College football is back!
As I celebrated last night, enjoying the first glimpse of college football in what seemed like an eternity, I decided that I should make some bold predictions for the upcoming season like Jerod did recently for the NFL.
Some of these might seem crazy, even ludicrous; but they all will make perfect sense when the season comes to an end this winter.
Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. Tell me how much I don’t know about college football.
But when the season is over, I expect a full apology.
1. Landry Jones will win the Heisman Trophy
When Landry Jones completed 65% of his passes while throwing for over 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns (against only 12 picks) in 2010, many thought he’d be primed for a big year in 2011.
That wasn’t the case.
Jones’ struggled last year, dropping in every statistical category compared to the 2010 season. Jones threw for 4,463 yards, but he tossed only 29 touchdowns and saw his interceptions rise to 15.
Even though the Oklahoma quarterback didn’t live up to expectations as a junior, he is still a very talented player with the possibility of having a huge senior season.
Oklahoma starts the season ranked #4 in the polls, and Jones is a major reason why so many football fans and analysts have their eyes on the Sooners this year.
Not only will Jones be on the early watch list for the Heisman Trophy, if the Sooners can make it through a tough slate unscathed (vs. #22 Kansas State, vs. #15 Texas, @ #11 West Virginia, vs. #19 Oklahoma State, @ #20 TCU), Jones will solidify his status as one of the favorites to be named the most outstanding player in college football.
There is no doubt that Jones is hiding behind big names like Matt Barkley, Denard Robinson, Geno Smith, and Montee Ball as a top candidate for the Heisman this year. But the senior has all the potential to be one of the nation’s best play-callers
Oklahoma did lose their top receiver from 2011 in Ryan Broyles (1,157 yards and 10 touchdowns) but the Sooners return Jones’ second and third favorite targets, Kenny Stills (849 yards and eight touchdowns) and Jaz Reynolds (715 yards and 5 touchdowns).
It’s going to be a tough battle for the Heisman this year. But once the dust settles, Robinson and Smith will play their way out of the Heisman talks, and Jones will be putting up magical numbers that will earn him the trophy come this Winter.
2. Boise State will finish the season unranked
This may be one of my dumbest predictions, as every year the Broncos prove me wrong.
The idea that this an ill-advised prediction is fully backed by the fact that the Broncos have been ranked for 62 consecutive weeks and have finished in the top 15 eight of the past ten years.
However, I think Boise State and Chris Peterson are finally heading into a rebuilding mode after losing several talented players from a season ago.
Not only is star quarterback Kellen Moore gone from Peterson’s roster, the Broncos lost leading rusher Doug Martin, leading receiver Tyler Shoemaker, and nine of the top ten defensive players from last season. This obviously leaves Boise State fairly inexperienced for the 2012 campaign.
Despite these major losses, the polls still have them at #24, and Peterson’s squad has a chance to prove itself early in the year in the national spotlight again, this time against #13 Michigan State.
I know Boise State doesn’t have a tough schedule, and Peterson is one of the best coaches in all of college football, but the difficulty of trying to overcome the loss of so many talented players is going to be enormous for Boise State this season.
I just don’t see them winning more than eight games this year.
3. Texas A&M will win 1 SEC game
The Aggies wanted to get a taste of what the SEC was like….and now they will.
This probably isn’t the boldest of bold predictions, considering Texas A&M went 7-6 a year ago and lost QB Ryan Tannehill and lead rusher Cyrus Gray. But for a program as storied as A&M, winning only a single conference game would be devastating.
Texas A&M will now have a battle on a weekly basis. Not that they didn’t in the Big XII, but the Aggies are now competing against the equivalent of their former conference on steroids.
One of the few bright spots for the Aggies is that leading receiver Ryan Swope is back. His big-time playing experience is needed for the Aggies offensive huddle.
On defense, the Aggies have been mediocre the past few years. That is something the SEC will completely take advantage of this season.
I don’t see the Aggies winning more than a handful of games this year, and I will be shocked if they are able to pull out more than one victory against conference opponents in 2012.
4. Nebraska will win the Big Ten Legends Division
Many in Big Ten country are talking about the state of Michigan this year, as the Wolverines and Spartans are the heavy favorites to come out of the Legends division and compete for the Big Ten Championship and, possibly, the national title.
Meanwhile, sitting in the middle of Nebraska, surrounded by cornfields, Bo Pelini is hoping that his Huskers make some noise in their second year in the conference.
And they will.
Taylor Martinez is still running the show for the Huskers, and leading rusher Rex Burkhead and last year’s top two receivers, Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa, are back as the primary targets for the offense.
The big question mark will be on defense for Nebraska.
Last year, the Huskers gave up 25 or more points on seven different occasions and got smeared when they traveled to Wisconsin (48-17) and Michigan (45-17).
If Pelini can make some adjustments on defense, which I believe he will, the Huskers will be a dangerous team this Fall.
The Cornhuskers have a pretty rough schedule, playing #12 Wisconsin, #18 Ohio State, #8 Michigan and #13 Michigan State during a five week stretch, with Northwestern thrown right in the middle.
If the Huskers can split the Wisconsin and Ohio State games, and knock off either Michigan or Michigan State, the Huskers will be right in the mix to compete for the Big Ten title this year.
It’ll be a tough task, but I think Nebraska will win three of those four games, climb into the top ten, and play Wisconsin for the Big Ten crown.
5. Notre Dame will finish 6-6 with Brian Kelly on the hot seat
First off, I should admit that I am not the world’s biggest Notre Dame fan.
In fact, I hate ND.
Yet, I always try to give them a fair analysis before every season even though Lou Holtz’s constant talk about the Irish being a national title contender on a yearly basis drives me absolutely insane.
But alas, my prediction for the Irish, despite being ranked in the Top 25, is that they will win only six games this season. That will put head coach Brian Kelly firmly on the hot seat.
Sorry coach. But try to relax, okay?
Even though I think Notre Dame is a good team this year, the Irish have too much on their plate to cause too much damage to the college football world.
ND must travel to #13 Michigan State, followed by a home game against #8 Michigan, who has had their number the past few seasons. Later in the year, the Irish will also travel to #4 Oklahoma and #1 USC.
Those are probably four losses, and I haven’t even mentioned #21 Stanford or Miami yet.
To throw salt in the wound, the Irish will be without star running back Cierre Wood for the first two games (Navy and Purdue), which will make those two games tougher than they need to be. I do still think the Irish should start the season 2-0 before entering the gauntlet they have ahead.
Notre Dame will also host BYU, Pittsburgh, and Wake Forest, and travel to Boston College to round out their schedule.
Even though Kelly was thought to be the savior of Notre Dame football, it looks like he will end up in the same situation as Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis before him.
Which of these predictions do you think is most likely to come true? Which do you think are bunk?
And what are your bold predictions for the upcoming college football season? Comment below!