Posted by Dr Fro 9:52 AM
I promised a college football preview/prediction post, and there is no time like an hour before kickoff on the first Saturday to write it.
The biggest question every year is who will play in the National Championship game?
It is instructive to first look at recent history for trends:
97: NU over Tennessee (split with Michigan)
98: Tennessee over FSU
99: FSU over VTech
00: OU over FSU
01: Ohio State over Miami
02: Miami over NU
03: LSU over OU (split with USC)
04: USC over OU
05 UT over USC
06: Florida over Ohio State
Out of 22 spots, only FIVE are occupied by teams that show up once (Michigan, VTech, LSU, UT, Florida). SEVENTEEN spots are occupied by repeats. Of the five that show up once, all five of them have very much been in the NC picture multiple times, but fell just short in the regular season. In the case of UT and Michigan, the team that kept them out of the NC game (OU and Ohio State) went on to win or at least play in the NC game.
The obvious explanation for this trend is that you have to cut your teeth in big games for a while before you are ready to win the biggest game of all.
So, it would seem silly to pick a team from outside of this elite club of teams to win the NC. That said, I won't. I will go with USC. They have an easy enough road to New Orleans, and nobody has the big game experience that Pete Carroll has.
Who will play USC in the Sugar Bowl? LSU is the second best team in the country, but unfortunately, the SEC is too damn tough. Add a conference championship game to the mix, and I don't see LSU coming out unscathed. WVU, on the other hand, plays weaker competition. Thus, I say WVU plays punching bag for USC in the Sugar Bowl. (Note that LSU would probably beat the pants off of WVU, but that is irrelevant. WVU has a better chance of being undefeated than LSU.)
Darren McFadden is great, but look at the Heisman winners of late, and you will see that they come from teams in the NC race. That said, you look at Booty (USC) and Slaton (WVU). I say that Booty suffers from the Klingler effect and the trophy goes to Slaton.
Florida plays LSU twice this season and beats them both times! That's a ballsy call, and I wouldn't bet on it without getting some long odds, but it could happen. What is quite likely is that they will beat them at least once (thus my prediction that LSU will not play in the Sugar Bowl.)
They are good, but there are a lot of question marks. That is not a euphamism that suggests we have weaknesses. We truly have question marks, notably at O-line and Secondary. If the highly recruited, inexperienced guys shine, so will the Horns. If they struggle, so will the Horns. We only have 4 games that are lose-able: TCU, OU, NU, A&M. We will be favored in all four games, but even if we are, say, 65% likely to win each, we have only an 18% chance of winning all four. Since inexperience is the issue, I would say that the early games pose a greater risk than the later games. So, watch out for the TCU and OU games. We own NU (2-0 in Austin, 3-0 in Lincoln), and by the time we play A&M, the inexperienced players will have a season under their belts. I say we lose one regular season game, win the Big XII and play in the Fiesta Bowl.
I could see them winning in Miami, but I think the Big XII will eat them up. Whatever accomplishments Fran has had (beating UT is a notable one), it is hard to look past the following facts:
I am not going to say it is impossible that Fran will turn it around this season. But thus far, there has been nothing to suggest he is even close to the sort of success that was expected when he was hired. He is not this close from greatness...he is light years away.
They have road games at Miami, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri. Since the Big 12 formed 11 years ago, A&M is 2-12 in games at Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Their defense allowed 4.3 yards per carry and 20.7 points per game in 2006.
Two years ago, A&M had the worst pass defense in the country.
There have been two losing seasons and a combined record of 2-10 against OU (0-4), Texas (1-3) and Texas Tech (1-3).
Franchione is 0-2 in bowl games, losing those games by an average of 33 points.
And finally, another Florida-related bold prediction: Tim Tebow goes to New York in December.
It should be fun.