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Conquest Roundtable: 2015 Season Projections

The staff of Conquest Chronicles gives their predictions on everything from Heisman to USC MVP.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

We're just under two days away from the start of the 2015 NCAA Football season. All the long practices, 6 AM lifting sessions, and sprints are about to pay off for thousands of student athletes this weekend.

As a preview for the 2015 season, the staff of Conquest Chronicles gave their predictions on the upcoming season. Every member gave their pick for NCAA Champion, Heisman winner, PAC-12 Champions, USC Record, and USC MVP.

Nick Barbarino

National Champions: USC

If the Trojans are going to return to the glory days of the Pete Carroll era it's going to be this year. The Trojans return several players on both side of the ball, finally have depth, and there's this guy named Cody Kessler returning for his senior year. Oh, and Adoree' Jackson is a star in the making.

Heisman: Ezekiel Elliot

The Heisman is more of a popularity contest than anything else. It's been years since a defensive player won the award, and it seems to go to either the best running back or quarterback every year. Elliot should lead an explosive Ohio State offense.

PAC-12 Champions: USC

Trojans overcome the Ducks for their first championship since 2008. Although Arizona State, Arizona, and UCLA will all give the Trojans trouble, I think this is the year that USC makes the leap back into the national conversation. Road games at Oregon and Arizona State will prove tricky, but the South champion could come down to the final game of the season against UCLA.

USC Record: 15-1

The Trojans drop a game to one of Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State during the season, but bounce back to claim the PAC-12 and are crowned College Football Playoff Champions.

USC MVP

Adoree' Jackson. There's nothing this kid can't do - he kicked a field goal the other day. Jackson should jump into the Heisman discussion as the season progresses.

Nick Dempsey

National Champions - Ohio State

Ohio State is certainly the best team in the country right now. It is rare, however, for a team to start and finish the Preseason AP Poll at number 1. It is difficult to bet against Urban Meyer and there is just way too much talent coming back. So I’m going to ignore history and say Ohio State repeats.

Heisman - Trevone Boykin

The Heisman Trophy is largely about which player has the most hype, (Manti Te’o finishing second anyone?not necessarily the best player, or the player with the best stats. Odds are that player will either be Trevone Boykin or possibly whoever will be the starting quarterback for Ohio State.

PAC-12 Champion - Oregon

Despite losing Mariota Oregon still has a great quarterback, and Oregon has a track record of replacing the pieces for their offensive system. The North Division is top heavy and Oregon’s biggest road block to win the division is Stanford who has nine new starters on defense and an offensive line that has its problems as well. Oregon gets Utah and USC at home, and they miss Arizona and UCLA out of the South. USC has the most talented team in the conference but the safe pick to win the Pac-12 Championship is Oregon.

USC Record - 11-3

USC will probably go 10-2 in the regular season, lose the Pac-12 Championship game but win their bowl game finishing at 11-3 on the year.

USC MVP - Cody Kessler

Cody Kessler will be the USC MVP as team captain, and an experienced QB leading an offense that runs more plays per game than just about anyone else so much of the Trojans’ success will depend on him.

Julian Lopez

National Champions - TCU

TCU. It is so hard to repeat and I think Ohio State has a fantastic team, but I am going to go with the Horned Frogs. Trevone Boykin had a fantastic season last year ( over 4,600 total yards and 41 touchdowns) and I think he will be even better this season. Their defense was underrated last year and lost a couple of key starters but if they could be as good or better than last year, TCU could claim their first national championship since 1938. The Horned Frogs schedule is favorable until the last two weeks of the season when they travel to Norman before finishing the season at home on a Friday against Baylor.

Heisman - Trevone Boykin

For the third straight year, this year’s Heisman winner will be playing in the national championship game. Who the Horned Frogs will be playing I haven’t decided but your 2015 Heisman winner will be Trevone Boykin. Because of the amount of top-caliber quarterbacks last year, Boykin wasn’t given enough national attention for how good of a season he had but he will this year as he will hoist the trophy in New York in December.

PAC-12 Champions - USC

I have USC playing Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game and winning by a narrow margin. There is a lot of question marks for the Trojans but I expect a lot of freshman to contribute and the running back rotation will be better than people believe. The key: Can the Trojans close out games?

USC Record - 12-2

I think the Trojans will narrowly miss out on the CFB playoff but still have a successful season. The road schedule is brutal for the Trojans. Can they play well in a hostile environment? I believe they will.

USC MVP - Cody Kessler

He was great last year and will be better this year with the amount of talent around him. Prediction: Su’a Cravens wins more postseason awards than Adoree’ Jackson.

Michael Mahan

Nationals Champions - Baylor

This is a crazy pick, I know, but hear me out before you kill me in the comments. The Bears return the most starters (18) of any team in the preseason top 10. They bring back both lines in their entirety (the defensive line might be the best in college football), 3 of their top 4 receivers, their top 2 running backs, and their entire secondary. They lose Bryce Petty at QB, but open the season with three cupcakes against SMU, Lamar, and Rice, which should give talented newcomer Seth Russell plenty of time to get his feet underneath him heading into conference play. Their soft schedule means they have zero margin for error, but their only really tough game is a Friday night matchup on November 27th at TCU. That game should serve as a de facto conference championship, but TCU has lots of question marks on defense so I expect Baylor will win and earn a spot in the playoff as the undefeated Big 12 champs. I think their potent offense and stout defense will carry them past Auburn in the first round and then they'll upset the Ohio State Buckeyes for their first ever national title. There is an incredible amount of parity in college football this year and I think over 20 teams have a real shot at the playoff. The SEC and PAC-12 are likely going to beat themselves up and it wouldn't be crazy to see one of those conferences left out of the playoff with a 3-loss champion. With lots of crazy 2007-esque upsets looming, I'm going with the team with most returning talent and the easiest schedule. Plus everyone is picking Ohio State so you wouldn't be wrong in calling this an "against-the-grain" pick.

Heisman - JT Barrett

Let's be honest, the Heisman Trophy is more or less a popularity contest. It's an award given to the best player with the most interesting storyline. We haven't even played a down of FBS football and no storyline has been talked about more than the Ohio State quarterback competition. I expect recently-named team captain JT Barrett to win the starting job and keep it throughout the season if he can stay healthy. He can produce at an elite level with both his arm and his legs so the numbers will certainly be there. As long as Ohio State makes a run at the playoff like so many are predicting, Barrett has a great chance to win the Heisman.

PAC-12 Champions - UCLA

It pains me to say it, but I think UCLA will win the PAC this season. They return 10 starters on offense and 8 on defense, the most of anyone in the conference. They do have to break in a true freshman QB with Josh Rosen, but he's a legit talent and has plenty of seasoned weapons coming back to help ease the process including Paul Perkins, the PAC-12's leading rusher in 2014, their top 5 receivers, and their entire offensive line. They return lots of talent on defense and Penn State lifer Tom Bradley, their new defensive coordinator, should improve the unit dramatically from last season. I think whoever wins the South is winning the conference with the true contenders boiling down to USC and UCLA, but I give them the edge because of their head coaching advantage. UCLA also avoids Oregon in the regular season, but I think both teams make it to the PAC-12 title game and the Bruins will outlast the Ducks in a shootout.

USC Record - 9-4 (including bowl game)

With their talent, they should be in the 10-2, 11-1, or even undefeated range. However, I have very little faith in the Head Coach and DC to put the Trojans in a position to achieve that kind of success. Not helping things is the fact that their schedule is absolutely brutal in 2015. I'm predicting that they'll lose 3 games between ASU, Notre Dame, Oregon, and UCLA, and I'm tacking on a 4th loss to account for the annual massive-disappointment-against-an-inferior-team-that-no-one-sees-coming game like Cal or Arizona. I would absolutely love for the coaching staff to prove me wrong, but my expectations are tempered to say the least.

USC MVP - Adoree' Jackson

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Kessler is another obvious choice, but Adoree' is an impact player in every phase of the game and his increased use on offense could lead to some otherworldly numbers. I don't think it's crazy to say the 2014 freshman All-American might be the best overall player in all of college football this season. Like everyone else, I'm expecting a monster season from Adoree' Jackson.

Nick Schober

National Champions- Ohio State

My brain hates my hands for typing this, but they've got too much talent coming back and even more important that that, they believe.

Heisman

Whoever happens to be playing QB for Ohio State at that moment.

PAC-12 Champions - USC

It's all coming together. The depth chart has more than 1 line on it and if some of the key recruits can contribute right away, the Pac 12 will have their hands full.

USC Record - 11-3

A few missteps during the tough regular season schedule, a conference championship, and a hard fought exit in the first round of the playoff.

USC MVP - Cody Kessler

Shocking, I know. Here's hoping he can pick up those big first downs late in tough games and close out opponents.

Trajuan Briggs

National Champions: TCU

Trevon Boykin, Aaron Green, and Josh Doctson to lead a talented offense...need I say more?

Heisman: Adoree Jackson

The Why: Dangerous all around threat that will see playing time at WR,CB, KR, and possibly PR

PAC-12 Champions: USC

Despite the chances of losing 1-2 games, USC will come out as victor of the PAC-12. With an explosive offense and a maturing defense, USC will make a strong case at being the team to beat in 2015.

USC record: 12-2

Vernon Adams will be starting at QB for the Ducks, which will give Oregon the competitive edge they need this season. Despite transferring from Eastern Washington Adams is no stranger to Pac-12 play. Versus Pac-12 Teams Adams has seen good days as a starter. Arizona St. beat USC last second last year on a hail mary pass to Jalen Strong. The Sun Devils look once again like a team to beat with an aggressive defense and a exciting offense.

USC MVP: Cody Kessler

This is Kessler's year to separate from the pack and lead USC to greatness. With dangerous receivers and a solid running game, Kessler will orchestrate an offense that should give plenty of teams headaches this season.

Fight on!