by Matt Ryan
i had a few beers last nite so figured it was the perfect time to do a little prognosticating....
1. Oklahoma: who cares about bomar and peterson or the state of the o-line. all the sooners will need is a decent kicker. seriously, i know this has been said a ton in the past few seasons, but i think this years sooner squad has the potential to be one of the most dominant teams ever. at the very least i think they win win the big 12 with at the worst one loss and still play in the title game at 12-1 with a slipup against texas tech.
2. Texas: i think it is possible this year to have 1 and 2 both be from the big 12 south. young was the x-factor that made the longhorns really special. he's gone, but the fact remains that texas is still one fuck of a badass football team. yes they have to play an ohio state team that they barely beat even with young, but this isnt the same buckeye defense and the texas gound game last september wasnt anything close to what its going to be like this year. ohio state might have a good offense but it wont matter one bit if the defense cant stop the texas ground game. i think texas can beat 117 of the other 118 d1 teams. the oklahoma loss will come early enough that they should be able to rebound in the polls on top of starting off in the preseason top 5.
3. USC: a bit of a risky pick considering the mass exodus of talent the last few years and the fact they the trojans seem to be gettin a little bit complacent as top dogs in the pac 10....but this is the pac 10 were talkin about after all and offense will win the day. and offense is all about the o-line. and no one has recruited that position better over the last 4 years than usc. the conference wont be a complete push over with oregon, cal, and arizona state all mounting serious challenges. they prolly will lose atleast one but still win the conference. sheer athletecism will prolly get them one more rose bowl before the thug/sloth factor takes over.
4. Louisville: bush. brohm. urritia (or however you spell it). plus the spectre of last seasons disappointment (especially that blowout loss to south florida). i think the cards just thought the conference title and bcs berth would just be handed to them. much to their suprise, the rest of the teams in the league did not roll over and play dead. i dont think louisville takes their foot off the gas pedal all season. worst case here: 11-1 with a loss to miami. but this teams and schedule screams undefeated with the 2 toughtest games at papa johns stadium (miami and wvu). still, i wouldnt be all that suprised if they choke one away on thursday nite at rutgers.
5. West Virginia: im not saying that lousiville and wvu are 2 of the 5 bestteams in the nation, just that they will end up with 2 of the best 5 records. with that being said, i think the 'neers mite be the real deal. maybe. but they are big and agile on the line and have plenty of backs behind slaton plus white reminds me of a certain national title winning quarterback only with more original team colors... all that and i think the big east is the new pac 10.
6. Auburn: they wont be flashy, but they will be vicously effective. no one makes out of the sec unscathed this year and there could be as many as 5 loses between the participants in atlanta in december, but thats ok as im calling for 9 bowl eligible teams in the sec this season.
7. Notre Dame: color me a skeptic, but i am starting to believe a bit. just a bit. remember that willingham had a great first year too... can samardjzja really be that good? im not sure, but i think he was left in a lot of single coverages last season. that wont be the case this year.
8. Iowa: no one is talking about the hawkeyes in the big 10. but ohio state has a new defense and michigan has mastered the choke.
9. Ohio State: the buckeyes will still be good. just not rose bowl good. more like citrus good.
10. Oregon: the ducks should mount the most seroius challenge and could outpunch the trojans if the game were in eugene. still, ill say they lose at usc and choke one along the way but still average 45 ppg.
11. Texas Tech: a long time fringe program, i think this is teh year they finally start to get some notice. if they played in the north they would be a lock for the conference title game. but alas they are in the south and have to play my top 2 teams in the nation. atleast the get texas at home, but have to face the sooners in norman. dont be completely shocked if the red raiders are 10-0 and #2 headed into that showdown against oklahoma. at the absolute worst they should be 8-2 (with another loss @ TCU). and could be the best offense be a good defense? the raiders finished in the top 30 in total D last season.
12. TCU: the horned frogs are fast and deep. they have a tough 3 game stretch to start the season with the afore mentioned red raider squad at home followed by an improving byu in lobbock and then at utah; all before the first week in october. the should be double digit favorites in the rest of their games.
13. Tennessee: damn. that sucked. but last year is over. this is this year. the vols still have the talent to win the east and now the have the motivation to go along with it. both players and coaches alike have undergone an atitude overhaul and are ready to kick some ass. ainge is ready to pick up where his freshman campaign left off, the wr corps is finally ready to produce, and there is the potential for 2 1,000 yard rushers in the same backfield with even more depth behind them. fulmer is once again coaching the o-line and the offensive mastermind of the 90's is back calling the plays (cutclife)
14. Virginia Tech: yes vick is gone, but lets call it addition by subtraction. besides, beamer seems to get more out of his kids when there are no preseason superstars. adibi is a beast tho. the hokies should have the best defense in what should be an offensively challenged conference.
15. South Carolina: this could be the best offense in the sec. in a conference full of new players in the secondary, mitchell (or whoever is under center) can carve up defenses with possibly the best wr in the nation in sidney rice. and he wont see constant double teams as the next 3 wrs on the depth chart all have speed, hands, and smarts. that isnt even counting oj murdock, who the ole ball coach called out as a bust in a recent press conference. if murdock comes around before the tennessee game, cock fans can book those early december tix for atlanta as they get the vols at home.
Missed The Cut:
Florida State: a bit wary of this team given the consistently crappy preformance of the o-line and ground game the last few seasons (guess who finished dead last in the acc in rushing?). but i like what weatherford did as a freshman thrown to the wolves and i think he can only get better. the noles are prolly a year away from making any national noise, but should win their weak division again and they get their main competetion (boston college) at home.
LSU: on paper, they are probably the best team in the sec and top 5 in the nation. but i just do not lik ethe way the 3-way qb race is shaping up. any qb rotation could prevent the passing game from clicking. the running game should be outstanding, but the west will be tough with 5 bowl teams with aurbrn and arkansas on the road plus the tigers have to play at florida and at tennessee.
Florida: im still not completely sold on the meyer offense in the sec. that plus the oline replaces 4 starters and leak isnt that nimble. and if the gators struggle early like i think they will, they will have a qb controvery of their own as true frosh tim tebow is a future all-badass qb in the waiting. in fact, i think ill go ahead and pick florida as my 2007 pre-preseason #1.
Michigan: im not buyin it anymore.
Georgia: could rival florida as the most disappointing sec team based on preseason expectations. qb situation is a mess, either they go with thereshinsky and garuntee themselves atleast 3 loses or they fo with the more talented stafford and atleast 3 losses while the true freshman takes his lumps. plus they still havent found anyone to step up opposite massaquoi. and the defense keeps hemmoraging talent to the nfl.
Penn State: offense should be improved with morelli being more of a passer and a healthy derrick williams (and tony hunt is one of the most under rated running backs), but defense takes a major step back.
Arizona State: looks like they finally found a running game with herring, but where is the defense? can richardson reduce his drops to replace hagan?
Cal: i actually really like cal. they are close. they have the d. they have the o-line. they have the rb's. they have the wr's. if you dont count the quarterback, the bears are prolly the best and most complete team in the pac 10. but the qb situation is a major sticking point. starting the season on the road against an angry tennessee squad anxious to get the taste of '05 out of their mouth doesnt help either. after the vols, they host a tough minnesota team in what should be a major sandwich game before the sun devils come to town. they get a little breather the following week with a trip to corvalis to face oregon state but then host oregon the week after that. that is about as tough an openeing 5 game stretch as you're likely to find. they also play usc on the road in november.
Miami: wishing you had stayed put in the big east, eh? hey, no one said playing football in a real conference would be easy. still, i think miami is about a year or possibly 2 from reasserting themselves into the national picture. too much turmoil surrounding the program to break double digit wins this year. but it might just be possible with that defense.
Clemson: also very close to the top 15. we will see how effective 5th yr sr proctor can be in place of the departed whitehurst at qb. the running game should be in good hands and the defense solid.
Utah: the mountain west is only strong enuf for one team and tcu has the edge fo now even tho the game is in provo.
Georgia Tech: should be a player in the division race. qb Ball could finally pan out in his senoir season. the running game is solid. and wr johnson is ok (sarcasm, he is a badass...he just has no help to bail him out of double teams). but lack of a serious #2 wr with ball's lack of consistancy will likely hamstring the offense and keep the jackets out of the acc title game.
Nebraska: i think itll take one more season to fully convert to the spread, then another one or 2 after that to get good players to run it. still, the huskers should once again be postseason fixtures.
Arkansas: dont laff. the hogs have easily the best o-line in the sec behind arguably the best set of running backs. the defense is improved and the passing game has superstud wr monk to keep defenses semi-honest no matter who is throwing it.
Cool. My first blog entry.