This year, the preview will be combined with the Week 1 preview, for two reasons:
- I’m bad at picking.
- This year is pretty straightforward anyway.
Let’s go over what I mean in 2., conference by conference.
The SEC is by far the best, deepest league in the nation, and Florida is by far the best, deepest team in the SEC. Simple.
The Big 12 South has Texas and Oklahoma. Whoever wins that game really shouldn’t lose any other game on their schedule, except of course for Florida in the title game.
The Pac-10, Big Ten and ACC are pinning their hopes almost entirely on USC, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. If recent history is any indication, Ohio State will lose to USC and/or a Big Ten road game, USC will drop some conference game for which they forget to show up, and Tyrod Taylor will lose the Hokies at least one game.
The Big East and Big 12 North are filled with okay teams of approximately equal quality. Nothing to see here.
Boise State and the last one standing among Utah/TCU/BYU are the outsiders with a BCS shot. Also, Notre Dame has a shot at being pretty good.
See? Nothing new here.
Now, on to Week 1. As you may remember, the rules are to pick the three games with the greatest BCS implications, with a special eye to the championship game as a tiebreaker. This usually, but not always, coincides with the best matchups of the week.
Our Week 1 undercard includes #8 Mississippi at Memphis, to see how good the Rebels really are, Miami at #18 Florida State, to see if either of them is actually going to translate all that talent into ACC contention, and #20 Brigham Young at #3 Oklahoma, to see if Oklahoma looks like a national championship contender, and whether BYU might win the MWC and crash the BCS.
#5 Alabama v. #7 Virginia Tech. This is the biggest game on each of these team’s regular season schedule. The ACC lacks the star power for a convincing in-conference win, and Alabama misses Florida and Georgia this year. A big win could get the ball rolling to run the table, like Alabama’s win over Clemson in a similar game last year, and the loser will have a tough time regaining that respect, like VT after the LSU game two years ago.
#16 Oregon at #14 Boise State. One of USC’s potential competitors opens tomorrow night against one of the most impressive BCS busters in recent years. Oregon, to their credit, isn’t playing a single gimme game all year. They follow this one with Purdue and Utah at home before entering Pac-10 play. BSU, on the other hand, hardly has anything but from here on out, playing Miami OH, Bowling Green, UC-Davis and the WAC. If they win, they’re in the early driver’s seat for the small conference BCS bid.
#13 Georgia at #9 Oklahoma State. This game is partially about bragging rights for the conferences. With Florida, Oklahoma and Texas in their divisions, both these teams are longshots for the BCS. This year, things aren’t easier. Georgia must replace a QB and RB taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, and Oklahoma State has difficulty recruiting against Oklahoma and Texas, and lost more players overall. Neither can really afford to start the season with a quality loss.
Alabama (70/30). If I’m going to pick an ACC team to take down an SEC contender with that kind of defense, it won’t be one with Tyrod Taylor under center.
Boise State (60/40). There’s a reason most teams won’t schedule road games against good small conference teams, and the Ducks are about to be reminded what it is.
Georgia (35/65). This game could go either way, but Oklahoma Stat’s bowl loss against Oregon gives the image of a team that was overachieving, whereas Georgia seemed flaky but sometimes dominant. They’ll be back this year.