The 2014 college football season is just around the corner and I will get an early start here and go with the predictions for week 1.
This season would have to be something to come close to the excitement and suspense we saw season last. The fluke play in the Iron Bowl, a non SEC team actually winning the crown of now defunct BCS, the silliness of one "Johnny Football," Duke and Mizzou in the mix in their respective conference races, a surprising Michigan State group ending up as one of the best in the land, and a North Dakota State team that may well have been a top 20 squad if playing in what is formerly known as Division I. The list could go on and on. That being said take a look at the Bartender Cabbie System's predictions for week one.
1. Sam Houston St vs Eastern Washington: This could be a good one. Two teams from the FCS that could easily compete in the upper division (some conferences anyway) square off to start the season. SHSU coach has moved onto "greener pastures" (of course) after success and EWU will be right there in the hunt for the FCS title. This may be a toss up and I will go with EWU here.
2.Clemson vs Georgia: This non conference rivalry game will get a lot of attention sure. Georgia has to compete in the SEC this season or the staff is gone. Clemson has less to lose. The Tigers head coach is not going anywhere regardless. Clemson fans don't (or shouldn't) have the expectation that the Tigers will be a national power this season and should be content being in the top two to four in the ACC. Clemson has jut lost too many good players and are in a bit of a rebuild mode but will likely find the the top 20. They should be a better team than the Bulldogs though and will find a way to win. Go with the team from South Carolina.
3. Rice vs Notre Dame: Conventional wisdom says this will be an easy victory for the Irish. I doubt it.They lose some key players apparently in a "scandal" of sorts and of course the coaching staff is "in the clear." The Owls have lost some top players from season last but David Bailiff often does a whole lot with a very little.
The Irish should win straight up but, if I were a betting man, I would go against the spread here. Take ND in perhaps a closer than expected game.
4. Boise State vs Ole Miss: The Rebs will be out to prove they are relevant in the SEC (they might be) and the Broncos will want to show that they are still relevant on the national stage (not this time). Boise State is Petersonless after many years and, let us be honest, have fallen off a bit the last couple of seasons. They may well win the MWC but are likely not going to be a national power. The new HC had a good season at Arkansas State last year to be sure but he has big shoes to fill. I would go with the Rebs here. It may be close.
5. Ohio State vs Navy: The Buckeyes likely have the talent to compete for a national championship. They won't. Navy is the best of the service academies and will prove dangerous to anyone they play. Pick the Buckeyes in a rather close game.
6. Georgia Southern vs NC State: Willie Fritz takes the helm over at Georgia Southern after having a good deal of success at FCS Sam Houston State. He will guide the Eagles in their transition from FCS to the upper division of college ball and will likely have some success. The Eagles are used to having a run oriented offense that has been very successful in the FCS ranks. Remember the "surprise" that GSU gave to the Gators last season? That being said, Fritz will have a more open offense that may take some time to get fully implemented.
On the other hand NC State will be in the bottom half of the ACC. This would make this likely a pretty even game. I will go with Georgia Southern in an upset of sorts.
7. N. Dakota State vs Iowa State: The FCS champion will be able to beat this lower tier Big Twelve team. It is quite probable that had NDSU competed in the upper division last year they would have been a top 20 team. Good money would be placed on the Bison again being the champion of the FCS this season and also good money should go to the Cyclones fighting just to keep out of the cellar in the Big Twelve. Go with North Dakota State.
8. SFA vs KSU: Kansas State has always been criticized for scheduling "cream puffs" as their non conference foes. (Didn't work out so well last year when NDSU came calling if you recall). Now everyone schedules down with perhaps SEC teams being the worst offenders. The Wildcats should have no trouble here as SFA is probably going to again be an upper middle of the pack Southland squad. Go with KSU to have a fairly easy time with the Lumberjacks.
9. LSU vs Wisconsin: This one is to be decided in Houston at NRG Stadium (home of the Texans). Houston is such a diverse city and one of the nation's economic powerhouses and thus has people from all over the country (and world) helping to fuel the engine. The area is home to a huge population of LSU fans and I would imagine that there are a number of Badger faithful in these parts also. There won't be any trouble selling out the stadium to be sure. With all that being said, this could be a pretty good game. The Tigers will have more NFL caliber talent than the Wisconsin squad although some say this will be a bit of a rebuild season down Baton Rouge way. The Badgers will come with typical smash mouth play and will challenge the Tiger defense. Les Miles will likely find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory a time or two this year (it is what he does) but probably not right out of the gate. I will go with LSU here although it will be a dogfight.
10. TAMU vs South Carolina: A big one right off the bat here. The Aggies have lost "Johnny Football" to the NFL and the possible replacement has taken his act to Texas Christian. Sumlin will have to see what he can do with an unproven man behind center. Johnny Football is not the only Aggie who has moved on to the next level either from last years' squad. A rebuild season in College Station? Likely so although I would wager that the Aggies will be a top twenty team before all is said and done.
South Carolina will be a contender in the SEC and it is not out of the question that they will have a shot at taking it all and ending up in the four team "playoff" that decides the National Champion. I won't get into the merits of the new "playoff" system quite yet but lets us just say that it may be marginally better than the now defunct BCS. The emphasis is on the word "marginally" here. I digress......The Gamecocks will be the better team and will win although it may be rather close. Spurrier's teams also at times (like LSU) have a tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Likely won't happen this time and I would go with South Carolina.
In just a couple of weeks the college game begins and I for one am looking forward to it.