Marshall Column: 2006 Football Predictions

Columnist Phillip Marshall takes a shot at prognostication in his latest column.

It's game week. What better time to make some probably ill-advised predictions on what could happen in the college football season that is at hand.

Here we go:

• No Southeastern Conference team will go undefeated. The road is simply too treacherous. Auburn is generally viewed as the team with the best chance, but going 3-0 against LSU, Florida and Georgia, even at home, is probably too much to ask. And that doesn't even take into account playing Arkansas at home and dangerous games against South Carolina and Alabama on the road. An 11-1 regular-season record would be phenomenal. A 10-2 record would be a great year, a 9-3 record a decent year.

• The national champion will have one loss. There is no team that seems anywhere close to invincible. Ohio State, the consensus preseason No. 1, must replace nine starters on defense.

Brandon Cox will be the All-SEC quarterback. Something tells me he is primed to have a great season.

Mississippi State will be the surprise team in the SEC, winning six games and qualifying for a bowl bid.

Ole Miss, for all second-year coach Ed Orgeron's bluster, will be only slightly better than it was in winning three games last season.

Vanderbilt will return to being Vanderbilt, winning no more than a game or two.

• This will be the swan song for Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. He probably needs to get to a bowl to save his job, and he doesn't have the firepower to do it.

• The SEC will go 3-1 against the Pac-10 in the season's first two weeks. Auburn will beat Washington State, Tennessee will beat California and Arkansas will lose to Southern California this Saturday. LSU will beat Arizona a week later.

• Arkansas will struggle on offense, but will be good enough on defense that it will have a chance to win any game it plays.

Rodgeriqus Smith could have a big season at wide receiver for the Tigers.

• Kenny and David Irons will make history by becoming the only two brothers from the same team ever named All-SEC in the same season.

• Fullback Carl Stewart will have a breakout season and will put himself in position to be a high draft pick in 2008.

• Florida will be an up and down team, tarnishing the gaudy reputation of second-year coach Urban Meyer.

• There will be one big upset on the first week of the season. It could be Hawaii over Alabama, Mississippi State over South Carolina or Southern Mississippi over Florida. Take your pick.

Georgia Tech, led by senior quarterback Reggie Ball, will upset overrated Notre Dame in Atlanta in its season-opener.

Leon Hart, currently Auburn's backup at both offensive guards and both offensive tackles, will be a key player before the season is over.

• At least two Auburn players will be chosen in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft. Among the candidates: Kenny and David Irons, Tim Duckworth and Courtney Taylor.

• Before season's end, yet another bogus rumor will spring up about how Tommy Tuberville is on the verge of leaving for another job.

• Tuberville won't go anywhere.

• Former walk-on Joe Cope will be the All-SEC center, completing a remarkable story of determination and dedication.

• Auburn's defense, which intercepted just eight passes all last season, will have that many before the season is half over.

• Wide receiver Rod Smith will have a big year, adding his name to a long and distinguished list of Auburn walk-ons who made good.

• Most of these predictions will be wrong.

Until next time …

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