I’ve watched as much regular season baseball and hockey as I can stomach, but the void of college football coverage now that spring practices are over is tough for me to deal with. I reached a depressing part in my offseason last week, when I began to start quizzing myself on the future impacts of conference realignment. Writing these posts is therapy that will distract me from focusing on trying to recreate the 2013 members of Conference USA and the Mountain West from memory. In these posts, I will make predictions for the 2012 season as I see it. As we’ve learned from Mitt Romney being forced to deal with angry high school classmates telling stories about him, there is no statute of limitations in politics. Given its unlikely I win the Republican nomination in 2032 because I’m too normal, I’m still willing to take the risk of talking politics in print, so expect some of those predictions in these posts as well.
Thankfully this college football offseason has been filled with interesting stories that have been both exciting and humorous. I’m very excited about the four team playoff we’ll see in a few years and expect the new system to improve the already immense popularity of the sport. I will briefly get on my soapbox and mention that anyone who wants to expand the playoff to 16 or more teams needs to stop watching the sport. College football has the most interesting and important regular season in sports and must be protected at all costs. The four team playoff manages to accomplish the best of both worlds and I hope it is as successful as I expect.
My future life responsibilities may not allow me to continue to attend 10+ random games a year so I will certainly try to live 2012 to the fullest. During this past bowl season, I suffered heartbreak after heartbreak and finished my season in despair and frustration. Life is all about anticipation and I’m counting down the seconds until games kick off on August 30th. My quest for redemption begins in fifteen weeks. Here is a look at my early schedule for this season, with me hopefully attending six games in the first six weeks.
September 1st – Michigan vs Alabama (Jerry World)
– The Wolverines try to start 2012 with an upset over the defending champs.
September 2nd – SMU at Baylor
– With no RG3, will the Bears be able to take the next step as a program and reload.
September 8th – Miami at Kansas State (Little Apple, KS)
– UM avenges last year’s loss by exposing Collin Klein’s dysfunctional throwing release.
September 14th– Washington State at UNLV (I’ll be in Vegas anyways so by law I must attend)
– Mike Leach is reason enough to be excited about the Cougars in 2012.
September 29th – Missouri at UCF
– After tough early SEC games, Missouri could be vulnerable to an upset in Orlando.
October 6th– Miami vs Notre Dame (Soldier Field)
– Stereotypes don’t always hold. ND’s QB was the one running from and kicking cops.
Arkansas will finish the year outside the top 20. Jessica Dorrell will cement herself as the most polarizing woman in Arkansas history, narrowly surpassing Hillary.
Most websites and magazines have the Hogs as a borderline top 10 team (9thon ESPN) and a potential challenger to LSU and Alabama since both those teams must head to Fayetteville in 2012. Arkansas has already had an impressive six players arrested this spring and without leadership, this team will crumble under the intense media pressure this season. Many people are confident the Razorbacks can still have a great season without Bobby Petrino’s presence on the sideline. QB Tyler Wilson’s amazing spring game statistics only told half of the story – this defense will struggle all season. RB Knile Davis has never been able to stay healthy. Bobby’s brother Paul is still the offensive coordinator, but the awkward dynamic with new HC John L Smith will be too much to overcome. The Hogs lose to both Bama and LSU, and struggle with adversity after a few confidence shaking early losses.
Michigan opens the season against Alabama in a matchup that is a win-win situation for the Wolverines. No one is expecting Michigan to win, and even if they just keep it close they will gain confidence heading into the Big Ten schedule. The key for Michigan’s chances to win the conference is Ohio State’s probation for this season. Although OSU should be much improved under Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes are ineligible for a bowl in 2012. Michigan has to end the season in Columbus, but their Rose Bowl berth might already be clinched before that matchup. QB Denard Robinson will have a Heisman type season and the UM defense will continue to improve in Brady Hoke’s second season.
Both Missouri and Texas A&M will struggle to have winning seasons in their first SEC season.
Even though Missouri’s schedule sets up relatively well, with Alabama and Georgia traveling to Columbia, the Tigers will struggle to get to 8 wins. Missouri’s defense will be dominated inside by SEC offensive lines and the Tigers spread offense won’t be as successful against the size and speed of some of nation’s elite defenses. Texas A&M had bad luck scheduling, being forced to play Missouri, South Carolina, and Florida in addition to the brutal SEC West schedule. New HC Kevin Sumlin’s offense will be successful in the future, but at the moment he doesn’t have the playmakers he needs. Regardless of who the Aggies start at QB, he will have no experience at the collegiate level. August 30th could be a problem too – Look for Louisiana Tech to play well and challenge Texas A&M in week 1 in Shreveport.
Texas will return to the top 15 this season.
The Longhorns get West Virginia, Baylor, and TCU at home and have an easy non conference schedule in 2012. DC Manny Diaz will have his guys performing at a high level and this Texas defense will be one of the best in the country. QB David Ash will step up and play at a much higher level this year – reducing turnovers and making plays late to win games.
Arkansas State keeps games close against Oregon and Nebraska, and the Red Wolves end the year near the top of the Sun Belt.
While QB Ryan Aplin won’t make Gus Malzahn’s wife forget about Cam Newton, he will flourish in Gus’s unique spread offense. Arkansas State is talented offensively and WR Josh Jarboe will have a huge year.
Barack Obama wins a 2nd term as president. Romney picks Rob Portman as his vice presidential candidate. John Edwards is forced to serve jail time.
This prediction is one where I’ll be ok if I’m wrong. Romney’s best path to victory is the manifestation of the John Pickens jinx. Romney will pick Senator Rob Portman of Ohio as his VP candidate in hopes that winning Ohio comes with it. Ultimately the economy will hold up well enough for Obama’s popularity to carry him to victory. John Edwards becomes the next disgraced former politician to serve time in jail. The evidence against Edwards is 50% overwhelming and 50% embarrassing, but enough to get the job done. I’m undefeated in legal prognostications after my call for the innocence of Amanda Knox in 2011. Hopefully Edwards keeps that impressive streak alive.
Stay tuned for more predictions in the coming weeks……..