Saturday, August 30, 2014

College Football - 2014 Season Preview

Congratulations Sports Fans! After a 5 and a half month hiatus,  I'm back on my blog and sharing my insights. You're welcome.

It's time once again for my annual College Football preview. Yeah, I know I'm cheating just a little bit because technically the season started a few days ago. But let's be realistic ... until opening Saturday it's not REALLY football season. The last few nights have been more like the potato skins appetizer to our upcoming prime rib entree. And for dessert? Well that comes in about 5 months when we FINALLY get a playoff system in Division 1 of College Football (yes, I said Division 1 ... real fans don't use the letter FBS).

So, this is what you've all been waiting for ... my top 10 predictions for the upcoming College Football season. Whether you think these previews are right on, a little off, or totally loopy, there's no doubt they are all ... brilliant.

10. Big 12 Preview: There's a reason I'm starting this list with the Big 12 ... you save the best for last and this conference is NOT the best. Easily the weakest of the power conferences, I see the Big 12 with only one serious threat to compete for a national championship: the Oklahoma Sooners. Even though the Bell-dozer is being moved to tight end in 2014, I still think Oklahoma is the class of the conference and has an outside shot to make the Final Four. Keep an eye on Texas though as I think they will start rebuilding this season under Charlie Strong after a couple of weak final years with Mack Brown. And yes, I know that people are loving them some Baylor and Kansas State but I'm not one of them. Bryce Petty can score 300 points a game if he likes but it doesn't matter as long as they keep giving up 301.

9. Big 10 Preview: There must be something with the word "Big" this year ... I think the College Football definition of "Big" should be changed to "Crappy." Now, I'll admit, if you asked me a month ago how I felt about this conference I would have had a slightly different story. I had Ohio State cruising into the playoffs before Braxton Miller managed to blow up his arm again. Now that he's gone, I think the door is open for several sub-par teams to make a run at the roses and a trip to Pasadena later this year. It will likely still be Ohio State coming out alive, but this is definitely not the big scary conference that Maryland and Rutgers thought they were going in to. When I found out Maryland was leaving the ACC I was convinced they would go 0-12 this season. Now that we're about to kick off the games, I bet they can go at least 3-9! Of course one of those is James Madison this afternoon ...

8. ACC Preview: I really, really, really, really, really, really, really wish I could say my beloved ACC would be an elite group of football squads this season. If I did, I'd be lying. Coming in to Week 1, we (yes I can say we) have only 3 teams in the Top 25 and probably just a couple more who will be competitive in non-conference settings. I mean come on, Wake Forest lost their season opener on Thursday to Louisiana-Monroe! The bright side is that we return the defending National Champion and Heisman favorite. The bad part is they won't even win the conference title thanks to my North Carolina Tar Heels. Ok ... even I don't believe that. BUT, if Larry Fedora gets smart and benches Marqise Williams in favor of any other QB on the team, don't be surprised if this bold prediction becomes a bold reality. Miami is the only team in our division that I see standing in the way but they're starting a true freshman QB which could be a tough hurdle to overcome.

7. While starting his new career as an analyst on the SEC Network, Tim Tebow is going to come across a little known rule while studying for the upcoming season. According to the Official College Football Rule Book, rule UF-15 reads: "Any former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback who is not given at least 5 years to prove himself in the NFL will be entitled to 1 additional year of eligibility at the University of his choice. There will be no waiting period necessary and the player can be activated immediately." Given this information, Tebow will call up his buddy and former coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Knowing he has no other talented signal caller on his team, Meyer will  immediately bring Tebow in to Columbus where he will lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, National Championship, and 2nd Heisman Trophy. The state of Ohio will instantly forget that Archie Griffin, Lebron James, or sweater vests ever existed.

6. SEC Preview: I'm going to be the first one to say it ... the SEC as a whole is not going to be very good this year. While they will somehow sneak a team who doesn't deserve it into the Final Four, the SEC will NOT win the National Championship this year. About a month ago I thought it was a coin flip between LSU and Bama to come out of the SEC West with 2 losses and a conference title. After watching TAMU beat up on the Gamecocks this week though, there could be a few more ponies in this race than I originally thought. As far as the East ... they are terrible. And no, I don't mean "down year" terrible ... I mean 2 week old meatloaf that's starting to grow that green stuff kind of terrible. Sure, the Bulldawgs are the favorites to take the division but don't be stunned if all of a sudden the Gators aren't as terrible as they've been the last couple of seasons. Oh, and how's this for a prediction: Auburn will finish the season OUTSIDE the Top 25. Boom, mind blown.

5. PAC Whatever Preview: First, an explanation. When the PAC-10 decided to expand a couple of years ago, my brother and I agreed that the number in the conference name no longer mattered. So, that's why they are officially the PAC Whatever. With that said, the conference from out west actually looks really strong this year. Call it my West Coast bias, but I think there's a couple of teams in this group that could embarrass some of the other power conferences if they just took a big crane and moved their schools east of the Mississippi. The head of the class though is the Oregon Ducks led by QB Marcus Mariota. More on them in just a bit. Between the Ducks, UCLA, USC, ASU, U of A, and Stanford, this group could provide a lot of very fun football games to watch in 2014 (and 2015?).

4. The country will quickly forget about the recent antics of a certain USC defensive player (seriously, jumping off a balcony to save a kid in the pool is the story you're gonna go with as a lie?) when they hear the tale of Richie Baskets, a little known freshman out of the University of Southern Utah - Cape King (better known as USUCK). Baskets, a 4'5" 385 pound place kicker has a huge heart but a bit of a mischievous side. Earlier this week while walking his pet weasel, Coach K, Richie walked by what appeared to be an abandoned mansion. While attempting to catch his breath after the long 37 foot walk, Baskets watched in horror as Coach K broke off his leash and daintily skipped into the home formerly owned by JJ Redick. In an act of true heroism, Richie summoned all of his strength to leap over the tennis ball standing between him and the house so that he could pursue his furry little sidekick. While the number of witnesses were minimal, on-lookers state that when Richie made his away into the home he was immediately love struck at the sight of a gorgeous woman. Nobody knows for sure what happened inside the mansion, but we do know that Richie has not been seen since entering the home while Coach K was discovered drinking Avian in a ski lodge outside Salt Lake City. Rumor has it that the beautiful woman was Manti Teo''s ex-girlfriend.

3. Heisman Trophy Preview: I will be stunned if the Heisman Trophy winner this season is NOT a quarterback, and likely one from a championship contending school. Coming in to 2014 many have the defending champion Jameis Winston as the favorite but recent history has suggested that repeating as Heisman winner is a nearly impossible task. Winston can play just as well this year as he did in 2013, and I think he will, but it won't be enough in the voters' minds to give him the award for a second time. My Heisman winner is the guy who I thought was going to win it last year, Marcus Mariota from the University of Oregon. Besides being a dynamite athlete, Mariota is a true field general and knows how to get the most out of the other 10 guys he's playing with. Oregon doesn't have a history of recruiting top players like some other schools (come on, would you want to live in Oregon) yet they always have guys like Mariota who are stars under the radar. I'll take Winston as my runner up with Bryce Petty (Baylor) coming in 3rd.

2. Playoff Preview: This is the first year of the College Football Playoffs so I think there is a lot of mystery in how the "Committee" will make their picks for the 4 most deserving teams to compete for the championship. This could be a year where quite a few different schools have a legitimate claim that they're one of the top 4 in the country. While I think there is a clear #1 and #2 (see more below) the rest of the water gets to be a little murky. With that said, it's my job to tell you what's going to happen so that's exactly what I'll do! I believe the Final Four this year will be the Oregon Ducks, Florida State Seminoles, Oklahoma Sooners, and whatever comes out of the SEC. I refuse to actually pick a team from the SEC though because I don't believe any of those teams will be worthy of this spot. They are going to end up stealing the position from a squad that actually deserves it, likely an undefeated team from outside the power conferences. Which team will get "screwed" only time will tell.

1. National Championship Preview: I'm going to start this off by saying anything can happen in College Football. One injury can completely change the landscape of the entire country and you never know where the surprises will come from. With that said, I'm making my prediction under the assumption that injuries will be relatively equal across all teams and the most talented units will actually prevail. So ... drum roll please ... this year's National Championship in Dallas will feature the Oregon Ducks defeating the Florida State Seminoles by a score of 34-28. I believe both of these schools will have unbelievable years but the Ducks get the edge in Jerry's House because they will be better battle tested heading in to January. There's very little resistance for FSU on their march to perfection and that's going to bite them when they play a team who had to navigate through some of the best talent in the country. Oregon may not go undefeated, but these PAC Whatever Champions will be your first ever winner of the College Football Playoffs.

Oh, as a little bonus ... remember how the Dookies had that amazing story-book season last year? Well enough of that crap ... 2014 will see the Blue Devils return to the ACC basement where they belong as the Victory Bell makes its way back to its true home in Chapel Hill. Have a great season and most importantly, Go Heels!

- Fishy

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