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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 Things to watch for this College Football Season

For those of you familiar with me or that read my second post on this blog, you'll know I'm a huge college football fan. Although I list six sports as top tier, College Football is clearly the #1. I'll watch Ball State play Eastern Michigan on a Tuesday night if ESPNU has it on. I think there should be 50 bowl games, just so I can see more. I thought I'd offer a random assortment of thoughts and predictions in no particular order, just numbered 1 - 20.

1) Conference champion predictions:
ACC: Virginia Tech (d. FSU in title game)
Big 12: Texas (d. Nebraska)
Big East: Pittsburgh
Big 10: Iowa
Conference USA: Houston (d. East Carolina)
Mid-American: Ohio (d. CMU)
Mountain West: TCU
Pac 10: Stanford
SEC: Florida (d. Alabama)
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee
WAC: Boise State



2) Sleeper per conference (teams well outside Top 25 that could crash BCS):
ACC: NC State
Big 12: Texas A&M
Big East: UConn
Big 10: Michigan State
Conference USA: SMU
Mid-American: Western Michigan
Mountain West: Wyoming
Pac 10: UCLA
SEC: Auburn
Sun Belt: North Texas
WAC: Louisiana Tech

Calling Auburn a sleeper is kinda weak, but so many SEC teams are ranked and I don't like the ones who aren't. Obviously the non-AQ conference teams won't really crash the BCS, but they might win their conference instead of the above.

3) Most overrated team per BCS-AQ conference (AP Rank in parens)
ACC: Georgia Tech (16)
Big 12: Nebraska (8)
Big East: Cincinnati (26)
Big 10: Ohio State (2)
Pac 10: USC (14)
SEC: LSU (21)

It's hard to call "overrated" teams from the non-AQ conferences, only reason I omitted them. Nebraska's going to miss Suh more than they think (still have a very suspect offense) and Ohio State has a very tough schedule and I'm not convinced Pryor can play as consistent as people think. Same was said about Vince Young his Jr. year, so I may be eating crow.

4) Top 10 of the non-AQ conferences
1) Houston
2) Boise State
3) TCU
4) BYU
5) Notre Dame
6) Utah
7) Navy
8) SMU
9) Wyoming
10) Air Force

5) Top 5 players
1) Ryan Williams - Virginia Tech
2) Ryan Mallett - Arkansas
3) Mark Ingram - Alabama
4) John Clay - Wisconsin
5) Jake Locker - Washington

Note, this is not a Heisman list, the best player and Heisman winner literally have nothing to do with each other in today's media environment.

Take a look at Ryan Williams vs. Mark Ingram vs. John Clay 2009 stats:
Name Rushes,Yards,Avg,TD,Fumbles
Williams 293-1655-5.6-21-0
Ingram 271-1658-6.1-17-0 (also 3 receiving TD's and 300 more yards)
Clay 287-1517-5.3-18-0

Comparable, other things to consider, Ingram had more talent around him, but also left games earlier and faced tougher defenses while having Richardson take some of the series to keep him rested (hurting stats). Ingram had 6 games over 120 yards to Clay's and Williams' 7.

6) Conference Ranks
1) SEC
2) Big East
3) ACC
4) Pac 10
5) Big 10
6) Big 12
7) MWC
8) CUSA
9) WAC
10) Sun Belt
11) MAC

This year more than previous, the SEC is stronger relative to other conferences. The Big 12 and Big 10 have three or four great teams, then 7 or so really really soft teams. The ACC and Pac 10 are very deep, but lack star quality. I put the Big East at #2 behind the SEC, being shallow there are no really soft teams besides Syracuse and maybe Louisville and the top 6 are all dangerous. It's quality over quantity. The MWC might push the Big 10 and Big 12, but lack the quality 1-3 that those conferences have.

7) Top 5 games in terms of implications
1) Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) - October 2
2) Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (Fed Ex) - September 6
3) Ohio State at Iowa - November 20
4) Alabama at Arkansas - September 25
5) Virginia Tech at Miami - November 20

8) Top 5 games in terms of intrigue/strength of matchup
1) Florida at Alabama - October 2
2) Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) - October 2
3) Texas at Nebraska - October 16
4) Florida State at Miami - October 9
5) Miami at Ohio State - September 11

9) Random predictions
Notre Dame goes about .500, LSU may finish under .500 (Les Miles gets canned), so does Oklahoma State (Gundy gets sacked, then they hire Miles back), this really is Joe Paterno's last season, same with Spurrier, same with Friedgen, Michigan goes about 8-4, Off year for the non-AQ conferences, none crack the BCS, Alabama loses more than 2 games, UCLA d. USC, BC LB Mark Herzlich gets invited to the Heisman ceremony, Baylor and Duke go to bowl games (hey, why not).

10) BCS Bowl Matchups
BCS Title Game: Pittsburgh d. Iowa. These two teams have the best balance of talent, no conference title game, all tough games at home. Except intriguing OOC games, where Pitt goes to Utah (as underdogs day one of the season) and Iowa goes to Arizona.

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Miami
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford

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