2008 Spring Preview - The BCS Will Be ...

Posted Mar 25, 2008

No need to play the season, here are the 2009 BCS matchups with the national title projection. Which ten teams will most likely get in the big money games? Which ten are next on the list? Obviously it's way too early, but it's never too soon to set the expectations.

Spring Preview 2008

The 20 Big Questions - No. 1

By Pete Fiutak 

- The 2008 Big Spring Questions  
No. 20 - Top 40 Non-Conference Games
No. 16-19 - BCS Busters, Rule Changes & More
No. 15 - Ranking the Conferences
No. 14 - Who Could Be This Year's Kansas?
(breaking through big after a bad year)
No. 13 - 5 Teams That Could Tumble

No. 12 - Who Could Be This Year's Missouri?
(going from good to special)
No. 11 - Ten Coaches Who Need Big Seasons
No. 10 - The New Superstar Coaches

No. 9 - Everyone Will Be Complaining About ...
No. 8 - Everyone Will Be Buzzing About ...
No. 7 - The Pressure Is On ...
No. 6 - The Relatively Unknown Players
You'll Care About
No. 5 - Every League's Pain In the Butt Team
No. 4 - Already Known Players Who'll Go Nuclear

No. 3 - The Heisman contenders
No. 2 - The Big Storylines

1. The BCS matchups will be ...
No need to play the season. Here's the best way-too-early guess for the 2009 BCS matchups ...
Rose Bowl
vs. USC
This would be the first meeting between the two schools since USC's 38-3 win in 1966 and a rematch of the 1963 Rose Bowl, one of the most exciting ever with the Trojans holding off the hard-charging Badgers for a 42-37 win.

The biggest obstacle between the Badgers and an at-large bid might end up being a mid-September road trip to Fresno State, but a BCS team has to win that game and the pieces all appear to be in place to go on a big conference run. Remember, Bret Bielema's club got to a New Year's Day game last year despite a slew of injuries and major offensive inconsistencies. This year's team is deeper, more talented, and it has the schedule with Ohio State, Penn State, and Illinois coming to Camp Randall. The road games aren't that bad going to Fresno State, Michigan, who likely won't be close to jelled by September 27th, Iowa, Michigan State and Indiana. Assume a home loss to Ohio State, one other tough defeat, Michigan State always seems to screw up big UW seasons, and the last spot into the big money games.

USC appears to be the class of the Pac 10 yet again and should make it five Rose Bowls in six years. So why won't the Trojans be playing for the national title? The defense should be a killer and the offense should be explosive, and the schedule isn't all that bad with the toughest road game coming across town against UCLA. That could be the make-or-break game to play for the BCS championship if they beat Ohio State earlier in the year. Even so, this isn't Pete Carroll's best team and it could certainly lose at Arizona or at home to Oregon.

Orange Bowl
Boston College
vs. Pitt
Is it possible the Eagles could lose the top quarterback in the draft and turn out to be better? It could happen if the loaded defense carries things until the offense comes around. The road schedule is a relative joke until November going away from Chestnut Hill to face Kent State, NC State, and North Carolina before battles late in the year against Florida State and Wake Forest. Clemson might be the Atlantic's best team, but it has to go to BC, as does Virginia Tech.

Take your pick among the Big East teams to get in. West Virginia will likely be the preseason favorite, and while it's had to overcome some major personnel losses over the last few years and still succeeded, the defense should take a big step back, there's no Steve Slaton, and yeah, Rich Rodriguez really is good. South Florida is loaded on offense, but late season road trips to Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virginia, with the trip to Morgantown coming in early December, are all trouble. Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers will all be in the discussion, but Pitt just appears to be due. The most talented team in the league after years of strong recruiting, this has to be the season it finally all comes together for Dave Wannstedt as the program builds off the huge win over West Virginia to close out 2007. While there are six road trips in the final nine games, West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers have to go to Heinz Field. Fine, so if you want to put West Virginia or South Florida here, there won't be any argument.

Fiesta Bowl
vs. BYU
Call this the make up call. Kansas certainly proved it deserved the spot in the BCS with the Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech, but Missouri still got royally screwed. With most of the key parts back on defense, and Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin returning on offense, everything should be on track for another huge season. The Tigers, if they can handle being the hunted for the first time since, well, ever, should be able to take care of business themselves and win the Big 12 title, but will likely get knocked out of the national title picture with a road loss to Texas. Even if Texas or Oklahoma wins the league championship, Mizzou should get an at large spot somewhere.

BYU isn't being shy about where it wants to be with "Quest for Perfection" the motto for its season. After two straight fantastic 11-2 years, this should be Bronco Mendenhall's best team yet with QB Max Hall operating a high-octane offense and pass rushing terror Jan Jorgensen leading a defense that should be strong if the secondary can reload. The Mountain West should be better with TCU and Utah each able to ruin the Cougars' dream, but the the non-conference schedule isn't bad playing Northern Iowa, at Washington, UCLA and at Utah State.  Would that be good enough to send a 12-0 BYU to the BCS Championship game? That could be the big debate of 2008, but a huge win over the Bruins could set the tone and generate the buzz needed to get the national attention. An 11-1 BYU should still find its way in to a BCS date.

Sugar Bowl
Georgia vs. Oklahoma
If this actually happens, it could be the best matchup possible of superpower programs that have never played each other. Georgia has faced Oklahoma State three times, but never Oklahoma.

Remember, it's all about the schedules. Georgia just might be the nation's best team, but there are four gigantic landmines to sidestep: at Arizona State, at LSU, Florida in Jacksonville, and at Auburn. The Dawgs should be good enough to handle Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech between the hedges, but it's asking a lot to win three of the four monster dates away from home. Think LSU of two years ago when it might have been the most talented team in America but ended up in the Sugar Bowl because it only pulled off two wins against a brutal four-game road slate. Going to a third Sugar Bowl in four years would hardly be a consolation prize for Mark Richt, but it would seem like that for a program that wants to be in Miami.

The Sugar Bowl will get the first pick of at-large BCS eligible teams if the SEC champion plays for the national championship, and that'll probably be the Big 12 runner-up, or the No. 2 team from the South if Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech are all as good as expected. The Sooners are going to be fantastic again, but they're flawed, at least on defense with a little rebuilding needing to be done. There's still the question of how good they can be on the road on a consistent basis, and they could have real problems at Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. Even so, they're good enough to get through the regular season with one loss and be in a position to play for the whole ball of wax with a few breaks and a win in the Big 12 title game.

BCS Championship
vs. Ohio State
College football fans outside of Columbus might welcome this matchup as much as a kick in the store, but it could happen even if they each have a loss.

Make no mistake about it, like it or not, Ohio State is the most talented team in America. With James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins and Alex Boone all putting off their millions for another year, arguably the best kicking game in the country, Beanie Wells running the ball, depth everywhere, and Terrelle Pryor providing a possible bolt of lightning here and there, it'll be a shocker if the Buckeyes don't roll through the regular season, and that includes road trips to USC, Wisconsin and Illinois. Even so, there will be a collective groan if they end up in Miami instead of Pasadena.

Georgia might be the hot team going into the year, but Florida will be every bit as good if the secondary has overcome its growing pains. The D might not be better than Georgia's, but the offense will be unstoppable with Tim Tebow likely to be an even better passer, Percy Harvin on the verge of a monster season, and a real live running game ready to operate behind a line strong enough to push some people around. Even if the Dawgs lose at LSU and/or at Auburn, the Cocktail-Don't-Call-It-A-Cocktail Party might be for the SEC East, the SEC, and the national title. The Gators have to go to Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State, but those should be manageable for a championship caliber team. It'll be the home date with LSU that could be the big problem, along with the Georgia showdown.

The Next Ten Teams Considered (based on talent, schedules, and/or potential to win a conference title): 1) West Virginia, 2) Clemson, 3) LSU, 4) Virginia Tech, 5) South Florida, 6) Texas, 7) Texas Tech, 8) Kansas, 9) Penn State, 10) Auburn