NCAA Football

Predicting the Winner of Every College Football Conference

Predicting the Winner of Every College Football Conference

Jameis Winston
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 college football season is the start of a new era as the four-team playoff commences. With the selection committee now determining who plays for all the marbles instead of those silly computers, conference championships carry more weight than ever. Here is a prediction of each conference champion for next season.

AAC: Cincinnati

Silverberry Mouhon
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

AAC: Cincinnati

Silverberry Mouhon
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Louisville, Syracuse and Rutgers, the American Athletic Conference will not be as strong in 2014 making Cincinnati the clear favorite entering next season. Newcomers East Carolina and Houston will contend for the title, but the Bearcats will boast possibly the league's best defense; and thanks to a schedule that includes home games against Houston and ECU, they should come out on top.

ACC: Florida State

Jimbo Fisher
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ACC: Florida State

Jimbo Fisher
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State rolled through the ACC in 2013 and should do the same this season. The Seminoles lost a number of players to the NFL, but Jimbo Fisher is building a powerhouse in Tallahassee. With the return of Jameis Winston, the Noles should win their third straight ACC crown.

Big Ten: Ohio State

Braxton Miller
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten: Ohio State

Braxton Miller
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State is coming off back-to-back undefeated seasons in Big Ten regular season play but missed a chance at the conference championship in 2012 due to sanctions and were upset in the title game by Michigan State last season. Yet head coach Urban Meyer has a talented team and a potential Heisman winner in Braxton Miller. Even though it will take a road win against the Spartans to do so, I'm betting on the Buckeyes in 2014.

Big 12: Oklahoma

Trevor Knight
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12: Oklahoma

Trevor Knight
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody finished 2013 season stronger than Oklahoma with back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama to close the season. The Sooners' stunning blowout of the Crimson Tide in Sugar Bowl, along with the return of quarterback Trevor Knight, makes them the favorite in the Big 12. A favorable schedule that includes home games against defending champion Baylor and Oklahoma State also sets up well for the Sooners.

C-USA: Marshall

Rakeem Cato
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

C-USA: Marshall

Rakeem Cato
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Rakeem Cato has thrown for 37 and 39 touchdowns in the past two seasons, respectively, and he is the biggest reason why Marshall is the heavy favorite to win the Conference USA championship in 2014. The Thundering Herd made it to the Championship Game in 2013, and with Cato back for his senior season, anything less than a conference championship will be considered a disappointment.

MAC: Bowling Green

Matt Johnson
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

MAC: Bowling Green

Matt Johnson
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The MAC is there for the taking again for Bowling Green, particularly after both Northern Illinois and Ball State lost their quarterbacks to the NFL. The Falcons return quarterback Matt Johnson, who led the team to the conference title in 2013, making them the clear favorite to repeat in 2014.

MWC: Utah State

Chuckie Keeton
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

MWC: Utah State

Chuckie Keeton
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State fell just short the MWC Championship last season, losing 24-17 to Fresno State in the title game. However, with a healthy Chuckie Keeton in 2014 and the loss of Derek Carr to the NFL for Fresno State, the Aggies have a great chance to finish the job this season. It will be a wide-open race, but the advantage goes to the team with the best quarterback; and if Keeton stays healthy, that is definitely Utah State.

Pac-12: Oregon

Marcus Mariota
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12: Oregon

Marcus Mariota
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon didn't end 2013 the way that it hoped with a pair of road losses late in the year, including a second straight loss to Stanford, which went on to capture its second consecutive Pac-12 Championship. Marcus Mariota returns to lead one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and with Stanford visiting Eugene this season, the Ducks are poised for their first Pac-12 title since 2011.

SEC: Alabama

Nick Saban
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

SEC: Alabama

Nick Saban
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

It is harder to win back-to-back National Championships than it is SEC titles. Tennessee was the last team to do it in 1997-98, but Auburn, the surprise champion in 2013, has a great chance to do just that with the return of quarterback Nick Marshall. Yet a trip to Alabama for the Iron Bowl to end the season looms large. My money is on Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide to earn redemption for 2013 while regaining their lofty perch atop the SEC.

Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette

Louisiana-Lafayette
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette

Louisiana-Lafayette
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth has built a very strong program with three straight New Orleans Bowl titles and a share of the Sun Belt championship in 2013. With the return of quarterback Terrance Broadway as well as both of the team's top running backs, the Ragin' Cajuns should come away with the first outright Sun Belt Championship in school history.