2012 BCS Championship Gambling Predictions / NCAAF Handicapping
For those college football betting nuts out there, it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2011/12 BCS picture.
The list of contenders and pretenders for the upcoming season has some familiar faces as well as some long-dormant programs looking to burst back on the national title scene.
Here’s who looks to be in pole position this coming season, and which programs have some work left to do:
In 2010, OU proved decisively that its offensive attack is first-rate. Fearful news for Big 12 competition is that junior QB Landry Jones is returning for 2011-12. After Jones put up 4,718 yards, 38 TDs and a convincing win over outmatched Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl this season, he has Sooners fans quickly forgetting about Sam Bradford. There are more fantastic skill position players coming down the pipes from the recruiting trail, so if the OU ‘D’ can create turnovers, the Sooners will be very hard to beat.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Given the Tide’s wealth of talent, coach Nick Saban and Co. had a fairly disappointing season in 2010. Nothing stung worse than losing to hated rival (and eventual BCS champ) Auburn after leading by three scores at halftime. This coming season, ’Bama has something to prove. The Bear Bryant faithful will lose studs like DL Marcell Dareus, WR Julio Jones and RB Mark Ingram to the NFL Draft, but Alabama has enough depth and enough recruiting prowess to reload on the trot.
Florida State Seminoles
You better believe it, folks: FSU is on its way back to national prominence. The offense will lose starting QB Christian Ponder and a couple solid O-lineman, but QB E.J. Manuel played very well in Ponder’s injury absences and coach Jimbo Fisher has been stocking the shelves for the past couple seasons now. An excellent 2010-2011 recruiting haul only further cements FSU’s talent. The Seminoles’ speedy, aggressive, athletic defense is once again a factor in Tallahassee.
The Gators spent a good chunk of last season finding an identity, but you can never keep a program like this down for long. In a rare migration, Charlie Weis bolted from the NFL to become UF’s offensive co-ordinator; he brings in dynamic football/baseball ‘tweener QB Jeff Driskel to mold in his image. More crucial in the now, the Gators can choose between passing pivot John Brantley – who must continue to show improvement – and running threat Trey Burton, who registered 11 rush TDs as a freshman in 2010. The only marquee player Florida loses to the Draft is OL Mike Pouncey. Pouncey’s twin brother Maurkice was a starter on the Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers this season.
The Buckeyes have been the model for consistency in the Big Ten for several seasons now. Michigan has fallen off the map since the Rich Rod experiment, and only Wisconsin and Iowa have offered tangible threats to the Scarlet and Silver. To keep the torrid pace going, OSU must rebuild a depleted WR corps. Dynamic athlete DeVier Posey and rock-steady senior Dane Sanzenbacher are both gone. The Bucks always bring defense to the table, but they must re-stock the shelves after Cameron Heyward, Ross Homan, Brian Rolle and Tyler Moeller flew the coop. Head coach Jim Tressel also must deal with the suspension of QB Terrelle Pryor and other key veterans for several games.
It’s hard to discount a program like this that forcefully plays its way into the national discussion each year. The ultra-efficient, ultra-effective Kellen Moore will be back under center for the Broncos; so long as he’s there, Boise will have a successful attack. The Broncos lose some cagey veterans like DL Ryan Winterswyk, RB Jeremy Avery, K Kyle Brotzman and a pair of wideouts in Austin Pettis and Titus Young, but this team is especially adept and finding system guys to fill the void(s). True, most of Boise’s competitors are mid-major shrimps, yet BSU steps up when they play the big boys too. Don’t count them out.
The Huskers got a little derailed near the end of last season with injuries and the corresponding offensive sputters, but there’s a lot of buzz in Lincoln for 2011-12. For starters, Nebraska is making the move to the Big Ten. The storied program is looking to establish roots in the storied conference in a hurry, and with players like sophomore QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead, the Huskers just might do it. Martinez, Burkhead, WR Niles Paul and departing RB Roy Helu were all injuried at some point last season, when healthy Nebraska was combining their efforts with a stout defense to crush opponents early. If Martinez can stay healthy and show the dominance he had in the first half of 2010 (while continuing to improve his passing), the Huskers won’t be fun to play – because you know head coach Bo Pelini’s defense is going anywhere.
SOME WORK TO DO
The reigning BCS champs lose Heisman-winning QB Cam Newton, the man who almost single-handedly led the Tigers to the top spot. The Tigers also must replace some unheralded (yet crucial) offensive lineman. That formula doesn’t bode well for a program that leaned on Newton so much, played in so many close games in 2010 and plays in the razor-wire SEC.
As mentioned earlier with Florida, you can’t keep a good dog down for long, but the instant fix won’t be overnight in Austin. The Longhorns were pretty much awful last year, going 5-7 and 2-6 in Big 12 play. Texas always has the talent – recruited this season and already in the pantry – to improve quickly, but don’t expect an instant voila!
It’s true: future NFL star QB Andrew Luck is returning to Palo Alto. But the Cardinal lost head coach Jim Harbaugh, their master motivator. Luck, current NFLer Toby Gerhart and Harbaugh almost exclusively turned this program around in the Pac-10, but it won’t be the same without the skipper. One must hope Luck doesn’t hurt his draft chances with an injury or a diminished 2011 campaign (it’s hard to improve on his 3,338 yard, 38 TD performance of last season).
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James has been naming every player on the EA Sports NCAA video game rosters for half a decade now, he’s finally putting his knowledge to better use writing for us here at CappersPicks.com. As always you’re comments are welcome below…Give Us Your Take!