All of the networks have it. Everyone has to put together a one-hour special, previewing the all-important upcoming college football season. So, why shouldn't I drop some of my preseason predictiosn on all of you guys? I know, that was lame. What can I say, Dugan is rubbing off on me.
In any case, let's take a break from the all-work, no-play position previews to take a bird's eye view of the college football landscape before we get to the actual football games. And so, here we go, unveiling some projections and predictions, trying to prove how idiotic I really am when it omes to college football. Still, it's all in fun.
All after the break...
ACC - Clemson :: I'm not huge on the Tigers, but the ACC is so weak that they win by default. Wake Forest is the second best team, but they aren't too hot either. James Davis + C.J. Spiller should win you at least a handful of games by themselves, and even Tommy Bowden can find a way to navigate the rest of the schedule only losing 2 or 3. Sleeper Alert is North Carolina, who could come out of nowhere to capture their division and sneak into the ACC Championship Game. Still, next year is likely UNC's year, not this one.
Big East - West Virginia :: South Florida is a tempting pick, and that game figures to be tougher than most are giving it credit for, but West Va just has too much talent. They won't be nearly as good as last year, when they really should have played for a National Title had they not shit the bed and lost to Pitt, but they should still be good enough to win the Big East. Sleeper Alert can't be Pittsburgh, because everyone is picking them to be a sleeper. Therefore, they aren't really a sleeper anymore, people. Come on. I'm going with Louisville; they have plenty of talent and we've heard for years-and-years about how good Hunter Cantwell is. Well, now we get to finally see him in live action, and if Kragthorpe learned a lesson from last season, they could be dangerous again.
Big 10/11 - the Ohio State :: tOSU is clearly the best team in all the Big 10/11, no one else even comes close. Wisconsin, Penn State and Illinois are all good teams, but not one of them can seriously compete for the Big 10/11 title. tOSU is going to get destroyed in Southern California by a QB-less USC team, but they should still be able to win the incredibly weak Big 10/11 by at least a couple of games. Sleeper Alert goes to Michigan State. They are on the brink of being too predicted to be a sleeper, as is UNC, but they aren't getting quite enough press to be disqualified. They could end up being 2nd in the Big 10/11 this year, if things break right for them. Honestly. Although that is likely a bigger indictment of the Big 10/11 than a praise of the Spartans, although they should be able to beat Cal this weekend on the way to a 8+ win season.
Big 12 - Oklahoma :: You already know my predictions. I will get further into this tomorrow, when I analyze Kansas as a whole compared to the other teams, but OU is my pick not only to win the Big 12, but to win the whole shibang. Sleeper Alert is Colorado, who I am very high on this season.
Pac 10 - USC :: The Trojans will handily win the Pacific Conference, and then face the Sooners in the National Championship Game, where I am having them lose. But more on that later. The Pac 10 isn't nearly as strong as it was last season, but is still a pretty good conference, depth-wise. The Washington schools pretty much suck, yeah, (except for All-Everything Jake Locker, who is a man-beast) and Stanford isn't great, but everyone else has a pretty good shot of making a bowl. USC is clearly the top dog in the league, but Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and Cal all have at least halfway-decent football teams. Sleeper Alert is Arizona, who I am expecting big things from this year (more on them later).
SEC - Georgia :: I don't think that Georgia will make the National Championship Game, too many injuries on the offensive line and too tough a schedule, but they should win enough games to get into the SEC Championship Game. And once there, they should demolish whoever they play; LSU or Auburn. That wil create a controversey about whether they deserve to go to the BCS Championship Game, creating quite the hullabaloo. Still, a 2-loss team doesn't deserve to go when there are two one-loss teams, or even an undefeated team which I think OU will be. That was a pretty shitty sentence. In any case, the Dawgs are the best team in the SEC, and the tiebreaker with Florida which they will earn by winning the Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party should be enough to get them to Atlanta, or wherever the hell the Championship Game will be played. Just for fun, I'll predict that they play Auburn in the Game. Sleeper Alert is split up between East and West. East's Sleeper is South Carolina. I don't like them, but they could be really good. And West's Sleeper is Ole Miss. I know, I know, they sucked last year, but Ed Orgeron's problem was that he couldn't coach, not that he couldn't get talent to Oxford. Nutt has enough talent to make an outside run at the SEC West title; it's just a matter of whether he actually coaches it up enough to get there.
Fiesta Bowl - Missouri vs. West Virginia :: The Tigers are going to be pretty awesome this year, no matter how much it sucks, and West Va is my Big East champion, meaning they automatically go here.
Orange Bowl - Clemson vs. Florida :: Florida would make a tremendous fit in the Orange Bowl, with it being in Florida and all, and the SEC will definitely get two teams in. I guess it could make more sense for Auburn, my projected SEC West Champion, to get a BCS Bowl, but last year Missouri was passed over for Kansas. Not entirely unprecedented. Clemson is the ACC's automatic qualifier.
Sugar Bowl - Georgia vs. Fresno State :: I think that Fresno State is a non-BCS conference qualifier this season, going undefeated against a terribly difficult schedule. Georgia is the SEC's automatic qualifier, and is again required to beat a non-BCS conference team. This time around, however, the Bulldogs are much more deserving, but Georgia still wins.
Rose Bowl - the Ohio State vs. Arizona :: Hear me out. As you will see later on, which I kind of just ruined, I am H-U-G-E on Arizona this year, they seem to fit the description of a certain team residing in Lawrence, Kansas from 2007. And, with USC going to the National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl's idiotic and stupid and backwards tradition-first way of thinking will force them to find another Pac 10 team. After USC, second is completely up for grabs, and I think Arizona will capitalize on that unknown and jump to second in the Pac 10. Just a gut feeling. Thus, the Pac 10 will take the Wildcats. And tOSU is the automatic qualifier from the Big 10/11, who will, Thank God, be left of out this year's National Championship Game. Finally.
BCS National Championship Game - USC vs. Oklahoma :: Oklahoma will be 13-0, and USC will be 12-0. They will clearly be the two best teams in the country, just like USC-UT in 2005, and it should be a tremendous game. Boomer Sooner by a field goal.
That means there will be two Big 12 teams, two Pac 10 teams, two SEC teams and one from the ACC, Big East, Big 10/11 and the WAC. Craziness.
Heisman Finalists - Sam Bradford (QB, OU), Knowshon Moreno (RB, UGA), Beanie Wells (RB, tOSU), Chase Daniel (QB, MU) and Tim Tebow (QB, UF) :: Tebow will make it there simply because of last year's performance, but he won't deserve the Stiff Arm. Neither will Bradford, per se, but he will be the QB of the Oklahoma Sooners, who are playing in the National Championship Game, and despite not being "all that" will be the favorite. And so, while Knowshon and Beanie supporters cancel each other out, the Boomer Sooner QB will beat out Chase "Booger" "Triple Chin" Daniel for the Heisman. Not by a close margin, either.
"This Year's Louisville" - Candidates: Clemson (#9), Texas (#11), Texas Tech (#12), LSU (#7) :: I don't think any of them will be as bad as Louisville was last year, dropping from #9 in the preseason to not even making a bowl. However, Clemson would have to be the favorite. Still, making a BCS bowl and all, they can't seriously be considered. That makes me turn to the QB-less LSU Tigers. The defense will still be awesome, but not nearly as dominant as last year, and they have to run out of stud WRs eventually, right? They will still be a 'good' team, much better than the Ville was last year, but not good enough to stay in the Top 25 by the end of the year, as they will clearly be Team #5 in the SEC; behind UGA, UF, Auburn and Tennessee. That is pretty disappointing for a team ranked #7 in the entire country at the beginning of the year.
"This Year's Kansas" - Candidates: Arizona, North Carolina :: There are probably more candidates, but Arizona is my clear and obvious pick. Ever since Mike Stoops and Mark Mangino took over jobs at roughly the same time, it has seemed that the two schools are eerily similar. They are both traditional basketball powerhouses who were trying to build football programs to similar standards, both using ex-OU coordinators in Mangino (offensive coordinator) and Stoops (defensive coordinator). Arizona was a good-but-not-great team last year, posting the usual 6-6 record they have become accustomed to in Tucson. And just like Kansas before last season, Stoops is on the semi-hot seat; they are happy with what he has accomplished thus far in his career, considering where he started, but are expecting a step forward this year or he could get the ax. As weird as it is to say it, that is about the same exact spot we were as a fanbase with Mangino. Plus, they are introducing a new offensive coordinator, as Sonny Dykes is entering his second season. While we did it in Warriner's first year as OC, the principal is the same; the offensive scheme change will make a difference for the better, and it will greatly improve the offense. Plus, they have Willie Tuitama as their QB, who is absolutely, incredibly underrated.
And finally, and probably most importantly, take a look at their schedule. Their non-conference is painfully easy; vs. Idaho, vs. Toledo (see?) and @ New Mexico. Easy, piece-of-cakes with the possible exception of the Lobos, but even they should be completely and utterly beatable. This year in the Pac 10, they get all of the best teams (besides Oregon) at home; USC, Oregon State, Cal, Arizona State. Three of their in-conference road games are against Washington (easy win), Stanford (improving program) and against a rebuilding UCLA team without a QB, likely. Sure, that game @ Oregon is tough, but last year Kansas faced pretty tough challenges in Okie State and A&M. So, basically think of the Dixon-and-Stewart-less Ducks as Okie State, and it doesn't seem so tough anymore.
Honestly, nobody is talking about Arizona, like at all, but I am expecting really big things. They will likely lose against USC, although it isn't impossible, but that could be it. Maybe in their rivalry game against the Sun Devils, but even then, they are at home. This team has plenty of talent and coaching to go 11-1 in the regular season, honestly, and make a BCS bowl. But even if they go 10-2, which is ENTIRELY possible, that could still be good enough to get into the "we MUST get a Pac 10 team" Rose Bowl. I'm pretty confident on that one.
That is all for the National Perspective. More Big 12-specific thoughts, and projections and etc. about Kansas' season tomorrow, along with some kick-ass previewing and some last-minute position previews. What a busy day I have tomorrow...