By Craig Carroll
Believe it or not, the college football season is just days, hours, away from kicking off. This Thursday represents a new beginning for college programs across the nation and their fans to immerse themselves in a weekly tradition that can't be rivaled. Each and every week, each and every game, means something in college football. And that's what makes it great.
For us here at GameDay, it represents the renewed rivalry in our college football picks championship challenge, where we'll pick the best games of the week (against the spread to boot). This is the ninth season of college football picks, with the challenge evolving to include myself, Glenn Carroll and the originator, Brad Carroll. So look out for those can't-miss weekly picks columns right here leading into the weekend.
But before we get to the Week 1 picks, here is a look at our selections for the end-of-year conference champions and who will walk away with the big prize, the BCS national championship.
SEC Champion: Alabama
With Heisman Trophy candidate A.J. McCarron leading the way the defending SEC and national champions are set up to repeat as conference champion. Roll Tide will roll over the nation's toughest conference for back-to-back SEC crowns.
Glenn's Pick: Georgia
Brad's Pick: Alabama. If the Tide can get past Virginia Tech and Texas A&M in the first two weeks of the season, the rest of the schedule should be a cake-walk. Anything can happen in a conference title game, but Alabama is just too good to not win it.
ACC Champion: Miami
This might be more wishful thinking on my part, as I am admittedly a Hurricanes fan, but I truly believe Miami is ready to take the next step. Clemson will be the biggest obstacle for the Canes to get back to being relevant on the national stage.
Glenn's Pick: Clemson
Brad's Pick: Florida State. No matter how good Clemson is during a season, it always seems to lay at least one egg per season. The Seminoles take advantage.
Big Ten Champion: Ohio State
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer lead his team to a 12-0 record in 2012, but the Buckeyes weren't bowl eligible due to NCAA infractions. This season, Ohio St is looking for a repeat of last year's success with the only difference being if the Buckeyes finish undefeated they will in all likelihood play for a national championship.
Glenn's Pick: Ohio State
Brad's Pick: Michigan. The toughest part for Michigan winning the Big 10 title is they probably have to beat Ohio State two games in a row, first in the regular season then the conference title game. Luckily for the Wolverines, the first game is at home.
Big 12: Texas
In possibly the most wide open conference in the nation, there are as many as five teams that have a realistic chance at being crowned champion. Texas, however, will emerge from pack to win the Big 12.
Glenn's Pick: TCU
Brad's Pick: Oklahoma. I'd love to go with TCU, but the Frogs play at Oklahoma this year. Oklahoma State plays at Texas. The Longhorns play Oklahoma at a neutral site and then at TCU later. The whole conference could again be decided in the final game of the season when Oklahoma travels to Oklahoma State.
Oregon loses the architect of the most prolific offense in the nation and, oh and by the way, he was also the head coach. Mark Helfrich has the tough job of replacing Chip Kelly, but Helfrich is blessed with a loaded roster, lead by quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will lead an explosive offense to a Pac-12 championship.
Glenn's Pick: Oregon
Brad's Pick: Stanford. The Pac-12 will come down to the Oregon at Stanford game in early November. The winner will likely qualify for the conference championship game and roll over whomever stands in their way from the South division. Recently, Oregon always has one hiccup toward the end of the year that ruins its season, even though they could have won a couple of national titles. Can they flip the script?
American Athletic: Louisville
In the worst conference to be guaranteed a BCS bowl berth, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will lead the Cardinals in becoming the first-ever champion of the new American Athletic.
Glenn's Pick: Louisville
Brad's Pick: Louisville. This isn't even going to be close.
National Championship: Alabama vs Oregon
In a matchup America has been waiting for the last couple of years, the Crimson Tide and the Ducks finally won't disappoint. In the greatest championship game ever, Oregon has just enough firepower to stop the three-peat by Alabama. Oregon 35, Alabama 31.
Glenn's Champion: Georgia
Brad's Champion: Picking a national champion is almost impossible at this point, as who knows what injuries, upsets, upstarts, disappointments will come during the year. Picking a champ at this point you have to look at the best team and go from there. The best team, still, in college football is Alabama. So, Alabama gets one of the spots. The bigger question is who will they play. I have Michigan beating Ohio State two weeks in a row, so that makes it a contender. More likely, however, it's the winner of the Stanford-Oregon game that gets the spot opposite Alabama. And each of those teams have a chance to end the Tide's run. Will they, though? Yes. Stanford 27, Alabama 24.