Random college football predictions you won’t read anywhere else:
(Subtitle: Because nobody else is foolish enough to make them.)
Ÿ Come Oct. 24, Auburn will be undefeated when it faces LSU.
Rationale: The toughest team among Auburn’s first seven opponents is West Virginia. And the Mountaineers lost quarterback Pat White, the heart and soul of their team the past four years, and had to rebuild the offensive line. West Virginia is very beatable, especially early in the season and especially at Auburn.
This is not to say the rest of Auburn’s first six opponents are cupcakes. But, really, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, Ball State, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky are not exactly at the core of every Bowl Championship Series discussion.
Ÿ Joe Cox will have better statistics than Matthew Stafford. Well, let me qualify that. He will have fewer interceptions and a better completion percentage, both of which factor heavily into the passer rating formula.
Rationale: Cox is a fifth-year senior who knows his limitations. Stafford was a third-year junior who took too many chances and isn’t as accurate with his throws as Cox. The result last year was that Stafford had 10 interceptions and completed 61.4 percent of his passes. Cox will throw fewer interceptions and will have a better completion percentage, because he will be quicker to make the safe throws, rather than fire the ball into traffic.
Ÿ In the end, Steve Spurrier had it right to start with. Mississippi’s Jevan Snead will be the SEC’s best quarterback.
Rationale: Florida’s Tim Tebow is a no-brainer as the pick for the preseason All-SEC team. He has earned that right. For a two-year stretch, Tebow has been the best player in college football, and now he’s a senior. But this is about the 2009 season. Defensive coordinators have had another full offseason to develop schemes to throw at Tebow. He’s not the most accurate passer.
Snead, like Stafford, can be a victim of his talent. He threw 13 interceptions last year. But he passed for more yards than Tebow and had only four fewer touchdown passes with 26. If he cuts down on the interceptions, the TDs, yards and completion percentage — and therefore his passing rating — will improve. It’s not as if Snead is some former walk-on who’s built like a placekicker. He originally signed with Texas and is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.
Five years from now, when Snead is an NFL starter and Tebow is not (at least not at quarterback), this prediction will not look so outlandish.
Ÿ The SEC’s run of three consecutive BCS titles will end.
Rationale: Said another way, Florida won’t repeat. Not because the Gators aren’t very good. But even very good teams need good fortune to win it all. It’s a hunch the Gators won’t get those breaks. And if Florida doesn’t win it all, who from the SEC will? Not Mississippi (good but overrated), not LSU (not that good and overrated), not Georgia (underrated but not good enough) and not Alabama (a couple of recruiting classes away).
Ÿ Georgia Tech, ranked 15th in the preseason Associated Press poll, will not finish in the Top 25.
Rationale: The Yellow Jackets slipped to 22nd in the final AP poll last year after that thorough butt-whipping by LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Five of their nine wins last year came by four or fewer points. Simply put, they overachieved last year and still almost fell from the rankings. Vanderbilt replaces Gardner-Webb on the non-conference schedule. (What, was LaGrange College booked up?) Tech’s winning streak against Georgia will end at one.
Contact Guerry Clegg at email@example.com