2010 College Football Predictions

Jan 1, 2010; Pasadena, CA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes players huddle before the 2010 Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks. Photo via Newscom

Conference winners, sleepers, power rankings and one big, fat national championship prediction.

Enjoy.

Big Ten

Champion: Ohio State
Yes, it’s true – the Buckeyes need Terrelle Pryor to be more consistent in the passing game this year if they expect to win a national championship. But stop acting like that’s the difference between OSU winning the Big Ten and them turning into Vanderbilt. Choke on this for a second: The Buckeyes return all three leading rushers from 2009 in Pryor, Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, the secondary features three senior NFL prospects, and they own the best defensive end in the nation in Cameron Heyward. Pryor is also coming off a dominating performance against Oregon in the Rose Bowl and reports state that he has committed himself this offseason to being a better teammate. Sorry Buckeye-haters, but the gap between them and Alabama is closer than you think.

Conference Champion Sleeper: Michigan Slate
My biggest concern with the Spartans is that despite pulling off an upset nearly every year, they also manage to lose a game they shouldn’t. But they have a slew of playmakers and plenty of depth on both sides of the ball, plus feature a ton of offensive firepower in Larry Caper, Edwin Baker, Keith Nicol and Mark Dell. Oh, and linebacker Greg Jones is the best defender in the nation. If this team can avoid being tripped up by an inferior opponent, they could easily surprise this season.

Conference Power Ranking: #1 Ohio State, #2 Iowa, #3 Wisconsin, # 4 Penn State, #5 Michigan State, #6 Northwestern, #7 Michigan, #8 Purdue, #9 Illinois, #10 Indiana, #11 Minnesota.

I admit that I had Michigan rated too high when I did my Big Ten preview last week. Having any sort of trust in Rich Rodriguez right now is a dangerous proposition for obvious reasons. Just when you think he’s going to figure things out in Ann Arbor, he makes a decision to muck everything up. Penn State might be ranked a little high given their quarterback concerns. Wisconsin is going to give teams trouble this year and Northwestern is going to be a tough opponent every week as well.

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Oregon’s James sentenced to 10 days in jail

Oregon running back LaMichael James pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge on Friday and was sentenced to 10 days in jail according to a report by ESPN.com. James was originally charged after an altercation occurred outside his apartment last month between him and a former girlfriend.

In a statement that was included in court documents related to the case, James apologized to the victim, a former girlfriend. She claimed he grabbed her neck and pushed her to the ground during an argument on Feb. 15.

“I hope to put this matter behind me now and learn from it. I have made a mistake and accept the consequences,” the statement said. “I look forward to demonstrating to my university, to my team and to the community that I am a better man than recent events suggest.”

James rushed for 1,546 yards last season as a freshman, the ninth-highest total in the nation. He had seven consecutive 100-yard games before Ohio State limited him to 70 in Oregon’s 26-17 loss in the Rose Bowl.

Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was due in the same courtroom later today to face arraignment on a felony burglary charge. Apparently Masoli and fellow genius teammate Garrett Embry thought it would be fun to steal two laptops and a guitar from a university fraternity house in late January.

The Ducks are quickly becoming the Bengals of college football.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Rose Bowl

Big Ten champion Ohio State will square off against Pac-10 champ Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day at 4:30PM ET. Here are five things to watch for when the No. 8 Buckeyes clash with the No. 7 Ducks.As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the Sugar Bowl.

1. Oregon’s dynamic backfield vs. Ohio State’s physical defense
The Ducks’ offensive backfield features a running back in LaMichael James that rushed for 1,476 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 YPC, as well as a quarterback in Jeremiah Masoli that rushed for 659 yards and 12 TDs, while also completing 58.9 percent of his passes for 2,066 yards and 15 scores. Oregon can beat opponents in a variety of ways, but Ohio State’s defense limited the opposition to only 12.2 points and 262.5 total yards per game this season. The Buckeyes are one of five FBS teams that did now allow a 100-yard individual rushing performance this year and will test the fortitude of James, Masoli and one-time Hesiman candidate LeGarrette Blount. This should be a classic battle.

2. Terrelle Pryor’s (lack of) development as a passer
Pryor was considered the top high school recruit coming into the 2008 season and was supposed to quickly transform into one of the best college football players in the nation. But after showing flashes of brilliance as a freshman last year, Pryor has been criticized more than he’s been praised this season. Among other things, he started struggling with his accuracy and decision-making and some in the media wondered if he should move to another position due to his lack of development as a quarterback. Things came to a head in mid October when he lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions in an embarrassing loss to Purdue. But in his final five games, Pryor led the Buckeyes to five straight wins (including victories over Penn State, Iowa and rival Michigan) while tossing six touchdowns and only two interceptions. The problem is that he wasn’t asked to do too much either. If Oregon’s high-powered offense starts lighting up the scoreboard, can Pryor keep Ohio State in the ballgame with his arm or will his issues as a passer bury him and the Buckeyes? Better yet, can coach Jim Tressel figure out how to best use his athletic QB?

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The Official Rose Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Ohio State vs. Oregon

The Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes will battle the Pac-10 Champion Oregon Ducks in the 2010 Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. In order to help get you ready for the game, below is a viewing guide complete with TV information, kickoff times, odds and more.

2010 Rose Bowl Game Information
Matchup: Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2)
Kickoff: 4:30PM ET
TV: ABC
Odds: Oregon –3.5

Key Stats:
Ohio State comes into this game with the 19th best rushing offense in the nation, led by running backs Daneil “Boom” Herron and Brandon Saine, as well as quarterback Terrelle Pryor (who almost went to Oregon before deciding on OSU). The Buckeyes also have the fifth best run defense in country, the 17th best pass defense and are ranked fifth in both total defense and scoring defense.

Oregon has been an offensive juggernaut this season, averaging over 37 points (they rank seventh in the nation in scoring offense) and over 236 rushing yards per game (sixth in the nation). The backfield tandem of LaMichael James and Jeremiah Masoli has been tough to stop this season and the duo is aided with the return of one-time Heisman candidate LeGarrette Blount, who missed 10 games after serving a suspension. Defensively, the Ducks rank 32nd against the run and 37th against the pass.

The Bottom Line:
This game offers a great matchup between the Ducks’ sixth-rated rushing attack versus the Buckeyes’ fifth-rated run defense. But the key to victory might be whether or not the undersized, fast Oregon defense can match up to the physical (yet inconsistent) OSU offense.

Let the smack talk begin:

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Who will win the 2010 Rose Bowl?
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Kelly, Oregon come a long way to get to Pasadena

One could only imagine what went through first-year head coach Chip Kelly’s mind after he saw his thought-to-be high-powered offense rack up just 152 total yards in an embarrassing 19-8 loss to Boise State in Oregon’s opener this season. What went through his mind after he saw his star running back sock an opposing player in the face, shove his teammates when they tried to intervene, and then had to be restrained by police officers from going into the stands to fight fans is pretty easy to figure out:

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

But Kelly and the Ducks have come a long way from that loss and LeGarrette Blount’s psychotic episode. On Thursday night, Oregon edged out in-state rival Oregon State 37-33 in route to winning the Pac-10 and earning their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1994. Freshman tailback LaMichael James paved the way by gaining 166 yards on 25 carries and three scores, while quarterback Jeremiah Masoli completed 14-of-21 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown pass. He also rushed 10 times for 40 yards and picked up a big fourth down late in the fourth quarter by running over an overmatched Oregon State defender.

Blount, who missed most of the season after Kelly suspended him for his conduct after the Boise game, even chipped in 51 rushing yards on nine carries and also scored a third quarter touchdown. He ran like a kid trying to make up for lost time.

After things went so horribly wrong for his team in the opening week, Kelly could have succumbed to the pressure that most head coaches face in their first seasons. Instead, he dealt with the Blount situation by forcing the troubled running back to become a better student athlete and by not giving up on him. He then held his team together and led his team to an impressive 10-2 record.

For all his efforts, Kelly will have the opportunity to showcase what Oregon can do in the Rose Bowl in early January. He and the Ducks are one of the better stories of the 2009 college football season.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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