Prior to the start of the season, I published an article detailing my top 10 predictions for the 2008 season. Because roughly one quarter of the season is in the books, I've decided to do a quick progress report on these predictions.
Which predictions have already been disproven? Are any still feasible? And are any still probable?
Without further ado, I revisit the predictions:
"10. Georgia will not finish No. 1 in the country."
Well, this one looked promising after Week One, when USC leaped Georgia in the polls. Still, Georgia has looked solid at times (ask ASU) and could very well end the season at No. 1. Still, I'm sticking to my prediction.
Along with this prediction, I also stated that Georgia would finish 3rd in the SEC East. I am probably wrong on that one. Georgia looks like one of the top 2 teams in the SEC East along with Florida. An incredible run by Vandy could keep this one alive for me.
Interesting fact: Four teams in the SEC East are undefeated and Steve Spurrier's and Phillip Fulmer's teams are not among them.
"9. You will witness a historically close Heisman race and vote."
This one looks like it is still highly probable. Tim Tebow has done nothing to drop himself from consideration. He has 0 turnovers and is managing a very talented roster. Top QBs on top teams are always contenders.
Meanwhile, several Big XII quarterbacks (Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford among others) are on fire right now, several running backs have Heisman-level stats (Knowshon Moreno, Javon Ringer, Charles Scott, etc.), and even some receivers like Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree are still in it.
Interesting fact: Not only has Tim Tebow taken care of the ball better than most, his team, Florida, is the only team in the nation with ZERO turnovers.
"8. Pittsburgh will win the Big East."
This one is still very much a possibility, but not because Pittsburgh is playing like a conference champion. In fact, Pittsburgh has looked very unimpressive. The reason this one is still feasible is because the rest of the Big East is also unimpressive. At this point, USF looks like the strongest team and even the Bulls struggled to pull away from the doormat that is Florida International.
Interesting fact: The Big East is a combined 16-11 in non-conference play. If you subtract the two teams, USF and UConn, the other 6 teams are a combined 8-11.
"7. The new clock rules will result in exciting shootouts."
I think I was pretty much dead wrong on this one. Although there have been some shootouts, the net result of the clock rules has been a drastic shortening of the game. I witnessed several 8 and 9 minute drives this season. With less possessions, there is less scoring.
The good thing about the rules is that they are relatively fair and straight forward. There are less possessions, but there do not seem to be any exploitable glitches in the rules (such as purposely going offides on a kickoff to run out the clock).
Interesting fact: The new clock rules have shortened the game by about a dozen minutes while taking away nearly 10 plays per game.
"6. The new clock rules will lead to more penalties and turnovers."
It is still too early in the season to draw any conclusions on this prediction. There seems to be slightly more penalties, but I am not sure about the penalties. (hey BR—hire a stat guy!)
Overall, the clock rules reducing the number of snaps, so any statistical comparison from 2007 to 2008 will have to take that factor into account.
Interesting fact: Three of the four most penalized teams in the country (Florida, Georgia, and Texas Tech) are ranked in the top 10 nationally.
"5. Florida RB Brandon James will be such a threat as a punt returner that teams will stop kicking to him by season's end."
This one looks to be my most solid prediction yet. In three games, Brandon James has had two 70+ yard punt returns for touchdowns (first in the nation in punt return TDs). He also has several long kick off returns that have led to Gator scores.
The funny thing about the second part of this prediction is that Florida coach Urban Meyer has found a way to force teams to punt to James. Against Tennessee, the Gators lined up with two deep return men. Who was the other guy standing back there with James? None other than Percy Harvin.
Meyer is forcing opposing coaches to put the ball into the hands of either the best punt returner in the nation or the most electrifying ball carrier in the nation. Punting the ball out of bounds might be the most viable option when playing the Gators.
Interesting fact: Brandon James has played Tennessee three times and has ran a punt back for a touchdown in all three games. However, his punt return for a TD in 2007 was called back on a holding penalty.
"4. Ohio State will beat Southern Cal to quiet all the Big Ten haters."
I was dead wrong on this one. Ohio State, without their best offensive player (Beanie Wells), looked completely uninspired and overmatched. USC definitely looks like a title contender, but they may not have anyone who can challenge them enough to allow them to get better throughout the season.
Interesting fact: OSU gained more yards than USC in the first half of this game.
"3. OSU will go on to lose a Big Ten game."
This one is still very likely. OSU has already resorted to using Terrell Pryor full time. I don't doubt that Pryor gives the Buckeyes the best chance to win, but I do question whether Pryor will be up to the task week in and week out in the Big Ten. Making this prediction even more likely is that fact that Penn State has blown out every weakling that their AD has put on the schedule, which is more than OSU can say (see Ohio game, and even against Troy they struggled to pull away).
Interesting fact: The Big Ten has four undefeated teams and Michigan and Ohio State are not among them. In fact, two of the undefeated teams are Minnesota and Northwestern.
"2. Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards will get manhandled by the LSU defense."
This was another prediction that was spot on. Edwards looked uncomfortable all day in this game. LSU held Edwards to less than 2 yards per carry and a 42% completion percentage.
Interesting fact: Appalachian State, the reigning FCS champion, is 1-2 after losing to James Madison.
"1. There will be FOUR one-loss teams vying for a BCS title berth."
This one has a great chance of happening. Another similar scenario could involved 4 undefeated teams. Right now, the most likely candidates are (1) USC; (2) Missouri or Oklahoma;, (3) Florida, Georgia, LSU, or Alabama; (4) Wake Forest; (5) USF and (6) BYU.
I am really hoping for a scenario where there are 4 or more "deserving" title contenders. If USC, the SEC champ, the Big XII champ and at least one other team all have identical records in the loss-column, then maybe the powers that be will finally realize the necessity of a playoff system.
Interesting fact: Eight of the top 10 teams are from the Big XII and the SEC (four each).
I've made two predictions that were dead wrong (No.'s 4 and 7) and one prediction that has proven to be 100% true (No. 2). Prediction No. 10 looks like another one that I could be wrong on at least as far as predicting UGA to finish third in the SEC East. The rest are either still very probable or just too difficult to analyze at this point.