Penn State's Cupcake Schedule Makes Them Bait For Florida in BCS Title Game

Jordan Schwartz@jordanharrisonSenior Writer IAugust 10, 2009

My prediction that the Florida Gators will capture this season's college football national championship has nothing to do with Heisman winner Tim Tebow returning to defend last year's title.

Well, it has a little to do with that.

For the third year in a row, I will predict the entire college football season based solely on each team's schedule.  Because as we know, as long as the Bowl Championship Series is in place, nothing matters more than who you play.

Except maybe when you play them.

The computer doesn't care a whole lot about how good your team is, it cares mostly about how many losses you have and when they occur.

In 2007, I correctly predicted LSU would win the BCS title because of their schedule.  Last year, I picked USC but was foiled when the Trojans lost by six at Oregon State on Sept. 25.  Still, by year's end, many believed USC might've been the best team in football.

This season, I'm going with Florida and it's all about the schedule.

Below, I break down the schedules for each of the teams ranked in the Top 25 of the preseason Coaches Poll, explaining why I think each school will or will not make it to the BCS title game.

Because you can't win the championship unless you're in it.

1 - Florida (Predicted Regular Season Record: 11-1, 7-1)

The Gators' chances of repeating are aided by the fact that they don't have to play West division heavyweights Alabama and Mississippi (at least not until the SEC title game). 

They also get to play Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State at home and have lined up a mostly cupcake non-conference slate against Charleston Southern, Troy and Florida International.

Still, I think Florida will trip up in one of its five games away from The Swamp.  I'm going to say Urban Meyer's bunch loses at LSU on Oct. 10 but still makes the SEC championship game, where they defeat Ole Miss to advance to the BCS title game.  That's where they'll destroy Penn State.

2 - Texas (11-1, 7-1)

The Longhorns play two huge games this year: the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma on Oct. 17 and at Oklahoma State on Halloween.  I can't see them winning both of those games and that will make it very difficult for them to advance to the Big XII championship because both of those teams are in their division. 

I say Texas loses to the Cowboys and gets sent to a BCS bowl as an at-large.

3 - Oklahoma (10-2, 6-2)

Even if the Sooners get past Texas on Oct. 17, which I don't think they will, they still have a difficult game at Nebraska on Nov. 7.  Two conference losses means no BCS game for OU this year.

4 - USC (9-3, 7-2)

I picked the Trojans last year because they played most of their tough games at home, but the opposite is true this season.  USC has to go on the road to play Ohio State, Cal, Oregon and Notre Dame.  I'll give them the game against the Irish but not the other three. 

I say the Trojans' streak of seven straight Pac-10 titles, BCS bowls and 11+ win seasons comes to an end this year.

5 - Alabama (11-1, 7-1)

The Tide opens up its season with a big non-conference game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, but their most important battle of the year comes on Oct. 10 at Mississippi.  That game should determine who will represent the West division in the SEC title game, which is a virtual national semi-final. 

I say Bama beats the Hokies, loses to the Rebels, but still sneaks into a BCS game as an at-large.

6 - Ohio State (11-1, 7-1)

If the Buckeyes can beat USC on Sept. 12, which I think they can because the game is in Columbus, then that will set up another possible virtual national semifinal against Penn State on Nov. 7.  I don't think Ohio State is winning that one, though, because it's on the road.  Give OSU another at-large BCS berth.

7 - Virginia Tech (10-2, 7-1)

The Hokies should be applauded for playing the toughest non-conference schedule in the country (vs. Alabama, Marshall, Nebraska, at East Carolina), but the computers don't care about guts.  You've got to figure Va Tech will trip up in one of those games and then another in conference, probably at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17. 

I still think Frank Beamer's bunch wins the ACC title game and plays in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5.

8 - Penn State (12-0, 8-0)

The Nittany Lions are the anti-Hokies.  Their non-conference slate is made up of Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Eastern Illinois, all at home.  That's some wise scheduling.  That means Penn State's entire season rests on one game - Ohio State on Nov. 7.  It's at State College, so Joe Paterno's kids should win. 

As long as they don't trip up at Michigan State in the final week of the regular season, the Lions should be playing in the BCS title game on Jan. 7, when they will be destroyed by Florida.  Isn't college football great?

9 - LSU (9-3, 5-3)

Three conference road games against teams ranked in the preseason Top 13 is never a good thing.  The Tigers should lose at Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

10 - Mississippi (12-0, 8-0)

Ole Miss is this year's Alabama—take advantage of a favorable schedule and go undefeated before being exposed by Florida in the SEC title game.  The Rebels get to play Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Tennessee at home and only have to go on the road for South Carolina, Vandy, Auburn and Mississippi State. 

I see them losing to Florida in the conference championship and then getting squeezed out of the BCS like Texas Tech was last year.

11 - Oklahoma State (11-1, 7-1)

If Oklahoma State can start off the year strong by beating Georgia at home, the Cowboys could make some noise this year.  That's because their only difficult road game comes in the final week of the season at Oklahoma. 

They'll probably lose that, but they should still make the Big XII championship if they can beat Texas in Stillwater on Oct. 31.  I see the Cowboys winning the conference and advancing to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.

12 - California (10-2, 7-2)

The Bears' season will come down to a three-week stretch at the start of conference play.  Cal faces Oregon on the road (Sept. 26), USC (Oct. 3) at home and UCLA in Pasadena (Oct. 17).  I see California dropping two of those.

13 - Georgia (8-4, 6-2)

The Bulldogs once again have a very difficult schedule.  They play at Oklahoma State to start the season and at Georgia Tech to finish the year.  In between, Georgia travels to Arkansas and plays top-ranked Florida at a neutral site.  All four of those seem like losses to me.

14 - Oregon (10-2, 8-1)

I'm giving the Ducks two losses but there's a real chance this team could surprise the nation and run the table.  They open up at a strong Boise State club, which could be an 'L' but they get to play USC and Cal at home, so Oregon's only real conference road test is at UCLA. 

Even if the Ducks lose that, I still see them winning the Pac 10 title thanks to head-to-head tiebreakers.  Punch your ticket for the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

15 - Georgia Tech (10-2, 6-2)

Road games at Miami and Florida State seem like losses to me.

16 - Boise State (13-0, 8-0)

The Broncos went undefeated last year before losing to TCU in a bowl game.  If they can get past Oregon in Week One, I see no reason why they can't become this year's Utah.  Or should I say, this year's Boise State.

17 - TCU (10-2, 7-1)

The Horned Frogs get to play Utah at home this year, but they have to travel to BYU.  That game at Clemson won't be easy either.

18 - Utah (9-3, 6-2)

The Utes have the toughest MWC schedule.  They travel to both TCU and BYU.  Utah will probably also lose at Oregon.

19 - Florida State (8-4, 6-2)

The Seminoles have a couple of difficult road games out of conference at BYU and top-ranked Florida.  They should also drop a couple ACC contests away from home against North Carolina and Clemson.  But the 6-2 conference mark should be enough to put FSU into the ACC title game against Virginia Tech.

20 - North Carolina (9-3, 5-3)

The Tar Heels have an easier non-conference slate than FSU, but they have to travel to Georgia Tech, Va Tech and NC State in the ACC.

21 - Iowa (9-3, 5-3)

The Hawkeyes have one of the most trying schedules in the Big Ten, having to go on the road for Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State.

22 - Nebraska (9-3, 6-2)

The Cornhuskers play at Virginia Tech on Sept. 19 and should lose two conference games at Missouri and Kansas.  However, a 6-2 mark should be enough to get Nebraska into the Big 12 title game out of the weaker North division.

23 - Notre Dame (9-3)

The independent Irish don't play any preseason Top 25 teams on the road this season, but they still have difficult games at Michigan and Pittsburgh.  They'll probably also lose at home to USC.

24 - BYU (11-1, 8-0)

Brigham Young's BCS bowl chances could be on the line when it opens up against Oklahoma on Sept. 5.  The Cougars also play Florida State on Sept. 19, but that game is at home, and since they also get to host fellow Mountain West powers TCU and Utah, BYU should be able to run the table in conference.

25 - Oregon State (9-3, 6-3)

The Beavers very well could be 6-0 when they travel to USC on Oct. 24, but the second  half of the schedule is much tougher with other road games at Cal and Oregon.

ACC Championship

Virginia Tech (11-2) defeats Florida State (8-5)

Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma State (12-1) defeats Nebraska (9-4)

SEC Championship

Florida (12-1) defeats Mississippi (12-1)

BCS National Championship

Florida (13-1) defeats Penn State (12-1)

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison.

Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book "Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man" is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com


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