Monday, August 29, 2005

The National Picks

The start of the season is only a couple of days away, time to break out the crystal ball. Let's look at the eight teams that I think will make the BCS. These are not the eight best teams in the country right now, or do I think they will be the top eight at the end of the season. The one thing these teams have in common, is luck. Luck is preparation meets opportunity. Here is snapshot on each of the eight teams.

Iowa- The Hawkeyes are finally getting the respect they deserve. After three straight ten win seasons and top ten finishes, many college football gurus are predicting a Big Ten title, some even a Rose Bowl berth. I am not going to be that bold. If everything swings right for the Hawkeyes they will win a share of their third Big Ten title in four years, but no Rose Bowl.
Key games- at Iowa State, at Ohio State, at Purdue, Michigan, at Wisconsin, Minnesota
Landmine game- Northern Illinois

Louisville- The Cardinals are a near unanimous pick to win the Big East in their first year. Some preseason publications even call for Louisville to go undefeated. Although not impossible to accomplish, last years' Cardinals were unable to finish unblemished against a weaker schedule. There is no juggernaunt on the schedule this year like Miami last year, but top to bottom, Louisville will be challenged more this year. Louisville will benefit from a weak Big East to earn a spot in their first ever BCS bowl game.
Key games- Oregon State, at West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Landmine game- at Kentucky

LSU- Les Miles takes over for the departed Nick Saban. The talent in Baton Rouge is immense, and there is no excuse if the Tigers do not win at least nine games. Quarterback issues is the only thing keeping LSU from being the best team in the country, right now. All the top teams come to "Death Valley", except Alabama. With all this talent, and a favorable schedule, I expect LSU to be right in the thick of the SEC and national title race. Even a loss in the SEC title game should not keep the Tigers from a BCS bowl game.
Key games- Arizona State, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, at Alabama
Landmine game- Arkansas

Michigan- As many as five different Big Ten teams can end up in the BCS, but at least two will earn a bid. Michigan travels well and besides Notre Dame, is there any other school with a bigger national following? The Wolverines are aiming for Roses, and if their defense improves, very few will stop them. With or without a Big Ten title, Michigan will receive their third straight BCS bowl, maybe even their third straight Rose.
Key games- Notre Dame, at Michigan State, Penn State, at Iowa, Ohio State
Landmine game- at Wisconsin

Southern California- The Men of Troy should get an honorary pass to the national title game, but their road to Pasadena is not as easy as many might think. The Trojans must rebuild their defense, but with the best offense in the country, teams will have to outscore USC to win. Even with one loss, it is hard to think USC will be playing anywhere else this postseason except Pasadena.
Key games- at Oregon, at Arizona State, at Notre Dame, at California, Fresno State
Landmine game- Arkansas

Tennesseee- All the offseason problems in the world will not be able to keep the Volunteers out of the SEC title race. Tennessee is loaded, a tough schedule might keep them away from a Rose Bowl berth, but a big win in the SEC title game could change everything.
Key games- at Florida, at LSU, Georgia, at Alabama, at Notre Dame
Landmine game- UAB

Texas A&M- Dennis Franchione is in his third year, let the magic begin. The Aggies must survive some tough road tests, but by October this should be one of the top five teams in the country. The "Wrecking Crew" defense looks to return this year to compliment an already explosive offense. Facing a weak Big 12 North participant in the conference championship makes the finale against Texas for all the marbles.
Key games- at Clemson, at Colorado, at Texas Tech, at Oklahoma, Texas
Landmine game- at Kansas State

Virginia Tech- There is not a better coached team in America than the Hokies. Frank Beamer got these players to play beyond their years in a magical ACC championship season last year. Some key components need replacement, but this well, oiled machine is poised to make a national title run.
Key games- at North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Miami, at Virginia
Landmine game- at Maryland


ROSE BOWL- USC 11-1 vs Texas A&M 11-1
Texas A&M is this year's 2000 Oklahoma, 2002 Ohio State, and 2003 LSU, a five loss team a year ago that will play for the national title. USC will try to be the first team ever to win three national titles in row. I am going out on a limb here, since A&M may lose their first game at Clemson, and I think USC will be upset at Oregon. In my opinion last year's five undefeated teams was an anomaly, as there should be no teams with an unblemished record this year.
My pick- In the biggest upset since Ohio State beat Miami in 2002, Franchione wins his first national title.

FIESTA BOWL- Michigan 9-2 vs Louisville 9-2
Louisville last played in the Fiesta Bowl in 1991 against a mediocre Alabama team. This time around they get one of the best teams in the country in Michigan. A Michigan win over Ohio State in the season finale will allow the Wolverines to get at-large berth. I predict Louisville to tie West Virginia for the Big East title, but the Cardinals should be ranked higher in the BCS rankings earning the conference's automatic berth.

SUGAR BOWL- Iowa 9-2 vs Tennessee 10-2
Tennessee will navigate a tough schedule to get to Atlanta and play for the SEC title. A huge win will propel them to the Sugar Bowl. Iowa will win a complicated Big Ten tiebreaker to earn an automatic berth to the BCS game.

ORANGE BOWL- Virginia Tech 10-2 vs LSU 10-2
Two teams that will be among the best in the country, and would equally have a great shot at a national title if there was a playoff system. If Virginia Tech can some how avoid two losses, or if LSU can win the SEC title game, substitute either one for Texas A&M in Pasadena.

The National Preview

All-American Team
Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Fullbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Linemen
Linemen, Linebackers, Defensive Backs
Kickers, Punters, Return Men


Official BlogPoll Preseason Top 25
Top Non-Conference Games
Heisman Contenders
Top Non-BCS Teams
Preseason Top 40(July)
2005's Surprise Teams

Other Bowl Predictions

New Orleans, GMAC, Las Vegas, Poinsettia, Fort Worth, Hawaii, Motor City, Insight, Champs Sports, MPC Computers, Alamo, Emerald, Holiday, Music City, Sun, Independence, Peach, Meineke Car Care, Liberty, Houston, Outback, Gator, Capital One, Cotton

Other Conference Previews

ACC Preview/ACC Awards

Big Ten Preview/Big Ten Awards

Pacific Ten Preview/Pac Ten Awards

WAC Preview/WAC Awards


Blogger The Knowledged said...

Tennessee will not lose 2 games and play for the SEC championship unless the two losses are to UAB and Notre Dame, and they will beat at least one of two. One loss and they might play for SEC honors. But if they get to the SEC championship with one loss or none and then win it, they'll be in the rose bowl.

Blogger The Knowledged said...

oh btw would you mind exchanging links? even if you say no, I'm still linking to you, you've got a great site!

Blogger matt said...

Love the site. Thanks for giving me the heads up on the MAC/WAC typo. Intriguing A&M pick. Wondering if you wanted to exchange links.


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