We're around the halfway point for the 2011 college football season and with that in mind we figured now was as good a time as any to take a look back to August and our pre-season picks from around the nation. There are some head scratchers, some validated thoughts and some "damn, I definitely should have rolled with my gut on that one" moments. So we'll take a look back at our Conference Championship picks for the season and our BCS Bowl Predictions and we'll talk about where they stand now and if we could change them, who we would change them to.
But first here's a program alert, check out ESPN Williamsport to hear your's truly on the radio talking a little college football at 4:15. EASTERN TIME PEOPLE BECAUSE THAT'S THE ONE THAT COUNTS!
ACC: Original picks Virginia Tech, Florida State and Florida State
Let's kick it off with the ACC where the Coastal pick was Virginia Tech, Atlantic was Florida State and overall champion was Florida State.
I'll keep the Hokies and given Florida State's two conference losses I'll put the Clemson Tigers in their spot. The Tigers are three steps ahead of Florida State and given their remaining league schedule of North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and NC State it is tough to imagine Dabo's boys dropping three to re-insert the Noles back into the conversation. Better still, with Wake Forest in the picture at 3-1 in the league the Noles would need the Demon Deacons to drop three games as well. While a possibility Wake and Clemson have yet to play and one of those teams will maintain their lead given Wake has just Duke, an out of sorts UNC team in Winston-Salem, Clemson and Maryland remaining.
As for the ACC Champ? Gimme the Hokies. They know big game situations, they play well in big game scenarios and I'll take Frank Beamer over Dabo Swinney in Charlotte in a rematch where Bud Foster has a shot to retool his defense to combat Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Dwayne Allen and the rest of the Tigers offensive attack.
Big East: Original pick South Florida
In the Big East I rolled out South Florida to start the year and after they beat Notre Dame to start the season I was feeling good about my pick. Then Pitt happened. Ugh. USF's long time problem of dropping big games, being inconsistent on offense and just an all around "not that good" team. A team that proceeded to drop their next Big East game at UConn. So yeah, I'd like a redo here.
Give me West Virginia and the fighting Holgorsens. Sure they got manhandled by LSU, most teams would. This team is looking to be the class of the Big East and while they're only 1-0 in the league they look the part as the team that will walk away with the automatic bid from the conference.
Big Ten: Original picks Wisconsin, Nebraska and Wisconsin
Ah the Big Ten, where I tried to tell everyone that "All Russell Wilson Everything" would be a difference maker in the conference. In the Leaders division my pick of Wisconsin is the selection that I'm the most pleased with so far this year. The Badgers are having their way with teams and this week we'll see how for real they are as they travel to East Lansing to play Michigan State. In the Legends side of things I am "meh" with the pick of Nebraska. The Huskers have some defficencies on both sides of the ball but they rebounded from a loss to Wisconsin by beating down Ohio State.
That said I'd like to change the pick to Michigan State. That's right Sparty is my team that I think ultimately wins this side of the Big Ten. Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell are a killer one-two punch and this defense is a monster. They punch teams in the mouth, relish the bully role and they have no problem playing to the echo of the whistle and then some.
As for the Big Ten Champion, I sticking with my Wisconsin pick. Win or lose this weekend against Sparty I think this Wisconsin team takes the conference. In a rematch the Badgers will have the weapon that is Nick Toon to play in Indianapolis and ultimately based upon what we've seen to this point the Badgers just inspire confidence in this guy.
Big XII: Original pick Oklahoma
Right now there are only two serious picks in the Big XII, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Texas has fallen to both schools and the Longhorns still have Texas Tech, Mizzou, Kansas State, Texas A&M and Baylor on the schedule. While it doesn't get harder than the two Oklahoma schools back to back the burnt orange's schedule doesn't exactly get easier. Texas A&M has already dropped a game to the Cowboys so they're in a loser position that could be remedied by winning out and OU beating the Pokes but that's not exactly likely, especially playing in Norman and Manhattan.
Pac-12: Original picks Oregon, Arizona State and Arizona State
Now for the Pac-12. Oregon and Stanford look to be the class of the overall league and I'll take the banged up Ducks as I did originally. But someone has to win the South Division right? Southern Cal has already lost to Arizona State and still has Stanford and Oregon remaining on the schedule. Arizona State has one conference loss, this past weekend at Oregon and the Sun Devils avoid the Cardinal on their schedule.
So the changes I'd make here are minimal, I'd take my preseason pick of Southern Cal to win the South and switch it to my Pac-12 champion pick of Arizona State. Having already had the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 championship game and winning I'll only be making a minor change. I like Erickson's squad in a rematch against the Ducks and I like the Ducks to beat Stanford to win the North.
SEC: Original picks Georgia, Alabama and Alabama
The Dawgs pick was shaky after they dropped the contest against Auburn but now that South Carolina has a loss to Auburn the Dawgs are back in control of their own destiny. It must be mentioned that Sakerlina's hopes are also hurt by the loss of Marcus Lattimore, the heart and soul of this offense. Florida already has three SEC losses so their chances are effectively killed so with Florida, Auburn and Kentucky remaining, all games the Dawgs should be favored in, UGA has to get the pick.
In the West this is an absolute coin flip that, barring some magical upset, boils down to the November 5th Bama-LSU contest. I'll ride with the Tide on the strength of sticking to my original guns. LSU is damn good though and given my affinity for the wonky stylings of Les Miles this is not an easy decision to make.
Tide takes the title, not much more to say there.
Here is where things get tricky, the BCS Bowl predictions. This should be fun because there are all sorts of things that I'd like to redo, not just because of the new conference picks that I've made but because of the BCS standings that have dropped.
Orange Bowl: Original pick was Florida State and South Florida
Given my new picks I'm going to go with a good old hate match up here Virginia Tech comes out of Charlotte victorious and takes on the Big East champion West Virginia to produce another sure sell out and a game that will feature two fanbases that legitimately hate each other.
Fiesta Bowl: Original pick was Texas A&M and Notre Dame
I'll stick with the Irish on the strength of maintaining some integrity within my selections and sticking to those proverbial guns. The schedule for Notre Dame is doable with Southern Cal and Stanford being the two biggest obstacles. I'm sticking with my 10-2 Irish preseason pick. The other side I'll go with the runner up in the Big XII, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are on a mission but I don't think they win the Bedlam game and that lands them at 11-1 and sitting right here in Tempe.
Rose Bowl: Original pick was Arizona State and Ohio State
The Buckeyes are not going to be in a position to get to a BCS Bowl this year unless they somehow win their division (not happening barring catastrophe) and the Big Ten title game. I don't see that going down. Wisconsin fits into this pick now on the strength of the Badgers' schedule not allowing them to leap frog an SEC of Big XII team. Originally I thought the SEC would cannibalize themselves but LSU and Bama both seem too focused to slip up. Badgers make a return trip to Pasadena. Arizona State remains the pick so there is a bit of my stubborness hanging on.
Sugar Bowl: Original Pick Alabama and Boise State
We're keeping the Broncos here folks. They are going ot run the table, the slip up against TCU is not going to happen and they are abusing the Mountain West in their first season in the conference. LSU, at 11-1 gets the nod here over the Tide. They will avoid the season ending slip up against Arkansas that sank their BCS hopes from a year ago.
BCS Championship Game: Original pick Wisconsin and Oklahoma
The Badgers are out, they're now in the Rose Bowl because their schedule just doesn't have the oomph to catapult them over an undefeated SEC of Big XII team and I am now predicting undefeated tracks for the champion of both leagues. With that in mind we will get to see the Crimson and Cream take on the Crimson Tide in NOLA this year. Big players, big plays and big coaching personalities clash in what will be a match up of the preseason top two teams.