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Sport Clemson, not Alabama, is the safest bet to win a conference title in 2018

20:51  19 june  2018
20:51  19 june  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Alabama brings back more than enough talent to repeat as Southeastern Conference champions. This week’s Top 10 list asks: Who will be the Football Bowl Subdivision conference champions in 2018 ? To give myself an out once these go south, the list will go in order of most to least confidence

Clemson (15-0) has now won two of those three games, adding to the national title it won at the end of the 2016 season. The Tigers, under Coach Dabo Swinney, seem to be the only program able to disrupt Alabama ’s dynasty, and have started building their own along the way. Alabama still has five

Alabama brings back more than enough talent to repeat as Southeastern Conference champions. Wait, the Crimson Tide didn’t win the SEC last year? Maybe this exercise won’t be easy as I hoped.

It’s the middle of June. Media days are a month away. Football is under three months away. It’s time for predictions and prognostications – but I’m giving myself a little bit of room to hedge my bets.

This week’s Top 10 list asks: Who will be the Football Bowl Subdivision conference champions in 2018? To give myself an out once these go south, the list will go in order of most to least confidence, starting with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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MORE: Clemson , not Alabama , is the safest bet to win a conference title in 2018 . Moore, already 6 feet 2 and 165 pounds, plays for the Detroit Spartans, and has helped the team win three United Youth Football League national championships.

MORE: Clemson , not Alabama , is the safest bet to win a conference title . MORE: Lincoln Riley needed raise to make more than Kyler Murray Winning the job in August of 2016 was hard enough; winning over his new teammates, many of whom were partial to their returning contributor over the

1. Clemson (Atlantic Coast Conference)

It’s not as if the ACC is a weak league. Far from it! It’s just that Clemson – even with a slight quarterback competition still underway – looks like the class of the conference on both sides of the ball. The Tigers are a step ahead of Florida State in the Atlantic Division. Miami (Fla.) is a threat coming out of the Coastal, but despite the program’s growth under Mark Richt it’s too soon to expect the Hurricanes to unseat Dabo Swinney’s team from atop the conference standings. Clemson winning another ACC crown feels like an extremely sure bet. (Don’t actually bet on it.)

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MORE: Clemson , not Alabama , is the safest bet to win a conference title in 2018 . "I love him. That 's my brother," Rose said. "I don't want people to feel like I'm upset or bitter with C-Webb or the University of Michigan.

Although Clemson did win a national title in 1981, before Swinney took over in 2008 the team hadn’t won 10 games in a season since 1990. Even now, Clemson is only the 17th-best FBS program by all-time winning percentage (I’m not counting Appalachian State, which is new to the sport’s top level)

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2. Florida Atlantic (Conference USA)

Only one of FAU’s nine league wins in Lane Kiffin’s debut season came by single digits. Overall, the Owls carry a 10-game winning streak into 2018. What can derail this team from another Conference USA title? Maybe uncertainty at quarterback, though Kiffin has two high-profile transfers to choose from for his new starter. Maybe Marshall’s defense will be an issue – the Herd were the only Conference USA opponent to get within 14 points of FAU a year ago. Maybe North Texas and its offense? It seems fair to assume none of those things happen.

3. Boise State (Mountain West)

The Broncos are one of the nation’s most experienced teams and the early favorite to earn the access-bowl bid to a New Year’s Six bowl handed to the best team in the Group of Five. San Diego State may have something to say about that. Boise State’s overall talent level and key senior contributors would make anything less than a Mountain West title a disappointment.

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MORE: Clemson , not Alabama , is the safest bet to win a conference title . MORE: Saban downplays difficulty of Alabama 's complex quarterback decision. —Another recent stop at North Carolina State, covering senior quarterback Ryan Finley and head coach Dave Doeren’s offseason

A healthier Alabama or a complete Clemson ? That ’s the debate a panel of ESPN analysts weighed in picking Clemson - Alabama III and the national- title “The reason why is the in-game adjustments,” said Vilma, who put Clemson among his more safe bets in the bowl season. “We already know the

4. Washington (Pac-12)

Washington’s going to rattle off a run of Pac-12 titles starting in 2018, behind a senior-laden offense and a defense that ranks comfortably among the most experienced on the Power Five level. In what looks like a down year for the conference, the Huskies’ talent and coaching acumen stand out. The biggest worry is Stanford, which has taken four of five in the series and returns one of the nation’s biggest stars in running back Bryce Love.

5. Central Florida (American Athletic)

The offseason coaching change from Scott Frost to Josh Heupel is a hurdle the Knights need to overcome. Aiding that task is a roster more than gifted enough to make another unbeaten run through American play. There will be more blowouts than close calls along the way, though South Florida and Temple are threats in the East Division and one of Memphis, Houston or Navy could give UCF all it can handle in a hypothetical conference championship game.

6. Alabama (SEC)

Winning the SEC isn’t a prerequisite for winning the national title, as the Tide have illustrated a few times under Nick Saban. And the SEC West will again be a hassle, with not just Auburn there to defend its division title but Mississippi State a likely second-half factor should LSU fail to crack more than seven wins during the regular season. Oh, and there’s Georgia in the East to contend with – though the Bulldogs have a few question marks to answer on both sides of the ball.

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Photos: College football championship: Alabama vs. Clemson . Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts runs for a 30-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The loss kept Saban from winning a sixth title , which would have tied him with another Alabama legend: Bear Bryant. A dramatic comeback.

Alabama and Clemson will undoubtedly get into the postseason with wins , and the betting odds favor them heavily in their upcoming contests. No.1 Alabama and No.2 Clemson can probably survive losses in the respective conference title games since neither team has been defeated this season.

7. Toledo (Mid-American Conference)

The very nature of #MACtion makes preseason predictions inherently useless. Toledo needs a new quarterback to replace a record-setter in Logan Woodside but brings back enough talent and experience to again be the favorite to wear the MAC crown.

8. Oklahoma (Big 12)

Quarterback Kyler Murray’s MLB future doesn’t really alter things for Oklahoma in 2018, since he won’t leave for the Oakland Athletics until after his junior season. (Let’s avoid any analysis of the dynamics at play for Murray and the Sooners.) Yet any program that loses an all-timer – as Baker Mayfield was at OU – is bound to take at least a subtle step back. Without overthinking things, that opens up the Big 12 race to at least one other contender, with TCU the likeliest to make a run at the Sooners’ ongoing ownership of the conference.

9. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)

Picking the Red Wolves to be in the mix is an easy choice: ASU has reached seven bowl games in a row under four different head coaches. The 2018 team returns the league’s best quarterback in Justice Hansen. But the Sun Belt has a few other teams with the potential to take home the conference title, led by Appalachian State and Troy, making the Red Wolves’ home date with the Mountaineers on Oct. 9 perhaps the league’s most impactful game during the regular season.

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We all know it’s nearly inevitable Alabama and Clemson will make the College Football Playoff. Are either of them good enough to claim another Since 2015 no other teams have won the national championship. Ohio State is the only other school to win the College Football Playoff, but that came

Alabama and Clemson have already staked claim for being college football's best teams of 2018 . Georgia still has an Alabama -size hurdle to overcome before winning a national championship. By and large, though, the Badgers are a safe bet to win eight or nine games during the regular season

10. Wisconsin (Big Ten)

There’s a little team named Ohio State that might end up a factor in the Big Ten chase. The Buckeyes got the better of Wisconsin in last year’s title game, and might end up taking a step forward on offense despite the decline in experience at quarterback in the move from J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins. But the Badgers have their quarterback, a Heisman Trophy contender at running back, the nation’s top offensive line and a defense with enough of a track record to expect another top-flight finish despite new faces up front and in the secondary.

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