Last year at this time I was not a member of Bleacher Report. However, I did write a 2008 college football preview merely for my own enjoyment.
Among the highlights, I had Florida and Oklahoma, the two most recent national championship participants, in my preseason top five.
Among the atrocities, I picked Auburn and Ohio State to play for the national championship. Auburn fired its coach midseason, and Ohio State got trounced by USC in Week Three, an early indication that the Buckeyes were not capable of hanging with a team like Florida or Oklahoma.
So this season I am afforded the chance to make predictions and provide analysis again only this time for the upcoming 2009 season I‘ll have a bigger audience to embarrass myself in front of. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to do so.
On the eve of my favorite day of the year, I hope this sparks your interest for the entirety of the college football season.
I’m starting with a preview of who I think will be the best teams.
Top five teams:
Never before last season did I believe that one person single-handedly could refuse to let his or her entire team lose. And that’s what happened with Tim Tebow. After Florida lost to Ole Miss, he performed on another level, a level at which Florida needed him to perform in order to play in the national championship.
I have every reason to believe that he’ll deliver again this season. I’m positive Urban Meyer won’t let one ounce of complacency enter the Florida locker room. I know they’ve lost a bit of talent to the NFL, but I think they’re going to look quite impressive this season
Texas returns the most talent in college football this season. Colt McCoy is going to command this team much like Tebow did last season with Florida. He won’t have to lead the team in rushing this season, but he’ll have even more of an impact on the games in which Texas plays.
Defensively, Texas will be quite good. I know Big 12 defenses don’t get credit for being good, but Texas’ will be terrific compared to the rest of the conference and good enough compared to the rest of the nation.
After last season, I’m no longer doubting a Nick Saban-coached team again.
They have a new quarterback this season, so I’m a little skeptical about ranking this team as high as I am. But the reason I have Alabama as high as I do is because when Alabama plays as well as it possibly can, it can beat any team in the country. And I feel Alabama can play at that level in any game regardless of its opponent.
I have to put Oklahoma this high because they return excellent athletes at the offensive skill positions. Sam Bradford will be terrific, but I just don’t think his supporting cast will perform at the level he needs them to perform.
I have Oklahoma losing three games this season. The defense won’t probably be good enough the entire season, and issues with the offensive line are concerning.
This last spot came down to USC and Penn State. Sure USC is set to start a true freshman at quarterback, and that might be the only advantage Penn State would have over USC.
Everywhere else USC has big-time recruits who have speed and toughness not seen anywhere else in college football. The only reason I can’t rank the Trojans any higher is because they always seem to slip up one game each year for whatever reason. So that leaves me to believe they have weaknesses somewhere. I just don’t know where.
Next I’m providing a conference breakdown of where each team will finish along with projected records. I went through each game involving an FBS team and predicted a winner, and these are the results.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Florida State 8-4
NC State 8-4
Wake Forest 7-5
Boston College 6-6
Virginia Tech 11-1
Georgia Tech 9-3
North Carolina 7-5
Miami FL 7-5
Big 12 Conference
Kansas State 4-8
Iowa State 2-10
Oklahoma State 11-1
Texas Tech 7-5
Texas A&M 4-8
Big East Conference
West Virginia 9-3
South Florida 8-4
Big Ten Conference
Penn State 11-1
Ohio State 11-1
Michigan State 8-4
Southern Miss 8-4
East Carolina 7-5
Notre Dame 8-4
Central Michigan 9-3
Western Michigan 8-4
Ball State 6-6
Northern Illinois 5-7
Eastern Michigan 2-10
Bowling Green 7-5
Kent State 5-7
Miami OH 2-10
Mountain West Conference
San Diego State 7-5
Colorado State 6-6
Air Force 5-7
New Mexico 5-7
Pacific 10 Conference
Oregon State 10-2
Arizona State 5-7
Washington State 1-11
Ole Miss 9-3
Mississippi State 2-10
South Carolina 6-6
Sun Belt Conference
Florida International 6-6
Florida Atlantic 6-6
Middle Tennessee St. 5-7
Arkansas State 2-10
Western Kentucky 2-10
North Texas 1-11
Western Athletic Conference
Boise State 11-1
Louisiana Tech 6-6
Fresno State 5-7
New Mexico State 4-8
San Jose State 4-8
Utah State 4-8
Now that’s done, so we’ll get onto some predictions. Last season I did okay with my predictions. This season I feel can do much better.
Along the lines of SI.com’s Peter King’s segment “Three Things I Think I Think,” I’m going to create something similar and give this next section the following title:
“Three Things I’m Predicting But Probably Shouldn’t.”
1. Someone other than Tebow, McCoy, and Bradford will unarguably deserve to win the Heisman Trophy.
2. Tennessee will lead Florida at halftime and then lose.
3. Four non-BCS schools win finish in the top 16 when the final standings are released.
Last season I predicted Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy to win the Heisman Trophy. Even though he had a great season, he came nowhere close to winning. This season, based on my first prediction above, I’m probably going to look even more foolish when making this prediction.
Winner: Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State
Unfortunately I’m already convinced that voters will let Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford win the Heisman Trophy even before the season begins. Regardless, I’m thinking that Robinson will have a better season than the other three. And it won’t even be close. But somehow, he’ll get screwed and one of the above three will win it.
I know a lot of people are predicting Oklahoma State as a trendy pick to win the Big 12 North if not the entire conference. I’m not on that bandwagon, but I do think that Robinson will have a terrific season.
Seven Intriguing Teams to Watch:
1. Syracuse -- New coach. New quarterback. The Orange may still lose a bunch of games, but I’m surely going to be following them.
2. Ohio -- For whatever reason my instincts tell me that Ohio is going to have a great season, somehow the Bobcats will force people to pay attention to the MAC.
3. LSU -- The Tigers seem like they’re thrilled to death that people are letting them fly under the radar. I think they’ll have a great season and have fun while doing so.
4. Boise State -- The Broncos are going to be a pure joy to watch this season. I couldn’t be more excited to them in their opener vs. Oregon.
5. Minnesota -- The Gophers are set to tackle the beasts of the Big Ten. I’ve got them winning nine games. Tim Brewster’s doing a fantastic job rebuilding this program.
6. Ole Miss -- Like Oklahoma State, I’m not entirely on this bandwagon, but I’m not going to deny that the Rebels will be an exciting team to watch.
7. Oregon -- The Ducks might challenge last season’s Oklahoma team for most points scored in a season. They might give up a lot of points too, but at least their games will be fun to watch.
And finally, my predictions for the BCS Bowls:
BCS National Championship: Florida over Texas
Rose Bowl: USC over Penn State
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State over Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Oklahoma State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech over Cincinnati
Let’s hope for a fantastic football season full of great games and continued controversy about the postseason format.