BCS Standings 2011: 50 Bold Predictions for the BCS Top 25 Teams
The first BCS standings of 2011 have been released, and the focus now shifts toward the future.
The questions are the same this season as they are every year. Where will my team be in a week, a month, at bowl selection time? What does my team need to do to earn a BCS berth? What are the chances my team moves up in the rankings?
But, of course, each season Is unique, and 2011 is sure to offer up some drama and surprises before all is said and done.
So what are we going to see over the next several weeks? Where is each team in the BCS Top 25 headed?
Here are 50 bold predictions for the BCS Top 25.
Washington Huskies Bowl Bound, Not BCS Bound
The Huskies earned a BCS ranking—barely—coming in a No. 25 with a .0871 rating.
Washington is an impressive 5-1, especially considering the talent that was lost when Jake Locker graduated.
So far, the only loss on the year is to Nebraska in Lincoln, and the Huskies are 3-0 in Pac-12 play.
The problem for the Huskies is the fact that all of their tough conference opponents lie ahead. While a 3-0 start is great, wins against Cal, Utah and Colorado aren't exactly anything to write home about.
Washington plays Stanford this Saturday, and Oregon on November 5 followed by USC on the 12th.
The good news is Washington will easily be bowl-eligible this season, with games against Arizona on October 29, Oregon State on November 19, and Washington State on November 26—all likely wins.
But Washington's stay in the BCS Top 25 will be very brief.
Texas Is Better Than 2010, Not BCS-Worthy
For some reason, Texas began the season ranked in many Top 25 polls.
It's probably because of the fact that it was Texas, and many people chose to ignore their 2-7 run after starting 3-0 in 2010.
But after starting 4-0 this year, the Longhorns had more than a few people fooled.
After a brutal loss to Oklahoma followed by a not-so-close defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State, Texas has fallen back to earth, and all hopes of a BCS trip this season are gone.
Still, don't expect Texas to come anywhere close to finishing 5-7 again. In fact, Texas should finish with a fairly decent record this season, and the Longhorns will take a big step toward returning to national prominence.
Texas fans won't be truly happy with anything less than a BCS berth. They'll just have to wait another year or two before that happens.
Illinois Is for Real, Challenges in Leaders Division
After Ron Zook guided Illinois to their first 6-0 start in half a century, the Illini were starting to raise some eyebrows.
After a loss to a pretty bad Ohio State team this past weekend, more than a few people have voiced some doubts about how good this Illinois team truly is this season.
Lucky for Illinois, the 2011 schedule sets up nicely, with tough games spread out fairly evenly the rest of the way. Recovering from last week's defeat should be easy enough with a quick trip to Purdue this weekend before heading to Penn State on October 29.
The real test will be the November 19 visit from Wisconsin, which could decide whether the Illini or the Badgers take a trip to Indianapolis in December.
Unfortunately, it won't be Illinois this season, but with only two or three losses on the year, Illini fans can plan on a very nice bowl trip.
Georgia Tech Turns into a Rambling Wreck, Not Even Close to the BCS
After last weekend's shocking loss to Virginia, the luster has faded fast on the Georgia Tech bandwagon this season.
It's possibly, or even likely the Yellow Jackets would have found themselves nearing a top ten position in the BCS with win over Virginia as Tech has been statistically very impressive thus far.
But a loss to an irrelevant Cavaliers team dropped the Jackets to No. 22 in the BCS, and there's not much hope of a BCS trip without winning out.
The problem with that is the fact that Georgia Tech still has both Clemson and Virginia Tech left on the schedule, and both will be losses.
Georgia Tech has played well enough to find their way into a mid-level bowl this December, but come the off-season, much of the 2011 successes will have been forgotten by the national media.
Penn State Quietly Makes Its Way Up the Rankings
The Nittany Lions are No. 21 in the first BCS rankings of 2011, but they also sit atop the Big Ten-Leaders for the moment, and don't appear headed for a loss anytime in the near future.
Looking at the totality of Penn State's season thus far, the only blemish is to a very good Alabama team in a game that was a lot closer than the final score bears out.
There's no reason Penn State can, and won't be right at the top of the Leaders Division come the end of the season. In the meantime, the Lions' BCS stock will steadily climb.
The regular season finale at Wisconsin will be a play-in for the Big Ten Championship Game this season, and the Nittany Lions will surprise many with their near miss this year.
Expect Joe Paterno to lead his team to yet another January bowl game this season, with just two regular season losses.
Joe Paterno Calls It Quits
It's time to face facts: Joe Paterno, the legend to end all legends, is coming to the end of the coaching road.
For longer than some of his players' parents have been alive, JoePa has led Penn State up and down the field, to countless bowl games, and a couple of national titles.
But Penn State's future has to lie elsewhere. After all, JoePa is pushing 85, and there's only so much a man of advanced years can handle in the rough-and-tumble world of modern college football.
The Big Ten's footprint is enlarging, and a coach's travel requirements during the recruitment process can take a toll on someone half his age. During the season, JoePa has been spending as much, or more time in the booth than on the sideline.
Penn State needs a full time coach, not a full time icon.
The good news is that Joe Paterno will easily be able to keep his job as full time icon at Penn State, and they'll probably name the stadium after the guy, if not the entire university.
Auburn Will Lose Three More Games
Let the hate mail writing commence!
As tough as it will be for Auburn fans after last season's epic success, this season will end up as a comparative failure.
The Tigers had their win streak snapped by Clemson in week three after narrowly escaping the clutches of the likes of Mississippi State (a team that's 0-4 in the SEC) and the “mighty” Aggies of “mighty” Utah State.
After beating up on Florida Atlantic and a narrow defeat of South Carolina, the Tigers were humbled by Arkansas.
Looking forward, the Tigers still have yet to face LSU or Alabama, the top two teams in the nation right now, and it's likely both of those games will be staggering losses.
The other loss for the Tigers will come against Georgia on November 12 as the Bulldogs look to prove to everyone that they are definitely back for a run at the SEC-East this season.
A 7-5 finish won't be cause for any parties in Auburn, but at least it means the Tigers won't be missing out on the bowl fun this season.
Gene Chizik's Seat Begins to Warm
Sometimes, a coach makes a program.
Other times, a program makes a coach.
Gene Chizik at Auburn is definitely the latter.
Before coming to Auburn, Chizik was 5-19 as a head coach, with just two years of experience, both at Iowa State.
After taking over at Auburn, Chizik led the Tigers to a 8-5 record in his first season before last year's 14-0 BCS Championship performance.
While a 14-0 season certainly helps his bottom line, it's important to note that Chizik is still just 32-26 as a head coach, and without Cam Newton and last season's 14 wins, he's 18-26.
While the BCS title certainly bought Chizik some leeway with the university and Tigers fans, it has also created the expectation of annual success at Auburn. When that fails to materialize, the coach will find himself firmly on the hot seat.
This year's step backwards can be explained, perhaps, because of the talent drain. But seven or eight wins after a season with twice that many will be just the first tingle of warmth Chizik will feel on his backside.
Houston Gets No Love, Despite Undefeated Season
There really isn't any team on Houston's schedule that should pose much of a threat to beat the Cougars from this point on.
There's also the biggest problem.
Conference USA was at times a fairly decent “mid-major” conference. Nowadays, however, it's a collection of pretty bad teams that AQ programs load up on for early season non-conference cannon fodder.
While winning a conference championship is a great accomplishment, when you're beating teams like UAB, Marshall, Rice, and Tulane week in and week out, there's just not enough meat there to impress anyone by winning.
The Cougars will go 13-0 this season and win the C-USA title, but they won't get any BCS love—mainly because they don't deserve to get any of it.
Case Keenum Easily Breaks NCAA Passing Record
When an NCAA record like career passing yards goes down, it should generate some press ink.
Case Keenum is closing in on the record, and in now within about 1,000 yards of the title of “most prolific passer in FBS history.” To be fair, Keenum's soon-to-be-reached accomplishment is getting some ink, but not a lot.
Well, Keenum in Conference USA is a man among boys. Put Kellen Moore or Landry Jones or Andrew Luck in the MAC or Sun Belt, and you get the general idea.
Also, it's important to note that Houston is a pretty thin team when it comes to depth of talent. Last season, after Keenum went down to a knee injury, the Cougars were a mediocre team within C-USA. It's only with Keenum that Houston breaks out of the conference pack.
Keenum will lead the Cougars to a C-USA title and 13-0 regular season record. The Cougars will earn a decent bowl bid, but will likely fall to the first decent AQ program they face—in the bowl game.
Houston Jumps at Big East Offer
With a couple of notable exceptions, Houston has been one of the top performing non-AQ programs in the country, at least in terms of win-loss record.
Houston hasn't really played anything resembling a tough schedule these past three or four years, but the Cougars have attracted the attention of the Big East, and they're likely to join the conference despirate to keep pace with the likes of the ACC, SEC, and Pac-12.
The lure of a BCS-AQ conference is likely to be too great to ignore, and Houston will bolt C-USA at the earliest opportunity.
Of course, it's also likely the Big East will have its AQ status reviewed by the BCS in light of all of the conference shifting, but for the time being, a move to the Big East is the right move for both the conference and Houston.
Michigan Hype Turns out to Be Just That. Hype.
When Michigan began the season 6-0 and climbed all the way to No. 10 in a few polls, there were a buzz around Ann Arbor about the resurgence of the Wolverines.
Then, Michigan ran into the nation's top defense, and was once again humbled by “little brother” Michigan State.
Not only did the Spartans hold Michigan to its lowest—by far—offensive output of the season, but MSU exploited some still-glaring holes in the Michigan defense, doubling up the Wolverines, 28-14.
Michigan has a week to recover before hosting Purdue. The Wolverines will easily top the Boilermakers before Michigan travels to Iowa and Illinois.
The regular season concludes with visits from Nebraska and Ohio State. While the Wolverines have likely been exposed as pretenders this season in the Big Ten, there's not a whole lot left on the schedule for the Maize and Blue that causes a ton of concern.
With only two more losses, Michigan will announce that they'll be back far sooner than predicted, and in 2012, Michigan will flip from Big Ten pretender to contender—and maybe even favorite.
Denard Robinson Earns a Trip to New York
Last season, Denard Robinson earned quite a lot of attention and Heisman talk early in the season. As Michigan's stock fell as the season wore on, so did Robinson's in Heisman circles.
This season, Robinson is again putting up some impressive numbers, if a bit more balanced. Combined with much greater team success, Robinson will be named a Heisman finalist this season.
He won't win the award—far from it—but he'll be in prime position to be the odds-on favorite heading into 2012, where a potential Big Ten Champion Michigan team could push Robinson from the front row up to the podium.
Michigan Finally Gets the Buckeye Monkey off Its Back
It's been nearly 2,900 days since Michigan last beat Ohio State in football. We know this because the Columbus Dispatch displays the number on top of their Ohio State sports webpage.
We wonder what the Dispatch will display when to Wolverines finally beat a really terrible Ohio State football team on November 26 at the Big House.
After years of frustration, the Wolverines will pour it on, and the parties in Ann Arbor will extend well into Sunday morning.
Texas A&M Recovers, Earns Cotton Bowl Trip
After two epic second half collapses this season, the Aggies have put together two quality wins against two quality opponents, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Texas A&M will have two more wins under its belt headed into the November 5 showdown in Norman with the Sooners, which will be the only other loss for A&M this season.
The Aggies will knock off everyone else on their schedule, including Kansas State, and will be rewarded with a trip to the Cotton Bowl.
Michigan State Improves Computer Rankings, BCS Ranking Skyrockets
It seems that Michigan State just can't seem to impress everyone at the same time.
Last season, the Spartans found themselves with a pretty decent BCS ranking thanks to the strength of the computer rankings.
This season, MSU enters the BCS rankings as the No. 16 team, thanks in large part to their position in the human polls.
MSU's next opponent will be a turning point in the season. When MSU's nation-leading defense meets the unstoppable Wisconsin offense, we have an epic BCS foul-up in the making.
Michigan State will edge out the Badgers and walk into Lincoln the following week ready to prove that they are the class of the Legends Division.
Mark Dantonio Offered Ohio State Gig, Smartly Says No
Folks in East Lansing will probably be the first to tell you that Mark Dantonio has been a major blessing for the Michigan State program.
Dantonio has taken a mediocre Big Ten program and turned it into a perennial threat to beat anyone, to say nothing of competing for a coveted trip to Pasadena.
Mark Dantonio has his coaching roots in Columbus, and Ohio State is clearly going to be shopping around for a new head coach to try and clean the slimy residue left by the last permanent occupant of the head coach's office.
Mark Dantonio has proven himself as a very capable head coach, and can recruit with the best of them. He'll be offered the job in Columbus, but to everyone's surprise (and relief in Lansing), he'll say, no thanks.
Besides, he already has a pretty nice job at a big program in the Big Ten.
West Virginia Run the Table
The Mountaineers began 3-0 under new head coach Dana Holgorsen, and spirits were high in Morgantown.
After a loss to LSU in week four, people began to openly wonder about how good this WVU team really was. But let's remember that a loss to LSU isn't the worst thing in the world, especially this season.
Holgorsen has made some headlines by calling out the West Virginia fan base, but by the time the regular season is finished, the only headlines we'll be reading will be about West Virginia's 11-1 record, Big East title, and pending BCS trip.
Geno Smith's Quiet Competence Spurs Heisman Talk
No, he's not going to win the Heisman this season, but Geno Smith will continue to quietly put up solid numbers, both in terms of yardage as well as efficiency.
The name recognition isn't there yet for Smith to compete with the likes of Luck, Moore, Jones, and Robinson, but by late November, Geno Smith will have proven himself as the best quarterback in the Big East, and he'll be in a great position for the 2012 season and a possible Heisman run.
South Carolina Turns to the Role of Spoiler
The Gamecocks are still 6-1, and have earned the No. 14 spot in the first BCS rankings. But while the statistics are there for a .4914 rating, going forward it's hard to envision a repeat SEC-East title or anything greater for a South Carolina team reeling from the loss of All-Universe running back Marcus Lattimore and the dismissal of senior chronic screw-up quarterback Stephen Garcia.
While the wheels haven't come completely off, USC will likely be relegated to the role of spoiler headed forward this season, as their personnel losses will cost them at least two more losses in 2011.
The Gamecocks Screw with the BCS
In order to play the role of spoiler, the Gamecocks must actually spoil someone's season. They'll have the perfect opportunity to do just that on November 26 when the meet their in-state rival Clemson in the annual grudge match.
Clemson may very well come into the game undefeated and a top five BCS team, but they'll leave as a beaten team that must regroup before the ACC Championship Game.
While South Carolina won't be headed to their own conference championship game this season, they'll be riding high headed to their bowl game.
Nebraska Doesn't Dominate Big Ten
Coming into their inaugural Big Ten season, Cornhuskers fans were as sure any anyone that their team would be teaching their new conference a lesson about winning.
As it turns out, it was Nebraska that learned a hard lesson about Big Ten football, as the Huskers were absolutely demolished by Wisconsin in Nebraska's first-ever Big Ten conference game.
The Huskers recovered in time to beat a struggling Ohio State squad for homecoming and will next be traveling to face terrible Minnesota.
While it's pretty much a guarantee that Nebraska will improve to 2-1 in the Big Ten, it's certainly not clear that Nebraska will improve upon that mark with the October 29 visit from Michigan State.
The Spartans field that nation's top defense, and the Huskers' offense has been exposed against decent defenses this season.
Nebraska also has Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan, and Iowa to face this season, and the bold prediction here is that Nebraska will finish with three conference losses in 2011—easily short of a Big Ten Championship Game berth.
Virginia Tech Rebounds
Virginia Tech looked like a lock for the ACC-Coastal Division title this season, and everyone was positive the conference would come down to a title game bout between the Hokies and the Florida State Seminoles.
Called that one a little early, huh? Well, so did we.
Never mind Florida State's complete collapse, but Virginia Tech also slipped up against a surprisingly good Clemson squad. The Hokies are now 6-1 (5-1 in the ACC), but their only real test left on the schedule appears to be November 10 at Georgia Tech.
Virginia Tech won't have any trouble winning their last five games, and will capture the Coastal Division title, just as expected, just in time for a rematch against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
Virginia Tech Reaches ACC Title Game in the BCS Top 10
The Hokies, even with their one loss, find themselves in the No. 12 spot thanks to the fact the computers appear to be impressed with Va Tech so far this season.
Three of the six computer polls place the Hokies at No. 9, while the other three polls have them between No. 12 and No. 14.
The humans have placed Virginia Tech at No. 14 and No. 16, but that number is sure to rise as the Hokies continue to win while teams ahead of them falter.
Within a few weeks, the Hokies will find themselves in prime BCS position—the top ten—headed into their rematch with Clemson in the ACC title game.
It Turns out Kansas State Isn't for Real
A surprise team just outside of the top ten at No. 11 is Kansas State.
Seven weeks ago, no one was picking KSU to appear in the first BCS poll, certainly not at No. 11.
But the Wildcats have benefited from a relatively weak early schedule, and have found themselves at 6-0.
This week, Kansas State travels to in-state foe Kansas, and will improve to 7-0, earning a top ten BCS ranking before the real tests begin.
Following Kansas, the Wildcats will face Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Texas in succession.
The Wildcats will quickly go from 7-0 to 7-4, and KSU fans can wave bye-bye to the BCS this season.
Oregon Cruises Through the Pac-12
Oregon began the 2011 season as the favorite in the Pac-12, and even after an opening week loss to LSU, there's no real reason to consider any other team as the favorite in the conference.
Sure, Stanford has a better record right now, and it consequently ranked higher in the BCS rankings, but Stanford has yet to face a foe anywhere near the strength of LSU.
Since the loss to LSU, the Ducks are averaging 53 point per game, and that number is indicative of a very, very good offense that almost no one can stop.
Oregon will not only cruise through the rest of the Pac-12 schedule—including a trip to Stanford on November 12—but the Ducks will edge past Arizona State again in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Oregon Finds Itself Just out of the BCS Title Game
At the beginning of the season, Oregon looked like a great candidate to earn a trip to the BCS Championship Game for the second consecutive season.
The opening week loss to LSU will prove to cost the Ducks their shot at a BCS title this season as there will be a few undefeated teams left at the end of the regular season and conference championship games—enough to leave Oregon on the outside, looking in.
Oregon will likely finish in the top six or seven teams, and their Pac-12 championship will earn them a trip to the Rose Bowl, but a visit to New Orleans just isn't in the cards for the Ducks this season.
The NCAA Announces a Major Investigation at Oregon
While this probably won't come as a huge surprise to many, if not most people around the college football world, it will have the effect of casting a dark shadow over what would otherwise be considered a great season for Oregon.
The NCAA has been looking into allegations that Oregon (and several other programs) have had ties to a “street agent” that involved payments for certain “services.”
Since the nation has been able to focus on actual football games these past weeks, there's been relatively little focus on any alleged infractions by anyone, much less a highly-ranked Oregon team.
But Chip Kelly just seems to have an aura of edginess about him when it comes to the slightest mention of impropriety on his part of the part of any of his players. It's going to be interesting to see how he responds to a formal NCAA investigation.
The good news in all of this is that compared to the debacles at Ohio State and Miami, the Oregon investigation will look tame.
Arkansas Finished Great Season, Completely Overlooked
Does anyone else find it funny that the No. 9 team in the BCS is sitting at fourth place in the SEC-West right now?
The 5-1 (1-1) Arkansas Razorbacks found themselves in the first BCS ranking sitting in the top ten—and almost no one noticed!
It's probably because the SEC claimed the top two spots in the first poll.
But Arkansas fans should take heart. This great team that is flying under the radar has a real chance to upset the delicate BCS balance on November 26 with their season-finale against LSU in Baton Rouge.
The Razorbacks will be 10-1 by that point, and still no one will notice—least of all the Tigers.
Tyler Wilson and company will come out flying, and will stun the Tigers in front of their home crowd while LSU was busy licking their chops for the SEC Championship Game.
Arkansas Benefits from SEC Tie-Breaking
After beating LSU in the regular season finale, the BCS is going to have one heckuva mess on their hands when it comes to the SEC.
We're likely going to see three teams from the SEC-West with one conference loss, and all three of these teams will be ranked in the top ten in the BCS rankings.
Since the eventual three team mash-up will involve three 11-1 teams, the BCS rankings act as the eighth (and final) SEC tie-breaker.
So which team gets the nod for the SEC Championship Game?
(Drum roll, please).
Since the BCS isn't necessarily about if you lose, but when you lose, it's going to be the team with the longest winning streak at the end of the regular season. That is, of course, Arkansas!
The Razorbacks will edge out both LSU and Alabama, probably by mere thousands of a percentage point in the BCS rankings, and will receive the bid to the 2011 SEC Championship Game.
Arkansas, Your 2011 SEC Champions
Since we've already predicted that Arkansas will make its way to the SEC title game this December, it's not a huge stretch to pick the Hogs to win the SEC title against whatever team comes out of the JV Division... errr, we mean East Division.
Last season, Arkansas earned a trip to the Sugar Bowl as an at-large BCS team. This season, they won't need any BCS charity. They'll earn the trip as the SEC champions.
The Sugar Bowl awaits, Razorbacks. And this time, you won't have to face a team accused of massive cheating!
Stanford Can't Keep Pace
Andrew Luck is generally considered one of, if not the best quarterback in college football today.
The problem is that the rest of his team isn't quite up to par with the other BCS top ten teams. That's not to say Stanford isn't any good, but can they keep up with Oregon in the Pac-12-North?
Stanford is going to be pushed to the limit over the last six weeks of the season with games against Washington, Oregon, USC, and Notre Dame. While Stanford will win two of those games, their loss to Oregon will spell the end of their Pac-12 championship hopes this season.
Andrew Luck Won't Win the Heisman
Andrew Luck, as we've mentioned, is a great quarterback. His problem is that he alone makes his team what it is, and the team still isn't national championship caliber.
Once Stanford loses—to Oregon—much of the Luck for Heisman talk will subside.
Stanford Is Left out of the BCS This Season
After winning the Orange Bowl at the end of last season, Stanford validated it's BCS positioning and silenced a good number of naysayers.
This year, it's not a stretch to say that Stanford just doesn't seem to be wowing people like it did last season. Maybe because the Cardinal are expected to be this good, or maybe its for some other reason.
Either way, Stanford will need to rely on the Pac-12's automatic qualification status to earn a bid to the BCS—which means the Cardinal need to win the conference to find their way back to the BCS.
And with so many other quality teams this season, Stanford will be kept out of the BCS.
Clemson Is the Class of the ACC
If there's been one team that has surprised pretty much everyone so far this season, it has to be Clemson.
The Tigers find themselves undefeated and No. 7 in the first BCS rankings of 2011.
Clemson has also had a pretty tough road so far this season, beating three ranked opponents en route to their 7-0 mark.
The most impressive victory thus far has to be the September 24 victory over then-No. 11 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. After defeating Florida State the week before, the win over the Hokies placed Clemson at the top of the conference for the first time in some time, and after Georgia Tech's defeat at the hands of Virginia, the Tigers remain the only undefeated team in the ACC.
So what's left for the Tigers?
No much. With the exception of the October 29 trip to Georgia Tech, there doesn't appear to be much on the remaining ACC docket that will keep the Tigers out of the ACC Championship Game this season.
In fact, the only way for Clemson not to make the ACC title game at this point would be to lose to Wake Forest, or lose all of the other three conference games on the schedule.
Neither of those unlikely events will happen.
Clemson Will Lose in 2011
Even as much of a lock Clemson is for the ACC title game, there is one more game on the schedule that poses some trepidation for many Clemson fans: South Carolina.
Clemson will enter the annual rivalry game with an 11-0 record, and a top five BCS ranking.
They'll leave with an 11-1 record, and a top fifteen ranking.
Orange Is a Nice Color
The Clemson Tigers will feel right at home in the Orange Bowl this season.
Even though a loss to South Carolina will disappoint many Tigers fans, it's still important to remember that Clemson will avoid the massive letdown of so many seasons past, and the Tigers will defeat Virginia Tech for a second time, this time in the ACC Championship Game to earn a trip to the BCS.
Clemson will top of their 2011 season with a victory in the 2012 Orange Bowl, completing a terrific, and surprising season for the Tigers.
Wisconsin Loses to Michigan State, Once
There is about to be a monster clash in the Big Ten, and it's the proverbial collision between the unstoppable force and the immovable object.
Michigan State brings the nation's No. 2 defense into this weekend's show down with Wisconsin's No. 8 offense in the FBS. Something has to give.
Like last season, it will be the visitors walking away the losers, and the Badgers will suffer greatly in the rankings for it.
Wisconsin Doesn't Lose to Michigan State Twice
One of the great quirks of divisional play in the Big Ten this season is that the top teams in each division actually play in the regular season this year.
Wisconsin is obviously a very good team—just ask Nebraska.
And the old adage is true: it's very, very difficult to beat a good team twice in one season.
Both Wisconsin and Michigan State will win their respective divisions in the Big Ten this year, and will thus meet again in Indianapolis in December.
This time, it won't be Sparty walking away with a win. Wisconsin earns a return trip to the Rose Bowl.
Russell Wilson Flies to New York
If there's one thing Wisconsin has this year that it hasn't had before, it's a quarterback that can burn opposing defenses with the pass or the run.
Wisconsin has always had a great run game, but the passing attack has suffered. No longer.
Wilson is the missing ingredient, and his addition has made Wisconsin a better team this year than last.
It still won't be enough to earn Wisconsin its first-ever national championship, but it will be enough for a Rose Bowl victory, and Wilson will be rewarded by being named a Heisman finalist.
Not Surprisingly, Boise State Runs the Table
The Broncos are the No. 5 team in the BCS rankings, and they don't have a whole lot left of their schedule to trip them up.
A 12-0 2011 season is pretty much a foregone conclusion, and a Mountain West title will be their reward.
So what else will be waiting for Boise State?
Kellen Moore Heads Back to New York
How long can the Heisman Trust keep ignoring Kellen Moore?
Okay, so they haven't really ignored him, since he was a finalist last season. But this year, he'll not only have some impressive stats to his credit, he'll also have the record for most wins by a starting quarterback in FBS history.
Not too shabby.
His hard work will be rewarded with a trip back to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. With some other top contenders dropping to injuries and losses, Moore's stock has shot up.
While he may not be the winner a lot of people want, he'll be rewarded with the hardware this season, not only because of his massive pile of yards and touchdowns or his status as winningest quarterback in FBS history, but because he did what no one ever expected him to do...
Boise State Finally Gets a Shot
…Kellen Moore will lead Boise State to the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.
While there are a great many people across the land who don't want this to happen, there are a few important events that will conspire to make the improbable become a reality.
First, as we've previously predicted, the SEC won't produce an undefeated team this season. On top fo that, neither of the top two ranking SEC teams will win the SEC title this season.
Every Boise State fan should send Arkansas a thank you card.
There will be just one AQ conference that produces an undefeated team this season, and it's hard to argue that a team that has been as highly ranked as Boise State all season being one of only two undefeated teams left in the FBS shouldn't get a shot.
There's another little caveat. The BCS is the target of an as-yet-informal investigation by the US Justice Department. Apparently there seem to be some people in this country that don't believe the BCS is a fair system. Go figure!
By granting Boise State a bid to play in the BCS title game, the BCS can say, “See? It is fair to everyone, even little ole Boise State!”
The high-flying Boise State Broncos will at long last get their shot to win a national championship.
Oklahoma State Can't Quite Hold on
As much as we like Oklahoma State, there have been too many instances where the Cowboys haven't quite performed up to expectations.
Sure, they've won every game they've played, but Oklahoma State beat then-No. 8 Texas A&M thanks to a massive second-half comeback, or a massive second-half collapse on the part of the Aggies.
Then there's the 12-point victory against Texas—a team that was absolutely dismantled by the Cowboys' in-state cousins from Norman.
All in all, Oklahoma State isn't beating everyone in one-sided games with lopsided results.
The Cowboys are giving up more than 27 points per game this season, and eventually that will come back to bite them right in the chaps: on December 3.
Oklahoma has always been the nemesis for the Cowboys, and once again the Sooners will deny the Cowboys a Big 12 title.
It'll be close, but OU wins Bedlam again this year.
Oklahoma State Is Rewarded
Even though the Cowboys won't win the Big 12 this season, their last two seasons of successes will be rewarded by both the human voters and the computer polls.
Oklahoma State will stay high enough in the BCS to earn an at-large BCS bid this season.
The Preseason No. 1 Team Ends the Regular Season the Same Way
Before the 2011 season kicked off, most polls had the Sooners as the top team in the land.
Every editorial on Oklahoma basically anointed them as the chosen ones, and it seemed almost silly that we should even need OU to play any actual football games. That's how good they were supposed to be.
Well, the Sooners haven't lost a game, but they've slipped to No. 3 in the polls.
No matter. With LSU and Alabama destined to play one another in just a few weeks, that whole mess will be sorted out. A little help from Arkansas will open up the No. 1 spot again, and OU will slide right back up to the top.
A win over what will then be the No. 2 team in the BCS on December 3's Bedlam game will cement Oklahoma's position as the top team in the nation, and the Sooners can sit back and await the computers' opinion on who they'll play in New Orleans.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State Decide to Stay Put, Save the Big 12
There's been so much talk about whether or not OU and Oklahoma State will be bolting the conference, there's been little thought to what would happen if the Sooners and Cowboys stay put.
That's exactly what is going to happen, and the addition of TCU to the Big 12 will stabilize the conference for the time being.
The conference will be looking to add two more teams, and regain the right to hold a championship game each season, but the fact that OU and OSU decide to remain in the conference will keep it from going the way of the Southwestern Conference.
Alabama Can't Solve LSU Puzzle
Let's face it: the biggest game remaining on the college football regular season docket is the November 5 “Game of the Century” between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama.
It's not like this type of game is unprecedented. Heck, it's even happened in the BCS era when then-No. 2 Michigan traveled to Columbus to take on then-No. 1 Ohio State in 2006. The Buckeyes narrowly won, 42-39, and the Wolverines slipped No. 3 in the BCS rankings, denying the chance of a rematch.
Still, this is the biggest regular season game to come around since 2006, and it's the biggest regular-season SEC game in a long time.
Still, the Crimson Tide won't be able to beat the Tigers this season, and the Tide will slip out of the top two in the BCS. In fact, unlike the 2006 season, the Tide will slip even further than No. 3, given to the number of undefeated teams that will still remain after the November 5 weekend.
The loss will also deny the Tide a chance to play for the SEC Championship, as the BCS computers will eventually break the tie, siding with Arkansas.
Still, the Crimson Tide will find a way into the BCS, probably ending up in the Orange Bowl to face Clemson.
A Late Slip-Up Dooms LSU
The SEC's bid for a fourth-straight BCS Championship will end on November 26 when the Arkansas Razorbacks come to town, and catch LSU looking forward to the SEC title game and BCS Championship Game.
Arkansas is perhaps the best team in the nation that no one is talking about, and LSU is sticking with their two quarterback system, it seems come hell or high water.
While LSU's loss to Arkansas will create a three-way tie at the top of the SEC-West, the BCS rankings will favor Arkansas on the following Sunday, granting the Hogs a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
LSU won't have the opportunity to win their third BCS title, and the SEC will be shut out of the BCS title game for the first time since the end of the 2005 season.
The Tigers will have to settle for the Capital One Bowl this season.
Oklahoma vs. Boise State for All the Marbles
This was actually a game some predicted at the start of the season.
Oklahoma will regain their position as the No. 1 team in the nation, and Boise State will be given enough charity to sneak into the No. 2 spot, and the only two undefeated teams in the nation will meet at the Superdome for the BCS Championship.
Oklahoma will be under tremendous pressure to win, playing for the honor and respect of all the BCS AQ programs and conferences.
Boise State will be playing for all of the “have nots” in the FBS. A loss now will likely shut out any future non-AQ program from the championship game, as the BCS will use the excuse that “we let one of you guys in once before and you lost” to keep any future suitor out.
So what's our bold prediction for what's going to happen?
In another instant classic epic battle, the Sooners get revenge for their loss to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.