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September 1, 2005

SCS.comThis article gets the dubious distinction of being my first for this season while also not being a preview for any conference or a review of news from the week of games. I know many people cannot wait for Thursday night or Saturday when their favorite teams take the field for the first time this season, including myself. Despite the focus of this article series being the eastern conferences, I have decided to offer some overall views of the exciting upcoming 2005 season and bring some more regional coverage next week.

Top 10 Games of the Regular Season

10. Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 8)
Loser of this game will be likely eliminated from the BCS title hunt, and the winner will instantly become the Big 12 favorite. Texas needs to realize and use the superior talent they hold in this game, but never count out Bob Stoops in this game.
Prediction: Oklahoma wins by 14

9. Tennessee at LSU (Sept. 24)
Just like the previous game, this game will establish the favorite for the SEC championship assuming Tennessee wins against Florida. Any September games in Louisiana will be interesting considering all the damage inflicted by the hurricane this week, but look for LSU to make a statement in this game.
Prediction: LSU wins by 10

8. Miami at Florida State (Sept. 5)
Although Virginia Tech is the ACC favorite in my opinion, this game will probably determine their greatest challenge for the 2005 crown. This also is the primer for Monday Night Football starting up the following weekend in the NFL, so tons of national attention will be focused on this battle for Florida.
Prediction: Miami by 3

7. Boise State at Georgia (Sept. 3)
The first premier game of the year, Boise State has a chance to grab the attention of poll voters with a BCS quality win between the hedges. Boise State has commanded respect in the past few bowl seasons, and a win here could translate into a much bigger bowl in January if they run the table.
Prediction: Georgia by 8

6. USC at Oregon (Sept. 24)
Let's face it: USC is just like Miami of 2002. Pete Carroll might have lost a lot of starters and some great coaches, but fortunately USC plays in the Pac-10 where great teams become dynasties quickly. They will be tested on the road at Arizona State and Cal this year, but Oregon provides the first true test for the Trojan defense. With a dominating win in Autzen Stadium, you can prepare for a title defense in local Pasadena in January.
Prediction: USC by 17

5. Iowa at Purdue (Oct. 8)
While Iowa's games at Ohio State and vs Michigan may have more prestige, this game is essentially Purdue's Big Ten championship game. With Iowa at home and no OSU or UM on the schedule, Purdue could be a sleeper pick for the Rose Bowl. With this many important implications, this game is a must-see for football fans.
Prediction: Iowa by 4

4. Pittsburgh at Louisville (Nov. 3)
Every conference seems to have a critical game for determining their BCS representative and conference champion, and this matchup will be the Big East version of those important games. Louisville could go undefeated, but a sweep of West Virginia and Pittsburgh will be all they need to take the Big East in this transitional year. Look for Dave Wannstedt to start his college coaching legacy in this game.
Prediction: Pittsburgh by 3

3. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 19)
There are not many years when this game doesn't hold title implications (Big Ten, if not national), and this year should not disappoint. Both teams could be undefeated in Big Ten play going into this game, and the winner will likely be USC's opponent for the national title in January assuming Purdue is not undefeated as well. Will Michigan figure out how to stop a mobile quarterback? We shall see.
Prediction: Ohio State by 14

2. Miami at Virginia Tech (Nov. 5)
Although Virginia Tech has won this game the last two years, Miami is still a force to be reckoned with in the ACC race. If all the Big Ten teams beat up on each other and all falter in conference play, the winner of this game will probably be one of the favorites to play USC in January.
Prediction: Virginia Tech by 21

1. Texas at Ohio State (Sept. 10)
Well there's no debate which can take away from the prestige of this game. The marquee out of conference game for the whole country in 2005 will determine Heisman frontrunners (Vince Young or Teddy Ginn Jr.), a national title frontrunner alongside USC, and bragging rights in the first-ever meeting between the two largest universities in America.
Prediction: Ohio State by 1

Hopefully these games will live up to all the hype they have accumulated leading up to the beginning of the season.

The remainder of my columns this season will probably be structured as either a big article on a major college football topic or more likely a series of short articles for some of the conferences I cover each week (which I have been informed is a monstrous five of six BCS conferences, CUSA, MAC, and the Sun Belt). In lieu of getting into too many issues for this week, let me close the article by sharing my guesses at the finishing order of each of the conferences I will cover. I'm not going to offer much reasoning, as most of my predictions will be doomed to be incorrect.

Sun Belt
1. North Texas
2. Troy
3. Middle Tennessee
4. Louisiana-Lafayette
5. Florida Atlantic
6. Florida International
7. Arkansas State
8. Louisiana-Monroe
Conference USA
1. Southern Miss
2. Marshall
3. UAB
4. Memphis
5. East Carolina
6. UCF
2. Houston
3. Rice
4. Tulsa
5. Tulane
6. SMU
Mid-American Conference
1. Bowling Green
2. Ohio
3. Miami (OH)
4. Akron
5. Kent State
6. Buffalo
1. Northern Illinois
2. Toledo
3. Western Michigan
4. Central Michigan
5. Ball State
6. Eastern Michigan
Big East
1. Pittsburgh
2. West Virginia
3. Louisville
4. Syracuse
5. South Florida
6. Cincinnati
7. Connecticut
8. Rutgers
1. Iowa State
2. Colorado
3. Nebraska
4. Kansas
5. Missouri
6. Kansas State
1. Oklahoma
2. Texas
3. Texas A&M
4. Oklahoma State
5. Texas Tech
6. Baylor
1. Florida State
2. Boston College
3. Clemson
4. Maryland
5. NC State
6. Wake Forest
1. Virginia Tech
2. Miami
3. Virginia
4. Georgia Tech
5. Duke
6. North Carolina
1. Tennessee
2. Georgia
3. Florida
4. South Carolina
5. Kentucky
6. Vanderbilt
1. LSU
2. Auburn
3. Alabama
4. Mississippi State
5. Arkansas
6. Mississippi
Big Ten
1. Ohio State
2. Iowa
3. Purdue
4. Michigan
5. Penn State
6. Minnesota
7. Wisconsin
8. Michigan State
9. Northwestern
10. Illinois
11. Indiana

So that's how I see the conferences playing out on a quick guess. I really follow MAC and Big Ten football in my free time, so those predictions are probably more reliable than others. My pick for the Rose Bowl is Ohio State defeating USC, but I might be a wishful thinker also. The only thing certain this year is a great year of college football with tons of parity in the toughest conferences and a title defender calling out the best of the rest of the country to take the title from them. I cannot wait for it all to begin, and I hope you find my future articles insightful and entertaining. Thanks for reading and see you next week!

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