Bold College Predictions for 2007-08
by Trevor Whenham - 08/30/2007
The first day of college football is here and I couldn't be more excited. Soon it will be all about handicapping the games, analyzing what went right and wrong and then doing it all over again. Before we get to that point, though, I think that it's time to make a few bold predictions about what's going to happen this season. By taking the time to write down a few f my hunches I have the luxury of having them in print if they come true. That makes gloating so much easier. Of course, it also means that all of my bad ideas will live on in infamy, but we can't worry about that. Here goes nothing:
1) Miami will be surprisingly good. One of the truly mighty programs has fallen a bit. After a dismal 7-6 season that had some truly ugly moments, the team is out of the rankings for the first time in a long time, and a lot of people are pessimistic. I'm not. New coach Randy Shannon has installed a positive attitude that was lacking for at least a year (and probably closer to three). He's already made a positive move by recognizing that Kirby Freeman, and not Kyle Wright, was the choice at quarterback. His job is also much easier because of the typically impressive talent that he has on both sides of the ball. The other source of my optimism is the schedule. Only two games are likely losses - Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. Six games are fairly confident wins. The other four - Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Boston College - are all reasonable games for Miami. They are coin flips, and with good play and good luck they could win two or three of the games. What it all comes down to is that this is a team that could find itself back in the polls sooner rather than later, especially since they could be 5-1 heading into the game against Georgia Tech.
2) Upset alert - Oct. 6, Purdue over Ohio State. The Boilermakers return nine starters on each side of the ball. That's great news for an offense that was pretty good last year, and will be even better if quarterback Curtis Painter can get over his love of throwing interceptions. It's not as great news for a defense that was lousy last year and has to operate without Anthony Spencer, the one bright light. The biggest problem for the unit last year, though, was their inexperience, so another year should solve a few of the problems. Ohio State will have an excellent defense again. I think they are vulnerable, though, because of their offense. They lose Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Pittman. That's pretty much the entire heart of the offense ripped out at once. They certainly won't be inept, but it will take a while for new starter Todd Boeckman to get used to his increased responsibility. Though this is the sixth game of the year for the Buckeyes, it is the first one against a legitimate opponent, and the team could struggle to score enough points to keep up with Purdue. Coach Joe Tiller is probably playing for his life, and he will be hungry for a big, program defining score. At the very least, I expect them to be an attractive underdog, and at this point I suspect there will be value on the money line, too.
3) Mike Stoops will begin to earn his money. Arizona has been disappointing in the Stoops era, but I expect them to be surprisingly good this year. They showed glimpses of what is possible last year when they beat Cal and Oregon in consecutive weeks. More importantly, though, they took a huge step towards improving the offense by bringing in Sonny Dykes from Texas Tech to implement a western version of the Air Raid. That should be successful because quarterback Willie Tuitama is a very talented guy who will finally be in an offense that can capitalize on his ability. The team was 6-6 with the 105th ranked offense, so they can't help but be better if they can score more. Their schedule is much kinder this year as well - the trade LSU for New Mexico. I expect them to move up to about eight wins and finally get a bowl bid. A minor upset (Cal, Oregon State) seems to be a good possibility, too.
And some quick hits:
4) Georgia Tech will be ranked. Sure they lost Calvin Johnson, but Tashard Choice is a fantastic running back who will help fill the gap a bit. Most importantly, Reggie Ball is gone. Getting rid of him makes the team much better.
5) I like Illinois. They have a defense that looks great, and this is the year that Juice Williams becomes a star. Six or seven wins would be huge for the program, and would provide some serious betting value.
6) It could get ugly in Arkansas. The offseason has not been good, and I see as many as five losses on the schedule. The state badly wants a Heisman for McFadden, but the team's record will cost him the hardware, and Houston Nutt is going to get blamed for it.
7) TCU will be a trendy pick in week two, but Texas will handle them with relative ease. The Horned Frogs are good, but Mack Brown will have his team very ready.
8) West Virginia will disappoint. They'll likely have 11 wins, but nothing less than 12 will make fans happy. They have an offense that relies on two spectacularly talented guys, but they would struggle if either guy gets hurt, and they both play a dangerous style that exposes them to injury. They have a defense that is full of questions, and they have three tough games, including two on the road, and a home game against a Louisville team that will be able to score a ton of points on them. They will be good, but not good enough to be national contenders.
9) Virginia Tech will cover against LSU, and maybe even beat them. Both defenses will be spectacular, but the Tigers' offense will only have seen Mississippi State, and that won't be enough to get the rusty Matt Flynn up to speed. Virginia Tech's offense is a year old and should get into form easier. Plus, Virginia Tech has the biggest motivating factor there is to play for.
10) Michigan will be national champions. I have blindly said that every year since I learned what football was. I was right once.