The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Evaluating My 2009 College Football Predictions

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IDecember 10, 2009

Before I break down the bowls and who will win and lose. I thought back to my preseason college football predictions.

Just about everyone makes college football predictions. Some people make them with friends, some people make bets, and some people write articles.

I made predictions for all six BCS conferences. I made some predictions that were right on, some that were close, and some that were dead wrong.

The reason I wanted to go back and look at my picks and how they turned out was to see how well I did. Another reason was to see what readers thought about my picks.

I was applauded for some picks. I was attacked for some picks. I was questioned for others.

Now that the season is over and in the books let’s look back and see how I did. If you commented on my picks in the preseason please feel free to comment again.

I would love to hear how badly I underrated your team. I would also love to hear from anyone who thought I was wrong and I turned out to be right.

Here are my preseason predictions and the actual records now that the season is over. I will start with the ACC and move on alphabetically by conference from there.

Teams will also be alphabetical and records will not reflect title games. Please enjoy.

ACC Atlantic Division                      Prediction                   Actual

Boston College Eagles                       6-6                               8-4

Clemson Tigers                                  6-6                               8-4

Florida State  Seminoles                   9-3                               6-6

Maryland Terrapins                           5-7                               2-10

North Carolina State Wolfpack         5-7                               5-7

Wake Forest Demon Deacons           9-3                               5-7

Boston College played much better than I thought after replacing the head coach and quarterback. The Eagles overachieved in my opinion and a lot of the credit has to go to Frank Spaziani.

I thought Clemson would be exciting but—like always—disappoint in the long run. Heisman candidate C.J. Spiller kept this team in every game this season and won some for the Tigers as well.

Florida State had the offence to win nine games but the defense to only win six. The Seminoles also faced off-field distractions left and right.

Maryland’s season was over after two games of the season when they needed overtime to beat James Madison of the FCS. The Terrapins also lost to Middle Tennessee the next week.

I nailed the North Carolina State season. I might not have gotten all the games right but I did have the Wolfpack getting beat by South Carolina in the first game of the year.

Wake Forest was my biggest mistake out of ACC Atlantic. I fell in love with senior quarterback Riley Skinner. To my credit, except for blowouts against Florida State and Clemson, the Demon Deacons' other five losses were by a combined 13 points.

ACC Coastal Division                      Prediction                   Actual            

Duke Blue Devils                               4-8                               5-7

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets           11-1                             10-2

Miami Hurricanes                              9-3                               9-3

North Carolina Tar Heels                  8-4                               8-4

Virginia Cavaliers                              3-9                              3-9

Virginia Tech Hokies                        10-2                             9-3


Duke had a chance to not only go bowling but also win their division. The Blue Devils won one more game than I thought they would but could have done so much better.

Georgia Tech was my pick to win the ACC Coastal. I would have been dead on with this pick if it was not for Georgia beating the Yellow Jackets.

In a year everyone thought Miami would struggle with their four games to open the season, I not only picked the Hurricanes to win nine games, but upset Georgia Tech at home as well.

North Carolina played much the way I thought they would. The Tar Heels are a solid team that looks ready to make the move the top of the conference but has yet to do it.

Virginia was predicted to be a bad team and they did not disappoint. The Cavaliers could have won several other games namely at Southern Miss and save Al Groh’s job.

I thought Virginia Tech would have a solid season and they did. I also predicted that Alabama would beat the Hokies in the first game of the year, but I did not see the loss to North Carolina.

Big 12 North Division                       Prediction                   Actual

Colorado Buffaloes                            7-5                               3-9

Iowa State Cyclones                          3-9                               6-6

Kansas Jayhawks                              10-2                             5-7

Kansas State Wildcats                       5-7                               6-6

Missouri Tigers                                  7-5                               8-4

Nebraska Cornhuskers                      9-3                               9-3

I thought Colorado would be competitive in the Big 12 this year. The Buffaloes played well against good teams but did not win nearly enough and should have benched Dan Hawkins’ son Cody a lot sooner.

Iowa State was a surprise team this year. I guess departing coach Gene Chizik left some good players in Ames for the Cyclones.

Kansas had a lot of returning talent and should have won this division. That was before a seven-game losing streak and the Jayhawks turning against coach Mark Mangino.

Kansas State could have went bowling and won the division if they had beaten Nebraska. The Wildcats need to hope Bill Snyder never retires again.

I thought Missouri would take a step back this season and they did for a bit. I was off by one game on the wins the Tigers would have.

Nebraska is on the verge of being back as a powerhouse in college football again. I thought the Cornhuskers would be good and they were led by Heisman candidate Ndamukong Suh.

Big 12 South Division                      Prediction                    Actual

Baylor Bears                                      3-9                               4-8

Oklahoma Sooners                            11-1                             7-5

Oklahoma State Cowboys                11-1                             9-3

Texas Longhorns                              11-1                             12-0

Texas A&M Aggies                            5-7                               6-6

Texas Tech Red Raiders                   7-5                               8-4

I was not sold on the hype around Baylor before the season began. The Bears proved me wrong by winning one more game than I predicted, and would have won a lot more if Robert Griffin had not gotten hurt.

Oklahoma was doomed in the first game of the season when Sam Bradford got hurt. The Sooners were already dropping like flies before the season began, but give Bob Stoops credit for a 7-5 season.

Oklahoma State had all the players returning to make a run at the Big 12 South title. That was until the Cowboys lost Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter, and Zac Robinson throughout the season.

Texas won every time they took the field. After the problems Oklahoma and Oklahoma State had, this season should have been prefect. The Longhorns were saved by their Heisman candidate Colt McCoy and their field goal kicker a few times this season.

Texas A&M won one more game then I thought they would. The Aggies are still going bowling and could have beaten Texas to end the season.

I thought Texas Tech would drop some after the NFL talent they lost after their 2008 season. The Red Raiders played well this season and proved that Mike Leech is a great coach.

Big East Conference                                   Prediction                    Actual

Cincinnati Bearcats                                      7-5                               12-0

Connecticut Huskies                                    7-5                                7-5

Louisville Cardinals                                      3-9                               4-8

Pittsburgh Panthers                                     9-3                               9-3

Rutgers Scarlet Knights                               8-4                               8-4

South Florida Bulls                                       8-4                               7-5

Syracuse Orange                                         2-10                              4-8

West Virginia Mountaineers                        6-6                               9-3

I blew my prediction of Cincinnati this season. The Bearcats only had one returning starter on defense and no one thought Tony Pike would be a Heisman contender. Kudos to Brian Kelly for the job he did.

Connecticut played great this season with the death of Jasper Howard to deal with. The Huskies could have phoned in the rest of the season but Randy Edsall kept this team on track.

Louisville was expected to be a bad team and they were. The Cardinals' play doomed coach Steve Kragthorpe and led to Charlie Strong replacing him.

Rutgers was thought to struggle after all the talent that left over the last two seasons. The Scarlet Knights showed how well coach Greg Schiano has done recruiting.

South Florida followed their normal script starting fast and then fading down the stretch. The Bulls might have reached my prediction or better if quarterback Matt Grothe had not been injured.

Syracuse got a lot of pub before the season with former Duke point guard Greg Paulus transferring to play quarterback. The Orange were able to win two more games than I thought they would.

I thought West Virginia would take a bigger step back after Pat White left. The Mountaineers’ Noel Divine and senior quarterback Jarrett Brown proved me wrong by winning three more games than I predicted.

Big 10 Conference                          Prediction                     Actual

Illinois Fighting Illini                          9-3                              3-9

Indiana Hoosiers                                4-8                               4-8

Iowa Hawkeyes                                  7-5                              10-2

Michigan Wolverines                          5-7                               5-7

Michigan State Spartans                    8-4                               6-6

Minnesota Golden Gophers                7-5                               6-6

Northwestern Wildcats                      7-5                               8-4

Ohio State Buckeyes                         10-2                             10-2

Penn State Nittany Lions                  10-2                             10-2

Purdue Boilermakers                         5-7                                5-7

Wisconsin Badgers                             8-5                               9-3

I missed the boat on Illinois and thinking that, with the returning talent, they should have been a good team. The only bigger mistake than my prediction is Ron Zook getting to keep his job.

Indiana played just about everyone tough and could have won more than just four games. The Hoosiers were not as bad as their 4-8 record would make one believe and I nailed their record.

Iowa fans can jump all over me. I caught a lot of guff from them with my pick and they were right. The Hawkeyes played on the edge every week and did not fall off until an injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi ruined their dream season. Give some kudos to Kirk Ferentz on the job he has done.

Michigan started off strong and then faded as the sun began to set on the season. The Wolverines' slide helped make my prediction right though and put Rich Rodriguez on a very hot seat for next season.

Michigan State could have reached the eight wins I predicted if they would have won a couple of close games against Central Michigan, Notre Dame, or Iowa, which they lost by a combined seven points.

I thought Minnesota would be a solid team and for the most part they were. They lost one more game than I thought they would but the Gophers are going bowling.

Ohio State did not win the USC game like I thought they would. The Buckeyes lost to Purdue, which I did not pick and almost cost Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor a BCS bowl.

Penn State was my pick to win the Big 10. The Nittany Lions did not win the conference but did reach the 10 wins I predicted. The only question really left is how long will Joe Paterno coach in Happy Valley.

I nailed how many games Purdue would win this season. The Boilermakers might not be bowling but did beat Ohio State and Michigan for the first time since the 2000 season.

Wisconsin was a very good football team this season.  The Badgers won nine games instead of the eight I predicted.

Pac-10 Conference                          Prediction                   Actual

Arizona Wildcats                               6-6                              8-4

Arizona State Sun Devils                  6-6                              4-8

California Golden Bears                   10-2                             8-4

Oregon Ducks                                   9-3                              10-2

Oregon State Beavers                      9-3                               8-4

Stanford Cardinal                             5-7                               8-4

UCLA Bruins                                     8-4                               6-6

USC Trojans                                      9-3                              8-4

Washington Huskies                        2-10                            5-7

Washington State Cougars              2-10                            1-11

Arizona was typical of my Pac-10 predictions. They either overachieved or underachieved. This was the one conference I did not hit the nail on the head with any prediction. The Wildcats won two more games than I thought they would.

I had Arizona State going .500 this season and they decided to lose two more games than I predicted. The Sun Devils played several close games and could have reached six wins.

California was my pick to win the conference and they might have if they had shown up against USC or Oregon and Jahvid Best had not gotten a concussion. The Bears still won eight games but Jeff Tedford should have gotten more out of this team.

I had Oregon in the mix for the Pac-10 title this season and their title was not a surprise to me. I also had the Ducks losing to Boise State in the first game of the season but did not predict the LeGarrette Blount meltdown after the game.

Oregon State was another team I had with a chance to win this conference. The Beaver had a chance to win the nine games I predicted and win the conference if they had won the “Civil War.”

I expect to hear it from Stanford fans as well after my 5-7 prediction was totally wrong. The Cardinal and Heisman candidate Toby Gerhart proved my thoughts were way off base.

UCLA started out the season with three wins and then went “South Florida” midway through the season. The Bruins lost five straight games before winning three in a row. It will be interesting to watch what Rick Neuheisel does against USC next year.

I thought USC would come back to earth a bit this season. I did not think the Trojans would lose four games. Things better turn around quickly or Pete Carroll will see a lot more Oregon and Stanford scores next year.

Washington was an early-season success. The Huskies became relevant in college football thanks to quarterback Jake Locker and the job coach Steve Sarkisian did in Seattle this season.

Everyone thought Washington State would be a bad team and they were. The Cougars hope to get more wins after watching the Huskies nearly return to providence this season.

SEC East Division                             Predictions                 Actual

Florida Gators                                   12-0                             12-0

Georgia Bulldogs                               9-3                               7-5

Kentucky Wildcats                             6-6                               7-5

South Carolina Gamecocks                6-6                              7-5

Tennessee Volunteers                       6-6                               7-5

Vanderbilt Commodores                    4-8                              2-10

Florida hit only a few speed bumps on their way to a perfect regular season. The Gators have relied on Heisman hopeful Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer all season long to win games.

After all the talent that left for the NFL from Georgia last season everyone expected the offense to take a step back. The Bulldogs defense was not expected to be as porous as it was. The love-fest between Athens and Mark Richt was almost ruined.

Kentucky was an overachiever this season with their best defense lineman being suspended before the season even started and the rest of the defense gone from last season. The Wildcats were able to go bowling again because of the job Rich Brooks has done in the bluegrass state.

South Carolina looks to have found a quarterback in Steven Garcia who played pretty well this season. The Gamecocks now hope the old ball coach Steve Spurrier comes back for 2010.

Tennessee improved their win total from 2008 but was neck deep in minor violations from the NCAA. Lane Kiffin has put the Volunteers in the news but has it been a good thing or a bad thing?

I knew Vanderbilt was a long shot to repeat their bowl season from 2008 but had hoped it was possible. The Commodores might have only won two games but Paul Johnson has worked wonders for a school with such high academic standards.

SEC West Division                           Prediction                   Actual

Alabama Crimson Tide                     11-1                            12-0

Arkansas Razorbacks                       7-5                               7-5

Auburn Tigers                                   6-6                               7-5

LSU Tigers                                         9-3                               9-3

Mississippi Rebels                            12-0                             8-4

Mississippi State Bulldogs                3-9                              5-7

I knew Nick Saban had recruited well and is a heck of a coach for Alabama. I did not expect the Tide to gel so fast with a new quarterback and a rebuilt offensive line. Still, I did say I would not be shocked if they went undefeated.

I was not the only one who thought this year could be the year Arkansas went back to a bowl game. The Razorbacks defense was average but the offense led by Ryan Mallett was explosive.

Auburn was the surprise team of the SEC. Most did not think new coach Gene Chizik would take the Tigers bowling his first year. After a fast 5-0 start most on the plains believed they could do more than just go to a bowl. That was until they went 2-5 in their last seven games.

I could not have predicted LSU any better than I did this season. Thanks to some coaching errors by Les Miles I was perfect. The Tigers lost to Ole Miss, Alabama, and Florida like I said they would.

The Rebels were my big outside-the-box pick. Mississippi is the only team from the West to have never gone to the SEC championship game. Ole Miss was also the hottest team in the country at the end of last season. The only problem was Houston Nutt and the Rebels could not stand the pressure.

No one expected Mississippi State to challenge for the SEC West in Dan Mullen’s first season. The Bulldogs still had a chance to become bowl eligible with Anthony Dixon carrying this team on his back. A loses to Alabama and Arkansas ended their bowl chances but Mullen did get a win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to end the season.

The BCS conferences are the only conferences in college football that have automatic bids to the BCS games. There are 65 teams in the all of these conferences together.

While I am sure no one predicted every game or record correctly. I am sure other prognosticators got most of their predictions right.

As for me, of the 65 teams, I was dead on with the correct win/loss record for 17 teams. I was also only off by one game in the win/loss category for 22 teams.

There were 12 teams that I was off by two games in either wins or losses. That left 14 teams that I missed by three or more wins or loses.

I knew when I wrote my prediction I would be right on some and wrong on others. That is part of the fun of making predictions.

I might also be one of the few people who made predictions to then write how I did after the season was over. Feel free to tell me how wrong I was or, if you can stand it, how wrong you were now that the season is over.


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