Posted by Dr Fro 2:23 PM
College Football Preview and Predictions
Every year around this time, I write my college football predictions. Given my remarkable performance in 3 of 4 pools last year, I will declare myself an expert in all things college football (including coeds, tailgaiting, beer, trashtalking and bourbon) - particularly handicapping.
I'll start with the Big 12 and then cover the other conferences.
Texas and Tech
From 1999 to present, we have beaten Tech by the following scores in our 8 victories:
We have outscored them by 187 points in those 8 victories for an average margin of victory of over 23 points. They beat us once, in 2002, by 4 points.
In the past seven seasons, our worst season is 10 wins. Tech's best season in that same stretch is 9 wins. So, put our worst team up against their best team, and we still come out ahead. (Plus, UT has had a tougher non-conference schedule and a tougher post-season schedule.) That might be approximately what will happen this year. This is the worst UT team in a while - a preason 10ish ranking in some polls, but not a top-five ranking. We also have a trickier schedule this year. Tech returns some key people. I don't see how their offense can improve, as they already score a billion points per game. I don't believe their defense will learn over night how to keep us from scoring 59 points.
So, if you take a big step back, you would conclude that Tech is - AT BEST - only as good or perhaps marginally better than UT. Well, this guy has them playing for a national championship. Methinks he has been inhaling Ricky Williams' secondhand smoke!
Even Dave Campbell's Texas Football, who was so excited about Tech that they put their coach and two stars on the cover offers some evidence as to where Tech really fits into the B12 championship picture: out of 19 sportswriters polled, only one had Tech winning the B12 South. By comparison, 6 had Texas. Let's face it, sports media love to make bold predicitions, particularly on cover and in headlines. They are not handicappers that put their money where their mouth is. Their job is to sell their medium, and you sell more by being bold than by not.
Let's also never forget Tech's amazing ability to dramatically win one week against a quality opponent, only to drop one to a stinker of a team the next week. Tech sometimes does this twice in the same season.
In summary, Tech should be, at best, a slight favorite to beat UT in Lubbock. I'd take Tech at even money in the heads-up game. But, I would still bet on UT to finish ahead of Tech in the conference and in the final AP rankings. Tech just doesn't play their A game week in and week out. Their gimmicky offense is a gambling offense, and gambling offenses sometimes gamble and lose.
So, some techsters are walking around with their chests out lately. I can't wait until the season is played out and Tech ends up around third place in the Big Twelve South.
One point about Texas unrelated to the UT-TTU comparison...Texas returns only 10 starters. That is not good. Well, usually it isn't good. For instance, losing Jermichael Finley will hurt. But lost in that stat is this: three of the starters lost (our LBs) sucked. Their replacements do not suck. So, in 13 positions, we will be as good or better than last year. Thirteen ain't great, but it is better than 10.
There is plenty of talk of Missou, too. Let's be clear about how good Missou was last year - that is, not as good as people think. The Big 12 North still sucks, and Missou and KU benefitted from that. But in the end, OU proved twice last season that they are the class of the B12 and that Missou is clearly inferior.
Kansas lost to Missouri and avoided playing OU (who would have killed them). That makes Kansas no better than the third team in the league last year. They also avoided UT, which may well have been better than them, too. So Kansas, in their best season since Prohibition, was the 3rd or 4th best team in our conference. Give them a cookie. The ball won't bounce their way in every game this year. Plus, as Fatty McFatpants made clear in 2004, the refs are quite intent to throw the game in UT's favor because we will make the conference more money in a BCS game than Kansas will. That, and aliens exist. And the Holocaust didn't happen.
They lose to South Florida in week 2, and the worlds goes back to pretending that Kansas doesn't exist. (Seriously, how can you root for a state that has no trees?)
Texas Agricultural and Mechanical School
A&M made a smart move by hiring Mike Sherman. Head coaches don't make a sorry team an elite team overnight. Even Big Game Bob lost to Texas in miserable fashion his first year before winning an NC in his second year. OU was much better off talent-wise in 2000 than A&M is in 2008. I will make no predictions about how Coach Sherman will do 2009 and further, but I expect him to do no better than "show signs of progress".
I am most interested in the QB situation. A new head coach has a bit of incentive to bench the old guy in favor of the young guy. You get a free pass in your first year, so if the young guy struggles, there is little downside. But now your young guy gets a lot more experience - experience that will pay dividends in years when your W-L record will be scrutinized.
Oklahoma has owned the Big 12 this decade. They won it last year, and they will be better this year than last. They beat UT last year, and the gap in talent has widened since then. Big Game Bob goes the Big 12 Championship when they beat Texas, and they rarely lose a Big 12 Championship game (and when they do, they get into the NC game anyway). They are an easy pick to win the conference and go to a BCS game. Big Game Bob has managed to lose a big game from time to time (well, all the time lately). So do they drop UT? Tech? CCG? BCS game? I dunno, but they drop something, and that keeps them from winning a national championship.
The Big 10 (aka the little 11)
From 1971 to today - 37 years of football - the Big 10 has produced 2 national champions:
1997 Michigan - this was a split poll with Nebraska. We don't know if UM would have beat NU had they played.
2002 OSU - it took a bad call in OT for this to go in OSU's favor.
That is pathetic.
Oh, Dr. Fro, the conference is just so tough that we knock each other out of contention...
B.S. The Big 10 has had plenty of teams in the NC game that fell flat on their face against OOC competition. In summary, the Big 10 is weak and it shows. What makes this all the funnier is that the Big 10 has a built-in advantage to getting into the NC game: no conference championship game. Yet, they keep failing to win the crystal football.
I don't expect the Big 10 to stop sucking any more than I expect the media to still act as if the Big 10 is relevant or than I expect Junell to become Jenny Craig's spokesperson. I have already wasted 2 minutes of my life by discussing the Big 10 this much.
The SEC is the polar opposite of the Big 10. This has been highlighted in the past two years' BCS Championship games. It's been a while since an SEC team failed to win an NC game. They are 4-0 since the BCS was created (Tennessee, Florida, LSU x 2). Florida won it all in 1996, but lost to Nebraska in 1995. Alabama won in 1992. So, as far back as this guy can remember, the SEC is 6-1 in the big game.
I always expect more of the same. Whoever comes out of this conference championship game should be an NC contender. Predicting who that might be is tough. The coaches poll has Georgia, Florida and LSU in the top 6 and Auburn at 11. I bet one or two plays will decide the fate of this league.
I say history repeats itself this year, and a blocked field goal determines the destiny of the SEC champion, and that whoever wins the SEC wins the whole enchilada.
A common theme of my predictions is that history will repeat itself. Nowhere is that more true than with the Heisman trophy. How do you pick against Tim Tebow? I won't. He is the real McCoy.
So, let's guess the second place player. I will go with Pat White, who is neither pat nor white.
USC plays in a pansy conference (and one without a CCG). They get the honor of losing to the SEC in the national championship. WVU will be as good as last year, but without the bad breaks. As a result, they will be a contender this season. They are BCS-worthy. Notre Dame will improve (they won't get worse!), but they are a ways away from being good.
Some from above, some new:
UT will win 10 games.
OU will win the conference...
...and go to a BCS game
...but not win the NC
A&M will start Jerrod Johnson at some point
The SEC will win the NC ...
Tebow gets the Heisman
Pat White is the runner-up
WVU to the BCS
UT finishes higher than Tech in the B12
UT finishes higher than Tech in the final AP
Coach Mangino manufactures a controversy
The SEC is decided by a blocked field goal attempt.
Junell is still gay at season's end.
Kansas loses to South Florida