1. In his "visiting lecturers" series posted on Every Day Should Be Saturday over the past few months, Orson Swindle asked each participant to explain which country, during which historical period, their team most resembles. Let's bring everything up to the present day and ponder: Which current sovereign nation is your team? Or to look at it another way, how does your team fit into the "world" of college football?
My first inclination was that Boston College is Ireland, but ultimately decided that is too cliché. Let's take this in another direction ...
Boston College is the Czech Republic. We have moved from the dull, dreary life of Big East football (read: communism and the eastern bloc) to the promise of progress that is the Atlantic Coast Conference. Joined the European Union in 2004, bitches. Yep, I just took a shot at Big East football, but when you think about it, some of those schools DO resemble these former Eastern bloc countries, don't they?
St. Vitus Cathedral or Gasson Hall?
We take our football (football in the US, soccer there), ice hockey and beer drinking very seriously. Na zdraví!
Annually underrated, no one expects much from the Czech Republic. We're not Top 25 in national GDP, but we fall just outside and are moving up in the rankings!
You can count on us to win 8-10 games a year and beat some 2nd tier team in a bowl game, but don't ask us to win the big game that gets us over the hump and into the next round.
Some years our football program bubbles up and has a great year or two, but if our football team actually made the BCS National Championship Game, the rest of the world would have a collective coronary. Little Czech Republic, never!
2. Every preseason roundup has to have some discussion of who's overrated, but let's go beyond that. Which team do you think is poised to crap the bed in the biggest way this season relative to high expectations, and which game do you think will begin their slide into ignominy?
The no-brainer choice here is Clemson, but we won't throw our ACC Atlantic brethren under the bus just yet. Instead, let's go with Oklahoma. We'll predict that Oklahoma's BCS bowl woes finally extend out into the regular season with a loss to TCU on September 27. If the Horned Frogs don't upend the Sooners, look for Oklahoma to crap the bed with back-to-back home losses to Texas and Kansas in early October.
3. On the flip side of that coin, which team do you think is going to burst out of nowhere to become 2008's biggest overachiever -- this year's version of Kansas '07, as it were -- and what's going to be the big upset that makes us all finally sit up and take notice of them?
Even though my feelings on the Big Ten are pretty clear, this year's Kansas could very well be Michigan State. The Spartans lost six games in 2007 by a combined 31 points. So long as they get past a trip to Berkeley to open the season, they could very well be 7-0 going into a home game against Ohio State on October 18. I'm not going to be as bold to predict a Spartan upset of the Buckeyes in East Lansing, but the games that get the college football collective up in their seats and excited about Spartan football are back-to-back wins on October 25 (against Michigan in the Big House) and November 1 (at home against a ranked Wisconsin team).
The Spartans end up finishing the season 10-2. Ohio State is off to the BCS National Championship yet again, so Michigan State takes the obligatory Rose Bowl slot vacated by the Buckeyes and plays in their first Rose Bowl since 1988.
4. Here's an "I'll hang up and listen" question. I put Ohio State and Oklahoma #1 and #2, respectively, despite their recent high-profile BCS face-plants. Where did you rank those two teams, and did those BCS issues have anything to do with it?
We placed the Buckeyes at #8. This ranking had less to do with their blowout losses in the BCS National Championship games the last two seasons and more with us being bearish on Big Ten football (see above). Oklahoma is our #1 team from the Big XII but had them ranked at #5. On paper, the Sooners look very strong, but we are predicting a loss or two in the Big XII (again, see above) or even a major upset by the Mountain West Conference's Horned Frogs.
5. Last season was a statistical outlier in countless ways, not the least of which was the fact that we ended up with a two-loss team as national champion. Do you think anyone plays a strong enough schedule to get MNC consideration as a two-loss team this year? Conversely, do you see anybody managing to sail into the national-championship game undefeated?
If there's a team that has two losses going into the national championship, it's going to have to be a team from a conference with a conference championship. Not only will that team have to come from the ACC, Big XII or SEC, but this team will have to win that conference championship and have lost those two games during the regular season.
Since the SEC is the strongest of those three conferences, I'm going to go with Auburn as a potential two-loss national champion. Their schedule is downright brutal – back-to-back September home dates with No. 7 LSU and No. 18 Tennessee, a Thursday night game at No. 8 West Virginia in October, and No. 1 Georgia in late November followed by the Iron Bowl at No. 24 Alabama. If Auburn can beat LSU, Alabama and one of Tennessee/Georgia, but come up short against the Mountaineers, if they win the SEC championship, they could go to the BCS National Championship.
On the flip side, the winner of the September 13 matchup of Ohio State vs. USC could easily run the table and end up in the National championship. I don't really see anyone else from the BCS conferences going undefeated this season. Either BYU or Utah could go undefeated out of the Mountain West, or Fresno State in the WAC, but I don't think any of their schedules is strong enough to get a spot in the national championship game.
6. OK, time for some Olympic fever. Which athlete from the Beijing Olympics -- any sport, any country, with the exception of USA basketball since those guys are already pros -- would you most want to add to your team's roster this season? No worries about age, eligibility, or even gender; we'll worry about that crap later.
The easy choice here is Jamaican sprinter phenom Usain Bolt. Throw him in on kickoffs, as a third or fourth option at wide out, or even on options, redirects and trick plays and I'm sure he would excel in a Steve Logan offense.
But instead, we'll go with the United States men's decathlete (and gold medal winner) Bryan Clay. The Eagles will be fairly inexperienced in the special teams specialist positions this year. We could easily throw Clay in at either starting punter or placekicker. Heck, if this guy can run the 100m in 10.35 seconds, throw a discus 55 meters, or pole vault 5+ meters, why not add to this list handling Eagle punting duties and hitting 45 yard field goals?