For those of you who have followed my blog for over a year, you guys know that I’m a huge college football fan. I mean, if I were to rank the important things in my life (and why shouldn’t I?), I’d go:
2.) College Football
4.) Peanut Butter Cookies
5.) More Peanut Butter Cookies
…in that order.
Seeing that the Astros are on pace to lose 375 games this year, I thought I would take an Astros breather and focus on a little college football – just for today. …maybe.
Like last year, I’ve made a top 25 list and I am also throwing in some Heisman predictions. I’ll likely piss some of you off – but I don’t care. You don’t like it? Do what I did and become an expert by getting a free blog on tumblr.
For those of you wondering how I did this, I picked the 25 teams, in order, that I thought would finish in the AP Top 25 BEFORE the bowl season. Next to their name, I predict what their record would be at that point… I’m not going to predict the bowl games (maybe sometimes in the future.) Lastly, I posted what I think will be their most intriguing (or just an intriguing) game complete with a final.
…and, yes, I have Houston ranked in the top 25 – just like I did last year.
So, without further ado
THE HOUSTON SPORTS COUNTERPLOT TOP 10 + 15!
1.) USC (13-0)
The University of Spoiled Children is back! While still having 10 scholarships withheld, USC has, top to bottom, the most talented team in the country. Highlighted by their soon-to-be first overall section quarterback, Matt Barkley and their Penn State refugee Silas Redd, the Trojans look like the team to beat for the 2012 football season. I’m expecting a few close calls, but I expect the Trojans will waltz on in to the National Title Game.
Game to watch: 11/9 Oregon at USC – I’m predicting that both of these teams will be in the top 5. I think USC’s defense is going to be too quick and too physical to be exposed by Oregon’s track-star offense. USC will be prepared for Oregon and Oregon has shown time and time again that they underperform when their opponent’s defense has adequate time to prepare. Wait, USC won’t be coming off of a bye week but instead games against Colorado at home and Arizona in Tucson? Oh, well, still. USC wins 35-24
2.) Oklahoma (12-0)
Landry Jones leads a high-powered well-oiled-machine offense that, I predict, will buzzsaw through young Big XII defenses at will. While I don’t think the Big XII will be as strong as it was in 2011, I expect teams to be a little more competitive top to bottom. Texas will be better – admittedly they have serious problems in the passing game, but will be okay provided they run the ball. I expect Baylor will rebound from the loss of RG3 – have you ever known Art Briles to be without a good quarterback? Charlie Weis will improve the game in Lawrence. K-State will flirt with the top 25. The Pokes might be there and so will TCU …the only teams that I think will be bad are Texas Tech and Iowa State. Breaking down the Big 12: 1 great team, 1 really good team, a bunch of good teams, 1 okay team (Kansas) and 2 bad teams.
But we’re talking about OU, right? History tells us that they’ll run through their conference undefeated, look like complete studs and then lay down in their bowl game. Not so fast, my friend!
Game to watch: 11/17 Oklahoma at West Virginia – here’s another match-up that I believe will pit two top 5 teams in a late-season do-or-die with National Championship aspirations on the line. Overall, I think West Virginia’s offense will be able to go dollar for dollar with the Sooners, but ultimately, I think defense is going to win this one. Oklahoma wins 38-35
3.) Michigan (12-1)
Denard Robinson is going to put up some video game type numbers in 2012 and come in a VERY CLOSE 2nd in Heisman voting. Brady Hoke’s defense is strong enough to run the table. I bet they’re going to start off quickly, too, as I’m picking them to win against Alabama in The Big House. Yes, you heard that, “a win against Alabama.” Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they’ll trip up in a game that they’re supposed to win… maybe Notre Dame on 9/22. Even though I’m pegging them for one loss, there’ll be a lot of talk that they should get a crack at USC because they played in a conference championship game, but ultimately the computers get it right and select the Sooners.
Game to watch: 9/1 Alabama at Michigan – Nick Saban has had all off-season to prepare for Denard Robinson, but as Mike Tyson would say “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.” Although I think Bama’s LBs and DEs will have enough speed to contain Robinson for MOST of the game, I believe Robinson will break one (or two) and Bama’s offense will look sluggish and incompetent and be unable to retaliate. Michigan wins 13-10
4.) Alabama (11-2)
It seems like every year Alabama graduates (err… sends guys to the pros) and we all sit around and wonder how on Earth they’ll replace the people they lost. After losing Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont’a Hightower to the FIRST ROUND of the NFL Draft, the Crimson Tide has simply reloaded with a fresh set of NFL first rounders. I’m not a huge fan of AJ McCarron, but I think the run game with Eddie Lacy and the best offensive line in the country will take a lot of pressure off of him. As always, the SEC schedule is a killer – with games in Fayetteville, Knoxville and Baton Rouge, not to mention opening with a top 10 Michigan team, I’m expecting the Tide to lose two games but still jump plenty of 1 loss teams as the repeat SEC champion.
Game to watch: I’m not going to pick the Michigan game because I already did, so I’m picking the 11/9 game at LSU. This could be a replay of the National Title game and I’m not 100% convinced anyone will score. These teams are loaded up on defense, both teams are going to try (and fail) to establish run games and we could realistically see another game where both teams fail to score double digits. EPSN won’t be happy, but it’ll be a great game! Alabama wins 9-3.
5.) Florida State (12-1)
Jimbo Fisher has this defense jacked up and I’m pumped to see how they perform. I see FSU cruising through their schedule. They have a few tough games, namely Clemson and Florida at home and VaTech in Blacksburg. EJ Manuel is going to put up big numbers and Devonta Freeman will be a very nice back for the Seminoles, but, as is with most of my top ten, Florida State’s defense will be their strength.
Game to watch: 11/8 Florida State at Virginia Tech – This might be the best Thursday night game of the season. Two top 10 teams battling it out in one of the toughest stadiums to play in, it doesn’t get much better than this… except it’s the ACC. This has the potential to be another low scoring game, but I’m picking a blowout. I think Florida State is going to man-handle the Hokies at every aspect of the game. I could be wrong! Florida State wins 34-13
6.) Arkansas (11-2)
I love Arkansas. And, this year, I’m picking them to be the second best team in the SEC – which is a huge honor! Again, I think the SEC is going to be the toughest conference in football and, unfortunately for them, I think the best teams in the conference will have two or three losses. I think Alabama loses twice and I think Arkansas loses twice. If Bama or Arkansas played in any other conference, they’d be playing in the National Title game. Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis will lead the best offense in the SEC and the Razorback defense will be adequate enough to keep teams from outscoring them.
Game to watch: 9/15 Alabama at Arkansas – Alabama will come into Fayetteville, still seething from a week one loss to Michigan and looking to take some stress out on the Razorbacks. However, Arkansas, coming off of two cupcakes, has been preparing for this game all off-season and will be ready for whatever the Crimson Tide throws at them. Folks are going to wonder how I have a two loss Alabama team in the top 5… it’s because I have them starting out 1-2, running the table, climbing back up the rankings and then winning the conference title game. Arkansas wins 17-13
7.) Louisiana State (10-2)
When I started with my top 25, I had LSU at 14. Crazy, huh? Then I looked at their schedule and moved them to 16. Then I moved them to 11. Then 9. Then I couldn’t stomach having them ranked lower than Wisconsin or West Virginia, so I moved them up to 7. This is such a loaded football team. I hope no one thinks I have an SEC bias – because I don’t. Teams in the SEC are just so much better than teams in other conferences. Zach Mettenberger should be a huge upgrade over Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. And, I don’t think their defense will miss Tyrann Mathieu as much as others would lead you to believe. They’re defense is just so physical and so quick - this is going to be fun to watch. I’m certain that they’re going to battle Alabama and Florida State for having the best defense in the country. However, I have serious concerns, even with the QB upgrade, that they’ll put enough points on the board to stave off any less than 2 losses.
Game to watch: 11/23 LSU at Arkansas – this is going to be a great game! In my opinion, both teams are going to come into the final game of the regular season with one loss and a chance to represent the SEC-West in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama. I would assume that both teams are close to, if not already in, the top 5. LSU is going to contain the Arkansas offense, but not enough to win. Arkansas wins 17-10.
8.) West Virginia (10-2)
West Virginia fits in perfectly in the Big XII. Geographically? - not so much. But, their football team does. With stints in Lubbock and Stillwater, Dana Holgorsen has been around the block in the Big XII, so he’s not walking into the Big XII unprepared. He’s going to throw the ball – a lot. Geno Smith has a big arm and enough mobility to take some pressure off of his offensive line and provide his receivers enough time to get open. I have a feeling Smith is going to put up monster numbers but probably won’t get the same hype as Barkley or Jones because Geno Smith is now a “system quarterback.”
Game to watch: 10/6 West Virginia at Texas – This is the day West Virginia is welcomed into the Big XII. Sure, the Mountaineers have a game the previous week against Baylor, but that’s at home – this game is in Austin and there will be close to 100,000 people wearing burnt orange. Remember what I said about Holgorsen being prepared for the Big XII? Okay, maybe not so much because Texas is going to spell trouble for the Mountaineers. The Longhorns are going to have a very strong defense and a very good running game. Texas is going to control the ball and if they don’t turn the ball over, they’re going to win this football game. As a matter of fact, I’m calling it right now. Texas wins 24-23
9.) Wisconsin (11-2)
Is there a more boring team than Wisconsin? They win 10 games every year by doing the same thing over and over again. They control the line of scrimmage, they run the ball and they play good defense. …and nothing has changed. Montee Ball is going to get a lot of publicity, but the offensive and defensive lines will be what puts Wisconsin in the top 10.
Game to watch: 12/1 Wisconsin at Michigan – wait, this match-up is not on the schedule. True – for now! I threw a curveball because I think these two teams will reprensent (sigh) the Legends and Leaders divisions (I really hate those names) in the Big 10 Championship Game in Indianapolis. It’s going to be billed as Robinson vs Ball, but this games going to come down to whether or not Wisconsin will be able to handle the world-class speed of Robinson. I don’t think they’re up for it. Michigan wins 24-13.
10.) Tennessee (9-3)
For the second straight season, Tennessee is my pick to break through in 2012. Tyler Bray, though immature, has serious talent and can lead this team to surprising victories against Florida and Georgia. Plus, it helps that they’ll miss LSU.
Look, I get it. It’s unpopular to predict Tennessee to finish the year in the top 10, much less, the top 25. But, I like Derek Dooley and I like Tyler Bray. I think Bray can be a first round pick in the NFL draft - I think he chooses to stay in school, but he’s a legitimate NFL caliber QB.
Game to watch: 9/29 Tennessee at Georgia – Tennessee looks to avenge the 20-12 loss at Neyland Stadium in 2011. Tyler Bray carves up the Bulldogs and the Volunteers keep themselves from making the same mistakes that made them losers the year before. Tennessee wins, 23-20
Bonus: Rounding out the TOP 25
11.) Oregon (9-3)
12.) Michigan State (10-2)
13.) BYU (10-2)
14.) Boise State (11-1)
15.) Ohio State (9-3)
16.) Louisville (10-2)
17.) Virginia Tech (9-3)
18.) Florida (8-4)
19.) Houston (11-2)
20.) Iowa (9-3)
21.) Baylor (8-4)
22.) Southern Methodist (10-2)
23.) Stanford (8-4)
24.) Cincinnati (9-3)
25.) Texas (7-5)
Heisman Candidates (Invited to the show)
Matt Barkley * winner
So, did I make any mistakes? Leave a comment and tell me how ridiculous I am!