Welcome to the ridiculously early bowl predictions for the 2010-2011 college football season.
Who cares that there are 204 days remaining until most teams play their first game of the season. It's never really too early to start predicting bowl games for an upcoming season, is it?
This year brings about a bit of a change in the BCS, although it's not the change our President is hoping for.
Currently, the BCS has a deal with Fox Sports that expires after the 2010 games. ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series announced a deal that includes exclusive television, radio, digital, international, and marketing rights for the Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls. The bowl series will be starting on ESPN in January 2011, bringing the games to 98 million American homes.
If the early power rankings released by all of the ESPN bloggers this week is any indication, this coming season's BCS games will be some of the best ever.
ESPN/ABC will also be carrying several other bowl games this year, continuing it's domination over college football television coverage.
Not only will they have the BCS games, indications remain that the Gator Bowl will be involved in rotation with the Capital One Bowl to be on either ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 on New Year's Day.
Let's take a look...
Jan. 1, 2011 - Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1, 2011 - Gator Bowl
Jan. 1, 2011 - Rose Bowl
Jan. 1, 2011 - Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 2, 2011 - Cotton Bowl
Jan. 3, 2011 - Orange Bowl
Jan. 4, 2011 - Sugar Bowl
Jan. 10, 2011 - National Championship Game
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Florida Gators
Wisconsin returns a solid nucleus of players from a team that went 10-3, finished 16th in the AP, and dominated in their bowl game. John Clay leads a balanced offense that should be a clock controlling machine.
The Badgers defense is full of young prospects, too, but will have to replace O'Brien Schofield to be legitimate Big Ten contenders. Should someone step up, Wisconsin could be almost unstoppable.
The Florida Gators should be a solid team this coming season, despite several key player losses and weird coaching drama fit for a Hollywood movie. The losses shouldn't be a problem, though, as the Gators are always full of all-stars and bring in a plethora of talent with recruiting.
It will be a great match but Wisconsin wins, 40-35.
NOTE: "The Gator Bowl will feature the SEC and the Big Ten starting with the 2010 season, joining the Capital One Bowl and the Outback Bowl as the third Big Ten-SEC bowl matchup on New Years' Day" Thanks to Buddy Mc for pointing that out. As such, the original pick (ND vs VT) has been changed...
Auburn Tigers vs Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has to replace a lot of talent, but should be able to fill the gaps nicely. They return Evan Royster and an experienced offensive line.
Auburn signed junior college quarterback Cameron Newton, which should help them out greatly on offense. The Tigers need to bolster their defense, but should do so with a good class of recruits coming.
It will be a close one, but Auburn wins, 21-17.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Oregon Ducks
Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready for The Clayborn Ultimatum.
Adrian Clayborn is the Jason Bourne of college football, tormenting Big Ten opponents like Bourne tormented the CIA. The All-American returns for his senior season and will lead an Iowa defense chalked full of returning all-stars.
If the Hawkeyes can rebuild their offensive line, Iowa will compete for the Big Ten championship this fall. There is a ton of talent on Iowa's offense, and they all look to demonstrate their skills to the world.
Oregon returns a majority of their offensive starters, including Jeremiah Masoli, and nine starters on defense. They also have a top 25 recruiting class coming in. All signs point to a return trip to the Rose Bowl, if not more.
The Ducks will face Iowa, who hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1991 and hasn't won since 1959. That drought ends this year.
Iowa dominates, 35-14.
Nebraska Cornhuskers-Arkansas Razorbacks
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is gone, but junior tackle Jared Crick should fill in nicely for the Nebraska defense. The Cornhuskers will have tough competition from Missouri, but should win the Big 12 North...assuming Bo Pelini's head doesn't explode over a BCS conspiracy.
Arkansas's quarterback Ryan Mallett returns along with an arsenal of playmakers. The Hogs could be the most explosive offense in the SEC this year, and could carry that into a Cotton Bowl appearance.
Arkansas wins, 17-14.
Boise State Broncos-Oklahoma Sooners
The Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona has grown to love the Boise State Broncos. That trend looks to continue in 2011, as they are predicted to win the WAC conference title and go undefeated again.
The Oklahoma Sooners overcame a rough season to win their final two games, including a victory in the Sun Bowl. Bob Stoops will be facing a big rebuild on defense with Gerald McCoy and Dominique Franks leaving early for the NFL draft, but Stoopsie will be up for the challenge.
He will end the season exacting revenge for the 2007 loss to Boise State.
Oklahoma wins, 42-22.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Oregon State Beavers
This will be a home game for Miami, but they will earn it. Quarterback Jacory Harris showed how talented he is this past year, and should improve upon that performance. Miami also returns a few key players on defense that could mean Miami returns to the top teams in the country.
Oregon State loses just five starters, but all eyes will be on the alleged quarterback competition between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich. The Beavers lose quarterback Sean Canfield, but their offense is dangerous. They bring back a ton of starters on both sides of the ball.
Oregon State wins a high scoring game, 42-35.
LSU Tigers-West Virginia Mountaineers
Having LSU this high might get a few comments, but when you look at the talent on their team on both sides of the ball, you see they are a top-10 team. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson will have to have a more productive year, but should be up to the task.
The LSU defense is always tough, and should be even more so this year. They do lose some talent on defense, but they will likely reload without much effort.
West Virginia will have to break in a new quarterback, but Geno Smith did get valuable experience in 2009. The Mountaineers only lose two starters on defense and bring back the core of their offense. If the offensive line improves, this team should challenge for the title.
LSU wins the second match-up on the year for these two teams, 38-17
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Jan. 10, are you kidding me?!?! Oh well, it will be worth the wait.
The Ohio State Buckeyes should be a consensus Top Five team and a national title contender. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor will improve his passing game and Ohio State should solidify their offensive line and backfield. On defense, they return Cameron Heyward and have a ton of experience at key positions.
The Big Ten will be tough this year, and the Buckeyes have a tough road trip to Iowa City ahead of them, but if all goes well, they will be playing for the title.
And the Buckeyes opponent in the national title game will be none other than returning national champions Alabama. The Crimson Tide have to face Penn State in the second week of the season, which will be a good game to make the decision on the Crimson Tide defense.
Losing nine starters on defense will be a challenge to overcome, but Nick Saban has a lot of talent in the defensive cupboards.
Ohio State wins, 28-24.