It's good to be back with my friends at CBSSports.com. Let's just start the season by throwing caution to the wind with our Ten Bold Predictions for 2010:
1). If Boise State goes undefeated, the Broncos will not play in the BCS championship game. But they will play in the Rose Bowl. There is a little publicized stipulation in the new BCS contract that simply says this: If the Rose Bowl loses one of its traditional conference champs (Big Ten, Pac-10) to the BCS championship game, then the boys and girls in Pasadena are REQUIRED to take a non-automatic qualifier champion if one is qualified. So if Ohio State wins the Big Ten and goes to Glendale as expected, either Boise or TCU, I predict, will play in the Granddaddy of them all.
|The Rose Bowl could play host to Boise State in January. (US Presswire)|
3). Nebraska will beat Texas not only once, but twice. Has any group of people in the history of our wonderful sport ever looked forward to a game more than Nebraska is looking forward to hosting Texas on Oct. 16? Ever since they put that second back on the clock in the Big 12 Championship Game, Bo Pelini has been seething, just hoping to get another shot at the Longhorns. If Nebraska beats Texas in Lincoln, and I predict it will, the Cornhuskers could get another shot at the 'Horns in the Big 12 title game in Arlington on Dec. 4. If you are Nebraska, how sweet would it be to beat the Longhorns for a championship in your final game as a member of the Big 12?
4). Alabama will repeat as national champions, but Mark Ingram will not repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner. The last time Alabama won back to back national titles (1978-79), the Bear was winding down his remarkable career. The last time, and the only time, we've had a repeat Heisman winner (Archie Griffin, 1974-75), young Mr. Ingram was only a gleam in his mother's eye. Alabama will win another BCS title because the nine missing starters on defense are going to be replaced by very, very good players. Ingram won't win the Heisman Trophy simply because the Alabama offense will be too good and too diversified. It won't have to lean on Ingram as it did in 2009 when he had 271 bone-crunching carries.
5). The winner of the Civil War will go to the Rose Bowl. People are discounting Oregon because the Ducks lost Jeremiah Masoli and because they had a pretty rugged offseason. But Chip Kelly is a really good coach and Oregon returns 17 starters from a Rose Bowl team. I think the Pac-10 championship comes down to Oregon-Oregon State on Dec. 4 in Corvallis. Mike Riley is one of the truly unsung coaches in college football. Of course, having the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, would make any coach a lot smarter.
6). Ole Miss is not good enough to win the SEC West, but with Masoli the Rebels will beat somebody they are not supposed to beat, provided the NCAA changes its ruling that he is ineligible for 2010. In what was a crazy summer, the profile on Ole Miss changed significantly in just a few days. In July the SEC media picked the Rebels to finish dead last in the SEC West. But when Raymond Cotton, the Rebels backup quarterback, quit in a snit, Ole Miss players went to head coach Houston Nutt and said they wanted to go after Masoli. Now he's in Oxford. Is taking Masoli a big risk for Nutt? Sure is because if it blows up it blows up big. But it is a risk that could impact who wins the SEC West.
7). Miami (Fla.) will come close, but the 'Canes will not win at Ohio State on Sept. 11. It is a tempting pick because Randy Shannon's group sure does look good getting off the bus. There are some top shelf athletes on that team and if QB Jacory Harris stays healthy, Miami proved last season it could play with anybody. When everybody was predicting a disastrous start last season, Miami went 3-1 against Florida State, Georgia Tech (the ACC champ), Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. I predict the Hurricanes will scare the heck out of the Buckeyes at the Horseshoe, but a late field goal will give Ohio State the win.
8). It really doesn't matter now many games Rich Rodriguez wins at Michigan. I've read a bunch of people who believe that Rodriguez, who is 8-16 at Michigan with NCAA investigations at both his current employer and former employer (West Virginia), has to win eight games this season in order to keep his job. But I'm afraid Rich Rod has fallen into the dead zone that every coach dreads. That's the place where it really doesn't matter how many games you win because a majority of the alumni have simply decided that "you're not the guy." Short of beating Ohio State, I'm just not sure how he's back in Ann Arbor next season.
9). LSU will start 5-0 and there will still be people calling for the head of Les Miles. Now you would think that a coach who has won 51 games and a national championship in five seasons would be in pretty decent shape with his alumni. But down on the Bayou there is still this nagging sense that the program has begun to slip since Nick Saban's players all finished in 2007, the national championship season. (LSU is 8-8 in SEC play the past two seasons.) If LSU can beat North Carolina in Atlanta on Saturday, the Tigers should be 5-0 when they go to Florida on Oct. 9. They won't win in the Swamp and then the complaints will start. You will hear the name of Jon Gruden. You will also hear the name of Will Muschamp.
10). Notre Dame will win at least nine games: Two years ago Brian Kelly used five different quarterbacks and won a Big East championship at Cincinnati. Last season Tony Pike was lighting it up for the Bearcats before he got hurt. Zach Collaros came in and was even better, completing 75 percent of his passes. Bottom line: Kelly knows how to coach quarterbacks. Now he will try to teach his offense to Dayne Crist and if Crist is a fast learner, the Fighting Irish are going to be relevant again sooner rather than later. Stanford, Pittsburgh, and USC may have more athletes, but the rest of the schedule is manageable.
Watch The Tony Barnhart Show every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on The CBS College Sports Network.