Tuesday Question - The Three Sleeper Teams
Posted Aug 27, 2007

Tuesday Question - The Three Sleeper Teams to Watch Out For

Past TQs
- Predicting the Season
- 3 things we're sure of
- What to look for on Signing Day
- Bears or Colts?

- Early bowl surprises and trends
- 3 things to look for from the bowls
- Do you want the Alabama job?
- What are the 3 best non-BCS bowls?
- Who's 2nd in the Heisman race?
- Michigan-OSU rematch?
- Michigan or Ohio State?
- Should Louisville be No. 3?
- The nat'l title game will be ...
- The best one-loss team
- Rule changes to help the flow
- The Midseason Stuff
- The real top five ranking
- The early coach of the year is ...?
- These three teams are for real, these three aren't
- After 2 weeks, who's better, who's worse?
- 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Defensive Players of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Regular Season Games of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Playmakers of All-Time
- 10 Worst Heisman Winners
- 10 Greatest Bowl Games
- All-Time Offensive Team
- All-Time Defensive Team

Pete Fiutak           

Q: The three sleeper teams are ...

A: 1. Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jacket lines are tremendous, the linebacking corps is a rock, the special teams are among the best in the ACC, and Tashard Choice is one of the most talented running backs who isn't on any All-America short list. Yeah, losing Calvin Johnson stinks, but the returning receiving corps isn't all that bad, and Taylor Bennett is an upgrade at quarterback over Reggie Ball. And then there's the schedule. Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia all have to come to Bobby Dodd Stadium, while the three big road games, at Notre Dame, at Maryland and at Miami, are all winnable. If this team really is as good as I think it can be, it'll blow out the Irish with ease in South Bend on opening day weekend. If not, an ACC title is still possible.

2. Oregon State - The schedule is too brutal to even think about winning the Pac 10 title, with road trips to Arizona State, California, UCLA and Oregon (along with a winnable game at Washington State), but the Beavers are loaded enough to win at a few of those. The linebacking corps leads a loaded defense that should be fantastic if the secondary comes around. The offensive line might turn out to be the best in the Pac 10 (outside of USC), while backs Yvenston Bernard and Clinton Polk should crank out big seasons.

Vanderbilt - It's hard to get too excited about a team that beat Tennessee State, Temple, Duke for three of its four wins (the other coming in a stunning upset over Georgia), but this is a team that's been really, really close over the last few years. The Commodores lost four games last year by a touchdown or less, including a 25-19 loss to Florida. Two years ago, they lost four other games by seven points or fewer. Now the team is loaded with experience, especially on the offensive line, and it has a bona fide star in receiver Earl Bennett to keep defensive coordinators up at night. If QB Chris Nickson progresses as expected, this will be the SEC East's fly in the ointment.

Richard Cirminiello

: The three sleeper teams are ...

A: 1. Iowa – Alright, so a 6-7 record and the loss of QB Drew Tate doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a championship, but aren’t the Hawkeyes a little too far below the radar? Until the offense gets going, they’ll get carried by a rugged, no-name defense.  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that neither Michigan nor Ohio State is on the schedule.  If Iowa can somehow engineer an upset at Wisconsin or Penn State, don’t rule out a shared Big Ten title similar to five years ago.  

2. Boston College – If the 2006 season taught us anything, it was that the ACC is completely wide open and ripe for the picking for any team that gets hot.  New BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski stepped into an ideal situation to win big right now.  He inherits one of the nation’s best passers in Matt Ryan, a stable of veteran backs, and enough returning defensive starters to shine in a league that’s short on offensive juggernauts.

3. South Florida – Rutgers gets all the ink as the Big East’s next best alternative to West Virginia and Louisville, but South Florida is not far behind.  The deep and experienced Bulls have beaten the Mountaineers and Cardinals within the last two years, and get both in Raymond James this fall.  If true freshman RB Mike Ford is as good as advertised, USF has a chance to be this year’s Wake Forest.  

The not-so-sleeper sleeper

Ohio State – Excuse me, but I need a better explanation why Michigan is considered so substantially better than Ohio State this year.  Both look real capable on one side of the ball, and vulnerable on the other.  The Buckeyes have a terrific D, a young back that’s ready to explode, solid special teams play, an average pocket passer, and a coach that owns the Wolverines.  Sounds vaguely familiar to a certain scarlet and gray team that went 14-0 in 2002.

Matthew Zemek

Q: The three sleeper teams are ...

A: 1) BYU. TCU's getting all the press in the Mountain West, but the Horned Frogs must go to Provo, where Bronco Mendenhall's team will be ready and waiting. The MWC will not be a formality or a coronation.

2) Georgia. Maybe not a classic example of a sleeper, but it's worth noting that had Georgia's receivers displayed reliable hands last season, the whole trajectory of the 2006 campaign could have been very different in Athens.

The numerous stumbles last fall might give the impression that UGA was far from competitive, but a closer look indicates that a few plays (plays that weren't made in clutch situations) carried a lot of weight. If late-game third-and-eights are converted this year, the tone and tenor Between the Hedges could abruptly change for the better.

3) Georgia Tech. No Calvin Johnson, so no chance, right?

Well, no Reggie Ball, either. Addition by subtraction could make the Jackets surprisingly competitive in a wide-open ACC. A return trip to Jacksonville is not a huge reach.

Michael Bradley

Q: The three sleeper teams are ...

A: Illinois: The Fighting Illini have been upgrading their talent and could be ready to unleash an excellent defense on the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Juice Williams is a playmaker under center.

Arizona: It’s about time for the Wildcats to play a little offense, and Sonny Dykes pledges to put Willie Tuitama in the shotgun this year, a move which should keep him from getting his head knocked off.

Kansas: Mangino the Great has the most talent he has ever had in Lawrence, not to mention a schedule that could have the Jayhawks off to a 7-0 start. If the ground game comes around, look out.