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2013 College Football Predictions: The Championship Belt

Championship Belt

The 2013 season marks the final season of the BCS system before we move on to the College Football Playoff to determine a national champion. Up until now just about anyone could declare a national champion any way they chose. Various media outlets have long been crowning their own national champions.  For example, The New York Times crowned Penn State their national champion for the 1994 season while Nebraska is officially recognized as the national champion. The two schools did not face each other in a bowl game and each went undefeated. To this day there are a number of debates over who should be a national champion in one season or another (USC vs. LSU anyone?). It is that open-ended debate that led a group of college football fans to come up with their own strategy and it is one I enjoy following casually.

As I described on Crystal Ball Run, the championship belt was a fun little idea cooked up by a group of friends looking to determine their own national champion.

The Championship Belt is an unofficial fan-given designation with a bit of a cult following among college football circles. It started with a few guys coming up with their own method to determine who their national champion was, with the champion always being determined on the field of play. They came up with the idea to track the title starting with the best team in their lifetime (1971 Nebraska) and track it from there. This method has since been expanded to track back to the 1936 Minnesota Golden Gophers, the first team to win an official Associated Press national championship. No matter where you start with the timeline, all roads lead down the same path eventually. Like in boxing, the belt is handed off to whoever can beat the reigning belt holder.

Baylor is the current holder of the belt using this fun and quirky method.

Baylor will open up the season with what should be an easy Championship Belt defense against FCS Wofford. However, according to the official homepage of The Championship Belt, this game does not count as games against FCS opponents are not tracked. I have not investigated deeply enough to know for sure whether tracking these games would lead in a different director or not, although I would just guess it would not. Instead, Baylor’s home game against Buffalo is the first official game of the 2013 season for The Championship Belt. So let me begin there and take the 2013 season on a game-by-game basis to see who will hold control of The Championship Belt at the end of the season.

Home teams on left. (C) designates predicted championship belt holder.

Baylor (C) vs. Buffalo
September 7, 2013

No MAC team has ever held control of the belt, and that should continue to be the case despite Baylor looking slightly vulnerable at the start of the season. Buffalo won just four games last season and I expect the heat in Waco in early September to still be a considerable factor. Advantage: Baylor. The Bears improve their belt defense to four games, a school record.

Baylor (C) vs. Louisiana-Monroe
September 21, 2013

Baylor received quite a scare from ULM last season on the road but managed to escape with a victory. This season ULM should once again be considered a viable threat for the Bears, who get a week off to prepare for the game. As much as I am tempted to award the belt to ULM here (I really am close to doing so), I will once again give Baylor the home field advantage and mark them down for another win here. It will not be easy, but Baylor maintains possession of the belt.

Baylor (C) vs. West Virginia
October 5, 2013

Baylor and West Virginia played a pure shootout last season, in the first Big 12 game for the Mountaineers, up in Morgantown, West Virginia. This time the offenses should be a little more in check, and with West Virginia losing their top offensive talent they could still be looking to plug some holes here. Baylor also gets another week off to prepare for this game while West Virginia will be coming off a home game against Oklahoma State (and will have already played Oklahoma). I think West Virginia comes to Waco already looking for some answers and I think that plays in to Baylor’s advantage here. I’m giving the Bears at least one more belt victory, extending their defense to six games, the longest since Alabama’s six-game streak between 2009 and 2010.

Kansas State vs. Baylor (C)
October 12, 2013

Baylor took possession of the belt from Kansas State last season in Waco. This season I predict Kansas State will win the belt back with a victory over the Bears in Manhattan, Kansas. This game may not have the BCS title implications last year’s meeting did but the revenge factor and a good solid defensive effort to make up for last year’s embarrassing loss on the road will lead Kansas State to regaining the championship belt in mid-October.

Kansas State (C) vs. West Virginia
October 26, 2013

Kansas State will get a week off to prepare for a home game against West Virginia, who gets a second crack at holding the belt in the month of October. Kansas State handled the Mountaineers last season but this game could be considerably closer. For now, Kansas State gets the edge based on defensive ability and that leads to a successful belt defense against West Virginia in Manhattan.

Kansas State (C) vs. Iowa State
November 2, 2013

Here is where things get dicey. Iowa state has a knack for scoring upsets and while this game may not be played in Ames, the Cyclones could very well pull the upset on the road in early November. Iowa State hung with Kansas State last season before losing 27-21. I think Iowa State makes a run for their first belt in school history but ultimately I think Kansas State prevails to maintain possession for at least one more week.

Texas Tech vs. Kansas State (C)
November 9, 2013

Kansas State’s belt defense comes to an end in Lubbock, where Kliff Kingsbury’s Texas Tech homecoming is coming together quite nicely. Texas Tech previously held the belt for one full week in 2012 before losing it to Kansas State, so the revenge factor once again comes in to play here as Texas Tech gets Kansas State at home to avenge a championship belt loss last season.

Texas Tech (C) vs. Baylor
November 16, Cowboys Stadium

The Championship Belt will be on the line in one of college football’s newest palaces, Cowboys Stadium. Baylor will get a chance to reclaim the belt after losing it the previous month and what better place to do so than in Cowboys Stadium against Texas Tech. But Baylor’s belt attempt will come up short as Texas Tech successfully defends the belt on the big stage and takes it in to the final week of their regular season schedule.

Texas vs. Texas Tech (C)
November 28, 2013 (Thanksgiving)

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with putting The Championship Belt up for grabs between Texas and Texas Tech? OK, doing so with Texas and Texas A&M would be, but I digress… Texas Tech will have a fine season in Kingsbury’s debut as head coach, but Mack Brown’s Longhorns will win possession of the belt for the first time since 2008. As history has it, Texas Tech was the team that quickly grabbed the championship belt from the Longhorns in 2008. Texas Tech’s regular season ends here but the Longhorns have one more game to play.

Baylor vs. Texas (C)
December 7, 2013

Baylor gets one last shot to end the season with the belt they started the season with when Texas visits Waco for the season finale. Although Texas will fins the answers it needs against Texas Tech, Baylor will be looking to improve their bowl standing with a win at home and the Bears offense will be difficult to slow down as they make their final push. In the end, Baylor will reclaim the belt and take it with them in to the postseason for a second straight season.

If this all goes down as I have mapped out, the Big 12 will maintain possession of the belt for an entire season for the second straight year. The SEC was the most recent conference to pull that off, between 2009 and 2010.

So what happens then? I have yet to make my bowl predictions, so I will have to hold off on this next part until I do so. Once I unveil my official bowl predictions, I will add one final match-up to this post so be sure to check back at a late time. As far as the regular season is concerned, I have Baylor holding the belt to start and end the year, with a crazy ride in between. Feel free to let me know how you see the belt’s ownership unfolding in 2013 and we will see who comes closest.

Edit: As a long time forum member at D2Football.com, I reminded myself they keep track of this method at the D2 level, referring to it as The Man. Check it out for some small school football fun.

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