So here’s an interesting scenario for college football this year, there actually is only one team to beat this year, Alabama. They’re back, reloaded and just as good as last year. Mark Ingram returns for a possible second Heisman, John Parker Wilson comes back at the helm at QB, plus the defense is anchored by Marcel Daerus who is gaining lots of attention for the NFL draft.
They do play in the SEC, you know the best conference in college football (yawn) and looking at the SEC they should go undefeated due to Florida having to replace key pieces on offense and defense and teams such as Georgia, LSU and Auburn who all have little kinks to work out before they become contenders again.
So there you have it, it’s a shoe-in, Bama repeats as national champions with ease—if any of you know me, you know damn well I’m not this stupid.
Honestly I could see Alabama winning it all because when you look at the preseason top ten there isn’t one team I actually could see myself picking to win it all, however this includes Bama.
Yeah yeah yeah, they play in the SEC, Ingram’s back blah blah blah… they lost Rolando McClain, Javier Arenas and Terrance Cody on defense, that’s key ingredients in three areas that were all important on that defense. You don’t just replace three all-SEC players and expect to just run through a conference no matter how down of a year it might have—
Yup you read that correctly, DOWN YEAR and SEC in the same sentence. I know that as far as talent on the field goes no one is better than them and it’s showed, they’ve won the last four national titles and have done it convincingly. However, when you look around the league you really can’t see any of the guys factoring into the title chase.
Florida is replacing #15 behind center (you know I never use Jesus’ name in vain) Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper and Maurkice Pouncey on offence and Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden on defense. Auburn is throwing another quarterback under center in Cam Newton. LSU with Jordan Jefferson has underachieved mightily since its title win three years ago and Les Miles is starting to feel the heat (luckily for him Rich Rodriguez will be fired in three months so can slide right into his alma mater without a hitch). Then there’s the Betty Ford clinic in Ole Miss with Jeremiah Masoli, the school for convicts in Tennessee and Georgia (no jokes, no shaking of the head just Georgia. When will this school put Mark Richt on the burner for a. never winning an SEC title, b. always coming up short in big games, c. not factoring into national title picture at all and d. ALWAYS ALWAYS UNDERACHIEVING?!?!) You’re probably saying hey Arkansas is a dark horse—they are but I still hope Bobby Petrino gets run over by a Greyhound bus and Arthur Blank drives by to laugh at him with Matt Ryan in the passenger seat, so I am a little biased towards them.
So here is where you probably think I’m going to persuade you into thinking that the Ohio State Buckeyes, my alma mater as of June 2010 thank you, will overtake an over confident Alabama team and win the national title—eh not quite.
I like the Buckeyes I really do but (warning: beating a dead horse) I don’t really trust Terrelle Pryor. For all of the hype that Pryor has received, and is still receiving as he is the favorite for the Heisman, the only really good game that he has put together since coming to Columbus was that Rose Bowl win against Oregon.
I’ve watched Pryor, dissected him, criticized him, prayed that Jim Tressel put him at wide out and I still can’t trust that for a full season based on that Rose Bowl that he will put it together running and throwing the ball. Is that wrong? Maybe but that’s what I’m rolling with (plus Ohio State has to figure out their running game. Is it Brandon Saine? Jordan Hall? Jamaal Berry? Carlos Hyde? Maurice Clarett? Who’s running the ball consistently for them?).
So who do I like then for the national title? No one really. I’m a hater this year. I can’t find reasons to like these teams enough to pick them to win the national championship including Boise State who I’ve been touting since they embarrassed Bob Stoops at the Fiesta Bowl years ago.
The top 5 is really a top 3. Florida and Texas? I have no clue how teams that lose that much talent the year before, can start the year in the national championship race. Garrett Gilbert at QB for Texas can grow into something special in Austin especially after his gutsy debut at the Rose Bowl versus Bama last year. However, number 4 in the country? No, not yet.
As much as I don’t like any of these teams there has to be a way to find a viable national title pick among them so let’s try to find one. (Note: these are my personal rankings, like it matters anyway because rankings this early in this season are foolish)
ALABAMA (no.1, defending champions, SEC, key player: Mark Ingram)
What I don’t like: losing Arenas, Cody and McClain will hurt them at some point. The defense is still one of the toughest in the nation nut I feel it’s going to struggle. They play a soft non-conference schedule with Penn State coming to Tuscaloosa in September then they get a wake-up call from Arkansas and Ryan Mallet in Fayetteville on the 25th, it might not seem like such a big deal right now but I can see a loss to an upstart like the hogs and all those weapons they have on offense.
However, I do like: one, they’re the defending champs; they got the hunger to go back and continue the SEC dominance. Two, it’s a week SEC this year, sure they go to LSU but I don’t see LSU as a challenge for the Tide. It could make for an easy road back to the BCS championship game.
OHIO STATE (no. 2, Big Ten Champions, Winners of the Rose Bowl, Key player: Terrelle Pryor)
Hate: Pryor. He has to put together a full season to gain my trust and the trust of the Buckeye faithful out there. I’m anxious to see if his throwing motion has improved or if he can spread the ball around to receivers other than Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey. Also, I hope Jim Tressel tells Tresselball to kick rocks. He has to open it up and air it out, Tresselball has been the reason for the Buckeyes deficiencies in recent years on offense and Tressel has done nothing about it. He has to either adapt or watch another title dream go down the drain.
Like: Miami comes to the Shoe in three weeks which provides a good early season challenge for the Buckeyes. Also the Big Ten is looking pretty good this year, Iowa and Wisconsin are dark horse national title candidates and will provide the Bucks with their first real Big Ten challenge in years.
BOISE STATE (no.3, WAC champions, Winners of the Fiesta Bowl, Key Player: Kellen Moore)
Hate: I don’t want to hate the Broncos, but they play in the WAC and traditional voters will do everything in their power to use that against them in their contention for the national championship. Also they start off the season in a neutral site game against Virginia Tech in Washington D.C.—Blacksburg is a good two and a half hour drive from the capital— neutral? Yeah, sure.
Like: They are faster, tougher and deeper than you want to believe. Austin Pettis, Jeremy Avery and others provide a punch on an offense that will score lots of points with Heisman Contender Kellen Moore at the helm and Ryan WInterswyk leads a tough defense that shut down Oregon and TCU last year. I’m really pulling for these guys but I don’t see it happening.
TCU (NO. 4, MWC champions, 12-1, Key Player: Andy Dalton)
Hate: They totally choked up in the Fiesta Bowl last year. The mental toughness should be a concern as the Mountain West gets more attention this year than ever with their recent success. Also losing Jerry Hughes in defense hurts more than they’ll know.
Like: They are the best team in Texas. On offense Andy Dalton will get a long look for the Heisman and he’ll have plenty of help in looking good from Jeremy Kerley and Joseph Turner. The defense is still stout without Hughes as Coach Gary Patterson will rely on defensive tackles Kelly Griffin and Cory Grant to lead one of the nation’s top ranked and toughest defensive lines.
VIRGINIA TECH (No.5, ACC, 10-3, Key Player: Ryan Williams)
Hate: They play in the ACC, the worst conference in all of football. They have to go to Miami and Chapel Hill against the best the conference has to offer. Also they shrink against the big competition. They lost to Georgia Tech, UNC, and Alabama last year while barely beating Nebraska in a game that they were not impressive in. suddenly that home field advantage versus Boise State doesn’t look like a big deal.
Like: The progression of Tyrod Taylor. He is the undisputed man at Va. Tech and has finally found a way to make them score regularly. Having Ryan Williams in the backfield doesn’t hurt. He should match his 1600 season last year with the cupcakes coming up on the schedule.
IOWA (no. 6, Orange Bowl Champions, 11-2, Key Players: Defensive Line)
Hate: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. They plagued them in losses and in games that shouldn’t have been close last year. Ricky Stanzi has a flash for brilliance at QB but his iffy arm puts the Hawkeyes in trouble A LOT! Also that week three matchup against Arizona will be tougher than most think.
Love: That defense. Ask the Big Ten about it. Led by Adrian Clairborn and Karl Krug they can rush the QB at will with just the front four. The front line won six of their games last year and can do it again this year. Also Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State have to come to Kinnick Stadium this year. Talk about a lucky break.
FLORIDA (No. 7, Sugar Bowl Champions, 13-1, SEC, Key Player: John Brantley)
Hate: They’re young, with unproven receivers, no real threat in the backfield and a defense that lost four key starters. They face South Florida September 11th which could be a tough test for them. This might be the year that Florida State restores the balance of the rivalry in their favor.
Like: Mechanically and from the eye test John Brantley is a better quarterback than Tim Tebow (BLASPHEMY!!). With the spread offense in play they should still put up lots of points especially with Vandy, Appalachian State and Miami (Oh) on the schedule.
TEXAS (No. 8, National runner-up, 13-1, Big 12, Key Player: Malcolm Williams)
Hate: The fact that they are ranked third in the nation without their returning top QB, WR, tackler and defensive back. If Malcolm Williams cant step up and be Garrett Gilbert’s main target then that offense will have problems scoring, even in the pass happy Big 12.
Like: They only play Nebraska, and Oklahoma. There schedule screams 10-2 or 11-1 even without the clarity on offense.
OKLAHOMA (No. 9, 7-5, Big 12, Key Player: Landry Jones)
Hate: Normally I’d rage against a coach for scheduling Utah State as its first game of the year… until you see Oklahoma facing Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati in their non-conference. Nice job Coach Stoops scheduling your team coming off of a wretched year against a rejuvenated Seminole squad a tough Air Force team and the Big East champs on the road. Oh yeah followed by a matchup versus Texas.
Like: Landry Jones was a revelation last year. With Sam Bradford being injured Jones got his reps early and knows what to expect this year. He’s got weapons by the boatload and will put up lots of points. Oh and the top ten defense returns all of its starters too, that helps.
NEBRASKA (No. 10, 10-4, Big 12, Key Player: Jared Crick)
Hate: Replacing Ndamukong Suh is not going to be easy for Jared Crick. While he won’t be expected to put up the same numbers as Suh they will expect the same presence and motor that Suh brought every Saturday.
Like: Bo Pelini’s defensive schemes gave the big dogs nightmares last year, ask Texas; also no one is throwing on Prince Amakamura (great name). QB Zac Lee looks to rebound from an up and down year but won’t be asked to do much with this great defense in front of him.
Ideally I would love a TCU vs. Boise State BCS title game however that will never happen in a million years. So I’ll instead settle for Nebraska vs. Ohio State in Glendale. Why? Why not.
Look, of all of these teams these are the two I feel safest in picking. The Buckeyes because they get Miami at home early and should handle two tough tests at Iowa and Wisconsin, The Huskers because they get Texas at home and in a conference that’s offensive minded they will have the upper hand with their suffocating defense. Also do you really see Oklahoma beating them in the Big 12 title game with the Prince all over Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones’s only real threat down field? Nope.
So that means the national champion will be… NEBRASKA!!! The Buckeye faithful hate me right now. I like Nebraska a lot. They have an NFL mentality, defense wins championships and Zac Lee will play Trent Dilfer easing the ship on its course. Plus we know how Jim Tressel fails versus the SEC over and over, so coaching against Pelini and his SEC ties to LSU will be a nightmare for him. Also wouldn’t that be interesting? Nebraska beating Ohio State then starting Big Ten conference play the next year as the clear favorites? Hmmm…
So as it turns out, I do like one team. Even without Ndamukong Suh the Huskers are still a force to reckon with and won’t fall a second short like they did last year versus Texas. Also its sort of a win for the SEC as one of their old coaches gets another ring. So everyone’s happy, well except the folks in Columbus. Another failed title game appearance and to lose to the new guy coming in next year? Ugh. There’s something to hate.
ACC Winner- Florida State (Dark Horse- Georgia Tech)
Big East- Pittsburgh (Cincinnati)
Big Ten- Ohio State (Wisconsin)
Big 12- Nebraska (Oklahoma)
Pac 10- Oregon (Arizona)
SEC- Alabama (LSU)
BCS Busters- Boise and TCU
Orange Bowl- Florida State vs. TCU
Sugar Bowl- Alabama vs. Pittsburgh
Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma vs. Boise State
Rose Bowl- Oregon vs. Wisconsin
BCS Title Game- Nebraska vs. Ohio State
Heisman Winner- Kellen Moore, Boise State