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College Football 2008


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#1 unggoy

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Posted August 13, 2008 - 02:22 PM

The season is here, and there’s a lot to talk about so let’s get right after it with a quick look at the top teams nationally, and other teams of note.

Teams that have a legitimate shot at running the table and heading to Miami for the BCS National Championship:

Ohio State - Odds-on favorite to win it all, with 19 starters returning. They have a Heisman candidate running back in Beanie Wells, a veteran offensive line that is amongst the best in the country, an experienced QB and veteran receivers. Also, don’t be shocked to see Terrelle Pryor play immediately. On defense, they lose a talent in Gholston, but have plenty in reserve. There are 10 starters on defense back, lead by James Lauranitis and Malcolm Jenkins, both All Americans. They play at SC, but get the most difficult Big 10 games at home. This is just a solid, veteran team with stars all over the field. They’re one of my picks for the national title game.

Oklahoma - You can look hard, but you won’t find many weaknesses on this team, on either side of the ball. The Sooners have perhaps the best, most experienced offensive line in the country, last year’s pass efficiency leader in QB Sam Bradford, a top-5 RB in DeMarco Murray and plenty of weapons to throw to, notably Juaquin Iglesias at WR and Jermaine Gresham at TE. Coach Stoops also has some very talented recruits coming in this year that could see playing time immediately (LB Bryant, RB Calhoun, DL McGee). On defense, the Sooners are stacked, led by DTs DeMarcus Granger and Gerald McCoy. Although there were losses in the secondary (and you need a good one in the Big 12 this year), the Sooners are experienced with Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes (3 int last year). They do lose their top 4 tacklers, but there’s enough depth to make up for the losses. They should cruise in to the Red River Shootout in Dallas at 5-0, and if they escape the Longhorns, have only a road game at A&M, Texas Tech at home and a trip to Stillwater that separates them from a trip to Miami.

Florida - It’s all about weapons on offense and speed and experience on defense. Obviously, you start with the Heisman winner, Tim Tebow, who won’t have to run as much now that the Gators have capable running backs. Emmanuel Moody and spring game star Chris Rainey (if you have not seen him, watch the Gators dismantle Hawaii on 8/30), plus a talented group of receivers. The defense is led by star LB Brandon Spikes and Carlos Dunlap, who will be an absolute monster rushing from the edge. The defense was young last year, but now has the experience to go along with the speed. Florida has a manageable schedule with the exception of the Georgia game. If they get past UGA, don’t be surprised to see UF playing for the title. They get LSU and Miami at home, but do have to go to Tennessee and FSU. There are only 3 true SEC road games. Florida has enough talent and a decent enough schedule to run the table.

West Virginia - Yes, they lose Steve Slaton and their head coach, but there’s still talent and plenty of experience there. Pat White returns, and now Noel Devine will get more carries, so the drop off at RB won’t be as big as you might think. It certainly helps that the entire offensive line returns intact. The schedule sets up for the Mountaineers to be 6-0 heading into the October 23rd (Thursday) game against Auburn. If they escape that one, they have only the Backyard Brawl with Pitt and then USF at home separating WVU from a trip to Miami. WVU could go unbeaten and end up in the title game, though I don’t think they’re as talented as the teams listed above.

South Florida - Ten returning starters on offense, led by QB Matt Grothe, 7 returning starters on defense, and a manageable schedule means you should not be too shocked if USF lands in the title game. The Bulls will be strong in the front seven on defense and get 5 of their top 6 tacklers returning. Grothe is a leader as well as one of the nation’s top QBs, and has WR Jessie Hester and Carlton Mitchell to throw to. Grothe is the leading returning rusher on the team as well. They have home games with Kansas and Pitt, and it’s not inconceivable to see the Bulls at 11-0 heading in to Morgantown on December 6th to play WVU with a chance to go to Miami.

Very good teams that should play in BCS bowls (and any could play in the National Title Game):

Clemson – The best offensive backfield in the nation, with QB Cullen Harper and RBs James Davis and CJ Spiller. David went for 1100 and Spiller 800, and Harper returns his top 5 receivers from a year ago. On defense, the Tigers return 8 from a team that only allowed 306 total yards and 17 points per game last year. They also get freshman Da’Quan Bowers, who should start immediately and contribute heavily. Don’t be too shocked if the Tigers are unbeaten going into the game at Florida State on 11/8, and if they get past the Seminoles, Clemson could end up in the title game.

Georgia - This could be the most talented team in the nation, led by QB Matt Stafford and the ridiculously talented RB Knowshon Moreno. The brutal schedule is what is making me hesitant to say they’ll be playing for the title though. There are 9 returning on defense, and the Bulldogs gave up only 19 points per game in 2007. The defensive line is where it starts for Georgia, with senior and junior starters, and the Sam, Will and Mike backers all returning from last year. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs do have to play Florida, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina all on the road. Georgia is a National Title contender, but the schedule is difficult. I’ll say it again. If the Bulldogs make it through the schedule unbeaten – or even with one loss – there will not be a more deserving team in the National Title game.

USC - How many other teams can lose their starting QB, their leading RB and receiver, 4 of 5 offensive linemen, two DL and their top LB, yet still be ranked in the top-10? Not many. Ask Michigan. It’s different at USC though, because of every spot mentioned above, there’s enough talent and experience to make up for the losses. Injuries last year forced the Trojans to go 3 deep on the OL, and Sanchez started 3 games while Booty was out. There’s talent at RB and WR, and explosive talent in do-everything back Joe McKnight. The defense will be among the best in the nation again, led by the back 7. Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing are among the top-2 linebacker duos in the country. It’ll be tough to score on SC. I don’t know if they have enough experience on offense to deal with Ohio State, but the Trojans should return to the Rose Bowl. Sanchez’ injury is not thought to be serious, though it is getting extra reps for Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp. If SC gets by OSU at home on 9/13, they could be headed back to Miami.

Missouri – Normally you think only offense with Missouri, and for good reason. Chase Daniel might be the best QB in the Big XII (I said ‘might’), and has a great receiver in Jeremy Mackin. This year, however, you’ll think of defense with the Tigers, with 8 returning starters, and if Missouri gets past Texas on 10/18 (assuming they win at Nebraska on 10/4), they should return to the Big XII title game.

Texas Tech – What you think of when you think of the Red Raiders is a lot of offense and a trip to the Insight.com Bowl or the Gator Bowl. That could partially change this year, as Tech will still have the offense, led by Graham Harrell, who may be the best QB in the Big XII (I said ‘may be’) and he’ll be throwing to Michael Crabtree, who had 134 catches last year and 1900 yards. This could be the best defense yet under Mike Leach too, with 8 returning starters. Tech should be 8-0 heading into the Texas game on 11/1, and if they get past the Longhorns, could be 10-0 heading into Norman for the massive Oklahoma game.

Texas - The Longhorns have only 11 starters returning (4 on defense), but are a talented team that can still contend for the Big XII title. The offense is led by junior QB Colt McCoy, who threw for 3300 yards and 22 TDs, with 18 INT last year. The receivers are young, inexperienced and very talented. With the loss of RB Jamaal Charles, the RBs are young as well, with McCoy being the leading returning rusher. On defense, Texas loses 2 of the 4 DL, 2 of 3 LBs and 3 of 4 DBs, including star Marcus Griffin. The Longhorns should cruise into the Colorado game at 4-0, but it gets tough at that point. After the Buffs, Texas plays Oklahoma at Dallas, Missouri and Oklahoma State at home, then travels to Texas Tech. Texas has the talent to pull it off, and could get to the title game, but the inexperience and schedule may hold them back.

Others:

LSU – I feel weird putting LSU down here, because they could easily end up in the title game. Yes, there are the obvious questions at QB due to the Ryan Perrilloux debacle, but there’s so much talent everywhere else, and don’t let the loss of Glenn Dorsey fool you – it only opens opportunities for Tyson Jackson and Ricky Jean-Francois. There’s talent on the offensive side too, with Keiland Williams and Trindon Holliday returning, along with underrated TE Richard Dickson. There are playmakers at WR too. Yes, Michigan-killer Appalachian State opens at Death Valley this year, but really, LSU should be 5-0 heading into the Florida game this season.

UCLA - Yes, they have the coaching staff they’ve dreamed about, but there are definite holes to fill and it could be a long season for Bruins fans. The offensive line is decimated, there’s no starting QB and the defense lost the majority of the playmakers, most notably Bruce Davis, Chris Horton and Dennis Keyes. The Bruins will struggle to move the ball and they’ll rely on their defense. As a result, UCLA could win their share of low-scoring games. Help is on the way though, as Andre Dean at RB, Brain Price at DE and Chris Forcier at QB will lead the Bruins in the coming years. With Ben Olson’s injury, the competition is on between Kevin Craft and Forcier this fall. I just wouldn’t expect much from them in 2008. The schedule has them at home against Tennessee, at BYU, at Oregon, at Cal and at ASU, and at Washington. They also get tough games at home against Arizona, Fresno State and USC. It will be difficult to match last year’s 6 win total.

The three non-BCS teams to watch:

BYU – Explosive offense, led by QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga. They’ve got UCLA and Washington on the schedule too, and wins there can only help. Their lack of experience on defense may hurt them though, particularly in the secondary. Overall, they must replace 8 starters on defense. They have to play at TCU, at Utah, and at Washington, but BYU can outscore anyone, and will rely on their offense to win games for them. Not unlike the Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco Cougars of the 80s.

Fresno State – Typical Pat Hill schedule with Rutgers, Wisconsin and UCLA. Lots of talent all over the field, but the schedule could end up hurting them. QB Tom Brandstater is a senior and the defense has 7 returning starters. If they can come out of the first 4 unscathed, they have a chance to come in to Boise on November 28th unbeaten. That’s a big ‘if’, though.

Utah – Great QB play, and a veteran team. They play two BCS teams too, in Michigan and Oregon State, and beating two – even if they’re in transition mode – BCS teams can only help. The Utes get 4 of 5 back on the offensive line and should be explosive on offense, led by SR QB Brian Johnson and RB Darrell Mack. Utah could be unbeaten going in to the BYU game, with a chance to make a BCS bowl for the second time in the last 5 years.

Conference Winners:
ACC
Clemson
Big 10
Ohio State
Big 12
Oklahoma
Pac 10
USC
Big East
West Virginia
SEC
Florida


***They're just opinions!

#2 JD

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Posted August 14, 2008 - 11:22 AM

Thanks, ungoy. Good read.

Going to be an interesting year, as I think there's a lot of questions going into this season. Lot of teams retained bulks of their O and D, but lost starters in roles that could have significant impact on the season.

Oh yeah... I'll believe texas Tech has a defense, when I see it. :lol:

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#3 unggoy

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Posted August 14, 2008 - 12:57 PM

No, there’s no question they’re suspect on D, but they’re improving, I’ll give them that. And as difficult as that offense is to stop, OU did a relatively good job last year in doing so, early on anyway. Yes, TT had, what 34 points? But you know that Bradford went down in the 1Q, and the offense stalled at that point, and it kept giving TT field position. Halzle didn’t get going until late in the 4th. Now that I think about it, Allen Patrick went down in that game too. I know one thing though – that offense would drive me nuts as a D coordinator. Like Leach said recently, if the D figures out the X, Y, Z and H routes, along with the safety valve RB, then what? Well, then it’s 2nd down.

I just hope they’re both unbeaten going in to that game.

#4 BadScooter

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Posted August 15, 2008 - 06:05 AM

Conference Winners:
ACC
Clemson


Sadly, I agree with this.

It's a toss-up whether my 'Noles make their big recovery this year or next, but given how weak the ACC is outside of probably us, Clemson, VT, and probably Wake and Miami, I think we could make some noise.

We're still on a learning curve with the new coaching staff, the filtering out of Jeff Bowden-era recruits, the development of our young studs, the inexperience of the O-Line and the uncertainty at QB. I'm hopeful, but my rational side says to expect another year of promising growing pains.

#5 unggoy

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Posted August 26, 2008 - 01:33 PM

Any guesses on the games this weekend? I’m not normally in favor of predicting scores, but let’s give it a shot.

Youngstown State at Ohio State – Beanie will get 100+, Lauranitis will have double-digit tackles, and neither one
will play more than two series in the 2nd half. OSU can just hope nobody rolls an ankle or pops an ACL.

Utah at Michigan – Uh-oh. It could happen again. Utah is pretty efficient in their spread offense. It’ll be interesting to see the Wolverines on offense too, without 8-year starters Henne, Hart and Manning ham. Michigan’s got an athletic edge, and that might be enough, but I’m picking the Utes in this one.

Appalachian State at LSU – It’s not going to happen again. Though I really like Armanti Edwards, LSU knows exactly what’s coming and knows exactly what everyone is thinking. I’m thinking LSU 35-17 though.

USC at Virginia – SC has their questions on offense, but Virginia is paper thin on both sides of the ball. I don’t expect SC to put up a 50 on them, but I’ll say the Trojans win by two TDs.

Chattanooga at Oklahoma –Sooners 80, Chattanooga 10. I suspect Chattanooga will score somehow, perhaps a snap over the head of the Sooner’s punter. That’s assuming OU punts. This score also means that OU will have to kick a field goal, which I doubt happens as well. Make it an even 84-10.

Tennessee at UCLA – Tough call. Both teams have new QBs with new coordinators. UCLA has the edge in coordinators, but the Vols have the edge in QBs. Tennessee might have trouble moving the ball on the UCLA defense, but the Bruins offense is going to have trouble moving the ball on everyone. The Vols have more weapons at WR and a 1000 yard RB, and even though the QB is new, he is not young and not completely inexperienced, and playing behind a solid, veteran offensive line (fewest sacks given up in the SEC last year). I’ll give the edge to Tennessee. I’m just going to avoid Pasadena on Sunday and Monday, because I can’t take seeing that much orange in one place.

Hawaii at Florida – If you thought UH got blown out in the Sugar Bowl, wait until you see what Florida does to them. I’m calling for TDs on UF’s first 21 possessions. That’s 147 points. Then the 2nd half will start.

#6 Tobias Fünke

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Posted August 26, 2008 - 02:53 PM

This week is just torture, no real games, all blow outs.
i hate the fact that everyone get's cupcakes in week one.
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#7 Icker

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Posted August 26, 2008 - 09:31 PM

6 words
UCLA FOOTBALL!!!!


dam why do i go for the teams that suck

#8 BadScooter

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Posted August 29, 2008 - 04:35 AM

This week is just torture, no real games, all blow outs.
i hate the fact that everyone get's cupcakes in week one.


Clemson vs. Alabama?

That's the game on the week, I'm surprised unggoy didn't mention that one in their game predictions.

#9 Tobias Fünke

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Posted August 29, 2008 - 06:47 AM

Clemson vs. Alabama?

That's the game on the week, I'm surprised unggoy didn't mention that one in their game predictions.


#1 game of the Week is Illinois vs Mizzou according to Pat Ford
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#10 BadScooter

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Posted August 29, 2008 - 08:28 AM

#1 game of the Week is Illinois vs Mizzou according to Pat Ford


I'm an ACC guy living among SEC titans here the south, so Clemson-Alabama has far more appeal to me. But Illinois vs. Mizzou is like 1b for me.

#11 Tobias Fünke

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Posted August 29, 2008 - 08:41 AM

ACC eh. Some analyst had Clemson vs SC in the title game. who knows, right.
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#12 BadScooter

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Posted August 29, 2008 - 09:18 AM

ACC eh. Some analyst had Clemson vs SC in the title game. who knows, right.


Not likely. Clemson's O-Line is too young and they've had a tendency to fall apart at the end of the season.

#13 popo

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Posted September 06, 2008 - 02:22 PM

How sad the refs cost Washington from going to ot.
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#14 SaintNicholasVanExel

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Posted September 06, 2008 - 02:50 PM

How sad the refs cost Washington from going to ot.

that was ridiculous.
Locker was just getting rid of the ball. stupid call.

#15 SaintNicholasVanExel

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Posted September 06, 2008 - 02:51 PM

Ole Miss v. Wake is coming down to the wire.

#16 popo

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Posted September 06, 2008 - 03:09 PM

Ole Miss v. Wake is coming down to the wire.


Great finish, Wake with the fg.
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#17 Tobias Fünke

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Posted September 06, 2008 - 03:40 PM

Great finish, Wake with the fg.


yeah, i kinda feel bad for the ACC
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#18 popo

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Posted September 06, 2008 - 03:41 PM

Hoping Miami can pull the upset i hate the Gators.
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#19 popo

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Posted September 13, 2008 - 09:19 PM

Wisconsin vs Fresno State has been pretty good so far.
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#20 Tobias Fünke

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Posted September 13, 2008 - 09:26 PM

Ohio State - Odds-on favorite to win it all,


well, so much for that. though I can't fault you. you hear the words "20 returning starters" and think BCS, but now all i think about is this years Michigan.
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