Tuesday, August 10, 2010


For the past two years, a Conference USA team has given some hope that it could crash the BCS party. In 2008, it was East Carolina's wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia that got people thinking. After ECU lost, Tulsa cruised to an 8-0 record before losses to Arkansas and Houston killed those dreams. In 2009, Houston stepped up to the plate with an upset over then-No. 5 Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, and hung in the top 25, the first time the Cougars were ranked since 1991.

1. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (9-3, 7-1)
-The pride of Southern Miss is out to win a title (no, not that guy). The Golden Eagles have made it to a bowl game seven straight years and have had 16 straight winning seasons. I think this team has just enough to win the East, especially a talented receiver in DeAndre Brown, who caught nine touchdowns last year.

2. UCF Knights (10-2, 6-2)
-Since joining the C-USA, UCF has never had consecutive winning seasons, but that could change this year, as they have a good team coming back. The key for them winning the division and the conference is junior quarterback Rob Calabrese. Last year, he was inconsistent and benched because of it. If he does well, the team can try to make a run for the BCS.

3. East Carolina Pirates (7-5, 6-2)
-I guess a Mike Leach influent took being a Pirate to heart. But for Ruffin McNeil, he was always a Pirate, and now he gets to coach his alma mater. East Carolina has won the last two C-USA titles, but it will be very hard for a repeat effort as they only have eight starters back.

4. Marshall Thundering Herd (7-5, 5-3)
-Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Marshall was a force to be reckoned with in the MAC, with players like Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, and Byron Leftwich. However, the team struggled in its first few years in C-USA until last year and finally making a bowl. They will make another bowl this season with first-year head coach Doc Holliday, a former recruiter for West Virginia.

5. UAB Blazers (4-8, 3-5)
-With QB Joe Webb in the NFL and a tough road schedule, UAB will continue to be close, yet so far away from a another bowl appearance. The Blazers have to travel to SMU, Tennessee, Mississippi State, UCF, and Southern Miss. Ouch, good luck.

6. Memphis Tigers (0-12, 0-8)
-I really hate doing this, but given the team and the competition the team has to face, Memphis will finish winless this year. The team went 2-10 last season, but we blown out in every loss except an overtime heartbreaker to Tulsa. If they are lucky, however, they can win 1-2 games, thanks to an average offense, which is their strength.

1. Houston Cougars (11-1, 7-1)
-Houston is poised to make another BCS push, and with good reason. Last year, they beat three BCS teams en route to a 10-4 record. Now, Heisman candidate Case Keenum is back with four explosive receivers, led by James Cleveland, as he continues to flourish with a program with a deep QB history. Now if only they can play defense too...but they are clearly the best team in the conference.

2. SMU Mustangs (6-6, 5-3)
-Once upon a time, SMU was a dominating team that made numerous Cotton Bowls and won the Southwest Conference regularly. But then came the Death Penalty. Last year, SMU won the Hawaii Bowl in the school's first bowl game since that incident. This also showed that coach June Jones can turn a team around, much like he did at Hawaii. SMU will have a tough year this year, but they can still make a bowl game thanks to their offense.

3. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6, 4-4)
-Last year had to be an aberration, as Tulsa failed to make it to a bowl game for the first time since 2004. This year, they will barely make a return thanks to a strong offense led by quarterback G.J. Kinne and receiver Damaris Johnson, who caught 78 passes for 1131 yards last season.

4. UTEP Miners (7-5, 4-4)
-It's been a long while since UTEP made a bowl game, but they could get out of the drought this year. The schedule is favorable, because they have Rice, Tulane, and Memphis on it and at home even. The player to watch for is Donald Buckram who ran for 1594 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.

5. Rice Owls (2-10, 1-7)
-As one Houston school flourishes, the other is stuck in the doldrums. Rice was 2-10 last year, and I really do not see any reason that they will top that mark. There's hope for the future though, as they have a two-headed monster at running back with Sam McGuffie and Charles Ross.

6. Tulane Green Wave (1-11, 0-8)
-Times have been hard for a Green Wave fan recently. Once the original "fly in the ointment" to the BCS in 1998, Tulane has not had a winning record since 2002. There is no signal for a change this year, as they do not have any big time players to compete in the conference.

Houston d. Southern Miss


Houston- Liberty
ECU- Hawai'i
UTEP- Armed Forces
Southern Miss- New Orleans
UCF- Beef 'O' Brady's
Marshall- EagleBank
SMU & Tulsa- TBA

Case Keenum (QB for Houston)
-Who else would it be? He's the reigning C-USA offensive player of the year, the reigning winner of the Sammy Baugh award, and threw for 5000 yards in each of the last two years, only the second QB to do so.

1. Conference USA Championship Game (Dec. 4)
2. Southern Miss @ UCF (Nov. 13)
3. Houston @ Texas Tech (Nov. 27)
4. Mississippi State @ Houston (Oct. 9)
5. Houston @ SMU (Oct. 23)

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Army (4-8)
-Of all the service academies having a resurgence, Army has struggled to get back on track of remotely coming close to its heyday of the 1940s and three straight claimed national titles from 1944-1946. Even worse, Navy has taken eight straight from Army and 11 of the last 13. Army will fall short again, but I see them at 4-4 before a rough final four games with Notre Dame and Navy to end the season.

Navy (9-3, Poinsettia Bowl)
-Navy has owned both service academies recently. Dating back to the 2002 Army-Navy game, Navy has won 15 straight against Air Force and Army combined, while earning the last seven Commander-in-Chief trophies (given to the school that beats the other two). I am willing to give Navy wins over two ACC teams (Maryland and Duke), but they will have trouble against ECU, Notre Dame, and Louisiana Tech, giving them a 9-3 record and another bowl.

Notre Dame (8-4, Meineke Car Care)
-If you thought Notre Dame's schedule last year was easy, then you will be surprised about this years' slate of games. Tulsa? Army? Western Michigan? Obviously, this will make things smooth (or tough, if he loses) for first year head coach Brian Kelly. Utah, USC, and Stanford are sure losses, but if Notre Dame can just win the games that they should win, they'll be alright.

1. Boise State (v. Virginia Tech [in Landover, Md.], v. Oregon St.)
Pros: After games against the ranked BCS foes is a very easy schedule, returning 23 starters
Cons: If two other teams from quality BCS conferences go undefeated, does Boise play for the title?

2. TCU (v. Oregon State [in Arlington, Texas], v. Baylor)
Pros: strong team, experienced QB, Utah and BYU have taken a step back
Cons: the Mountain West is still tough, could we see the selection committee take two non-BCS teams again?

3. Houston (@ UCLA, v. Mississippi State)
Pros: experienced Heisman candidate for a QB, great receiving corps
Cons: lack of a good running game, suspect defense

4. Utah (v. Pittsburgh, @ Iowa St., @ Notre Dame)
Pros: hosting TCU and BYU, dual threat at running back
Cons: fairly young QB, front seven is semi-suspect

5. BYU (v. Washington, @ Florida St.)
Pros: good receiving corps and offensive line
Cons: travel to TCU and Utah, holes on defense, not as strong as 2008 and 2009 teams, no Harvey Unga

Friday, August 6, 2010


If you are looking for the epitome of college football then you have found the perfect conference. The Southeastern Conference has won each of the last four national championships, and ever since the Bowl Championship Series began in 1998, the SEC has won 5 1/2 titles and is undefeated in the National Championship Game. The SEC will still be right there again this season, as Alabama returns mostly everyone and will be in strong defense of retaining what is rightfully theirs.

1. Florida Gators (10-2, 6-2)
-The Gators lose one of their best players ever in Tim Tebow, but John Brantley is capable enough to fill Tebow's giant shoes. The important thing is that he does not have to do it alone, with a deep offensive line, good skill players, and a talented defense returning. The only roadblocks I see are a trip to Alabama and the home game against LSU that will always come down to the wire, but Urban Meyer has never had fewer than eight wins in a season, and he surely will not start now.

2. Georgia Bulldogs (7-5, 4-4)
-There are a lot of uncertainties with Georgia this season that could make them finish at the top of the East or in the middle. The Bulldog offensive line is an experienced one, but if A.J. Green faces discipline for hanging with an agent, the offense will falter, especially without an experienced quarterback. No LSU, Alabama, or Ole Miss on the schedule is definitely good news, but can Georgia take advantage of this?

3. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6, 3-5)
-While with South Carolina, Steve Spurrier has seen fast starts turn into disastrous finishes, and this year will be the same case with the Ol' Ball Coach. It's not that he cannot coach anymore, it is just that South Carolina is not a prime state for prospects, much like Florida is. Stephen Garcia is a very underrated quarterback, but unless there's a couple of upsets here or there, the Gamecocks will be mediocre yet again.

4. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6, 3-5)
-OK, let's try this again...Tennessee has a new head coach! However, Derek Dooley has handled things a lot differently than his predecessor, Lane Kiffin. Dooley has been quiet, mostly because he RESPECTS the SEC (his dad, Vince, was a legendary coach at Georgia). Tennessee will once again dominate the games against their whipping boys, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and they will score an upset just to get bowl eligible.

5. Kentucky Wildcats (5-7, 1-7)
-Longtime assistant Joker Phillips is entering his first year as head coach, and he is the second ever black head coach in SEC history. His team will be average, but its a 50/50 chance that it could extend the school's longest bowl streak to five. Expect a lot out of Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb, the two explosive players that will carry Kentucky as far as they can.

6. Vanderbilt Commodores (3-9, 0-8)
-2 months before the season began, head coach Bobby Johnson retired from Vanderbilt. The new head coach is Robbie Caldwell and this is his first ever head coaching job in any level. Couple that with a so-so line-up, a historically bad program, and being in the SEC, does not do wonders. At least the Commodore faithful are patient, and I do mean patient.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1)
-Alabama is back to try to win at least one more title. Greg McElroy, Julio Jones, and Mark Ingram are there again to lead the offense, and minus key players like Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody, the defense is in tact. The only problem is that, six teams will play Alabama after their bye week. If Alabama is not careful, there may not be a repeat in Tuscaloosa.

2. Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2, 6-2)
-Arkansas has never had a Heisman trophy winner, but for the second time in five years they are definitely flirting in that direction. Before it was Darren McFadden, who finished in second place to Troy Smith and Tim Tebow, and now its Ryan Mallet. The Razorbacks have a talented offense, however, their defense is very suspect. They have a favorable schedule and might can upset Alabama, but in the end, Ole Miss, LSU, or even Auburn will be looking to do the same to them.

3. LSU Tigers (9-3, 5-3)
-Is this Les Miles' last year at LSU? One can only hope that the defense is slightly better than it was the last two years, and that theory will be put to the test against North Carolina and West Virginia. The Tigers will be in the mix in the West, but unless Alabama falls, there will be enough to save Miles' job, but still no West title. However, Jordan Jefferson is still improving.

4. Ole Miss Rebels (8-4, 4-4)
-In terms of transfer quarterbacks, Ole Miss has to be the luckiest school in quite some time. The team went three years after Eli Manning left, until Jevan Snead transfered from Texas. Snead, however, left early (and went undrafted in the process, he's now a free agent). Now, Jeremiah Masoli is the newest QB. He brings in a big-game presence to this team, but Ole Miss will once again have a let-down.

5. Auburn Tigers (8-4, 4-4)
-Gene Chizik surely made people forget about his 5-19 record at Iowa State with an Outback Bowl win over Northwestern last year. Auburn will still be in the middle of the pack in the West as they can upset a top-tier team in the division, but they can surely lose to one as well.

6. Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-7, 2-6)
-Head coach Dan Mullen has his team playing tough, but yet again they will fall just short of a bowl appearance. The Bulldogs need to upset one team, but facing Florida and Georgia will put a damper on those plans.

Alabama d. Florida


Alabama- Sugar
Arkansas- Capital One
Florida- Outback
LSU- Cotton
Georgia- Chick-fil-A
Ole Miss- Gator
South Carolina- Liberty
Tennessee- Music City
Auburn- PapaJohns.com

Ryan Mallet (QB from Arkansas)
-Last year, Mallet threw for 3627 yards and 30 touchdowns. This year, without a defense and four good receivers, look for those numbers to go to around 4000 yards and 35 touchdowns.

1. SEC Championship Game (Dec. 4 in Atlanta)
2. Florida @ Alabama (Oct. 2)
3. Alabama @ Arkansas (Sept. 25)
4. Penn State @ Alabama (Sept. 11)
5. LSU v. North Carolina (Sept. 4 at Atlanta)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


If you thought last year's Pac-10 race was wild and crazy, then you have another thing coming for this year. Two offseason moves made the Rose Bowl chase wide open. First, it was Oregon and Jeremiah Masoli. Oregon was originally going to suspend Masoli for this season, his senior year, for his involvement in stealing a laptop from a fraternity house in March. He would have been given a redshirt this year, and allowed to come back in 2011, but trouble still found Masoli. Police found marijuana in Masoli's car in June and Oregon coach Chip Kelly kicked him off the team. A day later, the NCAA placed USC on probation and a two-year bowl ban for violations dealing with Reggie Bush. Those two moves could open the door for Arizona, California, or Oregon State, teams that have not been in the Rose Bowl since the Pac-10 expanded to 10 teams in 1978. Fitting way to preview the next expansion of the conference when Utah comes in next year, and Colorado follows in 2012.

1. USC Trojans (13-0, 9-0)
-With no bowl game in sight, USC will be playing for nothing but pride in 2010. I think that they can do what the 1993 Auburn Tigers did and win every game. They still have a great team and, to be honest, Lane Kiffin is a pretty decent coach. Only time will tell if this probation period will affect the Trojans in the long run though.

2. Oregon Ducks (10-2, 7-2)
-Two things are certain at Oregon: good football and a WIDE variety of uniform combination. This year, you might can add another Rose Bowl berth as the Ducks have a very talented line-up led by sophomore LaMichael James. LaGarrette Blount's punch in the opening game allowed James to hit the opposing defense in the mouth with 1546 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, and with Nate Costa calling the plays, expect that number to stay the same.

3. Stanford Cardinal (9-3, 6-3)
-With the monumental upset over USC in 2007, Stanford and Jim Harbaugh knew that better times would come for Stanford football. In 2009, it indeed did as Toby Gerhart finished in second place in the Heisman trophy race and the Cardinal went to the Sun Bowl, their first bowl game since 2001. This year, Stanford will once again improve despite Gerhart's departure, as they will have future NFL prospect Andrew Luck proving that was freshman year was not a fluke.

4. Oregon State Beavers (7-5, 6-3)
-Last season, the Beavers were "oh-so-close" to making the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965, after a wild 37-33 loss in the Civil War to Oregon. This year, Oregon State will once again be very close, but a lack of quarterback experience will haunt them, especially with TCU, Boise State, USC, and Oregon all on the schedule. The Rodgers brothers (James and Jacquizz) will electrify this team however and keep them near the top half of the Pac-10

5. Washington Huskies (7-5, 5-4)
-Jake Locker is a good quarterback, but he could be chasing another infamous mark that another former famous Pac-10 quarterback did in the 80s. John Elway did not make a bowl game while at Stanford, but unless Washington State makes an unbelievable play, Locker will not go down that same route. The problem will be that Locker cannot do it alone, and the defense is still porous.

6. Arizona Wildcats (6-6, 4-5)
-Arizona is the only conference member to not go to the Rose Bowl, but over the past few years, Wildcat head coach Mike Stoops has quietly built the program back to what it was in the late 80s and entire 90s. This year, Arizona will be led by senior defensive end Ricky Elmore and junior quarterback Nick Foles, but unless they steal some games, that Rose Bowl drought will continue.

7. California Golden Bears (7-5, 4-5)
-Jeff Tedford has surely made a name for himself in Berkley with eight straight seasons without a losing record and seven straight bowl games. However, his teams normally underachieve and fall short of their goal. I think they have just enough to upset Oregon this year, but they will finish in the middle of the road yet again, thanks to shaky quarterback play and the loss of Jahvid Best to the NFL.

8. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-8, 2-7)
-Last year, Arizona State swept the Washington school to put their record at 4-2 and a chance to make a bowl game. However, a rough and winless second half of the season left the Sun Devils dead in the desert at 4-8. This year, expect the same, however the good news is they host both UCLA and Washington State, with two FCS opponents making up the non-conference slate.

9. UCLA Bruins (1-11, 1-8)
-The good news is that Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel is a very good coach that can coach up a team. The bad news is that UCLA is average, lost too many players, and have a tough schedule with Houston and Texas. Senior kicker Kai Forbath will make the games close and could allow UCLA to win the close games that they should not.

10. Washington State Cougars (1-11, 0-9)
-Paul Wulff has been nothing like a "wolf" as a coach for Washington State in his first two seasons. 3-22 overall and 1-17 in conference play makes him the worst head coach in Cougar history in terms of winning percentage. It will be another sad season in Pullman as Washington State will be outplayed in every game.


Oregon- Rose
Stanford- Alamo
Oregon State- Holiday
Washington- Sun
Arizona- Maaco
California- Kraft Fight Hunger

Jake Locker (QB from Washington)
-The possible No. 1 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft has had it rough at Washington. Three years, no bowl game, and even a winless season in 2008. Last season, Locker threw for 2800 yards and 21 touchdowns, but if he does not give the Huskies their first bowl appearance since the 2002 Sun Bowl, fans will wonder what if.

1. Oregon @ Oregon State (Dec. 4)
2. Oregon @ USC (Oct. 21)
3. Nebraska @ Washington (Sept. 18)
4. Oregon State @ Boise State (Sept. 25)
5. Oregon State vs. TCU (Sept. 4 in Arlington, Texas)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


So let me get this straight, Nebraska is going to leave the Big 12 to join the Big Ten, who will have 12 members... My bad, that's for a whole different post, but it has been the same story in the Big Ten for quite some years, with a twist. Ohio State has shared at least a piece of the Big Ten title every year since 2005, but just finally went to its first Rose Bowl since 1997. Michigan has continued to let the 2007 loss to Appalachian State affect them, as they have missed a bowl game for the second year in a row, after making one for 33 straight years. This year, expect Ohio State to be around the top again, but teams like Iowa and Penn State will try to knock them off once again.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0)
-After finally exercising their demons in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, Ohio State can now focus on the next step, a national title. All the tools are in place, as the Buckeyes are just loaded with talent all over the depth chart, including QB Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State will be tested right away with a game against Miami on Sept. 11. Get past that, and there's a three-game stretch against Penn State (home), Iowa (away), and Michigan (home) to close the season. If the Buckeyes do not have a let down, they'll be playing for it all in Glendale.

2. Iowa Hawkeyes (11-1, 7-1)
-10 points was the difference between a possible national championship and 11-2 record last year for Iowa. However, eight other points could have meant 6-6, a middle-tier bowl game, and a loss to a Sun Belt and an FCS team. Nevertheless, Iowa is a talented team, with a senior quarterback in Ricky Stanzi, and they have a favorable schedule as Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin all come to Iowa City this year. It all depends on Stanzi's health and Iowa's luck.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 6-2)
-Bret Bielema has not allowed Wisconsin to let up in the Big Ten with four straight bowl appearances since Barry Alvarez stepped down after the 2005 season. The Badgers have enough to contend for a Big Ten title with a strong power running attack lead by John Clay. However, with Ohio State on the schedule and a trip to Iowa, Wisconsin will fall just short of the title and Rose Bowl bid

4. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-2)
-Joe Paterno is 84 years old and still better off than coaches half his age! All he needs is six wins and he will be the first I-A/FBS coach to win 400 games. This season will a good one for Penn State, however the road portion of the schedule will be brutal with games at Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State looming. If they can score a couple of upsets, they can get in the BCS picture.

5. Northwestern Wildcats (8-4, 4-4)
-After unexpectedly taking over for the late Randy Walker when he passed in 2006, Pat Fitzgerald has changed the culture at Northwestern. For only the second time in school history, the Wildcats went to bowl games in consecutive years, but they have never made it past two straight years. This season, that will change as a manageable schedule, good linebacker corps, and a decent offense will allow Northwestern to be on the winning side of close games. Maybe they might win their first bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, in the process.

6. Purdue Boilermakers (7-5, 4-4)
-Last season, Purdue began the season 1-5, and was mired in a five-game losing streak with four of those being a touchdown or less. Enter in an upset of Ohio State, and the Boilermakers steamed to a 4-2 finish. Even though the team missed a bowl game, Purdue can make a bowl game this year. The team will go as far as Miami transfer Robert Marve will take them, as running back Ralph Bolden will miss the season.

7. Michigan Wolverines (6-6, 3-5)
-Michigan's fallen through a rough stretch since the 2006 #1 vs. #2 showdown against Ohio State. They have not beat the Buckeyes since 2003, and eight of the last nine match-ups. Check this out, Michigan has the same record as DUKE over the last two years...that's right, Duke, and not I am talking about basketball. This year expect Michigan to finish in the middle of the Big Ten, but they will barely make a bowl game. Will it save Rich Rodriguez's job? Only time will tell...

8. Michigan State Spartans (6-6, 3-5)
-Last year was an up-and-down season for Michigan State that ended with a lost to Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. This year, expect the same for the Spartans, as Greg Jones leads the defense and Charlie Gantt leads the offense. They escape Ohio State on the schedule, but trips to Iowa, Michigan, and Penn State could doom them.

9. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-7, 2-6)
-Star receiver Adam Weber is gone, but Minnesota is still going to be an average team. In 2010, they will take a step back. Even though they will have USC, Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa coming to them, they will lose to all of those quality teams and just leave one victory short of a bowl game.

10. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-10, 1-7)
-The team in orange will be without its Juice this year, as Juice Williams graduated from Illinois in the offseason. Without him and a Mendenhall in the backfield (Rashad or Walter), it might be hard for the the Illini to win a Big Ten game even though they have home games against both Indiana and Purdue this year. They simply do not have enough for a bowl run this year, leaving coach Ron Zook on the hot seat despite his great recruiting.

11. Indiana Hoosiers (4-8, 0-8)
-If only the football team was as good as the basketball program. Indiana has not sniffed the Rose Bowl since making it in 1967, and do not expect them to make it to a bowl game this year. The good news is that the Hoosiers have an easy non-conference schedule that will allow them to start the season 3-0. The bad news is that the favorable teams that Indiana can beat will host them.

Ohio State

Ohio State- BCS National Championship Game
Iowa- Rose
Wisconsin- Capital One
Penn State- Outback
Northwestern- Gator
Purdue- Insight
Michigan- Texas
Michigan State- Dallas Football Classic
At-Large- Little Caesar's Pizza

Terrelle Pryor (QB from Ohio State)
-It took until the Rose Bowl until Pryor made himself known to the public, but it finally happened with a win over Oregon. He most certainly could be the second Buckeye QB in the last five years to win the Heisman trophy, but he has drawn comparisons to another recent Heisman finalist -- Vince Young.

1. Michigan @ Ohio State (Nov. 27)
2. Ohio State @ Iowa (Nov. 20)
3. Miami @ Ohio State (Sept. 11)
4. Penn State @ Alabama (Sept. 11)
5. Penn State @ Ohio State (Nov. 13)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Ah, the Big East. Once upon a time, the conference was just a basketball conference until they decided to play football in 1991. It was good, until Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College bolted for the ACC. After rising to its peak in 2006, the conference is just another mediocre league. Cincinnati loses their coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame, and longtime South Florida coach Jim Leavitt was fired for detrimental conduct, while the conference struggles to find a name for itself. Good news is that conference is home to two of the best running backs in the nation in Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis, who is just a true sophomore, and West Virginia senior Noel Devine. However, will it finally give the Big East some respect? Only time will tell...

1. Pittsburgh Panthers (10-2, 7-0)
-Don't look now but Pittsburgh Panther football is back relevant thanks to Dave Wannstedt. An average NFL coach with the Bears and Dolphins, Wannstedt finally got Pitt back on track with nine-win season in each of the last two years. The Panthers are set at defensive line with seniors Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard, while whoever emerges from the quarterback position (Tino Sunseri or Pat Bostick) will have Dion Lewis and receiver Jonathan Baldwin to help out.

2. West Virginia Mountaineers (10-2 ,6-1)
-If there is one constant in the Big East, it's that the West Virginia Mountaineers will be tough and in the top half of the conference. This year, expect a 10-win season for West Virginia and look for Noel Devine to run roughshod over teams with the speed option.

3. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3, 5-2)
-Two BCS bowl games were not enough to keep coach Brian Taylor as he bolted for Notre Dame. Then former offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn (now at Buffalo) coached the team in the Sugar Bowl, and they got drummed by Florida in Tim Tebow's last collegiate game. In comes Butch Jones, who coached Central Michigan last year, to try to take over a team that lost quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard. Zach Collaros has shown that he can fill in for Pike, but the Bearcats will fall back to earth and the middle of the Big East.

4. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-4, 4-3)
-Rutgers is a team that will schedule a weak non-conference slate only to be exposed in Big East play. This again is the case as the Scarlet Knights will play Norfolk State, FIU, Tulane, and Army in non-conference play. However, they are the only Big East team to have to travel to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, while North Carolina also looms on the schedule. Yikes.

5. Connecticut Huskies (7-5, 3-4)
-Relatively new to the Big East in football, the Huskies have been a decent team with its moments. However, none were bigger than last year's win over Notre Dame in double overtime. This year, things could be very interesting as UConn is the only Big East team to have Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia coming to them this year, and if they could upset one of them the Big East could have a logjam at the top.

6. South Florida Bulls (5-7, 2-5)
-When you lose two of your best players in program history along with your best coach, things cannot be good. Well ok, USF has only been a football program for 13 seasons and Jim Leavitt was the school's only coach, but another chapter in Bulls history begins with quarterback B.J. Daniels and new coach Skip Holtz. Holtz, the son of Lou Holtz, will field a competitive team, but they will fall just short of a bowl game. If there's any team that can make a splash though, it's USF and they always have a tough schedule, with Miami and Florida on there this year.

7. Syracuse (4-8, 1-6)
-Syracuse was a proud program up until 2005, when the school has hit rock bottom. The product on the field will be better though, as the Orange will finally escape the cellar of the Big East. However, a bowl game is still way too much to ask for.

8. Louisville Cardinals (3-9, 0-7)
-Since Bobby Petrino left Louisville, the Cardinals have been awful. Enter in Charlie Strong, who won two national championships at Florida as an assistant. The good news is that he has three good running backs, led by junior Victor Anderson, that can share the load and can give defenses some nightmares. The bad news is that Louisville has a terrible defense and will most certainly have to depend on a so-so passing game.

West Virginia

Pittsburgh- Fiesta
West Virginia- Champs Sports
Notre Dame- Meineke Car Care
Rutgers- Pinstripe
Cincinnati- PapaJohns.com
Connecticut- Beef 'O' Brady's

Dion Lewis (RB from Pittsburgh) and Noel Devine (RB from West Virginia)
-It is so hard to choose between the two that it could come to the Backyard Brawl between both schools to determine everything. Devine could join the 5000-yard mark for a career later this year, while Lewis will try to better his 1799-yard freshman performance. Contrasting styles, but great results.

1. West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (Nov. 26)
2. Pittsburgh @ Utah (Sept. 2)
3. West Virginia @ LSU (Sept. 25)
4. South Florida @ Florida (Sept. 11)
5. South Florida @ Miami (Nov. 27)

Monday, August 2, 2010


This summer Dan Beebe went from delivering the eulogy to the Big 12, when Nebraska and Colorado decided to depart, to kick starting the conference back to life, after Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all announced that they would stay. However, the conference does have some key departures this year to tend to. Gone are Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Ndamukong Suh, but there is still talent in the conference that produced the top four picks in this year's NFL Draft. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has rekindled the "Blackshirts" mentality of old and they will be looking to take the North Division again, with Missouri being a dark horse. Sam Bradford's injury may have actually benefited the Sooners as Landry Jones got a chance to grow, while Oklahoma struggled last season. Expect them to bounce back, but in the South Division, any team has a chance.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2, 7-1)
-The Blackshirts are back, and despite losing Ndamukong Suh, the Huskers have a lot of defense to cause havoc. Cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard with safety Rickey Thenarse will make things difficult on average one-skill quarterbacks, while Roy Helu Jr. is a great running back who averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year. Nebraska has a score to settle on Oct. 16 at home with Texas en route to an easy defense of the North title.

2. Missouri Tigers (8-4, 4-4)
-Led by quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Missouri will be looking to electrify the Big 12 with its offense. However, scoring points against bad defenses is one thing. A team that has a good defense is the Tigers' kryptonite, as they were held to under 20 points in four of their five losses in 2009. They could start 5-0, but a murderous four-game stretch with trips to Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Texas Tech could hold off any chances of a Big 12 North title.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (5-7, 2-6)
-Jayhawk head coach Turner Gill stressed recruiting as a way to build Kansas to a Big 12 title, but this year, Kansas will try to right the ship that caused them to tailspin to a 5-7 record after starting 5-0 and being ranked as high as No. 16. Things are favorable this year as the non-conference games are relatively weak, and there is no Texas or Oklahoma on the schedule, but Kansas might need an upset to think bowl game or a 6-6 record.

4. Kansas State Wildcats (5-7, 2-6)
-The Wildcats always schedule a soft non-conference schedule, and this year is true to that form with Missouri State and a trip to North Texas on tap. Last year's team went 6-6, but missed out on a bowl game because they could only count one of those wins against an FCS team (and a narrow two-point loss to Louisiana-Lafayette hurt their chances as well.) Although Daniel Thomas will be looking to run for another 1000-yard season, Kansas State will fall short again despite having Texas and Nebraska come to Manhattan.

5. Colorado Buffaloes (4-8, 2-6)
-If I told you that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is part of the reason that Boise State is where they are right now, would you believe me? Based on his 16-33 in four years with the Buffs, you probably wouldn't. While Colorado struggles, Boise is 49-4 during that span. Expect the struggles to continue this year, as they have to travel to Oklahoma and Nebraska this year during conference play.

6. Iowa State Cyclones (4-8, 2-6)
-Rarely few coaches win right away in their first season at Iowa State, but Paul Rhoads managed to go 7-6 and win the Insight Bowl over Minnesota in 2009. The season was highlighted with a 9-7 win over Nebraska, but it might be hard to duplicate that success in 2010. Although they are a veteran team, the Huskers will be out for revenge, and the Cyclones have to travel to Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas, a tall task for any team.

1. Oklahoma Sooners (11-1, 7-1)
-Landry Jones in 2009 may have been shaky, but it actually makes the Sooners prime candidates in the South and the Big 12 this season. He will get better, and the Sooners will be better than their 8-5 record indicated. Expect Ryan Broyles, DeMarco Murray, and a strong defense to also chip to another 10-win season that the school is accustomed to.

2. Texas Longhorns (10-2, 6-2)
-Even in an "rebuilding" year, you cannot forget about or mess with Texas. Colt McCoy's gone and Garrett Gilbert is now the new quarterback. Luckily for him, Texas plays an easy non-conference slate of games, but I don't think Gilbert is ready to beat Oklahoma or Nebraska yet. The team is loaded to churn out another 10-win season, though.

3. Texas A&M Aggies (9-3, 6-2)
-The Aggies seem to be everyone's dark horse this season, thanks to Jerrod Johnson. He accounted for 38 total touchdowns in 2009, and nearly led the Aggies to an upset of Texas. Big things could happen in 2010 for Texas A&M, but unless they improve their defense, they could be on the wrong ends of shootouts against teams that can pass at will.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-4, 5-3)
-Looks like Texas Tech fans might see the run a little bit than they are accustomed to with Tommy Tuberville. At Auburn, his teams were a little more balanced, so it could take a while for him to adjust or for his team to adjust. The defense is spotty at best, but the offense is still good and can score a ton of points.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-4, 4-4)
-Oklahoma State lost the most this offseason as quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Keith Toston, and wide receiver Dez Bryant (midseason of 2009) all left the team. The Cowboys still have a good running back as Kendall Hunter assumes the lead running back role, but unless they can finally beat Texas and Oklahoma, they'll finish at the middle of the pack.

6. Baylor Bears (5-7, 2-6)
-Poor Baylor, they can be a decent team but they play in the wrong division in the Big 12. Aside from Robert Griffin III, the Bears do not have anyone that is of NFL caliber, and even Griffin (who is coming back from ACL surgery) can't do it all. Don't expect the Bears to beat a South team, but they can take down the Kansas duo from the North.

Nebraska d. Oklahoma


Nebraska- Fiesta
Oklahoma- Sugar
Texas- Cotton
Texas A&M- Alamo
Oklahoma State- Insight
Texas Tech- Texas
Missouri- Pinstripe
At-Large- Dallas Football Classic

Jerrod Johnson (QB from Texas A&M)
-He nearly beat Texas last year and he passed for 3579 yards and 30 touchdowns along the way. In his last two games in 2009 (Texas and Georgia), he threw for 704 yards and six touchdowns, but what will 2010 hold? If the Aggies have a real chance at winning, he may need to throw and run a lot to keep them in games.

Big 12 Championship Game (Dec. 4 in Arlington, Texas)
Texas v. Oklahoma (Oct. 2 in Dallas)
Texas @ Nebraska (Oct. 16)
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State (Sept. 30)
Missouri @ Nebraska (Oct. 30)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Last year was a wacky one in the Atlantic Coast Conference as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won its first outright conference title since 1990, when they shared the national title with Colorado. However, Georgia Tech lost in the Orange Bowl, marking the ACC's fourth Orange Bowl loss in five years. This season, expect the Coastal Division to be the superior of the two divisions with Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech all fighting for the right to go to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. The Atlantic Division will continue to be tough to predict as Clemson will lose C.J. Spiller, Florida State is beginning the Jimbo Fisher regime, and Boston College will gain Mark Herzilich back from his bout with cancer.

Conference Rank: 5th out of 11

1. Florida State Seminoles (9-3, 7-1)
-Out goes Bobby Bowden, but in comes Jimbo Fisher. Fisher was great as an offensive coordinator for LSU and Florida St., but can he do it as a head coach? Christian Ponder returns from an injury and he has good offensive line help. Beating Miami will be tough for the 'Noles this year but I think Florida State has just enough to win the Atlantic for the first time since 2005.

2. Boston College Eagles (10-2, 6-2)
-Getting Herzilich back will help out greatly and QB Dave Shinskie will be looking to improve on a shaky freshman year. BC's schedule is easy with the annual games between Virginia Tech and Florida State being the only two real hiccups.

3. Clemson Tigers (7-5, 4-4)
-Losing C.J. Spiller may not be the only problem the Tigers will endure. The Tigers play against three of the more difficult teams in the Coastal including its permanent opponent Georgia Tech. Trips to Florida State and Boston College won't help either.

4. North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-8, 2-6)
-Russell Wilson might be the best QB in this conference you have never really heard of. He threw 31 touchdown passes in 2009, and most of his offensive weapons will return. Bad news is, there's no running game, the offensive line is shaky, and Nate Irving returns from missing 2009 but the defensive is still average at best. Did I mention that they play Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina?

5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-9, 2-6)
-Wake Forest will surely lose Riley Skinner, their four-year starting QB who led them to the school's first ever outright football ACC Championship in 2006. Coach Jim Grobe's teams play tough and close as they lost five games by a combined 13 points, but unless they can find a signal caller to help out the defense, expect a few more close losses.

6. Maryland Terrapins (3-9, 1-7)
-Ralph Fridgen has lost his luster from the beginning of his tenure at Maryland after Maryland reached 10 losses for the first time ever in 2009. Without an experienced QB, look for RB Da'Rel Scott to carry the team on offense and Alex Wujciak to lead on defense. This team will be better but unless they can get some luck and win the close games, they won't go far.

1. Virginia Tech Hokies (10-2, 7-1)
-Since coming into the ACC in 2004, Virginia Tech is the only team in the conference to have a 10-win season every year. This year will be no different as the Hokies are poised for not only the ACC title, but the national title. The first test will come on Sept. 6 against a game Boise State squad, who will most certainly be pumped.

2. Miami Hurricanes (9-3, 7-1)
-Is "The U" back? Miami's 9-4 record was impressive, but it was the four tough games to start the season that turned heads. Despite getting rocked by Virginia Tech, the Canes narrowly beat Florida State and Oklahoma, while stopping Georgia Tech's triple option along the way. This season will begin just as tough as after the Florida A&M game, they have to travel to Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Clemson, however Jacory Harris will be more prepared this year.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (9-3, 6-2)
-Will an explosive defense be enough to carry a pop gun offense? The Heels return nine of their defensive starters that allowed 222 points in 2009. The problem is that they only scored 309 points, behind the inconsistent play of T.J. Yates. North Carolina has the talent to win the Coastal, but with the NCAA looming with possible sanctions, it could be tough.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-3, 5-3)
-Paul Johnson's triple option worked well at Navy and in the first two years at Georgia Tech, it has not hit a snag. Losing Jonathan Dwyer does hurt, but Josh Nesbitt, Roddy Jones, and Anthony Allen return. The questions is though, can they beat Virginia Tech and North Carolina on the road along with Miami at home?

5. Duke Blue Devils (4-8, 2-6)
-Going 9-15 overall and 4-12 in the ACC over two years would get you fired at a big-time powerhouse, but at Duke, it's a cause for a celebration. David Cutcliffe is showing why he was a good head coach with Ole Miss, but he knows that the job is not done. Gone is QB Thaddeus Lewis, but if his replacement Sean Renfree can get the ball to WR Donovan Varner, Duke could reach the magical 6-6 record for a bowl.

6. Virginia Cavaliers (3-9, 0-8)
-If there's a team that could overtake Duke in the cellar, then it's Virginia. The Cavaliers will have an inconsistent quarterback in Marc Verica, with limited help on offense. The defense will have to adjust to the 4-3 implemented by new head coach Mike London. The only thing that helps the Wahoos will be FCS opponents Virginia Military Institute and Richmond, along with Eastern Michigan, who went 0-12 in 2009.

Virginia Tech d. Florida State

Boston College
Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech- Orange
Miami- Chick-fil-A
Florida State- Champs Sports
Boston College- Sun
North Carolina- Meineke Car Care
Georgia Tech- Music City
Clemson- Independence
At-Large- EagleBank

Christian Ponder (QB from Florida State)
-There's a lot a quarterbacks (Tyrod Taylor and Jacory Harris), a running back (Ryan Williams), a defense (North Carolina), and even a player coming back from cancer (Mark Herzilich) who deserve to be on this list. However, Ponder trumps them all, looking at what could've been in 2009. Before injuring his shoulder, Ponder was on pace for 3000 yards and 20 touchdowns. If he can keep his accuracy up, Jimbo Fisher will have a great first year with the 'Noles.

1. ACC Championship Game (Dec. 4 in Charlotte)
2. Virginia Tech v. Boise State (Sept. 6 in Landover, Md.)
3. Virginia Tech @ Miami (Nov. 20)
4. Miami @ Ohio State (Sept. 11)
5. Boston College @ Florida State (Oct. 16)