Now we take a look at the national picture
Issues in 2006
The new rule changes: All the coaches need to quit whining and adjust to the new clock rules. It's for television, and that television contract pays their salary.
The BCS National Championship Game and the move to Fox: I like the fact that the "national championship" game is now a separate entity because it creates 2 more at-large berths for a minor conference team to shoot for.
The problem for the BCS is, they've moved the BCS games from ABC to Fox.
Remember anything on ABC is going to be aggressively promoted by ESPN, which has more pull in the sports world now than at any time in history. When the BCS had problems in the past, they could count on ESPN's stable of experts to spin the problems in a positive light because ABC and ESPN had a financial stake in the BCS.
Now that the BCS is on Fox, they don't have "the Worldwide Leader in Sports" in their corner. Which means that any controversy the BCS has will be aggressively attacked by ESPN now that they don't have to worry about t's financial well being.
And this year, we are almost guaranteed to have BCS controversy because a lot of the top teams are flawed. Most likely there will be no undefeated teams and many one-loss teams.
The cries for a playoff are only going to be louder and louder.
North Champ: Nebraska
South Champ: Texas
Conference champ: Texas over Nebraska
Basically, this conference will come down to Cal, Oregon, and USC. Oregon and Cal will both be good, but USC has used its dominant position over the last 3 years to recruit well. Still, someone's going to beat the Trojans, be it Cal, Oregon, or UCLA.
Conference Champ: USC
The West is pretty straightforward: The LSU-Auburn winner will win the division. The East is where it gets more complex, as every team except Vanderbilt and Kentucky has a shot. Florida has a brutal road stretch, Tennessee's got talent, but Phil Fulmer will still find ways to lose close games, South Carolina still needs to make up a talent gap, and Georgia lost DJ Shockley to the pros. Best guess, Georgia probably wins the East since they survived that 4-way death match last year.
Conference champ: LSU over Georgia
Like the SEC East, there are 4 viable contenders for the Big 10 title: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa that could make the race a mess. Ohio State, though has the most overall talent of this group, plus they'll get the early boost from winning at Texas.
Conference champ: Ohio State
Whoever wins the Louisville-West Virginia game will probably win the Big East. I suspect it will be Louisville because they feel like they have something to prove after last year.
Conference champ: Lousiville
FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech all come into the season with question marks, but FSU's schedule is less taxing.
Notre Dame is probably overrated, but they will finish with at least 9 wins, which should get them in the BCS
Utah established the pattern for "BCS Busters" in 2004. They went undefeated and got a marquee win out of conference against Texas A&M.
This year, TCU and Utah will be up for the Mountain West, but one will knock the other off, and neither play anyone of note. Boise State could also end up undefeated, if they get by Fresno State, but they don't play anyone of note. And C-USA teams always knock each other off.
So the chances of a non-BCS team sneaking in are slim.
Notre Dame will take up one, that's a given. The rest... I like Auburn to get one of the remaining bids, because they're the second-best team in the toughest conference in the nation. Miami will probably get a bid because they'll win their division in the ACC, and Miami's a big name. Iowa will emerge as the Big 10 runner up, and since the Big 10 is the second best conference, and Ohio State will be in the title game, the Rose Bowl will demand a replacement.
Big 12 Bowl bids
Texas - BCS
Oklahoma - Cotton Bowl
Nebraska - Gator Bowl
Texas A&M - Holiday Bowl
Texas Tech - Alamo Bowl
Iowa State - Sun Bowl
Colorado - Insight Bowl
Kansas State - Independence Bowl
and we've run out of Big 12 bowl eligible teams, so the Texas Bowl (formerly the Houston Bowl) will most likely go to it's backup plan of picking a Big East team.
Florida State vs. Louisville
USC vs. Iowa
Auburn vs. Miami
Notre Dame vs. Texas
National Championship Game
Ohio State vs. LSU
National Championship Pick: LSU