For those college football betting nuts out there, it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2010/2011 BCS picture.
As always, there will be a hodgepodge of contenders and pretenders; some of them obvious and some emerging from the woodwork.
Here’s who looks to be in pole position this coming season, and then who else has work left to do:
Alabama Crimson Tide
This year’s BCS champ likely isn’t going anywhere in 2010. Starting QB Greg McElroy will be a tested veteran; his effectiveness will be massaged with the likes of specimen WR Julio Jones and the stupefying backfield tandem of Heisman winner Mark Ingram and super soph Trent Richardson. The Tide will have some losses on D, but Coach Saban has recruited enough to minimize worry.
Ohio State Buckeyes
2010 must be the season where pivot Terrelle Pryor emerges as everything he was touted to be a few years back. Vanilla head coach Jim Tressel finally turned Pryor loose in this year’s Rose Bowl versus Oregon; the results were very encouraging in an OSU victory. Expect the defense to be characteristically stingy, led by LB Ross Homan, CB Chimdi Chekwa and DE Cam Heyward.
The swamp loses its best player ever in QB Tim Tebow, but Gators recruiters dried fans’ eyes with the best recruiting class in recent memory. While these young bucks season, the University of Florida will still offer an NFL-caliber defense. The running back depth defies explanation. In all, there isn’t really anyone in the SEC East division that can compete with Florida.
The team that squared off against ’Bama in the 2009 championship (and put up a fight despite losing star veteran Colt McCoy to injury) will still have the horses – or the steer, or whatever the cowboy-related terminology is – to run with the big boys. Expect the defensive back seven to be the best in the country. If new QB Garrett Gilbert can play consistently, look out Big 12.
A darkhorse team for many, the Huskers are on the rise and with head coach Bo Pelini masterminding the defense, all Big Red needs is a slight offensive infusion to really take a step forward. Expect them to crush the Big 12 North with defensive studs like Pierre Allen and Jared Crick.
Boise State Broncos
Everyone’s favorite ‘little guy’, the Broncos have put together several nice seasons now and maybe one day they’ll get their big shot. However, they have a massive test in the season opener against Virginia Tech in Landover, MD – essentially a home game for Tech.
Virtually all the big-name players return from the Ducks’ magical Rose Bowl season in 2009. QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaMichael James is a lethal combo and though DE Kenny Rowe will have to fight through some double-teams, he’s also a dynamo. True, Southern Cal is always daunting, but another Pac-10 title is a distinct possibility.
SOME WORK TO DO
This program isn’t in as bad of shape as pessimists would argue, but the Sooners seem to be a step behind Texas and maybe even Nebraska lately. Pivot Landry Jones must progress; Travis Lewis and Jeremy Beal are the best returning defenders. A fantastic recruiting class eases the sting, surely.
The Badgers have a lot of returning talent in 2010, the only real thing lacking here is getting the talent to rise to the occasion in the big games. Wisconsin fell flat against Ohio State, Iowa and Northwestern last season and it won’t be able to have any of those type of blemishes if they want a legitimate shot in Madison.
New coach (and hallowed whipping-boy outside of Los Angeles) Lane Kiffin has to restore some swagger to his ultra-talented squad. Southern Cal simply isn’t used to not winning the conference title, but it has the skill on both sides of the ball to rebound. Watch the secondary, which was decimated with graduation.
Virginia Tech Hokies
V-Tech seems to be in roughly the same spot every season: scrapping for the conference crown with nothing much beyond that. QB Tyrod Taylor returns and joins a host of eyebrow-raisers in the backfield, but the Hokies must fill in some big losses on defense and face a stiff test from Boise in the first game of 2010.
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