Five big predictions for 2010:
*The voters will face a tough call in December on a non-BCS school, but it won't be the one you're thinking of.
If any team should breeze to an undefeated season, it's the TCU Horned Frogs. I doubt they will play a game in which they are less than a double-digit favorite all year.
Of course, that speaks as much to Texas Christian's strength of schedule as it does to the quality of the team. This ain't your daddy's Mountain West, and, in terms of the computers, TCU's non-conference game with Tennessee Tech likely outdoes whatever bump it gets from the opener with Oregon State.
Better rack up those style points, Gary Patterson. Plundering the Beavers on opening weekend would make for a good start.
*No major conference team will go undefeated.
Hence, the TCU Situation. Unlike last year when big boys from the SEC and Big 12 finished the regular season with perfect records, the voters won't get off so easy in 2010. (In fairness, they probably should have faced more scrutiny last year, but that's a topic for another time.)
All of the major teams being mentioned in the national title discussion – Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, Florida, Oklahoma – have enough warts to make chaos the most likely outcome for the BCS this year. Say the first weekend in December rolls around, and 'Bama and Ohio State each have a loss, while TCU is sitting there undefeated? I don't know who would get the nod, but even the thought of all the crying sure to ensue gives me a migraine.
*Sorry, LSU fans, but you are stuck with Les Miles.
The aroma coming from Miles' hot seat may smell like Tig-ah Bait now. At the end of the year, the Mad Hatter's detractors will be feasting on crow.
Granted, the Bayou Bengals have 11-win talent benefiting from seven-win coaching. This year, though, the sheer quality of Louisiana State's personnel should lift the team to something like 10-2. That will buy Miles a few more years.
*Ohio State will make the national championship game without – technically – winning the Big Ten.
Try to keep up: Wisconsin beats Ohio State; Iowa beats Wisconsin; Ohio State beats Iowa.
That's a three-way tie for the conference. Thus, Iowa to Pasadena via the Big Ten's archaic tiebreaker, right? (Big Ten experts may want to check my math there.)
Iowa will lose at Arizona in September, though, meaning that the Hawkeyes will be out of the national title picture with a loss to Ohio State. Thus, it's the Buckeyes and their one loss that get into the national title game.
Luckily, I don't think an SEC team will be awaiting them.
*John Clay will have a monster, monster year.
Great offensive line? Check.
Good enough passing game to keep teams from loading the box? Check.
Coaching staff that lives to pound the football? Check.
Sounds like the formula for a huge year for Wisconsin's bulldozing junior running back. Even better, the Badgers' out-of-conference schedule includes two of the worst run defenses in D-I, UNLV and San Jose State, as well as a I-AA opponent in Austin Peay.
Aided by the return of 10 starters from a sneaky good offense in '09, Clay looks ready to explode heading into his third year. Assuming he stays healthy, I say he breaks 2,000 yards rushing.
I've been right about Clay before, and I feel pretty good about this one.