Today marks the start of the 2010 College Football season. Normally, I'm pretty pumped about the start of a new season, but this year it seems like the college football season has sneaked up on me for whatever reason, so I'm not quite as excited as usual. Heck, it almost seems as if the NBA Finals just ended last week. I guess that time really does fly. Anyway, with the start of the college football season at hand, I decided to make a few predictions and see if any of them will hold up at the end of the season. Below are my picks for each conference champion, my prediction for the National Championship and winner, and my Heisman Trophy prediction. Let's get this started, shall we?
ACC: The good news is that the ACC seems to have more quality teams this year than in recent years, but don't expect any team from the conference to compete for a National Title. In the Atlantic division. Clemson has a talented defense but must replace All-American running back C.J. Spiller. Florida State returns All-ACC Quarterback Christian Ponder, but it might take more than a year to rebuild the defense, which was just awful last year. I expect Boston College to represent the Atlantic division in the ACC Title Game. RB Montez Harris is a premier playmaker, and an already tough defense gets a big boost from All-American LB Mark Herzlich's return from his bout with cancer. In the Coastal division, there are four teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the conference. Defending champ Georgia Tech returns playmaking QB Josh Nesbitt, but may have lost too many quality players to repeat this year. Miami has talent all over the field, but it remains to be seen if they can show consistency throughout the season. North Carolina may have the most talented team in the conference, but an offseason full of off-the-field issues may keep some of that talent, including star DT Marvin Austin and WR Greg Little, off the field. Virginia Tech is my pick not only to win the Coastal Division, but to also win the conference as a whole. Offensively, they have two running backs in Ryan Williams and Darren Evans that have 1,000 yard seasons in their college career, while Tyrod Taylor is a playmaker at quarterback. Defensively, they only return four starters, but head coach Frank Beamer and Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster are two of the best and the business, and they should be able to build yet another strong defense in Blacksburg.
Big East: There are four teams with a legitimate shot at taking home the crown this year, but don't expect the National Champion to come from this conference. Defending champion Cincinnati has a new head coach and lost a lot of players from last year's team, but QB Zach Collars should be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. This may be Connecticut's best chance at winning a Big East crown, as they have a lot of returning starters coming back and RB Jordan Todman is one of the best in the nation. Even though Pitt lost to Utah tonight, they are too talented to dismiss from contention at this point, and RB Dion Lewis is a bonafide Heisman candidate. My pick, however, is West Virginia. Yes, they have questions at quarterback, but with receivers Jock Sanders and hotshot freshman Ivan McCartney, as well as Heisman candidate RB Noel Devine, the offense should be potent enough to complement a solid defense and bring coach Bill Stewart his first conference title.
Big Ten: Every team in the conference outside of Minnesota should have a decent chance at making a bowl game this year, but realistically there are only three teams with a legitimate shot at winning the conference this year. Ohio State is being thought of as a National Championship contender, and with good reason, as QB Terrelle Pryor leads a talented offense that complements their always stout defense. However, Ohio State has a tough schedule, playing Miami next week and other Big Ten powerhouses Iowa and Wisconsin on the road. Iowa, who wrapped up a stellar season last year with a win in the Orange Bowl, brings back a tough defense led by All-American DE Adrian Clayborn, but QB Ricky Stanzi must be more consistent this year. Wisconsin has a potential All-American in RB John Clay and a solid defense led by S Jay Valvi and LB Chris Borland, which I feel will be enough to get the Badgers the Big Ten title.
Big Twelve: Nebraska will win the Big 12 North, of this I am sure. Even though they lost DT Ndamukong Suh and their quarterback situation is questionable at best, the talent on the defensive side of the ball alone should be enough for Nebraska to steamroll over the other Big 12 North teams, escepially since Missouri recently dismissed RB Derrick Washington from their team. In the Big 12 South, it should once again be a battle between Texas and Oklahoma, although Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson may be good enough to upset a few of the big boys of the Big 12. Oklahoma has a strong defensive line, and with playmakers such as RB Demarco Murray and WR Ryan Broyles, they will be able to put up points. Texas lost a large amount of players, but as the saying goes, they don't rebuild, they reload. If QB Garrett Gilbert lives up to the hype, and I believe he will, than Texas will repeat as Big 12 champions.
Pac-Ten: The most wide open of the Power conferences this year, as there are six teams with a good shot at taking the title home. Defending champ Oregon has had a rough offseason, but with RB LaMichael James and DE Kenny Rowe leading a veteran team, the Ducks still must be taken seriously. USC still has oodles of talent on both sides of the ball, but a lack of depth could submarine Lane Kiffin's first season as head coach of the Trojans. Arizona has eight returning starters on offense, including QB Nick Foles, but in order to win the Wildcats must overcome an inexperienced defense. Stanford is led by QB Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh, two men many expect will be in the NFL sooner rather than later, but like Arizona, must become better on defense. Oregon State has two potential All-Americans in WR James Rodgers and RB Jacquizz Rodgers, and yes they are both brothers. If QB Ryan Katz develops quickly and if Oregon State can survive a tough early schedule, than the Beavers have a good shot. My pick, however, is Washington. QB Jake Locker is the best player in the conference and may be the top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he is surronded by top notch skill players on offense. They have to get better defensively, but in a wide-open race, Locker and company will put up enough points and restore the Washington program to its previous heights.
SEC: In the West division, defending National Champion Alabama has to be the choice here. Yes Arkansas has Heisman candidate QB Ryan Mallett, and Auburn and LSU are tough teams as well. But the Crimson Tide are just too talented, with a core led by Heisman winner RB Mark Ingram and LB Donta Hightower. In the East, some are picking South Carolina as a potential dark horse, and they did look good tonight against Southern Miss. But I have a hard time believing that QB Stephen Garcia can lead the Gamecocks to glory, and coach Steve Spurrier may feel the same way. That basically leaves Florida and Georgia. While Georgia WR A.J. Green is a beast, and the offensive line is among the best in the nation, the Bulldogs may have a hard time adjusting to the new 3-4 scheme on defense. Plus, it would help if the Bulldogs didn't have a player arrested every week. That leaves Florida, who lost QB/Savior Tim Tebow and a host of other talented players, but coach Urban Meyer has a whole bunch of talented players willing to show what they can do, and they should do well enough to get to the SEC Championship Game. However, nobody's going to beat out Alabama this year, barring major injuries or suspensions, of course.
Other Confrences: Boise State and TCU are preseason top-10 teams who some feel have a shot at the National Championship. Therefore, it stands to reason that they are my picks to win the Wac and Mountain West conferences respectively. However, TCU will face a challenge from Utah and BYU on the way. In the MAC, Temple, led by sophomore sensation RB Bernard Prince, should be able to win that conference. Houston has the best team and the best player (QB Case Kessum), so they should be able to win the conference. Although, SMU and UCF may have something to say about that. In the Sun Belt, Middle Tennessee St., led by dual-threat QB Dwight Dasher, should win easily if Dasher isn't suspended due to off-field issues. If he misses too many games, look for Troy to become the favorite.
National Championship Game: Boise State comes in to the season ranked number 3, and many people believe that if they get past Virginia Tech on Monday Night, they have a wide open path to the National Championship game provided that two or more major conference teams do not finished undefeated. Well, I'm going to say that the Broncos beat Virginia Tech and everybody else in their path, and will play for all the marbles. But the dream will end there, as Alabama becomes the first repeat national champion since the 1994-95 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Heisman Trophy: Well, if my PAC-10 prediction comes true, than Washington QB Jake Locker will have to put together a Heisman worthy season. Of course, you can't count out last year's winner, Alabama RB Mark Ingram. West Virginia RB Noel Devine and Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis also could easily put together huge seasons, and don't be surprised if Oklahoma RB Demarco Murray, Boise State QB Kellen Moore, and Houston QB Case Kessum makes a run at the trophy as well. The preseason favorite seems to be Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, but I'll go slightly against the grain and select Jake Locker as the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner. The top 5 contenders are:
Dark Horse: Florida QB John Brantley.
Well, that was a little longer than I expected, but what can you do? Over the next few months, it will be fun to see whether I hit any of my predictions, or the 2010 College Football season proceeds to make me look like a fool. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this or other posts, or ideas for future posts, than let us know them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.