The first week of the college football season offered a small glimpse into what the rest of 2011 might hold. While it can be dangerous to read too much into games against sub-par opponents, there is still plenty to be learned from what occurred this weekend.
Here are five predictions for the rest of the season based on what I saw in this year's first week of games.
The match-up between the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles should amount to essentially a national championship game eliminator.
Of the two teams, Oklahoma will have the tougher road to navigate after this big non-conference showdown, but they will not have to deal with a conference championship game at the end of their regular season.
Florida State has only one ranked team on their schedule after the game with Oklahoma (at No.18 Florida) but will likely have to play in the ACC Championship game in order to have a shot at the national title which could add another ranked opponent to the schedule.
Either way, whoever wins this battle between the Seminoles and Sooners will have a pretty clear road to an appearance in the national championship game.
This may seem like a knee-jerk reaction to their upset victory over TCU, but just take a look at the Baylor Bears' schedule. In order to reach nine wins, the Bears would not have to beat a team currently ranked higher than No. 21.
That makes nine wins a mark which is well within Baylor's reach. Plus, let's not forget about Robert Griffin III. His unbelievable performance in Week 1 may be one of the best efforts we see from a quarterback all year long. Don't worry, we will talk more about RG3 in a minute.
Maybe I am drinking the Kool-Aid here a little bit but Robert Griffin III looked about as good as a college quarterback can in the Baylor Bears victory over the TCU Horned Frogs.
I have been waiting for a couple years now to see this type of performance from the man they call RG3. Ever since he showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, I've waited for a performance where Griffin seemed to put it all together and he did just that in the upset of TCU.
I am not about to claim that Griffin will complete almost 80% of his passes and accumulate almost 400 yards of total offense every game for the rest of the season. However, I do believe he is good enough to put up the kind of numbers with his arm and his legs that can earn him a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist.
Quite frankly, I do not believe the Nebraska Cornhuskers non-conference schedule will have adequately prepared the Big Red for their Big Ten opener. If the Huskers were playing Indiana in their first game it would be one thing, but they are going on the road to face the Wisconsin Badgers in what will likely be Nebraska's toughest game all year.
The only game on Nebraska's non-conference slate that might be even slightly challenging is this week's bout with the Fresno State Bulldogs. While the Cornhuskers will have to bring their A-game to get a victory, Pat Hill's squad is not in the same league as Wisconsin. Nebraska is setting itself up for a rude welcome into Big Ten conference play in Madison.
However, I believe by the end of the season Nebraska will have gotten the hang of life in the Big Ten and find themselves in a rematch with the Badgers in the inaugural conference championship game. In the rematch, look for the Huskers to get their revenge.
Call it a prediction, or a hunch, or just wishful thinking. Whatever you want to call it, I'm calling it right now; an SEC team will not win the national championship this year.
I don't see an SEC team that is head and shoulders above the rest of the conference which will make it difficult for one of the league's schools to make it through that gauntlet of a schedule unblemished. Alabama is probably the best team in the conference this year but inexperience at the quarterback position may limit how far they can go.
There are just a lot of championship-caliber teams in conferences that don't require them to play such a rigorous schedule which will make it easier for non-SEC teams to make a run at the title. Now, that has been true in the past as well, but the SEC can't win the title every year right?