College Football Shock and Awe: Notre Dame and 10 Teams Ready To Stun in 2011

Kyle BuntonContributor IJanuary 24, 2011

College Football Shock and Awe: Notre Dame and 10 Teams Ready To Stun in 2011

0 of 10

    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The 2010 NCAA Football season started out normal as usual and then did a complete 180. Auburn is your national champion, Oregon is the runner up and TCU is left wondering what would happen if they had a shot at the national championship.

    Next season is going to be just like it has been in previous years: a complete mess. Teams that should win won't win. Teams will lose to D-II schools. And there will also be talk about how the BCS is flawed and how the NCAA needs to change to some sort of playoff format.

    One thing that will change are the teams are out to teach that age-old lesson:  "We are ready to show everyone how good we really are; we are ready to shock the nation."

10. Tennessee Volunteers Rock SEC

1 of 10

    QB Tyler BrayStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    After a horrible start, Tennessee salvaged the season and finished up 6-7 with a loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee.

    Tyler Bray showed flashes that he might become a reliable passer for the Vols who have one of the best group of wide receivers in the SEC. Derek Dooley has a defense in place to be at best above-average, but will show glimpses of being a top defense in the SEC.

    The Vols have recruited Top 5 ILB A.J. Johnson, WR DeAnthony Arnett who's #57 in the ESPNU 150, Top 5 OG Marcus Jackson and Top 15 safety Patrick Martin.

    The Vols will finally beast Florida this year along with South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas and go on to have a 10-2 season.

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys Will Beat Oklahoma And Their National Title Hopes

2 of 10

    QB Brandon WeedenTom Pennington/Getty Images

    Oklahoma State was supposed to do pretty well last year, but not 11-2 good. The Cowboys only losses came against Nebraska and Oklahoma. They finished up the season with a victory at the Alamo Bowl against the Arizona Wildcats.

    Good news for the Cowboys, QB Brandon Weeden and standout and projected 1st round draft pick WR Justin Blackmon are returning for another year.

    The recruiting process has been a little bit rough, but nonetheless, it still has been a good recruiting season. They have QB J.W. Walsh and RB Herschel Sims, who are both 4-star recruits who have verbally committed. Their only two players to sign are 3-star recruits OL Michael Bowie and DE Ryan Robinson.

    The Cowboys will beat the Sooners this year and along with that knock the Sooners out of the national title spotlight. The Cowboys will finish 11-1 with their only loss coming from Texas A&M.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Are a Top 15 Team...and Stay There

3 of 10

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Are the Fighting Irish turning the corner? Reeling off 4 straight wins and the destroying of Miami (FL) in the Hyundai Sun Bowl to end the season, Brian Kelly has the Irish putting the "fight" back into the Fighting Irish and in position to be a dominant force again in college football.

    Standout WR Michael Floyd has decided to stay in school for one more year and with that decision, he remains the best offensive weapon on the team and will help whoever is going to quarterback the coach next year.

    The Irish have a top-10 recruiting season again, except this time, instead of stocking up on offense, they are stocking up on defense. They have a trio of 4-star defensive ends in Aaron Lynch who is the #4 DE in the nation, Ishaq Williams who is #7, and Anthony Rabasa who is #12.

    They also have a 5-star recruit in Stephon Tuitt, but he has yet to sign in letter of intent, so keep an eye out for that. They also have 4-star recruits in OL Matthew Hegarty, WR DeVaris Daniels, TE Ben Koyack, and ATH Everett Golson.

    The Fighting Irish will end the season beating Pittsburgh, Michigan, USC, Air Force, Navy, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Boston College. They will end up 10-2 with loses to Michigan State and Stanford but will stay in the top 15 all season.

7. Florida State Seminoles Will Be a Top 5 Team

4 of 10

    WR Taiwan EasterlingKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    What a year for first year coach Jimbo Fisher. His Seminoles ended the season 10-4 with a victory over #20 South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Florida State goes into 2011 with high expectations.

    QB E.J. Manuel is a triple-threat and will be hard to stop this year and the defense is young, but ready to get the job done.

    The Seminoles have produced the #1 recruit class for this year. They recruit 3 top-10 safeties: Karlos Williams, Keelin Smith, and Lamarcus Brutus. They also added 2 top offensive tackles: Booby Hart and Jordan Prestwood.

    If the Seminoles beat Oklahoma early in the season, this might be magical. Look for the Seminoles to be in consideration for the national championship all year long.

6. Arizona State Sun Devils Will Win The Pac-12 South

5 of 10

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Sun Devils finished the season 6-6, but the record can be very misleading. They lost to Wisconsin by one, Oregon by ten, Oregon State by three, USC by one, and Stanford by four. They were in every single one of those games and if they win 3 of them, they are looking at 9-3.

    With them being placed in the Pac-12 South, their only competition is USC (not able to play in bowl game, but Pac-12 championship title game) and Utah and they should have no problem with another year of experience winning this division.

    They have a 4-star recruit in WR Quinton Pedroza who has verbally committed. Some 3-star recruits who could have an impact are OLB Gionni Paul, DE Sean O'Grady, and ATH Rashad Wadood.

    The Sun Devils will have victories over USC, Oregon State, Utah, Arizona, UCLA and finish with a 10-2 record and will win the Pac-12 South division.

5. Northwestern Will Have a Better Record Than Ohio State

6 of 10

    Head Coach Pat FitzgeraldJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Wildcats are coming off a 7-6 season that could have easily been 9-5. They ended the season with a loss to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl. Starting quarterback, Dan Persa, who was a top-10 passer last year is recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon, but is ahead of schedule. Along with him stayed head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who was thought to be in consideration for the head coach job at Michigan.

    Northwestern snagged themselves a 4-star recruit this off season. WR Christian Jones will provide an immediate boost in the passing game. Some other notable recruits are DE Max Chapman, TE Mark Szott, OT Jack Konopka, and OT Shane Mertz.

    With Ohio State missing Terrelle Pryor for the first 5 games, I see Northwestern getting ahead of the Buckeyes in the standings and staying there. Northwestern will end the season 10-2 with some notable wins against Boston College, Army, Michigan, Iowa, and Penn State.

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs Get to 10 Wins

7 of 10

    Mississippi State BulldogsRick Dole/Getty Images

    For a team that went 9-4, they sure aren't getting any love, especially after blowing out Michigan 52-14 in the Progressive Gator Bowl. They had 2 losses by a combined 10 points, with those games being against Auburn and Arkansas, and the Arkansas game going to overtime. Head coach Dan Mullen might not always have the best players, but he will coach a great game with what he has available.

    Some of the notable recruits going to Mississippi State are 4-star ATH Jermaine Whitehead, WRs Joe Morrow and Nickolas Brassell, and S Darion Arrington.

    If the Bulldogs want to get a 10 win season, they will have to beat Auburn, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia. With their consistent run game and just good enough defense, they can get to that 10 win season.

3. TCU Will Win In The Big East, But First Lets Win The MWC Again

8 of 10

    TCU Horned FrogsJeff Gross/Getty Images

    What about them Horned Frogs? Undefeated season and a win against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Why can't they do it all again, just in a different conference? Well, they can, but that will wait until next year. They will always play great defense and have a good enough offense. Thanks to head coach Gary Patterson, this team will always be a contender year in and year out.

    They have a trio of 4-star recruits in WR LaDarius Brown, OLB Deryck Gildon, and WR Brandon Carter. They also have some notable 3-star recruits in OT Jamelle Naff and QB Dominic Merka.

    The Horned Frogs will win the MWC again, another undefeated season might happen, and a bowl game is in their future. They aren't flashy, but they will get the job done, just in a different conference. They deserve the respect, because they have earned it.

2. Michigan State Will Win The Big 10

9 of 10

    QB Kirk CousinsMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Even though the season ended on a sour note against Alabama, that doesn't mean they won't win the Big 10. Most people believe Ohio State, Nebraska, or Wisconsin will win the Big 10, but it is Sparty that will win it this year. They shared it last year with Ohio State and Wisconsin, but they will be really focused on getting the title all by itself.

    QB Kirk Cousins, and RBs Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker are all returning on offense. They are also bringing in two 4-star recruits in WR Juwan Caesar and ILB Lawerence Thomas. Along with Caesar and Thomas, there are a couple of 3-star recruits in OLB Darien Harris, ATH Roger Williamson, and OT Donavon Clark.

    It will be a tight race for the Big-10 title, but Michigan State will win the Big 10 and quite possibly run the table and have an undefeated season.

1. BCS National Champion Is.....the Oregon Ducks

10 of 10

    RB LaMichael JamesJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    So close, but so far away. That is how the Ducks are feeling after losing to the Auburn Tigers 22-19 in the BCS National Championship game. Luckily for them, they are still pretty much the same team that went to the game last year with QB Darren Thomas and RB LaMichael James returning. But now, Cam Newton is gone and so is Nick Fairley.

    They have a great group of 4-star recruits that features ATH Devon Blackmon, QB Jerrad Randall, WR Tacoi Sumler, OT Andre Yruretagoyena, and ILB Anthony Wallace.

    I am surprised that so many people have just given up on the Ducks, but this team is not a team to quack about. Chip Kelly knows they got close last year, but they want to get even closer and win it all this year.