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August 23, 2009

Roundtable: Our experts pick their winners

At the College Football Roundtable, we ask each member of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.

Today's question: Who are your projected winners in each league and - the biggie - who do you expect to play for the national title?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
The league champs: Virginia Tech in the ACC; USF in the Big East; Ohio State in the Big Ten; Texas in the Big 12; Houston in Conference USA; Central Michigan in the Mid-American; TCU in the Mountain West; USC in the Pac-10; Florida in the SEC; Troy in the Sun Belt; and Boise State in the Western Athletic. In the championship game, it'll be Florida vs. Texas. Team Tebow is an easy choice. Florida's defense from last season is back intact. That defense held Oklahoma's record-setting offense to a mere 14 points in last year's national championship game. It might be the best defense in the nation this season. Tebow, the odds on favorite to win the Heisman, directs an offense that doesn't have Percy Harvin, but still has uncommon speed in abundance. Texas is more of a reach, but not a huge one. The Longhorns have to rebuild their defensive line, but that's it. The rest of the starting lineup was part of a team that last season went 12-1 and probably deserved to play for the national title.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
The conference picks: Virginia Tech in the ACC; USF in the Big East; Penn State in the Big Ten; Oklahoma in the Big 12; Houston in Conference USA; Central Michigan in the Mid-American; TCU in the Mountain West; USC in the Pac-10; Florida in the SEC; Troy in the Sun Belt; and Boise State in the Western Athletic. As for the title game, I think we will have a rematch of last year's BCS title game, with Florida playing Oklahoma in Pasadena, Calif. There is no doubt that if three or four teams happen to go unbeaten - with Oklahoma and Florida being two of them - that the resumes of those two teams will be stronger than any others with perfect marks. Each team will have a strong defense, which will be the key along with fantastic quarterback play.

David Fox's answer:
My conference champs: Georgia Tech in the ACC; Cincinnati in the Big East; Penn State in the Big Ten; Texas in the Big 12; Southern Miss in Conference USA; Central Michigan in the Mid-American; TCU in the Mountain West; USC in the Pac-10; Florida in the SEC; Troy in the Sun Belt; and Boise State in the Western Athletic. I think Florida-Texas will be the national championship matchup, and I'm a little disappointed in myself for making such a boring pick. Florida is a consensus No. 1 by all the preseason magazines and polls. Texas is darn close to being a consensus No. 2. Florida would have to completely collapse to lose the SEC East. The Gators should be able to withstand an injury to everyone on their team other than Tim Tebow. Florida's challenger likely will come from the Big 12 South. The X-factors there are Oklahoma's offensive line and Oklahoma State's defense. The Big 12 South should be a close race - perhaps as close as last season's three-way tie - but the Longhorns are the most complete team of the three.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
League winners: Virginia Tech in the ACC; West Virginia in the Big East; Ohio State in the Big Ten; Texas in the Big 12; East Carolina in Conference USA; Western Michigan in the Mid-American; TCU in the Mountain West; USC in the Pac-10; Florida in the SEC; Troy in the Sun Belt; and Boise State in the Western Athletic. And I look for a Florida-Texas matchup in the title game. I like Texas better than Oklahoma this season because I don't think the OU offense will be as potent as last season and think the Texas defense will be a bit better than OU's. Florida's defense will make up for any offensive shortcomings.

Steve Megargee's answer:
The conference picks: Virginia Tech in the ACC; West Virginia in the Big East; Ohio State in the Big Ten; Texas in the Big 12; East Carolina in Conference USA; Central Michigan in the Mid-American; TCU in the Mountain West; USC in the Pac-10; Florida in the SEC; Troy in the Sun Belt; and Boise State in the Western Athletic. And I'll predict that Florida caps its first undefeated season with a victory over Texas in the national championship game. The Gators' offense won't have quite as much firepower without Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, but the defense could be the best in the nation. A Florida-Oklahoma rematch in the championship game wouldn't surprise me, but I give Texas a slight edge over the Sooners because I'm not sure if Oklahoma's offense will be quite as explosive after losing so many linemen from last season.



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