CFB Division Champions Least Likely to Repeat in 2019
by Rick Bouch Scores & Statson
There were a few surprise division winners at the end of the 2018 college football season. One was in the Big Ten and one in the ACC and both were unlikely candidates to play for their respective conference championship. A handful of those conference division winners are going by the wayside in 2019. Here’s a look at the five that definitely will not repeat.
Ohio State Gone is head coach Urban Meyer, who led the Buckeyes to an 83-9 record and one national championship during his seven-year tenure. Gone is starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins who led the nation in passing last year. The Big Ten schedule will be brutal again as the Buckeyes must face Penn State, Michigan State and rival Michigan and crossover to play Wisconsin and a very much improved Nebraska. Another division title isn’t happening in head coach Ryan Day’s first year.
Texas So, technically the Longhorns weren’t a division winner because the Big 12 doesn’t have divisions but Texas finished second in the conference and played Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. Since, they played for a conference championship, they are considered a division champ for the purpose of this writing. In 2019, they won’t be a division champ, or in Big 12 terms, the second-place winner.
While it may appear that Texas is the second-best team in the Big 12 right now, the Longhorns have a brutal conference schedule. They play West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State, and Baylor on the road. They get Oklahoma at a neutral site, but the way the Big 12 beats each other up, don’t expect Texas back in the conference title game.
Utah Remember the Pac-12 title game? Yeah, me neither, but it was Utah that represented the Pac-12 South. The Utes were the lucky winners of the division with a 6-3 record thanks to disasters by both USC and UCLA. The Trojans are going to be much better especially with new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell taking over. Arizona State has improved under Herm Edwards and the Utes must crossover and play the two best teams in the North – Washington and Washington State. Oh, they travel to USC … and Washington.
Northwestern Every so often, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald puts together a team that simply overachieves. The Wildcats went 8-1 last year in Big Ten play. They were blown out by Ohio State in the conference championship game. Expect Fitzgerald’s team to be good, but not that good. The Wildcats lose four-year starting quarterback Clayton Thorson and the schedule is a tough one. Northwestern gets Ohio State and Michigan State in crossovers and must play Nebraska on the road. Don’t expect Wisconsin to lose four conference games in 2019 either.
Pittsburgh How in the world did the Panthers win the ACC Coastal Division? Nobody else wanted to win it and Pitt went 6-2 in the conference and 7-7 overall. Virginia Tech had an awful season ending up a surprising 4-4 in the ACC and 6-7 overall. That is unlikely to happen again. The Panthers play Virginia in their season opener on August 31. The Cavaliers (and Duke) had the best record (8-5) of all Coastal teams. Pitt will crossover and play Syracuse -10-3 last year – and must go on the road to Duke (8-5), Georgia Tech (7-6, 5-3), and Virginia Tech.