Welcome to our first annual 2015 Preseason College Football Conference Predictions! We broke down every conference division to projected out how every team would finish based on ability and conference schedule. Our College Football Ratings are updated weekly and are the main driver of team ability. We also provide weekly game projections at NCAA Football Predictions.
American Athletic Conference
From a computer ratings perspective, there seems to be pretty clear cut differences in the AAC West. Memphis, Navy and Houston are the best three teams and should compete for the top spot. On the other hand, Tulane, Tulsa and SMU appear to be in the second tier of the group and should round out 4th to 6th place in the division.
The AAC East race measures up to be a pretty competitive one. USF and Connecticut don’t project to put up much of a fight and should battle for the last two places in the division. The top four places should be rather highly contested with ECU, UCF and Cincinnati all being rating 59th, 55th and 58th, respectively in my preseason ratings. It also wouldn’t be too shocking to Temple complete for the top spot as they pair with Tulane and SMU as their out of division games. An early 2nd week match up for Temple at Cincinnati will tell us a lot about their chances to compete for the division.
Atlantic Coast Conference
In what has been a pretty common trend over the last few years, Clemson and Florida State should be battling it out for a trip to the ACC Championship. Wake Forest and Syracuse make up a tier of their own at the bottom of the standings, while Boston College, NC State, and Louisville all project out in the third to fifth spots.
In another common trend within the ACC, the Coastal division is a complete crap shoot. I do see Georgia Tech as a rather clear favorite, but only 2.5 wins separate the first and last teams in this division. I wouldn’t be surprised if you still have four or five teams in contention with two weeks left in the season.
Big Ten Conference
I see three tiers of teams in the Big Ten West this year. Tier one includes Wisconsin and Nebraska and those teams should battle it out for the division title. Tier two includes Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern. While I project Minnesota as the best team of those three, Iowa has the slightly easier schedule and projects to third. The last tier is Illinois and Purdue whom will most likely finish at the bottom of the table.
Not that I’d ever really want to say that calling a division would be easy, but, well, this one sort of is. Ohio State should easily win the division and Vegas currently agrees (-260 to win the entire conference). I don’t see anyone really giving Michigan State a tough challenge for the second spot either. The third and fourth spots should be up for grabs between Penn State and Michigan, while Maryland, Indiana and Rutgers will fight it out for the last three spots.
Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 is once again a very solid conference with seven different teams in my preseason top-40. Similar to last year, TCU and Baylor should battle it out for the top spot, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Oklahoma made some noise. The one interesting note of this group is in Kansas State. Though we have them as the third best team in the conference, we project them at seven because of the way their schedule plays out.
In the West, Louisiana Tech and Rice are the clear cut number one and two, but the rest of the division is a bit muddled. I have UTSA finishing higher, at third, than just about anyone as they draw Charlotte and a very winnable home game with MTSU from the other division.
In the East, I list Marshall as the best team, but this division very well could come down to November 27th when they travel to Western Kentucky. Charlotte is the clear-cut worst team in the conference, but there should be some good competition among teams projected to finish in the third to sixth spots.
The Mid-American Conference West appears to have three tiers of teams. The bottom tier includes one team, Eastern Michigan, which is clearly the worst of the bunch. The middle tier includes three teams, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Ball State with Western Michigan having a good argument to make the top tier. Then there are Toledo and Northern Illinois which should battle it out for not just the division, but the conference as well.
The East is the weaker of the two divisions in the Mid-American Conference as they lack a strong team. This leads to what will arguably be the most contested division in all of college football. Only 2.2 wins separates the top team, Akron, and the bottom team, Miami (Ohio) so there is a lot of projected parity.
Mountain West Conference
Boise State should easily win the Mountain division of the MWC and also are the odds on favorite to take the entire conference (-260 to win the conference at the time of writing). Wyoming and New Mexico should finish five and six, but there will be good competition for the second spot with Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force all fielding good teams this year.
Our projections have Nevada slightly edging out San Diego State in what appears to be a dead heat for the top spot of the West. Fresno State, though similar in talent, draw a much more difficult schedule which probably takes them out of the running to be the division champion.
Pac 12 Conference
The only sure bet in the South division of the PAC 12 is that Colorado will be at the bottom of the table. There is a lot of parity between the top four, arguably even the top five if you include Utah. At the end of the day, I see the division shaking out in the battle of Los Angeles between USC and UCLA.
There are two tiers in the PAC 12 North. The top tier includes Oregon and Stanford, who should once again battle it out for a trip to the PAC 12 Championship. The second tier features Cal, Washington, Washington State, and Oregon State who all have relative parity and could call make a case for finishing third in the division.
The SEC West is the toughest division in the country, and I’m not even sure any sane person can make a legitimate argument against that. I have every one of these teams ranked in my preseason top-30! No other division even comes close to that. Anyways, Alabama appears to be the clear favorite, and should win the division. I project a pretty serious battle for the next six places as any team can beat anyone else on the right day.
While the projection on the last two teams (Kentucky and Vanderbilt) is pretty easy, there are some good teams in the middle of the pack of the SEC East. I have Georgia as the favorite to win the conference, but I think places two to five could realistically finish in any order.
Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt Conference is a very tough one to predict this year. The three worst teams (New Mexico St, Idaho, and Georgia St.) project to be at the bottom of the table. In fact, those teams occupy three of the four bottom spots of my preseason poll. In what is probably the biggest discrepancy that you’ll see between my projections and what Vegas projects is in Appalachian State. I only project them out at 4.3 conference wins and the numbers realistically see them placing anywhere between fourth and seventh in the conference. Vegas has them in the +150 range to win the conference as of this writing which is a pretty big departure from the computer ratings.