Saturday, August 29, 2009

2009 NCAA Predictions...

I know, too many experts make too many bad predictions this time of year. Heck, everyone and his brother's mother seems to be the business of shooting form the hip. Not the Chief, a true student of the game. His prediction models are at least as good as your best guess.

So without further delay, here are some pre-season projections and predictions for the upcoming year:
  • USC will win at least 7 games. However, I'm not sure they will have less than 5 losses. With games @ CAL, @ Oregon, @ Arizona State, @ Notre Dame, and @ Ohio State, it's going to be a tough road to travel - and did I mention they start a true freshmen at QB for the first time ever. It will be interesting to see how this team responds to adversity and loss when they start to face it this yeear. Can they keep it together under the Hollywood lights? I've said it before and will say it again, this is the year to get Pete's squad in the PAC-10. Two predictions: they lose in September to Ohio State and in October to Notre Dame. BIG 10 and MIDWEST starts to get some credibility restored; and it all starts this year. However, the Trojans could still win the PAC-10.

  • Notre Dame should get to 9 wins this year, especially with the 'soft' schedule. I know they still have USC on the schedule, but they should be favored in most games to win. However, they better beat Michigan in Ann Arbor or watch-out Charlie - it will get ugly. They probably make the BCS, but I don't agree with Lou Holtz that they'll be upset by Florida in Pasadena for the National Title.

  • BIG-10 comes down to Penn State and Ohio State this year. And since Lions host the Buckeyes in early November (at night), the Chief likes Paterno over Tressel this time.

  • TEXAS should win the BIG-12. Oklahoma will be a close 2nd (too much uncertainty on the offensive line this year). Florida wins the SEC, again - no surprise here. Rutgers may just find a way to win the BIG EAST this season. And it should come down to Georgia Tech and Va Tech in the ACC. That's a coin toss in my mind - conference is always hard to predict.

  • National title will likely go to Florida for only the 3rd time in the last 31 years, as back-to- back Nationial Champs. They will likely play the BIG-12 South Champion, either Texas or Oklahoma.

  • As for the Chief, it all depends on the QB play this year. Can Juice and/or Eddie lead us to another 8, 9, or 10-win campaign? It's going to be tough with schedule we have this year. But, I'm not sure too many teams can hang with our offense when it fires on all cylinders. Defense should be OK, especially as the season progresses. As long as we start out at least 2-2 (with the first 4 being Mizzou, ISU, Ohio State, and Penn State) things will be OK. Obviously, getting out to that crutial win over Mizzou is key. Same for the home game with Penn State. We need consistent play from September through November to avoid another 5-7 or 4-8 type disappointment. I think we get it done in 2009 and post 8-4 by when it's all said and done.

There you go. You heard it all here first. Or 2nd. Anyway, it's all in good fun. Check back early and often to see how these come to fruition over the next 13 weeks or so. No matter how it turns out, I'm sure we all agree it will be more fun than we deserve. Take care ....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How They'll Finish - Find your team!

Gotta love those pre-season polls and projections. They mean about as much as a wet diaper in a rainstorm to a soccer mom who's running late to practice. Do soccer kids wear diapers? Anywaway, CNN/SI took it's best shot at the link above. See how your team is projected to fare in 2009 with these conference reports. They have the Chief going 8-4, with 5-3 in conference which might just be good enough for a bowl game in early 2010.

BIG-12, BIG-10, ACC, PAC-10, Mountain West, and with more to come over the next few days. The predicted order of finish hasn't changed much in the PAC-10 of late. And if you care about these things, here are the season's first power rankings, courtesy of FOXSPORTs. Chief comes in at #19. Mizzou @ #20, interesting. Domers are at #17 with Oregon at #15.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chief on the Chief - Ilini Gridder Preview 2k9

There are high expectations in Champaign - Urbana this year for Illinois football, no doubt. This is Zook's team and talent pool. Everyone remembers what he assembled in Gainesville enabling Meyer to win his first national title. And while a championship may not be in the cards this year, hopes are high that we'll return to the form of 2007/8 when we went 9-3 with Rose Bowl appearance.

First off, nobody should stop the offense this year. Led by 4th-year man, Juice Williams, the offense should amass 450 yards and 33 points / game, easily. I look for Benn, Fayson, Uh Oh!, Cumberland, and other youngins to step it up in the passing game. AB is a leading candidate on many pre-season watch lists. This part of our game is due for a quantum leap in performance over last year's disappointing output. The running game will likely be just as strong with LeShoure, DuFrene, and Ford leading the way. And Juice isn't shabby and matriculating the rock up and down the field either. I look for the rushing Zookers to average ~ 200 yards / game on the ground and ~ 250 yards / game through the air. By air, land, and sea (not sure how yet), the Chief will move the sticks and burn-up scoreboards all over the BIG-10 in 2009.

Defense is my only real concern (besides special teams). We lost a lot last year wtih Miller and Davis moving on and out. But those voids should be filled by hungry under-classmen looking to claim their slice of the glory pie. Brent, Pilcher, Liuget, and Wilson should lead the way as defensive stoppers. All are big-time hitters and playerss. As a squad, we need to improve from 10th in the league last year if we're going to improve on the 5-7 record. The offense will consistently post 30-40 points / game, but the defense can't give up 40-50.

CNN / SI (link above) has us going to the Outback Bowl on Jan.1 to face Georgia. That would be a good year with an 8-4 or 9-3 record mostly likely. Most pre-season polls have the Chief ranked in the high 20's or low 30's heading into the Battle under the Arch with Mizzou. Whatever, pre-season polls are about as useful as more rain in February. Personally, I think we're a bit underrated going into the season, but it only matters where you finish. It is, however, the Zooker's fifth season in CU. And the numbers don't lie, 18-30 in his first four years. That's not quite getting the job done. And coach knows it. He'll be the first to tell you it's not where he wants this team to be.

With a tough non-conference schedule and games against Mizzou, Fresno State, and Cincy it's going to be a tough road. Good news is that we get Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan (Halloween night) at home this year. We do have to travel to Columbus, Bloomington, St. Paul, and West LaFayette. So a quick start will be key to success this year. Getting out 2-1 is essential, and that likely includes winning the opener against the Tigers. If that happens, then 9-3 or even 10-2 is possible. Anything less than 8-4 will be a disappointment in my mind.

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