The MAC is probably the worst conference in the FBS (the Sun Belt is the only other conference that compares). Most of the teams in the conference are really really bad. However, they have always been one of my favorite conferences to watch (I am still shocked that Garrett Wolfe hasn't turned into a very good NFL runningback). The conference does boast former players like Big Ben of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers.
These guys won 8 games last year, a dramatic turnaround from just a few years ago. They return 9 starters on both sides of the ball from last years team. They ran the ball really well last year, and return their star running back. The line has some changes but should be okay. The defense looks to be really good as well.
Final Prediction: New Hampshire is followed by Ohio State and Boise State. Its never fun to get lit up two weeks in a row, but its going to happen. However, they could skate through the rest of the schedule and win 10 games and the conference.
They were top 15 in the country in both offense and defense last year. However, they were shocked in the MAC championship game by Miami (OH). Dave Doeren takes over as head coach, and he doesn't need to make many changes it appears. They return a very nice quarterback in Harnish, but lost their leading rusher from last year. The line all returns, meaning that this will be a very good offense. However, their defense does look shaky. They only return two starters on that side of the ball and the secondary may be really bad, and with a couple of really good passing teams in this conference, that spells big trouble.
Final Prediction: They start the year with Army, Kansas, and Wisconsin. That is a pretty tough stretch. I think these guys will be good and win 8 or 9 games, but with the secondary problems, I believe they will come up just short of the conference championship again.
One of College Football's best stories last season, as they had an awful 1-11 season in 09, and then won the MAC championship and 10 games in 2010. However, there is a coaching change, and with that brings, well, change. There are 8 returning starters on offense, including both quarterbacks they used last year. They did lose star runningback Merriweather, and he was one of my favorite players in college football last season, he won't be easy to replace. They do have 9 defensive players returning from last year's solid defense.
Final Prediction: They start the year against Missouri and Minnesota, and also have to play Cincinnati and Army. This year won't be like last year, and don't expect them to repeat, but they should still be good and win about 7.
They went 8-4 last year before losing to an exciting Troy team in the New Orleans Bowl. They have been very competitive in the MAC the past few seasons, and they bring back the best offense in the conference. The whole offensive line returns and it all starts up front. The defense only returns just two starters and appear to be the weak spot on this team. The secondary could cost this team some games.
Final Prediction: New Mexico State and Gardener-Webb is how the season starts. They do have to play Rutgers later on though. 7 wins seem pretty reasonable for these guys, anything less than another bowl game would be disappointing.
They went 6-6 last year, but weren't picked by a bowl. They have quite a quarterback in Alex Carder, and are able to throw the ball really well. Their defensive is really solid upfront and can control a game in this conference. The only real questions this team has is what their running game will do, and how their offensive line (that is replacing 3 starters) will hold up.
Final Prediction: Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut are the toughest teams on the schedule. Expect another 6 win season, and its easy to see how the bowls will ignore them again.
Despite going 3-9 last season, they threw the ball all over the field last year. This program had competed in the MAC for the past several years, before the big flop of last year. Dan Enos is entering his second year, and he better turn things around pretty quick. He does return 8 starters on offense, and several on defense. The season will seem to hinge on whether they can run the ball, and thats not good news.
Final Prediction: Michigan State, North Carolina State and Kentucky are tough games, while South Carolina State is not. 5 wins seem reasonable, an improvement from last year.
They lost Al Golden to Miami (which may have turned out to be a mistake for Golden). They won 8 games and still managed to somehow not be invited to a bowl. The offense was mediocre last year but they are coming back experienced and will probably be better (though one wonders how the new coach will affect this team). Three starters on the line return, but the two that left were two of the best in the MAC. The defense has been key for this team in recent seasons, and this year they have to replace most of the players that helped them secure winning records.
Final Prediction: Villanova, Akron, and Penn State is how they begin the year. Toledo and Army will provide interesting match-ups later in the season. I don't like all the changes and I don't really believe in this team. Expect about 5 wins.
In comes in a new coach, but they return 14 starters. They were 5-7 last year, and so the question of this off-season was whether to rebuild, or whether to just try keep the same system. They haven't made a bowl game since 1972, so its not like there is a winning tradition to use to recruit. They have a linebacker that is a NFL prospect, but not a whole lot else on defense.
Final Prediction: They start the year with Alabama, and will be absolutely destroyed in that contest. They also play Kansas State, another game they don't have any business winning. 4 or 5 wins again for this team.
After a really terrible season last year, they have a new coach. They really couldn't throw the ball last year. On the other hand, their running game looks to be pretty good. Their defense was pretty bad last year, but they are expecting some improvement.
Final Prediction: Indiana, Army, and Oklahoma will be challenging to say the least. South Florida and Northern Illinois won't be easy either. They haven't been to a bowl game since 08, and its doubtful that they will make one this year as they will probably go through another 4-8 season.
They won a grand total of one game last year, and went winless in the MAC. They were one of the worst offenses last year, combined with a really really bad defense. Don't expect it to get any better either as they just don't have any talent.
Final Prediction: Akron always insists on playing Ohio State, and it never goes very well for them. They must do it for money. The only other really tough game on the schedule is Cincinnati. 2-3 wins is what you can expect from these guys.
2-10 was the record last year. Perhaps the biggest reason this happened was that they were the worst in the country at running the ball last year. Experts say that they are building a good program and will good soon, but its really hard to see them improving too much on either side of the ball this season.
Final Prediction: West Virginia is the only ranked team on the schedule, and Idaho and Morgan State aren't very good. That may be their only two wins. But those aren't necessarily guaranteed.
They were the worst offense in the country last year and were another 2-10 team last season. They return 8 starters from that terrible offense and only 3 from the mediocre defense. The O-line is supposed to be bigger and better, but by how much is the real question.
Final Prediction: Tennessee and Pittsburgh are teams that Buffalo has no business playing. Stony Brook is on the schedule and may be their only win.
15 straight losing seasons! 15! They were awful on both offense and defense last year. Head Coach Ron English is 2-22 in his two seasons.
Final Prediction: Howard and Alabama State are easy ways to start. But then they turn around and play Michigan and Penn State. Its really hard to pick who is going to be last in this conference because the cellar is really low, but I am giving that honor to these guys. Be happy with 1 win.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
The PAC-12 brought in 2 new teams in Utah and Colorado (hence no longer being called the PAC-10). It is a great analogy for what this conference is all about, one team (Utah) is a good one, while the other is bad (Colorado). It is certainly a conference with really good teams at the top, and pretty bad ones at the bottom.
This offense has been really good for quite some time now. It is a system that has transcends players and even coaches. Expect more scoring this season. They do lose key defensive players like Casey Matthews, and one wonders what the situation with good cornerback Cliff Harris will be. There are some allegations hanging over this program, and it will be interesting to see how that affects this season.
Final Schedule: They begin the season with their toughest game (LSU), and USC and Stanford being the next two toughest games. Nevada and Oregon State can sneak up on them. They aren't going to go undefeated and going to the national championship again, but they will still probably win the conference.
Jim Harbaugh has moved on to try to figure out what to do with the San Francisco 49ers, but Andrew Luck stayed. He is the best quarterback in college football, and that will be a good start. They only have 5 starters returning on that side of the ball, but their star runningback is one of them. While their secondary and linebackers look good, both sides of the line could be a concern.
Final Prediction: Oregon, USC, and Notre Dame are the ranked teams on the schedule. San Jose State and Duke are relatively easy teams to start the season with. The line problems make me worry a little about this team, but 10 wins is not out of reach.
They are making the move from the Mountain West to the PAC-12, as this will be their first year in a BCS conference. Its not like they aren't ready though, as this program has been very solid and causing havoc for some time now. It appears there won't be a size problem for this team, especially on the defensive line. They did struggle to run the ball last year though, and they have to do a better job on that if they expect to compete for the conference title. They had quarterback problems as well, as Jordan Wynn struggled with injuries. One can't predict whether that will repeat or not, but it seems like they will be able to put up some points this year with big plays.
Final Prediction: USC is the only ranked team on the schedule, and its not too crazy to suggest they could win that game. They get to start the year against Montana State, but there isn't a lot of easy games on the schedule. One can expect about 9 wins for this team.
They are coming off two mediocre years in a row (for USC that is, most schools would take their seasons in a second) and the Lane Kiffin hire was a probably not the best. They are also ineligible to play in a bowl because of penalties stemming from the Reggie Bush incident. However, they are starting the year ranked in the top 25. Their defense wasn't very good last year, but their offense was solid. This team is loaded with talent, and don't be surprised if USC improves in both categories.
Final Prediction: They get to start the year against Minnesota, but they have to play Stanford, Notre Dame, and Oregon. 8 wins can be expected from Kiffin's team.
Here is a program that has turned it around. They went from winless in 08 to winning the Holiday Bowl last year against Nebraska. They do lose star quarterback Jake Locker, but he was ineffective many times last year and my guess is that he will be disappointing for the Tennessee Titans. They return 7 starters on that side of the ball, and so they should have a decent offense. They return 8 starters on defense. The secondary is really good, and that is going to be important for this conference.
Final Prediction: USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska are going to be really tough for Washington to beat, but not impossible. They begin the year with FCS team Eastern Washington, but they are a really good FCS team, if Washington isn't ready to play, they could lose that game. 7 wins would actually be kind of disappointing for this team.
They just missed a bowl game last year with 5 wins. They have been a disappointing team for the past few years, and its hard to imagine that will change. They couldn't pass much at all last year, and they have to figure out how to replace their departed star runningback from last season. They had a decent defense last year, but they only return 5 starters.
Final Prediction: A pretty soft non-conference schedule (the hardest being Fresno State) gets offset by a tough conference schedule including games against USC, Oregon, and Stanford. They are a borderline team, and will probably get 6 wins.
Stoops is under .500 in his 8 years in Arizona, but there seems to be some kind of upswing for this program. They have a very solid quarterback in Nick Foles, as he is one of the top 2 or 3 in the conference. However, they are replacing their whole offensive line, and thats not good news. The defense also lost several key players to the NFL, and they really couldn't keep up with the good offenses of OK State, Stanford, and Oregon anyway.
Final Prediction: After starting the season against Northern Arizona, they get a gauntlet of 4 ranked teams in a row (OK State, Stanford, USC, and Oregon). I would be surprised if they won any of those games. They are a borderline team, and I will go with 6 wins.
Last year was an extremely disappointing year for Oregon State, as they failed to make a bowl game. Their defense was terrible last year and only returns 4 starters. Even though they return 8 starters on the offensive side, they lost their stud tailback Jacquizz Rogers. They do return James Woods (not to be confused with the actor who dies in the opening scene of “Be Cool”), but it appears that this is a rebuilding year.
Final Prediction: Stanford, Oregon, and Wisconsin are the ranked teams they play, while they get breaks with an opener against Sacramento State, the rest of their games are not easy. Expect another 5 win season.
They ran good last year, but they couldn't pass the ball, and it is beyond the beginning of the end to Rick Neuheisel's tenure at UCLA. They seemed to use about half a dozen quarterbacks last year, and now with major coordinator changes, more uncertainty looms. The defense doesn't look like it will be very good either.
Final Prediction: Houston, Texas, USC, and Stanford are all pretty tough games. San Jose State and Colorado are probably the two easiest on the schedule. About 4-5 wins seem about right, and the end of Neuheisel's time in UCLA.
They were pretty close to being a good team last year, and they were a team that a lot of people liked coming into this season. However, they had a crazy off-season, with the star runningback getting shot, the starting quarterback retiring because of too many concussions, and a key member of the secondary and a key receiver already suffering season ending injuries. This is a lot to deal with for a program that is by no means dominant. Their line was good last year, and all 5 return and that could carry the offense. The defense is supposed to be pretty good, but this is a team that killed themselves with penalties and special team mistakes last year.
Final Prediction: They miss Stanford and thats good news, but they also scheduled Missouri (ranked 21st) and still have USC and Oregon to deal with. UC Davis is a nice start, but its a pretty tough schedule. They can't hang with the guys on their schedule. 4 wins.
This will be their first year in the PAC-12, and with them they bring a new coaching staff, and new schemes. This has been quite a loser football program since they were drummed 70-3 in the Big 12 championship game a few years ago. Their roster is going through a lot of changes, including losing a couple of key members in the secondary to the NFL. Their offensive line is going to be really good and that should carry a struggling offense.
Final Prediction: A start against Hawaii is tough, as is Ohio State, Stanford, Oregon and USC. 3-4 wins seem to be the ceiling for these guys.
They have went 5-32 in the past 3 years. They do have an experienced quarterback, and a couple of talented receivers coming back. The line is not very good though, and that makes it really hard to have an efficient passing game. The defense returns 8 starters, but it was terrible last year, so it doesn't seem like that would matter.
Final Prediction: Idaho State and UNLV are two nice teams to start the season with, but they aren't necessarily automatic wins. Stanford and Oregon are the two ranked teams on the schedule as they avoid USC. 2 wins for these guys.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
This is a conference with some exciting teams at the top, but some really bad teams at the bottom. They are of course not an automatic qualifying conference, but UCF could make a run at getting in a BCS game. Its really an exciting conference that won't have very much attention paid to it.
This is a school that has recruited and coached well, making this a good football program (they won 11 games last year). Jeff Godfrey is quite an athlete at quarterback, and while there may be debate in the NFL about whether athletic quarterbacks can make it, there is no debate in college football. Athletic quarterbacks rock! They also have a NFL caliber tight end for him to throw to. Despite losing a couple key guys on defense (including their all-time sack leader), their d-line looks to be pretty solid. Their secondary is a shut down style secondary, and will give the pass-happy teams in this conference problems.
Final Prediction: Boston College is the only big program team on the schedule. They really could beat those guys. I don't expect an unbeaten season, there will probably be a slip-up or two, but they are going to be really good. Expect at least 10 or 11 wins.
Case Keenum was given another year of eligibility and thats really good news for this pass happy school. They should pass for about a bazillion yards. So we know the offense will be good, the only question will be whether or not their defense will put them over the top.
Final Prediction: UCLA at the beginning of the season will be an interesting match-up, they are probably the favorites in the rest of their games. Expect a run at the conference title and maybe even 10 wins, but I think they will be second place.
June Jones has already turned this program around. Two straight bowl games may not sound all that impressive, but it is for a school that had become the laughingstock of college football following the “death penalty”. Their whole offensive line returns, and many say this is the best line in the country. That is always a plus. Zach Line has proved to be an incredible runningback out of the Run and Shoot. Their defense has to be better than it was last year though. They have 8 starters returning, and their defensive line looks really good by all reports. So maybe it will be different.
Final Prediction: Texas A&M, Navy, and TCU will be match-ups that SMU probably have no business winning. Other than that, if their defense figures it out, they will be pretty good. They aren't going to win the conference or anything but anything less than 8 wins would be a disappointment.
A really good offense last year, but a mediocre (at best) defense. Some changes on defense have come this off-season, and they will need those to work for them to compete for the conference crown.
Final Prediction: A very very manageable schedule. They have had 17 straight winning seasons, and there is no reason for them to not have 18. There is just a lot of uncertainty with this team, and its hard to really predict how they will do compared to the top tier in this division. 7 wins seems about right.
They are coming off a 10 win season including beating Hawaii in the Hawaii bowl. They also come ranked #25 in the polls. But as with many successful seasons for small programs, they also come with a new coach. While coaching experience may be a problem, offense won't be. These guys can, and they will score. The only question is what the defense will look like. Their secondary is weak, and thats a big problem.
Final Prediction: Who made this schedule? Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Boise State? They will lose all three of these games. They are really shouldn't be ranked, they are probably a borderline team and will get about 6 wins.
This is where nearly all of Mike Leach's Texas Tech assistants migrated. So they bring that style of play. So of course, this team was awesome on offense but terrible on defense last year. They are going to try to fix that by changing to the 3-4, which will probably make their defense bad this year as they try to adjust.
Final Prediction: They start the year with two automatic losses against South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Throw in Navy and North Carolina, and this team has a real scheduling problem. They were probably a borderline team anyway, and with that schedule, its hard to picture them winning more than 5.
This team just couldn't run the ball last year, and were among last in the country. They had the best recruiting class in the conference according to experts this off-season. However, it usually takes at least a couple years for a class to take full effect. They return most of their defense, so they should be decent on that side of the ball.
Final Prediction: West Virginia and Virginia Tech are going to be real problems. I am not sure why colleges feel the need to play all the schools close to them, regardless of quality of program. Louisville may be tough, but they do have breaks in their schedule with Rice and Ohio. They won 5 games last year, the big question will be whether they can find another game to win to go to a bowl game. It really doesn't appear they will, and they may actually regress. Expect 4-5 wins.
Last year, they got off to a good start, but they struggled down the stretch are were profoundly mediocre. They will have to replace last years quarterback in Vittatoe, who was their all-time leader in passing. Only 2 starters on offense return (none on the offensive line), meaning they will have some serious problems on that side of the ball. They will have 9 defensive guys returning and they should be okay on that side of the ball.
Final Prediction: A nice easy schedule, including a start against Stony Brook. Yes, they have a football team. However, they look like a team that everybody else will circle on their schedule as an easy win. No more than 4 wins, if that.
Not a good year last year, but its not a real good football program either. Toledo, their head coach, is in some hot water, and it is desperation time for this team. Their offense may shape up to be pretty good, as they have a decent quarterback and runningback, but they will have to get good production on the line. Their defense won't be very good, probably offsetting anything the offense is able to accomplish.
Final Prediction: Ending the year against Hawaii is always fun, and a match-up with Army will be similarly exciting. But there won't be many high notes for this team, they aren't all that good.
They have had 3 straight losing seasons, and only won 4 games last year. While their offense was okay, their defense was pretty bad. They do have 16 returning starters, so they do bring some experience. Experience doesn't equal talent though, and they seem to be lacking in that department. Their secondary is not very good, and when you have a bad secondary, you probably have a bad team.
Final Prediction: Florida and Mississipi State are tough, but the only real tough ones on the schedule. These guys haven't made a bowl game since 2004 and don't expect them to do it this year either. 3 wins seems pretty reasonable.
They had a great year in 08, but since then things have not been good. Almost the entire offense comes back (saving for a key tackle). They feel like they can move the ball in the air or on the ground. Whether they actually can in FBS play is a whole other question. Their defense was terrible last year, and even though they may get better up front, their secondary is not going to be good.
Final Prediction: A start against Texas, Purdue and Baylor won't do them any favors. Rice always needlessly shoots themselves in the foot with a tough schedule. They aren't a very good team though, don't expect a lot.
Last year, they couldn't score, so they made up for it by giving up a whole bunch of points. They won a grand total of 1 game last year. They only have 9 starters returning on both sides of the ball. This may be viewed as a positive thing, because evidently those guys that left weren't any good anyway.
Final Prediction: A really soft schedule with a couple FCS teams and Mississippi State being the only big football program. They should win at least 2 but no more than 3.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
This is a relatively weak conference, especially for a BCS school. They have been drummed in recent BCS bowl games, but there isn't a perennial loser in the conference, which makes it an exciting and close conference. It is also a conference with a lot of turmoil, as the top 3 (according to my picks) teams have new coaches. When TCU enters the conference, this will be a really fun.
A crazy off-season led to former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen taking over as head coach. However, if the offense plays anything like Oklahoma State's offense last year, they are in good shape. They don't quite have the talent on that side of the ball that OK State does, but it is not like West Virginia is without talent.
Final Prediction: Norfolk State and Bowling Green are their two easiest games, they start with Marshall, a game you would think they should win. LSU is their toughest game, and it would be no small upset to win that one. However, most of their schedule looks really winnable. 10 wins certainly seems plausible, and they are the favorite to win the conference according to most.
After all the craziness of the off-season, Todd Graham finally became the head coach. He has had some success everywhere he has been, so this may be a good hire. They didn't have a bad year last year, it just wasn't good enough to keep Wannstedt around evidently. They return just 5 starters on the offensive side, and while the quarterback (a very solid one) is one of them, one wonders how much of a system change there is this season. Pittsburgh has a really good defense, as they return 8 starters from last years good one, and they should be able to keep everyone in check, barring a strange system change.
Final Prediction: Buffalo and Maine should be 2 pretty easy wins, but then Iowa and Notre Dame are probably two losses. Sneak Utah into that schedule and its a relatively tough one for Pitt. They still have a shot to win this conference, but will probably come in second and win about 8.
Uconn is coming off a great season including a BCS bowl bid. However, they lost their great coach Randy Edsall, and that will be hard to replace. The grumpy Paul Pasqualoni takes over, and uncertainty looms over a very solid program. However, they return 16 starters, giving them a good shot to repeat what they did last year. They had major uncertainty at quarterback last year, further showing that the QB is still not the most important position on the field. If they can get that settled they have a real good shot at making a great run. The defense was great last year and that won't change a bit.
Final Prediction: Not an unbeatable team on this schedule, and with a start against Fordham, they have the schedule that could allow them to start out 5-0 before West Virginia. Probably not repeating the conference victory of last year, but they should still win about 7.
This is a program that is sneaky good. They have been in 6 straight winning seasons, and were briefly ranked number 2 in the country in 07. However, they were inconsistent last year. They did beat Miami, but lost a couple of weird ones. They also lost 3 offensive linemen this off-season, and with an inconsistent quarterback and a new running back (that should be good by all reports), problems on the offensive side seem likely. Most of their secondary comes back, but the defensive line will need to be redone.
Final Prediction: Notre Dame is a tough way to start, but Ball State, Florida A&M and UTEP will give them a little bit of a break. Miami (FL) will be looking for revenge, and they end the season with West Virginia. They are a borderline team, but should still win the 6 games to qualify for a bowl game.
After a great season in 09, Brian Kelly left, and it all fell apart. A terrible non-bowl season last year makes everyone wonder what direction this program is heading. They return most of their starters though, and last year was obviously a rebuilding season, so a bounce back year is not out of the question. This offense is going to be good and exciting to watch, and the defense should be improving.
Final Prediction: Tennessee and North Carolina State are the big names in their non-conference schedule. They are another borderline team, I lean towards them making a bowl game at 6 wins.
Doug Marrone is going into his third year as head coach, and they are coming off of a 8-5 season. Things are certainly looking up for this program. However, the offense struggled last year, but all the key parts are coming back, so it could be much improved. On the other side of the ball, the story is just the opposite, it was good last year, but most of the key pieces aren't returning.
Final Prediction: 3 of the first 4 games are very winnable, but the other one is USC. Games 2 and 3 in level of difficulty is West Virginia. They also have teams like Tulane, and South Florida that are very beatable on the schedule. Expect some struggles as neither side of the ball looks good enough to carry the team. 5 wins.
They went 7-6 last year in a bounce back season for the program under the first year of Charlie Strong. They had lots of seniors last year though and will have to figure out how to turn this around. They have uncertainty at quarterback and will have to replace their top two receiving targets from last year. They also lost 4 starting offensive linemen, all spelling rebuilding for the offense especially. The defense doesn't really look too hot either.
Final Prediction: They begin the season with Murray State and Florida International. Weeks 3 (Kentucky) and 4 (Marshall) provide very interesting match-ups. We will learn a lot about this team in the stretch of North Carolina, Cincinatti, and Rutgers. I don't think this season will be quite as magical, 4 or 5 wins seem likely.
The last two years have been pretty frustrating, leading to a new offensive coordinator. Sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd already has some experience under his belt, and this well help. Their offensive line was terrible though, and its hard to imagine it gets any better. They couldn't run the ball and their defense was terrible, this doesn't magically change.
Final Prediction: A relatively sane non-conference schedule, with North Carolina being the toughest matchup. However, Navy, Louisville and West Virginia won't be an easy 3 week stretch. This is another 4 win team.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Big 12 has 10 teams, and rumors of the conference's demise keep heating up, with the latest speculation being that Texas A&M is jumping to the SEC. Talking about conference realignment is about as interesting to me as reading a phone book, so I will keep this discussion to football. The Big 12 had a bad year for a major conference, but expect a bounce back year for the major money maker in the conference (Texas) and the conference as the whole.
They start off as #1 in most polls, which is tremendous pressure for any team. They did finally stop their BCS woes last year by crushing an inferior Connecticut team. I have watched this team a lot in the past couple of years, and I really do believe that quarterback Landry Jones is overrated. However, even though they lost Demarco Murray, they have loads of talent all around him. He is going to look really good because this offense is really good. They actually have 18 starters returning this season, and the only real question mark is the linebacker position, as one good linebacker tragically died in the off-season, and another tore up his knee just the other day.
Final Prediction: Texas and Florida State are going to be the most likely candidates to knock Oklahoma off, but you never know whats going to happen in college football, and a Kansas State or a Oklahoma State could surprise everyone. However, they are still far and away the favorite to win the conference.
Despite losing their offensive coordinator to West Virginia, Weeden to Blackmon will be a combination that you will hear a lot about this season. Expect tons of yards to be put up by this offense in the air. Mike Gundy has proved to be a great coach for the Cowboys. The big question is how the defense will do, even though they did pretty well last year.
Final Prediction: Arizona is the only decent opponent in the first 3 games. Oklahoma at the end of the season will be tough to say the least. A&M, Missouri, and Kansas State are some of the more interesting games on the schedule. They are a really good team I think, and they could make a run at beating Oklahoma for the conference victory, but I would still be very surprised if they did. A BCS bowl game is not too crazy of an expectation though.
They were polled at #8 to start the year this year, and that certainly sounds really high. 10 months ago, Mike Sherman looked like he was going to be out of a job, but the Aggies made a switch at quarterback, and turned the whole thing around. Ryan Tannehill proved to be a legitimate college quarterback, but is it enough to carry them to a Big 12 title? Their defense will be really good it appears, as their whole secondary returns, and their line is very good. They did lose key pieces to the line-backing corp, but the running-back corp will be good, and the offensive line will be improved.
Final Prediction: Idaho and SMU are a nice start, but it soon gets tough with Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma State all on the schedule. They are somewhat of a sexy pick, and they will be good. They aren't going to challenge for a conference title though, 8-9 wins sounds about right.
Their disappointing 5 win season last year led to Mack Brown shaking up his coaching staff, and one has to wonder whether this will be for the better or worse. The big question is at quarterback, will Garrett Gilbert retain the starting job or will the handful of backups prove to be better than him. They lose some key defensive guys, but no one has been better at plugging in replacements in the past decade than the Texas Longhorns.
Final Prediction: An easy first 4 weeks for Texas with BYU, Rice, Iowa State, and UCLA (who beat them last year), before playing Oklahoma. A&M will be an interesting game, as will Oklahoma State. Texas is coming back, they aren't back to Colt McCoy or Vince Young days yet, but they are probably back to Chris Simms days. Those weren't bad days, expect 7-8 wins.
They finally made a bowl game last year, and star quarterback Robert Griffin will return. Coach Art Briles has had success everywhere he has been and Baylor is proving to be no exception. However, they lost first round picks on both lines, a good starting safety, and their leading rusher. That is a lot to replace. The offensive line is reportedly still going to be good and their receiving corp is very solid.
Final Prediction: TCU will be an extremely tough start, and its hard to see them winning that game. But Stephen F. Austin and Rice will be games 2 and 3 and should be wins. They may be able to beat Kansas State and Iowa State but they are ending the year against Texas, a game they can never seem to win (other than last year). Still, 7-8 wins wouldn't be that shocking.
This team started off really hot last year, won their first 7 games, beat Oklahoma, and promptly fell apart. They have to replace Blaine Gabbert, and that won't be easy. They also have big questions in their secondary coming into the season. Those are two key positions, and to have serious question marks there will not be good.
Final Prediction: Not a real easy start with Miami (OH) and Arizona State, but those games are winnable. Western Illinois will be an easy win in game 3, but Oklahoma will be a rude awaking in week 4. One thinks they should be able to beat Kansas, Baylor, and Iowa State. I think this team will have some problems, but will still win 6 or 7.
Tommy Tuberville was not a hire I could really get excited about, and in his second year, he continues to try to transform this team into something it hasn't been. Throw in a new defensive scheme, and it seems like another rebuilding year. They also have to redo their quarterback situation, their receiving corp, and their running backs.
Final Prediction: Texas State and New Mexico are the definition are powderpuff teams. However, they better watch out for Nevada in week 3. They also have to go through the normal Big 12 schedule. They are right on the bubble as far as qualifying for a bowl. I tend to think they will make one, but its hard to find the 6 games they will win.
14 returning starters off a 7 win team with a very good coach is a good combination. Good running backs will give them an opportunity to run the ball very well, but they were questionable at best at quarterback last season. For them to take the next step, this will be essential. They were not very good on defense last year, and they were honestly an ugly 7 win season. The defensive line has to be better.
Final Prediction: 2 easy games to start the season, but beating Miami would be a major upset. Throw in A&M, Oklahoma, and Texas, and you have some real problems. It is really hard to imagine that they will win 6 games, but they could surprise me.
Just missed a bowl game last year with a 5 win season. They really had problems putting up points last year and didn't pass or run well. Their defense was mediocre at best. They will have to now use a different quarterback, a different running back, and different receivers. Paul Rhoads is entering his key third year at head coach, and we will see what his recruiting classes look like. They have a couple of really good offensive lineman that they should be able to run behind. They also have a Jim Thorpe candidate at corner, so they have the 2 most important positions on the field, offensive line and corner, covered, which is good news.
Final Prediction: Northern Iowa is a nice start, but Iowa, Connecticut, Texas, Baylor, and Missouri will not be an easy stretch. A&M, Tech, and Oklahoma are tough games as well. I just don't see how they can get through this schedule with 6 wins.
This team was really bad last year. It appears they have slumped back down to the basement after being able to put a few good seasons together. However, there was the controversy with Mangino and a mediocre season in 09, and the coaching change hasn't worked out so far. But this is just Gil's second year, and he is an accomplished coach, so he deserves a chance.
Final Prediction: A couple easy games to start with, but then Georgia Tech will be a very tough match-up for the Jayhawks. Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma follows, with Texas coming a couple weeks later. Not a real easy schedule for Kansas. Its going to be a long year for these guys.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
This is probably the worst conference in the FBS. The majority of these programs are bad year in and year out. However, it is a conference that likes to pass, so if you like that, you will like this conference. They went 2-1 in bowls in last year, but they have never really had a team that is easy to get really excited about.
Troy had a really good year last year for a Sun Belt team, they were explosive on offense and good enough on defense. They went 8-5 last season, and Larry Blakeney has been a very good coach at Troy. They are even more experienced this year, the scary thing that is that they were young last year. Their defense is very solid as well, as their defensive line has always been pretty dominating.
Final Prediction: Starting against Clemson and Arkansas (they were crushed by Arkansas last year) won't be easy, and they will most likely get off to a 0-2 start. The rest of their schedule is the soft Sun Belt schedule with Navy mixed in. They have won at least a share of the Sun Belt title in the past 5 years, I don't see a reason why that changes. 8 or 9 wins at least for this team.
Mario Cristobal is 16-33 since taking over, and he needs to do something or he is probably out. However, they did go to a bowl game and played a classic against Toledo. They lost their all-conference Center, and they hope their line will be good, but thats not a good concern to have. However the rest of their offense is supposed to be good, as well as their defense.
Final Prediction: Starting with North Texas is always nice, and in week 2 they have their toughest opponent in Louisville. The schedule is really soft. This gives them a great chance at a bowl game and they should win at least 6 or 7 games.
They just missed a bowl game last season with 5 wins. They are returning 10 offense starters and 8 on defense, meaning this will be an experienced team. They haven't had a winning season since 1993 and they were in what is now called the FCS. They have a pretty good offense including some really fast players. Their secondary is pretty tough as well.
Final Prediction: You wonder if the person that created their non-conference schedule secretly hates this team. They somehow will play Florida State (get a bit of a break in Grambling State), TCU, and Iowa. However, this may be the year they get that winning season. Usually about 3 Sun Belt teams go to a bowl game, and so I have Louisiana Monroe sneaking in.
They went to the prestigious Go Daddy Bowl last year and lost. Rick Stockhill is over .500 in his time as head coach, which is pretty impressive for Middle Tennessee. They lost all-world quarterback Dasher to graduation, and will have a hard time replacing him. Their offensive line is supposed to be strong though, and that will help their replacement quarterback. Their defense looks like it is going to be really bad, especially in the secondary (and there are teams that can sling in this conference).
Final Prediction: Purdue, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee are the tough games on their schedule, and its really hard to imagine them winning any of those games. A .500 mark would be really optimistic and has to be the goal for this team. I will side on the 5 win side however.
They won only 4 games last year (all conference games, which shows you how weak this conference is). With that brings a new coach, which always brings uncertainty, but they did bring in a “in-house” guy, so there shouldn't be too much change. They had a pretty talented offense last year, and they return most of their skill guys, but they lose almost their entire offensive line. This is obviously not a program that can just replace and plug. This will cause real problems for the offense. Their defense was terrible last year and they have about the same unit coming back this year.
Final Prediction: Illinois, Memphis, and Virginia Tech will be 3 quick losses for Arkansas State, however, the rest of the schedule is mediocre at best, with the Sun Belt being the way it is. I can't give a vote of confidence to a team with a weak offensive line, so repeating a 4 win season will be most likely.
They are coming off a tough 4-8 season, but long-time coach Howard Schnellenberger has had a surprising amount of success with this team. Their offense scored a grand total of 17 points a game last year and gave up 36 sacks. Expect the defense to be terrible as they are losing 5 of their 6 top tacklers from last year. They are also switching to the 3-4, which causes further uncertainty on that side of the ball.
Final Prediction: A brutal start to the season with Florida, Michigan State, and Auburn. The National Football Authority predicted just 1 win for these guys. That may not be fair, but more than 3 is hard to see.
These guys won a grand total of 2 games last year. The running back core is coming back, and so is three of the five linemen. The majority of the defense comes back, but it was really bad last year.
Final Prediction: Kentucky, Navy, LSU, and Troy are the toughest teams on the schedule. Another really dark season appears to be on the horizon.
Their offense isn't very good and their defense was terrible last year. Thats not a good combo. This all means a big headache for first year head coach Mark Hudspeth.
Final Prediction: The only two un-winnable games on the schedule are Oklahoma State at the beginning, and Arizona at the end. However, the rest of the games are very winnable for most teams. They have never been to a bowl game, and they won't this year either. A win at any time would be nice.
This team went 3-9 last year, and lost its solid quarterback, and leading receiver. Guess how well this team is going to do. The new coach Dan Mccarney will have a long rebuilding process to go through. This is how well things are going for UNT football, when you Google North Texas 2011 Football Preview, the third result is about Ultimate Frisbee.
Final Prediction: Look for an 0-5 start as I don't see them beating Florida International or Tulsa, and they will obviously be destroyed by Alabama and Houston. This team is terrible, and will be lucky to win 2 games. But hey, at least they have a new stadium.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The ACC is by no means a stellar conference, they won't be sending any teams to the National Championship. They have some historic teams in this conference, but there are some historically bad teams as well. None of the teams are at a high point in school history, and its hard to get excited about any of these teams (unless you just love the triple option and want to see Georgia Tech like me). The race for the divisional crown doesn't even seem like it will be all that exciting. Its really hard to get excited about this conference, especially at this point.
Christian Ponder has left and is now with the Minnesota Vikings, but its not as bad as it sounds. Last year they were 68th in passing yards, and he was very mediocre and injured last year. EJ Manuel, the new quarterback, is supposed to be a beast. Jimbo Fisher proved to be a great hire, as his first year brought in 10 wins and the conference last year. However, they may have been the ugliest 10 win team in the nation and perhaps ever, they beat Clemson by 3 points, lost to NC state and North Carolina, and Miami and Florida had terrible years last year and were easy wins for the Seminoles last season. They lost two key offensive linemen, even though they still will have a veteran line for the most part. They are always great recruiters and can usually plug in people just fine.
Final Prediction: Louisiana Monroe and Charleston Southern provide a couple easy wins to start the year, but they were beatdown by Oklahoma last year, and I think it will happen again this year. Wake Forest, Duke, and North Carolina State are some of the easier teams on the conference schedule. Florida at the end of the season will be kind of a wildcard, but I would still be surprised if they won that game. I have them winning the conference, but like last year, it will be ugly.
Frank Beamer is probably the best coach in the nation that hasn't won a national title. They were crushed in their BCS bowl game last year to a really good Stanford team. They lose Tyrod Taylor, who was so great that he was breaking Mike Vick's college records. They also lost their solid running back in Ryan Williams, but the majority of starters return.
Final Prediction: Soft start to the schedule, as they should win the first 5 games and don't face a tough test until Miami, who is in a transition year anyway. Teams like Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia make up the second half. The schedule alone says that Virginia Tech should win 10 games. Expect Virginia Tech to make a serious run at winning the conference again. I don't think they will be quite as good as last year, but they will still be a very solid team.
The best running team in the nation had a disappointing season last year. They had the major injury of Nesbit that devastated their triple option attack. This offseason, they also had the controversy of playing an illegal player and vacating all their wins from a few years ago. I don't think this matters to this years' team at all though. I think Paul Johnson is a good coach (look at what he did at Navy), and this team will probably be better than last year. They have a good defense and former Virgina coach Al Groh has is really starting to build a good system.
Final Prediction: The first 6 games are really winnable, with Maryland being the toughest on the schedule in the first half. Georgia will provide a tough test at the end of the year, but they have shown they are at least as good of a program as Georgia's very overrated program. I don't know that they will make a serious run to win the conference, but they could be in the mix.
A new coach for the U after Randy Shannon didn't do a whole lot as head coach. Al Golden appears to be a good hire, but it is unknown how long it will take for him to turn this around. They are still talented, and so would think he can turn it around rather quickly. The quarterback situation last year was really bizarre and really hampered their season. They also lost to South Florida, which seemed to put the nail in the coffin in Shannon's coaching career. They return 7 starters on offense, and Jacory Harris will probably gain back his starting job at quarterback. These guys are talented at nearly every position. There is no excuse for them to not be good.
Final Prediction: Ohio State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, and Florida State all won't be easy. Bethune-Cookman is the only really easy game, with Virginia and Duke being relatively easy. They will be a mediocre team, I believe, expect a little bit better bowl, but not a trip to the conference championship.
North Carolina State
A very good year for NC State last year, as they won 9 and beat Florida State. However, they lost their key quarterback Russell Wilson and key linebacker Nate Irving who was a third round pick. Tom O'Brien is a very solid coach. They did not run very well last year, and they will have to run better this year or they won't stand a chance. They are only returning 5 players on offense, but defensively they return 8 from a good defense last year.
Final Prediction: They get an easy opener with Liberty, get South Alabama in week 3, and Central Michigan on Oct. 8th. Florida State will want revenge, and Cincinatti and Georgia Tech will not be easy. Despite it being sort of a rebuilding year, expect a bowl game and 7 or so wins.
Maryland did a bizarre thing last year, they won 9 games and fired their coach. After considering Mike Leach, they hired a very good coach in Randy Edsall. He did a great job in UConn and was even a candidate to take the Miami job. They have 7 starters returning on both sides of the ball. They return their quarterback, a solid one, and their key defensive players besides Alex Wukciak who was their leading tackler. Their secondary is young and this could hurt them.
Final Prediction: They start off with Miami who, even though they are going through rebuilding, are always tough. Florida State, West Virginia and Notre Dame will be tough games as well. Its not a real easy schedule, so they have to win the games they should win, like Wake Forest, Virginia, and Temple. If they are able to do that, they will make a bowl game.
They were awesome on defense, but terrible on offense last season. They used a two headed quarterback system last year, and both were mediocre at best. They have two good running backs, but they still didn't run all that well last year. They are an underrated solid football program that everyone needs to take seriously. They are coming off a mediocre season, but they were young and should be better.
Final Prediction: Massachusetts is the only automatic win on the schedule, although Duke and UCF shouldn't be too tough for this team. Northwestern provides an interesting matchup to begin the year. They are right on the bubble on being a bowl team. I will go ahead and give this program the benefit of the doubt, and predict that they will be in some kind of bowl.
They are coming off a terrible year, as they had their first losing season since 1998. Dabo Swinney's time as coach is probably running out. They lost their best overall player in Bowers, so things don't look like they are going to go too well.
Final Prediction: Troy and Wofford provide two pretty easy wins to start the year. But a gautlet of Florida State, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina will provide huge problems for Clemson. Expect the second straight losing season.
A couple of weeks ago, I would have had much more hope for this team. However, they fired their coach Butch Davis because of the scandal with the NCAA. Thats not a good way to start a season. Turmoil and disaster defines this program. They lost TJ Yates who was a very nice quarterback for them. Not to mention losing their key running back and Bruce Carter, a very good linebacker.
Final Prediction: James Madison is a good way to start the season, but Rutgers won't be easy, and Virginia may not be as easy as it sounds with this crazy situation. Va Tech and Miami are on the schedule as the two hardest teams on the schedule. Don't expect anymore than 4 or 5 wins for this team. Its going to be a long year.
Last year, they were the 114th best in passing. They are hoping Tanner Price can develop into a starter so they will actually be able to pass the ball. The leading receiver and key running back are coming back and if the offensive line holds up, this offense could still do some damage. 9 starters return on defense, and they expect to be a pretty solid bunch (even though they were really bad last year), but they are small and that teams like Virginia Tech and Florida State would do good just to pound them inside all game long.
Final Prediction: Gardner Webb is the only automatic win, but they could pull wins over Vanderbilt and Duke one would think, and with all the turmoil North Carolina is going through, they should be able to beat them as well. They went 3-9 last year, and one expects improvement, but the question is just how much improvement we can expect. Some pickers are actually not expecting them to approve at all.
This will be Mike London's second year, as he tries to rebuild the program. He will have a quarterback controversy, which will make things interesting. The defense looks very solid, and could carry a mediocre offense.
Final Prediction: They start off with two very winnable games with William and Mary and Indiana. Southern Miss, Duke, and Idaho are also very winnable, and if they can upset a team like Miami or Florida State (a tall order) its not crazy to think they could make a bowl game. However, I just don't see them having the talent to do this, so they would be lucky to get 5 wins.
They went a grand total of 3-9 last year. Some see a slight improvement, but this is one of those football programs that is bad year in and year out. They do have 8 returning starters on offense, but they turned it over way too much last year. Their defense is pretty bad and they were only
able to win 1 conference game last year. They have a decent quarterback, but quarterbacks do not carry teams.
Final Prediction: Richmond may be an FCS program, but they are a very good FCS program, and Duke opens with them. They could lose that game. Then they play Stanford. They will lose that game. They may have a chance to beat Tulane and Florida International, but they aren't locks, and there probably isn't another game on the schedule (besides maybe Wake Forest) that they have a real chance to win.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The Big Ten has now become the Big Twelve by adding Nebraska. The problem is that there is already a conference named the Big Twelve (that ironically has 10 teams). This is a conference that is one of the big, classic conferences, but they have struggled when they have had to play other conferences. It is also a conference rocked by scandal with Ohio State losing their coach and their quarterback in a bizarre episode. It is doubtful they will be able to keep up with the SEC or the PAC 12, even with the addition of a solid Nebraska program.
One would have to think they will be able to make a run at winning the Big 10. They lost the Big 12 championship to Oklahoma last season in a somewhat disappointing season. Taylor Martinez, if healthy, will have a big season and the offense should be able to run for tons of yards. The defense was really good last year and one has to figure it will be dominating again.
Final Prediction: They start the season with UT Chattanooga. UT Chattanooga!! That will be a tough one I am sure. Fresno State and Washington will not be automatic wins, but they will be the favorites. Wisconsin and Ohio State will be the key games in back to back weeks at home. If they can avoid the
turnovers and the mistakes made last year, its very likely that they could win 10 games and I have them winning the conference.
The Badgers had a really special year last year, ending with an exciting Rose Bowl game with TCU (TCU end up winning the game). They have been 49-16 since Bret Bielema took over as head coach. However, they lost several players that were key to last years' season, including Clay their big running back and a couple really good offensive linemen. By some bizarre loophole, Wisconsin got Russell Wilson from NC State to play quarterback and he was very solid for NC State last year. If he can fit in the system, it will be very helpful for Wisconsin's offense.
Final Prediction: They have a soft non-conference schedule to start the season with Oregon State (a game you would think they should be able to win) as the toughest team. Conference play starts with a tough one in Nebraska, but they also get Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota. A bowl game will come easily and they will compete for the conference title.
This was an exciting team in the first half of the year, but really deflated following a classic win against Iowa where their starting quarterback was injured in the game winning play. They limped along on the rest of the year, showing just how important Dan Persa was to that football team. Him being healthy will be key to this team as well one would think.
Final Prediction: Eastern Illinois and Army are a nice couple of early games to have, and Rice is tucked away in a November 12th game. However they start off with a rather tough Boston College team. This team hasn't won a bowl game since 1949, and this could be the team to win one.
Iowa is going to be a completely different team from the ones of the past two years. 6 players they lost were drafted, meaning that this will be a rebuilding year. However, they have been a top recruiter in recent years, and may be able to replace that talent just fine. They have a very good offensive line and that is how you build an offense.
Final Prediction: They start with 4 very very winnable games, with the toughest being Pitt (who after a crazy off-season, doesn't look to be all that good). With Indiana and Minnesota on their schedule, a bowl game will be very easy to come by. The conference is rather weak, so don't count Iowa out.
The Vest is gone, Pryor is gone, and they have an interim coach. This all spells rebuilding. However, in the rather weak Big Ten, they still stand a chance to win the conference. The talent doesn't just go away. However, some of their key players are missing the first 5 games because of the suspension.
Final Prediction: Akron and Toledo will be two easy wins for OSU to start the season. Miami is the toughest non-conference player on the schedule. Michigan State, Nebraska, and Penn State will all be rather tough, with Illinois sort of a wild card. I think overall, it will be a pretty tough season for the Buckeyes but 7 or 8 wins could still happen.
Joe Paterno is remarkably still kicking, but the 7-6 season of last year was somewhat disappointing. Nothing really got decided in last years quarterback situation, but they have really nice running backs, and a decent offensive line. There are questions on the defensive side, and its hard to tell if Linebacker U is back, or gone forever.
Final Prediction: They should coast to an easy 4 wins in their first 5 games, however game 2 is against Alabama, and they will certainly be the underdogs in that game. They finish the season with Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, which could easily turn into 3 losses. Look for another mediocre season and a few calls for Paterno to step down.
They had a great season last year but were crushed by Alabama in their bowl game, leaving a sour taste in their mouth. Mark Dantonio has done a really nice job making this program relevant. They are having to make changes on their offensive line, and that is probably not good news and they lost two
stud linebackers to graduation. They have a solid quarterback, but it is doubtful he can carry them.
Final Prediction: Youngstown State, and Florida Atlantic are a nice way to start. Notre Dame will be a fun game to see as we will see just how good these two teams are. Their schedule is easy enough to coast into a bowl game.
The thing about a bad coaching hire is that after 3 years of failed rebuilding, you have to endure some more rebuilding. First year head coach Brady Hoke will now have to start to build his program. He has a solid quarterback in Denard Robinson who was a Heisman favorite a few weeks into last season. The defense was horrendous under Rich-Rod, and that has to improve for Michigan to even return to mediocrity.
Final Prediction: A loss in week two to Notre Dame will be offset by wins over Eastern and Western Michigan, San Diego State (Hoke's old team) will present an interesting challenge,and one wonders if Michigan can handle any of the gauntlet to end the year with Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State.
QB Nathan Scheelhaase has proven to be a fun player to watch, but not necessarily a good passer, yet. Coach Ron Zook is 28-45 and needs an awesome year to save his job. The team lost its two best defensive players, but reports are that they may still be in good shape on that side of the ball. The team puts such an emphasis on running the ball that the loss of their star running back may paradoxically not be a bad thing. They lost Rashard Mendenhall the year before and were still okay. They were a team that had major special team problems last year, and that just can't happen again.
Final Prediction: They start the season with Arkansas State and South Dakota State, which better be two easy wins. Usually, having Michigan and Ohio State on your schedule would be negative things, not this year. That schedule is easy enough that they better win 9, but I would be surprised if they win 6. Its over for Ron Zook at Illinois.
Maybe this team is starting to turn this thing around. Hope is entering his third year, but they haven't been to a bowl game since 07. They lost the last 6 games of last season and looked just terrible in that streak.
Final Prediction: They start the season with Middle Tennesee, Rice, and SE Missouri State. They should win these three games (if they don't, they have some major problems). That leaves only 3 more wins to find to get to a bowl game. They should be able to find wins against Minnesota and Indiana. That means they have to figure out how to win one of the following games, Notre Dame, At Penn State, Illinois, at Michigan, At Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa. None of these games are really easy, but a decent team should be able to turn this schedule into 6 wins. The big question is whether Purdue is
the decent kind of team.
New coach but same problems. They just aren't as talented as the other teams in the Big 10. They are an easy win for opponents and it will take a long time to rebuild this thing.
Final Prediction: Starting the season against USC will be an automatic loss and the way this team has played in recent seasons doesn't make games against New Mexico State or North Dakota State automatic wins. I don't see them winning any conference games.
This was a hard team to watch last year, and with that comes a new coach in Kevin Wilson. New coaches always make it hard to speculate how good the team will be. Wilson was good in Oklahoma as the Offensive Coordinator. However, he is going to have a lot less talent on that side of the ball in Indiana. One of the big questions will be whether he can do more with less. This team was destroyed in almost every single Big 10 game last year, and we would be foolish to think that this can turn around easily.
Final Prediction: The schedule has a few softies with North Texas, Ball State, and South Carolina State. The conference will be too much for them though. They will be lucky to take more than 1 of those games. Give 'em time.
Fun pointless tidbit: The Hoosiers do have a football team.