The 2013 NCAA football season is upon us. It seems like just yesterday when Alabama and Notre Dame were meeting for the national title which actually occurred on January 7th. I apologize to Fighting Irish fans everywhere for that reminder. So who will meet for the 2014 national trophy (that is of course except for most likely Alabama again)?
Perhaps it will be a member of the Big 12.
We will take a quick look at the oddly named Big 12 Conference, given there are only 10 members, beginning with the lower tier of teams and working our way to the top.
Kansas Jayhawk fans enjoyed all of one victory last year with “legend in his
own mind” Charlie Weis at the helm. To make matters worse, the one win came against South Dakota. The offense has a potential difference maker in running back, James Sims (jersey no. 29), who has run for 9 touchdowns in each of the last 3 seasons (27 total).The Jayhawks enter the 2013 campaign on a 21 game, Big
12 losing streak.
Both Iowa State and West Virginia were disappointments to Cyclone fans and Mountaineer fans respectively with Iowa State finishing 6-7 and West Virginia starting 5-0 only to go 0-5 before ending the season at 7-6. Gone is luckynumber 7, QB Geno Smith to the “Big Apple” NFL Jets.
TCU has the potential to surprise even their own Horned Frog fans this season. Much will depend upon how QB Casey
Pachall (#4) comes back from the personal issues he was forced to address last year.
Texas Tech has a new coach in Kliff Kingsbury who may find it tough to replace Tommy Tuberville. QB Seth Doege is
also gone making the task even more difficult. Red Raiders fans hope the defense can make up for a weak offense.
In the Lone Star State, Coach Mack Brown is on one of the hottest seats in college football. Longhorn fans won’t stand for
another 5-4 campaign. Whether Brown survives has everything to do with the play of Belton, Texas native QB David Ash
Another Big 12 coach will have his hands full this year, with him being Bob Stoops. Stoops is a well-respected presence on the Sooners sideline, but replacing QB Landry Jones and top WR Kenny Stills will be nearly impossible. Their replacements are Blake “Belldozer” Bell at quarterback wearing popular jersey number 10 and senior RB Damien Williams (#26).
The sky in Waco, Texas may be the limit for Bears fans if Baylor begins 2013 the way they ended 2012. Their 4 game winning streak at last years end included victories against Kansas State, Oklahoma State and UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.
Speaking of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, they have 7 of last year’s 11 starters returning on each side of the ball. They have perhaps the best pass defense in the conference and may be poised to make a run at the Big 12 crown if they can find stability at quarterback.
Finally, you have to like Kansas State to repeat as Big 12 champs. It won’t be easy after losing 10 players on defense
along with last year’s Heisman Trophy candidate QB Collin Klein. The main thing fans wearing the Wildcat jersey in Manhattan have going for them is the conference’s best coach in Bill Snyder who is entering his 22nd
In 2012, eight teams from the Pac 12 emerged with winning records. West coast NCAA college football fans can now look forward to better competition in general besides just that seen at USC and Oregon recently. Three quarters of the schools will be returning at least 15
starters and the same number (8) will have their starting QB back too.
Perhaps the days of the “Wild West” have returned.
Let’s first do a quick process of elimination as to which teams are definitely not the best.
Golden Bears fans will experience a rough road as California, winner of just 3 games last year have less talent in 2013.
That could make it one long journey for new coach Sonny Dykes.
Mike Macintyre is another new coach in the Pac 12 attempting to improve a herd of Colorado Buffaloes who had a single win
to their credit last season while ranking second to last in defense and dead last in offense.
Washington State Cougar fans were disappointed in Coach Mike Leach last season after he arrived with high
expectations following his departure from Texas Tech under questionable circumstances. His career mark leading the Red Raiders was 84-43; His first year in Pullman resulted in a 3-9 record (1-8 in the Pac 12).
Utah has no business even being in this conference! Next…
Now let’s proceed with teams that look like they will wind up in the middle of the “Pac”.
The other team in Washington, the Huskies, has a chance to make some noise with underrated senior QB, Keith Price (jersey number 17) throwing to 6’6”, 276 lb. highly rated TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (#88).
Arizona State could surprise some people including Sun Devil fans, but a brutal schedule is in the offing that includes
matchups with both Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Even with a tough slate of games this team is good enough to be bowl eligible in 2013.
UCLA will always have a chance to win with QB, number 17 Brent Hundley in the game. This baby faced sophomore threw for 3745 yards and 29 touchdowns as a freshman last year. The Bruins secondary is weak and their road schedule will not be easy to navigate.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey (#25) will “carey” the Arizona Wildcats as far as they are able to go in 2013. This will
more than likely be a low level postseason bowl.
We have now come to the cream of the crop in the Pac-12 this season. These 4 teams, in order from 4th to 1st
should comprise the upper third of the conference.
USC – Even with Coach Lane Kiffen calling the plays he won’t be able to stop USC from being good in 2013. They have so
much talent any true Trojans fan could lead them to victory. Eight wins should be attainable.
Stanford – The Cardinals have the best defense in the conference. If QB Kevin Hogan (jersey # 8) lives up to
expectations this should be a 10 win season.
Oregon State – Beavers fans were even surprised when their team won 9 games last year. Their defense might be shy of
Stanford’s overall quality, but at times is a turnover machine. Eleven wins is not an impossibility which could make for an interesting competition with another team that calls the Beaver State home.
Oregon – Look for the Ducks and their fans to happily be flying into Pasadena on New Year’s Day. An easy schedule and
continued good play by Hawaiian QB Marcus Mariota (#8) and RB De’Anthony Thomas (#6) should make up for the departure of Coach Chip Kelly to the NFL.
If you’re a Big 10 college football fan it’s time to plan your weekends around the conference gridiron schedule. Most of
the teams will begin their seasons on Saturday, August 31.
Minnesota – Golden Gopher fans may be taking their coach’s last name literally when asked what to do with Jerry Kill’s
program should it suffer another unsuccessful campaign. Minnesota was just 2-6 in the Big Ten last year and 6-7 overall.
Nines are wild when it comes to jersey numbers this year on both sides of the ball. The offense will be in the hands of
sophomore QB, #9 Philip Nelson. They also should have a capable power running game with 8 offensive linemen
The defensive line is also in good shape with 6’6”, 311 lb. Ra’Shede Hageman (#99) being asked to fill the void left by
Iowa – The Hawkeyes are without an experienced quarterback. The competition is between sophomore Jake
Rudock (#15) and JC transfer Cody Sukol (#19).
The defense should be solid but they lost their top pass rusher who, even with him, finished last in the Big Ten in sacks
with just 13 last year.
Michigan State – Mark Dantonio is a good enough coach to deliver 9 wins to Spartans fans even with 14
returning starters from a team that was 7-6 one year ago (3-5 Big Ten).
The running game is weak and the defensive line shaky, but an easy early schedule should help.
Nebraska – The offense IS quarterback Taylor Martinez. Twenty three TD’s through the air and 10
more rushing in 2012 is all you need to know about number 3.
A weak defense will make it rough for the Cornhuskers to duplicate their 7-1 2012 Big Ten record.
Northwestern – Wildcats fans were treated to their teams first bowl win in 64 years with the Gator Bowl win
vs. Mississippi State last year.
More good things will be in store on offense with the return of running back Venric Mark (#5).
The defense will need improvement, especially in the secondary to have another successful run.
Michigan – Wolverines fans expect to face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship and with good reason. QB
Devin Gardner (#12) is not the departed Denard Robinson, but he is capable of leading the Wolverines way. The defense is
Illinois - It looks like another long season for Fighting Illini fans. It appears as if Coach Tim Beckham doesn’t have a
clue what to do with the little talent left to him from Ron Zook.
Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhasse (#2) has a strong arm but no one to throw to.
Purdue - The Boilermakers don’t have the talent to compete this year. They have a capable QB and running backs on offense but no quality receivers.
The defense has many starters returning, but they’ll have to perform better than last year to give Purdue fans something
to cheer about.
Indiana – Hoosier fans will enjoy the teams’ very easy home schedule in Bloomington which should equal some wins, but
not much more, with a 3-way quarterback controversy and terrible defense.
Penn State – After enduring the horrible situation surrounding Jerry Sandusky, Nittany Lions fans deserve better and should receive it thanks to great coaching by Bill O’Brien and the running of “ZZ Top” Zack Zwinak (#28) if he can remain healthy.
Wisconsin – After 3 straight losses in the Rose Bowl, Badgers fans are looking to new Coach Gary Andersen to complete the job this year. Wisconsin’s best player is linebacker, Chris Borland who wears jersey number 44.
Ohio State - Clearly the best team in the Big Ten, Buckeye fans can enjoy a run to the “Roses” and beyond now that Ohio State is “bowl eligible” after last year’s sanctions. Another unbeaten season is likely, so let the party begin!
The Southeastern Conference has been triumphant in the last 7 BCS Championship games.
If you’re a SEC college football fan it’s time to plan your weekends around the conference gridiron schedule.
Most of the teams will begin their seasons on Saturday, August 31.
Even before the actual weekend hits, fans in the Carolinas will be afforded the opportunity to watch their teams
compete on Thursday night, August 29th. That is when the ACC NC Tar Heels meets SEC South Carolina in the season’s first contest. The affair will be held in Columbia, SC, but for those of you who prefer not to make the journey across
state lines, the game will be televised nationally on ESPN at 6ET. More good news according to Coach Steve Spurrier will have South Carolina Heisman hopeful, Jadeveon Clowney, on the field despite his recent injury in practice.
Before competing in head to head competition, the SEC will get the opportunity to exhibit just how good they are
on that initial Saturday against teams from other leagues. Once again Alabama Crimson Tide fans can tune their HD flat
screens or other assorted mobile devices to ESPN when the Tide collides with Virginia Tech at 5:30ET with the
game being played in Atlanta.
More “must see” SEC TV will follow pitting the Georgia Bulldogs against the Clemson Tigers.
Over the next two weeks early pivotal match-ups will occur between the University of Florida and Miami (Sept.7)
that any self-respecting Gator fans or Hurricane watcher won’t want to miss. An early inner SEC contest will be on that same day featuring South Carolina and Georgia.
On Sept.14 you’ll have Tennessee Volunteer fans travelling to the far northwest for an early test against Oregon. Perhaps
the most compelling game of the first month of the season will find last year’s BCS Champion Alabama Crimson Tide travelling to College Station, Texas to meet the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and now controversial Texas A&M Aggies QB, Johnny Manziel(#2)
Other matchups that SEC fans will not want to miss during the season Includes:
Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville on Nov.2
Ole Miss at Mississippi State Thanksgiving evening (11/28) once again brought to you by the “Worldwide leader in Sports”
(ESPN) and the Razorbacks of Arkansas/LSU rivalry on Fri. 11/29.
Don’t forget any of the 14 SEC teams that will be battling on a weekly basis including Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky
of the East Division and Auburn in the West.
Any one of them has a chance to appear in the SEC Championship game on Dec. 7 which concludes the 2013
regular schedule and sets things up for the postseason. If past history is any indication, you will want to have an authentic SEC jersey handy at the end of December and early January to display your college allegiance at whichever Bowl game your team is appearing.
Oh yes, another date to circle on your 2014 calendar is that of Jan.6 when the BCS Championship Game will
take place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
I love college sports, especially football. You may not always agree with me, but you will see I'm passionate.