This week I’ll
run down ten college football teams that could
be in the running for the national title, based
on returning starters, talent and schedule.
Predictions # 10. Georgia: The quiet
football factory at Georgia continues to impress
under Head Coach Mark Richt. The defense allowed
16 ppg last season and will lead the way again,
led by All-America candidate DE Quentin Moses,
a fierce pass rusher. The linebacking corps
is also deep behind senior Jarvis Jackson.
The offensive line has new pieces and QB D.J.
Shockley is gone. But senior QB Joe Tereshinski
(371 yards) stepped in when Shockley was hurt
last season and played well. Richt likes a balanced
offense and has a powerful ground game behind
junior RB Thomas Brown and junior Danny Ware.
Georgia is 21-6 SU/17-10 ATS on the road under
Richt! Six of their first eight games are at
home, with only tough road games at South Carolina
Predictions # 9. Miami: Head Coach Larry
Coker revamped his coaching staff, bringing
in Rich Olson to run the offense and John Palermo
will run the defensive line (from Wisconsin).
Olson ran the Miami offense during some of their
glory years in the 1990s. Junior QB Kyle Wright
(18 TDs, 10 INTs) returns, along with junior
WR Lance Leggett and 6-foot-6 junior TE Greg
The running game provides balance because of
senior tailback Tyrone Moss (701 yards, 5.1
ypc) and the tough defense allowed just 14 points
per game and 3 yards per rush! Run stuffers
like DE Bryan Pata and senior DT Baraka Atkins
return and there are several revenge games,
including Florida State and Georgia Tech (the
latter upset Miami at home). Is this still a
great football program? Miami just had a first-round
NFL draft choice for a record 12th consecutive
Predictions # 8. L.S.U: LSU impressed
under first-year Head Coach Les Miles, going
11-2. They played a lot of road games, too,
because of Hurricane Katrina. The Tigers averaged
29.5 points, 150 yards rushing and 224 passing.
Junior Quarterback JaMarcus Russell returns
despite a serious shoulder injury late last
The ground game features senior RB Alley Broussard
and Justin Vincent, while there is good depth
at wideout. One thing Nick Saban left Miles
was a talented defense, which has five starters
back to a unit that ranked among the top five
in the nation in three categories. The line
is solid behind senior DT Glenn Dorsey and junior
DE Carnell Stewart. This year’s schedule
is challenging, with road games at Auburn, Florida,
Tennessee and Arkansas. But LSU was 5-0 SU,
4-0 ATS on the road last season!
Predictions # 7. Notre Dame: Hats off
to Charlie Weis, who electrified the Irish attack
in his first year as head coach. Under his imaginative
spread offense Notre Dame averaged 36.7 points,
147 yards rushing and 330 passing per game!
7 starters return on offense, so watch out.
Senior QB Brady Quinn is back after passing
for 32 TDs, just 7 INTs and 3,919 yards.
Three starters return to the offensive line.
Junior RB Darius Walker (1,196 yards, 9 TDs)
led the Irish in rushing and caught 43 passes
for 351 yards. Quinn has quality targets in
6-foot-5 senior WR Jeff Samardzija (1,274 yards,
15 TDs), senior WR Rhema McKnight and 6-foot-6
junior TE John Carlson. The defense is average,
though 9 starters return, so the offense may
have to carry the load. The schedule isn’t
that bad, outside of a revenge trip to USC.
Predictions # 6. U.S.C: 2006 hasn’t
been kind to the Trojans, with the shocking
loss to USC in January for the national title,
the loss of its best offensive players to the
NFL, and some embarrassing off-field problems.
The offense won’t be as devastating, but
will be potent. New quarterback junior John
David Booty steps in (327 yards, 64.3% completions,
3 TDs, 2 INTs in 2005).
The best news of all is that the best wide receiving
duo in the nation is back in senior Steve Smith
and junior WR Dwayne Jarrett (1,274 yards, 16
TDs). Pete Carroll has some teaching to do with
the defense, especially with a young secondary.
USC is 20-0 SU, 14-6 ATS at home the last three
seasons! Road trips to Arkansas and UCLA could
be challenging, along with home dates with Nebraska,
Arizona State, Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame.
Predictions # 5. Iowa: Kirk Ferentz has
a talented team and a sensational home field
advantage at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa has won 22
of 23 home games and is 28-3 SU, 24-5-2 ATS
at home the last four years!
7 starters return on offense and 7 on defense.
The offense is loaded after averaging 30 points,
174 yards rushing and 258 passing. Senior QB
Drew Tate (22 TDs, 7 picks) leads the way, a
three-year starter, with senior TE Scott Chandler
and RB Albert Young (1,334 yards).
Linebackers Mike Linkenborg, Edmond Miles and
Mike Humpal step in for departed ace Chad Greenway.
They have 7 home games with the only tough road
game at Michigan, October 21st. There are only
four teams that have made four straight appearances
in a January Bowl: Iowa, USC, Florida State
Predictions # 4. Auburn: Some thought
2004 was a fluke, when Tommy Tuberville’s
team went 13-0. All they did was follow that
with a 9-3 SU, 8-2 ATS campaign in 2005. Auburn
will again be a power running team with everyone
returning in the backfield. Junior QB Brandon
Cox (15 TDs, 8 INTs, 2,324 yards) will run the
attack and their three top rushers are back
in senior Kenny Irons (1,293 yards, 5.1 ypc,
13 TDs), senior Tre Smith and junior RB Brad
One key is the offensive line, which loses
some top players to the NFL, but has 6-foot-8
King Dunlap and 6-5 Leon Hart to replace them,
along with returning guards Tim Duckworth and
Ben Grubbs. The defense has 6 starters back
on a unit that allowed just 15.5 points, 3.5
yards per carry and yards 198 passing per game!
A new defensive coordinator comes aboard in
Will Muschamp, who was with the Dolphins last
season and was LSU's defensive coordinator when
they won the title under Nick Saban in 2003.
The schedule is manageable with SEC road games
at Mississippi State, South Carolina, Ole Miss
Predictions # 3. Oklahoma: It’s
easy to forget that the Sooners played for the
national title less than two years ago. Easy
to forget, that is, unless you are a Sooners’
fan after USC plugged them 55-19 in the 2005
Orange Bowl. But Head Coach Bob Stoops has a
fine group of talent returning to a team that
was 8-4. A young defense returns much of its
key players, including senior DE Larry Birdine
and senior LB Rufus Alexander.
The offense has good balance, averaging 177
yards rushing and 177 passing. Sophomore QB
Rhett Bomar made good strides and the running
game has an ace in junior RB Adrian Peterson,
who looks to bounce back after an injury-plagued
campaign. He has run for 1,108 yards and 1,925
yards the last two seasons. We will know early
about this team, as Oklahoma plays at Oregon
in September (the same team they upset in the
bowl game) and the October 7 showdown with Texas
(sans Vince Young).
Predictions # 2. Ohio State: The Buckeyes
will be in the running for the national title
again. Remember that they finished 10-2 SU,
9-3 ATS last season, losing only to one-loss
Penn State and unbeaten eventual national champion
Texas (a 25-22 loss at home). The 2006 offense
is loaded with 8 starters back. Senior QB Troy
Smith ran for 611 yards and passed for 2,282
yards, with 16 TDs, 4 INTs. This offense averaged
32 points, 197 yards rushing and 227 passing.
Junior RB Antonio Pittman (1,331 yards, 5.5
ypc) provides balance, while speedy WR Ted Ginn
is explosive. This is an offense that put up
over 400 yards on Michigan and 617 against Notre
Dame. The defense loses some of its best players,
though, including linebackers A.J. Hawk and
Bobby Carpenter. September 9th is the rematch
at Texas, and road games at Iowa and Michigan
State are the only tough Big 10 road games.
Predictions # 1. Florida: While the Gators
were expected to be strong offensively under
first-year coach Urban Meyer, the defense was
outstanding in 2005 while the offense suffered
a ton of key injuries. Still, this team went
9-3 while learning the triple-option attack.
The defense has six starters back to a group
that allowed just 94 rush yards per game and
3.1 yards per carry. They return DE Joe Cohen,
DT Marcus Thomas, DT Steven Harris and junior
LB Brandon Slier.
The offense returns 6 starters, looks for better
health and is going to be fascinating to watch.
Senior QB Chris Leak (20 TDs, 6) has been starting
as a freshman. He’s not an ideal triple-option
QB, but is a fine all around quarterback. There
is a lot of speed and depth at wideout with
senior WR Dallas Baker, senior WR Jemalle Cornelius
and senior WR Andre Caldwell. Senior RB DeShawn
Wynn led the Gators in rushing and also caught
12 passes for 161 yards. Meyer has yet to lose
in the Swamp (8-0) and this is the 100th year
of Florida football. Road games at Tennessee,
Auburn and Florida State will be their biggest
FOR College TEAM PREVIEWS for
2006 CLICK the link BELOW...
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Big 10 College Football Predictions
Pac 10 College Football Predictions
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