by Jonathan Miller - 09/04/2005
Bodog released the NCAA Regular Season Wins Totals and boy, does the future look bright for the powerhouse USC Trojans and Texas Longhorns. What about iconic Notre Dame and Penn State? Um, not so much. Let's look at the field and make some 2005 college football predictions:
USC: 11 Wins
Bodog has pegged defending champs USC at 11 wins this year, but it's hard to see the Trojans not going undefeated this regular season. With Heisman Trophy winner and cover boy Matt Leinart at quarterback, along with The President Reggie Bush in the backfield, split wide and returning kicks, the Trojans are going to put up points. The only question on offense is when Bush takes over kicking duties - the guy is everywhere.
The boys of Troy also get help with a relatively light nonconference schedule with games against Hawaii (win), Arkansas, Notre Dame and Fresno State. And even though Pac-10 competition is improving, look for only Arizona State and California to put up a fight. ASU returns a prolific offense that dropped 63 points on Temple Thursday.
Cal handed USC its only loss two years ago in Berkeley and had a stranglehold on the Trojans last season before folding in the fourth quarter. This year the Trojans return to Berkeley for what is becoming the Pac-10's greatest annual match up.
Still, look for USC to run the table this regular season.
Notre Dame: 6 wins
The Irish are in trouble. Even with former New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis stepping in at head coach, Notre Dame may have bit off more than it could chew with a very difficult 2005 schedule. Let's name names: USC, Tennessee, Michigan, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Washington. The Irish are going to be lucky to reach five wins, let alone six. It's going to be a long year in South Bend.
Purdue: 8 ½ wins
The Boilermakers at 8 ½ may be turn out to be a steal this year. With both Michigan and Ohio State conspicuously absent from the schedule in 2005, look for only Iowa and Penn State to challenge Purdue on its Big Ten title run.
We all know the numbers Purdue puts up on offense. Quarterback Brandon Kirsch is already ranked 15th on the school's all-time touchdowns list after filling in for an injured and/or benched Kyle Orton in 2004. With a solid receiving and running backs corps, and the entire defense returning, look for Purdue to jump up the polls this year.
Miami: 9 wins
The trademark of Miami football has always been consistency. And consistently, the Hurricanes' roster reads like a who's who of future Pro Bowlers. Consider that in 2005, the 'Canes could have started Willis McGahee in the backfield, Kellen Winslow Jr. at tight end, Vince Wilfork at defensive tackle AND Sean Taylor at safety. Amazingly, Miami reloads every year, consistently. And with its most inconsistent quarterback Brock Berlin graduated (and recently cut from the Dolphins), look for The U to exceed expectations in 2005.
Decimated by injuries in '04, the 'Canes are healthy for a week-one battle at rival Florida State. If QB Kyle Wright, speedy tailback Tyrone Moss and a very impressive receiving corps can score points, then a strong defense that returns nine starters will be even more difficult to stop. After the Seminoles, the 'Canes only real challenge comes Nov. 5 at Virginia Tech. If Miami stays healthy, watch out for a dark horse title contender.
Georgia: 9 wins
Here's a coin flip for you. Quarterback DJ Shockley is the man now that David Greene is gone, making his first career start…as a senior. He did split plenty of time with Greene in the past, but Shockley is inaccurate and a scrambler - a poor man's Mike Vick.
There are plenty of question marks on defense as well with a new defensive coordinator and the loss of some starters to the NFL, including dominant safety Thomas Davis. Look for the Dawgs to fall on the road at Tennessee and Florida. The key to a nine-win season could hinge on a week-one match up against Boise State. If there are any questions in the Georgia secondary, the Broncos will pick it apart.
Texas: 9 wins
Texas always seems to make me uneasy, but the Longhorns return 16 starters, including one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Vince Young. After so many seasons of hearing "This is the year," in Austin, well, this may be the year. There may be only one team that can hope to stop Texas, and it's not Oklahoma. Pencil in Sept. 10 at Columbus for the regular season game of the year: Texas at Ohio State. Many experts believe this is the game that decides USC's Rose Bowl opponent in January.
If I missed any of your favorite teams, check out Bodog for the latest lines. One final note: Beware South Carolina. If there is an over/under on Steve Spurrior throwing his visor in anger this year, take the over. Good night and good luck with these 2005 college football predictions.