Before USC quarterback Mark Sanchez vacated the position in order to enter the NFL Draft, many people had USC pegged as the No. 1 team in the nation. While they shouldn't make it to the national championship, it will be hard for them not to win the Pac 10, unless Oregon or Cal could creep up and beat them. Ohio State figures to be the team to beat in the Big Ten. It will pretty much be a two team race in the Big Ten between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes. As for the matchup, it will feature two storied programs in the "Grandaddy of Them All," in an annual Pac 10-Big Ten matchup.
Utah smoked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last year, and the Crimson Tide are ready to avenge their poor play a season ago in the postseason. While former quarterback John Parker Wilson no longer serves as the signal caller, the Crimson Tide feature a stingy defense as always. The TCU Horned Frogs, coached by Gary Patterson, will be a very disciplined team that should win the Mountain West Conference. Quarterback Andy Dalton has a strong arm and the ability to lead this team to the BCS as a sleeper team given the right circumstances.
The Longhorns were bitter a season ago for not having the opportunity to play in the Big 12 Championship and ultimately the National Championship and rightly so. But this time around, Texas won't have much to complain about as OU will take care of business in the Red River Rivalry Game in October. Even so, the Longhorns should be able to win the rest of their games, ensuring themselves a BCS bid. Their opponent will be the second surprise team in the BCS, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who will be much improved from a 7-6 season a year ago. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen is a very talented player and will be able to pick apart defenses when he's given enough pass protection. This is also a premier matchup featuring two history-rich programs.
Returning players is a major recipe for success, and that's exactly what Virginia Tech is doing in the 2009 season. The Hokies return 16 starters from a year ago, eight on offense and eight on defense. So there is a great veteran corps on both sides of the ball. That's why they should win the ACC. As for Cincinnati, the Big East is theirs for the taking. The Bearcats lose all but one of their starters defensively, but they return all but two on offense, so expect them to score a lot of points. And head coach Brian Kelly knows how to win and will find a way to take the Big East.
BCS National Championship—Jan. 7, 2010—No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 OU
It's the rematch everyone's looking forward to. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford, vs. the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow. Last year's National Champion, Florida, vs. last year's runner-up, OU. Both clubs will win their way to the highly anticipated rematch. But the 2009 version will feature a different matchup. Florida should be a similar team, but the Sooners feature a much more talented defense that will be able to shut down a lot of the offensive schemes Tebow and the Gators used to exploit the Sooners last year. Look for a game that will stay close until the last possession. It could be a game for the ages considering the hype and the stage it will be played on.