Sunday, July 6, 2008

Analizing the Sporting News College Football '08

So, Sporting News' Top 10 - Buy or Sell?
  1. Georgia
  2. Ohio State
  3. USC
  4. Oklahoma
  5. LSU
  6. Missouri
  7. Clemson
  8. West Virginia
  9. Florida
  10. Illinois

I know Ohio State has never beat a SEC opponent in a bowl game, but if the Buckeyes make it in '08 to their 3rd straight BCS title game. Then I say, three's the charm for Ohio State. They win their 2nd BCS Title (first was 2002 season) and celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woody Hayes' last MNC in style.

Georgia appears to be the right team for #1, until someone knocks them off. Heck, my early Top 25 pegged the Bulldogs #1 too. Ohio State's strength of schedule is #31(per Phil Steele page 318), which would appear a good formula for a BCS title run, looking at Florida and Louisiana State the past 2 seasons.

The Buckeyes clearly look strong, with a senior QB among the 10 returning starters on offense; 9 back on what should be a strong Buckeye defense. Georgia is rated #3, Florida #12 and defending champ, LSU, is #19 in strength of schedule (SOS). Tennessee is 16th, USC is #21, Texas #23, Oklahoma #30, with Florida State #50 in SOS of the former champs.

Heisman watch (pages 10-11): It would be an irony, if Ohio State wins the BCS in '08, while Tim Tebow wins his second Heisman Trophy, which would put him in company with only one player, former Buckeye running back Archie Griffin, the NCAA's only two-time Heisman winner!

Buckeye watch: RB Chris Wells and "hidden" Heisman hopeful, LB James Laurinaitis are mentioned in the Sporting News captions.

Coaches on the Hot Seat (page 15):
  • Washington's Tyrone Willingham (page 94) on the decline, picked #9 in Pac Ten.
  • Arizona's Mike Stoops (page 94) on the decline, picked #6 in the Pac Ten.
  • Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (page 52) steady, picked #9 in the Big Ten (steady? Iowa #5 in '07).
  • Syracuse's Greg Robinson (page 40) steady, picked last in the Big East basement, again.
  • Kansas State's Ron Prince (page 68) steady, picked #5 in Big 12 North.
While the top new hires go to Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson, who moves over from Navy, ahead of #2 Michigan's Rich Rodriquez (from West Virginia), #3 Rick Neuheisal (back in NCAA from NFL Baltimore assistant), #4 Ole Miss' Houston Nutt (from Arkansas), and #5 Arkansas' Bobby Petrino (from NFL Atlanta). Where's Bo? Nebraska hired #7 Bo Pelini (from LSU DC), while no love for #18 Texas A&M's Mike Sherman (from NFL Houston assistant).

Looking back at the Sporting News Top 10: are both #6 Missouri (page 70) and #10 Illinois (page 56) going to end in the Top 10? Both teams face each other right out of the gate (page 13), then must face their peers in the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively. Neither has a strong history for consistency at the top of their conference ladder.

Can #5 LSU (page 117) stay this high playing in the SEC and coming off the BCS Title last year? SEC is rated the #1 conference again, by the Sporting news. It will be interesting to watch the QB situation for Tigers. Florida went from #1 to #13 in the AP the next year after their recent title. Like Florida, Texas dropped from #1 to #13 in the AP following their title. LSU should have a fun start in '08, they face defending FCS champ (formerly known as Division I-AA), Appalachian State, in the season opener.

It will be interesting to watch #8 West Virginia (page 74) under new head coach Bill Stewart. Popular among the players, but will he step up to the battles in the Big East and a trip to Boulder to face head coach Dan Hawkins and his Colorado Buffaloes.

The Sporting News, now owned by Street & Smith's, certainly keeps the tradition of Street & Smith previews with coverage of the FCS and small college previews. A good story (pages 153-154) on the parity in college football closing between FBS and FCS teams. Defending Champ Appalachian State rocked the college football world in '07 with its outstanding upset win in Ann Arbor over Michigan. North Dakota State beat both Minnesota and Central Michigan last year. Northern Iowa beat Iowa State and will open at #19 BYU in '08.

Street & Smith's Sporting News still makes mistakes in editing. Going through the years, Street & Smith was known for some misstatements. In the JUCO Report (page 183), Super Sophomore Amari Spievey, DB 6-0 187, Iowa Central, isn't at Iowa Central. As Phil Steele's Preview (page 64) points out, Spievey, sophomore, 7 interceptions, 4 block punts, 2 kickoff return TDs at JC last year is projected by Phil Steele's preview to start at CB for Iowa.

All in all... I am sad to see Street & Smith's and the Sporting News combine efforts. I liked each formats, though I believe other magazine previews to be better in their forecasts and overall information.


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