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7/19/2006 09:14:00 AM

National Championship Sleeper Pick

Oakland Arena
After last season's 7-5 campaign, Michigan has the talent to go 10-2 this season.
Photo by AP
The preseason preview magazines are out and many of the predictions are in. Every year one team outside the preseason Top 10 ends up surprising everyone and making a run at the national championship. Just look at what’s happened in recent years: Penn State and Notre Dame in ‘05, and nation champions LSU (’03) and Ohio State (‘02) were near the bottom or left of the Top 25 when the season began, but proved that preseason rankings don’t mean much.

Expect some more surprises this fall. Below is Athlon’s Top 10

1. Oklahoma
2. Notre Dame
3. USC
4. Ohio State
5. Florida
6. West Virginia
7. Texas
8. California
9. Auburn
10. Louisville
Of the teams not on this list, who will we be talking about as a national championship contender in November? We say Michigan, which has a ton of talent and an opportunity (games against Notre Dame and Ohio State) to prove last year’s 7-5 finish was a fluke. Who’s your sleeper pick?

Comments:

As a devout Michigan fan, I tend to disagree that Michigan is a true "sleeper" for the crown.

Away at ND, Penn State, and Ohio State is an almost impossible 3-0.

I think if they lose early to ND and run the table afterwards, they stand a real shot given the parity this year. However, West Virginia is almost a shoe-in with that laughable schedule.
Virginia Tech Could be a possibility, They play a weak out of conference schedule, All their tough conference opponenets except for Miami are at home, Beamer has experience breaking in new starting QB's and still doing well. Miami is on the road but they have won in the Orange bowl on multiple occasions. They have a solid D and generally as a program they playbetter when the expectations are low.
Posted: 12:59 PM   by Uncle Teddy
I hear ya swindlerjackson,the talent is there.... but can we say Defense this year. If .....and if they can play defense the offense should do the rest. Go Blue
I just went to your Athlon team preview site and read this about Ohio State: At Ohio State, a place once known as "the graveyard of coaches," Jim Tressel has managed to find a cushy seat with 50 wins in five years and the 2002 national championship.

Is that supposed to be a joke? OSU had 3 coaches from 1951-2001. That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. Who wrote that? Some research should be done before making a crazy claim like that - especially in the opening paragraph of a column. All credibility is lost.
Posted: 1:46 PM   by Jimmy12
I think Boston College has a good chance to surprise alot of people this year - although they lost alot from the O-line last year, they still have an undefeated quarterback in Matt Ryan (5-0) and have the chance to prove they're for real against Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. This could be the year the Eagles finally take the next step and emerge as a real power from the ACC.
Posted: 2:11 PM   by Timiah
Two words.....ROLL TIDE
Posted: 2:13 PM   by piech
I actually like Michigan's chances. If the can beat the Irish in South Bend, The only other teams that will stand in their way is Iowa and Ohio State. Iowa is at The Big House so Ohio State is the iffy. After 3 loses to the Buckeyes there will be plenty of motivation.
Posted: 2:15 PM   by adamtait
Here's a REAL sleeper: Nebraska.


If they can beat USC and Texas, they'll have a real shot. I know, it's a long shot, but the Huskers could really surprise this year...
Posted: 2:36 PM   by plamb
Don't look now but it may be another repeat of '99 when the VOLS came from no where to win it all. With the addition of David Cutcliffe as offensive coordinator he should be able to get Eric Ainge back to form. Try this one 9 of their 12 games are in state, including their first 5. Better win it this year or Fulmer will be back to the buffet line twice a day.
I honestly believe that the champ will come out of that Top 10, (By the way you forgot to mention how Auburn surged from the 20's to #2 in 2004 in your intro). However, the only team that I could conceive of actually winning it all is LSU. They do have some question marks, but they are just loaded with talent.
I'll take this opportunity to question Athlon for ranking Florida at #5. They will be much improved, but look at their schedule!! They play Alabama, LSU, (at) Auburn and Georgia in a row (yes the SEC is by far the toughest conference). And they still have visits to Knoxville and Tallahasee. Simply no way they can finish in the Top 5, let alone Top 10.
My heart wants to agree that this may be another breakout year for the Wolverines, but my head tells me that the coaching changes will not strengthen what has been a weak defense for two years running. Like swindlerjackson said, the away games in Columbus, Happy Valley, and South Bend are high hurdles. If UM wins those games, they'll DESERVE the nat'l championship!
Posted: 3:37 PM   by Frog 4-ever
They're still not on the national radar screen, but the TCU Horned Frogs have an opportunity to go undefeated, if their O-line can start strong against two early season Big 12 opponents (Baylor and Texas Tech). Once they get into conference play, they should be favored every week.

They are not intimidated by the so called "big-name" programs. They went to Norman and knocked off OU last year, and they have put the Horns on their schedule for 2007. The Frogs are on the rise!
Posted: 3:39 PM   by Dave Wenger
I agree with Mark Bower. OSU has not been the graveyard of coaches since THE NINETEEN FORTIES!!!!

That reference which hasn't been used in almost 60 years gets lost on most people today.

Please show some more journalistic responsibility.

Outside of the Top 10...I would have to say, Alabama could. If their offense improves and they have a couple of key plays in some big games they could be right there.
Posted: 3:42 PM   by Frog 4-ever
Though they continue to miss the national hoopla, the TCU Horned Frogs have a great opportunity to go undefeated in the upcoming season, especially if their O-line can start strong against two early season Big-12 opponents (Baylor and Texas Tech). Once they get to their conference schedule, they should be favored every week.

They have shown they are not intimidated by the so-called "big-name" programs. They went to Norman and upset OU, and they have put the Longhorns on their 2007 schedule.

Look for the 2006 FROGS to gain the national recognition that has been slowly coming their way.
Posted: 3:45 PM   by buckeyeboy
Who cares as long as it's not Michigan. GO BUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 3:53 PM   by average Joe
A win on Labor Day and the whole world knows "the drums will be beating again in Tallahassee". Look for the Seminoles to be in the mix this year and to win it all next year. Just hide and watch............
Posted: 4:25 PM   by kretmania
While I don't know if Michigan will actually survive their treacherous schedule and come out unscathed, I do notice many similarities to the 1997 national champion Wolverines.
1. Both teams were coming off a run of dissapointing seasons and both people with in the University and nationally were questioning if Lloyd Carr was the best person for the team.
2. While the '97 team had Heisman winner and all-universe CB Charles Woodson, this year's team has a true shut down corner in Leon Hall who is a consensus pre-season All American.
3. On the offensive side of the football, the '97 team was full of depth in the skill position, much like this year's squad. Jerame Tuman was a playmaker TE and the 2006 team has Tyler Ecker who is considered a possible All-American TE.
4. Lastly, the '97 team had the hardest schedule in the country that year having to play 7 ranked teams including #4 OSU, #3 PSU and #8 Colorado. This year's team has just as hard of a schedule.
While I am not saying by any means this year's team is going to replicate the success of the '97 team, i think it is important to point out the similarities.
Go Blue!
Posted: 4:26 PM   by Tyson
With Dennis Erickson at the helm, you have to put the Idaho Vandals as a sleeper to be a mid-major to break into the top ten.

He knows how to win and build a solid program. Idaho Vandals to a BSC game...sounds compelling!
Posted: 5:19 PM   by HawkinKansas
Although they didn't hold themselves up to expectations last year, Iowa will be a considerable threat and has an outside chance to run the table in the Big Ten with a night game against OSU at home (the atmosphere will be incredible) and if they can catch a few breaks against Michigan(reciprocity for way too many questionable penalties last year).
The USC that everyone will be taking about is the University of South Carolina. If Florida and Auburn don't step up this year, they could go undefeated.
Posted: 7:37 PM   by Mr. Bruin
I'm gonna go out on a limb and stick my Bruins out there as national title contenders come November. We had a nice 10-2 run last season. Our schedule is pretty easy to start out this year. But once we get rollin, we just might roll all the way to the top with second-half games at Notre Dame, at Oregon, at Arizona State, at Cal, and home against USC. Only a handful of teams have a tougher second-half schedule than UCLA. Of course, a national title is an outright dream for any Bruin fan. I'll settle for a conference championship this year. GO BRUINS!!!
Posted: 9:05 PM   by Go_ACC
Idaho Vandals?! Get real. Who posted this one? Was it "tyson" or "MIKE TYSON" after getting punched in the "mouf" by Larry Holmes?

I believe whichever team emerges as the ACC Champ
(Miami, FSU, VA Tech or BC), will have an excellent chance to fly under the radar all the way to the BCS National Championship Game.

GO HOKIES!
Posted: 9:11 PM   by bryan2223
I'll have to agree with what kretmaina said about the 97 team and this years team. However this team does not have a true leader on bothe sides of the ball. Both sides of the ball lack the heart that Brian Griese and Charles Woodson brought to that 97 team. Plus the 0 Line is not even close to the 97 line of Jensen, Hutch and Bakus! I hate Ohio State.... if we beat them and ND it will be a great year!

bryan
Posted: 9:49 PM   by t-town
If Florida State is 1-0 after labor day, watch out. They have 8 of their last 11 games at home including all the tough ones( florida, clemson, boston college.)Go Noles!
PLEASE! Why do sportswriters continue to curse UM by touting them so highly in the pre-season??? Just let the Wolverines stay under the radar...they flourish only when there are no expectations. To do otherwise is to invite the typical disappointment that Wolverine Fans feel as the team drops games it should win, and pulls out victories when TVs are turned to other stations.
Posted: 10:11 PM   by ttredraider
The Red Raiders get closer and closer every year and this might be the season that they finally make it to a BCS game. Remember last year they were undefeated going into the Texas game, and this year Texas comes to Lubbock which will be rocking for a victory. If they can get through TCU in September, Texas at home and Oklahoma at the end of the season this team might be in its first BCS bowl.
just like last year UM is loaded w/enough talent to beat every team on their schedule. the only question is whether or not they will.if they can go 3-0 against OSU ,PSU, & ND... if not my sleeper is virginia tech or boston college
Posted: 11:02 PM   by Vib
This is Cal's year. Jeff Tedford has been waiting patiently to get the Bears ready for a big splash. We got prempted in 2004 with some Mack Brown posturing and a close loss to SC. 2005 was for rebuilding.

September 2nd in Knoxville, Tennessee is the day that Cal starts its run to the national championship. Go bears!

I know they're in the Top 10. I just had to give Cal a shout-out.
Posted: 11:26 PM   by Moe
I don't see a sleeper coming from the Big Ten based on the difficulty of schedules. Getting through that conference with only one loss is quite an accomplishment; there is very little margin for error. My pick is Boise State. As much as I hate that blue turf, I think they've got the best shot at a BCS game. They are coming off a 9-4 season with a tough 27-21 bowl loss against BC. Each of those losses were against teams that, at the very least, showed flare last season (Georgia, Oregon State, Fresno State, and Boston College). It was also Petersen's first year as head coach. This year they are returning 9 starters on both sides, and only two of the new starters are underclassmen. Not to mention, their schedule seems a little lighter without hosting Georgia in the opener like last year. Talk is cheap, but the evidence is there. Boise State should improve this year.
Posted: 11:53 PM   by Jay
Don't rule out Florida International. Don Strock's boys will be DOMINATE!!!
Of course the Canes are a sleeper pick. They hired FIVE!!! new coaches after that 40-3 loss to LSU, and they have their biggest rivals at home, FSU and Va-Tech. They have to replace that O-Line but they still have that shut down defense. I believe that if they can get by that Louisville game, which i have a really REALLY bad feeling about, the nation better watch out for the U. I just dont understand how USC and Texas who lost almost ALL their good players from last year can be in the top 10. The Canes have a top 10 caliber team for sure. I think the U will take that as disrespect and dominate this year. We all remember what happened when the U was disrespected last year against the Hokies. Bottom line: the Canes WILL win the title this year.
Even though Florida State suffered a five loss season last year, Drew Weatherford played phenomenaly and is expected to do the same this year. Plus with a top five recruiting class, Bobby Bowden's 'Noles could be poised to make an unprecedented and suprising run at the title.
Posted: 1:36 AM   by Bayou_Bengal
here's the thing. no one can argue that LSU has more talent than anyone in the country. the problem is putting it together to win it all. yes the schedule is tough this season, but if we can get though it with 1 loss or fewer, then expect the Bayou Bengals to be in the hunt
Posted: 2:33 AM   by FRedondo
fsu how can u deny them they always have a stong defense and they got a few of the best recivers in the country. their downfall is their kicker...since the past 4 years and their devine Quarterback problems...come on I am an fsu fan but who can really think their God....that was a disgrace for the school...but the VT and Hurricanes wins werent flukes they know when to step up now if they can only keep that style of play against smaller schools......then we can be Rose Bowl contenders
Posted: 4:14 AM   by swedyank
Michigan as a sleeper pick? Are you kidding me?

That is like calling the Yankees for a 'sleeper' world series pick. Way to go out on a limb.

The perennial underachievers (could their loss rate given talent be any higher?) should fire their coach and start over. I could have won more than 7 games with that team.

I like Boston College, and Wisconsin under a new coach to make a run in Big 10.

'Sleeper' picks like Nebraska, Tennessee, and Michigan are never sleeper picks.
1st of all tyspn is crazy, Idaho is going nowhere fast. I say watch out for Arizona St and Arkansas, both may not have a legit shot at winning it all but they will definately turn a few heads and upset some teams
Posted: 10:08 AM   by John
You forgot Nebraska. It is a very real possibility that they could pull off a win vs. USC in Sept, or a home upset vs. Texas on October 21st. If they can come out of those two games with only one loss, they are Big 12 Championship fixtures as well as BCS bound. Dont count them out for January.
Of course this must mean that they dont stumble in Big 12 play vs OSU or Colorado, or anyone else for that matter.
Posted: 10:25 AM   by caniacjon
All I gotta say is watch out for da "U"
Posted: 10:27 AM   by phillytiger
Clmson has a good chance at coming out of the ACC. They have arguably the most talent offensively in the ACC, along with Gaines Adams and one of the best linebackers in the nation. They should go undefeated at home, and if they win week 2 vs FLorida State they are in prime position for the ACC crown and an Orange Bowl birth should they be left out of the National Title game. Go Tigers!
Posted: 10:50 AM   by Miss Daisy
Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes could be an actual sleeper and I think 10-2 might not be out of the question. They have Wisconsin and OSU in Iowa City and have a road game in Ann Arbor. They predictably overachieve. I think putting them in the lower tier of the top 10 wouldn't be too far out.

Who keeps calling Michigan a sleeper? They are perennial underachievers. And Notre Dame and Ohio State has owned them. They will drop both of those. Tennessee has the unfortunate prospect of playing a bruatlizing schedule as does the rest of the SEC, Florida, LSU and the like. There isn't a team in the SEC this year that's going to make you think about the '95 Huskers. I think W.Va could get to the title game relatively easily. They're schedule is otherworldly easy.
Posted: 11:05 AM   by Caroline
MICHIGAN??

Yeah right. I'm a Michigan alum, and this couldn't be further from the truth.

Not only is their schedule too tough, but Lloyd Carr is the "coach who does the least with the most talent." THat man couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag.
Posted: 12:23 PM   by OSUvsUT
How can Michigan be a sleeper when they have been picked to go to the NC every year for the past decade? And since when was a "10-2" record (as the caption says) good enough for the title game? Anyway, Michigan's defense is way to unstable to outplay ND's and Ohio State's ridiculous offenses. There are questions about OSU's defense as well, but when was the last time you saw a bad defense in Columbus? No way UM goes into ND, Beaver Stadium, and The Shoe and wins all three. They'll be lucky to get one. Those are some of the toughest places to play in all of football, especially when your team doesn't have a proven leader on either side of the ball to keep their team focused in those hostile environments.

Watch out for the Bucks! Troy Smith is a true gamer and will do the kinds of things Vince Young did at UT.
Posted: 1:24 PM   by DeathReau
I'm a Michigan fan, but please stop the 97 comparisons. This years team will be led by the offense. 97 was dominated by their defense.

And about UM's O-line in 97, remember that Hutchinson and Backus were Freshman. They were good enough to play, but far from dominant. The only comparisons come in how they've come into the year. Not talent, depth, or tendancies.

And Buckeye fans, please stop talking about your defense. I'm sure it won't be horrible, but you have what, 1 or 2 returning starters? You don't replace all that leadership in one season. It's going to be a rebuilding year for the defense. Face it. You just better hope Troy Smith plays as well as he does against Michigan every game this year, and stays away from the 14-28, 160 yard games he has had just as often.
Posted: 1:26 PM   by DeathReau
also, in regards to the "does less with more talent" thing. Last years senior and junior classes for Michigan were rated in the 15-20 range out of high school by most publications. I know there's this perception that they have HS All Americans at every position, but it's just not true.
Phillytiger while I agree that clemson is goign to be good dont' forget they have to come into Blacksburg to play Virginia Tech. Tech's defense should be great and the QB will be settled by then. Florida state is not the only tough game on the schedule
Posted: 3:42 PM   by Nick
I think people should watch out for Pitt. They play in an always shaky Big East, and another year under Dave Wannstedt could really help Tyler Palko and company. They were in the top 5 in the country last year against the pass, thanks to corner Darelle Revis, and if they could just figure out a way to stop the run, they could be a major sleeper.
First of all, I like all these Michigan fans coming out of the woodwork now. Where were they last year when Michigan was 7-5? Where will they be at the end of this year when they underachieve again? I hate the Wolverines with all of my heart and soul, but their '97 tea, was incredible. This year's team is nothing like that. Chad Henne managed to show last year exactly what he can do without star receivers like Braylon Edwards- and it was anything but impressive. Count out the Wolverines. Lloyd Carr is done.

With that said, I would love to see my MSU Spartans manage something other than complete collapse this year, and with a quarterback like Drew Stanton anything is possible, but I just don't see it. FIRE JOHN L. SMITH! National title goes to Brady Quinn, Charlie Weis, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Posted: 6:21 PM   by UofA Druds
Well if your going to be bold...go big

Arizona, yes thats right The University of Arizona. With another top 20 recuiting class beating the likes of other PAC-10 foes Cal and for whatever reason a highly overrated UCLA, which has lost easily there three best players on the the field, Drew Olsen and Lewis and which Arizona easily demonlished when they were on the field Arizona is definitly on the rise.

Though a National Championship would be a God blessing for the program and fans alike. Lets look at the year ahead to easily see how Arizona will be playing for and winning its first ever Rose Bowl.

1)Stoops is the real deal, his recruiting is becoming "legendary" after pulling some of the best JC talent into the program with the likes of Louis Holmes and Gabe Long and in the process beating out such programs as USC, Texas, LSU, and Oklahoma

2)With easily the hardest schedule in the first month of the season in the nation, Arizona can make an huge surge with wins over BYU, LSU, and a home whipping of USC--just watch

3) With the majority of Pac 10 school just throwing the ball up, Arizona is preticed to win about every battle having the best Secondary and easily one of the top 10 in the nation.

4) The Heat, who likes to play in Kickoff temps near 100 degrees, and lets remind everyone its September and also a 7:05 kickoff
Haha...nothing like great football analysis from a Sparty. That's like a Buffalo Bill fan telling you how to win a Super Bowl.

You simply don't take the advice.

You want a sleeper: Try Georgia. The running game will be awesome and all Teryshinksi/Stafford have to do is not mess up b/c the D will be very good.
Posted: 7:29 PM   by FSU KID
FLORIDA STATE WAS A YOUNG TEAM WITH A BEAT UP O LINE. I THINK THEY WILL ONLY LOSE ONE GAME THIS SEASON WE WILL SEE IF THATS GOOD ENOUGH
Posted: 7:30 PM   by FSU KID
FLORIDA STATE WILL RISE AGAIN. THEIR LINE WAS BEAT UP. THEY HAD A HELL OF A FRESHMEN QUARTERBACK STARTING. AND THEY WERE A YOUNG TEAM
Posted: 9:12 AM   by DeathReau
hmmm, maybe there are a lot of Michigan fans posting here because this article focuses on Michigan. Just a thought.

2500 yards, 23 td, 8 int

Yeah, those are horrible #'s for a true sophomore.

Yes, he did struggle more than his freshman year, but that has much more to do with injuries to Hart and the offensive line, which considerably slowed the rushing attack and allowed opposing defenses to tee off on him.

So, if you can manage to shut down UM's running game and sack Henne 4-5 times he won't look good. Of course you can say that about every quarterback in the history of the game let alone a true sophomore.

Enjoy your 5-0 start though Sparty. That's all you've got to look forward too as usual.
Posted: 10:05 AM   by Javier
To comment on high school player rankings and how they convert to college...AJ Hawk was a 3-star out of high school. Enough said.

I am a huge Buckeye fan and we have heard so much of Ted Ginn and Troy Smith, but watch out for Antonio Pittman. Give him carries, he gives you chunks of yards.

Also, in all of college sports, the national championship should just be the winner of the Big Ten vs. the winner of the SEC, no matter record. Pac-10 and Big East stink. Big 12 has 2 teams and the ACC has 2 maybe 3 teams. Yea... Go Bucks...O..H..
Posted: 10:40 AM   by dawgfann27
Undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks. You just made my day, as I will laugh in my head about the ridiculousness of that statement all day! And I like how you are assuming wins over UGA, Tenn., Ark., and Clemson. As always, the Chicken fans are hysterical. Hope you enjoy your "moral victories" again this year.

And no, Clemson has no shot either. Schedule is too tough, and they tend to falter early in the schedule against weaker teams.

I won't go so far as to say National Title, but watch for the DAWGS to come outta the East again and find themselves in the hunt for ANOTHER SEC title.
Posted: 3:30 PM   by envy me
The big Blue have let me down time and time again but with a less conservative pattern to their play, a more go-getter spirit in big games like the one down in South Bend and in Happy Valley, they could make it come down to the big rivalry. Its going to be hard to come by with the schedule and the inexperience to come up with big plays but they have the talent, as long as Lloyd can make it count for something.
Posted: 2:25 PM   by pbreeves
I'm sick and tired of hearing FSU fans talking possible national title hopes. Did you forget Mark Richt is at Georgia now and JEFF BOWDEN is running the offense? Ever since Richt left, the offense has been nothing short of hilarious and pathetic. And please don't tell me that Bobby Bowden is even the coach anymore. The man checked out five years ago and is resigned to get paid a lot of money for the best season tickets in the house. He is clueless on the sidelines and is nothing more than a face for the program. He never even bothers with wearing a headset and had no idea that his best player on defense got ejected from a game!!! (see Darnell Dockett) The biggest issue for Bobby Bowden on game day is whether he put enough sunblock on that day to protect himself from getting skin cancer (which is sort of pointless given the huge lid he's got resting on the dome of his). I give the man credit he has built quite a tradition there at FSU but don't tell me he and his son Jeff are going to lead the Criminoles to the National title. (Don't forget you still need a kicker to beat Miami on Labor Day and also remember that if RON ZOOK could lead the Gators into Doak Campbell and win, what is Urban Meyer going to do there?).

As for the idiot that said "Roll Tide" shut up. This is what I hate about Alabama fans: always living in the past and whenever you try to talk sports they slowly put the beer down, let out a belch and yell "Roll Tide." Brodie is gone, Prothro isn't coming back this year (that is still the grossest thing I've ever seen in my life) and Mike Shula is still in charge of the offense (how many more screen passes are you going to call Mike?). I don't want to hear Roll Tide again this year.

I must admit I am a Gator fan and am hoping we can somehow make it out from our rediculous schedule alive but I am also realistic. My pick for a "sleeper" (if you can call it that) is Auburn. I like their team and their offensive coordinator is a genius (how else do you lose Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and Jason Campbell and manage to become BETTER on offense?)
Posted: 11:09 PM   by pbreeves
This one is for uofa druds:

Are you serious? Arizona won THREE games last year and you're picking them to be a sleeper? I"m sure you are a huge fan and sure they are making strides as a program but don't tell me they are ready to compete for a Pac-10 championship much less a national championship. They don't have the talent of USC, UCLA, Cal or Oregon plain and simple. You said it yourself by saying they have a tough schedule in the first month but to think they will go through it undefeated is hilarious and I'm sorry but there is nothing at Arizona which is "easily top 10 in the country." And one last thing: you know your team just flat out sucks when you list heat as one of the major reasons why you will be successful this year. Shoot for having a winning season and then you can talk to me about any type of championship.
Posted: 7:41 PM   by jimbeaux
a few things:
idaho has always stunk. and always will
alabama lost their QB and best defensive player. they will not go undefeated.
michigan is not that good, just like every year.
when has south carolina ever been good?
just because arizona won one game against a good team means nothing. try beating stanford and washington. then you can start talking big.

the two teams that i could see coming from outside the top 10 are:

utah-they went to and won a bowl game against a team that had beat this years sec favorite (auburn) in what was a rebuilding year. let's see how they do while not losing all their players

georgia tech-(i know they lost to utah) if they play up to their potential (beating auburn and miami, both on the road) every week, and they should because if they don't chan gailey is as good as fired, they could run the table. they probably won't but if they do they are pretty scary
Posted: 11:50 PM   by Nolest1
Wow. pbreeves sure sounds mad about something. Really, you're a gator fan? Couldn't tell from the fact that you spew nonsense and irrational thought from the first word. Ridiculous. Learn to spell also. Quite the education you got there in Gainsville. There is a perfectly good reason to expect great things from FSU this season. Neither Bobby or Jeff Bowden are expected to PLAY. Jeff Bowden's inept attempts at offensive coordinator are only surpassed by his Dad's determination to prove everyone wrong about his boy. You want to question Bobby Bowden? You're an idiot. I'm sorry. That's redundant. GatorFan, look that up in the dictionary. Assuming you own one.

Drew Weatherford and the offense are back. The defense lost four first rounders and STILL dominates. Watch and learn. Bobby Bowden has one more Championship in him before he decides to retire. As for Criminoles, that would stop if he'd STOP recruiting near Coral Gables.
Posted: 11:59 PM   by Nolest1
Oh, and btw, when you ask what Urban Meyer is going to do at Doak Campbell, I am reminded of the joke about Custer asking where "all of these Indians came from." The bologna has a first name, it's U-R-B-A-N. The bologna has a last name, it's M-E-Y-E-R........

No that doesn't sound right either.
Posted: 10:48 AM   by AgsLions
"I don't see a sleeper coming from the Big Ten based on the difficulty of schedules. Getting through that conference with only one loss is quite an accomplishment; there is very little margin for error." -- Amen, and yet another reason for a PLAYOFF system. Last year, we had to sit through a title game that contained two teams winning very weak conferences. Face it, the Big 12 (especially the North) and the Pac-10 were not strong in '05. If I were a Big Ten coach, and I went undefeated through that conference, I would be screaming if I was not picked for the BCS title game due to an early-season loss.
Posted: 3:04 PM   by pbreeves
Nolest1,

The next time I hear an FSU student accuse someone at UF of being below their level of IQ it will be the first. The last time I checked, the only requirement of getting into FSU was a driver's license. I sure hope the circus program at FSU is still on the cutting edge of the entertainment industry. So I misspelled a word while I was typing, you got me there, but that doesn't refute my claim that ever since Mark Richt left the program, your offense has been extremely inept at best. Rather convenient that Georgia has taken off ever since he took the job and FSU hasn't had a quarterback to speak of since. Sure the FSU offense has talent, I'm not denying that (although don't forget one of the top freshman in the country, Fred Rouse, is no longer with the team), I'm just denying the coaching staff's ability to do anything with it. Once again, it seems to me that Bobby Bowden has no real relationship with the team other than a paycheck and season tickets on the sideline. IF you get past Miami with a win, (not going to happen AT Miami) sure you might carve up your soft ACC schedule but you're not fooling anybody. Sooner or later bad play calling and coaching is going to catch up with you, even if it doesn't happen until the ass kicking that's coming your way on the 25th of November (a lot like the 34-7 debacle in the swamp last year).
Posted: 8:08 PM   by abomb
Michigan will lose at least 3 games this year and Lloyd will be fired. Iowa couldn't even beat Iowa State last year with a better team than this year. Nebraska who has been very average for a few years now could step out with their weak Big 12 schedule and walk into the BCS. I think South Carolina could take that next step and surprise a lot of people. I'm seeing one of these five in championship. Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida.
Posted: 12:35 AM   by Nolest1
pbreeves,

The first time an FSU student accuses a Gator of being stupid will be a first? Maybe. But it certainly shouldn't be the last. Apparently you're still pissed about losing Steve Spurrier, and then losing TO Steve Spurrier. Or maybe Gator fans are just naturally confrontational and argumentative. But that wasn't my point.

And try to denegrate FSU with your little "driver's license" jabs if you want. At least you need a driver's license at FSU.

You continue to attack a coaching legend. There's your mistake. All he's interested in is season tickets and salary? You're kidding right? The flipping place is NAMED AFTER HIM. Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. How difficult do you think it will be for him to get whatever vantage point to watch games after he retires? For as many people as he wants!

Grow up. I didn't say FSU would win the National Championship in 2006. I responded to a Vent on the SI site about who we think a good sleeper pick would be, given that a few of the eventual champions recently have started the season outside the preseason Top 10.

Get over your vitriol. You apparently didn't get the point of the blog. What if? You aren't even enough of a fan to pump up the Gators in this forum. You don't think the Gatros are even an outside favorite? Then I guess winning the little battles has become enough for you. God, the talking sports heads around here are right. 9-3 is okay in Gainsville. How depressing.

You remember when Steve Spurrier used to not so much worry about beating FSU? So long as his team was ready to play the SEC Championship game the following week? Because THAT was the goal? I do. The Ole Ball coach was 3-8-1 against FSU. And once the SEC Championship game came into being, he didn't care one bit.

You'll never be anythng more than bitter so long as you aim so low. And for the record, Urban Meyer's second year at a school is when his troops shine. I'm hoping that stat remains intact right up until Thanksgiving weekend. But as you are so fond of pointing out, he ain't in the Mid-America, or Mountain West conferences anymore. This is the by-God SEC. Be careful what you wish for.

See you in November.
Posted: 12:36 AM   by Jeff
Look for the South Carolina Game Cocks to jump on the Willie Wagon and surprise some people in the early season
Posted: 8:35 AM   by Tom Felice
CLEMSON, baby! That's right! The toothless Tigers from the Upstate of South Carolina look to regain their bite as a national juggernaut. Watch out 'Noles and Hokies, because it's the year of the Tiger! Slogan not applicable in Baton Rouge, Auburn, or Memphis!
Posted: 12:07 PM   by pbreeves
Nolest1,

Clearly you have misunderstood what I am saying about Bobby Bowden. He is a coaching legend, you're right. Surely top 5 coaches of all time if not THE best. All I am saying is that the man does nothing on the sidelines these days. He isn't even involved with the game enough to wear a headset for crying out loud. And I'll concede to you that we haven't been the same since Spurrier left (one only has to look at the record to see that) but we're on the fast track back no doubt. No 9-3 isn't good enough in Gainesville but by the way, has 8-5 become good enough in Tallahassee? Sure you made it to a BCS bowl but you can't tell me FSU was deserving of a BCS bowl last year. You lost to 3 unranked teams!! And another thing, how can you say Spurrier didn't care about beating FSU? I vaguely remember something about a 52-20 beat down in the Sugar Bowl in 1996 for the National Title. Don't tell me he didn't care.
Posted: 7:05 PM   by Nolest1
Alright, alright. Spurrier cared one bit about beating FSU. Maybe two or three bits. But clearly he didn't become a legend in Gainsville because of his record against the Seminoles. My point is that he knew that it was difficult, VERY difficult, for his players to be on top of their game two weeks in a row, the first week for that year's version of "Game Of The Century," and a week later for the SEC Championship. He said several times since the advent of the Championship game that he'd love to move the FSU game to earlier in the year. And given the choice between which tussle the Gators NEEDED to win more, the SEC game was obvious. I'm not saying he threw the FSU game. Please.

Anyway, I was just passing through when I originally decided to get into this discussion. The preseason pundits have spoken, or are about to. UF is in everyone's top 5 or 10. Miami and FSU are hanging just outside because you shouldn't completely discount either team. At least not in the last 20 years. My honest opinion is that The U may have some struggles with all of their new offensive staff, (not to mention suspensions!) and that, yeah, the Noles COULD play in the Championship game. Several things have to happen.

The offense has to show up. Fred Rouse won't be missed. We won a championship AFTER telling Randy Moss thanks, but no thanks. And Fred is NO Randy Moss. Acted more like Terrell Owens, but that's beside the point. This offensive unit MUST act like it is maturing together. Jeff Bowden, I've heard, has spent time with offensive coordinators from the NFL. I'm not sure what that means. But the unit has to execute, no matter who calls what. And PB, I'd just as soon Bobby left the headset off. Every time I see him with them on, you can be assured you're going to see an I formation backfield. And I'm not sure the Puntrooskie is even legal anymore.

Secondly, the defense MUST play like it did against Va Tech, and Penn State. From game 1. Especially from Game 1. Nobody need ne reminded of the recent (15 years!!) history of heartbreak in Tallahassee that is FSU/Miami. I know someone is wondering why this game is number one on the schedule. Personally I think it steals a potentially thrilling and entertaining showcase college game and turns it into a disorganized schoolyard fracas. These teams need to play a few before they go knocking heads. But it is what it is.

You see, PB, I have NEVER considered the Gators my arch enemy. Unlike so many of my old school Noles bretheren (and no, I'm NOT some stupid FSU student who only went there because I got turned away in Gainsville), I don't hold with the sense that UF is the evil empire. I have nothing but respect for the program, the tradition, the atmosphere, and the academic standards. Hell, I married a Gator, though I don't think she's a true Gator. She never made a peep after last year's debacle at The Swamp. A REAL gator would still be laughing.

Anyway, my angst has always been at the hands of those folks down in Coral Gables. Self infliceted wounds too, as everybody knows. Can't kick a damn field goal. Pretty sorry stuff. So the first thing I said is the first thing that has to happen. The offense has to step up and score enough to not leave it in the hands of fate, and whatever voodoo crap they have buried under the goal posts down at the Orange Bowl. We get past that game, yeah, we'll have more to chat about come Thanksgiving. Call it a weak ass conference. Call it whatever. You can't play Miami and Florida every week. You just can't. Georgia and Tennessee only come calling once a season I see.....then it's Middle Tennessee State and Western Michigan. We all know how this goes.

Much respect and good luck all. And PB, I'll see you over leftover turkey sandwiches! Oh, and one more thing. Stop picking on Bama fan. He's got enough to worry about since Forrest Gump has no eligibility left.
The only way ND loses a single game this year is if their defense has a complete meltdown. Brady Quinn will tear apart every defense he faces this year en route to the Heisman and a Nat'l Title. Jeff Samarzidja will also be a Heisman contender with the kind of numbers he'll put up.

My sleeper pick is the Boise State Broncos. As a resident of Boise I'm personally glad to see Dan Hawkins go to CU. He said he left because he wanted a challenge? Here's a challenge for him, make BSU the #1 team in the country! Anyways' I think Chris Peterson is a better coach and Jared Zabranski will be alot better passer than he was last year. And, with their schedule, BSU could very well go undefeated. Look for them to make the BCS.
Posted: 12:53 PM   by bandyk
What a devout Michigan fan!?
This True Blue Fan does not see a loss at South Bend or anywhere. The team has talent, maturity, new ideas and the greatest tradition in football to run the schedule. Look back at the 1997 National Championship team, horrible year prior, then ran the schedule.
Posted: 8:41 PM   by Hoyasaxa
ND, Michigan, OSU and PSU are all going to lose 2 games apiece (at least).

ND will lose at USC and to Michigan, and probably to MSU again. PSU will lose to ND and OSU. tOSU will lose to Michigan and at Iowa. Michigan will lose to Iowa and at Penn State.

tOSU beats Texas.

Iowa will be the sleeper this year.

Who will they play in the NC game?

USC.
Posted: 3:35 PM   by kevin
The real sleeper is Penn State. They have a favorable schedule as far as climbing from the way too low ranking they will start with. They will make a splash on the national stage against Notre Dame and then carry the momentum on to Ohio State where they have a chance to win another close game. As usual the Michigan is dependent on how many calls little blue gets and how timely those calls are than what happens on the field. Penn State will again field the best offense and defense in the conference featuring the best LBing corps in the country for the third straight year to go with Big Ten player of the year Anthony Morelli who throws to the league's best recieving corps.
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