So I guess it's Notre Dame Week? Fvck that. (relevant info: 8-4 record, 15th AdjMarg, 22nd AdjOff, 14th AdjDef)
I intend this to be an overview of my previous previews, as well as to give y'all infor where I project various teams coming into the season. It's really hot right now (I'm seriously considering sleeping in Engineering Hall as it is air-conditioned, unlike my house), so this intro is short.
First, the TOP 25 FOR NEXT YEAR AND BIG TEN.
|Rank||NCAA Team||Conf||Proj. Rec||Conf. Rec||Adj Marg||Adj Off||rank||Adj Def||rank|
And the rest of the Big Ten
|Rank||NCAA Team||Conf||Proj. Rec||Conf. Rec||Adj Marg||Adj Off||rank||Adj Def||rank|
I make no promises as to the accuracy of these, so don't blame me when Florida State goes 8-4 next year, rendering Phil Steele's pre-season projections once again moot.
Also, a reminder that wins/losses don't really factor into how well a team ranks. Such is why South Carolina can rate out 22nd with a 7-5 record in the SEC, while an 11-1 Florida State team only comes in at 20 (they play Virginia Tech and then a whole bunch of crap) I completely understand that FSU would be Top 10 in the polls with that record and South Carolina wouldn't be ranked at all. Just a quirk of the scheduling.
And before y'all yell at me for some of these ranking anomalies (Boise State waves hello!), I think that some of these teams are misplaced as well. Such as...
Probably Over-Rated by The Above:
#1 Alabama (slightly)
This is really only because their losses on offense (i.e.: their offense in Trent Richardson) and defense mean that they shouldn't be ranked #1. LSU probably should, with an argument from USC (more on them in a bit) and Oklahoma. That said, they will still probably have 1-2 losses, and be every bit the Top 5 team I'm projecting them to be, so I can't be too down on this.
#5 Oklahoma State
Quick! Name two players from last year's Oklahoma State team! Okay, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but everyone knows them. How about a third player? [relative silence with whispers of Joseph Randle] Exactly.
Now, granted Joseph Randle remains, and Oklahoma State wasn't a one year wonder last year (they had been building for a couple seasons up to that point). But they still lost two 1st round NFL draft picks that were largely responsible for their recent success, so I think they belong more in the Top 10-15 range than Top 5.
#6 Boise State
[basically the same as above, but with the name KELLEN MOORE + WHOLE LOT OF OTHERS attached]
HOWEVAH: I am not as down on Boise State as many people are. They were good before Kellen Moore, and they'll be good after Kellen Moore. The real impetus for their success lies with Chris Petersen and their conference of residence. They'll still be the best team (by far) in the MWC next year, and that will help them as they acclimate to Life After Moore & Co. I think they're still a Top 15 team next year, but their first game will go a long way toward giving the direction of their season.
I HAS A SAD BECAUSE I HAS NO RUSSELL WILSON :(
John L. Smith is pretty much the only reason I need for this. If that weren't the case though, I would be much more likely to agree with this projection (albeit begrudgingly). Quite frankly, I am surprised at how high Arkansas remains to be ranked coming into 2012, considering I would have thought the past few years have shown how important Bobby Petrino was to the success of the Razorbacks. Do people not remember he was fired? And replaced with John L. Smith? This is the clearest example of ESS-EEE-CEE bias I can think of, actually. I think they're a fringe Top 25 team without Petrino.
Andrew Luck is gone, as well as loads of his (Tight Ends) offensive weapons, and this will be Year Two (Post-Harbaugh). They kept it together pretty well last year (a crap schedule and still Andrew Luck there helps), but they are pretty obviously going to have some growing pains now, especially with USC remembering that they are USC. I say Top 20 next year if David Shaw keeps it together well enough.
Probably Under-Rated by The Above:
They probably should've been in the BCS last year playing Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Not that I think they were a Top-16 team(I think I had them #19), but with two close losses to SMU and Baylor (nothing to hang your head about) and beating Boise in Boise, I certainly think they deserved a spot over Virginia Tech. Anyhow, #14 is better than #19 but I think they were just working out the kinks last year and Casey Pachall should be ready to lead them back to Top 10 quality.
That said, they are in the Big 12 this year, and Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Kansas State will not be terribly kind to a team that's used to playing Air Force and UNLV. Rest assured, Kansas will be there to offer reprieve. I think they can do all right, and 10-2 (projected) would be a solid first season in the Big 12.
I don't get it either, they have really not been good the past two seasons, and I don't know if their offense is going to improve either (their QB's still suck). However, this ranking is based on their defense, which will probably be pretty fricking good. If they manage to get any semi-competent QB play, they'll be Top 15 easy.
#22 South Carolina
I believe in Steve Spurrier, which is why I'm willing to overlook the inconsistency displayed by the Gamecocks (which is the source of this low-ish ranking). Also, Stephen Garcia is gone, which can only help.
#24 Ohio State
I also believe in Urban Meyer, though I again say that the Buckeyes will need time to grow into a new system. No one can work magic that fast.
By the way: who else knew Cincinnati won 10 games in 2011? Because I typed in the scores every week and it completely shocked me. Also, despite going 10-3, they only ranked 36th in my numbers last year. That's because the Big East is awful.
Similarly, calling them "under-rated" at 28th is less about the quality of football product they'll put on the field, and more the fact that they are the best team remaining in the Big East and should end up ranked in the Top 20 by default.
#36 Kansas State
Bill Snyder is the older, more successful version of Pat Fitzgerald. Also: Collin Klein <3
No Fvcking Idea:
I know everyone has them ranked in their Top 3, if not #1, going into 2012, but let me pump the brakes for a bit. This is still a team that almost lost (at home) to a 3-9 Minnesota squad using a freshman back-up QB. This is still the same team that got blown out by Arizona State. This is still a team that went 3-1 in one score games last year (4-1 if you count the Utah game). This is still a team that gave up 40+ points to both Arizona squads.
That said, they did end the year on a hot streak, beating Oregon in Autzen and absolutely murdering UCLA (the South "Champions"). They return Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, who are probably good enough to overcome defensive short-comings on their own. So I don't know (hence, the "no fvcking idea" headline). Maybe they prove the pre-season pundits right. Maybe I get vindicated for my hesitance. So we'll see.
Because by all rights, they should be this good (actually, if they go 12-0 like projected, they'll be Top 5 for sure), and they should be able to beat every team on their schedule. But they never do like they should, do they? The Georgia I know always loses games that they shouldn't (South Carolina and Michigan State* last year), for every stellar effort they put forth (SEC Championship 1st half)
Also, they lost like half their secondary and Isiah Crowell to suspension, which is probably important.
*only because Mark Richt acted like an idiot with his kicker in OT. Not to say they were heads-and-tails better than MSU, I thin k the teams were pretty even last year.
See the Michigan preview. A shame we won't know more until conference play starts, because they'll lost big to Alabama even if Michigan is Top 10 caliber.
See the comment on Texas. Florida has taken a serious dive over the last two years, but they put up just good enough (losing) efforts to overcome their serious case of sucking and underachieving in general. I certainly think Florida has the capability of being a Top 15 team, though recent history seems to indicate that they'll chuck that opportunity out the window like a stolen laptop.
#15 Notre Dame
Discussed at length in other threads. They face a brutal schedule, so they likely won't end up #15 in any poll, but they do have talent (just don't turn it over).
#16 Texas A&M
Because they were much better than their record last year, but they lost their coach and QB from that squad. Whether that helps or hurts is up for debate. I would like to say I called them not fulfilling their Top 10 pre-season ranking last year (I said Oklahoma State was a much better candidate), though I had no idea how they would accomplish that. Bravo to them for making it interesting.
#17 West Virginia
The first is from the Orange Bowl (obviously). The second is from their loss to Syracuse in the regular season. Hence: "no fvcking idea."
Bowl Predictions (Excel-ish, then Personal Opinion):
So I can't go exactly straight down my rankings to pick bowl match-ups. For one, the polls and BCS don't care what my numbers says (as well they shouldn't) Notre Dame isn't going to be ranked 15th at 8-4, nor is Florida State going to be ranked 20th at 11-1. For second, bowls are as much about the butts in the seats as it is the football product on the field. So I'm going to use my numbers as a guide, using personal discretion to differentiate where needed. I'll also offer my personal, gut instinct opinions. Both sets of predictions are likely to be completely off, so feel free to ridicule me when Wisconsin barely qualifies for the Insight Bowl (God, please no)
NOTE: I can't exactly figure which one of the Gator and Insight has first pick this year. I think it's the Insight, but address errors to me not caring enough to verify.
BCS Championship: Alabama v Oregon
Because there's no fricking way they'll pull another SEC duel in the title game, no matter if LSU and Alabama are miles ahead of the next team. Oregon's picked to be undefeated here, so they'd be an easy replacement choice.
Personal Opinion: LSU v Oklahoma
I think LSU will back up their hype, and I think Oregon will suffer some loss of quality with no James or Thomas. Oklahoma should be better prepared with Landry Jones a year wiser, and so I think they run the table to be in Miami.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin v Stanford
Big Ten Champion and best remaining Pac-12. They're also picked to beat USC in the regular season, so this is easy.
Personal Opinion: Wisconsin v USC
Suck it, I'm going to be optimistic on Wisconsin. It's a one game season once you get to the Big Ten Championship, so anything can happen. I think USC will win the Pac-12, but I think they won't crack the title game because of their defense and schedule strength compared to the Big 12 Champion.
Sugar Bowl: LSU v Oklahoma State
This is a little tricky, because I'm predicting an undefeated Georgia team going into the SEC title game, and afterward you'd have 11-1 LSU and 12-1 Georgia as Sugar Bowl replacement options. I'm just assuming that Georgia would be blown out by Alabama, making it easier to pick LSU as the Sugar Bowl representative. Oklahoma State is picked to finish 2nd in the Big 12 and Top 5, so it's an easy choice for opponent (Sugar picks before the Orange, and Oklahoma State isn't going to be picked as the Fiesta at-large)
Personal Opinion: Georgia v Oregon
Okay, I'll be honest: I made the skeleton of this post last week with all the Bowl Predictions, and I can't remember why I picked Georgia over Alabama. I think I wanted to be a little contrarian, and I also think Alabama will take enough of a step back (and Georgia has a relatively easy schedule) such that new blood in Georgia will be appealing to overcome what is probably a better Alabama team. Also, screw Nick Saban. Oregon is an easy choice as the best remaining appealing team, even if they take a step back)
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma v Michigan
Big 12 Champion vs a Michigan team projected to finish 11-2 and Top 12. Another easy choice for the bowl selection. Other options would be Boise State (HA!) .
Personal Opinion: TCU v Virginia Tech
I'm all in on TCU. If they go 10-2 in 2012, which I think they are capable of, they're a lock. I'm also assuming that Oklahoma State will have growing pains, leading TCU to 2nd place in the Big 12. Virginia Tech is crap, but they'll have a nice enough record, and what other choices would there be? Since I'm taking Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, that means the Big Ten West representative is going to be dealt an extra loss (whether it's Michigan or Michigan State), and between the tough schedules each of them face, it's hard to see either of them with less than 3 losses at the end of the regular season. That would effectively take them out of BCS consideration. The SEC, Big 12, and Pac-12 all have two teams already, and Boise State will probably be just on the outside looking in (unless they're undefeated, which would be a tall order with all their new starters). So Virginia Tech gets it by defaut.
Orange Bowl: Florida State v Cincinnati
Personal Opinion: Florida State v Cincinnati
The Orange gets the scraps as usual, though both these teams face easy enough schedules to make it look like nice match-up.
CAPITOL ONE: Penn State
10-2 with a new coach and eager fan-base to forget the past year. Easy choice.
Personal Opinion: Michigan State
Penn State will probably not be 10-2, and so Michigan State goes instead.
OUTBACK: Michigan State
Only because Nebraska is picked to finish 7-5, as I can't imagine Michigan State fans would be excited to return to Tampa.
Personal Opinion: Michigan
Just behind Michigan State, though feel free to switch them up. I think they're both pretty close to each other.
Personal Opinion: Penn State
The effect of one BCS Bowl participant from the Big Ten is where this starts being offset. I think Penn State will have a better record (and be more unique to the Big 12 footprint) than Nebraska which is why they get the call.
Personal Opinion: Nebraska
And here I think the Gator Bowl will be eager to grab Nebraska more than Iowa.
TEXAS (yeah, not calling it the Car Care Bowl, sorry): Illinois
Personal Opinion: Iowa
Personal Opinion: Northwestern
Sorry, Illinois. This is just my belief in Pat Fitzgerald working here. If it makes you feel better, they're going to lose the game.
PIZZA PIZZA: NA
Personal Opinion: Illinois
Hopefully this will be better than the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl disaster last year. Ugh.
Well, I'm exhausted and I think the heat has somehow managed to penetrate the Engineering buildings defenses. Dear Lord, when will it be cold again? Anyways, enjoy and forgive the typos. Heat makes my brain hurt.