Nearly every questionnaire or poll that I fill out seems to ask “what is your favorite season?”. I know the accepted answers are autumn, winter, spring, or summer. But my answer is always the same…..football. And thank God it is almost that time of year once more. I always take a shot at predicting the Top 25, a practice that began at an old job where we had a fun little gambling ring. I figure I am atleast as intelligent as the imbeciles that grace our television screens every fall Saturday (and Thursday), especially ESPN’s Lee Corso, one of the biggest jackasses in sports. We’ll get to the NFL in a few weeks, but for now let’s take a look into the old crystal ball and see what college football may have in store this year.
1 Penn State
The only game on the Nittany Lions’ schedule that is even remotely scary on paper is Ohio State…and it’s in Happy Valley this year. Paterno isn’t getting any younger. As a matter of fact he’s old…really old. Can the troops take him to the mountaintop one last time?? If so they better not look past the season ender at Michigan State.
The SEC is never easy. As a matter of fact, it is most certainly the toughest conference in college football. The bright side for those teams is that whoever emerges on top, even if they have 2 or 3 losses, gets major respect and has a better than decent shot to play for the national championship. If ‘Bama can get past Virginia Tech in its opener they could very well have a clear path until the SEC title game, and my vibes are telling me this is the year for The Tide to roll.
The Longhorns have broken my heart so many times it’s not funny. I’m not a huge Texas fan or anything, but I have chosen them to finish very high several times over the years, and more often than not they let me down. The one year I didn’t put them on a pedestal?? 2005-06…..when they won the national championship. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I noticed they return 8 starters on offense (including senior QB and Heisman runner-up Colt McCoy) and have the big Red River Shootout against Oklahoma on their home turf this season.
Not only am I picking Alabama to win the SEC title, but I am choosing Georgia as their unfortunate victim. That’s not exactly bad news for the Dawgs though, because it means I am predicting that they will shock the pundits, who fellatiate Tim Tebow worse than the drive-by media does the current President, by upsetting the overly hyped Florida Gators.
5 Ohio State
An early season battle with USC and a late season visit to Happy Valley against my #1 pick Penn State are the only two teams that should cause the Buckeyes any kind of grief. Other than that they have their usual cupcake schedule (Navy, Toledo, New Mexico St., Michigan) to insure a good record.
6 Oklahoma State
I like Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. He’s 40!! He’s a MAN!! And if you don’t understand that reference then give Gundy the YouTube treatment and you’ll soon get it. Anyway, The Big 12 is a really good, deceptively deep conference. OK St. has Texas at home but in-state rival Oklahoma is in Norman, a tough task. Plus they start the season with a very tough contest with Georgia…but it is at home, so they have a fighting chance. It’s possible that the Cowboys could win that contest and because of the bromance the press has with the SEC the Bulldogs will still finish higher in the rankings.
Mathematically it makes no sense to pick three SEC teams in the top 10. However, if any conference could pull off such a power trifecta I suppose it’d be this one. LSU always seems to be in the hunt and this year should be no different. Games at Alabama and at Georgia will be key. If those games are close then the loser won’t suffer too much in the polls. Any kind of blowout and all bets are off.
8 Florida State
Someone has to win the mediocre ACC. And while the trendy pick seems to be Virginia Tech, I’m going to hearken back to the days of yesteryear and go with the Seminoles. I sense a renaissance in Tallahassee, or atleast a one year return to respectability so that Bobby Bowden can keep up with Paterno.
9 Southern California
It’s pretty remarkable that finishing at #9 would be a disappointment and an off year for the Trojans, but such is the level of their recent success. I can’t explain it…..my vibes just seem to be telling me it’s an off year for what has consistently been the top team of the past decade. Maybe it’s the fact that after transitioning from Carson Palmer to Matt Leinart to Mark Sanchez, USC’s signal caller this year seems to be a transitional QB, a guy no one’s ever heard of who is probably just filling in until much heralded freshman Matt Barkley is ready. Also, not that long ago the PAC 10 was “USC and nine others”. That is no longer the case.
10 Georgia Tech
Back to back mid-season battles with Florida State and Virginia Tech will decide the fate of the Yellowjackets.
11 Texas Christian
The Horned Frogs have a challenging schedule, but by no means is it that far into the realm of difficult. They have Utah at home, so if they can win that one they may very well be in the BCS hunt.
Winning The Red River Shootout in hostile territory is a tough task…..maybe too tough.
13 West Virginia
Alright…call me a homer if you wish. It is true that I am a resident of northcentral West Virginia and a lifelong Mountaineer fan. But that doesn’t change the fact that a team will win the Big East and until another club comes along and knocks them off their 5 year perch as the Beast of the East then benefit of the doubt goes to the Mountaineers. It’ll be a tough go without departed QB Pat White, but I think that it is quite probable that the passing game will emerge now and keep this team more than competitive.
Sorry Gator fans, but not only have I not been sucked in by the hype, but I think it may actually work against your team. History is replete with athletes and teams that have believed their own press to their ultimate detriment. I don’t think Tim Tebow is that type of guy…..he seems quite humble and selfless. But I’m not so sure about his teammates. LSU and Georgia could both defeat the Gators, and one of them almost certainly will.
15 Boise State
The WAC has never been a gimme conference, and starting the slate with Oregon won’t be easy.
I told you The Big 12 was deep.
Ole Miss, NY Giants QB Eli Manning’s alma mater, seems to be getting an unusual amount of attention this pre-season. I like going against the grain, but I’m left with the assumption that there must be something good happening in Oxford. Some of the optimism likely stems from the fact that they upset Florida last year and then upended a very good Texas Tech club in The Cotton Bowl. The SEC is super tough, but if the Rebels play well against Alabama and Tennessee…both home games…well, they will have everyone’s attention and will deserve it.
19 Brigham Young
When did The Mountain West all the sudden become a power conference?? The people that usually whine about The Big East not deserving an automatic BCS berth seem to use The Mountain West as an example of teams who deserve some love. I can’t argue with the latter side of that argument. Last year I looked at BYU’s schedule and predicted them to finish undefeated and in the top 5. I’m not quite as generous this go round, but I don’t think 9 wins is out of the question.
The Big East doesn’t get much respect from the talking heads. I suppose on some level I understand that, but I do think the level of disdain for the conference is irrational. Out of eight teams atleast six have been quite respectable for the past few years…..seven if one takes into consideration that while Louisville has gone into the toilet in the post-Petrino era Connecticut has risen up nicely. If Syracuse ever gets their issues straightened out The Big East may actually become one of the most unpredictably competitive conferences in the country top to bottom. Which would you rather have…..a 12 team conference with about half of them being better than good, or an 8 team conference where every single team has a legitimate claim to being the one to beat?? Anyway, I feel like Rutgers could be a surprise this year.
Traditionally I pick a shocker, a team no one else seems to have on their radar. This year that honor goes to the once powerful Bruins. There is no logical explanation.
22 Boston College
The ACC is a lot like The Big East…..not any great teams, but several solid ones. I like BC’s chances for a 9 win, late December bowl type of season.
I am hedging my bets with the Big East. The aforementioned West Virginia and Rutgers will be battling Pitt, South Florida, Connecticut, and these Bearcats from Cincinnati for the conference crown. Cincinnati wins the proverbial coin flip for this spot.
The opener at Boise will go a long way toward deciding where the Ducks finish, and The PAC 10 has become quite deep.