Thursday, September 2, 2010

2010 College Football: Week 1

As Hurricane Approaches Mid-Atlantic, Winds of Change Mark 2010 Season

Here comes College Football 2010 and wow has the landscape changed since New Year’s.

First, USC has gone from the penthouse to the s…house. Coach Pete Carroll bolted for Seattle in the NFL and quickly the skeletons fell from the closet concerning allegations concerning NFL star and former Heisman winner, Reggie Bush’s misdeeds while on the Trojans. He is banned from USC and the sanctions will make maintaining a nationally ranked program difficult. Meanwhile, one would think they could have done better than Lane Kiffin as their coach, who appeared brash and careless at Tennessee and was in way over his head at the helm for the Oakland Raiders.

We got a lesson in conference math were the Big 12 now has 10 teams and the Big 10 has 12 teams. Nebraska heading to the Big Ten. Colorado is heading to the PAC 10 – which by this new math will have 11 teams. Meanwhile, Brigham Young intends to move on as an independent signing a TV deal with ESPN and locking in future games with Notre Dame.

Tim Tebow is gone, grownup, and playing for the Denver Broncos. Who will be the face of college football now? Bobbie Bowden will no longer be patrolling the sidelines at Florida State after being unceremoniously dumped last year.

Examining the Pre-Season A/P poll, four of the top five teams are quite predictable; the remaining team will surely raise eyebrows.

1. Alabama (SEC)
2. Ohio State (Big 10)
3. Boise State (WAC)
4. Florida (SEC)
5. Texas (Big 12)

Boise State, eh? Do not adjust your sets, yes their turf truly is deep blue which can really drive the viewer crazy after a couple quarters. Much debate focuses on whether the BCS process would ever let a team from a perceived lesser conference ever compete for a National Championship versus the well-established big boys.

Alabama looks like a team that could repeat even if Mark Ingram is missing in early games with a knee injury. Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeyes must show more consistency and not let a clutch game get away from them which causes enough damage to move them out of the Championship scenario. Florida will have a fresh approach on offense putting more emphasis on running and the short game with Tim Tebow’s departure. They’re always a tough fight.

6-10 is a reasonably predictable lot too.

6. TCU
7. Oklahoma
8. Nebraska
9. Iowa
10. Virginia Tech

Oklahoma will certainly want to upset Texas’s applecart. If they dominate the Big 12 relative to other conferences’ play, they could be a championship contender. Iowa has been a giant killer the past two seasons ruining Penn State’s season two years in a row. Now they are one of the giants. Should Ohio State fail, Iowa could stand ready to step in.

Nebraska will certainly aim to exit the Big 12 in a blaze of glory showing the Big 10 what lies in store when they move for 2011. Virginia Tech is the ACC’s best bet as other ACC teams are improved for 2010.

Here’s the balance of the Top 25.

11. Oregon (PAC 10)
12. Wisconsin (Big 10)
13. Miami [FL] (ACC)
14. USC (PAC 10)
15. Pittsburgh (Big 10)
16. Georgia Tech (ACC)
17. Arkansas (SEC)
18. North Carolina (ACC)
19. Penn State (Big 10)
20. Florida State (ACC)
21. LSU (SEC)
22. Auburn (SEC)
23. Georgia (SEC)
24. Oregon State (PAC 20)
25. West Virginia (Big East)

Looking at these teams, one can’t help but notice the reemergence of the ACC with a total of five teams in the hunt. No surprise, the SEC leads with six seeds. That Florida State is back in the picture is noteworthy. One has to wonder given the turmoil in the land of the Spartans, how long will USC be on the charts?

Not in the chart, but some think this could be the breakthrough season is Notre Dame. With Brian Kelly and his record of success coming on board, much is expected; however, the proof will be in the play. Meanwhile, a short jog to the north east in Ann Arbor, life is not good for the Wolverines. Rich Rodriguez will take the blame for whatever happens on the field. Unpopular from the start coming from West Virginia where he put that program on the map, U of M insiders wanted someone with Michigan connections to coach their historic team. Les Miles was assumed to have been delighted for the opportunity to return to Michigan as someone who would seem a natural to replace Lloyd Carr. Surely, in the minds of the Wolverine faithful, somebody had to drop the ball not to attract their man. Nevertheless, Miles was very clear on his decision. Why would he want to bolt the successful program he’s running in Louisiana where he is respected and successful? (Maybe not enduring Michigan winters was an “X” factor too.) Michigan fans need to accept there have been serious organizational problems and it will take substantial rebuilding and rebranding to make Michigan an attractive team to recruit the nation’s top talent once again. Perhaps the greater exposure and growth of the Big 10 will be the right recipe.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, what could be more perfect than Maryland playing Navy at the Ravens’ stadium to open the season? Baltimore will be hopping Monday night as a national audience watches what could become a great annual tradition if the two schools are sensible. Later, Boise State plays Virginia Tech at FedEx field. Football fans have to appreciate the attention this draws to our area that typically is all about Ravens and Redskins.

We’re following six games this week. This is the cupcake portion of the season, so finding good contests is difficult. Let’s see what bragging rights we have Tuesday morning.

Southern Mississippi @ South Carolina (-14)
Squeaky old Steve Spurrier is back at SC and should have little to fuss about after the Gamecocks win their first game convincingly.

Kentucky (-3) @ Louisville
A much more appealing basketball rivalry, but in case anybody wants pigskins to settle any scores, go with Kentucky.

Connecticut @ Michigan (-3)
Few teams need to start off the season with a win more badly than Michigan. Their program is in chaos. Playing in Ann Arbor, they should prevail.

Oregon State #24 @ TCU #6 (13 ½)
This is of the few games between ranked teams. TCU must win convincingly to maintain their top tier respect.

LSU #21 (-6 ½) @ North Carolina #18
The odds makers who reported in, give LSU the edge. Perhaps this is a generic pick SEC versus ACC. We’ll go with Carolina blue!

Navy (-6 ½) versus Maryland @ M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Navy has been coming on strong in football in recent years while Maryland has floundered. Maryland must step up significantly to restore honor to their program, but Navy’s discipline should prevail. It will be interesting to see how the crowd balances between the two schools.

Boise State #3 versus Virginia Tech #10 @ FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
The team that plays on the weird blue carpet comes from Potato country to the Nation’s capitol to battle the ACC’s premier team for 2010. If Boise State loses, their place in 2010’s picture will shrink to a blip. Frank Beamer will have his men ready to pull what the national media would consider an upset.

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