2011 College Football Preview
College Football is headed into a new era, or what we at Kaboom! would like to call it…..”The Next Generation”. Last season was filled with crazy finishes, remarkable upsets, pay for play scandals, NCAA controversy, and the unexpected ending of an era at Ohio State. The 2011 season brings some big changes to the college landscape and many questions. Questions like “Where does Ohio State go from here?”, “Who offense is better…Oklahoma or Oregon?”, “Can Luck do it without Harbaugh?”, and “Is Boise State for real…again?”. We will answer these question any many more in our 2011 Kaboom! College Football Preview. LET THE NEW GENERATION BEGIN!
National Championship Contenders
Teams favored to be featured in this year’s BCS National Championship Game!
Oklahoma: Last year the Sooners won the Big 12 Championship and won the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners have ridden last year’s success into this year with many experts tabbing them as the preseason No.1 team in the nation. The offense only lost two players from last year 10th ranked scoring machine and neither of them was named Landry Jones or Ryan Broyles. In Jones and Broyles, Oklahoma has the best quarterback/receiver duo in the country and the easiest run to the BCS National Championship Game. Teams won’t be able to keep up with them scoring points, but establishing a running game will be important if they want to win a national title.
Oregon: The fastest offense in college football may not have been fast enough last year to win a national championship, but expect the Ducks to be even faster this year. Oregon did lose some very key players from last year Pac-10 Championship team, but the Ducks still have the nation leading rusher and the most dangerous man in the nation…..I’m talking about LaMichael James. Also returning to the team is quarterback Darron Thomas and Cornerback/Punt Returner Cliff Harris…so expect Oregon to keep their foot on the gas this year. The Ducks have a tougher schedule this year than last starting off with national title contender LSU. If they can get past LSU, the national championship will be nothing but a mere sprint for the Ducks.
LSU: The SEC has won 5 straight BCS national titles and many experts feel that if a SEC teams win it this year…it’s LSU. By no means is this the best team in LSU history, but with 8 players returning on offense and 7 players returning on defense from a team that went 11-2; this could be a magical season in death valley. With the SEC losing players like A.J Green, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Nick Farley, and Cam Newton; the conference is up for grabs more than any other year before. The Tigers have the most experienced team in the SEC lead by quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Jefferson has been a great game manager for LSU, but this year he will have to make plays with his arm and legs if they wanna win a national title. The last two times the BCS national championship game has been played in New Orleans LSU has one it……Maybe third times a charm.
Alabama: Usually when a program loses players like Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Marcell Darius, and Greg McElroy; they call this season a rebuilding year…..not Alabama. The Crimson Tide has reloaded and is ready for another run at the national championship. The reason Bama is still in the title hunt is because of their defense. Many are saying that this year’s defense is even better than the 2009 national championship team and most of those players are pro bowlers now. While the D will be posting shutouts all year long, the offense will be the biggest concern for Alabama. Trent Richardson has shown that he can be great, but he has to be able to carry the offensive load while the break in a new quarterback. Nov. 5th will be the make or break game for the Crimson Tide as LSU comes into town. If they come out that week victorious, Alabama will go undefeated and win the SEC.
Don’t forget about us
Teams that have the experience, star power, and determination to make it to the BCS National Championship.
Stanford: Andrew Luck is back at Stanford like he never left….probably because he didn’t leave. Luck would have been the No.1 pick in this year NFL draft, but he chose to come back and help the Cardinals win a Pac-12 title and maybe even a national championship.
Boise State: Last year Boise started the season in the top 5 for the first time ever and finished the season 13-1. This year they start the season again in the Top 5 and a Heisman candidate in Kellen Moore who on pace to have the most wins by any starting QB in NCAA history. The Broncos did lose wide-outs Titus Young and Austin Pettis, but don’t expect that to stop the Broncos one bit. Style points will be key for Boise, so expect the blue turf ponies to show no mercy to anyone.
South Carolina: I know none of us could have ever predicted that The Gamecocks was gonna have the best team in the SEC East going into the season…..but it true. Stephen Garcia finally got his act together and is ready to play some football, Alshon Jeffery is the best wide-out in the SEC, and Marcus Lattimore added 20 pounds to his frame making him even harder to take down. Only reason SC doesn’t go undefeated going into the SEC Championship is because they got into their own way.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys return nine starters on offense and they’ve only avg. 520 yards and 44 points a game last year. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon lead a offense that will score early and often on everyone, and new recruit Hershel Sims will bring a new home run threat in the backfield for OSU. As good as this offense will be, the defense will have to be able to stop someone enough for this season to be special for the Cowboys. That gonna be better said than done because your grandma could throw 4 TDS on these guys.
Wisconsin: Boring ball just got very interesting with the arrival of QB Russell Wilson in Madison. The good times should continue in 2011for the Big Ten champs. Montee Ball and James White return to bolster the always-powerful Badger running game, and with Nick Toon back on the flank, the offense should be very exciting to watch. The defense loses a few standouts—most notably J.J. Watt, but the Badgers are always solid on defense. Expect another trip to the Rose Bowl for the Badgers.
The Wild Cards
Teams that are capable to come out of nowhere and crash any BCS bowl games.
Houston: This spring the Cougars got the greatest gift ever when the NCAA granted record-breaking QB Case Keenum a sixth-year of eligibility. With Keenum back under center, the offense is gonna be more explosive than ever and the schedule is set-up for the Cougars to go undefeated this year. Their toughest game this year is the season opener vs. UCLA….and that’s a home game.
TCU: Many players are gone from the 13-0 Rose Bowl team from last year, but that doesn’t make TCU and less dangerous. Replacing QB Andy Dalton will not be an easy job, but if the defense can hold off Baylor in the opener they should be able to cruise and make adjustments on offense before the Boise State game in Nov.
USC: The Trojans are not bowl-eligible this season, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t have any fun. Third-year starter Matt Barkley is already being talk about as a top 5 pick in the 2012 NFL draft and would like nothing more than to play spoiler of everyone Pac-12 title hopes. The defense is scary good after a 2nd year under Monte Kiffin defense so expect a lot of shutouts for the Trojans.
Michigan: Michigan started 2010 5-0 and Denard Robinson was the hottest thing in college football, after that they went 2-6 and Rich Rodriguez got fired. Don’t expect the Wolverines to have another 6 loss season again. New head coach Brady Hoke has re-energized the program and with 10 starters returning on offense including Denard Robinson and 9 starters returning on defense…..the amazing blue is back.
3 finalists from last year are back for a 2nd run at the Heisman, but they won’t be alone.
Andrew Luck, Stanford: Last year Luck was the Heisman runner-up behind Cam Newton. He completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 3,300 yards, ran for another 453 and scored 35 total touchdowns. This year Luck goes into the season as the favorite for the award with many feeling that it’s his award to lose.
LaMichael James, Oregon: In 2010, Oregon running back LaMichael James finished third in the Heisman voting and was the Doak Walker Award winner. James rushed for 1,731 yards and 20 touchdowns last season on the way to making Oregon the best offense in the country. Expect the same stats this year.
Denard Robinson, Michigan: Robinson accounted for more than 4,200 total yards (1,702 rushing) and 32 total touchdowns last season. If he can put up the same numbers and more wins this year he will win the Heisman.
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: Broyles' best season came in 2010 when he caught 131 passes for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns. Expect the same results this year as the Sooners are in the running for a national title.
Kellen Moore, Boise State: Moore finished 4th in last year Heisman voting. In his three seasons as a Bronco, Moore has thrown for 10,867 yards, accounted for 102 total touchdowns and thrown just 19 interceptions. Did we forget to mention that he only loss twice as a starter?
These players have the teams and the stats to make it hard for voters to deny.
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: He caught 111 passes for 1,782 yards, scored 21 total touchdowns and had at least 105 receiving yards in every game he played in last year. He the Andre Johnson of college football.
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina: The South Carolina tailback accounted for more than 1,600 total yards and 19 touchdowns in his first season in the SEC. If South Carolina can pull off another magical run to the SEC Championship game, Lattimore will be on his way to New York City.
Matt Barkley, USC: In 2010, Barkley completed 62.6 percent of his passes, threw for nearly 2,800 yards and accounted for 28 total touchdowns. Since USC can’t go to a bowl game, expect Barkley to go for broke this year and stamp his legacy.
Trent Richardson, Alabama: With former Heisman winner Mark Ingram gone to the NFL, It’s finally Trent Richardson time to shine. In 2010, he rushed for 700 yards (6.3 yards per carry), caught 23 passes for 266 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns. Richardson is a real threat to win the Heisman, considering he'll be playing for an Alabama team that should contend for a national title.
I would like to welcome you to the next generation of College Football.
Geno Smith, West Virginia: Smith has become the full-time starter and West Virginia is a favorite in the Big East. He can beat you with his arm and legs, many experts say he is the next Pat White.
Derek Carr, Fresno State: David Carr’s little brother is ready to add a new chapter to the Carr legacy at Fresno State. The Bulldogs believe in him so much that their slogan for this season is “Look at our new Carr!”
Malcolm Brown, Texas: Brown has already been named the next great Texas running back and he hasn’t even played a down yet. The high school standout is ready to go and put Texas back at the top of the Big 12.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State: Manuel 6-4 235LBS and can throw the football all the way to California….perfect model of a QB. Florida State is a preseason top 10 team and that due in large part to the potential of E.J. Manuel.
Games to Watch
Lee Corso and Erin Andrews won’t be the only reason you’re waking up early Saturday morning.
Oregon vs. LSU, Sept. 3rd: Two top 3 teams go head to head in Dallas. Winner of this will be likely the No. 1 team in the land and in the driver seat headed to the BCS national championship.
Boise State vs. Georgia, Sept. 3rd: Last time Boise State went to Georgia, they were blasted by the Bulldogs. Years later, Boise State is ready to come back to Athens and show everyone that their time is now.
Oklahoma at Florida State, Sept. 17th: Sooners are talking national championship and the only real threat of that not happening comes when they head to down south and face a Florida State team who will be a top 10 team.
Nebraska vs. Wisconsin, Oct. 1st: A new Big-Ten rivalry will begin when the Cornhuskers visit the Badgers. Boring Ball vs. the Black Shirt Defense!
Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 8th: The Red River Shootout!.....Nuff Said!
Stanford vs. USC, Oct. 29th: Expect a scary shootout when Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley meet on Halloween weekend. Stanford wants to win a national title and USC wants to be the reason that doesn’t happen.
LSU vs. Alabama, Nov. 5th: This will be the biggest game in the SEC this year. LSU will be trying to get back into the BCS national title picture and Alabama will be trying to stay undefeated and secure their national championship berth.
Oregon vs. Stanford, Nov. 12th: This game is even bigger than it was last year as both teams will be coming in undefeated and in the top 5. Last year game turned into a high scoring track meet with Oregon running away with late, but this year expect it to still be high scoring but down to the wire.
TCU vs. Boise State, Nov. 12th: The best two mid-majors in the past 5 years go head to head in what proving to be the Mountain West championship game. TCU has the defense to keep it close, but will they have enough offense to keep up with the Broncos on the blue turf?
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State Nov. 26th: The two best offenses in the Big-12 will go head to head to determine who goes to the Big 12 championship. Weeden vs. Jones and Broyles vs. Blackmon, expect PG&E to shut off half the power in Oklahoma just so they can have enough power to keep the scoreboard working.
Kaboom! Preseason Top 25
1. Oregon 11. Florida State 21. Missouri
2. Oklahoma 12. TCU 22. Florida
3. Alabama 13. Nebraska 23. Georgia
4. Stanford 14. Arkansas 24. Texas
5. LSU 15. Virginia Tech 25. Arizona State
6. Boise State 16. Mississippi State
7. South Carolina 17. Notre Dame
8. Wisconsin 18. Ohio State
9. Oklahoma State 19. Michigan State
10. Texas A&M 20. Auburn
BCS National Championship Game: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
Coach of the Year: Nick Saben, Alabama
Heisman Winner: LaMichael James, Oregon
Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, Stanford
Defensive Player of the Year: Cliff Harris, Oregon
Surprise Team of the Year: Michigan
Disappointing Team of the Year: Georgia
Game of the Year: Oregon vs. Stanford