College Football Predictions 2011: 11 Locks To Win 11 Games In 2011
Death, taxes and mind-blowing moments that last a lifetime.
Few things in a college football fan's life are a guarantee aside from these three.
No one can predict injuries, poor performances, break-out seasons or any of the other wonders that bring fans back to tailgate year after year.
2011 brings about some major shifts in the college football world.
The Big Ten seems more like the Big 12 and vice versa due to the numbers game.
The Pac-12 officially has a conference championship.
For the time being, Boise State and TCU will meet during the regular season to determine the fate of two prominent BCS busters.
As the FBS grows, so does the possibility for double-digit win seasons for some teams.
11 programs are locked and loaded for 11 wins in the upcoming season.
Which powerhouses will shine during a year of re-shuffled conferences?
Will any SEC team represent the conference?
What surprise teams have a shot at the big time?
Many think that BYU’s independence is a fool’s venture, but the Cougars might be onto something.
Much like Notre Dame, BYU can create their own schedule.
Unlike the Fighting Irish, the BCS isn’t rolling out the red carpet for their entry into a major bowl game.
BYU has guaranteed wins versus Utah, Utah State, San Jose State, Idaho State, Louisiana Tech, Idaho, New Mexico State and Hawaii.
Their tossup contests are Ole Miss, Oregon State, Texas and UCF.
Expect UCF, Ole Miss and BYU’s eventual bowl opponent to fall.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
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The departure of Nebraska and Colorado from the Big 12 means big things for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
When quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon decided to return for their senior seasons, Oklahoma State officially became legitimate contenders for the Big 12 crown.
While the Pokes do lose running back Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State should be able to go toe-to-toe with nearly every opponent on their schedule.
Chalk up Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, Tulsa, Texas A&M, Kansas, Missouri, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Iowa State as Cowboy wins already.
Texas and Oklahoma are both potential victories as well assuming the struggles in Austin continue.
The Bedlam Series, featuring the Sooners and Cowboys, is always a lively affair that could go either way.
TCU Horned Frogs
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No Andy Dalton?
While any college football fan should take note quarterback Andy Dalton's departure, TCU is not without talent.
Running backs Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker, who combined for 1,787 rushing yards and 18 TDs in 2011, both return.
Josh Boyce, TCU’s leading receiver in 2010, looks to avoid a sophomore slump.
Boyce tallied 646 yards and six TDs last season.
No team aside from Boise State looks to give the Horned Frogs difficulty on their way to yet another potential BCS bowl.
Bret Bielema didn’t have his contract extended through the 2015 season for giggles.
After taking the Badgers to the Rose Bowl last season, expectations of Bielema's teams may be higher, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
Wisconsin does lose trusty quarterback Scott Tolzien, but keeps stud running backs James White and Montee Ball.
The pair combined for 2,048 rushing yards and 32 TDs on the ground last season.
Wisconsin should be able to barrell through most of their schedule with ease.
They host the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ first game as a member of the Big Ten conference in what will likely be a physical contest.
The Badgers also take on Ohio State in Columbus.
That contest may very well determine the winner of the Big Ten Leaders division.
Regardless of whether or not Wisconsin wins either of those games, a bowl victory would put them at eleven victories.
Boise State Broncos
Quarterback Kellen Moore and leading rusher Doug Martin return to both thrill and irritate the college football world.
Moore enters the 2011 season as an immediate Heisman Trophy candidate.
He also looks to compile a case for his Broncos to crash the BCS National Championship Game.
Boise State makes their inaugural appearance in the Mountain West Conference next season as well.
While conference competition isn’t an extreme step up from what the Broncos were used to from the WAC, two legitimate roadblocks stand in the their path.
Georgia, despite their ups and downs, is SEC-tested.
Fortunately for Boise State, the Bulldogs meet them on a semi-neutral site in Atlanta.
The biggest problem for Boise is that they face TCU in the regular season.
Even with a loss to the Horned Frogs, Boise can win out, take home a bowl game’s trophy and claim an 11-win season.
When the Broncos might return to BCS relevancy following Moore's graduation, however, is anyone's guess.
UCF is probably not a name that was expected to be on this list, but the Golden Knights have all of the tools necessary for their second consecutive 11-win season.
Freshman phenom Jeffrey Godfrey burst onto the scene last season with 2,159 yards passing, a 13-9 TD-INT ratio and a 154.31 quarterback rating.
Running backs Ronnie Weaver and Latavius Murray, who combined for 1,537 yards and 22 TDs in 2010, return to aid his efforts.
Potential losses to BYU, East Carolina loom, but splitting those games leave the Golden Knights a likely bowl victory away from 11 wins.
The defending national champions are the closest thing to an 11-win lock as the SEC has.
Many notable talents depart including offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, defensive stalwart Nick Fairley and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
That said, the Tigers have a plethora of talent remaining and incoming.
Running backs Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb will help carry the load on the ground.
Wide receiver Emory Blake returns to help Auburn’s new starting signal-caller.
What makes this pick complete is the Tigers’ recruiting class.
An obscene amount of talent is making its way to Auburn.
While the class won’t heal all of the wounds left by major departures, it will help begin the healing process.
The key for the Tigers’ season will be defeating South Carolina in Columbia and taking out Florida at home.
After accomplishing those feats, Auburn lays claim to an excellent follow-up year to their national championship season.
Oh yes, the Quack Attack will be back.
Quarterback Darron Thomas and thrilling running back LaMichael James return in 2011.
They provide an offense that defensive coordinators have to get up pretty early in the morning to scheme against.
Nine wins outside of potential losses to LSU, Stanford and Oregon State set up the Ducks nicely.
Look for Oregon to take advantage of early season Tiger miscues in Arlington, Texas' Cowboys Stadium to open the season.
They will later drop arch rival Oregon State before heading to their bowl game.
The Stanford-Oregon tilt will likely not only determine the winner of the Pac-12 North, but also the conference champion.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The good news is that Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey return for Ohio State's appearance in the revamped Big Ten.
The bad news is that they’ll riding the bench for five games.
Despite five Buckeyes being on the sideline for receiving improper benefits, Ohio State has every opportunity to take care of business early on.
With the exception of Miami (FL) and Michigan State, the Buckeyes’ initial schedule doesn’t look too intimidating.
The Buckeyes should be able to scrape by both the Hurricanes and Spartans before returning to full strength during a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.
Ohio State looks to battle Wisconsin for the Big Ten Leaders division giving them another opportunity for a victory in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.
A bowl appearance guarantees 11 wins for Jim Tressel’s crew.
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Let’s go over the 2011 season checklist for the Stanford Cardinal, shall we?
Heisman candidate quarterback? Check.
Excellent replacement for the departed NFL-level head coach? Check.
A team with not only the hunger for a BCS National Championship Game appearance, but the talent to both talk the talk and walk the walk? That’s a big check.
It’s no secret that Stanford is loaded heading into next season.
There also appears to be only one team on the Cardinal’s schedule that has a legitimate chance at stopping them from stiff-arming their way into the Pac-12 title game: The Oregon Ducks.
If Andrew Luck and company can silence Chip Kelly’s bunch, look for the Pac-12 to send another representative to college football’s premier game
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It’s a good time to be a Sooner.
Perhaps the best pick to win the Coaches’ Trophy next season, the Oklahoma Sooners are arguably the biggest fish in the shrinking pond that is the Big 12 conference.
What team is going to stop Landry Jones?
Remaining relevant in the conference with wins over Kansas State, Baylor and Texas Tech should be first on the Longhorns’ list of priorities.
Who is going to corral the ever-evolving Roy Finch?
At this point, the Seminoles have a better chance of catching a cold than the Sooners’ running back.
Oklahoma State has the best opportunity to knock their in-state rivals off of their pedestal.
The best news for the Cowboys is that Bedlam is in Stillwater this year.
Regardless of the game's outcome, Oklahoma will tear through their non-conference schedule and stand atop the Big 12 standings sending "Big Game" Bob Stoops to yet another BCS bowl.
Maybe this ten-team league won’t be so bad for the Sooners after all.
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