I know this is the 49ers nation but hey most of my fellow red and gold fans also love college football. So lets start the 2009 college football prediction post. The anticipation is over the the season will begin in about 72 hours. I do have bias when it comes to my college teams. As an Irish alumn i will always have a weak spot for them and California is my local team, no doubt. And i am happy to report they are both going to be pretty darn good this season.
I will break my predictions down like this. The first list of teams will be BCS national championship contenders. The second list will be over hyped and over glorified pretenders. The third list will include my dark horse favorites to go to a BCS game if not the national title game. I will conclude this post with the top 5 heisman contenders as well as my prediction for the 2008 National championship games and eventual national champion. So shall i begin?
National Championship Contenders
Florida Gators: Without a doubt the obvious favorites to win it all for the 3rd time in four seasons. Anyone can question how Tim Tebow will translate to the NFL but he is one of the best collegiate QB's to ever play, that cannot even be questioned. Brandon Spikes leads a pretty stout Gator defense as well. Florida also avoids the 2nd best SEC team, Mississippi, in the regular season. Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia are all expected to have down seasons so with their weak out of conference schedule and weakened SEC schedule it should be pretty easy for the Gators to run the table up to the SEC title game.
Oklahoma Sooners: The former heisman trophy winner, Sam Bradford has crazy tools beside him with two 1,000 yard rushers starting with the all everything Damarco Murrey. Add that to the best TE this side of South Bend and the best offensive line in College football and you have the makings of a dynamic 50PPG offense. The Sooners defense will not be that good but when the offense scores 50+ game in and game out well that equals a win week in and week out
Texas Longhorns: Well Colt Mccoy and Jordan Shipley have to be one of the best QB/WR combinations in the league add All American Defensive end Sergio Kindle to the two top defensive recruits in the conference (Alex Okafor and Calvin Howell) and you have one of the conferences best front sevens. The secondary does make for something to be desired but hey with the exception of Florida every team has a major weakness heading into the 2009 season
Penn State: This team is just loaded with talent and depth. Darrel Clark came on as least season progressed and is considered a dark horse heisman candidate. Evan Royster can just ran that ball with the best of them Him being projected as a top 10 picks says something. Add that to the fact that they have two all conference offensive linemen, a 2nd team big ten WR tells me that States offense will be much better then in previous seasons. Which is bad news for the rest of the big ten because that defense is as best as ever. The best linebacking corp in the nation, a real surprise right? With Navarro Bowman and Shawn Lee leading the charge States defense will rank in the top 10 in the nation at seasons end.
California: This may be a surprise to many but the Golden Bears should be the favorites in the Pac 10 this season which of course makes them a national title contender. Javhvid Best is the best all around player in college football and it's not even that close. Does that translate to a heisman? Maybe! Shane Vareen isn't a bad back up (6.9avg) last season. That said the offense cannot be one dimensional to go up against the likes of USC and Oregon but i do have confidence in Riley, who does have the talent to succeed. The offensive and defensive lines are stacked with potential All-American and former high school standouts but the losses of Williams and Follett may hurt. They lead the conference with 8 all conference performers.
Ohio State: It will all come down to the Penn State-Ohio State game. Terrell Pryor is a stud QB who last season showed the ability to put the ball on target with that arm. The loss of Chris Wells will hurt but the Buckeyes always find a strong running game. I am more worried about the loss of their two starting WR's starting with Brian Robieskie. Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell leads the best secondary in the nation.. The USC game is a major test early.
USC: I may get attacked for this. But i just don't see Matt Barkley leading them to the title this season. If he was so great then why did it take until last week for Carrol to name him the starter? He will be a good QB but rarely do freshman signal callers lead the team to the promised last. That said the RB trio is stacked with talent and potential Stefon Johnson, CJ Gamble and Joe Mcknight lead a devestating trio of runners and the offensive line is the best in the conference. The problem besides starting a frosh QB is the defense. Taylor Mays is all everything. But Southern California has the weakest defensive line and linebacking corp of any "contending" team in the nation. Plus the schedule is brutal in a three week span they must travel to Berkley and South Bend while hosting Oregon, not to mention having to play the Buckeyes early one. I just don't see them going 12-0
Alabama: Many pre-season previews have them at 11-1 this season and i just don't see that. They lost the all-time leading tide pass in Wilson, Glen Coffee, and Andre Smith. Add that to the fact that 3 other offensive lineman graduated and that spells disaster. The defense can be one of the nation's best but playing in the SEC with an inexperienced QB, RB and offensive line doesn't add up to an 11-1 record.
LSU: They did have a down season in 2008, but let's be clear this team is loaded. The Offensve is stacked! QB Jordan Jefferson ranks 3rd preseason all conference behind two heisman contenders (Tebow and Snead) Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy lead the best Running game in the conference and the receivers are also one of the best groups in the entire nation with Brandon Lavell, Terrence Toliver and his brother Chris Tolliver leading the charge. The defense concerns be as they return only one starter and are missing their best player in the secondary who moved on to our 49ers. You will see a lot of 42-35 games but LSU should come out on top in most if not all of those games
Mississippi: Javon Snead turned it up big time towards the end of last season and if he continues it he will challenge Tebow, Best, Bradford and Mccoy for the Heisman. And he may actually be the #1 pick in the 2010 draft if this happens. 24TD/4INT in his final 7 games. They also return all of their top WR's and RB's from a team that scored over 32PPG last season. The defense led the nation in tackles for loss last season and are only missing Peria Jerry in the front 7. I am not ready to proclaim them contenders against Florida but we should see them continue to improve and without having to play the Gators in the regular season they can indeed run the table until the SEC Championship
Notre Dame: The offense is absolutely stacked, i mean stacked. Jimmy Clausen continued to improve as the season went on in 2008 and with his talent there is no reason to believe he can't be one of the nations best QB's in 2009. Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, Devall Kumara, Kyle Rudolph and incoming all everything freshman Shaquille Evans lead the WR/TE tandems in the entire nation. They also have one of the best offensive lines in the nation. The defense should also continue to impress with the secondary led by Harrson Smith paving the way. Another reason for placing them up here is their incredibly easy schedule. The only game in which i see Notre Dame actually "possibly' losing would be at home against USC, but for a freshman QB to come into South Bend with the talent the Irish have and win is going to be a tough task.
Other Darkhorse teams: Illinois, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Miami(F)
My Top 5 Heisman Contenders
1. Tim Tebow, Florida
2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
3. Javhid Best, California
4. Colt Mccoy, Texas
5. Tie Javon Snead, Mississppi Jimmy Claussen, Notre Dame
BCS National Title Game: * Florida- Penn State
Orange Bowl: Miami(F)-Notre Dame*
Rose Bowl: California-Ohio State*
Sugar Bowl: West Virginia-USC*
Fiesta Bowl: *Texas-LSU
I have Florida repeating!!! Hope you liked this breakdwon