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  • Writer's pictureMark Schlabach

College football realignment 2024: First-year conference title contenders

These college football teams are most likely to challenge their conferences for a shot, following a record-setting redistricting change in 2024.


Preliminarily, the college football conference realignment for a new round started on the first of July, and it will shift the national map of the sport eternally.

This transfer marketing is to become official for this season, which may jeopardise the established rivalries, renew some of them, and produce a rather new calendar for the teams that will fight for the new enlarged playoff.


More: Which CFB teams will be jumping, sagging after realigning to 2024?


I suppose it leaves a lot of questions for teams and conferences to figure out come the fall. These are normally the transitional phase and schools often experience difficulties in attempting to assimilate new members and achieve stability, some signs of growing pains.

However it is for a lucky few, switching conferences could be a perfect chance to go for the championship title in their new conferences. Which first year schools are in a position to deliver the ‘champion’s cup’ right now?

College Football Realignment 2024: Conference Title Ideas for the First-Year Event

Big 12: Utah

Sure the Utes are a relative new comer to the Big 12 having transferred from the Pac-12 but they could be coming into this season with arguably one of the most talented rosters in the entire conference.

Hence, that is, of course, if they are shielded from the injuries that bedeviled the team in the previous season.


In that regard, Quarterback Cameron Rising was listed as a returnee for the team starting lineup after being limited to the entire previous season due to a knee injury. Still, with Kuithe as their star tight end. Running back Micah Bernard sat out 11 games a season ago, but is expected to come back. Wide receiver Dorian Singer is one of the important ones that transferred to this team.

Utah’s defense proved fairly resilient even with multiple injuries, allowing less than 19 points whilst big playmaking tight end Jonah Elliss headed to the NFL, Utah will return roughly eight other starters and improve further with quality transfers in the secondary to make another solid year.

Utah has a very favorable schedule as part of the Big 12 this year missing both Kansas State and Kansas , but an early game in Oklahoma State can tell the tale of the season.

Related: Cresting a model to forecast the college football conference champions

Big 12: Arizona

Specifically, the Wildcats arrived at 10-2 in the previous year and have been devastated by the disastrous event in the subsequent year, because the head trainer of the Wildcats, Jedd Fisch, took the Washington job after Kalen DeBoer’s resignation.

However, the program kept identifying and hiring individuals for on the field roles who decide not leave with the coach of the program and stay with Brent Brennan to help the Arizona program continue those achievements in the following year.

Among them are two offensive dynamos: quarterback Noah Fifita, who scored seventy two; a new record in the school’s history. 4 percent of completion, contributing 25 passing touchdowns and a mere six interceptions; Their wide receiving Tetairoa McMillan recorded 1,402 passing yards from 90 receptions and scoring 10 touchdowns.

In that same season, the defensive linemen seemed to have left the Wildcats in a somewhat defensive fashion; nevertheless, the position of linebacker with Jacob Manu as the leading tackler did not suffer a total loss.

Arizona's schedule presents big tests early on: away to Kansas State on September 13 and then to Utah on September 28 after the bye week. A date at BYU may be tough, plus the Wildcats face TCU in late November.

Since all this preset competition is going to be in the Big 12 with more teams added to it, there could be ample chance for Arizona to seriously contend for the conference championship itself.

Big Ten: Oregon

Dan Lanning has constructed a giant and positioned his operation in the midst of a Big Ten battle for the championship, buffeted by the return of skill on both sides of the line and the stout addition of transfers.

While running back is quite deep, wide receiver might be the strongest position in college football; Tez Johnson, Gary Bryant Jr. , and Traeshon Holden head up the best rotation, and former 5-star Evan Stewart transferred from Texas A&M.

Jordan James took over RB1 duties after gaining 7+ yards a carry and scoring 15 touchdowns a year prior and is backed by another powerful, nasty line.

As for Bo Nix who has been completing for the starting quarterback position, Dillon Gabriel was brought in to be a veteran piece that could ensure the offense of the ducks remains a force to reckon with. A year ago, this attack produced more than 531 yards per game, and got more than 44 points on average.

Oregon has a sharp early slate with Boise State at home and at Oregon State next before going to UCLA after a bye.

Ohio State is scheduled to visit Autzen on the 12th of October and the Ducks travels to Michigan two weeks after on the second of November, with Wisconsin to follow two weeks later.

Defenses across the Big Ten could be in store for a real challenge when trying to slow down this team now and even more so down the line boasting the kind of perimeter speed that Oregon does at the secondary and at receiver.

SEC: Texas

In his first two years, Sarkisian managed to record 13-12 and the giant leap forward that not only Sarkisian, but the Longhorns needed was in the year before moving to the competitive SEC.

A road victory over Alabama signaled future conference foes they would not be prepared when they met again; a Big 12 championship affirmed the team was for real; a school making it first College Football Playoff was for real.

Even with four of their major skill threat gone, the Longhorns get back Quinn Ewers at quarterback, and have stripped significant transfer successes at the wide receiving end such as Matthew Golden, Isaiah Bond, and Silas Bolden.

Starter return on the line, the backs CJ Baxter and Jaydon Blue, and tight ends Helm and Juan Davis.

A position to pay attention to on the roster is the up front defense. Getting physical at the line tends to be vital to success in the SEC always, and Texas loses components that made it the number second in the defense that stopped the run effectively the previous season.

T’Vondre Sweat, who is an Outland Trophy winner, and Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Byron Murphy, as well as All- Big 12 linebacker Jaylan Ford, is missing from the team list.

There is one significant addition though, that is Trey Moore the UTSA edge rusher who recorded 14 sacks last season. He should click with ‘backer Anthony Hill, Jr. , who was the second best tackler of the team on the ‘23.

The Longhorns are scheduled to have their first real test of the regular season in Week 2 against the defending national champion Michigan Wolverines, though the Wolverines are going through a total rebuild/re-load at this point and a decent UTSA team comes to Austin the following week.


The next big game on the Oct. 12 in a Red River Shootout is followed by a beast of a home game against Georgia. Hear three weeks later and then there is a game against Arkansas, a home game against Kentucky, and a final one against the rival Texas A&M on the road.

The talent is there and so are some fairly strong opponents should the Longhorns prevail, thereby boosting the team to contend for the SEC title, and placing the selection committee on advanced notice.

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