• Get the Blackhawks Championship Package
    Get the Blackhawks Championship Package
  • Give the Gift of SI
    Give the Gift of SI
Posted: Thursday September 2, 2010 10:54AM ; Updated: Thursday September 2, 2010 2:10PM
SI.com's 2010 Preseason Crystal Ball
SI.com college football contributors Stewart Mandel, Andy Staples, Austin Murphy, George Schroeder, Cory McCartney, Bill Trocchi and Mallory Rubin share their predictions for the 2010 season.
BCS Bowl Projections
 
Stewart Mandel
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
Andy Staples
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
Austin Murphy
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
George Schroeder
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
Cory McCartney
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
Bill Trocchi
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
Mallory Rubin
  Title Game   Rose   Fiesta   Orange   Sugar  
  vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.   vs.  
 
National Champion
 
Mandel
With a dynamic veteran quarterback (Terrelle Pryor), two solid running backs (Brandon Saine and Dan Herron), a veteran O-line and a loaded defense, this is Jim Tressel's most complete team since his 2002 title squad.
Staples
No program has won consecutive BCS titles since the system began during the 1998 season. That streak has to end sometime. Alabama lost a lot from the defense that led it to the title last season, but -- and here's the scary part -- the new starters may have a higher ceiling than the guys who left.
Murphy
The defense is salty, and Terrelle Pryor is ready for OSU's toughest tests (at Wisconsin and Iowa). Tressel keeps knocking on the door -- this January, it opens.
Schroeder
Terrelle Pryor gets it done, and the Big Ten (Eleven, Twelve) ends the SEC's chokehold on the BCS title -- for now.
McCartney
A grueling schedule will keep 'Bama from a third straight undefeated regular season, but a loaded offense and a reloaded defense filled with highly touted recruits will help the Tide deliver a fifth consecutive national title for the SEC.
Trocchi
Terrelle Pryor caps a stellar season by knocking off Cinderella, and in so doing erases some of the sting of the Buckeyes' national title misses in 2006 and '07.
Rubin
The Buckeyes must go on the road to face fellow Big Ten contenders Iowa and Wisconsin, but Jim Tressel's squad is talented enough on both sides of the ball to escape with its title hopes intact. Behind Terrelle Pryor and a loaded D, Ohio State will reverse the bowl fortunes of the SEC and Big Ten.
 
Surprise Team
 
Mandel
In a wide-open Big East, the Huskies -- who were far more competitive than last year's 8-5 record indicated -- can parlay a favorable schedule into their first BCS berth.
Staples
The Badgers aren't a complete surprise; people know they should be good. It's how good Wisconsin will be that will surprise everyone. The Badgers have to travel to Iowa, but they get Ohio State at Camp Randall.
Murphy
Between underrated quarterback Nick Foles, a wide-open Pac-10 and coach Mike Stoops' customary clamp-down defense, the Wildcats will do serious damage.
Schroeder
It has taken Mike Stoops a while to get things rolling, but he's got an experienced quarterback in Nick Foles. A showdown at Oregon the day after Thanksgiving might be the opportunity to erase Arizona's oh-for-forever Rose Bowl drought.
McCartney
Forget that QB Aaron Murray is a redshirt freshman. With running backs Caleb King and Washaun Ealey and an offensive line that boasts a nation's-best 155 combined starts, the Bulldogs could reach the SEC title game for the first time since 2005.
Trocchi
Inexperienced quarterback Aaron Murray thrives in an experienced offense, and changes on the defensive staff help lift Georgia past Florida and into the SEC title game.
Rubin
The Pac-10 is a crowded place for star quarterbacks and running backs, but Arizona's Nick Foles and Nic Grigsby should earn a further share of the spotlight this season -- and the Wildcats along with them.
 
Flop Team
 
Mandel
Too many questions at too many key positions (quarterback, offensive line) will cause problems navigating the top-heavy Big Ten.
Staples
The Razorbacks are this year's Trendy SEC West Pick.TM Those teams rarely live up to expectations, and if the Arkansas defense hasn't gotten a lot better, neither will these Razorbacks.
Murphy
As of mid-August, JoePa was still badmouthing his offensive line ("We've got troubles there ... We're not very good.") I believe him. Nittanies lose four games.
Schroeder
Bo Pelini has rebuilt the Huskers, but the departure of Ndamukong Suh and the lack of a playmaker at quarterback -- or heck, even a clear starter at quarterback -- leaves them behind Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12's pecking order.
McCartney
With a new QB and six first-year starters on defense, it's hard to see the Nittany Lions keeping things together while becoming the first team to ever face three schools that won BCS bowls the prior year (Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State).
Trocchi
QB Jacory Harris is tough to trust, and there are some concerns at linebacker. Road games at Ohio State, Pitt and Clemson before Oct. 2 could put the 'Canes in a hole too tough to climb out of.
Rubin
JoePa won't have trouble plugging the holes on defense, but he's starting a true freshman quarterback and seems more distressed about his makeshift offensive line than his self-described intestinal problems. This won't be a top 15 team for long.
 
Best Bet to Bust the BCS
 
Mandel
Duh. The uber-experienced Broncos may even make one of the big games with a loss (as long as it doesn't come in the WAC) due to their high preseason ranking.
Staples
The BCS was designed to keep teams from outside the six power conferences out of the national title game. Boise State found the loophole. Play well for years, get ranked high to start the season, win two real games and beat garbage for the rest of the year. Pray two power conference teams don't finish undefeated. Voila.
Murphy
Broncos survive Va. Tech on Labor Day, run the table, bust into the BCS title game ... where the dream dies against the Buckeyes.
Schroeder
If everything falls right, Boise State could become the ultimate BCS buster. It would be great to see the Broncos in the title game, but almost as much fun to watch the Rose Bowl honchos host them in Pasadena.
McCartney
Despite losing two All-Americas on defense, the Frogs shouldn't lose a step. Andy Dalton leads an offense that returns nine starters from a unit that averaged 38 points a game last season. If they survive an opener against Oregon State, only a trip to Utah will stand between the Frogs and a perfect season.
Trocchi
Nine months after Butler played Duke for the national title in basketball, Boise State makes the leap and faces Ohio State for the national title. Needless to say, Virginia Tech could make this prediction moot on Sept. 6.
Rubin
The Broncos are certainly good enough to beat Virginia Tech and Oregon State. TCU is no slouch, but as long as Kellen Moore and Co. keep winning, Boise's higher preseason ranking will allow it to edge out the Frogs for a trip to Pasadena.
 
Heisman Trophy Winner
 
Terrelle Pryor :: Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMI
Mandel
QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State. Voters tend to go with a star player from a BCS contender, especially if he's a quarterback.

Staples
Pryor. Every year, I pray my fellow Heisman voters will realize that the nation's most outstanding player isn't always a quarterback or tailback. Every year, I'm disappointed.

Murphy
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama. Hey, it could happen! If Ingram stays knicked, watch him get Wally Pipped by his sophomore understudy. Richardson is that special.

Schroeder
Pryor. He's got the platform -- an elite program making a run at the national title -- and the talent. If his performance in the Rose Bowl win over Oregon was a harbinger, Pryor could be about to skyrocket.

McCartney
Pryor. If last year's Rose Bowl performance was just a taste of what's to come, the junior should finally deliver on the hoopla that surrounded him as a recruit by keeping OSU in the title hunt and winning the Buckeyes' eighth Heisman.

Trocchi
Pryor. He's probably not the best player in college football, but he will be perceived as the best player on the best team, and that is what it takes nowadays.

Rubin
Pryor. Star players from national-title contenders tend to do well with the voters -- especially when they're quarterbacks. It's all going to click for Pryor during his junior campaign, and that should mean hardware for both player and team.
 
First Player to Fall Out of Heisman Race
 
Jake Locker :: Charles Baus/Icon SMI
Mandel
RB LaMichael James, Oregon. "The Mike" may suffer from a slight sophomore slump, not to mention Kenjon Barner cutting into his carries.

Staples
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama. Last year's winner will already miss the season opener thanks to knee surgery. It's difficult enough to repeat anyway. It will be more difficult after backups Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy combine to rush for 200 yards against San Jose State and start taking away carries that Ingram would have gotten.

Murphy
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas. Starting in mid-September, the Hogs have successive games against Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn. Adieu, bronzed statuette.

Schroeder
QB Jake Locker, Washington. The guy can really play -- if you haven't watched, make a point to do so -- but he's not a pure passer, and in the absence of superlative statistics, he needs a lot of wins. Washington should be much improved, but will it be enough?

McCartney
RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech. This is no indictment of Williams' talent, but the return of Darren Evans from an ACL injury means a timeshare at tailback, and fewer touches will surely put a damper on Williams' campaign.

Trocchi
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State. Heisman voters don't take kindly to losing to non-BCS teams, and the Beavers have a real chance of losing to two (Boise State, TCU) in September.

Rubin
Locker. There's no doubting Locker's talent, and NFL teams will surely be lining up to secure his services come April. But the Huskies could drop three of their first six games, and a .500 record (and matching completion percentage) won't keep him in the Heisman conversation for long.
 
Next Household Name
 
Alex Okafor :: John Albright/Icon SMI
Mandel
QB Jordan Wynn, Utah. The sophomore quarterback flashed his potential in last year's Poinsettia Bowl. Like the Utes, he'll solidify his Pac-10 credentials this year.

Staples
DT Alex Okafor, Texas. The freakish Okafor could star as a defensive end or a three-technique tackle in a four-man front. It's when the Longhorns morph to a 3-4 -- they can, and they will -- that Okafor will be a matchup nightmare.

Murphy
DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State. The strongest player in college football is this year's Ndamukong Suh.

Schroeder
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama. Even as Mark Ingram was running toward the Heisman, whispers out of Tuscaloosa suggested Richardson might be the better running back. Richardson is flashy, but as a freshman was sometimes careless with the ball. With Ingram's minor knee injury, he'll get an early chance to make a big impression.

McCartney
QB Cam Newton, Auburn. He's no stranger to SEC fans, having appeared in six games at Florida before transferring. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, he has the size and arm strength to become a star as the triggerman in Gus Malzahn's potent attack.

Trocchi
DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa. Thanks to Ndamukong Suh, a defensive lineman can generate buzz if he can truly dominate, and Clayborn's performance in the Orange Bowl last season showed he is capable of producing a Suh-like season.

Rubin
WR Jonathan Baldwin, Pitt. Big East defensive coordinators already know Baldwin is the most dynamic receiver the league has seen since Larry Fitzgerald. With Pitt remaining on the national radar all season, the rest of the country will find that out, too.
 
Coach on the Hottest Seat
 
Les Miles :: Skip Williams/Icon SMI
Mandel
Rich Rodriguez, Michigan. No great secret here. The embattled third-year coach can't survive another sub-.500 Big Ten season.

Staples
Les Miles, LSU. Michigan's Rich Rodriguez, Colorado's Dan Hawkins and Illinois' Ron Zook are too easy here. You know your seat is hot when you won a national title three years ago and your fan base wishes you'd just shuffled along to your alma mater after holding up the crystal football. Miles is fine as long as the Tigers return to double-digit wins. Less than that, and he's not.

Murphy
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland. Because he won two games in '09. Because he's got a new AD, who'll want to put a fresh stamp on program. Because I said RichRod last year.

Schroeder
Miles. Just three short years ago, LSU won the national championship, and yet Miles could be in trouble down on the bayou. The Tigers are 17-9 since, and have fallen from the elite level Miles inherited from Nick Saban. More importantly, Saban is back, coaching in the same division, and you might have noticed he rebuilt Alabama in very short order. Miles' occasional goofiness is now measured against Saban's precision. If the Tigers lose four or five again, look out.

McCartney
Friedgen. The Terps have been on the wrong end of .500 in four of the last six seasons, including last year when they lost a school-record 10 games. Friedgen has a new AD and president to impress and a successor (James Franklin) already waiting in the wings.

Trocchi
Dan Hawkins, Colorado. While Boise State continues to take off, its former mentor has suffered through four losing seasons in Boulder, and it's reasonable to assume No. 5 is on the way.

Rubin
Rodriguez. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true. Losing seasons don't fly at Michigan, and neither do sanctions. No bowl, no RichRod on the Michigan sidelines in 2011. (Oh, and beating Ohio State would help, too.)
 
A Bold Prediction
 
Mike Gundy :: AP
Mandel
Oklahoma State will finish behind Baylor in the Big 12 South. Baylor is ready to make a move with the return of healthy QB Robert Griffin, while Mike Gundy's attempt to adopt someone else's offense (former Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen) reeks of potential dysfunction.

Staples
Undefeated Boise State will make the BCS title game over one-loss Ohio State, causing the majority of Big Ten presidents to rethink their long-held opposition to a playoff. The plus-one promoted years ago by SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford will be approved for the BCS contract that goes into effect in the 2014 season.

Murphy
It took a little longer than usual this time, but the Rodriguez system works! Michigan bolts to a 5-0- start, wins nine games, and RichRod is still around in 2011.

Schroeder
Lane Kiffin's Trojans start strong, but after losses to Stanford and Oregon the wheels begin to come off and Kiffin's sunglasses go back on. A loss to crosstown rival UCLA ends a disappointing finish and places Kiffin on the hot seat for 2011.

McCartney
Case Keenum will break B.J. Symons' NCAA single-season passing record. With three 1,000-yard receivers returning, a 6,000-yard season is well within the Houston QB's grasp.

Trocchi
Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs will be the first service academy player to finish in the top 5 in Heisman voting since Navy quarterback Roger Staubach won the award in 1963.

Rubin
Despite the return of former 1,000-yard rusher Darren Evans, Hokies tailback Ryan Williams hits the 1,500-yard mark for a BCS team, earning himself an invite to New York City in the process.
 

 
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs Chris Johnson Jameis Winston NFL Draft Michael Sam Aldon Smith
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines, your California privacy rights, and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint