Non-BCS conference predictions

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

With the first games of the season less than a week away, it's time for me to gaze into my crystal ball and predict which teams of the non-BCS will win their conferences. Once again, I'm using highly scientific methods, a hamster running on a wheel, a baseball bat that was carved out of wood from a tree struck by lightning, and some dice.

Enjoy and let the discussion (and criticism) begin.


West Division: Tulsa

The Golden Hurricane wins its side of the conference fairly easily. All the other teams in the West are either breaking in new coaches and systems or have struggled in the past.

East Division: East Carolina

If the Pirates can avoid a late-year slump they should cruise to their first divisional title. This team has been one game away the last two years and this is the year it gets over the hump.

Champion: Tulsa

I've been on Tulsa from the beginning, even going so far as to pick the Golden Hurricane as the BCS Bowl sleeper, so there's no reason to switch now. I think Tulsa is one of the most offensively dynamic teams in the nation and there's not an offense in Conference USA that can stay with it.


West Division: Central Michigan

Ball State might give the Chippewas a run for their money, but I don't think there's a defense that can contain quarterback Dan LeFevour. In a shootout, Central Michigan takes it.

East Division: Bowling Green

I really wanted to pick Temple here, but I went with the safe choice in Bowling Green because it's used to winning and returns 17 starters. That said, the East is tough and teams such as Miami-Ohio and Buffalo aren't far behind.

Champion: Central Michigan

Central Michigan is hands down the class of this conference. For two years no one has been able to play with them and as long as Dan LeFevour is the quarterback, no one will.


Brigham Young

No surprise here. BYU is a trendy pick, but I honestly believe there's not a team in the conference that can beat the Cougars when they're playing to their potential. That's not to say a team couldn't pick them off, but BYU has the schedule to go undefeated.


Florida Atlantic

Florida Atlantic should have an easier run to the Sun Belt title this season after Troy lost the bulk of its offensive skill players. Quarterback Rusty Smith is the best in the conference and the Owls could win nine games this year.


Fresno State

All right Boise State fans, have at it... I like Fresno State because I think it's a complete team, maybe not as complete as BYU, but far more complete than Boise State at this time. If the Bulldogs can stay healthy, which they didn't do last season, they will win the WAC and make a run at a BCS bowl.