College Football Predictions 2011: 5 Teams Destined to Implode
One of the things that makes college football so beautiful is its unpredictability. The AP preseason Top 25 has already been shaken up after just one week. Teams that lost or underwhelmed against lesser competition have already fallen out of the rankings.
College football has no preseason like the NFL. Voters have a hard time accurately picking when it comes to the preseason poll. Too often, the votes reflect which teams were playing well at the end of the previous season.
Now that the dust has settled on Week 1 and we have been given a chance to evaluate this year's college football talent, more accurate predictions can be made for the rest of the season. Several teams suffered what could be crippling losses and have a steep climb back from the verge of oblivion. Still more teams won games they should have lost against far weaker competition.
Quarterback controversies, inexperienced secondaries, coaches on the hot seat and eligibility scandals have all spelled disaster for college football teams in the past. For five college football teams, these issues have already sprung up just one week into the season. A full-scale implosion could be close behind.
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To be fair to the Bulldogs, they lost to a very good football team, Boise State. Boise State proved they deserve to be considered one of the best teams in the country by thoroughly dominating Mark Richt's Dawgs.
Georgia has been in a decline the past two years. An 8-5 season in 2009 was followed by a 6-7 losing season in 2010. The Bulldogs regularly bring in one of the top-ranked recruiting classes each season, but Richt has not been getting results. His seat is getting awfully hot these days.
Last season, the Bulldogs opened 1-4. A similar start could be in the cards this year in Athens. The Bulldogs will face two more highly ranked teams in South Carolina and Mississippi State in their first five games. After their performance on Saturday night in what was essentially a home game in Atlanta, a 2-3 start is looking highly likely.
Such a start will surely trigger calls for Richt to be shown the door. Once this talk heats up, it could spell disaster for the Bulldogs. As the players become caught up in their embroiled coach's fall from grace, the grind of a tough SEC schedule could be too much for them to overcome.
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Auburn is one of the teams that was victorious in Week 1 but still fell out of the Top 25. A come-from-behind victory over a bad Utah State team does not exactly inspire confidence for the rest of the season.
The Tigers defense was the main reason Utah State was able to put a scare into the Tiger faithful. Auburn sports a very green defense this season. In the SEC, that could be enough to drive the defending national champions to the bottom of their division.
Auburn takes on 16th-ranked Mississippi State in Week 2. If they do not improve their defensive play, a loss will surely be the result. The road does not get any easier from there. October features four games against ranked teams and could put a nail in Auburn's coffin in 2011.
Penn State Nittany Lions
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Penn State opened the season with an unimpressive 41-7 victory over FCS foe Indiana State. Joe Paterno's bunch always warms up against a few cupcakes, but now they turn their attention to mighty Alabama.
Penn State will not have a chance to upset the Crimson Tide if they cannot settle their quarterback situation. Neither Robert Bolden or Matt McGloin has been able to separate themselves in the battle for the starting job.
Bolden was unimpressive against Indiana State. He completed only 50 percent of his passes. Neither of the quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass.
The rushing attack picked up over five yards per carry, and Silas Redd dominated when on the field. That will not be enough for Penn State to have a successful season. In recent history, the Lions have had their best seasons when they have a dynamic quarterback. When they have not had that type of player, a very mediocre season followed.
It does not appear Bolden or McGloin will be able to elevate the Lions as Michael Robinson or Daryll Clark did at the helm of the Nittany Lions offense.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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Notre Dame rode the momentum of four straight wins to close out 2010 to a spot in the preseason Top 25. It didn't take long for the Irish to prove they were not ready to ascend to the level of Fighting Irish teams of yesteryear.
The loss to South Florida ignited a quarterback controversy as Brian Kelly's appointed starter Dayne Crist lost his job to Tommy Rees after just one week.
The Irish open with one of the toughest four-game stretches in the country. With games against Michigan, Michigan State and Pittsburgh following their loss to South Florida, there is a serious possibility that they could start the season 0-4. If that were to happen, 2011 would be a lost season in South Bend.
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Poor Al Golden. He really walked into a mess at the University of Miami. Booster Nevin Shapiro heaped a full helping of scandal on the poor coach. This is not something Golden was used to dealing with as the head coach at Temple.
In all, eight players were suspended for taking illegal benefits from Shapiro. Those suspended were not benchwarmers. They were key contributors.
Unlike the other teams on this list, Miami did not begin the season in the Top 25 or appear there after the first week of games. That does not mean an implosion by the Hurricanes would not be a surprise. This is "The U" we're talking about. A Miami Hurricanes team is always expected to win.
Miami lost their first game to Maryland. Another loss to another scandal-embroiled university, Ohio State, will likely follow in their second game. The Hurricanes face a tough season as they try to overcome the Shapiro scandal. Golden faces a tough task keeping his players focused amid the media firestorm that will follow the Hurricanes wherever they go.
With their preseason and first game already victimized by Hurricane Nevin, Golden and the U will have a hard time picking themselves up and posting a winning record.