August 9, 2009

Which team is most prohibitive conference favorite?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Which school do you see as the most prohibitive favorite in its conference?

Florida is the consensus choice to win the national championship; therefore, it would stand to reason the Gators should be a big favorite to win their conference. But the SEC is rife with strong teams Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and Georgia which means an SEC championship won't come easily for the Gators. The team that should be the heaviest favorite to win its league is WAC powerhouse Boise State. QB Kellen Moore will keep the Broncos among the nation's highest-scoring teams. The defense is solid, too. Sure, road trips to Fresno, Hawaii and Louisiana Tech could be dicey, but if Boise State gets by Oregon in the season opener, an undefeated season is a real possibility.


Boise State has won five outright WAC titles in the past seven seasons, a trend that should continue in 2009. No one in the WAC can touch the Broncos. Hawaii rose up in 2007 and Nevada has made the Broncos sweat the past two seasons, but Boise State should have little trouble winning the league. A young team with a redshirt freshman quarterback started 12-0 last season. What happens with all of that talent back on the roster? The best the rest of the league can hope for is that Oregon beats Boise State in the opener and the Broncos let that disappointment drag them down for the rest of the year.


Boise State not winning the WAC would be stunning. I would be surprised if any league opponent stays within 10 points of the Broncos, who look to have way too much talent for the rest of the conference. Plus, the second-best team in the league, Nevada, has to play at Boise. The Broncos are 23-1 in WAC play in coach Chris Petersen's three seasons, and they have lost just twice in WAC play in their seven seasons in the league.


Florida and Virginia Tech are overwhelming preseason picks to win their conferences, but both schools have plenty of worthy competitors. The SEC likely will have at least four other teams LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia ranked in the top 25. Virginia Tech has a potential top-15 team (Georgia Tech) in its own division. USC has won at least a share of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles, but the Trojans look more vulnerable than usual with a first-year starting quarterback and an inexperienced defense. That's why I have to go with Boise State. The Broncos are the only WAC team in the preseason top 50 countdown. Boise State's toughest challenger in the WAC is Nevada, which will have to face the Broncos in Boise. While it would be somewhat surprising if Florida, Virginia Tech or USC failed to win its conference title, I'd be stunned if Boise State isn't atop the WAC standings at the end of the season.


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