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Spring Preview 2010 - The New Cincinnati
Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 15, 2010


Did you see Cincinnati's run to the BCS coming last year? How about Kansas and Illinois getting into the big show in 2007 or Utah in 2008? Who could this year's dangerous, out-of-the-blue team be? Jordan Todman's Connecticut is one, along with nine other possibilities on the list of key questions in spring ball.


2010 Spring Preview - No. 9
 
This Year's Cincinnati
 

2010 Spring Preview 
- No. 20 Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  
- No. 19 Is this it for the Big 12? 
- No. 18 Just how close the Big East has come to a BCS title?
- No. 17 Did ACC expansion work?
- No. 16 Why does the Pac 10 need USC to be good?
- No. 15 Just how hot is the Big Ten for expansion? 
- No. 14 Does the SEC title = BCS title? 
- No. 13 What's going to make you grouchy? 
- No. 12 The new superstars 
- No. 11 Ranking all 120 coaches and their hot seat status 
- No. 10 The possible BCS busters

By Pete Fiutak  

The Next Cincinnati  
- Part Two The Big Names. The star programs that could be resurgent. 
- Part Three The Pipe Dreamers. It's not going to happen, but .... 

For just a moment, suspend every belief you hold to be sacred and true. Allow for the ridiculous to appear likely, the impossible to become possible, and assume that up is down, black is white, The Office is actually good, the Double Down might really be the answer, and Tracy Morgan has one iota of talent. Now, try to let yourself to be open to the idea that a team from left field could make it into the BCS, and when you find yourself thinking it couldn’t really happen, then realize it already has.

Did anyone have any inkling that Cincinnati could go unbeaten and be within a heartbeat of playing for the national title last season? It was supposed to be a rebuilding year and no one had the Bearcats on the radar. Did anyone see Kansas or Illinois coming in 2007 or have Utah going unbeaten and whumping Alabama in 2008? Who could be this year’s Cincinnati and be the team to shock the world? Who could go from being an afterthought to start the season to a real, live national title contender, or at least be a key BCS entry?

The idea here is to let the insane appear to be sane, and while nine of the ten teams listed likely won’t turn out to be good enough to even watch the BCS, much less play in one of the big games, there should be one here that might just slip through the cracks and will be around in the end. No, going 1-for-10 doesn’t get you on a major league roster, but when it comes to these teams, you’ve now been warned.

The New Cincinnati
Watch out. One of these teams really could be playing in the BCS.

Arkansas
In two years, Bobby Petrino has transformed Arkansas from the Wild Hog running team that relied on Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on the ground to a high-octane passing offense with the talent to keep up the pace with anyone in America. At least that’s the goal going forward.

The Hogs finished last year leading the SEC in scoring and passing offense, but the defense couldn’t keep up the pace against the better teams. The 8-5 record might not seem that impressive, but one of the losses came to Alabama, one came at Ole Miss, and the three others (Georgia. at Florida, and at LSU) were winnable. This year’s team might be good enough to win more of those close battles.

Arkansas has a perfect storm to be the out-of-nowhere sleeper team for more than just the SEC West title, which would a major feat on its own. It has the best quarterback in the conference (Ryan Mallett), ten returning starters on offense, and seven starters back on a defense that should be more athletic and will only be asked to not lose games. The goal of the defense is to not be awful considering the potential greatness of the offense, and it won’t be.

More than anything else in the SEC, the schedule and the home games mean the world. If Mallett and the offense can perform as expected, there’s a great chance to make some big noise early on in several high profile games. After going 2-0 against Tennessee Tech and ULM, the Hogs need to use their experience to get through a road trip to Georgia against a Dawg team that has several major question marks. And then comes the big showdown getting Alabama at home, and while the Tide will be loaded, there’s still plenty of concerns about all the new starters on defense and how everything will jell so early in the year.

The slate isn’t easy, but getting Ole Miss and LSU at home is a big help, and any team thinking it’s good enough to be in the hunt for the SEC West title has to get by Auburn, South Carolina, and Mississippi State on the road. Getting Vanderbilt, along with the Gamecocks, from the East is a big break.

Cincinnati
And why not? Cincinnati came out of the blue to be brilliant last year, and there’s no reason it can’t be special again even with a big change up top with Butch Jones taking over for Brian Kelly.

Zach Collaros proved he could handle the quarterbacking duties, and he’ll add more mobility to the mix than Tony Pike. It’ll help that he has a more experienced supporting cast around him than Pike did to start last season with seven starters returning. The defense wasn’t always a rock, but it was good enough to get by and gets five good starters back as a base.

But the key is going to be Collaros, and he’ll get plenty of chances to grow into a superstar. Jones was able to help Dan LeFevour bring out all of his skills at Central Michigan, and there’s a chance Collaros could grow into the same type of playmaker, only smaller and with more rushing skills.

Schedule-wise, forget about another undefeated season with Oklahoma coming to town, but the rest of the slate is as good as could be asked for. There’s a road trip to West Virginia to deal with, but there are only two other Big East road games and they’re at Louisville and Connecticut meaning UC gets South Florida, Rutgers, and Pitt at home.

Connecticut
The Huskies lost five games last season with all coming by just four points or fewer. It’s not always the right way to look at a team’s season, but the Huskies were 15 points away from being perfect. Veteran teams tend to win more close games, and while last year’s team was able to pull off three wins by a touchdown or less, if this year’s team could come up with a few more key conference wins it’ll be in the mix for the BCS.

The defensive front seven, even without pass-rushing terror Lindsey Witten, should be terrific helped mostly by one of the nation’s best linebacking corps; Lawrence Wilson, Greg Lloyd, and Scott Lutrus will form a brick wall. Four starters are back on the offensive line, and RB Jordan Todman is a solid pro prospect who could be one of college football’s breakout players. Throw in the expected emergence of QB Zach Frazer as more of a playmaker, and the Huskies should be the real deal.

The schedule isn’t just light enough to get into the BCS as the Big East champion, but it’s nice enough to potentially run the table. The six road games are at Michigan, Temple, Rutgers, Louisville, Syracuse and South Florida, and while that doesn’t make for a walk in the park (yeah, yeah, yeah, three of those teams are on this list of possible BCS shockers), none of those teams are sure-thing killers. Getting West Virginia, Pitt, and Cincinnati at home is the biggest break a Big East team can get.

Rutgers
There might not be a 12-0 team coming from the Big East this year, but Rutgers has the make-up and the schedule to potentially be the league’s representative in the BCS.

West Virginia and Pitt are going to be everyone’s preseason favorites, and rightly so, while Greg Schiano’s bunch loses five great defenders including soon-to-be millionaire CB Devin McCourty, and the offense has to replace top OT Anthony Davis and four other starters. But last year’s Cincinnati had to do a ton of reshuffling and reloading, too.

Rising star Tom Savage might grow into the best passing quarterback in the Big East if he gets time to operate and gets a few targets or three, like Mohamed Sanu, to step up and become great. The running game, led by Joe Martinek and Jourdan Brooks, should be terrific, and the defense will be loaded up front to allow the back seven time to reload.

Again, going unbeaten won’t be a must for the Scarlet Knights to get into the BCS, but they could be this year’s deep sleeper in the national title chase if they can beat North Carolina at home on September 25th. How good is the first half schedule? The lone road trip before late October is at Florida International. Of course, the piper has to be paid over the second half of the year with road dates at Pitt, South Florida, Cincinnati and West Virginia, but the hope will be for Rutgers to have used the first half of the season to work out the kinks, and then, if it can go 3-1 in the big road games over the second half, an early January bowl game might be possible.

The Next Cincinnati  
- Part Two The Big Names. The star programs that could be resurgent. 
- Part Three The Pipe Dreamers. It's not going to happen, but ....