Everyone has their own method of making predictions. Some lean heavily on a statistical model that they’ve fine tuned for years. Others like to go with their gut and intuition, but for me, I know only one tried and true method for predicting the future in sports: “The Oregon Trail.”

You don’t believe me? Check the receipts from my NBA days. Who could have predicted LeBron James going back to the Cavs in free agency in 2014? The Oregon Trail. What about the Golden State Warriors winning the 2015 NBA title? The Oregon Trail.

Now it’s time to bring the Oregon Trail to college football as we roll through Power Five conference previews and predictions here at CBS Sports. For all of our expert picks, click here. Those are guesses. These are facts.

The Pac-12 is next on the list — you can check out the Big Ten, the Big 12, the ACC and SEC here — but first a quick introduction to how this works.

The trail leader is the conference. The traveling party consists of the four highest-ranked programs in a randomized order. Why do I do this? Any veteran Trail player knows the leader is the last to have anything happen to them, which would make it easy to rig. The random order, all in the two through five slots ensures disaster will strike all equally.

We dial back food to bare bones rations and set the pace to grueling to ensure the most misery for everyone and that health will get to “very poor” as soon as possible. I buy plenty of food, oxen, clothes and bullets, just to have them.

We send our fearless group off in May because that ensures they travel through the meat of the trail in the hottest months, which means they get hit with the most illnesses. The only way this works is if three members of the travel party die, so I need carnage. At rivers, the wagon gets caulked and floated every time. No fording (that always ends in death) and no using the ferry or Indian guides (that always gets across).

Once three teams have died, you have your conference champion. If two teams make it somehow (this rarely happens but is possible), or if the last two die together (this can happen on the river), we go to Sudden Death Trail. Those two get sent off again, same rules, but with each team listed twice. First one to die loses.

Those are the rules. Welcome to the Trail.

The Players


Two things, first, yes I know how weird “Pac Twelve” looks, but I’m sorry that the video game made in 1990 did not think to accommodate numbers. Second, Oregon is the fifth-highest ranked Pac-12 team, thus they do not get a chance to prove themselves on their own Trail.

Let’s Play


Day 2, broken leg, guess the Alabama game didn’t go great in week one.


Are broken legs contagious?


Oh my. Alright, so, Stanford’s out.


Not the best start for spunky Washington.


Protect Josh Rosen at all costs.


Someone go get Mike Leach.


C’mon, Washington. You’re the North’s only hope.


It’s all down to the Los Angeles teams.


Bruins are struggling with late season depth issues.


The Trojans need more calcium.


[Cowbell joke]


This is a war of attrition.


Give Clay Helton a raise.


That’s two broken arms now. That makes things difficult.


The Trojans are trying to set a record for most injuries/diseases contracted without dying on the trail. So far they’ve had a broken leg, two broke arms, a fever and cholera.


BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER. Trojans win the Pac-12. Lock it in.

Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Using ‘The Oregon Trail’ to predict the 2016 Pac-12 Champion