|With BC-FBC--Surprise Teams|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 08 August 2008 18:18|
1) GEORGIA - Any team entering a season with a national championship or bust as its goal is likely to disappoint, and the national title talk started swirling around these Bulldogs at about halftime of their 41-10 drubbing of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia hasn't won a national championship since 1980, so that ratchets up the anticipation even more for Dawgs fans. The problem: the schedule is brutal (Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, LSU, just to name a few land mines). Georgia could lose two games and still be as good as any team in the country, but another trip to the Sugar Bowl is going to be a letdown.
2) KANSAS - Last season was one for the Jayhawks' time capsule. A run at No. 1. A school-record 12 victories. An Orange Bowl victory. And for a follow-up: How about 7-5 and a trip to the Independence Bowl? It could happen. Kansas lost some key players to the NFL (OT Anthony Collins, CB Aqib Talib, WR Marcus Henry). And then there's the issue of the schedule - notice a theme here. Last year, the Jayhawks didn't play Texas, Oklahoma or Texas Tech, the Big 12 South's best teams. This year, they do, plus a nonconference road game at South Florida.
3) VIRGINIA TECH - Coach Frank Beamer's Hokies have earned the respect they get in the preseason, but if you put a different name on this team's resume, it probably wouldn't be favored to reach the ACC title game. Tech returns only 10 starters and said goodbye to its leading rusher and four top pass catchers from last year. There are no obvious replacements. The top three tacklers on defense? Also gone. In fact most of last year's typical tough D will be playing on Sundays this season. Rebuilding year, anyone?
4) TEXAS TECH - The Red Raiders are this season's buzz team. They've got 18 returning starters, a typically soft nonconference schedule and the best quarterback-receiver combo (Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree) to ever play in coach Mike Leach's pass-a-minute offense. If Texas Tech is ever going to end the reign of Texas and Oklahoma over the Big 12 South, this has to be year - which will make it all the more painful for Red Raiders fans when their guys fall short.
5) BYU - The Cougars are this year's favorite to bust into the BCS out of the non-automatic qualifying leagues. Coming off an 11-2 season, coach Bronco Mendenhall has restored this proud and storied program. BYU should be battling for Mountain West Conference titles for years to come and may very well break into the BCS someday soon. This season, however, the Cougars return only three starters on defense and play their toughest conference rivals (TCU and Utah) on the road. Not a recipe for a perfect season.
6) ILLINOIS - Another of last year's feel-good stories. The Illini made a huge turnaround from 2-10 to 9-4 and a Rose Bowl bid in coach Ron Zook's third season. This could be a case of two steps forward (actually, more like eight steps forward), followed by one step back. Unless QB Juice Williams makes the leap from exciting but inconsistent to true star, the offense is going to miss Rashard Mendenhall mightily.