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4 Downs: A Look at Some Conferences

There has been a little bit of talk about the upcoming season in various chats around the world wide web! Here are 4 I thought were pretty interesting.

1st Down: Who’s the Big 10 Favorite?

It’s kind of interesting this is being floated around. To me the obvious favorite heading into 2010 is Ohio St. They have practically their entire offense back and Terrelle Pryor was looking a lot more comfortable by season’s end. I don’t think Ohio St. could have asked for a better springboard into 2010 with wins over Penn St, Iowa, Michigan & Oregon. A lot of people also are wondering about Iowa, but the problem with Iowa is that they are losing two defensive studs in AJ Edds & Pat Angerer. That is going to be tough to deal with. The other thing Iowa loses is 80% of their offensive line with Bulaga coming out. Ferentz is an O-Line genius but Iowa lost some bangers inside. I think regression to the mean is going to catch up with Iowa too. They won too many close games. Don’t forget about the TE Tony Moeaki. He & Stanzi came up with some huge plays to get wins for Iowa.

I think a surprise team here could be Wisconsin. They are going to be a load to handle offensively with John Clay back. Losing TE Garrett Graham is tough, but Lance Kendricks is solid. They get back their entire O-Line. Defensively the Badgers will suffer a bit up front. They do get Ohio St. at home. I wouldn’t sell Michigan St. short either. Every game I saw the Spartans play I thought they looked a lot better than they played, if that makes any sense.

2nd Down: Does Auburn Have a Chance to Win the SEC West?

This is a testament to the rabidness of SEC football fans. In a word, no, they don’t have a shot at winning the SEC West. However, I don’t think Auburn fans shouldn’t have incredible expectations for the Tigers in 2010. When you take a look at their schedule, it has all the ear markings of an 11-0 team that will head to Tuscaloosa for a chance to get to the SEC Championship game and a shot to get to the BCS Championship. Auburn’s only road games this season are at Mississippi St., at Kentucky and at Mississippi.

I don’t want to dismiss what Dan Mullen is doing in Starkville, but he loses by Tyson Lee & Anthony Dixon which is going to be difficult to replace offensively. MSU might be a bit better on defense in 2010 than they were in 2009 and Mullen can definitely run an offense, but Auburn gets them in the 2nd week of the season after MSU plays Memphis and before they play on the road at LSU. Breaking in a new QB & RB is tough enough, but Auburn gets MSU at the right time. Kentucky is a bottom-feeder. Yeah, UK went into Auburn and got a 21-14 victory in 2009, but this game should and will be about revenge. UK takes some massive hits on the O-Line and defensively. They aren’t holding a Gus Malzahn offense to 21-points this time around. Mississippi could be a tough out because Houston Nutt always has the boys play hard, but they are somewhat like Mississippi St. They lose their QB in Jevan Snead and their big playmaker in Dexter McCluster.

Auburn also avoids Tennessee & Florida from the SEC East. They do play Clemson in non-conference but it’s early and at home. Clemson loses some serious playmakers from last season in CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford. Clemson also takes some major hits defensively.

I’ve read where some pundits feel like Auburn is a year away that might be true. Remember that the type of game Chizik & Malzahn want to play didn’t really fit with the personnel that Tuberville left behind. Still, you have to be impressed with what Auburn did in year one under Chizik. They went 8-5 with a bowl win with a best case record of 11-2. That 26-21 loss to Alabama almost spoiled the Tide’s season.

This is a much better question than I thought before I looked at everything. I don’t see why Auburn would start the season 7-0 making them the favorite against LSU at home. With that in mind, Auburn should be favored in every game they play leading up to the road date against the Tide. I still say Auburn doesn’t have a shot though. By the time Alabama plays Auburn, Nick Saban will have had a year to mold a defense. Plus he has last year to look at how Auburn plays and offensively the Tide should be even better than in 2009. Plus, it’s a home game for Alabama!

Auburn won’t win the SEC West, but they could wind up 11-1 and in a BCS Bowl with a shot to go 12-1 and a top-5 ranking. Everything sits up well for Auburn in 2010. Anything less than 10-11 wins will be a major disappointment. Heck, I’m starting to believe anything less than 11-1 will be disappointing.

3rd Down: Best Conference Outside the SEC?

This question is getting some play because the Pac 10 didn’t do so well in the bowl games while the Big XII lost a lot of star QBs and the Big 10 surged in the big time bowls they were a part of. I’ve read a lot of pundits saying the Pac 10 is going to be the 2nd best conference behind the SEC in 2010, but I’m still going with the Big XII.

They definitely lose some star power with guys like Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Zack Robinson, Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Sergio Kindle & Dez Bryant all leave for the NFL, but the reason I’m putting the Big XII behind the SEC is a resurgence in the Big XII North. Nebraska won 10 games last season and I think Missouri should be a load to handle. Paul Rhoades is going to get Iowa St. very competitive sooner rather than later and Bill Snyder is back at the controls for Kansas St. The Big XII South loses some star QBs, but Texas & Oklahoma are still Texas & Oklahoma. Texas A&M should be good again. Baylor will get back Robert Griffin. I think Oklahoma St. is going to drop off a bit, but I really like Mike Gundy.

I don’t know if Tuberville’s style of play will work in the Big XII so who knows how things will shake out with Texas Tech. Kansas is breaking in a new HC and Dan Hawkins seems to be living on borrowed time. Every conference has a couple of bad teams though.

The Pac 10 isn’t a bad choice but USC loses Pete Carroll. Washington St. still sucks. California underachieves annually. Arizona was embarrassed by Nebraska. Oregon St. loses Sean Canfield. The Big 10 needs to win more bowl games. The Big East is a nonentity. The ACC cannot enter into the discussion until Virginia Tech, Florida St. and Miami-FL are all dominating at an elite level.

That leaves the SEC & Big XII as the two best conferences heading into 2010.

4th Down: Is Randy Shannon on the Hot Seat in Miami-FL?

Whoa! I’ve actually read some articles postulating that this could be true. The only way I can figure this is because Florida & Florida St. had massive recruiting classes while Shannon at Miami-FL didn’t bring in nearly the star-studded class that most people at Miami are used to. With FSU & Florida either being ridiculous successful on the football field (Florida) or on the recruiting trail (Florida & FSU), it takes a bit of the spotlight off of the Canes.

This is only Shannon’s 4th year at “The U”. He was 5-7 his first year followed by a 7-6 mark. This past season Miami went 9-4 losing the bowl game to Wisconsin. The 9-4 looks like improvement, but I think everyone is disappointed with Miami’s season. After starting the season 3-1 with wins over Florida St., Georgia Tech & Oklahoma, it certainly seemed like Miami had enough to finish the year 11-1 putting them in prime condition to win an ACC championship and be serious contenders for a BCS Title.

Instead they lost a tight game to Clemson, blew one in Chapel Hill and lost another close one to Wisconsin. The road in 2010 isn’t exactly easy. They play at Ohio St. & at Pittsburgh in a 3-week span separated by a bye week. They also play at Georgia Tech and will still have Virginia Tech to contend with. They end the season at home against South Florida.

There isn’t a reason why Jacory Harris can’t be the best QB in the ACC this season. His development and improvement will go a long way in determining if Miami-FL is truly back. If that happens then I think Shannon will be OK, but I don’t know if I see 10 wins on the schedule this season. If they don’t at least finish 10-2, I think Shannon begins to feel the heat especially if we see a rebirth in Tallahassee.

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March 2, 2010 - Posted by | 4 Downs, Auburn, Iowa, Miami-FL, Ohio St

4 Comments »

  1. Savant,

    What are your thoughts on the Big Ten's possible expansion?

    Big Timber

    Comment by Anonymous | March 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. It's inevitable. The conference championship gravy train is something the Big 10 wants to hop on board with.

    Notre Dame is the obvious choice but they are going to resist until they absolutely have to join a conference.

    My guess is either Pittsburgh or Missouri.

    It'll be really interesting if they go more than 12 teams or the Big 10 or Pac 10 pick off a Big XII team. There could be some conference realignment in that case.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | March 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. I read somewhere that the Big East maybe looking to shake things up. The article read that they are looking to drop some schools and add others. The article then went on to say that they would look to the Big Ten to try and lure football schools (ie Mich, O$U)into the new power conference. Any thoughts or have you heard anything like this? I can not see this happening, but that would leave the Big Ten in shambles.

    Big Timber

    Comment by Anonymous | March 3, 2010 | Reply

  4. Timber,

    Financially there is no conference better off than the Big 10 except the SEC. Ohio St. & Michigan aren't going to leave that sort of money maker to join a conference with essentially no football credentials. The Big 10 has had enough problems with perception over the last few years by losing bowl games. If there is a major conference with less credibility than the Big 10, it's the Big East.

    The Big 10 did a lot to repair some of that damage with Ohio St. beating Oregon, Penn St. beating LSU, Iowa beating Georgia Tech & Wisconsin beating Miami-FL. Remember too that Northwestern went to triple OT against Auburn and Minnesota probably should have beaten Iowa St. The worst loss the Big 10 took in the bowl games was the 10-point loss Michigan St. took against Texas Tech.

    What you are hearing from the Big East side of things from what I can tell is that the Big East is feeling a bit screwed in basketball b/c having 16 teams is hurting them more than helping.

    The Big East essentially thought by going to 16-teams they'd get 9-10 teams in the Big Dance every year. Instead they are getting 7-8. The conference is almost too stacked so when a pretty good team like Louisville winds up with a sub-.500 conference record, they are out of the tournament. Well, Louisville probably thinks they are one of the best 30 or so teams in the nation, and they're probably right, but going 6-10 or 7-9 in the Big East doesn't look good, especially when you can only take the top-34 teams and it's usually less b/c you'll get a mid-major conference tournament upset or two.

    Also, if the Big 10 adds a 12th team then it's likely Pittsburgh, Missouri or Notre Dame. This is going to cause a conference championship game which is going to be big time money for teams in the conference. No way Michigan or Ohio St. leaves especially if PITT comes over b/c that's the Big East's best football school.

    Keep in mind too that the Rose Bowl is still the highest payout bowl in the BCS except the BCS game. You leave the Big 10 then you leave that tie in behind.

    Look at it this way, if a school like Texas has even had a passing conversation on what it would be like to join the Big 10, then you know Michigan & Ohio St. aren't jumping ship.

    The Big East can throw out all the names it wants. It ain't happening.

    It sounds odd to you and me b/c we are Indiana guys, but the team from the Big 10 that makes the most sense to join the Big East is Indiana. Indiana has essentially thrown in the towel with football. They show no signs of wanting to get good at football in my opinion and the Big East has pretty much threw in their lot as a basketball conference which Indiana still believes it's a basketball school.

    Now Indiana IS NEVER leaving the Big 10, so the idea that the Big East could raid the Big 10 is preposterous.

    Football is king for collegiate athletics. The Big East is simply playing from so far behind it's impossible for them to make headway. They are an AQ BCS conference. That's good enough for the time being.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | March 3, 2010 | Reply


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