Monday, August 29, 2011

8/29: 2011 College Football Predictions

As usual I have my college football predictions for college football for the new season. I will focus on the SEC, giving a win-loss record and bowl destination for each team with a brief summary of the prediction. I will then give you my predictions for the other BCS conferences and the BCS Bowl match-ups.
FYI, I plan to post a review post early each week, adding a Top 25 a few weeks into the season. Also I will run a weekend preview post. I will try to be reliable about this, we'll see how it goes.

2011 SEC Predictions
1. South Carolina 11-1 (7-1) (L at Arkansas)
Admittedly you could say this is a total homer pick from me, a proud Gamecock alum, but honestly I think it's hard not to pick the Gamecocks this season to win the division. Best receiver in the league? Check (Alshon Jeffrey). Best running back in the league, at least arguably? Check (Marcus Lattimore). Veteran signal-caller? Check (Stephen Garcia). Consistently strong defense? Check.
History is the lone factor riding against the garnet and black in 2011, and I that can't be the only thing. The only loss I have predicted is on a November trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Worst case scenario: 7-5 with losses at Miss St, at Arkansas, at Tennessee, at Georgia, at vs Florida

2. Georgia 10-2 (7-1) (L's vs Boise St & vs South Carolina)
The schedule is fantastic. The schedule has many calling them to win the division, but the schedule starts out rough. I believe unless Georgia is all the way back that Boise St is gonna be hard for the Bulldogs to handle, and seems more than likely a loss. Then Georgia welcomes pre-season top-15 South Carolina to Athens. Normally home-field would be a huge advantage, but for Georgia this is not the case and in this series it hasn't meant much. I think Georgia then rips off ten straight wins to close the season. It's not beyond comprehension at all that South Carolina beats Georgia but trips up with a tougher schedule and the Bulldogs win the division.
Worst case scenario: 6-6 with losses also vs Miss St, at Tenn, vs Florida, vs Auburn

3. Kentucky 7-5 (3-5) (L's at LSU, at South Carolina, vs Miss St, at Georgia, vs Tenn)
Kentucky has settled in as a team that wins 6 or 7 games and gets a bowl bid. That ain't bad for the Wildcats given their doormat status of not so long ago. They may well again find a big upset trophy to pin on their wall, but this year doesn't seem to bode that kind of result.
Worst case scenario: 3-9, going win-less in conference and losing to rival Louisville

4. Tennessee 6-6 (2-6) (L's at Fla, vs UGa, vs LSU, at Bama, vs S Carolina, at Arkansas)
The Vols found their QB last season, and I had been preparing a decent prediction for Big Orange until I saw their schedule. Drawing the three toughest Western Division opponents prevent them from surpassing 6 wins in my mind. They don't yet have the depth of talent to do much more than that. Keep your head up, Rocky Top, I do think you're headed in the right directions but you've gotta overcome your past mistakes (Lane Kiffin and the mistakes he made, that is).
Worst case scenario: 5-7, with Kentucky breaking their insufferable losing streak to Tennessee

5. Florida 5-7 (2-6) (L's at UK, vs Bama, at LSU, at Auburn, vs Georgia, at SC, vs FSU)
It feels weird, but each time I go back I can't see the Gators winning more than 7 games on their schedule. I think Kentucky is going to relish the opportunity to take on Florida for their first road game under an entirely different coaching staff. I also think Georgia is primed for a big season and will be able to beat Florida for the fourth time since 1990. You could argue Florida will beat Auburn, but I won't. The remaining 4 losses I have them pegged for are hard to argue.
Worst case scenario: My prediction

6. Vanderbilt 5-7 (2-6) (L's at SC, at Bama, vs UGa, vs Ark, at Fla, at Tenn, vs Wake)
I believe Vanderbilt has finally found the coach who can take Vanderbilt as far as it is capable, which is consistently contending for bowl eligibility. Be honest, that's really their ceiling unless academic restrictions are relaxed. I do hope Vandy gets a good run before bigger jobs come calling.
Worst case scenario: 1-11, with only win over Elon, and honestly there's no guarantee there, it's Vanderbilt

1. Alabama 11-1 (7-1) (L at Miss St)
The Tide are a consensus title contender. They're really good, they get their toughest two games at home (LSU, Ark), and did I mention they're really good? No doubt they will have a strong defense. They replace Mark Ingram on a larger basis with Trent Richardson, who some argue was better than Ingram when he won the Heisman. The quarterback is largely successful purely if they don't screw it up.
Worst case scenario: 9-3, losing to LSU, Arkansas, and Miss St

2. LSU 10-2 (6-2) (L's at Miss St, at Alabama)
Don't get too worked up by the recent news where LSU QB Jordan Jefferson seems unlikely to play most of the season, if any at all, because he wasn't a strength of the Bayou Bengals. He was their biggest weakness, despite immense talent. LSU will use defense, special teams, and a bag of magical fairy dust to win their games. I still think they're fully capable of winning every one of their games, but the game against Alabama is in Tuscaloosa this season.
Worst case scenario: 8-4, losses vs Oregon, at Miss St/at WVU, at Alabama, vs Arkansas

3. Arkansas 10-2 (6-2) (L's at Alabama, at LSU)
Drawing the the other two contenders for the division both on the road is what hurts the Hogs. Their defense seems very much on the rise, and their offense will be able to move through the air. Ryan Mallett was good, but just review what Bobby Petrino did at Louisville and you'll see why I expect them to not miss much of a beat. RB Knile Davis being out for the season is really the final nail in the coffin for the any Arkansas division title. With him they could do it, I don't think they can without it or a 2-loss division winner.
Worst case scenario: 8-4, losses at Alabama, vs Texas A&M, vs S Carolina, at LSU

4. Mississippi St 9-3 (5-3) (L's at Georgia, vs S Carolina, at Arkansas)
Dan Mullen can coach football, period. With a collection of spare parts that looked a lot more like the Island of Misfit Toys than a top-25 Rivals recruiting class Mullen was able to get Mississippi St to the Gator Bowl. I think the ascension continues the Bulldogs, unfortunately I think it ends with Mullen leaving in the next couple years for a much bigger opening. Everyone who didn't hire him will really feel it then.
Worst case scenario: 6-6, losses at Auburn, vs LSU, at Georgia, vs S Carolina, at Kentucky, at Arkansas

5. Auburn 6-6 (2-6) (L's vs Miss St, at S Carolina, at Ark, at LSU, at UGa, vs Bama)
I had it in my head that Auburn would have a pretty good season this year, but then I saw the schedule. Drawing the top SEC East team on the road in addition to Georgia and Florida is rough (not Kentucky, Vandy, or Tennessee). Plus the Western division sans Ole Miss is loaded. They even drew a difficult non-conference road game at Clemson. Auburn will have plenty of talent, but it's hard to see much better than 8 wins with this schedule.
Worst case scenario: 4-8, my prediction plus losses at Clemson & vs Florida

6. Ole Miss 2-10 (0-8) (L's vs all but Southern Illinois and Louisiana Tech)
Seriously, I have no words. Anybody else know what Houston Nutt is doing in Oxford? Other than over-signing like a true champ? I do love the right reverend Houston Dale Nutt, but I've got no idea where this program is headed other than into the ground at the speed of sound.
Worst case scenario: They could lose to Louisiana Tech? (aka: SCLSU Mud Dogs)

National Championship Game: South Carolina (there's an edge Spurrier/Elliott Johnson have vs Saban)
BCS at-large (Sugar): Alabama
Citrus: LSU
Cotton: Arkansas
Outback: Georgia
Peach: Mississippi St
Gator: Kentucky
Music City: Tennessee
Liberty: Auburn
The artist formerly known as the FrozenPizzaDOTcom Bowl: No SEC team, only 9 bowl eligible

The other conferences
Big Ten
Title Game: Wisconsin vs Michigan St
Others: Nebraska and Iowa have a shot, in whatever stupid division they're in
WINNER: Wisconsin, I just love adding Russell Wilson to what the Badgers have built
Contenders: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas A&M
Others: Texas can't go from no bowl to winning the conference, will take time to make changes needed
WINNER: Oklahoma, they will win the battle for the conference, but will take on too much damage to play or the national title
Title Game: Oregon vs Arizona
Others: Southern Cal still not postseason eligible
WINNER: Oregon, would like Stanford if Jim Harbaugh had stuck around another season
Title Game: Florida St vs Virginia Tech
Others: There isn't anybody else, these two will boat race the rest
WINNER: Florida St, the trendy pick but feels like it, only question is if they go undefeated thru December
Big East
Contenders: Everybody?
Others: I guess we can rule out Syracuse, maybe?
WINNER: Feels too easy, but West Virginia (this one's for you, Coach Stew!)


Orange Bowl
Florida St vs West Virginia (it's the "WE KICKED BOBBY BOWDEN OUT" Bowl)

Rose Bowl
Oregon vs Oklahoma St

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma vs Virginia Tech

Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs Boise St

National Championship Game
South Carolina vs Wisconsin


Finally, along with a large helping of lolz is your moment of zen:

Monday, January 17, 2011

1/17: The NFL Needs More Rex Ryan

There are some things I will never understand. I will never understand why some people put anchovies on pizza. I will never understand why some people spend hundreds of dollars on a suit. I will never understand why the Big East gets 8 teams ranked in the Top 25 despite not having much deep tournament success in recent years to stand on. I will never understand why a team squib kicks with a 3-point or less lead late. And I will never understand why some people don't like Rex Ryan.
NFL coaches have been taken over in the last decade by a series of faceless coaching droids that drain all the fun out of the game by treating the game as if it has to be treated like national security. Bill Belichick never cracks a smile and treats a press conference and other media appearances like he'd rather jam an ice pick into his own forehead than answer another question. His teams are great and his play-calling is unique, but his personality is hard to like. Not to mention he runs on platform that his team does things the right way, but he has been far from the straight and narrow road himself. So he's a boring coach who also happens to be a hypocrite. Unless you are a fan of the Patriots or a frontrunner he's incredibly hard to like in any way. Here's the typical comment he will give, I hope you are braced for this excitement:

Contrast this with Rex Ryan. He's also a defensive-minded coach in a media hub of the country. He takes an entirely different approach. He comes in and talks up his team. He sticks his neck out there every week with his comments. His team has every reason to believe that he is confident in them. His team loves him for it, and want more than anything to back him up. Rex is a player's coach in this aspect. Belichick would sooner cut you for a comment in a press conference than stand up for you. Rex's players surely believe he'd be next to them in the alley fighting for them if they needed. In fact, he'd seemingly fight for them just to prove he could:

The New York Jets need this kind of personality to break free of the Giants in the headlines (as well as in the national perception as the G-men are now a couple years removed from the play-offs). The Jets-Patriots rivalry needs this kind of personality to provide the perfect contract with Belichick. The fans of other teams need this kind of personality because it's fun to get worked up about meaningless comments in the media. The fans of the Jets need this kind of personality because it's the kind of over-the-top personality that makes a guy magnetic to fans. Most of all the NFL needs characters. There is too much Bill Belichick and not enough Rex Ryan, Bum Phillips, and Jerry Glanville.

Let's not forget where Rex got it from
and that's at a 2007 lesser college all-star game over a decade into retirement.

So do your thing Rex, we need it.

and now your moment of zen (epic fail edition)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12/7: My CFB Play-Off, Heisman talk & Happy Trails


This is the time of the year we all realize that we have to wait over a month to see the only real play-off of the college football season, but it's just one game. My solution isn't overly complicated, and there are some kinks that would need to be worked out. It may not be perfect, but I do expect to sit back and see the money roll in on this idea shortly.

The first round would be the 4 BCS bowl games. The 6 BCS conference champions will have a permanent, traditional bowl destination. 2 non-AQ schools will fill the gaps, with the highest ranked non-AQ facing the lower ranked of the 2 AQ opponents.
The second round, the national semi-finals, will be at a location that rotates within the regions of the 3 AQ conferences represented by that semi-final.
The third round, the national championship, will be at a location that rotates around the  6 AQ conferences so that the same conference will not select a semi-final and a national title location in the same year.

Here is how it might look this year

First Round - Jan 1st/2nd
ORANGE BOWL: Virginia Tech (ACC) vs Connecticut (Big East)
SUGAR BOWL: Auburn (SEC) vs Nevada (Non-AQ, WAC)
FIESTA BOWL: Oklahoma (Big XII) vs TCU (Non-AQ, Mountain West)
ROSE BOWL: Oregon (Pac-10) vs Wisconsin (Big Ten)

Second Round - Jan 7th
Semi-final #1 (Big East - Tampa)
Semi-final #2 (Big XII - Kansas City)

Third Round- Jan 14th
National Championship (Big Ten - Indianapolis)
Semi-final winner #1 vs Semi-final winner #2

1) It does stretch the season a week longer.
I would argue that the season stretches across academic semesters already, and that the college baseball play-off takes place entirely when the school is out of session for the summer. So BS to that argument against my plan.
2) The incentive for non-conference games amongst the AQ conferences is significantly lower.
I agree this would suck, but the carrot of a locked in slot to the play-off is also what would lure the conferences to support this plan. So, you have a point, but I like mine better.
3) Travel, who would be able to manage this travel.
Have you ever seen the basketball tournament? So BS to that argument.


This topic is getting a lot of play right now, so I thought I'd throw out my quick thoughts on the subject.
I understand there is an argument for leaving Cam Newton off of a Heisman ballot. Any so-called "integrity" clause is not something I support, there are simply too many past and current candidates who would be eliminated depending on how the voter feels about this. The argument against including Cam Newton is because you know the NCAA ruled that a violation occurred when Cecil Newton tried to solicit money for Cam during his recruiting process. The argument is that you know full and well that the NCAA ruling on this case is completely inconsistent with past rulings and with common sense. I know people who study and work as lawyers, and none of them say "on behalf of the student-athlete" implies knowledge on the part of the student-athlete. In other words, Cam is ineligible. It doesn't matter that the NCAA ruled otherwise, because they ruled under the pressure of a sure lawsuit if they had ruled the clear Heisman leader and leader of a team on a national title run. You can make your own statement that Cam Newton shouldn't be eligible, and I happen to agree with this statement.

If I did vote, which as an Underwriting Technician at a Insurance MGA I obviously don't, this would be my ballot:
1) Andrew Luck - Stanford QB (the run vs Cal was his Heisman moment, his season said it all)
2) LaMichael James - Oregon RB (An amazing season, on a really good team, the biggest cog)
3) Colin Kaepernick - Nevada QB (Passing: 2,830 yards 20 TD. Rushing: 1,184 yards 20 TD)

It's time to review what is surely an incomplete list of coaches who have been given the boot this season, with some of the fondest memories.

Steve Roberts, Arkansas State, 2002-2010 (45-63)

Stan Parrish, Ball State, 2008-2010 (6-19)

Dan Hawkins, Colorado, 2006-2010 (19-39)

Bill Lynch, Indiana, 2007-2010 (19-30)

Doug Martin, Kent State, 2004-2010 (28-53)

Rickey Bustle, Louisiana-Lafayette, 2002-2010 (41-65)

Randy Shannon, Miami (FL), 2007-2010 (28-22)
Go straight to the 1:10 mark

Tim Brewster, Minnesota, 2007-2010 (15-30)

Todd Dodge, North Texas, 2007-2010 (6-37)

Robbie Caldwell, Vanderbilt, 2010 (2-10)


34-17, 29-7

and now, your moment of zen...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

10/24: My Top 25

I'm not a voter, and don't even pretend to be one. The job is often more mocked than anything else, and ultimately you get more grief than credit. All that said, here is the Top 25 I would submit if I did vote. I have tried my best to give justification for each spot. Think I got something wrong? Let me know. It'd be nice to have some healthy debate on my blog.

*Rankings can change week-to-week, a win doesn't necessarily equal staying or moving up.

1. Oregon
The Pac-10 has been very good this year, and the Ducks are making the rest of the league look stupid so far

2. TCU
They've been streamrolling people, including Air Force this week (same team that took OU to the limit in regulation).

3. Auburn
Cam Newton is amazing, but I still think they pass D bites them eventually. Only quality road win opportunity is Iron Bowl.

4. Utah
This would be that other Mountain West team no one is talking about, collision course with TCU on the way.

5. Boise St
Other teams doing more each week to move up, but just keep winning and others will fall.

6. Alabama
I know they lost, but their schedule gives them this spot, just ahead of some undefeated teams.

7. Missouri
I know they just got a huge win vs Oklahoma at home, but need to see more to believe. Schedule before last night was awful.

8. Michigan St
Northwester is well-coached and coming off a bye, so the comeback is what I like to see in that spot.

9. Oklahoma
Road loss doesn't hurt them too much, plus still quality W's on the resume.

10. LSU
LSU being in the game yesterday says how good their D is, a Top 5 D, but bottom 5 O.

11. Wisconsin
Huge road win for the Badgers to add to their home win vs Ohio St. L at #8 MSU lone blemish.

12. Stanford
Only loss is to Oregon, some nice thumpings otherwise, solid team.

13. Arizona
Only loss was by 2 pts to Oregon St w/Quizz, otherwise solid resume

14. Iowa
Two losses: by 1 vs #11 Wiscosin, by 7 at #13 Arizona. Can't punish too much for those.

15. Ohio St
Buckeyes have played one team currently ranked, Wisconsin, and they lost. Good at clubbing baby seals though.

16. Nebraska
I'm still very skeptical of Huskers, but a nice road win vs Okie St helps.

17. Florida St
Something weird: Noles might end season having played only 1 top 25 team, Oklahoma.

18. Northwestern
Ranking won't last long, but after that kind of effort I can slightly overlook headscratcher against Purdue.

19. Arkansas
Two losses both to Top 10 teams, remaining schedule gives plenty of room for resume to grow.

20. South Carolina
W over Alabama, W over Georgia looks better now, L at Auburn doesn't hurt, but L at Kentucky does.

21. Baylor
Next two games, at Texas & at Oklahoma St, will be the Show Me games for Bears.

22. Mississippi St
W over Florida only gives so much credit this year, close game w/UAB gives skepticism, but close L vs Auburn helps.

23. Oklahoma St
Yesterday vs Nebraska was first loss, but also first opponent of note.

24. Virginia Tech
Still haven't lost since losing twice to Boise St (loss to JMU counts as other loss to Boise)

25. Illinois
They have 3 L's, but they were vs #7 Missouri, at #8 Michigan St & vs #15 Ohio St. This feels odd, but they look decent.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

9/14: Week 2 In Review - ACC Sucks, Lattimore Runs Wild, Quack & MORE!

Note: Jaguars attendance jokes strictly forbidden


I'm sure there are mort artful ways for me to state it, but the ACC has a weekend so horrifying that "sucks" really is the most accurate way of describing it. Getting housed in a game the league had to see as a way to prop up the conference is bad enough, but to do it twice? Dropping the most-watched game from week 1 was bound to have some hangover effect, but to a 5th place team in the Colonial Athletic Association?

Complete ACC scores:
Wake Forest 54, Duke 48 - Can't believe Coach K dropped one after winning it all last year.
Kansas 28, #15 Georgia Tech 25 - Jackets are no North Dakota St
James Madison 21, #13 Virginia Tech 16 - Biggest victory for ol' Jimmy since the War of 1812.
Boston College 26, Kent St 13 - Wait, BC played a home non-con vs no name team?
#2 Ohio St 36, #12 Miami 24 - Without special teams this game isn't even this close.
#10 Oklahoma 47, #17 Florida St 17 - New head coach, same crappy defense
Clemson 58, Presbyterian 21 - Really? They gave up 21 to who?!?!
Maryland 62, Morgan St 3 - Leave it ol' Ralph to have most comfortable ACC win of the day.
NC St 28, UCF 21 - Wolfpack were actually underdogs per Vegas, says something.
#16 Southern Cal 17, Virginia 14 - UVa might have found their coach, lone good statement for ACC.

There are a lot of weeks to go, but the ACC had to circle this weekend on their calendar when the season began. On the table were opportunities for an seemingly improved FSU squad versus a retooling Oklahoma team, a tough offensive team in Georgia Tech versus a Kansas squad with a coaching change in progress, and the ultra talented Miami Hurricanes versus an Ohio St team lacking enough playmakers. It all ended in disaster.

For the ACC, there's always next year. Maybe then the the teams acquired in recent years will finally step up and perform, but for now they're not ready. The question remains as to when they will be.


South Carolina needed a win, they couldn't afford to lose. It was now or never, if ever. If South Carolina couldn't win with likely their most talented team in the history of the program against the Georgia Bulldogs with a freshman quarterback and their best player suspended, would they ever?

I will start by saying that Georgia appeared to really limit themselves on offense. They didn't want freshman quarterback Aaron Murray to have to feel the weight of the situation in his first SEC contest, on the road no less. Georgia really seemed to ride the rushing attack early and limit the passing playbook, but could only muster yards and very little points early. As the game wore on the Gamecock defense started to be more effective against the Bulldog running game, and so Georgia started going to the air more and more as the game progressed. I came in thinking Murray was overrated from my experience seeing him play in high school, but I came away truly impressed with his play. In his first real game versus a quality defense I think he made some plays that should leave the Georgia faithful optimistic going forward. I expect he will develop, and if he does then there are some good years behind center for the kid. A fumble on a potential scoring drive prevented Murray from having a even better situation in the game, and perhaps he would have had an even better opportunity to show his stuff. As it is his team was simply outplayed by a team with more experience on the field.

Marcus Lattimore. Marcus Lattimore. Marcus Lattimore. Those were the three keys parts of the South Carolina offense, and little else really mattered. A detailed breakdown of just how dominant Lattimore was and how much of a beast he was please see the work of Travis Haney of the Charleston Post & Courier. The offensive line seemed to block well for the rushing plays, which may be more Lattimore than them, but on the passing plays there were some costly gaffes. Garcia did much on his own also to prevent the offense from hitting a full, balanced stride. His timing still seems off, with passes lacking the crispness in the plays drawn up. It is something that seems painfully obvious, and something that has to improve if the Gamecocks want to make the kind of statement the rest of the team seems ready to make this season.

This week Furman comes calling, and it's yet another opportunity for "New Carolina" to continue to distance itself from the Ghosts of Carolina Past. A solid win against FU is important, as they are a decent D-IAA team (ranked 24th).


It was all going so well on Rocky Top. Tennessee was controlling the momentum against #7 Oregon with a hard rushing attack and a smothering defense. The score was a slight advantage to Tennessee despite the total dominance on the field. The halftime score was tied up at 13, which had to seem slight disappointing to Vol fans despite an overall feeling of jubilation that their team had played so well when most likely were expecting the worst. Then came the second half. Oregon showed the explosiveness that is their signature in recent years. It ended in a 35-point win for the Ducks highlighted by some top plays of the week.

I draw 3 conclusions from this game:

1) Oregon is really, really good. They are without a doubt one of the few teams voters can safely put into their top ten. If they can navigate conference schedule they even have a shot at a lot more. They were likely thrown of by the weather delay and their atmosphere of the massive monstrosity that is Tennessee's home field, plus there's something about Tennessee's play that I will save for #3.

2) Tennessee is going to struggle even get bowl eligible this season. They are going to struggle to compete with Florida, Alabama, and others. It is what you get with the turmoil, turnover, and thin depth chart that the last few years have brought to Knoxville.

3) Derek Dooley is the right guy for Tennessee. I though he was the right hire back when he was first announced, and saw signs on Saturday that he will indeed succeed in the end. He is a no nonsense guy with a very simple and focused approach to the game. He can win if they give him the time he needs. I think they will, and so will he.

10 Thoughts of the Week

1) If I hear "I only wanted one more year" from Bobby Bowden, I'm going to pour hot sauce into my eyes.
2) Michigan-Notre Dame remains a very entertaining game between teams with zero national relevance.
3) That said, Denard Robinson is a very special player, even if no one else on his team is worth a damn.
4) The Miami Hurricanes don't play well when it rains, go figure.
5) If Virginia Tech beats Miami later this season will we decide Boise St is better than Ohio St then?
6) Comparing what Reggie Bush did to what O.J. did is asinine. Just stop, stop it now, you're an idiot.
7) Ole Miss won at Tulane 27-13, which means they do suck, that J'ville St thing wasn't a fluke.
8) Matt Millen is employed for reasons the elude me.
9) If Dan Mullen had a quarterback, everybody else would be screwed.
10) I say Chris Rainey will be back in a Gator uniform getting carries by the end of October (it's Urban Discipline).

and now, your moment of zen....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9/7: Week 1 In Review - Don't Panic, Gamecocks 2-0, Boise 12-0 & MORE!

Don't panic, keep calm.
It's only one week, so unless you are Ole Miss there is no reason to panic. Knee jerk reactions are going to be rampant in all directions, some even different directions on the same game (see: Boise State). A lot of things are still left to settle, and that's why I won't do a Top 25 until after Week 4 has been completed. So let's roll with some thoughts.

It's not often the Gamecocks are 2-0 (including 1-0 in SEC play) after a single week, but thus it is when South Carolina opens with a victory at home and Houston Nutt schedules the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

South Carolina 41, Southern Miss 13
Following the South Carolina Gamecocks (as an alum) it is often the non-conference opponents that provide the most headaches, and often they are in the game until the bitter end one way or another. This opener vs Southern Mississippi was different. The Gamecocks were able to continually gain yardage, and points, all throughout a game which was never really in doubt.
Stephen Garcia made all the swirling rumors about being outplayed by Connor Shaw a distant memory. This is as it should be, Garcia has been in the system for too long and showed a lot of promise last season. It appears more and more that motivation is just something that Steve Spurrier feels is always necessary with Garcia (perhaps the Blake Mitchell Experience is another reason for this).
The biggest surprise of the game for me was the contribution of Marcus Lattimore and Ace Sanders. Lattimore was such a heralded recruit that perhaps it isn't right to be so surprised, but scoring two touchdowns does seem a bit beyond the expectations of anyone. Sanders was more of a surprise as he was able to make a nice catch in the game and produce a huge play on a reverse he ran to the right side of the line. I saw Sanders in high school during the FHSAA State Championships, and he was small compared to other high school players. It's not unusual for a small guy with speed to contribute, but for Carolina this is something new.
A lot of confidence has to be felt going into this weekend's game at home vs Georgia, but really there is so little anyone truly knows about either of these two teams. It should be another classic game in an underrated rivalry between border states.

Jacksonville St 49, Ole Miss 48, 2OT
Houston Nutt must really have something against job security. I had already picked the Rebels to go 3-9 (0-8 SEC) before the season started due to what I perceived as overall uncertainty about the team that even the team itself had to feel. Then they blew a fourth quarter 31-13 lead vs the Jacksonville State Gamecocks of Div-IAA (or FCS, if you prefer).
It was embarrassing for the SEC, but can't really be considered shocking when you consider that Houston Nutt is a crazy person, between bouts of being really good at coaching. Consecutive Cotton Bowl berths followed by a home loss to a Div-IAA team, that's a trademark Houston Nutt moment.
That said, I now predict they will beat LSU again this year, because that would just make no sense at all (which in Houston Nutt Opposite World makes total sense).

BOISE 12-0
So I guess in one game Boise has clinched a berth in the National Title Game? Actually, not so much. Boise will have to go undefeated and hope that there are no more than one undefeated BCS conference champions and/or 1-loss SEC champion in the discussion. The strength of schedule will weigh heavily against the Broncos, but their resume in the last 5 years or so allows them to be in the discussion unlike any other non-BCS conference team.
Do they deserve it? I don't know for sure, but I also can't say for sure they don't deserve it. I know Boise gets months to prepare for their opener and bowl games, but so does the opposition. You're telling me Oregon, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma didn't take the Broncos seriously? I think Boise would be a 10-win BCS conference champion, but I also cannot state that as fact. You also cannot factually dispute my belief either.
Boise will have some tough games left. Oregon St is one of the truly underrated programs in the NCAA, and should give Boise a stiff challenge without weeks to prepare. Fresno St is always a respectable team that plays decent non-conference games where they acquit themselves well. Don't sleep on Nevada either, as they lose in Boise by a mere 11 points last season and now get the Broncos in Reno and off the Smurf Turf.
If they win all their games, most of the impressively, they deserve to be thought of in the same realm as an 11-1 Big Ten champion in my mind.

1. Florida State looked impressive, but against who again?
2. Even when he does nothing wrong Les Miles gets end-of-game disaster moments.
3. Virginia Tech will likely run off seven wins in a row before they play Georgia Tech.
4. Turner Gil losing 6-3 to North Dakota St is nothing to panic about. First game, new regime.
5. Oklahoma always seems to struggle out the gate, so lets not make anything of Utah St.
6. Michigan look good, still not buying it until they play someone, if they ever do.
7. Oregon won't put up 72 vs Tennessee, but it will be ugly this weekend.
8. Nike is totally screwing up college football with these awful jerseys so far.
9. Florida will beat South Florida, but if they struggle there'll be issues down the line
10. Best game no one will watch this week? Auburn at Mississippi St (on Thursday of NFL opener)

and now, your moment of zen...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/31: My 2010 College Football Predictions

(font size appropriate to media hype and recent BCS success)

1. Florida 10-2 (6-2): I know they're replacing a lot, but it's hard to see too many programs in the East knocking off Florida this season. For each of the remaining Eastern division teams I will explain my hesitation. Florida isn't going to rebuild, they're going to reload with as much talent as they had last year. Experience will cost this team a chance at more than SEC success, but they'll be a force for national title hopes in 2011.
LOSSES: 10/2 @ Alabama, 10/16 vs Mississippi St

Look! It's Tim Tebow! And Brady Quinn! They were so good in college...

2. South Carolina 9-3 (5-3): I know this is probably a biased pick, but I really think this team is capable of having a great season with all the turmoil in the division. It would take a big leap forward to contend with Florida, but the talent is there. The schedule isn't especially good or bad for a run, but it does set up for a possible 4-0 going into the Auburn/Alabama stretch if they can beat Georgia.
LOSSES: 9/25 @ Auburn, 10/9 vs Alabama, 11/13 @ Florida

3. Georgia 8-4 (5-3): Georgia is facing turnover at defensive coordinator and quarterback, which in these cases are good things. I saw Aaron Murray in high school and remain skeptical that he will match the hype he garnered (thought his receivers were able to make him look better than he was, which is not typical in high school). I don't see the kind of season that will relieve the pressure Mark Richt is starting to feel, but I think it will be a step in the right direction if their defense can regain competence.
LOSSES: 9/11 @ S Carolina, 9/18 vs Arkansas, 10/30 vs Florida, 11/27 vs Georgia Tech

4. Kentucky 7-5 (3-5): Rich Brooks finished out his tenure at Kentucky with 4-consecutive bowl seasons for the Wildcats. The transition to Joker Phillips was planned in such a manner that there shouldn't be a noticeable decline outside of pure leadership. I feel like it's going out on a limb, but my predictions for Kentucky aren't changed by Brooks retiring. Randall Cobb is still really good, so Kentucky still puts together a good season. Hey, they should be able to finally beat Tennessee, which might be reason enough for celebration.
LOSSES: 9/25 @ Florida, 10/9 vs Auburn, 10/16 vs S Carolina, 10/23 vs Georgia, 10/30 @ Miss St

5. Tennessee 5-7 (2-6): Long-term I think Derek Dooley will succeed at Tennessee with his no-nonsense approach, but it will be rough dealing with being the third coach in three years in Knoxville. I expect the offense to try to slow the game down and for the defense to be respectable, but in far too many games they are going to struggle. Really the season might not be much worse than it was last year under Kiffin, but some of those fluke games might not come around this year. I like Dooley, but I don't like Tennessee this season.
LOSSES: 9/11 vs Oregon, 9/18 vs Florida, 10/2 @ LSU, 10/9 @ Georgia, 10/23 vs Alabama, 10/20 @ S Carolina, 11/27 vs Kentucky

6. Vanderbilt 2-10 (1-7): Robbie Caldwell took SEC Media Days by storm, and instantly became my second-favorite coach in the SEC. He even started a Twitter account recently that is a must-follow. The problem is that the Commodores struggled last year and really have little reason to expect improvement. Vanderbilt does manage to schedule a tougher out of conference slate than most (Northwestern, at UConn, & Wake Forest), which doesn't help their cause. Enjoy Robbie Caldwell now, he won't last... unfortunately.
WINS: 9/18 @ Ole Miss, 10/9 vs Eastern Michigan

1. Auburn 10-2 (6-2): Auburn last year had a more successful season than most expected. Gene Chizik seemed to prove his struggles at Iowa St were not indicative of his abilities to coach football, which is good for Auburn after the PR disaster they suffered when they hired him. This season you would expect some improvement, but the schedule gives you reason for more optimism. Auburn is likely the be favored in at least 9 of their games. Their toughest games are at home, their road games are their easiest. I have them winning tie-breakers to go to Atlanta.
LOSSES: 11/13 vs Georgia, 11/27 @ Alabama

2. LSU 10-2 (6-2): There's just a feeling I have that Les Miles is going to have a good season. I don't think I'm the only one, but their late-season swoons in recent seasons have made them look worse than they were all year. I think LSU can thrive this season with the schedule they have, and this just seems like a team ready to rebound. They just better hope their season doesn't come down to a last-second clock management issue.
LOSSES: 10/9 @ Florida, 10/23 @ Auburn

3. Alabama 10-2 (6-2): I know what you're thinking, "A third 10-2 SEC West team?". You'd be right, I'm probably crazy, but I think the power struggle in the west results in three 10-win teams and no claim to a team in the national title game. Alabama will be good, and it would not shock me at all if they won the whole thing again. I just think it's too tough to repeat, especially in what will be a great division of the nation's best conference.
LOSSES: 9/25 @ Arkansas, 11/6 @ LSU

4. Mississippi State 7-5 (4-4): Dan Mullen did a lot in just his first season to inspire confidence amongst the cowbell-ringing faithful in Starkville. They finished just shy of a bowl-berth despite a complete coaching transition and offensive change. I expect their defense to be improved, and I expect the offense to only improve with experience in the system. I definitely like their game this year at Florida, remembering they put a scare into the Gators last year. That's my off-the-wall game pick of this preview.
LOSSES: 9/11 vs Auburn, 9/18 @ LSU, 9/25 vs Georgia, 10/9 @ Houston, 11/13 @ Alabama

5. Arkansas 8-4 (4-4): The Hogs are a trendy pick amongst many to make some noise in the SEC West this season. My problem with Arkansas is their inability to defend, which there is no reason to indicate will change this season. Ryan Mallet might be the best quarterback in college football this season, but their defense is too much of a question to mark to expect more than a 8 or 9 win season.
LOSSES: 10/16 @ Auburn, 11/6 @ S Carolina, 11/20 @ Miss St, 11/27 vs LSU

6. Ole Miss 3-9 (0-8): This is the team I expect will overturn my prediction, because that's what Houston Nutt does. Their QB situation became more muddled today as Jeremiah Masoli was declared ineligible, pending appeal the Rebels will lack anything at the quarterback position. Dexter McCluster is the biggest loss for Ole Miss, but I have learned by now not to predict a Houston Nutt team and expect them to fulfill my prediction.
WINS: 9/4 vs Jacksonville St, 9/11 @ Tulane, 11/6 vs Louisiana-Lafayette

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Auburn 27, Florida 16


ACC: Virginia Tech over Maryland
I picked this the only way possible, by flipping a coin. I think that's how they actually decide the ACC title game anyway. The of this conference is too extreme to use normal tactics.

Big XII: Nebraska over Oklahoma
I like both these teams, and this game is likely to have a large say in who plays for a national title. In this case I expect Nebraska to be the spoiler.

Big East: Pittsburgh
I know this is the trendy pick, but I really do like them this year. If they can navigate their tough schedule they could even play for the title, but the road schedule just seems too tough.

Big Ten: Iowa
Most have Ohio St, but I can see that the Hawkeyes get the Buckeyes in Iowa City. Examine the schedule, it's made for them to make a serious run.

Pac-10: Arizona
Southern Cal will be the best team, but with NCAA sanctions the title and BCS bid will go to the Wildcats.

Orange: Virginia Tech vs Pittsburgh
The ACC winner vs the Big East winner, neither title-worthy.
Sugar: Auburn vs Oklahoma
Auburn wins SEC, but at 10-2 no title game. Oklahoma derailed in Big XII title game by Nebraska, but gets BCS at-large consolation prize.
Fiesta: Nebraska vs Alabama
Nebraska finishes their Big XII tenure by playing a tradition-inspired Fiesta Bowl vs at-large Tide.
Rose: Arizona vs Ohio St
Pac-10 champ Wildcats face at-large Buckeyes still smarting from loss to Iowa.
BCS Title Game: Iowa vs Boise State
The National Title Game The Ushers Us Closer To A Play-Off. Iowa goes 12-0 in Big Ten and faces undefeated Boise St with no other contender with less than 2 losses.

And now, your moment of zen...