College Football 2011: 22 Teams We're Most Confident in Right Now
It's not even officially summer yet, but there are some teams you just have a level of confidence about because they have a great coach or that one star player who means everything.
However, there are probably many more that you could point to that don't exude confidence because the coaching situation is in flux (Rick Neuheisel at UCLA) or you just aren't sure how they are going to replace a certain player (Cam Newton and Nick Fairley at Auburn).
Confidence in May probably won't equate to any wins this fall, but it sure makes some fans feel pretty good during the hot and humid days in July.
Therefore, here are the 22 teams that conjure up the most confidence right now.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies have future Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer and one of the finest defensive coordinators in the nation in Bud Foster.
But it's pretty easy to see Virginia Tech should win a lot of games this fall. The schedule is loaded with a lot of easy games that should see the Hokies as the favorite.
Here's a bunch of very winnable games: Appalachian State (Sept. 3), at East Carolina (Sept. 10), Arkansas State (Sept. 17), at Marshall (Sept. 24), Clemson (Oct. 1), Miami (Oct. 8), at Wake Forest (Oct. 15), Boston College (Oct. 22), Duke (Oct. 29) and Virginia (Nov. 26).
Now will they win all of them? Maybe not, but it would be hard to pick against them.
Ohio University isn't going to scare any of the big boys in college football, but former Nebraska coach Frank Solich has led the Bobcats to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.
His record since arriving in Athens isn't stellar (40-36), but the Bobcats used to be among the worst of the worst in college football.
Now fans have a reason to go to Peden Stadium besides watching Ohio's band, The Marching 110.
Not since Peyton Manning played at Tennessee has a college quarterback entered a season as the sure-fire No. 1 draft pick at the end of the season.
Stanford's Andrew Luck would have been the Carolina Panthers' choice in the 2011 draft, but he's a smart dude who wanted to finish his degree.
Even though former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh bolted for the NFL, Luck exudes confidence and that means we believe in the Cardinal also.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State is the Gonzaga or Butler of college football.
While the Broncos have not had a shot at playing for a BCS Championship, most fans don't consider any win by Boise as an upset any longer.
So it won't be a surprise if the Broncos beat Georgia in the opener and TCU at home to go 12-0 this season.
Because Chris Petersen is one of the Top 3 coaches in the nation and you have to believe in any team he coaches.
Seriously, this guy is 61-5 since taking over in 2006.
Chip Kelly. LaMichael James, Darron Thomas...and so on.
Everything about Oregon just says they are going to be unstoppable again on offense.
Even with the expanded Pac-12 and a championship game, does anyone really want to bet against these guys?
It appears Oklahoma will be near the top of every preseason poll, and deservedly so.
With a returning quarterback like Landry Jones, it's almost impossible not to be overconfident in what the Sooners can accomplish this season.
He completed more than 65 percent of his passes for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns.
If he equals those numbers or does better, he could be the Heisman Trophy winner in December.
TCU Horned Frogs
Boise State always seems to get the most small-school love, but as long as Gary Patterson is coaching TCU, you have to believe the Horned Frogs are going to win a lot.
You can also count on TCU playing tough defense under Patterson.
The Horned Frogs get a tough road game at Boise this fall before they leave for the Big East in 2012.
Who doesn't think TCU will be the front runner in the Big East next year?
West Virginia Mountaineers
What? Jeff Mullen isn't the offensive coordinator at WVU anymore?
Dana Who? Holgersen? Horgolson? No, Dana Holgorsen.
Holy crap! WVU is going to score some serious points under that dude.
In Dana We Believe!
Ohio State Buckeyes
It would be easy to doubt Ohio State this fall.
There's all of those suspensions, and Jim Tressel remains a major distraction.
But Ohio State has one thing that none of that can take away: Tradition.
That's right. The Buckeyes will find someone to replace Terrelle Pryor and just keep winning.
Maybe even another Big Ten title.
Florida State Seminoles
It's easy to look at Jimbo Fisher's success during his first year as head coach at Florida State.
What makes a great program is one that replaces a first-round talent (Christian Ponder) with another exceptional athlete (E.J. Manuel).
Manuel is extremely gifted and he'll make most (if not all) FSU fans forget about Ponder.
The new quarterback may get the Seminoles back into a BCS Bowl.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Brian Kelly's first year at Notre Dame could have gone much better, but he has won everywhere.
With Kelly in charge, every Irish fan should feel confident that he has the storied program going in the right direction.
Kelly just might guide Notre Dame to a BCS Bowl in 2011.
San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State took a big hit when coach Brady Hoke bolted for Michigan.
But not all is lost for the Aztecs.
State has one of the finest offensive backfields in the nation with quarterback Ryan Lindley and running back Ronnie Hillman. Both are considered Heisman dark horses.
The Aztecs will not win the Mountain West, but they just might pull a major upset of Boise State or TCU.
Let's go one better...how about an upset in Ann Arbor against their former coach?
These two Division III powers have met in the Stagg Bowl—the championship game—for six consecutive years.
Since no other teams seem to challenge these two programs, it almost seems like a lock that Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater will play each other again in 2011 with the title on the line.
Ken Niumatalolo is a major coaching commodity.
Navy has been on the rise since he took over in 2007.
Niumatalolo may love it at Navy, but bigger programs are going to come calling, and he's going to be tempted.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Dennis Erickson has become a caricature of his old self.
The Sun Devils haven't been relevant for a few years.
So why should you believe in Arizona State?
ASU has the right mix of experience and desire to super-successful in 2011.
Army Black Knights
It takes a certain personality type to succeed as the coach at Army.
Rich Ellerson was born for this gig.
The Black Knights still need to find a way to beat Navy, but there's not a better coach to get it done.
Jeffrey Godfrey is back at quarterback for George O'Leary
The Knights' running game, which is led by Brynn Harvey, Ronnie Weaver and Latavius Murray, will take a lot of pressure off Godfrey.
Les Miles seems to be a favorite target for many critics.
But as long as John Chavis is calling the plays on defense, LSU is going to be tough on that side of the ball.
Chavis' defense may be the difference between playing in the BCS Championship or finishing second to Alabama in the SEC West.
Air Force Falcons
Troy Calhoun has been rumored to be going to Tennessee and even to the Denver Broncos.
Yet, he remains in Colorado Springs coaching Air Force.
He's 34-18 entering 2011 and he may leave one day.
But until then, he's why you have to believe great things can happen at Air Force.
Georgia suffered through an uncharacteristic losing season in 2010.
There are those who are calling for Mark Richt's head, but hold on a second.
With Aaron Murray back at quarterback, the Bulldogs should be back in the SEC mix this fall.
Murray has a big-time arm and is a savvy quarterback.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Just knowing Nick Saban strolls the sidelines should be enough (and it probably is).
It's also nice to know that Trent Richardson is back at running back.
When you lose a player the caliber of Mark Ingram, you could expect a decrease in production.
Not with Richardson at running back. He's likely to have a huge season now that he's the featured back.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Boise State bolted for the Mountain West Conference, and Nevada won't be as strong as a year ago.
So someone has to be the favorite.
It's probably best to go back to an old reliable program like Fresno State, which is led by Pat Hill.
Hill is a great coach and with the talent pool in the WAC diluted a bit, it's easy to pick the Bulldogs to win this one.