One of my personal favorites, Jerry Palm over at CBS Sports, put out his very, very early bowl predictions for the 2012 season.
Now the debate is on.
That's the beauty of college football, even in the midst of the NCAA basketball tournament there is spring football and early projections about the sport we all love.
We can split hairs over Palm's predicted LSU vs. USC BCS Championship matchup next season, but the fact is, there are probably five or six teams with a legitimate shot at the title and another six or seven that have the ability to put together something special to make a run.
Palm's other bowl game projections are intriguing—with some surprising placement of the nation's more popular teams.
Obviously, we'll get no Ohio State in Urban Meyer's first season in Columbus, and while the Buckeyes will have a team with a bowl-worthy record, they will be doing the same thing as North Carolina in 2012—sitting at home watching.
For you Notre Dame folks out there, next season, according to Palm, does not go nearly as awesome as you're hoping it will.
Not only do the Irish miss out on a BCS Bowl, but the Fighting Irish do not go to a bowl that most fans would consider "noteworthy." The Military Bowl for a Wake Forest rematch likely wouldn't happen; one of those teams would get shuffled out to avoid the matchup against each other for the second time in three games.
But you get the point; Jerry is not expecting it to be the banner year many folks expect it to be.
Another take-away is the absolute absence of Tennessee from the bowl scene. That'd make it two years in a row for Derek Dooley and three postseasons at home in five years for the folks in Knoxville. That is not a good look for Dooley, a man who needs to, at a minimum, get back to a bowl game to build some goodwill with the Volunteer football faithful.
Moving from one UT to another, Palm drops the Longhorns into the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston to match up with Penn State.
Not only is this bowl not what Mack Brown expects, but given the predictions, it would mean that the Longhorns finish behind OU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor this season. The Cowboys will be a team without Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, and Baylor loses two probable first-round draft picks. Tough times in Austin.
What told the tale of this past season was the lack of non-BCS teams in the BCS Bowls. This season we saw a seventh ranked Boise State team get passed up in the selection process, and with the Broncos rebuilding, there doesn't seem to be much faith in the non-AQ ranks.
Throw in the fact that TCU is moving to the Big 12, and there really is not a "next best option" present to give the little guys a shot at the big time.
Four of the six BCS conferences would sneak two teams in, much like this season—the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and of course the SEC. Palm has the ACC, after achieving their first two-bid season in BCS history, back to just one team—Clemson.
Clemson vs. Rutgers is a prediction I don't think many of us are looking forward to seeing, so let's hope Jerry doesn't have that hammered down.
All in all, unless you're an Irish, Texas or Tennessee fan, the predictions are not too insulting.
They just create a little excitement and discussion for what is to come in September.
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