Spring Preview 2010 - The New Cincy, Part 2
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher
Posted Apr 15, 2010

What teams could be this year's Cincinnati and shock the world and get into the BCS? Here's part two with some big name programs that could get back to glory with a few good breaks.

2010 Spring Preview - No. 9
This Year's Cincinnati, Part 2

The Next Cincinnati 
- Part One The Next Cincinnati. The teams to watch out for  
- Part Three The Pipe Dreamers. It's not going to happen, but .... 

By Pete Fiutak  

The Big Dreamers
Some big programs and big names that will be back in the hunt sooner than later, but it would be a shocker to get into the BCS this year.

While Auburn is Auburn, and it wouldn't be a pick-jaw-off-the-floor stunner if it ended up in the BCS, considering the rise of Alabama, and with LSU expected to be nasty again, and with Ole Miss and Arkansas certain to be solid, it won't be an easy ride. However, the coaching staff (at least the assistants) have enough talent to work with to make the systems work, and now the players know what they're doing.

With RB Onterio McCalebb a dangerous back to work around, four starters back up front, and with a talented receiving corps returning, the offense could be terrific under coordinator Gus Malzahn if the quarterback situation can quickly be settled. Defensively, eight starters are back on a group that should be outstanding against the run. Throw in the young players from some tremendous recruiting classes, and yes, the team really is talented and yes, Auburn really shouldn't be considered a Cinderella story if it does get into the BCS.

A trip to Alabama is hardly going to be a fun way to close out the regular season, but the Tigers get 13 days to prepare while the Tide has to go through the motions against Georgia State just six days earlier. The other three road games (yes, there are only four away dates) are against Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Ole Miss, and while there's that Bama game to close things out, it's not all that bad a slate. Almost all the tough games are at home facing Clemson, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia in Jordan-Hare, and there's no Florida on the schedule to deal with.

Florida State
Everyone liked Bobby Bowden and no one, including those who were ready to see the legendary head coach go, was all that happy about the way things ended. However, it's almost like the program has exhaled, if only because the end finally came, everyone survived, and now life can go on and everyone doesn't have to answer questions about when the transition will finally happen.

There might have been a slew of problems last season, but the team really was full of talented athletes; former defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews wasn't hyperbolizing when he gushed over the speed of the D. QB Christian Ponder is healthy, and if he's on, the Seminole offense could be unstoppable at times with a high-octane passing game and a tremendous back in Jermaine Thomas working behind a totally intact line led by All-America guard, Rodney Hudson. The defense has to replace key players in the secondary, but it gets seven starters back and should be flying all over the place now that Jimbo Fisher gets to do things his way with new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops a big-time hire coming from Arizona.

To get into the BCS the Seminoles will have to win the ACC title, but if they can pull off a shocking upset at Oklahoma on September 11th, it'll be game-on for an at-large bid if everything else falls into place. Okay, so there's the Florida matzo ball hanging out there to close out the regular season, but that's at home.

The Miami showdown is on the road as part of a rough run of three away dates in four games, but three of the final four games are at home. The ACC away games, other than the date with the Canes, are against three teams that didn't go bowling last year: Virginia, NC State, and Maryland. Getting Boston College, North Carolina, and Clemson in Tallahassee should put the Noles squarely in the ACC preseason drivers' seat.

It's easy to have forgotten, but there was a time in early October when Michigan appeared to be ready to turn the corner. At 5-2, with an overtime loss to Michigan State and a two-point heartbreaker at Iowa when QB Tate Forcier was dinged up late, the Wolverines seemed to be locked into a bowl bid.


Of course, Michigan can't take anyone lightly, considering last year's blowout loss at Illinois and the two-point home gack to Purdue, but the schedule is in place to potentially do some big things.

Really, Connecticut, at Notre Dame, UMass, Bowling Green, at Indiana, and Michigan State … would you be totally stunned if the Wolverines started off 6-0 before facing Iowa? There are trips to Penn State and Ohio State to deal with, but Wisconsin, along with the Hawkeyes, have to come to Ann Arbor.

Can the offense finally come together? Does Rodriguez finally have the right mix of talents on defense? Yes on all counts, or else. There are eight bowl teams on the slate to deal with, but that could only make any success seem that much more impressive.

Texas A&M
The offense that finished fifth in the nation in total yards and blew up time and again (including a tremendous performance against Texas to close out the regular season) should be even better. Jerrod Johnson is a strong passer with a loaded receiving corps to work with and good weapons in the backfield to hand off to. The O line might need work, but there's so much firepower that it'll be hard to keep the Aggie attack from going through spurts of points and production. But the offense wasn't the problem last year and it wasn't why it was a disappointing year with four losses in the final five games.

The defense was a complete and utter disaster finishing 105th in the nation in both total and scoring D, and it got picked clean by any quarterback who could throw a forward pass. There's where Tim DeRuyter comes in. All he did was take a untalented group of try-hards at Air Force and formed one of the nation's best pass defenses and a group that turned out to be special against the run for long stretches over the last few years. With a ton of experience to work with, led by pass rushing terror Von Miller, it wouldn't be a miracle if DeRuyter was able to make night-and-day changes. It's not like he has to help Air Force shut down Case Keenum and the Houston passing game … oh wait, he did that already.

It's Texas A&M, so the non-conference slate is light and bouncy starting out the year against Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, and FIU to get everything in place before going to Oklahoma State. While the Aggies catch a bad break getting Missouri and Nebraska from the North, at least those two games are at home. They also get Texas Tech and Oklahoma at home and they don't have two true road games in a row to deal with, but there's one, big, giant problem. The regular season finale at Texas is a mere five games after dealing with Nebraska.

The Next Cincinnati 
- Part One The Next Cincinnati. The teams to watch out for  
- Part Three The Pipe Dreamers. It's not going to happen, but ....