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2016 College Football Preview: Projecting the power conferences

Our view of how the national picture will shake out this season.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

With opening night upon us and a full slate of games coming next week, the best time of year is finally here. We'll be rolling out some season preview pieces over the next six days to celebrate, starting this afternoon with a look at each of the five power conferences.

Today's panel is as follows:

Connor Pelton - Co-Managing Editor (@ConnorPelton28)

Ryan Bafaloukos - Co-Managing Editor (@RyanBafo)

Kaelen Jones - ASU/Pac-12 Football Writer (@kaelenjones)


SEC West

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. LSU LSU Alabama
2. Alabama Alabama LSU
3. Mississippi Mississippi Mississippi
4. Auburn Auburn Texas A&M
5. Texas A&M Arkansas Arkansas
6. Mississippi State Texas A&M Mississippi State
7. Arkansas Mississippi State Auburn

SEC East

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. Georgia Florida Georgia
2. Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
3. Florida Georgia Florida
4. Missouri Kentucky Missouri
5. Kentucky Missouri South Carolina
6. Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Kentucky
7. South Carolina South Carolina Vanderbilt

The skinny: LSU and Alabama are the class of this conference, but don't be surprised if Georgia or Tennessee sneaks out of the East division and makes a run at the College Football Playoff. Both of their schedules set up nicely, and a spot in the playoff will almost assuredly await the winner of the SEC Championship game. The big question then becomes whether or not the Bulldogs or Volunteers have enough talent to upset the West division champion on that final weekend in Atlanta.

Big Ten East

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
2. Michigan State Michigan Michigan
3. Michigan Michigan State Michigan State
4. Penn State Penn State Penn State
5. Indiana Indiana Indiana
6. Maryland Maryland Maryland
7. Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers

Big Ten West

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. Iowa Iowa Iowa
2. Nebraska Wisconsin Wisconsin
3. Northwestern Nebraska Minnesota
4. Wisconsin Northwestern Nebraska
5. Minnesota Minnesota Northwestern
6. Illinois Illinois Illinois
7. Purdue Purdue Purdue

The skinny: The Big Ten appears to be the definition of top heavy this season. Four teams - Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State, and Michigan - all figure to be players for the conference and national title race, but the rest of the Big Ten might not have a team inside the top-30 or top-35.

Pac-12 North

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. Washington Stanford Stanford
2. Stanford Washington Washington
3. Washington State Oregon Washington State
4. Oregon Washington State Oregon
5. Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State
6. California California California

Pac-12 South

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
2. Utah UCLA USC
3. USC Arizona Arizona State
4. Arizona State Utah Utah
5. Arizona Arizona State Arizona
6. Colorado Colorado Colorado

The skinny: Just as it is seemingly every season, the Pac-12 figures to be filled with drama and parity. Four different teams were voted as division champions, and only three teams - Oregon State, California, and Colorado - were unanimously agreed upon in their respective spots. Arizona State received a vote as high as third and as low as fifth in the South.

Big 12

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. TCU Oklahoma Oklahoma State
2. Oklahoma Oklahoma State Oklahoma
3. Baylor TCU Texas
4. Texas Texas Baylor
5. Oklahoma State Texas Tech Texas Tech
6. Kansas State West Virginia TCU
7. West Virginia Kansas State West Virginia
8. Texas Tech Baylor Kansas State
9. Kansas Kansas Iowa State
10. Iowa State Iowa State Kansas

The skinny: Our three-person panel has three different picks to win the Big 12, which should give you a sense of how unpredictable the league will be in 2016. TCU, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State should be the favorites to finish on top, but Baylor and Texas could make things interesting as well. Just as it was a year ago, the Big 12 will feature plenty of must-see games week in and week out.

ACC Atlantic

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. Florida State Clemson Clemson
2. Clemson Florida State Florida State
3. Louisville Louisville Louisville
4. NC State NC State NC State
5. Boston College Wake Forest Boston College
6. Wake Forest Boston College Syracuse
7. Syracuse Syracuse Wake Forest

ACC Coastal

Rank Connor's Picks Ryan's Picks Kaelen's Picks
1. Miami (Florida) North Carolina Miami (Florida)
2. North Carolina Pittsburgh Virginia Tech
3. Pittsburgh Virginia Tech Pittsburgh
4. Virginia Tech Miami (Florida) North Carolina
5. Georgia Tech Duke Virginia
6. Duke Georgia Tech Duke
7. Virginia Virginia Georgia Tech

The skinny: It may be a down year in the Coastal division, but a pair of top-five teams in the AP's preseason rankings create plenty of intrigue up in the Atlantic. The race between Florida State and Clemson should be a fun one all season long, and the division title race could very well come down to their October 29 meeting in Tallahassee.