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20 Questions to be Answered this College Football Season

Q:Will the state of Oregon have it’s second ever Heisman trophy winner?
A:No. RB Ken Simonton of Oregon State has a much better chance than does QB Joey Harrington of Oregon, but neither will win the Heisman this year. Due to late night exposure on the East coast and overall prominence of Southern football, neither of these 2 outstanding players will win the Heisman.

Q:Who will win the SEC West this season, arguably the most competitive single division in college football every year?
A:Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have proven leadership on offense, with four-year starter Wayne Madkin at QB and Dicenzo Miller at RB. Just behind Dicenzo is junior Dontae Walker, and both of these players rushed for more than 100 yards in a game more than once last year. On the defense, coach Jackie Sherrill signed nearly an entire defense worth of JUCOs and several of those should step into starting positions. The newcomers will join returning starters Pig Prather, Dorsett Davis, Josh Morgan, Mario Haggan, and others. LSU and Arkansas will give MSU the most trouble.

Q:Will the team with the worst record in the history of the Big Ten win that conference in 2001?
A:Once again, in case you’re wondering, that’s Northwestern. And yes, the Wildcats will win the Big Ten in 2001. Led by RB Damien Anderson and QB Zak Kustok, the ‘Cats will prowl through the Big Ten, on their way to the BCS for the first time in school history.

Q:Will the SEC have a national championship game team this year?
A: No. The SEC overall is just too competitive, and every team will end up with at least one loss. If one team was to make a run, it could be one of several teams. Florida probably has the best shot, but faces tough tests at home against Tennessee and Miss. State, and must travel to LSU, Auburn, and South Carolina. Tennessee could also contend, but as I said, must go to Florida. Mississippi State and LSU, from the SEC West, would need to go undefeated for a chance. The Tigers must go to MSU and Tennessee, while the Bulldogs go to Florida and Arkansas.

Q:Will Florida State win the ACC again this year?
A:Yes, Bobby Bowden is one of the best coaches and recruiters ever in college football, and he will once again prove it. Although the ‘Noles run would not put them in Pasadena, they will win the ACC. It will probably take a tiebreaker over Georgia Tech to accomplish this, though. The Jackets must travel to Tallahassee this season, which will probably make the difference.

Q:Will traditional powerhouses Alabama and Penn State recover from sub-.500 seasons in 2000 and make a bowl trip in 2001?
A:Yes, both teams have too much talent not to. Although neither will contend heavily for their conference titles, both will be around the seven-win mark. In the final year of Joe Paterno (possibly) and the first year of Dennis Franchione, both teams will improve from last year’s performance.

Q:Will Marshall win the MAC for the one-thousandth time in a row?
A:No. The ‘Herd has lost too much talent, and the competition has finally caught up. Both Toledo and Western Michigan will contend with Marshall. Since both of these teams are in the Western Division of the MAC, one of them will most likely meet Marshall for the MAC Championship game, but the Thundering Herd will finally lose one.

Q:Will there be a no-loss team this season?
A:No. This is a bold prediction because it always seems that one team steps up (as Oklahoma did last year) and has a dream season. But there just seems to be too much even competition for anyone to do it this year. The Big XII has Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas State. The SEC has the likes of Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and LSU, not to mention Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi that almost always have winning seasons. The Big East is probably the best possibility, but Miami must travel to Penn State, Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. In the ACC, Florida State is not as strong and Georgia Tech isn’t at FSU’s normal strength. The PAC-10 is way to competitive, with the likes of Oregon, Oregon State, USC, UCLA, Stanford, and others who have .500 seasons regularly. In my opinion, this will be the year when the BCS is majorly put to the test, with as many as 6 or 8 teams nearly even shooting for Pasadena. Who knows who will get there? All I know is we need some ‘December Madness’, football style!

Q:Will the Oklahoma/Texas game decide the Big XII South Division?
A:Yes, the Sooners and ‘Horns are far and away the best two teams in the Big XII South, and they may possibly finish with identical records in the Big XII. In this situation, the winner of the head-to-head matchup would obviously go to the championship game against the North winner. It is more likely, though, that the winner of this game will have 1 loss in the conference and loser 2. After last year’s whooping, the ‘Horns will want revenge. But, Oklahoma has proved they can win big games, something Texas has not proven over the last few years. Mark October 6th on your calendar, when Texas and Oklahoma meet in Dallas for the Big XII South championship.

Q:Will Baylor, Duke, and Wake Forest combine for six wins this season?
A:Yes, but barely. They three teams will likely combine for exactly 6 wins. Duke’s only chances for a W this season are against Wake Forest (well, what do ‘ya know?) and Vanderbilt. Wake Forest has a chance against Appalachian State, Northern Illinois, and Duke. So let’s say we give the Deacons ASU and NIU. And then we give Duke both WF and Vanderbilt (and both of those are a stretch but one of the two, WF and Duke, will have to get that win). Vanderbilt will be tough, but the ‘Devils may sneak it out. Now to the Big XII and cellar-dweller Baylor. Possible wins for the Bears include Arkansas State, New Mexico, Missouri, and Oklahoma State. Forget Oklahoma State, the Cowboys are slightly improved. That leaves 3 possible wins with 2 needed to get this great group to a total of 6. Arkansas State and New Mexico are the most likely, and if the Bears can somehow beat the Tigers, this group may get seven wins. But I doubt it. Six wins if probably a safe bet, but don’t plan on any more than that.

Q:Will a team from Florida make it to Pasadena?
A:Yes, but you probably already figured on that. “Which one?”, you ask. Or maybe even, “Which two?” Florida State is down and will struggle to win 10 games this season. Nine is a safe bet, and the ‘Noles do have a chance at the BCS. But, Pasadena may be a little too much to expect from this team, cutting the Fla. possibilities down to two. Florida and Miami, for those of you who don’t know. As I said earlier, the SEC is just too competitive for a team from there to go to Pasadena. Every team will have a loss, and most will have 2 or more. True, I know your thinking, a one-loss team, if it’s the right team, could make it to Pasadena from the SEC. But, no I still don’t think an SEC will be represented in the Rose Bowl. That leaves Miami, and yes, I think they’ll be in Pasadena. They’ll be one of the many one-loss teams in America. They have tough games with Penn State, Pitt, FSU, and VA Tech. One of the Penn. teams is a win, probably both, plus VA Tech is a win. That leaves the FSU game in question, assuming the other 3 are W’s. The ‘Noles are down but Tallahassee is still a tough place to play. Either way, the ‘Canes will be off to the national championship game, one year later than they hoped. Is it possible they could win the college baseball and college football national championships in the same year? Yes, and I was wondering, has anyone ever done that before. It would take a team from the South, like Miami, FSU, LSU, etc., which have good football and baseball programs, to accomplish a feat like this.

Q:Will C-USA be more fun to watch this season than they Big Ten or ACC?
A:Yes, this will be a down year in both conferences, neither having a major national championship contender. However, C-USA, although also without a national championship contender, will be more competitive than ever. East Carolina, Louisville, Southern Miss, UAB, and TCU could all possibly be within 1 game of each other in the final conference standings. Likely, though, is that only four of the above 5 will complete this feat. The race will come down to the wire, with USM visiting ECU, Louisville visiting TCU, and TCU visiting USM all after the 20th of November. The C-USA will be as competitive as ever in the 2001 college football season.

Q:Who will be the surprise contenders of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, PAC 10, and SEC in 2001?
A: There are several possibilities in each conference. Here are a few:
     --ACC: The usual teams, Clemson, FSU, and GA Tech will be there in 2001. But a surprise contender will be the NC State Wolfpack, behind sophomore QB Philip Rivers. The ‘Pack could finish with as many as 9 wins this season. In a possible down year in the ACC, the ‘Pack could surprise some and be a major factor in the final weeks of the season. Three of their final four games should be wins (at Duke, Virginia, Maryland) with a road game at FSU mixed in.
     --Big East: Pittsburgh is my choice here, barring any big-time trouble from All-Everything WR Antonio Bryant. The Panthers have a chance to make some huge noise in the Big East this season, after coming off a bowl trip last year. They host Miami, UAB, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech. They do have tough road games at Notre Dame and Boston College. The Panthers won’t be a national title contender but should be able to knock off a big-name team or two. The matchup against UAB could the best small-name team game in 2001.
     --Big Ten: The surprise team in the Big Ten this year could be the Northwestern Wildcats. With starting QB Zak Kustok and starting RB Damien Anderson returning, the Wildcats could win the Big Ten this season. The health of these two players will decide the season, though. There is no dominant team in the Big Ten this season, and with Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan State expected to have around .500 records overall, the ‘Cats could sneak up on some teams and claim the crown. The have tough conference games with Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, and Ilinois. If they can win 3 of these games (of which all are on the road), the Big Ten title would almost surely be theirs.
     --Big XII: The surprise team of the Big XII in 2001 could be the Colorado Buffaloes. They struggled to a 3-8 record in 2000, but have the talent returning to turn those numbers around and win 8 games. QB Craig Ochs will be a key to the Buffaloes’ season. As usual, the conference slate will be a tough one, with road trips to Kansas State, Texas, and Iowa State. They do, however, have home games with Fresno State, Texas A&M, and Nebraska. To win this season, the Buffaloes will have to play much better than they did in 2000, but they can only go up.
     --PAC 10: I think the Stanford Cardinal will be the surprise team of the PAC 10 in 2001. They have 16 returning starters (9 on offense, 7 on defense) and are coming off a 5-6 season. Led by senior QB Randy Fasani, the Cardinal should improve by at least 2 wins over their 2000 record. Although they will probably not be a hevy contender for the PAC 10 (we’ll leave that up to Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, and USC), they should get to a decent bowl in coach Tyrone Willingham’s 7th season.
     --SEC: The surprise team of the SEC will be the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2001. After handing over complete control of the defense to John Thompson at the end of 2000, the Hogs knocked off top 25 teams Miss. State and LSU, getting to a bowl game with a 6-5 record. Now starting with a fresh slate, the Hogs could make some noise in the SEC West this season. They will undoubtedly get to a bowl game again this season, even though there is little or no experience at QB. The defense will carry this team to a 6- or 7-win season. The Hogs must face Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, and Mississippi State in the tough SEC.

Q:Which traditonal powers will struggle in the 2001, as Alabama and Penn State did in 2000?
A:Washington, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Purdue will all have sub-.500 season in 2001. Although Missouri has not been the power it once was over the past 5-10 years, the Tigers will greatly struggle this season, only accumulating 3-4 wins. Washington and Purdue, who met in last season’s Rose Bowl, will also struggle after losing their star starting QBs. Wisconsin was supposed to be a national title contender last season and did not meet that mark. They are supposed to be a 7- or 8-win team in 2001, but will fall short of that as well.

Q: How many conferences will have two teams in the top ten of the polls at the end of the season?
A:Four. The ACC, SEC, and Big Ten will have 2 teams in the top ten, most likely these 6 teams: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, and Northwestern. The Big XII will top that, having two teams in the top 5 in the nation, including Texas and Nebraska. Miami and Oregon State will likely make up the other two spots in the postseason top 10.

Q:Which low-level Division I-A team will make the most noise this season?
A:Middle Tennessee State. In only their 3rd year in D-I, the Blue Raiders will scare some big-name opponents in 2001. The ‘Raiders travel to Vanderbilt for the season opener, and read it here first, will upset the Commodores to open the season. They also play Mississippi and LSU of the SEC on the road. Wes Counts is the team’s returning starting QB, and Dwayne Hicks returns to the RB position. He ran for almost 1,300 yards last season, 6.9 yards per carry, and scored a whopping 19 TD’s. Note to the big-name SEC schools: Watch out for Middle Tennessee!

Q:It’s been quite a while since any of the following teams went bowling, a combined 99 years in fact: Rutgers, Temple, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Indiana, Baylor, Duke, Kansas, and California. Which of these teams has the best shot at going bowling in 2001?
A:First of all, let’s throw out the ones you can forget about. They are (and you can leave when your name is called): Rutgers, Baylor, and Duke. That leaves these powerhouses: Temple, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Indiana, Kansas, and California. To get each team out of the picture, we need to find 6 L’s for each team, so here we go. Vanderbilt will lose to (1)Middle TN (as I said above), (2)Mississippi, (3)S. Carolina, (4)Florida, (5)Tennessee, and (6)Alabama for sure. Kansas will lose to (1) UCLA, (2) Colorado, (3) Texas Tech, (4) Oklahoma, (5) Kansas State, (6) Nebraska, and (7) Texas for sure. California will lose to (1) Oregon, (2) UCLA, (3) Oregon State, (4) USC, and (5) Stanford, and (6) Washington, eliminating them. That leaves Temple, Maryland, and Indiana. All of these schools will have a 6-5 season, but only one, Indiana, will get a bowl bid, ending a 7-year break from bowl games.

Q:The following teams have not lost a game in quite a while: Oklahoma (12 straight W’s), Miami (10), Washington (8), Oregon State (7), Boise State (7), Toledo (7), and Wisconsin (5). Whose streak will be the first to end and which ones, if any, may continue the streak right through 2001?
A:The first streaks sure to go are those of Boise State on September 1 at South Carolina and of Wisconsin, September 1 at Oregon. Oklahoma’s streak will likely end on October 6 at Texas. Washington’s will end, but it’s just a matter of when. They play Michigan at home September 8 and at Miami on September 15. Oregon State’s will likely end in one of a few places, as early as September 1 in an upset at Fresno State, or as late as 11/3 at USC. If their streak isn’t stopped by then, they’ll still have to get by rival Oregon. The streak of Toledo will end either on August 30 when they host Minnesota or September 8, when they travel to Temple. The streak most likely not to end is that of Miami, who faces several tough tests of their own. They play at Penn State on September 1, at Pitt on September 27, and at Florida State on October 13.

Q:Which coach is on the hottest hotseat to begin the 2001 season?
A:That would be none other than Indiana’s Cam Cameron. It’s Randle El’s final season, and if the Hoosiers don’t make some noise this season, he will likely leave with Randle El. Losing games in the final minutes, and just losing period, is not popular around the Indiana campus, and the coach won’t be either unless he gives the fans a 7-win season.

Q:Who will have more career wins at the end of 2001, Joe Paterno (now with 322) or Bobby Bowden (now with 315)?
A:JoePa, but not for long. The Lions should have a 6- or 7-win season, giving Coach Paterno between 328 and 330 wins. If the Noles have a 9- or 10-win season, Coach Bowden would be around the 325 mark. This will probably be the Penn State coach’s last season (in my opinon and hopes), so Bobby Bowden will eclipse is record by the middle or end of 2002.

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