I haven't forgotten the conference championship games. They will end up as follows:
MAC: Toledo over Ohio
C-USA: Southern Miss over UTEP (homefield advantage for the Eagles)
ACC: Virginia Tech over Florida State
Big 12: Oklahoma over Nebraska
SEC: Georgia over LSU. LSU will enter undefeated, but the game is in Atlanta. The Bulldogs knock the Tigers out of the BCS national championship game.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The last conference projection in this blog is for the SEC.
I love the SEC. It is perhaps my favorite conference. I'm not fanatical about any of the teams, but I love to see them beat up on each other. It's Southern fried football at its best.
The East division is traditionally the toughest in college football. Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee are perennially strong. Now, South Carolina, in the third year of coach Steve Spurrier, looks to make that threesome a quartet. When we last saw the Florida Gators, they were making mincemeat out of Ohio State in the national championship game. The Gators will always be good as long as Urban Meyer is the coach. This year looks to be a relative down year for the Gators, but only due to the schedule. Florida must travel to LSU and South Carolina. I look for them to lose both of those games.
Georgia will win the East division, in spite of a loss to Florida. Georgia never beats Florida, no matter how good they are. I'll go with history there. The new wrinkle to this division, though, has been added by the Gamecocks of South Carolina and their coach, Steve Spurrier. The 'Cocks continue to improve. They will pass Tennessee in the SEC pecking order. This is not good news for Vols coach Phil Fulmer. Just when the Vols were through with Spurrier, their nemesis ends up at South Carolina and becomes a pain in the Big Orange posterior there.
In the West, LSU looks to be favored in every game they play. I think they will be very good, and their toughest opponents are at home. Arkansas has a Heisman Trophy candidate in Darren McFadden, but enough off-field controversy for the National Enquirer. Auburn will be pretty decent, and Alabama will bounce back under new coach Nick Saban.
Georgia 11-1 7-1
Florida 10-2 6-2
South Carolina 9-3 5-3
Tennessee 7-5 4-4
Kentucky 5-7 2-6
Vanderbilt 4-8 1-7
LSU 12-0 8-0
Arkansas 9-3 5-3
Alabama 8-4 5-3
Auburn 8-4 4-4
Ole Miss 4-8 1-7
Mississippi State 3-9 0-8
Friday, August 17, 2007
Stuck in a time zone two or three hours behind most of the rest of the country lies the Pac-10 Conference. These guys really don't mind, as they perceive themselves as California cool, whether they are in California or not. There are some pretty good football teams on the West Coast, as well.
This conference plays a true round-robin schedule. When the NCAA allowed teams to play a 12-game schedule, the Pac-10 decided to make the extra game a ninth conference game. So, every team in this conference plays every other team every year. What a novel concept! Not many bodybag games against the likes of Louisiana-Lafayette for this conference. They choose to play each other. This drives up power ratings and ticket sales.
There is a juggernaut in this conference known as USC. USC is a well-oiled football machine. Five-star recruits are lining up to play there, and the Trojans are sending plenty of players on their way to the NFL. Any time the Trojans lose, it's an upset. This conference is USC's to lose. The Trojans should be favored to win every game. They have some dangerous road games at Notre Dame, Oregon, Cal, and Arizona State. However, I think the Trojans are good enough to win those games and finish 1st in the final BCS standings. There is currently a great tongue-in-cheek message board thread on the greatness of USC at OUInsider.com.
The rest of the conference is pretty good, but not awesome. I look for all of them to beat up on each other. UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, and Oregon State should all be bowl-eligible. Washington, Washington State, and Stanford look to bring up the rear.
USC 12-0 9-0
UCLA 9-3 6-3
California 8-4 5-4
Oregon 7-5 5-4
Arizona 7-5 5-4
Arizona State 7-5 4-5
Oregon State 6-6 4-5
Washington 3-9 3-6
Washington State 3-9 1-8
Stanford 2-10 1-8
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I'm back in Texas today, and it's fitting that I project the Big XII Conference.
The Big 12 has become increasingly top-heavy, with the power residing in the South Division. Oklahoma and Texas are leading an arms race, and it's all the rest of the conference can do to keep up. Any time either OU or UT lose, it's an upset. That won't change this year.
The South division is comparable to any group of power schools in America. Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State are dangerous. However, they can't keep up long-term with the big dogs in Norman and Austin. Baylor has made huge strides under coach Guy Morriss, but can still only muster four or five wins per year.
On the other hand, the North division has been weak for the last few years. The division appears to have bottomed out, but as long as Nebraska is not national championship caliber, the North will be perceived as weak.
In the South, OU and Texas are head and shoulders ahead of everyone else. OU is strong at all positions except quarterback, where an untested player will line up behind center. Texas has a load of athletes as well, and hopes for QB Colt McCoy to be healthy. McCoy's injury last season led to two late season losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M. I predict one loss between the two teams: in Dallas on October 6, when the Sooners break a two-year losing streak to the Longhorns. OU will run the table at 12-0, and Texas will finish 11-1.
There will be a coaching change in College Station at the end of the year. Dennis Franchione faces a suicidal schedule this season, as the Fightin' Texas Aggies must travel to Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Missouri. It would be an accomplishment to win one of those road games, much less more than one. It would be hard for any team this side of the NFL to run the table against that road schedule. In addition to that, Texas visits Aggieland with revenge on their mind, following last year's A&M win in Austin. Aggie boosters are already passing the hat to raise money for the buyout of Coach Fran. He would probably already be gone, but the Aggies pulled off that season-ending upset over hated archrival Texas, preserving his job for another year.
In the North, this should be the year of the Missouri Tigers. Missouri looks to be a good team with a favorable schedule. However, I don't trust them in big games. I don't really trust the modern-day Nebraska Cornhuskers in big games, either. However, something has to give when the Huskers visit Columbia in October. I look for Nebraska to escape Columbia with a win, and to win the North championship. The rest of the division looks pretty mediocre.
Big XII Projections
Nebraska 9-3 7-1
Missouri 10-2 6-2
Kansas State 5-7 3-5
Kansas 6-6 2-6
Iowa State 4-8 2-6
Colorado 3-9 1-7
Oklahoma 12-0 8-0
Texas 11-1 7-1
Texas Tech 8-4 4-4
Oklahoma State 6-6 4-4
Texas A&M 6-6 3-5
Baylor 4-8 1-7
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The great Barry Switzer is the official retired football coach of this blog. Known in Oklahoma as The King, Switzer won three national championships as coach of the Sooners, then came out of retirement to win a Super Bowl as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Barry has signed a couple of media deals for this football season. He will appear on the tube with Jimmy Johnson on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show. The two ex-coaches will review both college and pro football games and events, as Fox expands its role as the home of the Bowl Championship Series. Barry has also signed a deal to provide analysis for XM Satellite Radio. He will comment on college football daily on their sports talk channel.
Barry Switzer is a colorful individual. He has made many personal mistakes in the past. However, he is a knowledgeable football commentator, and is entertaining, to boot. His weekly radio appearances with the Hardline on the Ticket in Dallas are the stuff of legend, and even turned some public opinion in his favor as a result. He is never at a lack for words or for stories.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Today's blog post comes from Hooters in King of Prussia, PA. My wife won't come here with me, and I won't bring my kids here, but I like the wings and the free wi-fi. I'm serious!
Pennsylvania is Big Ten country, or it has been for the last 15 years since Penn State became the 11th member of the conference. With that in mind, I will project The Conference That Can't Count.
This conference is made up of big state schools with big enrollments, big stadiums, big alumni bases, and big TV markets. Well, all of them except Northwestern, who brings a big TV market and a history with the rest of the conference. The biggest and baddest of those schools are the triumvirate of Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. For what it's worth, Wisconsin has given them a run for their money in recent years, in both football and basketball.
Last year, Ohio State and Michigan were undefeated at the end of the season, heading into their matchup in Columbus. Ohio State went on to lay an egg in the BCS national championship game, while Michigan got creamed by USC in the Rose Bowl.
This year, it's the Wolverines' turn to win the conference. The Maize and Blue look really strong, and get Penn State and Ohio State on their home field in Ann Arbor. I look for Michigan to trip up on a late-season road trip to Wisconsin. Outside of that, they would be a strong candidate for the BCS national championship game.
Penn State will also come up big this year. I have them losing only one game: a mid-season trip to Michigan. This will put them in contention for a BCS at-large berth, as they would lose the tiebreaker to Michigan in my projection.
Ohio State will be good, as usual. However, they won't be so lucky in trips to Penn State and Michigan, and will have to settle for a nice bowl trip to Florida.
Wisconsin and Iowa will both be good, but not quite on the level of the top three teams in the conference. I wouldn't want to play either of those teams, though.
Purdue, Indiana, and Northwestern will also be bowl-eligible. In Indiana's case, it's a big deal. The Hoosiers haven't been to a bowl since William Henry Harrison fought the Battle of Tippecanoe. They are also dealing with the tragic loss of coach Terry Hoeppner, who died recently from brain cancer.
Big Ten Projected Standings:
Michigan 11-1 7-1
Penn State 11-1 7-1
Ohio State 10-2 6-2
Wisconsin 9-3 5-3
Iowa 9-3 5-3
Purdue 7-5 4-4
Indiana 7-5 3-5
Northwestern 6-6 2-6
Illinois 5-7 2-6
Michigan State 5-7 2-6
Minnesota 5-7 1-7
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Who would have thought three years ago that the Big East would be equal in strength to, if not stronger than, the ACC? The ACC had pilfered three of the Big East's strongest members (Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College). The Big East was left in survival mode, and picked up Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida. Granted, the only thing East about those schools is their time zone. But, it's all about survival, and the Big East survived with its BCS automatic bid intact.
Fast forward to 2006. West Virginia came off of their Sugar Bowl win over Georgia, which saved the reputation of the conference. Rutgers had their best season in recent history, and almost completed a rise from the dregs of college football to the BCS. And, Louisville was a field goal against Rutgers away from an undefeated season and a spot in the BCS national championship game. The 'Ville went to finish 12-1, including a pasting of Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.
Rutgers, West Virginia, and Louisville all look to be strong again this year. The schedule favors Rutgers to win the conference this season. As a matter of fact, I predict the Rutgers hype machine to be in full force, as they will be in contention for a spot in the BCS national championship game. The Scarlet Knights will win their first 11 games, before losing in the last week of the season as they travel to Louisville. Still, the Scarlet Knights will win the league in a tiebreaker over West Virginia.
West Virginia looks to be stout as well, with Heisman candidate Steve Slaton. The Mountaineers will only lose when they travel to Rutgers. They will also be 11-1, and could very well find themselves in a BCS bowl.
Louisville will be no pushover. But, I look for them to lose in back-to-back November road trips to West Virginia and South Florida. The Cardinals will win 10 games this season.
Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida will all be bowl-eligible. The Panthers look to be the best of that group. Syracuse will bring up the rear.
Big East Projection:
Rutgers 11-1 6-1
West Virginia 11-1 6-1
Louisville 10-2 5-2
Pittsburgh 7-5 4-3
Cincinnati 6-6 3-4
Connecticut 6-6 2-5
South Florida 6-6 2-5
Syracuse 3-9 1-6