ACC- With Louisville joining the ACC, and the defending National Champions Florida State in the conference, the ACC should be fairly strong this year. The Florida State Seminoles are the obvious choice to lead the ACC. Having won the national championship last year, the team should have high hopes and spirits for the upcoming season. Coach Jimbo Fisher is considered legendary, and defending Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston only got better in the offseason. With Winston on the field and Fisher on the sideline, the Seminoles have a shot at repeating their success from last season.
Big Ten- As the Big Ten expands to 14 teams; the competition is growing evermore fierce. Both Rutgers and Maryland are joining the Big Ten this year, but that isn’t the biggest talk in the conference. Everyone is talking about the Ohio State program, as the Buckeyes are predicted to take first in the Big Ten this year. Even though Michigan State was first last year, their defense was hit hard by players moving on in their careers. The Buckeyes have the number one defensive line this year, so it is going to be hard to get any run game going. While Ohio State should be strong, Penn State and Michigan are emerging contenders, and shouldn’t be tossed aside. The best player in the Big Ten this year should be Braxton Miller, the Ohio State Quarterback. Look to this young man to put the offense on his back and carry the team to the end zone.
Big 12- In the past, the Big 12 has been regarded as a lower tier conference when compared to the SEC, Pac-12, and ACC. However, after Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl win against Alabama, the conference is finally getting the respect that it deserves. Baylor and Texas have also built up a highly competitive football program to help the Big 12 rep. Oklahoma is predicted to take the top spot in the Big 12 this year, but Baylor shouldn’t be far behind. The stand out player of the Big 12 is expected to be Baylor’s Quarterback, Bryce Petty. 2013 was his first year in the starting spot, but he proved that he deserved the spot. With 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns, the returning Petty has put Baylor in contention for the conference title, as well as the national championship.
Pac-12- Even though the SEC remains the top conference, the Pac-12 is quickly closing the gap. With four teams being top contenders for the Pac-12 championship, the Pac-12 looks like it’s going to have an exciting year. Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and USC are all fighting for the top spot, but right now it looks like Oregon will just barely win the conference. The Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the player to watch this year in the Pac-12 because if he stays healthy, it fares very well for Oregon.
SEC- As always, the SEC is predicted to be the strongest conference this year. Even though the SEC didn’t take home the national title last year, there is a good chance that they reclaim the trophy. With Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia all coming into the season as favorites, the SEC has a lot of teams that could potentially by great this year. Alabama is predicted to take the top spot over Auburn, taking revenge over the tigers for the last minute win in 2013. While ‘Bama lacks the Quarterback that they have had in past years, their running game and defense is as strong as always. The top player in the SEC for the 2014 season is predicted to be Todd Gurley, the Georgia running back that was injured in the LSU game last year. After he got hurt, the Bulldog’s season began a downwards spiral. His previous two years Gurley carried the ball for 2,374 yards and 27 touchdowns, and he’s only gotten faster and stronger. If Gurley stays healthy, Georgia will be a threat to every team in the country.
AAC- Even though the conference has been fairly unstable for the last few years, American Athletic is stable once again. While no team in the American Athletic conference is looking at the national championship, some teams are looking at some large bowl games. The top of the conference is very evenly matched, with Cincinnati, East Carolina, and UCF all being top contenders. Even though Cincinnati is predicted to finish in the top spot of the conference, American Athletic is kind of a toss up. Cincinnati has a strong defense, and their offense is looking increasingly better, especially with the addition of Gunner Kiel, a Notre Dame transfer. Kiel should bring a spark to the Cincinnati offense, and help lead the team to a conference championship and even a bowl game.
Conference USA- Even though Conference USA is not one of the strongest conferences, the C-USA teams may be able to prove themselves this year. Marshall is favored for every game in their schedule, and are predicted to go undefeated for the year. If that happens, Marshall will definitely get a bid to a big bowl game, and they will get the chance to prove that their conference packs a punch. Marshall is the obvious favorite for C-USA, and is coming into the season with something to prove. The team will have 13 returning seniors, and the dynamic senior quarterback, Rakeem Cato, will lead the offense. Cato is the star of C-USA, and the entire league will look to him to show the country what C-USA is made of.
FBS Independent- As usual, Notre Dame will lead the Independent teams, but Notre Dame isn’t in for a stellar year. While star quarterback Everett Golson is returning after a 1-year ban, he doesn’t have much to work with. Wide Receivers are going to have to step up to help put the ball into the end zone, but most of the weight rests on Golson’s shoulders. The defense will also have to step up big time in order to help the team. While there are some good players on D, there are some big holes that still need to be filled.
MAC- Even though the new four game playoff increases the gap between the top conferences and the lower ones, teams from the lower conferences still have the opportunity to show up on the national stage through bowl games. This year Bowling Green has the chance to get to a big bowl game. Bowling Green averaged 38 points per game last year, and with a new head coach and returning quarterback Matt Johnson, that number is only expected to increase. Toledo is the hardest game on Bowling Green’s schedule, and even that isn’t too tough of a game. Bowling Green is rallying behind Johnson to help lead the team to a bowl game this year.
Mountain West- The Mountain West is no longer the conference it was in 2013, or the year’s prior. The losses of coaches and players really hurt the conference’s power. Boise State lost their head coach but acquired the offensive coordinator from Arkansas State. Injuries hurt the Broncos last year, but if they remain healthy, they should win the conference. However, if Boise suffers injuries again, the Utah State Aggies will win. Aggies’ Chuck Keeton returns to the starting quarterback position after tearing his ACL last season. If Keeton can come back strong, the Aggies have a chance to take the conference from under Boise.
Sun Belt- The Sun Belt conference is a fairly small conference with fairly unknown teams. However, UL Lafayette is proving to be quite strong, at least for their conference. They are predicted to go 8-0 within Sun Belt and 10-2 overall. The Ragin’ Cajuns are led by quarterback Terrance Broadway and their wide selection of running backs. Broadway led the team to average 33.8 points per game in 2013, and he will be looking to increase that number to give the Cajuns even more leverage over their opponents.