The football off-season is way too long. 8 months is a long time to go without football. However, football is always on my mind. So here is a preview of the top teams heading into 2012 in order of where I believe they will finish.
Oklahoma is always a contender in the Big-12. When Landry Jones announced he was coming back for his senior season, Oklahoma’s 2012 outlook got a whole lot better. Jones will finish his career as the schools all-time leading passer. The question Sooner fans have is who will step up at the wide receiver position now that Ryan Broyles is gone. Once he went down with a season ending injury, Oklahomas offense just wasn’t the same.
Denard Robinson’s mediocre passing skills were exposed in the Sugar Bowl. But Brady Hoke has things headed in the right direction after just one season. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison transformed one of the nations worst defenses into a pretty strong unit. Expect Michigan to be solid on both sides of the ball and be the favorite to win the Big Ten.
8.Kansas State Wildcats
As long as Bill Snyder is gracing the sidelines in Manhattan, Kansas State will be a force. Collin Klein came out of nowhere last year to become one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. The defense will continue to prevent Kansas State from being a national title contender.
With rare exception, we can just pencil LSU in for 10+ wins each year. They spent the entire regular season in 2011 unbeaten before getting destroyed by Alabama in the title game. LSU will be back with yet another dominating defense, solid rush offense, and a coach (Les Miles) that busts out with some crucial trick plays – that work.
Aaron Murray makes big plays. Georgias defense has taken major strides forward since the start of 2011. Despite playing in yet another SEC Championship Game, Mark Richt is still on the hot seat. Fans are becoming restless. I’m not really sure why. Except for 2 years, Richt’s teams have been in contention for major bowls every year. They could be a national championship sleeper.
If not for USC in the Pac-12, I would predict Oregon to play for a national championship. My prediction is they will go 11-2, with both losses to Southern Cal. The offense loses LaMichael James and Derron Thomas (what was he thinking?) due to early exits to the NFL. But stud running back Kenjon Barner is poised to take over where James left off.
4.South Carolina Gamecocks
The ‘Ol Ballcoach has always been one of my favorites. And I’m glad to see he finally has a contending team. The Gamecocks took major strides in 2011. If Marcus Lattimore comes back strong from his knee injury, look for South Carolina to give Alabama, LSU, and Georgia everything they’ve got. A national championship is not out of the question.
3.Florida State Seminoles
2011 was suppose to be the year FSU was “back”. It wasn’t. But they weren’t far off. Florida State returns tons of talent on both sides of the ball and brought in a Top 10 ranked recruiting class. I’;m a big fan of Jimbo Fisher and, despite how frustrated fans are, he’s going to get that thing rolling soon.
2.Alabama Crimson Tide
I really liked what I saw out of AJ McCarron in the BCS Championship Game. He should me a ton of moxie. With Trent Richardson gone to the NFL, McCarron will have to become a bigger part of the offense. He will. The defense suffers some big losses, but it’s a Nick Saban coached team. If you think they’ll struggle defensively in any year under Saban, you’re crazy.
1.Southern California Trojans
If Lane Kiffin isn’t already the most hated coach in College Football, he definitely will be after 2012. Kiffin has arguably the most talented team in the country. They are absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball. Matt Barkleys surprise announcement that he will be coming back immediately jumps USC to the top of the preseason rankings.