Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bold Predictions: The NCAA At Large

Do the Hawkeyes have a real shot at taking the Big-10?

5. Cal will take down USC.

As recent history will tell you, somebody's gotta do it! And who better to take down the mighty Trojans than the Bears?

I see USC losing at least two games this year, and don't understand why the experts (and ESPN) are putting the Trojans so high in the polls. The men of Troy play a decent schedule with tough games coming at Ohio State, Notre Dame, California, and in Eugene to face Oregon.

California is my dark horse for the National Championship, so who better (in my opinion) to take down USC than the Cal Bears.

4. Iowa will win the Big-10

This pick is as bold as bold gets. So do I honestly believe it? No, but it makes things interesting. The truth of the matter is that nobody can predict what's going to happen in the Big 10 this year and Iowa has as good of a shot as anybody at taking the conference. Penn State and Ohio State both have quarterbacks and defenses, but no real offensive weapons. And the rest of the conference is pretty forgetable, save maybe a Michigan State or an Illinois.

The smart money is on Ohio State to win the Big-10, but I just don't see them as much better than Iowa at this point.

3. North Carolina will finish (10-2), but won't win the ACC Coastal.

This pick might be because I'm partial to Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels are looking good coming into the 2009 season and their schedule is favorable.

On the offensive side, receivers will need replacing after the Heels lost Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks to the draft. Look for Dwight Jones and true freshman Jheranie Boyd to fill that void. UNC will also return quarterback T.J. Yates who played well last season.

Carolina's strength is their front seven, which is why they're picked to win against a very one dementional Georgia Tech team. Look for DT Marvin Austin to have a breakout season that will get him some national attention.

This team is easily good enough to win the Atlantic division, but unfortunately for Butch Davis he has to play Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and a much improved Miami. Davis will lead the Tarheels to a record that looks something like this

Sep. 5: The Citadel (W)

Sep. 12: at UConn (W)

Sep. 19: East Carolina (W)

Sep. 26: at Georgia Tech (W)

Oct. 3: Virginia (W)

Oct. 10: Georgia So. (W)

Oct. 22: Florida State (W)

Oct. 29: at Virginia Tech (L)

Nov. 7: Duke (W)

Nov. 14: Miami (L)

Nov. 21: Boston College (W)

Nov. 28: NC State (W)

2. Numbers will drop for all three Heisman finalists.

You can't talk college football without mentioning one of these guys, but in 2009 they won't be putting up numbers quite like in the previous season.

-Bradford will be surrounded by an offense that will produce with more of a ground game than last season. The line is smaller and the running backs are deep enough to push Mosis Madu out to the slot, which means the Oklahoma offense is about to get a lot less interesting. Bradford will have the receivers as Adron Tennell and Cameron Kenny will emerge to join Ryan Broyles and Jermaine Gresham as the leading pass catchers. But the line won't pass block quite as well as it did in 2008 so Oklahoma will be forced to take less shots down field.

-This year McCoy won't have to do it all, and that's why his numbers will drop. Early on the Texas offense will have some trouble trying to replace Quan Crosby, and they might not find a legitimate option all season. McCoy's completion percentage should drop considerably now that the majority of his targest will be of the Freshman/Sophomore variety.

The Horns will also find some semblance of a running game with Vondrell McGee and true freshman Chris Whaley, which is something they didn't have last year. Colt's rushing numbers will significantly diminish if the Horns can find a guy that can rush for over 500 yards.

-Tim Tebow will also see his numbers slowly diminish, as well as shift. Urban Myer's love affair with Tebow will lead him to turn the Heisman winner into more of a pro-style quarterback in hopes of increasing Tebow's draft status. The transformation will be successful due to Florida's excess stock of speedy receivers, but still not the optimal way to run the offense or their superstar quarterback. Expect to see a few less jump passes and a few more fades this year.

Heisman Prediction: Colt McCoy

1. The University of Florida WILL NOT go into the SEC Championship undefeated.

I will agree with everybody reading this in saying that Florida is the best team in college football. But with that being said, I don't see the Gators having quite the same success they enjoyed last season. Florida is looking at a fairly easy schedule by not having to play either Alabama or Ole' Miss out of the SEC West. But, tough games are coming for Florida with a game against LSU in Baton Rouge and in Jacksonville against Georgia for the world's largest outdoor cocktail party.

Some food for thought: The 2002 Miami Hurricanes, 2004 Oklahoma Sooners and 2005 USC Trojans were proclaimed the greatest college football teams of all time before both losing their respective national title games. Both teams returned talent like Florida's on both sides of the ball and couldn't get it done. 

Prediction: A one-loss Florida team will win the SEC and go on the play in the National Championship in Pasadena, but will be "upset" by whomever ends up winning the Big 12 South.

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