Fall camp begins in three weeks! Are you ready for some football?
In this edition we take a look at how the preseason magazines have treated the Big 12. If you were with us in June (of course you were), you know that I made some predictions about how the preseason magazines would treat Colorado and their Big 12 North brethren.
Most of the magazines and websites have now posted their Top 25 predictions, as well as their conference rankings, so it is time to take a look at what the consensus is for the 2008 season.
In addition to a detailed look at the Big 12 North, we will review the picks for the Big 12 South, as well as the four non-conference opponents for Colorado this fall.
[Note: With much thanks and credit, the magazines and sites used for this compilation were Lindy’s, Athlon Sports, Phil Steele, The Sporting News, USA Today, Sure Fire Scouting, College Football News, and Rivals. Rivals is still counting down its Top 25, so not all predictions are currently available.
Some sites do not predict lower than the Top 25 (Phil Steele does not predict below the Top 50; Sure Fire Scouting only posts a Top 30). USA Today has not yet posted its Top 25. For many of the above selections, as well as a look at the Top 25 consensus, log onto http://preseason.stassen.com/consensus/2008/html.]
Big 12 North
My prediction: 1st place
Consensus prediction: 1st place (every magazine and website predicted Missouri to finish first in the Big 12 North)
Highest national ranking: 4th (Sure Fire Scouting)
Lowest national ranking: 8th (College Football News)
My June 1st comments: "What is there not to like? ... Look for the Tigers to be in the top 10 in almost every magazine .... Wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin and the words ‘exciting’ and ‘electrifying’ will also get a great deal of play."
Selected comments from other sites: Jeremy Maclin was described in College Football News as "a bolt of lightning"; The Sporting News called Maclin "special. His blazing speed makes him one of the nation’s most dangerous players."
Every publication had Missouri in its top 10, and every publication has the Tigers finishing first in the Big 12 North. The Sporting News put it best: "Perhaps not since the Dan Devine era of the 1960s has so much been expected of a Missouri team."
My prediction: 2nd place
Consensus prediction: 2nd place (Phil Steele and USA Today had Kansas 3rd, while everyone else picked them 2nd)
Highest national ranking: 13th (Athlon Sports and College Football News)
Lowest national ranking: 18th (Sure Fire Scouting)
My June 1st comments: "Even though Kansas finished with a better record than Missouri in 2007, the Jayhawks will not get the love afforded the Tigers. Why? History. The ‘Manginos’ were the darlings of the national media last season, but it is hard to drink the Kool-Aid for a team which has had only one other 10-win season in the past forty tries."
Selected comments from other sites: Athlon Sports - "Kansas should be strong again in 2008—just maybe not as strong"; The Sporting News - "Kansas has played in 11 postseason games, but none in successive seasons. The task will be more difficult for many reasons in 2008"; College Football News - "Now KU has to show some staying power."
My prediction: 4th place
Consensus prediction: 3rd place (USA Today had the Buffs finishing 2nd in the Big 12 North; College Football News had Colorado tying for 3rd with Kansas State; Phil Steele had the Buffs finishing 5th)
Highest national ranking: 31st (Athlon Sports)
Lowest national ranking: 42nd (College Football News)
My June 1st comments: "For those publications who rank all 120 teams, look for Colorado to be in the 40-50 range. For those who predict records, look for most to give the Buffs a 6-6 or 7-5 mark. Consensus: 'CU is a better team, but their schedule makes moving up in the standings a difficult task.'"
Selected projections from other sites: The Sporting News projects CU to play in the Texas Bowl (the No. 8, and last, selection for bowls from Big 12 teams); College Football News projects a 6-6 record, 4-4 in the Big 12—and a Texas Bowl bid; Athlon Sports picks four games as wins for the Buffs (CSU, Eastern Washington, Kansas State, and Iowa State) and two for sure losses (at Kansas and at Missouri), with the remaining six marked as "swing" games.
Selected comments from other sites: The Sporting News - "With 14 returning starters, the Buffs should be at least as good as last season and have the chance for an even better showing"; Lindy’s Sports - "The rebuilding project is moving along quite nicely under third-year head coach Dan Hawkins.... The Buffs, still young, will be improved, although it might not be reflected in the final record because of a brutal schedule"; College Football News: "While the program might still be a year away from being a serious threat to win the Big 12 title, Hawkins has his guys in place"; and Athlon Sports - "Staying ahead of the curve means weathering a brutal schedule.... If it all comes together, CU could surprise, but that’s a big if."
My prediction - 3rd place
Consensus prediction - 4th place (Phil Steele had the Cornhuskers finishing 2nd in the Big 12 North; Sure Fire Scouting had Nebraska tying for 4th with Kansas State; College Football News had the Cornhuskers tying for 5th with Iowa State)
Highest national ranking: 41st (Athlon Sports)
Lowest national ranking: 51st (Lindy’s)
My June 1st comments: "The preseason magazines will be filled with gushing stories about how Bo Pelini has ‘restored order’ in Lincoln, a place where losing is just not acceptable.... A few magazines will have the nerve to say that this team is a ‘year away’ from contending for conference honors."
Selected comments from other sites: Lindy’s - "Pelini achieved folk hero status for his season of work with the Nebraska defense in 2003, and his no-nonsense style appeals to Husker Nation"; The Sporting News - "Pelini brings both a fiery demeanor and a history of success."
My prediction - 5th place
Consensus prediction - 5th place (College Football News had the Wildcats finishing in a tie for 3rd in the Big 12 North with Colorado; Phil Steele and USA Today had Kansas State finishing 4th in the Big 12; Sure Fire Scouting had the Wildcats tying for 4th with Nebraska)
Highest national ranking: 32nd (College Football News)
Lowest national ranking: 64th (Athlon Sports)
My June 1st comments: "Kansas State is a wild card, and those who make a living making predictions do not like wild cards.... ‘Hot seat’ will appear in many magazines, both in connection to the four-game losing streak to end 2007, and the recruiting class (including 20 junior college transfers)."
Selected comments from other sites: No team in the Big 12 North had a wider range of rankings (32nd to 64th) than the Wildcats. Athlon Sports - "It (20 JC recruits) could be construed as coach Ron Prince pushing the panic button for a program that lost its final four games en route to a 5-7 finish"; College Football News - "No, Kansas State is not a junior college; it only seems that way.... If bringing in ready-made talent doesn’t work, it might be back to square one. The future has been mortgaged to win now."
My prediction - 6th place
Consensus prediction - 6th place (every site had the Cyclones 6th except for College Football News, which had Iowa State finishing in a tie for 5th with Nebraska).
Highest national ranking: 63rd (College Football News)
Lowest national ranking: 81st (Athlon Sports)
My June 1st comments: " ‘Rebuilding’ and ‘youth movement’ will be common threads in stories about Iowa State.... (Due to an easier schedule) look for statements about an ‘easier road’ to success and a possible bowl game to creep into the ISU write-ups."
Selected comments from other sites: College Football News - "Cyclone fans have been desperate for a winner, and while this year’s way-too-young team will be anything but consistent, it has the potential to get back into the bowl mix"; Lindy’s - "The Cyclones are not among the elite of the Big 12 North, but they should be a step closer by the end of year two of the Chizik era."
Big 12 South
Consensus prediction: 1st place in the Big 12 South (only College Football News failed to pick the Sooners 1st, predicting Oklahoma to finish 2nd)
Highest national ranking: 3rd (Athlon Sports and Phil Steele)
Lowest national ranking: 7th (Sure Fire Scouting)
Consensus prediction: 2nd (three sites—Phil Steele, USA Today, and College Football News—picked the Longhorns 3rd)
Highest national ranking: 8th (Lindy’s)
Lowest national ranking: 15th (Phil Steele and College Football News)
Consensus prediction: 3rd (College Football News picked the Red Raiders 1st in the Big 12 South; Phil Steele and USA Today picked Texas Tech 2nd)
Highest national ranking: 9th (College Football News)
Lowest national ranking: 20th (The Sporting News)
Consensus prediction: 4th (College Football News and Rivals picked Cowboys 4th; Sure Fire Scouting had Oklahoma State finishing in a tie with Texas A&M for 4th)
Highest national ranking: 32nd (Athlon Sports)
Lowest national ranking: 42nd (Rivals)
Consensus prediction: 5th (Lindy’s picked the Aggies 4th; Sure Fire Scouting had A&M finishing in a tie with Oklahoma State for 4th)
Highest national ranking: 30th (Lindy’s)
Lowest national ranking: 65th (Rivals)
Consensus prediction: 6th (other than picking Missouri to finish 1st in the North, predicting Baylor to finish last in the Big 12 South was the only consensus pick amongst the eight sites)
Highest national ranking: 83rd (Lindy's)
Lowest national ranking: 95th (College Football News)
2008 Colorado non-conference opponents
Consensus prediction (Mountain West): 8th (Athlon Sports and The Sporting News picked the Rams 7th; College Football News had CSU in a three-way tie for 7th with San Diego State and UNLV; Phil Steele and USA Today picked the Rams 9th and last in the Mountain West Conference)
Highest national ranking: 90th (College Football News)
Lowest national ranking: 96th (Rivals)
Some "Football Championship Subdivision" predictions:
The Sporting News: 1st in the Big Sky Conference and 4th nationally
Lindy’s: 2nd in the Big Sky and 7th nationally
Consensus prediction (Big East): 1st (the Mountaineers were picked first in their conference by every site)
Highest national ranking: 6th (Phil Steele)
Lowest national ranking: 10th (Lindy’s and College Football News)
Consensus prediction (ACC, Atlantic Division): 3rd (Phil Steele picked the Seminoles to finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division; College Football News had Florida State tied with Wake Forest for 3rd; and USA Today picked the Seminoles 4th in the division)
Highest national ranking: 23rd (Sure Fire Scouting)
Lowest national ranking: 48th (College Football News)
So there you have it. It has all been decided for you.
Missouri will win the North, and Oklahoma the South. Kansas, Texas, and Texas Tech will join the Tigers and Sooners in representing the Big 12 in the polls.
Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M will vie for the remaining four bowl spots (assuming that, as usual, the Big 12 has two BCS bowl representatives).
Only Iowa State and Baylor are not projected to be in the bowl mix for 2008.
Taking the average projections for Colorado (about 37th in the nation) and placing them alongside the average projections for the opposition, the 2008 season should play out as follows for the Buffs:
at CSU - W
Eastern Washington - W
West Virginia - L
at Florida State - L
Texas - L
at Kansas - L
Kansas State - W
at Missouri - L
at Texas A&M - W
Iowa State - W
Oklahoma State - W
at Nebraska - W
Assuming the Buffs can weather a nasty four-game losing streak early on (a big assumption), the Buffs, according to the prognosticators, will finish strong and wind up with a 7-5 record.
Of course, these same prognosticators see the fast-finishing Buffs being placed in lower-tier bowls than the Oklahoma State and Nebraska teams they just vanquished.
I guess we will just have to let the teams play out the schedule and see what happens...
For more on CU football, check out http://www.cuatthegame.com and let me know your thoughts!