It’s the second half of August which means we’re mere weeks away from the start of college football. While everyone is going to tell you which teams will make the playoff or win the conference championship, I’m here to tell you about five teams that have absolutely no chance to win a conference championship this season. Be angry.
There are two really good teams in the ACC and then there’s every other team. Unfortunately for all of us, Clemson and Florida State are also in the same division. In 2016, I think Florida State has the most talent on both sides of the ball, but at this very moment, I think Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is a better coach than Jimbo Fisher. And, I think that’s where the difference lies. Here's where all this gets interesting: I believe after Clemson beats Auburn in Week 1 (Hi Bird), the Tigers will run the table, and win the Atlantic division en route to beating whichever team loses the least amount of games in the Coastal Divison. Here's where the rubber meets the road: I also believe that when these two teams meet Halloween weekend at Doak Campbell, I think Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson will lead the Tigers to its first win in Tallahassee since 2006. There will be rain, wind, and shenanigans. Get ready.
This one is a bit tougher to pick, because, honestly no one knows how good Baylor will be [footnote]They’re playing football despite all the nonsense that’s been going on, so let’s stick to the prize right now – football.[/footnote]. I would be absolutely out of my mind to think Oklahoma would have no chance to win the Big 12 in 2016, but ‘No Game’ Bob Stoops, as I call him, hasn’t had two awesome seasons back-to-back in well…ever. BUT, and a Baby Got Back type of BUT(T), I will take the Sooners in 2016 to win the Big 12 because not only will they blow the doors off Oklahoma State, they will find a way to beat Ohio State in Week 3 and roll to their first 12-win season since 2010. So the question becomes which team has zero chance to win the Big 12, and we're not gonna step on Iowa State or Kansas more than we need to, but it's TCU. TCU with Gary Patterson (who I like a lot, but needs to eat less brisket) has absolutely no chance despite how much the media is pumping their chances. Baylor, in its current state of disarray, has a better chance than the Horned Frogs. The purple and white will lose to following teams this season: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas. Yes, the Frogs will be 2-2 in against the state of Texas and will be no closer to the winning the Big 12 this year as they have been in the past five years*. Where the hell is TCU anyway? Wherever that is, stay there and watch from the middle of the pack. Send the brisket! Calm the hell down. I know exactly where TCU is, but no one who doesn't watch college football knows that it's in Fort Worth.
Is Ohio State the overwhelming favorite to win the Big Ten in 2016? No. Are the Buckeyes the most experienced team in either division? Yes. Michigan State is the closest in experience and that brings us to the team that has absolutely zero chance of winning the Big Ten in 2016: Michigan. Michigan doesn’t win the East and the conference because of, yep, the Harbaugh Effect. This is not Harbaugh’s year. I do expect Michigan to finally beat Michigan State for the first time since 2012 and the first time in East Lansing since 2007 [footnote]Maybe Brady Hoke was as bad as they said he was? Nah.[/footnote]. It all ends for Michigan on November 12 when the Hawkeyes of Iowa slip one past the goalie and beat the Champions of the West in Iowa City. Oh, and Michigan isn’t beating Ohio State, but keep dreamin’ that dream. I’m one of the few non-Ohio State fans that live in Ohio and even I can’t get behind Michigan beating Ohio State. That first victory since 2011 needs to happen in Columbus, not the whore known as Ann Arbor.
This is also very tough to pick because I don’t know which team is the best in the Pac-12. Here’s what I will tell you, no Pac-12 team will make the playoff because the Pac-12 is not good this year. The season will begin and one team (you know which one) will start strong by beating the Little Sisters of the Poor, then BOOM, they’ll lose on a Thursday night like all overhyped Pac-12 teams do. This is the phenomenon known as Pac-12 Suicide. That’s right, USC will lose to Cal on Thursday, October 27 sending its season into the familiar nosedive we’ve become used to over the past half-decade. No, USC will not beat Alabama (#DontBeStupid) but they will beat Stanford, survive Arizona in Tucson and will lose to UCLA and Notre Dame. Mathematically, they will probably still have a chance to win the division but mentally the Men of Try will not beat the Pac-12 North representative, thus losing the Pac-12. Look, this is totally a stretch, but UCLA and Cal are moving forward while USC lives on hype. Prove me wrong, please.
This is the easiest pick of them all. The SEC will continue to be won by a team from the West until Nick Saban retires. I’m not suggesting Alabama will play or win the SEC Championship Game, but he’ll single-handedly make every other team in the division get better. That means there can only be one team with zero chance to win the SEC in 2016: Tennessee. I’m a closet Tennessee fan. I enjoy Neyland Stadium. I enjoy listening to the Pride of Southland Band perform Rocky Top 50 times before kickoff, but no, Tennessee is not winning the East and the Vols will not be appearing Atlanta. I’m not on the Josh Dobbs hate train like Seth. I believe the biggest hindrance to the Big Orange’s success in 2016 is Butch Jones. Tennessee will lose to BOTH Florida (no surprise here) and Georgia because Butch Jones does something incredibly stupid. And since the games are back-to-back (Sep 24 and Oct 1), before Alabama rolls the Volunteers in Knoxville on October 15, Butch Jones will officially be at the top of college football’s chopping block. Tennessee would owe Jones $2.5 million every year through 2020 if fired without cause, and Jones can save some face by beating Alabama, but there’s no chance in hell they beat Florida AND Georgia in 2016. If they do, it would be the Vols’ first championship game appearance since 2007. It last won the championship game in 1998.
There it is, five times that have zero chance to win a conference title in 2016. If you're a smart college football fan, I've played Captain Obvious for the almost 1200 words, but for everyone else, don't stop believin'.
*Update: Reader Sam e-mailed to remind me (I honestly forgot and so did my editor) that TCU split the Big 12 with Baylor in 2014. I personally don't consider a split as winning, but I'm including the note because Sam took the time to write a respectful note.