Saturday, July 10, 2010

How good will the 2010 College Football Season be?

The Big Twelve Conference should be very interesting, especially with all eyes on the Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-4) and the Huskers swan song in the conference. Three important games to watch for the Huskers:
  • @ Washington (5-7) in Week 3 - Second year coach Steve Sarkisian had the Huskies ready in Week 3 last season, when Washington pulled out a 16-13 upset win over #3 USC.
  • @ Kansas State (6-6) on Thursday, October 7Th - the Huskers will likely be a target for eight straight weeks in the Big 12, since they are moving to the Big Ten in 2010. The home team has won 10 of 13. K-State has only won five games over the Huskers, since 1969, but all five wins have come with Bill Snyder at the helm for the Wildcats.
  • vs. Texas (13-1) on October 16Th - Husker Bo Pelini is entering his third season at the helm of the Cornhuskers program, but he has yet to win a home conference opener as head coach. Texas has won 8 of 9 over the Cornhuskers, including five straight, with the last four games by a FG or less.
All eyes are not on Nebraska in the Big Twelve this season. Respected preseason magazine, Phil Steele's College Football 2010 Preview, ranks the Oklahoma Sooners (8-5) the #1 team for this year's BCS championship. The Sooners last five loss season was in 1999, they followed it up with a 13-0 season in 2000 and BCS Title for Bob Stoops, who was in his second season as head coach at Oklahoma. Not sure Phil Steele's logic is right on the mark here, but it should be interesting to find out.

Remember, Alabama (14-0) is the defending national champs and they return a boat load of talent for coach Nick Saban. Alabama beat Texas 37-21 in the BCS Title Game last season. Texas has defeated Oklahoma four out of the past five Red River Rivalry games and won the BCS title during the 2005 season. So, there is no guarantee that the Sooners will get out of the Big 12 South, let alone a date in the BCS title game this season.

The Iowa Hawkeyes (11-2) will attempt to win their first Big Ten title, since 2004, when Michigan and Iowa finished 7-1 in the Big Ten. Ohio State (11-2) is going for their sixth straight Big Ten title or share in the Big Ten. Penn State (11-2) tied with Ohio State in '05 and '08, but was knocked out of the race last season with home loses to Iowa and Ohio State. Both Iowa and Ohio State are coming off BCS wins, with Iowa's win over Georgia Tech (11-3) 24-14 in the Orange Bowl, while Ohio State beat Oregon (10-3) 26-17 in the Rose Bowl last year.

The Big Ten has witnessed a drop in Ann Arbor, where Michigan (5-7) has had back to back losing seasons for the first time, since '62 and '63. Coach Rich Rodriguez enters his third campaign in Ann Arbor with a lot of eyes on the program. Senior Day will be November 20Th vs. Wisconsin (10-3). We should know by then, if Rodriguez is getting the shipped turned in the right direction in Ann Arbor.

By the way, it's been over a decade, 1999 to be exact, since the Wisconsin Badgers were on top in the Big Ten. Every Big Ten program, but Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Indiana has won a share of the Big Ten, since 2000. The Big Ten will add the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2011 and a conference title game will be on the horizon. But, the 2010 season comes first.

The SEC continues to be the top NCAA conference among the FBS division. However, it is a top heavy conference with Alabama, Florida and LSU. Auburn (8-5) had a perfect season in 2004, but didn't make the BCS title game. The Tigers are only 10-14 the past three seasons in the SEC. Georgia (10-3) wins games in the conference, they are 55-25 over the past ten seasons, but not enough to get into the SEC title game, since Florida (13-1) has normally stood in their way, with the occasional time Tennessee sneaks ahead. The Tennessee Volunteers (7-6) welcome a new coach, Derek Dooley, who will be the third head coach in three seasons for the Volunteers. LSU (9-4) fans are getting a little restless, since coach Les Miles hasn't won a SEC title or a trip to the BCS game, since the 2007 season.

The ACC has a lot of eyes on it. North Carolina (8-5) and only 4-4 in their division is getting hype this pre-season. They return nine starters on defense for coach Butch Davis, but the NFL draft gurus for the 2011 draft love the Tar Heels, which makes the Tar Heels popular heading into the 2010 season. The Tar Heels last bowl win was in 2001 over Auburn in the Peach.

There was a lot of love for 2009 ACC champion Georgia Tech last season. But, don't ask those who saw the games at Miami-FL, vs. Georgia and vs. Iowa in the Orange Bowl. The ACC has a lot of good programs that can beat up on each other, but do they have a Top 10 program that can stand out? Of course, Miami-FL (9-4) and Florida State (7-6) are looking to get back to the party. Clemson (9-5) and Boston College (8-5) would like to sneak in there.

The top ACC program could be Virginia Tech (10-3). The Hokies have an important OOC opener in Landover, MD on Labor Day vs. Boise State (14-0), who intends to carry again the top banner for the non-BCS programs. This is the last season for the Broncos in the WAC, before they move over to Mountain West for the 2011 season.

Last season, the Pac Ten saw USC (9-4), fall out of the conference perch for the first time, since the 2002 season. Further, coach Pete Carroll has moved back into the NFL and a controversial hire was made in Lane Kiffin. Now, the best USC can do is become a spoiler in the Pac Ten, since the NCAA has placed the Trojans on probation and they will not be allowed to participate in a bowl game, face scholarship cuts and they will not be eligible for the ESPN/Coaches Poll. The conference will likely be in a vacuum for awhile, until another program can jump into the national spotlight.

The Big East will most likely have a changing of the guard, since Cincinnati (13-1) lost coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame (6-6), after Kelly lead the Bearcats to back to back Big East titles. Pittsburgh (10-3) has not won the Big East, since 2004, under a former coach. Coach Dave Wannstedt enters his sixth season and maybe this will be the season finally. Of course, West Virginia (9-4) would like to win for third year coach Bill Stewart, who replaced Rich Rodriguez, when he headed to Ann Arbor.

The MWC will again argue that if the Big East is worthy for the BCS, so should the MWC. TCU (12-1), Utah (10-3) and Brigham Young (11-2) are all programs doing well. Air Force (8-5) will hope to play spoiler in 2010 in the MWC. TCU played Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, but lost 10-17, after beating Boise in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl 17-16. The Horned Frogs won the top non-BCS program banner back, after winning it in 2008.

Conference USA has not found a way into the BCS mix, despite fielding 12 football programs. The C-USA West looks to overtake the C-USA East, after East Carolina (9-5) took back to back titles in the C-USA Championship game. Houston (10-4), SMU (8-5) and Tulsa (5-7) are the top three programs to likely make that move in the West. UCF (8-5) and Southern Miss (7-6) will be the likely top candidates to contend for the top spot in the East.

The WAC will take a hit after 2010, when Boise State moves to the MWC. Right now, Boise State is looking to make history in 2010. Can the Broncos sneak into the BCS title game, coming from a non-BCS conference? The big games that stand in the Broncos way:
  • Labor Day game in Landover, MD vs. Virginia Tech, from the ACC
  • September 25Th, vs. Oregon State (8-5) from the Pac Ten
  • @ Wyoming, Toledo and eight conference cupcakes in the eyes of the rest of the nation
Could we see another Boise State-TCU match up at season's end for the third staight season?

The FBS has three Independents in 2010...
  • Notre Dame - on the wish list for the Big Ten, but still not interested?
  • Navy (10-4) - The Midshipmen have won 2 of the last 3 games vs. the Fight Irish!
  • Army (5-7) - The Black Knights have lost eight straight to the Midshipmen!
Is this the year that coach Al Gordon leads the Temple Owls (9-4) to a MAC championship?

Heck, maybe a MAC title or two could help hoist him into the position, held the past 45 years by Penn State coach Joe Paterno? At Ohio U (9-5), former Nebraska coach Frank Solich will fight Temple and five other schools for the MAC East spot. In the MAC West, five other schools will look to knock out 2009 and 2007 champ Central Michigan (12-2), who have to find a new QB, along with welcoming a new head coach.

The Sun Belt Conference has seen Troy (9-4) win back to back conference titles. But, Middle Tennessee (10-3) is the top program to sneak past Troy in 2010. The Blue Raiders host the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-7) in the season opener.

The 2010 season looks to be a very interesting one...

Who do you like in college football in 2010?


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