Few names in the college football prognostication business are respected more than Phil Steele.
The author of the annual Phil Steele’s College Football Preview made an appearance on ESPN’s Mike & Mike on Friday morning to talk some college football.
— Phil Steele (@philsteele042) July 22, 2016
During his appearance, Steele was pressed to make some predictions on the winners of each Power 5 conference.
Here are his picks:
- SEC: Alabama
- ACC: Florida State
- Big Ten: Ohio State
- Big 12: Oklahoma
- Pac-12: Washington
Given that Alabama was the overwhelming favorite as the media’s choice to win the conference at last week’s SEC Media Days, the fact that Steele likes the Crimson Tide to win a third consecutive conference title is not surprising.
Nick Saban will have to replace a Heisman Trophy winner at RB (Derrick Henry), break in a new defensive coordinator to replace new Georgia coach Kirby Smart and replace Jake Coker at the starting quarterback position, but that has not stopped experts from believing the five-time national champion will smooth things out by the time the Crimson Tide takes the field in September.
Ohio State is a popular pick as Big Ten champions as Urban Meyer has built a standard of excellence in Columbus, but some forget that Michigan State is the defending champion from that conference.
Florida State is a traditional ACC power, but to pick the Seminoles over a Clemson squad that returns Deshaun Watson at quarterback from a Tigers team that took Alabama to the wire in the College Football Playoff championship game in January is a bold move.
Oklahoma returns Baker Mayfield at quarterback on a team that defeated Tennessee and made a CFP appearance last season.
The real wildcard pick is Washington to win Pac-12. The Huskies finished 7-6 during their second season under Chris Petersen, but the development of highly-touted QB Jake Browning has Steele optimistic about their chances of winning the league this fall. Stanford and USC are considered favorites to win the Pac-12 by Las Vegas.