The Preseason Top 5
By Jules Staten
College football is the ultimate reality show. As Auburn proved last year, you never know what team will step up and have that special season.
And on the crazy network that highlights the Non-Automatic Qualifiers, there's
even less of an idea of who that team may be.
The Non-AQ's divergent geographic base combined with few conference games being on national TV every Saturday, plus the fact there are few top tier recruiting classes (blurring the lines a bit more), make
it all the more difficult to figure out who's going
Nevertheless, heading into late spring, here is my early take on the five teams to watch out for in 2011. Consider it my post-spring, Non-AQ Top 5
and the teams in the hunt for an at-large BCS bid,
like TCU came up with last year:
The Cougars have gun-slinging QB Case Keenum back for his senior season after being granted a sixth year, plus a revamped defense to make a run at the BCS….most importantly, their schedule works out in their favor.
Predicted finish: 11-1.
Most Difficult Game: Southern Miss in likely Conference USA Champ Game.
Yes, we know they're moving to the Big East, but for 2011 they're still in the Mountain West. Patterson must find a QB to replace Andy Dalton, but they bring back a loaded defense (what else is new). TCU will shove the MWC Championship in the face of the league on their way out East, after the conference office moves their game vs. Boise to the Blue Turf.
Predicted Finish: 11-1.
Most Difficult Game: at Baylor.
3. Southern Mississippi
Coach Larry Fedora has an experienced team coming back for the 2011 campaign, and has the best QB in the CUSA East. Their schedule has a few road blocks to maneuver, but with a few breaks this could be a special season in Hattiesburg. The road games at Virginia and Navy will be tough, which may lead to a de-facto BCS Play-In Game in the CUSA Championship vs. Houston.
Predicted Finish: 10-2.
Most Difficult Game: at Virginia.
4. Boise State
The media darlings are at it again on the smurf turf. The return of Kellen Moore and a stable offensive line, plus a very seasoned defense will keep Boise in the conversation… IF they can get by Georgia on the opening weekend. The huge battle for the conference title vs. TCU looms in November; that may determine if this is a great year or if the boys from Boise come crashing back to reality!! We finally see how they compete against a real schedule.
Predicted Finish: 10-2.
Most Difficult Game: Georgia in the Georgia Dome.
What? I know you're saying he can't be serious, but after the events of this weekend… What BCS bowl wouldn't want an Academy school in there if not to be patriotic? And as a first, you know there'd be a draw. The Middies have a tough schedule after another 9+ win year, but another upset of Notre Dame and good showing in South Carolina may be enough.
Predicted Finish: 9-3.
Most Difficult Game: @ South Carolina.
As I stated, college football is the ultimate reality show, and early predictions are even crazier. So just sit back, wait, and enjoy each episode, each week. While you're doing that, keep an eye on a few others, including: SMU ,Tulsa ,BYU , Louisiana Tech and Air Force.