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August 27, 2007

SCS.comGame week, at last, is here. The start of the 2007 college football season is now just hours away, and the staff has weighed in one last time on what to look for this upcoming season. Which teams and players will surprise, and which ones will disappoint? Which national title contenders will fall on their faces, and which ones will come out of nowhere to make a run at the BCS? Which early-season matchups are the biggest, and who are the top teams and players in the game? Which rule change would make college football better, and which coach will be the first one sent packing? All of those questions and more have been answered by our staff as we look ahead to Thursday and the exciting season that will follow.

Team Most Likely to Surprise

David says...South Florida: With all eyes on the Big Three in the Big East, the Bulls have put together a scary good group of returning starters, and could steal the BCS berth as this year's Wake Forest.
Gregg says...Georgia Tech: The Jackets unleash one of the nation’s top defenses, which combined with a more consistent and improved offense, will put GA Tech into the title picture.
Jonathan says...Arizona State: Dennis Erickson takes over, and with offensive weapons like QB Rudy Carpenter (2500 yards, 23 TD) and RB Ryan Torain (1200 yards, 7 TD), this squad could turn a few heads in 2007.
Matt says...Oklahoma State: They are as dangerous offensively as anyone in the country.

Team Most Likely to Disappoint

David says...USC: Expectations are too high in a tough Pac-10; at least 2 losses again this season.
Gregg says...Georgia: The Bulldogs could lose 3 of their first 4 games as a rebuilt defense needs time develop, while the offense does not strike fear into the opposition.
Jonathan says...LSU: The relatively favorable schedule is one reason expectations are so high in Baton Rouge, and while the defense is very good, the quarterback position is unproven (minus one game), as are all the running backs and every passing target except Early Doucet.
Matt says...Rutgers: Mike Teel is not the big time QB that Rutgers has to have to compete with West Virginia, USF, and Louisville.

Player Most Likely to Surprise

David says...Tim Tebow, Florida: He will be more than adequate in replacing Chris Leak, leading Florida to another quality season in the SEC.
Gregg says...Bobby Reid, Oklahoma State: Reid is one of the best combinations of passing and rushing that most college fans have not heard about, and he is surrounded by top-notch talent in the Cowboy attack.
Jonathan says...Stephen McGee, Texas A&M: The Aggies' quarterback, one of nine returning starters on offense, is surrounded by talent in the backfield and has decent targets to throw to, not to mention his own athletic ability.
Matt says...Chris Nickson, Vanderbilt: He led the team in passing and rushing yards last year, and his stats will only get better because he is on the best Vandy team in many years.

Player Most Likely to Disappoint

David says...Chad Henne, Michigan: Henne must hope Mike Hart is so good that teams cannot rush him, as he will struggle against Wisconsin and Ohio State otherwise.
Gregg says...Tim Tebow, Florida: This is saying more about expectations than Tebow’s play, but the hype surrounding a player who attempted 33 passes in spot duty last year is immense, and Tebow will likely need time to become totally comfortable in the Gator attack.
Jonathan says...Matt Flynn, LSU: For whatever reason, it seems that most "experts" are assuming the Tigers' new quarterback will step into JaMarcus Russell's old spot with no trouble, and it simply won't be that easy.
Matt says...P.J. Hill, Wisconsin: Opponents will load the box because of an inexperienced QB and fluster the sophomore running back.

Nationl Title Contender That Could Come Out of Nowhere

David says...Miami: The ACC is weak enough and all it should take for the Hurricanes are wins over Florida State and Virginia Tech to all of a sudden be back among college football's elite.
Gregg says...South Florida: The running of the Bulls could quickly end in week #2 with a game at Auburn, but this team has quietly stockpiled major talent and hosts both West Virginia and Louisville this season as USF appears ready to make noise on the national stage.
Jonathan says...California: If they survive a trip to Oregon and can take down UCLA on the road, the November showdown with USC in Berkeley could be all that stands between this team and an unbeaten season.
Matt says...Georgia Tech: The team gets better all-around even with the loss of Calvin Johnson.

National Title Contender That Could Fall on its Face

David says...West Virginia: The Mountaineers are terribly overrated in many polls considering just how good Louisville, Rutgers, and South Florida are this season; no way they survive that gauntlet.
Gregg says...Virginia Tech: The defense is stellar, but there are major concerns with an offense that could totally collapse if running back Branden Ore has to miss any time this season, forcing the offense to rely on unproven quarterback Sean Glennon.
Jonathan says...LSU: I hate to bring up the Tigers again, but if it weren't for such a favorable SEC slate, this team - in my mind - wouldn't be capable of winning 10 games.
Matt says...Florida: The defense returns only 2 starters, and the offense loses important players such as Dallas Baker, DeShawn Wynn, and Chris Leak.

Early-Season Game That Will Have the Biggest National Impact

David says...Virginia Tech vs. LSU, September 8: This is quite frankly the only huge battle between legitimate national title contenders in September, so look for one of these teams to be eliminated early.
Gregg says...Oregon vs. Michigan, September 8: The Wolverines are projected as national title contenders, and they had better be careful as a talented Oregon team will challenge UM with a new offensive scheme that could cause major problems for the rebuilt Michigan defense.
Jonathan says...Virginia Tech at LSU, September 8: Both teams are expected to make runs at unbeaten seasons if they can survive this showdown in Death Valley.
Matt says...Virginia Tech vs LSU, September 8: Neither of these juggernauts will want to drop an early game in hopes of reaching the BCS Title game in January.

Early-Season Upset Most Likely to Rock the College Football World

David says...Notre Dame over USC, October 20: Not only would this allow college football media to go bat-crazy over the overrated Irish, it would end the Trojans' national title hopes.
Gregg says...Oklahoma State over Georgia, September 1: The Cowboys are loaded with athletes and an offense that will challenge a still developing Georgia defense in the 1st week of the season, launching this vastly improved OSU team into the national spotlight.
Jonathan says...Kentucky over Louisville, September 15: The 'Cats have enough offensive power to pull it off over their in-state rival, potentially ending UL's BCS hopes.
Matt says...Nebraska over USC, September 15: Although it is a long shot, Nebraska hosts the pre-season favorite Trojans and has its best team under Bill Callahan.

First Coach To Get the Ax

David says...Some coach from Mississippi: Take your pick, Mississippi or Mississippi State, but in any event, someone gets fired every season in the SEC, and these two gentlemen have worn out their welcome.
Gregg says...Ted Roof, Duke: This is Roof’s most talented Duke team so far, but the Blue Devils still appear to be underdogs in every game this season, and if they finish September at 0-5 and extend their winless streak to 25 games, it could be time for a change in Durham.
Jonathan says...Houston Nutt, Arkansas: The fans in Fayetteville have gone crazy, and star RB Darren McFadden has already hinted at his departure after this season.
Matt says...Mike Stoops, Arizona: Stoops has had little success in his 3 years at Arizona, and will be canned halfway through the season after a horrible start.

Non-BCS Team Most Likely to Crash the Party

David says...Hawaii: The Warriors on the Island State have a huge advantage at QB and should be favored heavily in all games, plus they start ranked in the polls.
Gregg says...Hawaii: The Warriors have an offense that will be unstoppable against any team on a not-so challenging schedule as the WAC looks capable of securing a BCS bid for a 2nd consecutive season.
Jonathan says...Hawaii: The Warriors have put together a solid squad and have a schedule that should result in an unbeaten season for UH.
Matt says...TCU: Forget Hawaii and Boise State, TCU is the best non-BCS team in college football.

One Rule Change That Would Make College Football Better

David says...Overtime: Overtime is much better in college than in the pros, but I think each team should start from the 35-yard line instead of the 25-yard line to make field goals more relevant.
Gregg says...Player Ruled With No Contact: This rule drives me crazy. A QB slips heading back to pass, not a defender near him, and the play is blown dead. Change the rule to agree with the NFL, and make a defender touch a player before the player is ruled down.
Jonathan says...35-second play clock: Use the NFL's rule, and start the play clock at the conclusion of the previous play. This takes all referee judgement and controversy out of starting the new play clock in hurry-up situations.
Matt says...Instant replay on “dropped passes“:A pass being called incomplete should not stop the booth from reviewing the play. If it turns out the player had control and did fumble, and you cannot overturn it because the whistle blew, that is a waste of technology.

America's Best Conference, Top to Bottom

David says...SEC: Even though the bottom dregs are terrible, you still cannot argue with out-of-conference success.
Gregg says...SEC: The conference seems to be the best every season as this league is loaded at the top with LSU, South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama, and now with Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky vastly improved, there are no easy weeks on the league schedule.
Jonathan says...SEC: The SEC nudges out the ACC, as Vanderbilt and Kentucky - both normally SEC cellar-dwellers - look capable of bowling this fall.
Matt says...SEC: They may not have a team in the national title this year, but they will have the most teams in the top 25 at the end of the year.

Heisman Front-Runner, As of Today

David says...Mike Hart, Michigan: Hart gets the nod over McFadden from Arkansas because UM runs more effectively in the Big Ten than Arkansas does in the SEC West.
Gregg says...Darren McFadden, Arkansas: McFadden is the most talented back in the nation, and the Hog offense is built around him. He is a definite threat to score a touchdown with every touch of the football.
Jonathan says...Darren McFadden: The Hogs' stud has been a star since he hit the field and nearly won the award as a sophomore last year.
Matt says...Darren McFadden, Arkansas: If he repeats his stats from 2006, he will win the Heisman running away this year.

Your Preseason Top Five

David says...
#1 USC:
The most talented team by far this season, but will be hard pressed to stay here all year.
#2 LSU: Cream of the crop in the best conference in America, but needs to survive a new QB and the Hokie game.
#3 Michigan: Plenty of talent back from team which started 11-0; should be tough to beat in Big Ten
#4 Wisconsin: Gets Michigan at home and OSU on the road (3-0 in Columbus since 2000); might shape up perfectly this season for the Badgers.
#5 Texas: Colt McCoy is ready to be a superstar, and Texas will again be playing Oklahoma for the BCS.
Gregg says...
#1 USC:
The best defense in the nation combined with an offense directed by Heisman candidate John David Booty makes this Trojan group a step ahead of the competition.
#2 LSU: The Tiger defense is nasty and loaded with playmakers, led by DT Glenn Dorsey, while the offense should be rock solid behind a top-notch offensive line and a deep stable of backs.
#3 Oklahoma: The Sooners will be led by a defense loaded with stars that will give their offense plenty of time to develop, and with the top competition heading to Norman, this OU bunch is ready for a national title run.
#4 Wisconsin: The Badgers return 16 starters from last year's 1 loss team and will be a typical Badger team, relying on star running back P.J. Hill to dominate on the ground behind a top-notch offensive line, while a typically stingy defense will keep opposing offenses off the scoreboard.
#5 Texas: With quarterback Colt McCoy back and combining with one of the best receiving corps and set of backs in the nation, the offense will be potent, while the defense looks to be a punishing group that features a stellar front seven.
Jonathan says...
#1 USC:
The Trojans are America's most talented team top to bottom.
#2 West Virginia: All of the Mountaineers' offensive weapons return for another run at the BCS.
#3 Michigan: An improved defense makes this team a national contender after they nearly got there in 2006.
#4 Texas: Athletes are all over the field, especially at the key positions, and Colt McCoy is now capable of leading the charge.
#5 Louisville: Brohm hopes to lead his team to the next level, even under a new regime.
Matt says...
#1 USC:
Best team from top to bottom with few real challenges on the schedule.
#2 Texas: They have the best receivers in college football, along with a great QB and a solid defense.
#3 LSU: The defense will be the best in the SEC by far, which is really saying something.
#4 Oklahoma: DeMarco Murray is the nest great star running back in college football.
#5 Michigan: We all know the offense will be great, but the defense will surprise people.
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