Never too early to forecast the BCS

By Bart Doan  |   Wednesday, May 06, 2009  |  Comments( 3 )

College Football
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For the most part, spring practices are over in college football. That means there is no better time than the present to start finally doing some early predicting; today, then, we'll forecast the upcoming season's BCS bowl slate.

BCS national championship game: Florida (SEC champion) vs. Virginia Tech (ACC champion).

With the desire to not give the cliché “Florida vs. Big XII champion” prediction, the Hokies seem like a logical choice as a quasi-surprise participant. Their schedule is set up for a springboard win against a still-green Alabama team in Atlanta. Nebraska appears, but the challenge there is in name only. Barring a collapse at Georgia Tech or Maryland, there is no reason to think the Hokies can’t win the ACC yet again. Analyzing why Florida could be here doesn’t merit much thought. Most would be flat-out stunned if the Gators were anywhere else.

Rose Bowl: Southern Cal (Pac-10 champ) vs. Penn State (Big Ten champ).

Wait, haven’t I seen this before? The Rose Bowl would probably like to avoid a rematch, but with PSU returning the lion’s share of an already intimidating defense and Southern Cal still loaded with talent, it could be in the cards. Obviously for Penn State, losing Daryl Clark’s top three receivers will be an issue. Replacing nine players who saw starting time for SC’s record-setting defense could be a problem too. But the last seven seasons suggest the Trojans will have no problem winning their conference.

Orange Bowl: South Florida (Big East champ) vs. Ohio State (at-large).

The Orange Bowl gets the opportunity to pick ahead of the Sugar and Fiesta. With that pick it will take Ohio State, which will enter the season as the favorite to again win the Big Ten. The Buckeyes' schedule is full of pitfalls, however, such as having to travel to Happy Valley and having to deal with Southern Cal -- which hasn’t lost a regular-season game to a non-Pac-10 team since 2002 (Kansas State). That being said, the Bucks are a huge draw, and often it is that -- not records -- which fills prestigious bowl slots. Especially in this case, where a USF program still new to major college football will win the Big East for the first time. Amid expectations, the Bulls flopped last season, plain and simple. 2009 brings a much more entertaining schedule that sees the likes of Florida State and Miami on the out-of-conference slate. More importantly, though, other Big East favorites like Cincinnati and West Virginia come to Tampa. Oh, and Matt Grothe is back again.

Fiesta Bowl: Texas (Big XII champ) vs. Boise State (at-large).

This is where it gets interesting. As per BCS rules, the Sugar Bowl will have the option to select an SEC at-large team before any other choices are made, which leaves the Fiesta Bowl in the position of taking the predicted best team available in Oklahoma or giving the nod to Boise State. The Fiesta rolls the dice on Boise again, hoping it will work out as exciting as it did the first time. Texas appears primed to right the wrongs of last season when it beat Oklahoma and still missed the Big XII title game thanks to BCS math. Colt McCoy didn’t come back for his senior year to lose out on a title.

Sugar Bowl: Louisiana State vs. Oklahoma.

The Sugar opts to go with a hotly disputed game of the past, circa the split title season between LSU and USC. Playing down the road from home has served LSU well: The Tigers have five wins in this game, good for second most. For a young Tiger team that finished last season on a high note despite five losses, the sky is the limit. They call to mind Mark Richt’s Georgia team of three years ago. Richt’s efforts with a young team culminated in a Sugar Bowl beating of Hawaii. Oklahoma figures to be much tougher. Going out on a limb, though, the Sooners are slowly becoming “Ohio State South" with their inability to win big games. Though this is a step down from the BCS title appearance of last year, Oklahoma has much to play for in the eyes of the all-important national perception.
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About Bart Doan

Bart has been with Realfootball365.com for about six months and thoroughly enjoys writing for the site. He has been featured for his writings on college football in The Sporting News, The Indianapolis Star, Sports Illustrated, and on CBS Sportsline.com. When he's not drowning himself in the...
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