Prognostication 101: Man Versus Machine

I wanted to use this article to make some quick picks for the upcoming college football season. I thought it would be fun to see if I can do a more accurate job of forecasting than the NCAA 11 video game and since real life college football starts this Thursday, this figures to be a good time to do it. NCAA 11 picks in bold, my picks in italics. At the end of the season, we’ll compare and see who fared better.

ACC Champ
Miami, FL (12-2)

Virginia Tech (11-3)

Thoughts: Whoever comes out of the ACC is going to have a number of losses. Miami has 5 very tough games this season, 3 of which are at home, so I doubt they’ll only lose 2 games this season. However, I expect them to make another big step towards that return to prominence. I could see Miami taking this conference if things go their way (or even North Carolina for that matter), but I like Virginia Tech out of the ACC. They have the week 1 clash with Boise State, but can basically coast all the way until weeks 9-11, when they play Georgia Tech at home and then on the road at North Carolina and Miami, FL. How they fare in that 3 week stretch will determine their season. My guess is they split those 4 games and then lose either in the ACC Championship or in their bowl game.

The rest of my picks after the break.

Big 12 Champ
Nebraska (13-1)

Oklahoma (12-2)

Thoughts: Being a lifelong Nebraska fan, the fan in me hates to disagree with the computer pick. Even ESPN is picking Nebraska to go 11-1! But the realist in me thinks that Nebraska isn’t a National Championship contender this season. The fact that anybody outside of the state thinks they might be shows how good of a coaching job Bo Pelini has done since he took the program over a few years ago. I think Nebraska might drop 1 game against a good opponent (either Washington or Texas) and maybe another one against a team they should beat (possibly Missouri or at Texas A&M). Still, finishing the regular season with 2 losses might have them atop the North and they can still have a shot to win the Big 12 title in their last season. This is the first time since 2001 that I feel Nebraska actually has a chance to win every game they’ll play this year.

Oklahoma has big games against Florida State and Texas, but should win the rest of their games on their way to the league championship. I really think it will be a close game between Nebraska and Oklahoma if they can both make it past their hurdles.

Big East
Rutgers (10-3)

West Virginia (10-3)

Thoughts: Sure, West Virginia hasn’t been the same since Rich Rod left a few years ago (and let’s not even start with how Rich Rod hasn’t been the same since taking over Michigan!), but I think they still have enough talent to put together a solid run this season. Let’s be honest, this is the Big East we are talking about, they don’t deserve a BCS bid, and they don’t deserve any more coverage in this article.

Big 10
Ohio State (12-1)

Ohio State (11-2)

Thoughts: I think Iowa will surprise a lot of people this year in the Big 10, but I just don’t see them having the firepower to take down the mighty Buckeyes. Home games against Miami, FL and Penn State combined with the road games against Iowa and Wisconsin will be the biggest tests Ohio State faces this season. I think they probably get tripped up in 1 or 2 of those games.

Mountain West
TCU (12-1)

TCU (13-0)

Thoughts: As is usually the case, the Mountain West has 1 or 2 good teams (Utah and TCU) and the team that wins their matchup takes the league. This year Utah isn’t great, and they’ve already got their eye on the allure of the Pac-10 in 2011, so TCU will easily make their way through their league play and bowl game, but won’t get high enough in the standings to play in the BCS Championship.

Washington (11-2)

Oregon (11-2)

Thoughts: The Pac-10 this season could come down to a handful of teams.  This is a conference with improving teams from top to bottom, so the wins are very tough to come by. The conference champion could easily finish with 3 losses. Oregon always finds a way to field a potent offense, and they play in one of the most intimidating stadiums for opposing teams, I like them to put together enough wins to take the conference.

Alabama (14-0)

Alabama (12-2)

Thoughts: Alabama brings back last year’s Heisman winner, and a solid starting QB, but they lose many of the best players from last season’s suffocating defense. They’ve also got a brutal schedule, I just don’t seem them making it through unscathed. Keep an eye on Arkansas this season, they could really surprise some people.

National Champ
Alabama over Ohio State

Boise State over Oklahoma

Thoughts: Come on, you gotta think outside of the box, right? Boise State has been so close, for so many years, they are due. This pick could totally be derailed in the 1st week though as Boise faces Virginia Tech for their opening game. But if the boys in blue can make it by the Hokies, it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Heisman Winner
Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

Thoughts: Like I said, keep an eye on Arkansas this season, and Mallett is the biggest reason why.

P.S. I changed up a few of my picks simply because the game and I ended up with the same thing in almost every case, and what’s the fun in that?

How do you think I did? How do you see this season turning out? Let’s hear your picks in the comments.

Published by

Dave Sack

has been tasked with the great responsibility of covering all things entertainment related. His career is a quest of epic proportions. What that quest is ultimately leading toward is a mystery to us all. His family (wife & son), football, coaching, movies, and video games take up most of his time.

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