No matter how college football's championship format looks, winning a conference title will always be celebrated.

In future years, earning a league crown will be especially important. The expanded College Football Playoff will include each power-conference champion. Looking at 2023, the reward might not be as high. But that won't stop the winners from proudly hoisting the trophy.

Three-plus months away from the opening kickoff, which 10 programs do you think will secure the hardware?

I have my early answers. The picks are subject to change—given the possibility of injuries, suspensions, transfers or other factors—but are a product of returning talent, incoming transfers, 2023 schedules and program trends.


AAC: UTSA Roadrunners

This revamped version of the AAC is full of question marks. Not only are we weighing year-to-year changes, but the league is welcoming six teams from Conference USA—including UTSA. There will be new environments and a lot less familiarity with league opponents.

Ultimately, the American feels like a four-program race of Memphis, SMU, Tulane and UTSA.

Memphis and SMU fit a similar mold as offense-driven teams that may struggle on the opposite side. Tulane returns a strong group of players from its 2022 champion team, as does UTSA—which won C-USA last season. Notably, starting quarterbacks Michael Pratt and Frank Harris are still with both programs, respectively.

UTSA is my early favorite because of its overall continuity. The team is built well enough to replace key wideout Zakhari Franklin, who nonetheless would be a major loss if he doesn't back out of the transfer portal. Plus, the Roadrunners miss Memphis and SMU in the regular season.

Tulane will likely be a factor, but UTSA has a definite path to a third straight conference (and first AAC) title.


ACC: Clemson Tigers

Clemson or Florida State? Florida State or Clemson?

Thanks to the ACC's new format, the September clash between the programs may only be Part 1 of a longer battle. No longer will the championship game feature the Atlantic and Coastal division winners; the league's top two teams will square off in Charlotte.

Florida State is a flashy and understandable pick. The roster brings back a heavy majority of its main contributors from a 10-win team and brought in several high-value transfers.

But I'm not picking against Clemson.

In a relatively down season, the Tigers were basically a one-point loss to South Carolina removed from a CFP trip. The defense should be outstanding, and quarterback Cade Klubnik has enormous potential.

Outside of Clemson and FSU, any other champion—say Pitt, Miami or North Carolina—would be a moderate surprise.