Matt Baxendell's College Football Preview - Introduction


Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls of all ages around the world, proudly presents to you the second annual incarnation of Bax’s Conference Previews!

That’s right, I’m back and out to improve upon my conference prognostication skills. After a pretty solid 2008, I feel that I can improve my accuracy even further this season! For those of you who aren’t aware of the process behind my conference previews, let me explain how I come to my results.

First, I extensively scout each and every team. Returning starters, spring football news, disciplinary and health departures and my own recollection of each team from last season all factor into the process. As my soon-to-be wife can unhappily attest, there were very few Saturdays last fall that I didn’t have at least three games on in front of me at any given time from noon until midnight, so there are very few teams that I didn’t see multiple times last year.

The next step in the process is to create what I call my ‘schedule matrix.’ This is a grid of each conference’s schedule and represents each team’s home and away games. Using this matrix, I run through each team’s conference slate, taking into account off weeks, consecutive away games, home stands, night games, weeknight games, and even homecoming and senior days! Throughout this process, I’ve learned that the best team in a conference isn’t necessarily going to end up the champion, as a tough schedule can derail even the best of teams.

I used a version of this process in 2008 to come up with my predictions, though they weren’t quite as refined as this year’s edition. However, the prototype to my 2009 prognostication system correctly predicted:

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- Oklahoma defeating Missouri in the Big XII Title Game

- Oklahoma appearing in the National Title Game

- USC winning the Pac Ten with an 8-1 conference record

- Oregon finishing 2nd in the Pac Ten with a 7-2 conference record

- Utah winning the Mountain West

- TCU 2 nd and BYU 3rd in the Mountain West

- East Carolina as the Conference USA Champions

- Penn State finishing with an 11-1 record (though I did predict them to finish 2nd behind Ohio State in the Big Ten)

- Virginia Tech as the ACC Coastal Division Champions

- Ball State as the MAC West Division Champions


Of course, that’s only correctly predicting 4 of the 11 Conference Champions, 5 of the 10 Conference Division Champions and one of the two National Title Game participants, so I have a lot of room to improve. I don’t even want to think about last year’s SEC preview……..

Anyways, on to the 2009 college football season. I expect another scintillating season that is resplendent with storylines. Will Florida become the first team since Nebraska in 1994-95 to repeat as National Champions? Which Red River Rival will get their revenge after Oklahoma jumped Texas, despite losing heads up and finishing with the same record, to play for the National Championship? Can Oklahoma State jump up and surprise us all in the Big XII South? Can the Big Ten regain national respect after a three year BCS Bowl losing streak? Will USC win an unprecedented 8 th consecutive Pac Ten Title? Who (if anyone) will be the 2009 BCS Buster from the non-BCS conferences?

These questions and more await us during the best time of the year. The fall is rapidly approaching and with it comes football, America’s true pastime. Are you ready? I know that I can’t wait for kickoff on Thursday, September 3 rd when NC State and South Carolina begin the year with the first big out of conference showdown on the season’s opening night.




Matt Baxendell is’s football writer. Keep an eye out all fall for his multiple weekly articles discussing everything college football. If you want to get in touch with him, email him at or follow him on Twitter @MattBaxendell




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