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The Crystal Ball

SI.com's experts forecast it all, from busts to BCS

Posted: Wednesday August 31, 2005 1:13PM; Updated: Wednesday August 31, 2005 1:32PM
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8/9 The Gamebreakers 8/22 Ind. | S. Belt | MAC
8/11 ACC Preview 8/22 Bowl Projections
8/12 Big East Preview 8/23 Can USC 3-peat?
8/15 Big 12 Preview 8/25 Top Newcomers
8/16 Big Ten Preview 8/26 Games to Watch
8/29 SI's All-Americans
8/17 Pac-10 Preview 8/30 Power Rankings
8/18 SEC Preview 8/30 Heisman Watch
    8/31 The Crystal Ball
SI.com's 2005 Preview Section

SI.com's college football gang of Stewart Mandel, B.J. Schecter, Luke Winn and Cory McCartney offer their personal prognostications for the upcoming season.

BCS Predictions

Rose: USC vs. Ohio State
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee
Sugar: Florida vs. Louisville
Fiesta: Texas vs. Iowa

Rose: USC vs. Michigan
Orange: Louisville vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar: Miami vs. LSU
Fiesta: Texas vs. Florida

Rose: USC vs. Louisville
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State
Sugar: LSU vs. Miami
Fiesta: Texas vs. Cal

Rose: USC vs. Ohio State
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Louisville
Sugar: Florida vs. Iowa
Fiesta: Tennessee vs. Texas

Surprise Team

Mandel: Texas A&M. The Aggies improved from 4-8 to 7-5 in Dennis Franchione's second season. This year should be even better, with 17 starters returning, including the nation's most underrated quarterback, Reggie McNeal.

Schecter: Boston College. The ACC newcomer has a stud in 6-foot-7, 260-pound defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka and could easily win eight games en route to its sixth straight bowl victory.

Winn: Penn State. JoePa's visage often looked strained in the past two, abysmal seasons, but he'll be much more pleased with his 40th campaign in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will get rolling by stomping South Florida, Cincinnati and Central Michigan, and finish with one more win than their combined total from the past two seasons (seven).

McCartney: Nebraska. Can things get any worse than last year's 5-6 debacle? Zac Taylor can and will produce in Bill Callahan's West Coast offense, as evident by his sensational spring. With the addition of a pair of juco transfers, the D-line will be one of the Big 12's best. Everything is in place for the Huskers to win in the mediocre North division.

Flop Team

Mandel: Florida State. Sorry, 'Noles fans, but the wheels are about to come off. An unprepared QB, inexperienced O-line and receivers, a depleted D-line and a secondary missing its best player does not make for a No. 12 ranking (AP).

Schecter: Tennessee. Everyone is high on the Vols -- except for me. With uncertainty at quarterback and a brutal schedule that includes games at Florida, LSU and Notre Dame, I smell 7-4.

Winn: Florida State. A shaky situation at quarterback. A likely loss in the opener to Miami. A daunting trip to ACC rookie Boston College in mid-September. Two difficult road tests -- at Clemson and Florida -- to close the season. I don't see the 'Noles coming close to the BCS.

McCartney: Georgia. No team can lose as much as the Dawgs have and not miss a beat. Six players from last year's squad are now in the NFL, including David Greene and David Pollack. The offense will be shaky at first, and trying to keep up with Boise State in the season opener could be difficult.