2010 College Football: 15 Bold Predictions
College Football season is just around the corner, and you know what that means...time to make your predictions.
Sports rarely go the way fans and experts think they will, and I'm sure that will hold true again this year.
Last year we saw the Heisman winner come out of nowhere, we saw big time quarterbacks struggle, we saw surprise teams, and we even saw a postgame sucker punch unfold on national television.
So what will happen this year?
Let's find out.
Auburn Wins 10 Games
Auburn is coming off of a solid 8-5 season under first year head coach Gene Chizik. The Tigers had a chance to win 10 games last year but failed to pull out close calls against Kentucky, Georgia, or in-state rival Alabama. With 15 starters coming back they should see an improvement in their overall record.
Their 2010 schedule includes easy wins over Arkansas St, ULM, and Chattanooga.
Road games include mediocre teams such as Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Mississippi St. Although, they do have a big test November 26th when they face off with Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Home games include quality opponents such as Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia.
Notre Dame Fails To Impress...Again
No, Brian Kelly, you're not No. 1. In fact, your Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be lucky to be ranked at all by the end of the season.
It won't be all Kelly's fault, though, as he inherits a defense that gave up at least 30 points six times last year. They also gave up at least 100 yards rushing to eight different backs. What I'm trying to say is: They weren't very good. But they do return nine starters so they should improve some, but don't expect miracles.
On offense ND lost three starting offensive lineman, starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen, and Biletnikoff Winner Golden Tate. Needless to say, to expect them to be better on offense this year would be unrealistic.
Look for a 7-5 record in the regular season.
I wouldn't have even added this slide if I didn't hear talk of a possible BCS Bowl among the Irish faithful.
BCS Bowl...You've got to be kidding me.
Noel Devine Makes History
The West Virginia Mountaineers will start the 2010 season with an unproven man under center. As a result, expect electric running back Noel Devine to carry more of the load on offense.
The Senior has amassed 3,381 yards through his first three years. If he can manage 1,619 yards this season he will become just the 15th player in college football history to have totaled at least 5,000 yards rushing for his career.
With 1,797 yards rushing this year, Devine would pass Archie Griffin for 10th on the same list.
I think he gets it done.
Iowa Falls On Hard Times
Last year the Hawkeyes finished off an impressive season by defeating Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Don't expect such success this coming season though.
Despite losing stud linebacker Pat Angerer the defense should still be solid as they return eight starters.
However, on offense they lost three starters along the offensive line, including first round draft pick Bryan Bulaga. They also ranked next to last in the Big 10 in rushing last year. New offensive line to go along with a poor running game...doesn't sound good.
On top of that Iowa was less than dominant in the 2009 campaign. It had four wins by three points or less, which isn't bad until you realize that those teams were Northern Iowa, Arkansas State, Michigan, and Michigan State.
Look for Ohio State and Wisconsin to finish ahead of Iowa.
Miami Fails To Take The Next Step
Miami came roaring back into the national spotlight last year after an impressive 5-1 start that included wins over Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Oklahoma. The Canes finished the season 9-4, and there is tons of optimism in South Florida for the 2010 season. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row their schedule is brutal.
After the first four weeks of the season they will have already played games on the road against Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Clemson.
After that they still have games against Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech (road game), and Virginia Tech. Even their season finale against South Florida won't be an easy one.
Look for another eight- to nine-win season for the Canes.
Georgia Wins The SEC East
The Florida Gators are still the sexy pick to win the SEC East according to most experts and fans. However, the Georgia Bulldogs have quietly brought back 15 starters.
Like most teams the quarterback play will be the key to their success and redshirt freshman Aaron Murray looks ready for the job. It won't hurt that he will be throwing the ball to AJ Green either. Washaun Ealey and Caleb King are both back and provide a nice one-two punch. Their defense looks to build on the experience they gained last year.
A favorable schedule never hurt anyone. They have Arkansas at home and avoid LSU and Alabama altogether. Of course they have their annual game against Florida in Jacksonville.
Lane Kiffin Proves Doubters Wrong
He's clearly not the most popular guy in college football, but Lane Kiffin will quiet some of the rumblings about his coaching abilities this season.
He finally inherits a football team with some quality talent on its roster. That was not the case with the Oakland Raiders or Tennessee Vols.
Take a look at his last two quarterbacks with him and without him...
With - 13 TD, 8 Int, 2,423 yards passing.
Without - 3 TD, 11 Int, 1,287 yards passing.
With - 27 TD, 13 Int, 2,800 yards passing.
Without - 4 TD, 5 Int, 889 yards passing.
What's my point? Lane Kiffin can run an offense.
With the talent USC has and a proven QB in Matt Barkley, expect a 10-win season for the Trojans.
Terrelle Pryor Has A Huge Season
Terelle Pryor's potential is through the roof, but through his first two years we have seen a good but not great player. This year all of that changes.
Look for Coach Tressel to open the offense up more in Pryor's third year in the same way he did for former quarterback Troy Smith. If the Rose Bowl against Oregon was any indication then he looks to flourish in a more wide open system.
Look for him to have close to 35-40 total touchdowns, and 3,500 total yards from scrimmage.
Andrew Luck Fails To Live Up To His Heisman Hype
Andrew Luck will be entering his second year as the Stanford Cardinal's quarterback after he helped them to an 8-5 record a year ago.
Luck posted respectable numbers last year with nearly 2,600 yards passing, 15 total TDs, and just four interceptions.
However, to even get an invite to New York he will have to at least double his touchdowns. On top of that he is without the help of workhorse and Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart.
Luck looks to have a bright future ahead of him, but he will not be at the Heisman presentation this year.
Florida State Finally Beats Florida
This rivalry hasn't been much of one lately as the Gators have won the last six matchups. The last FSU victory came in 2003 when the ever popular Chris Rix led a last minute comeback in the Swamp for a 38-34 victory.
Fast forward seven years and FSU looks like it can finally recapture some of that 2003 magic. The Seminoles will be led by proven quarterback Christian Ponder and what should be one of the best offensive lines in college football. Their defense was awful last year, but look for that to change under first year head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Of course the Gators losing so much experience plays into this outcome as well. They lost a total of 10 starters from both sides of the ball, including all everything Tim Tebow.
With the game being in Tallahassee look for a Seminole victory.
Landry Jones Makes It To New York
We were all introduced to Heisman winner Sam Bradford's backup last year after he got hurt in the season opener and again against Texas.
Landry Jones played virtually the entire season under center last year for Oklahoma and played well considering the circumstances. Over 3,000 yards passing, 26 TDs, and a 7-3 record as a starter is not too shabby.
Oklahoma will be the favorite to win the Big 12 this year, and Jones will be the driving force behind their success. Look for him to improve on his outstanding numbers and get an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York.
Texas Places Third In The Big 12
That's Mack Brown lifting up the Big 12 Championship Trophy after beating Nebraska with a last second field goal. Texas fans should not expect such success this year.
Gone is Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Earl Thomas, and three of their front seven on defense.
Garrett Gilbert showed a ton of guts against Alabama in January and he looks to have a bright future. However, with a new offensive line and running game that hasn't produced since Jamal Charles left, it could be a tough year for the Texas offense.
Look for OU and Nebraska to be better teams this year.
Boise State Disappoints
America's darlings are in search of more than just a BCS Bowl this year, they are after an appearance in the BCS National Championship game. After proving themselves against the likes of Oklahoma, Oregon, and TCU, it is a very realistic possibility that the men of the Smurf Turf could be in the big game.
However, that dream will die after week one when they lose on a "neutral" field to Virginia Tech.
On top of that look for Boise to drop another game during the course of the year or bowl season.
11-2 is usually a great season, but that will be disappointing for Boise State in 2010.
No Team Finishes The Season Undefeated
After Alabama beat Texas last year in the BCS National Championship game they finished the season 14-0. Boise State also went undefeated at 14-0. In 11 of the last 13 years at least one team has finished the season with a zero in the loss column.
But that wont happen this year.
As I mentioned before, Boise State losses to VT, Alabama plays six games this year in which their opponent is coming off of a bye, and Ohio State has shown a tendency to lose a game they shouldn't.
There is no truly great team that stands out right now like the 2001 Canes, 2004 Trojans, or the 2008 Gators. But I guess that's why they play the games.
Virginia Tech Plays for the National Championship
Virginia Tech may the best team nobody is talking about right now. It returns eight starters on offense including Ryan Williams and Tyrod Taylor. Also back from injury is Darren Evans who ran for over 1,200 yards a freshman. Jarrett Boykin may be the most underrated receiver in the country, and he is back as well.
Defensively the Hokies lost seven starters but Frank Beamer knows how to coach them up. Last season they ranked No. 1 in the country in pass defense, and although they won't be there this season, they will still be solid all around.
Since Frank Beamer is still the head coach I'm going to go out on a limb and say the special teams will be solid as well.
As far as schedule goes the Hokies have a big test early with Boise State. After that they should easily go 8-0 before they run into Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, and at Miami.
Even if they manage to go 11-1 I think they will have a shot at the BCS National Championship. However, they must cruise to an easy victory over their weaker ACC Atlantic counterpart in the championship game to impress the voters.
Or they could always just go 13-0 and make it easy on themselves.