pull them out of the mud. The question is, will Rodriguez actually take the job or prefer to stay in his cushy TV job and torture us all for years to come?
With the injury to John Brantley, and no word from Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis or head coach Will Muschamp, it's likely that things aren't looking good for the Florida starting signal-caller.
While Brantley isn't exactly Tim Tebow Jr., it's clear that he was an important part of the Gators' offense. Without him, the lenitive position of UF in the SEC-East is made all the more weak.
Unlike last season, one team in the East will eventually rise to the top. Another couple of losses will mean it won't be Florida.
Rick Neuheisel was hired to resurrect the struggling UCLA program.
So far, his record is 17-25 (and just 9-20 in the Pac-12).
After a 7-6 season in his second year, 2010 was expected to be the year Neuheisel's Bruins took the step back to national relevance. Unfortunately, a 4-8 season was in store for the Bruins, and a 2-3 start to 2011 isn't impressive anyone.
Unless things turn around very quickly for UCLA, the Bruins will be under new leadership in 2012.
Rick Neuheisel isn't the only coach who was hired to resurrect a program, and he won't be the only such coach fired when the season ends.
Houston Nutt, the long-time Arkansas coach was hired by Ole Miss to steer the program back into the SEC limelight.
After a pair of 9-4 seasons, things seemed on track for Nutt and the Rebels.
Then Nutt's recruits hit the field, and those nine-win seasons turned into a 4-8 performance in 2010.
It might seem a little crazy that a coach who had two nine-win seasons, including a pair of Cotton Bowl wins would find himself on the hot seat. But after finishing 4-8 in 2010, and starting 2-3 in 2011, that's right where Nutt finds himself.
Ole Miss also happens to find itself starting up at the likes of LSU, Alabama and Arkansas in the SEC-West, and there's not much of a shot at climbing back into the West's driver's seat anytime soon for the Rebels.
When this season is over, the alumni and administration will have had enough. Ole Miss will be shopping for a new coach by December.
If you have been lucky—or unlucky—enough to catch a game on ESPN with Urban Meyer doing the color, you may have noticed a plethora of yellow scribblings on your television set throughout the game.
Apparently Meyer hasn't quite shed his coach's hat yet, as he is still obsessed with X's and O's.
Most of the time, Meyer explains what he's doing when he draws all over your screen—during live action, mind you.
But it's those odd moments when circles and lines just appear before the snap or during the live play, and there's no vocal explanation from Meyer—or anyone else.
If Buckeyes fans were looking forward to the return of Dan Herron to the horrible, abysmal, terrible offense, they're going to have to wait a little longer.
After serving a five-game suspension for his part in the infamous “Tattoogate,” Herron was again suspended by Ohio State for receiving improper benefits over the course of his summer employment. Apparently he was paid too much—as in whoever was paying him was giving him a little “something extra” in the paycheck.
Herron won't be on the field for the game at Nebraska, where the Buckeyes will face an understandably angry Cornhuskers squad very hungry for their first Big Ten win after that debacle in Madison last week.
Army and Navy will soon find themselves opening embossed invitations to join the conference realignment party.
While it seems a little odd to have these two programs in a conference, it's not totally out of the realm of possibility. After all, Army was a member of Conference USA from 1998 to 2004, and Air Force is a member of the Mountain West. There's no reason Army and Navy can't join a conference (although to this point, Navy has never done so).
Army and Navy may resist the idea of joining a conference, but conference independence going forward will be less and less viable for teams not named Notre Dame.
While we haven't seen everything Alabama is capable of this season yet, it's clear that the Tide are amongst the nation's elite teams in 2011.
What's equally clear is the fact that Auburn is not.
After building up a seemingly insurmountable lead in last season's Iron Bowl, the Crimson Tide watched an Auburn team in the second half that seemed possessed. The Tigers came back to stun the Tide, and earn a trip the SEC Championship Game and BCS title game.
This season, the roles may be reversed. It will be Alabama looking for an SEC title game berth, and this time big Tide leads will only get bigger.
The relationship between the Big East and Notre Dame has been, in a word, odd.
While Notre Dame isn't the only program to belong to one conference in every sport except football, they are the only program that does so in a conference that also sponsors football.
This has long been a thorn in the side of the conference, as the Big East doesn't reap the benefits of Fighting Irish football the way they should.
In the past, the Big East was willing to overlook this oddity because at least Notre Dame played basketball—and every other sport—in the conference.
But with Big East football in serious trouble, you may see the conference finally tell Notre Dame to put up or shut up.
Notre Dame, in turn, will shut up, take its ball, and go back home to South Bend—without shackling its football program to a sinking conference.
It seems like every season there's at least one.
This season, it will be WKU. The Hilltoppers are on the fast-track to an 0-12 season, which will bring their all-time record since becoming an FBS program to 4-44 (with two of those wins coming against FCS programs, and the other two against Sun Belt programs).
A record like that (.083) will have the boosters—if there are any left—thinking, “Why, oh why did we ever move to the FBS?”
Good question. It wasn't all that long ago—2002—that WKU won an FCS title. What good is making the move to the “big time” if you're going to win less than 10 percent of your games?
It's been quite a while since “Army Beats Navy” has had anything to do with football.
In fact, the last win for the Black Knights came in 2001. The Navy victories over that span have also been fairly lopsided. The closest game was a 12-point Midshipmen win in 2006.
After nine consecutive defeats at the hands of the Midshipmen, the Cadets will have finally had enough.
It helps that Navy seems to be in a bit of a slump, and Army's program is going through a bit of a renaissance.
It seems pretty clear that the biggest potential losers in the conference realignment craze will be conferences like the Mountain West, the WAC and Conference USA.
As the power teams jockey for position, it's hard to imagine the “unimportant” programs like Houston, Idaho and UNLV having their tiny voices heard over the shouting of programs like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
That means that the non-AQ programs will be left to fend for themselves.
In order to stay at all relevant to the FBS world, the non-AQ conferences will need to pool their resources, and combine efforts. As the Big 12 and Big East scramble to gobble up some regionally relevant programs (such as TCU, SMU and Boise State), expect the “leftovers” (like Houston, New Mexico and Nevada) to band together to form their own superconference.
After a season-opening wardrobe that had the entire nation talking followed by a few head-scratching color-schemes, the Terps are finally due for picking something a little more traditional.
After the fashion runway we've seen at Maryland in the first half of the season, the second half will be toned down.
If and when the Bayou Bengals capture their conference title this season, they won't be the only ones to do so.
There's another team in Louisiana that will be bringing home some conference hardware this season, Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Ragin' Cajuns are 4-1 on the season, and 2-0 in the Sun Belt, and there isn't a whole lot standing in the Cajuns' way after dispatching FIU and FAU. While games against Troy and Louisiana-Monroe loom on the schedule, the Cajuns have shown the ability to score enough points against most opponents to walk off the field with a victory.
In their Week 1 game at then-No. 8 Oklahoma State, the Cajuns put up 34 points on the Cowboys. That's enough to win most Sun Belt games.
The trend will continue all the way into November, and the backwater Cajuns will be coming out of the bayous to celebrate a win by the Cajuns alongside the Tigers.
When it came to the new addition to the conference, the Big Ten had to get rid of its clever logo that subtly incorporated the No. “11” into the logo. After all, the Big Ten now had 12 teams.
So what did the conference do? They came up with a combined Big and 10 logo—odd, considering the conference has been pretty plain in its insistence on the moniker “Big Ten” (versus Big 10).
To make matters worse, the Big Ten decided not to go with divisional names that made sense. There could have been the East and West, or North and South, or Great Lakes and Great Plains or any other variation of geographical handles. But instead, the Big Ten seemed to randomly pull names from a hat, and assign each team a division based on the luck of the draw. Then, some PR intern suggested the named “Legends” and “Leaders” for the two divisions.
As shocking as it may seem, the conference brass actually liked the suggested names.
Too bad no one else does.
When the 2011-12 season comes to a finish, so too will the “Legends” and “Leaders.”
After Texas Tech shamefully jumped the gun and bowed to pressure from wind bag Craig James, Mike Leach got a measure of revenge with his tell-all book.
Needless to say, the book didn't paint a flattering picture of Texas Tech, Craig James and his son or ESPN.
There are more than a few programs who would take those grudges as virtues.
Plus, the guy was 84-43 as a head coach at Texas Tech. That has to count for something, right?
Ever since the NCAA shuttered the program in the late '80s, the SMU Mustangs just haven't been the same.
A once-proud program became little more than a laughing stock in the state of Texas. In Lone Star land, where football is king, SMU was the jester, and more than two decades of futility bear out that point.
After an impressive 4-1 start, including capturing the Iron Skillet against TCU for the first time since 2005, the Mustangs are on track to not only up their program's win percentage, but also put on an impressive show for potential Big 12 suitors.
While SMU may not be competing for national championships the way they were back in the late 1970s and early '80s, SMU will once again be a team that can hold its head high, and call itself a winning program.
Georgia fans were disappointed with two early losses (to two very good teams, for what it's worth), and Mark Richt was starting to feel an unpleasant warmth under his backside.
After posting three wins, the Bulldogs are a much-improved 3-2 over last season's 1-4 start.
The road may not be an easy one, but UGA will find much more success this season than last, and it looks as if a second-straight losing season is likely out of the question.
Winning cures all ills in college football, and for the time being, Richt will find his seat much cooler to the touch.
There was a lot of talk before the season about the changes to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, specifically when it comes to celebrations or taunting. The new rule is that the foul is enforced from the point where the illegal act occurs, which means if a player celebrates before making it to the end zone, the touchdown doesn't count, and a penalty is enforced from where the celebration happened.
Or, as in the case of the Navy-Air Force game, if the celebration happens in the end zone, there is a 15-yard walk-off on either the point-after try, or the ensuing kickoff.
Since it was overtime, there was no kickoff, so the penalty was on the try. Navy missed the extra point. Air Force scored a touchdown and their extra point try was successful. Air Force wins.
It may not have cost Navy a touchdown, but it cost the Midshipmen that all important one point in overtime, and the game.
And it won't be the last time we see an unsportsmanlike penalty cost someone the game this season, either.
The new head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers made a little news the other day when he suggested that his own program wasn't an “elite” program.
He also implied that he was misled in the hiring process by being repeatedly told how the people of Morgantown and the state at-large are die-hard supporters of WVU.
Apparently the new coach wasn't too happy with the lack of fan support—or even attendance—at the Mountaineers' last home game.
Sure it was cold, and yes, it was raining. But Holgorsen bluntly said that the players and coaches had to be there and didn't complain, so neither should the fans.
Well, no one ever accused Holgorsen of sugar-coating things.
While the coach's comments may rile some of the Mountaineer “faithful,” as West Virginia sakes through the rest of the Big East, fans will quickly forget the comments.
One word of advice to WVU fans: as your teams closes in on a BCS berth, it would be best if you began showing up to football games, lest your coach take the Rich Rod route, and beat the quickest path out of town.
Name another program in the nation that has a local newspaper list the number of days since its main rival last beat them (seemingly oblivious to the fact that each win is good for another 365 days).
Name another program in the nation that has its marching band march to and from the stadium singing “I Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of [Insert Rival's State Here],” every week of the season, even if the rivalry game is 13 weeks away.
Name another program in the nation that had a coach refuse to name the rival by name, and only refer to it as “that school up north.”
You probably can't, because there's only one program in the nation as single minded: Ohio State.
Almost everything that goes on in Columbus revolved around “Michigan Week,” and the entire state seems to spend the 51 other weeks of the year gearing up for that one game.
So when Michigan finally gets back to their winning ways against a really bad Ohio State team this season, it's going to hit Ohio State fans hard.
Don't worry, Buckeyes. You can contact the Ohio State Counseling Center here.
Here's the thing about the SEC. The belief that it is the greatest thing to happen to football since grass has sort of become one of those self-fulfilling delusions.
Is the SEC a great conference? Sure. What does that have to do with the conference itself? Nothing. What does it have to do with a collection of a few tip-top programs? Everything.
Let's face it: the national media has crowned the SEC the king of the mountain, so until they start losing a few non-conference games (which won't happen when conference teams schedule North Texas, UAB, Florida Atlantic and Kent State), the media will simply continue to reinforce their own belief that the SEC is the greatest thing since Walter Camp “invented” the game.
With all of the talk of superconferences and the possibility of some conferences merging or folding, there's going to be a need for some “mid-major” consolidation as well.
Geographically speaking, two conferences that make sense to team up are the MAC and Conference USA.
The MAC is already that nation's largest conference with 13 members. While it wouldn't be difficult to reach that magic number of 16, joining the MAC isn't exactly an attractive option for any but the bottom of the bottom in the FBS.
What would be likely to happen is some southwestern teams in Conference USA leave for a western superconference or a new incarnation of the Big 12, a few Conference USA teams join up with the Sun Belt to form a new superconference across the south and the remainder of Conference USA joins up with the MAC.
If C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt, et al thing they're being left out now, imagine what it would be like without the clout of a superconference after the smoke clears.
Hey, we're as surprised as anyone. No one really expected Washington to be this good in 2011. After all, when you lose a quarterback like Jake Locker, how can you possibly improve?
We're not sure, either, but right now the Huskies are looking like a team on a mission.
While the Huskies won't win the Pac-12-North this season with top 10 games against Oregon and Stanford staring them down, they'll easily make another bowl game, and will improve upon last season's 7-6 record.
What does a team have to do?
Two arguments exist about the Broncos and whether or not they deserve a shot at the BCS title. But no matter what side of the argument you come down on, it's pretty much agreed that you can't blame the Boise State players or coaches. They are presented with a schedule over which they have no control, and they go out and beat all comers.
The problem really is based on who is coming to play Boise State—there aren't many who will show up to play Boise State these days.
You at least have to give credit to schools like Oregon (2009), Virginia Tech (2010), Georgia (2011), Michigan State (2012, 2022, 2023), Washington (2013, 2015) and BYU (2012-2022, inclusive) for having the cajones to actually play Boise State—and Oregon, Michigan State, BYU and Washington get extra credit for actually traveling to Boise to play.
Let's see Alabama or LSU or Notre Dame or USC make that trip.
And, yes, Boise State has earned it. Enough of the elitism. If Alabama or USC or Michigan or Texas is that great of a program, they shouldn't be afraid to travel to a perennial top 10 team.
But alas, we won't get to see if Boise State truly can run with the big boys. And this season will be another year of one-loss SEC or Big Ten or Pac-12 teams leapfrogging the undefeated Broncos in the polls.
With all of the allegations, investigations, resignations and terminations that have gone on this past offseason, it seems like the five weeks of the season have gone by relatively quietly, at least from an infractions standpoint.
But if you thought the NCAA was taking a vacation, think again. Investigations are still on-going, and before the season is complete, you can bet we'll be hearing more from the NCAA about new allegations or charges against a program or two...
When the Big Ten announced that Nebraska would be joining the conference in 2011, it caused quite a stir. First, Nebraska was seen as a good fit geographically for the conference, as the media base expanded to a whole new segment of the country.
After the Pac-12 had expanded, it seemed like a master stroke of the Big Ten, and the conference seemed to be positioned to remain competitive and relevant for decades to come.
But then Texas A&M announced their move to the SEC, and before long Syracuse and Pittsburgh were making the move to the ACC. Now there are rumors about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and possibly even Texas making the move to the Pac-12.
Suddenly, the Big Ten's brilliant move last year looks like such a small step in comparison.
So what is the conference's next move?
That's still anyone's guess. But it's a safe bet to predict there will be a next move.
After Notre Dame began the season 0-2, it seemed as if all hope was lost of the Irish and their BCS hopes this year.
But since losing to South Florida and what is turning out to be a pretty good Michigan team, the Irish lambasted then-No. 15 Michigan State, topped Pittsburgh and waltzed by Purdue.
The 3-2 Irish aren't ranked yet, but with continued winning and the current Top 25's penchant for upsets this season, it's not completely nuts to envision a two-loss Notre Dame team finding its way not only back into the Top 25, but edging their way up the long ladder towards the top eight they'd need to guarantee a trip to the BCS, or a top 16 spot to make it possible.
This past summer, the US Department of Justice made inquiries of the BCS, asking the organization to explain the process and justify the BCS's belief that the system is fair to all 120 FBS programs.
After the BCS and the NCAA made their reports to the Justice Department, the government has been predictably mum on what's happening with the inquiry.
Although the government cannot legally comment on whether or not an investigation has been launched, the Justice Department is notoriously leaky. We expect to hear something from the folks at Justice at some point before next season.
Coming into the season, no one really expected Auburn to make much noise this year.
With the very narrow victory over Utah State, there were some snickers in towns like Tuscaloosa and Eugene.
Another nail-biter against Mississippi State, and the world began to believe it was only a matter of time before the Tigers lost.
Finally, Auburn did lose to a very, very good Clemson squad, and the Top 25 ranking was gone.
But after an expected win against Florida Atlantic and a surprise upset against then-No. 10 South Carolina, the Tigers suddenly found themselves ranked at No. 15!
Someone somewhere with a poll ballot really likes the Tigers all of the sudden. But Auburn has Arkansas, Florida and LSU on the docket over the next three weeks, and Georgia and Alabama to round out the SEC season.
A difficult schedule for any team, much less one as depleted as Auburn.
Looking at the rest of the South Division, who else is there?
The win against USC gave ASU's title run some legitimacy, and the Sun Devils now control their own destiny in the division. The remaining South competition for Arizona State consists of UCLA, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
At this point not winning the division would be the bigger surprise.
There's a lot of buzz about the Houston Cougars. So far, UH is 5-0, and is led by one heck of a quarterback in Case Keenum.
The problems here is that Houston's schedule makes Boise State look like a member of the SEC that plays only top 10 teams for their non-conference games. That's bound to happen when you're in a conference with Memphis, UAB, UTEP, Tulane and Rice.
There is another problem with Houston: the Cougars are a one-trick pony. Shut down Keenum, and you completely shut down Houston. Keenum accounts for 70 percent of Houston's yards.
Need more proof of Houston's reliance on Keenum? Last season, after Keenum tore his ACL, Houston was 3-7 (.300). With Keenum over the past four-plus seasons, Houston is 33-14 (.702).
An undefeated Houston will be rewarded with a good non-BCS bowl, and will face a ranked opponent. That ranked opponent will have a good QB-contain defense, and Houston will live up to their 1-5 bowl record in the BCS era (and 0-2 record in bowls against BCS-AQ programs).
In one of the greatest blunders in recent college football history, the Texas Longhorns and ESPN jointly launched The Longhorn Network this season.
Before anyone instantaneously jumps to the comments section, hold on a tick. We didn't say whose blunder it was.
In reality, there were three perpetrators—Texas, ESPN and the Big 12—and three victims—Texas, ESPN and the Big 12.
First, let's look at the Big 12. Their blunder was not creating a conference network soon enough to satisfy the big boys in the conference.
Then, there's Texas. They were blinded by dollar signs and the prospect of luring top Texas recruits to the program in Austin by airing “select” Texas high school games—probably games in which top UT targets were playing.
Then, there's ESPN. Like most everything else the “Worldwide Leader” does, it was all about the bottom line. The Longhorns are a big draw, and exclusive rights to a UT-branded network would mean big money.
Now, the victimization.
First, the Big 12. That's pretty obvious. The lack of money flowing to other programs created discontent. Nebraska left, in part, because they could earn some money with the Big Ten Network. The Big 12 waited too long, and now it wasn't possible to create a Big 12 Network. Without Texas, the network would likely fail.
Now Texas. Their jump into TLN sealed the fate of the Big 12 by scaring away the other big draws in the conference—Oklahoma and Nebraska. It looks like Texas could be left holding the worthless Big 12 bag.
Finally, ESPN. It's hard to feel bad for a network that makes so much money, but when this deal goes south, it's going to hit someone's stock options pretty hard.
As much as we love to use puns in our headlines, we're not just referring to Wake Forest here.
Clemson is a team that has had a history littered with late-season disappointments.
After starting the 2011 season 5-0, taking command of the ACC and positioning itself for a run into the top ten in the coming weeks, there are some Clemson observers that might be bracing themselves for major heartbreak.
While Clemson may, at some point, suffer a setback this season, it won't stop the Tigers from claiming the ACC championship, and the BCS berth that goes along with the title win.
After undefeated Kansas State upset previously undefeated Baylor last weekend, KSU was rewarded with a Top 25 ranking for the first time in quite a while.
As exciting as that may be for Wildcats fans, KSU faces Missouri, Texas Tech and Kansas over the next three weeks before hosting Big 12-favorite Oklahoma for homecoming on October 29.
Could there possibly be a worse opponent to host on homecoming?
It won't matter. By that time, KSU will be well out of the Big 12 race.
The Ducks looked shell-shocked after their epic fail against LSU to begin the season.
Chip Kelly has his team recovering nicely, and it's clear that the Rose Bowl is front and center for the Ducks this season.
Not even Stanford will be able to stand in their way, and the Ducks will earn a trip to the first-ever Pac-12 Championship Game.
Welcome to the Big Ten, Cornhuskers.
The Badgers worked up their best welcoming committee last weekend in Madison, and the 'Huskers returned home to Lincoln as creamed corn.
So much for the talk of dominating the Big Ten.
Well, the conference season is just underway, and the game at Madison wasn't even a divisional contest, so Nebraska still holds their own fate in their hands.
Lucky for Nebraska, the Legends division isn't filled with Wisconsins.
The 'Huskers will get a pass from teams like Minnesota and Northwestern, and this year you can probably add Iowa to that list.
The division will come down to a three-way contest between Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska, and the October 29 game in Lincoln against the Spartans may just decide who earns a trip to Indianapolis this December.
Bet on Nebraska.
While Nebraska may win the Legends division this season, the unfortunate part of that equation is that the Cornhuskers will face Wisconsin again in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Since the first go 'round was a complete embarrassment for Nebraska, it's questionable as to whether or not the Cornhuskers can put up more than token resistance to Wisconsin a second time.
The Big Ten title bout won't be as lopsided, but it will still end with a Badgers victory, Big Ten title, and return visit to the Rose Bowl.
Contrary to popular belief, the SEC is in fact going to be in search of a 14th member for the conference.
There are two important reasons why. First and foremost, parity. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have two divisions with unequal numbers of teams. Logically assuming that Texas A&M is added to the SEC-West next season, the West will have seven teams, while the East will have just six. Simple probability tells us that it's now easier to win the East, while slightly more difficult to win the West. We're betting the West teams won't like that very much.
Secondly, the other superconferences-to-be are searching out their 14th members as we speak—the ACC being the most obvious example.
If the Pac-12 follows suit and adds two more teams, and the Big Ten expands again, it could soon look like the SEC is standing still in comparison.
Somehow we're betting that SEC fans wouldn't be satisfied with the addition of Tulane and Louisiana Tech to the SEC, so if the conference wants quality future members, the time to act is sooner, not later.
LSU and Alabama have risen to the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively (although the Tide began the season at No. 2). Sorry, SEC fans, but the dream BCS Championship Game match up won't happen.
Much like Ohio State and Michigan a few years back, there's just too much pressure on pollsters and the BCS to ensure two teams from different conferences end up in the game, no matter how much we'd love to see a rematch.
This game will essentially be an SEC Championship Game play-in, and the winner will undoubtedly capture the SEC-West title.
This time, the Tigers break through, take the West, and the entire SEC for that matter.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Yellow Jackets have taken the ACC by storm, and find themselves ranked as the No. 13 team in the nation, sporting a perfect 5-0 record.
Looking down the list of the rest of the Coastal division, there's not too terribly much to get excited about.
Sure, there's Virginia Tech, but after their loss to Clemson, it appears as if the Rambling Wreck now has the inside track.
As unlikely as it may have seemed at the beginning of the season, or for some even now, Tech will not only beat the Hokies, but they'll beat everyone else in the division earning a trip the ACC title game.
When the season began, there was a lot of hype about the team in Tallahassee. Turns out, the hype was just that: hype.
After losing to then-No. 1 Oklahoma, the Seminoles slid in the polls. After a second-stright loss to Clemson, the Seminoles took a deserved pounding by the voters.
Rather than gliding to an ACC title this season, the Seminoles now need quite a bit of help to knock Clemson out of the top spot in the Atlantic division.
Considering the remaining conference opposition for the Tigers, that doesn't seem likely.
Still, Florida State will benefit from the return of EJ Manuel, and will rise the challenge, finishing the regular season 9-3.
That will earn FSU a very nice postseason trip, and should provide an excellent building block for next season.
After his fourth season of lackluster performance, Texas A&M decides to head in a new direction for their new conference affiliation in 2012.
Sherman's under-performing ways in Aggieland will no longer be tolerated, and can't be stomached any longer while moving into the tougher SEC.
Since the Big 12 was formed out of the wreckage of the Big Eight and Southwestern Conference, Oklahoma State has been championship-less.
There always seems to be obstacles in the way for the Cowboys, and 2011 won't be any different. What is different this season is the Oklahoma State football team.
One of the very best teams in the nation, Oklahoma State now has the skill and depth to compete with anyone in the country, including every team in the Big 12.
Not only has it been a while since Oklahoma State has hoisted any championship trophy, it's also been quite some time since the Cowboys beat their nemesis, the Oklahoma Sooners.
Don't worry, Cowboys fans. This is your year to remedy both of those situations.
There's nothing the BCS hates more than multiple undefeated teams at the end of the season. After all, the BCS was designed to alleviate National Championship controversy.
Bu this time, it's perfectly clear it hasn't even come close to that goal. If anything, the controversy has simply changed from “shared national championships” to “[insert team name here] got screwed by the BCS.”
The 2011 season won't be the first time there are multiple undefeated programs after the conference championship dust has settled, but it will be the most consequential.
The move towards superconferences in the conference realignment craze will put the BCS under a very uncomfortable microscope. Once the conference realignment mess is resolved, the realignment will work its way into the BCS system at the demand of the new conferences.
The conferences will use 2011, in part, as a reason to revamp the system.
The BCS will survive, but it might be in name only.