Good Afternoon Sports Fans!
Can you feel it? Well, can you? We are LESS THAN 24 HOURS AWAY from the start of the 2015 College Football season! Tomorrow night the first two teams will lace up their cleats, strap on their helmets, and take the field to show that they are the most dominant squad in all of the NCAA. And this year, it just so happens that my North Carolina Tar Heels are one of those two teams leading the country into our favorite 4 months of the year.
Still not excited?! Here, try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utCoYeAxzzU
No really, watch that video. Stop reading, click the link above, and GET HYPE!
Ok, you good now? The blood is flowing? The juice is running through your veins? No, not in the Alex Rodriguez juice kinda way, in the "Heck yeah, 24 hours until kickoff" kinda way!
Alright, now that we're all pumped up, let's get in to this season. Usually I would sit down and spend two hours telling you what you need to know about every major conference, big time program, and who is going to make the College Football Playoffs. Unfortunately, I can't do that this year. And there's two main reasons for it:
1. Somehow, I feel like I don't really know that much about any given team going into the 2015 season. Perhaps I've been spending too much time focusing on my 4 NFL fantasy football drafts or maybe there's just not been a lot of talk on ESPN speculating who will be the best team in the country.
2. I do know enough to know that there is a LOT of balance in College Football last year. When we started last season there were a number of big name players in big name programs expected to have big time season. We don't have that this year ... in fact I would be hard pressed to name 10 total football players in the entire country outside of UNC.
What does this all mean? It means that this year could prove to be one of the most exciting in the history of college football. There is one clear favorite to win it all (we'll talk about that in a moment) but outside of that anything can happen. There are no locks for the playoffs, there are no clear conference winners that are just better than everyone else they're playing, and sadly there's no indication that Tim Tebow is returning to the Florida Gators for his fifth season. So, instead of the usual speculation on what will happen in each conference, I'm just going to hit some high points on what to look out for this season. And maybe at the end of this post, if you ask nicely, I'll toss out a prediction and see if I get lucky. Oh, who are we kidding, it's been a very long time since I got lucky ... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway ...
- This year, Urban Meyer is going to REALLY earn his paycheck. The Ohio State Buckeyes are the first ever undisputed pre-season #1 in the AP poll and the clear front runners to win it all and repeat as National Champions. In fact, most analysts believe the Buckeyes only have 2 games on their entire regular season schedule that could even possibly be a challenge. So, why would I say Urban Meyer is going to earn his paycheck? You'd think that any slick-haired coach off the street could win the title with this team. Here's the issue ... there IS such a problem as having too much of a good thing. And Ohio State's good thing comes at the most critical position in the game, Quarterback. Usually a team would love to have just one solid QB they can rely on, but OSU has 3 ... count them THREE ... of them. Last year the Bucks started the season with Braxton Miller under center and many predicted he would be the Heisman Trophy winner. However, an unfortunate early season injury knocked Miller out for the year and this season he decided to come back as a back/receiver. That's right, a Heisman Trophy favorite quarterback is now moving to a new position because there's so much talent on the team. So, after Miller gets knocked out, JT Barrett takes over the team. All he does is lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship Game while also becoming a Heisman favorite and almost winning the trophy. BUT, then he gets hurt right before the Big 10 title clash and they go to third stringer Cardale Jones. How did Jones do? He won them the National Championship and projected as a first round draft pick if he left school! All in 3 games! So now, you have three big time QB's returning to Columbus and all of them want to be future NFL stars. So, Urban Meyer, how do you keep everyone happy? THIS is his conundrum. Nobody will doubt that OSU is more talented than almost any team they'll play this season, but can they keep the peace in the locker room and stay focused on the prize? If OSU can repeat this season as Champs, I will consider this to be Urban Meyer's greatest coaching achievement and put him in the discussion for greatest college coach of all time. But, will they even pass Week 1 ...
- Take a look at the Week 1 lineup. Usually the first couple of games during the season are "garbage" games where big programs play cupcakes (slang for easy teams to beat, not a delicious icing-covered dessert) just to get in the groove of things. But, with the playoffs here and the BCS finally good and dead, all of a sudden the quality of non-conference opponent actually matters for something. And I think this weekend it could count for a whole heck of a lot. I'm looking at the top 15 teams in the pre-season rankings and I think there are 5 very intriguing games to watch this Labor Day Weekend ...
Louisville @ #6 Auburn
#15 Arizona State @ Texas A&M (led by Kyle Allen, product of Scottsdale, AZ high school, and my alma mater, Desert Mountain ... Go Wolves!)
Texas @ #11 Notre Dame
#20 Wisconsin @ #3 Alabama (Played in Jerry's House ... Arlington, TX)
#1 Ohio State @ Virginia Tech
Keep an eye on these ball games. My prediction is that AT LEAST 2 of these top 15 teams are going down this weekend before the season even really gets rolling. And, if I'm a betting man, I like Texas A&M, Texas, and Wisconsin to all win. Suck on that Bama. Don't forget, Virginia Tech beat Ohio State early last year and Ohio State has four Wide Receivers out this week with injuries or suspension, not to mention their top defensive player who might be the eventual #1 pick in the NFL Draft ...
- I am predicting that for the first time in forever, a non-major school will contend for the National Championship. And by that I mean either a non-power conference school or TCU will make the 4 team playoff at the end of the year. Technically TCU is now part of the Big 12 and considered a power conference school, but for my money they are still lil ole Texas Christian whom nobody respects. Maybe the chip on their shoulder from getting left out of the playoffs last year will finally work in their favor. But watch out for another team off the radar right now ... I have no clue which one but watch out anyway! Last year all 4 playoff teams started the season in the Top 5 of the pre-season AP poll. This year I think the trend changes. I'm banking on at least 2 teams coming from OUTSIDE of the current AP Top 10. Suck on that Bama.
- My Tar Heels will keep the bell in Chapel Hill where it belongs when we beat Dook later this season. No further explanation needed. Suck on that Bama. Yeah, just because.
- Call me biased ("Hey Fishy, you're biased) but I think this year could mark the return to the national scene for the Miami Hurricanes. Miami has not truly been in the championship hunt since they were screwed over ... err, lost ... the 2002 title game to Ohio State, but I think Al Golden may finally be figuring this team out. He has an excellent young QB in Brad Kaaya and seems to be doing a much better job of recruiting top talent away from the Gators and Noles in recent years. Miami may not be ranked right now, but don't be surprised if they finish the year somewhere between 10 and 15 in the AP poll including a trip to the "Big 6 Bowl Games" as the ACC Champions.
- If Steve Sarkisian can stay sober and keep his football team focused, USC is back. Watch out.
Alright, so those are my big picture thoughts on what to expect for this upcoming college football season. Obviously, a lot can and will happen between now and the second week of January. I'm guessing we're going to see a ton of upsets this year, some remarkable stories we wouldn't have expected, and another season full of memories, moments, and highlights. To conclude, I might as well make a guess at who our playoff teams and National Champion will be. I'm not confident in this at all, but here goes nothing:
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes (yes, I believe in Urban Meyer) vs. #4 Boise State Broncos (because, why not?)
#2 USC Trojans vs. #3 Oklahoma Sooners (I pick them every year, why stop now?)
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #2 USC Trojans
Winner: USC Trojans
There's only one thing I know for sure ... football season starts tomorrow and I can't wait. Let the games begin!!!