College football season actually got a bit tedious for me last year... by the time the Michigan game rolled around, I was exhausted and was ready for a bit of a break. But that doesn't mean I'm not excited for the upcoming season. Every once in a while, the anticipation inspires me to put some thoughts down on virtual paper, and today is one of those days. Here are some miscellaneous thoughts on some things that surfaced this week...
Thoughts on Bowls... There has been some talk about the addition of three new bowls. Some people don't like it, some do. There are arguments for and against, for sure. Yes, it makes the numbers a bit ridiculous as there are now 28 bowls and 56 teams that will be playing in the postseason. I tend to think it is good though. It could bring publicity and money to teams that need it. As far as the boring factor, sure, there is a chance that two unattractive, struggling teams could be going at it, but you never know what might happen. If there was not such a thing as the GMAC Bowl, there would not have been the instant classic played last year between Marshall and East Carolina. By the way, because of the longer schedule this year, 6-6 teams can qualify for bowls if conferences don't have any teams with records better than that to fill their obligations. Teams with 13 games like OSU must go 7-6 though. Click here for a bowl schedule.
Beano... In college football, it's possible that the Beano jinx is second to only the SI cover jinx. Analyst Beano Cook (famous/infamous for making bold statements such as predicting Notre Dame QB Ron Powlus to win two Heismans) picked OSU as a sleeper team this year, which caused some OSU fans to panic (albeit slightly in jest). Beano also said Justin Zwick could end up starting before the end of the season (no word on whether or not this caused Justin to panic). I am a bit of a superstitious person, but Beano's statements did not rub me that way. He did not seem to make any solid predictions regarding OSU. I'd be more scared if I were a fan of Penn State, Tennessee or Oklahoma as he said Penn State would beat Nebraska this year (actually, I go into that a bit below) and Tennessee and Oklahoma would play for the national title.
Looking at the schedule... I was looking through the "Ultimate Schedule" feature on College Football News, and I browsed over to the Big Ten non-conference schedules. A few teams have tougher schedules than others, that's for sure. How will each team do over their non-conference schedule? A guess:
- Illinois: (Missouri, at Southern Miss, Arkansas State, San Jose State) Three probable wins and a tough one at Southern Miss. Illinois will be breaking in a new QB, but word is that despite the fact they don't have Kittner anymore, they are not in too bad of shape in Champaign. Granted, Dustin Ward or Iowa transfer Jon Beutjer are most likely not going to be another Kittner, but they might not be bad. Still, that game at always-stingy Southern Miss is going to be a test, and if they lose one, that will be the one they lose.
- Indiana: (William & Mary, at Kentucky, at Utah, Central Michigan) The immediate thought is that the Hoosiers are going to be bad this year and that Gerry Dinardo is going to have a rough debut. No Randle-El, no Levron Williams... ugh. W&M should be a win, but at UK and at Utah will be losses, and if IU is as bad as my uneducated perception says they will be, then Central Michigan might not be a guarantee either. They aren't going to win too many games this year, but at least one should come from out-of-conference.
- Iowa: (Akron, at Miami (OH), Iowa State, Utah State) The Hawkeyes are expected to be competitive again this year, but there are a couple of tricky games here. The first thought is that game at Miami is dangerous. I don't know too much about Miami yet other than the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is back at QB after a season that caught the attention of many, but logic says that facing a team like Miami on the road is going to be tricky. Iowa State could also be tough. Akron and Utah State should be Ws.
- Michigan: (Washington, Western Michigan, at Notre Dame, Utah) There's a chance that UM could come out of this non-conference schedule unscathed, but it won't be easy. Washington is expected to be one of the west's top teams with potentially a strong offense featuring returning QB Cody Pickett and standout WR Reggie Williams. Notre Dame... well, they will probably be hovering around the bottom of the top 25 to start the season, and it's never easy to win in South Bend. Western Michigan and Utah should be Ws (although Utah can be a tough team), but they are in for some non-conference tests.
- Michigan State: (Eastern Michigan, Rice, Cal, Notre Dame) Eastern Michigan, Rice and Cal should equate to a 3-0 start for Sparty. Notre Dame at home should also be a win. Not an overly tough non-conference schedule, Sparty will be favored to win them all.
- Minnesota: (SW Texas State, at La-Lafeyette, Toledo, Buffalo) Minnesota probably has the capability of winning out here although we will see. Toledo destroyed them last year out-of-conference. I don't know enough about these four teams to really make a solid prediction, but I am guessing 3-1 at least.
- Northwestern: (at Air Force, TCU, Duke, at Navy) A couple of tough games here. TCU has been solid in recent years, and Air Force on the road won't be easy to beat. I'm not expecting much out of NW this year, but in the past, they have had great seasons when people weren't expecting much from them.
- OSU: (Texas Tech, Kent State, Washington State, at Cincinnati, San Jose State) OSU is certainly capable of winning all these games. The TT game scares me, and I have already expressed paranoia over the UC game. But I'm guessing OSU will be favored to win all of these games, and I think they will. Texas Tech and WSU could come down to the wire though. No worries about Kent or San Jose State.
- Penn State: (Central Florida, Nebraska, Louisiana Tech, Virginia) All eyes have to be on that big one against Big Red. What a big game that could be for Penn State. Nebraska is a team who some people think might be a bit down this year after losing some key players from last year's team, particularly Eric Crouch. This is Penn State's chance to prove they are back on the national scene. I have a feeling Penn State can win all of these games (which will probably mean they'll start out winless like they did last year). UCF should be competitive, and they need to be ready there.
- Purdue: (Illinois State, at Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Wake Forest) Illinois State??? Of course, Notre Dame is the toughest game here. ISU, WMU, and WF should be Ws. Purdue struggled last year, and I think they will be better in 2002, but the ND game will be a good indication of where they are. Illinois State?????
- Wisconsin: (Fresno State, at UNLV, West Virginia, Northern Illinois, Arizona) Fresno will st