Updated Predictions on Ohio St, Wisconsin and North Carolina
Since my magazine went to press in early May there have been three significant changes in college football and three of the most popular questions asked of me on facebook and twitter concern North Carolina, Ohio St and Wisconsin.
I will address these three teams and my updated outlooks on each team in today’s blog. First, I want to say that many magazines and publications specifically websites/writers when predicting the conferences this upcoming season have two advantages over my publication and the other three publications that go to press in May (Athlon, Lindy’s, Sporting News). First, when these writers make their predictions in July/August they are reading the material/information from the already published magazines and have our predictions right in their hands. All of the countless hours we spend coming up with our picks and forecasts are now there at their fingertips to go off of. Second, they also have the advantage of having the latest news/rosters/transfers and happenings. Let’s face it a lot can happen in a 3-month period in college football especially with recent history.
For example, last year I was blind-sided with both USC and North Carolina as the NCAA hit both teams hard after my magazine was sent to press. USC was my pick to win the Pac-10 last year before scholarships were taken away, players transferred and a bowl ban was set in place. I also had North Carolina picked much higher than other publications because they had the most talented defense in the country only to have nearly a dozen players suspended for much of the season. Because I had both these teams picked higher than my competitors and with a few surprise victories by some teams I though less highly of, I did not finish 2010 as the most accurate magazine for the season (over 13-years still #1).
Despite these factors going against me, which is much like me showing my poker hand and still trying to win or spotting the competitors a touchdown lead to start, I still strive to be the most accurate college football publication on the market and my goal every year is to win the season championship and hold on to the cumulative year title.
This year there have been two major head coaching changes since early May in Jim Tressel at Ohio St and now Butch Davis at North Carolina being let go plus one of the top QB’s in the country in Russell Wilson has decided to transfer to Wisconsin.
I’ll start off with Ohio St. Since my magazine went to press not only has Jim Tressel stepped down but also QB Terrelle Pryor decided to forego his senior season. Despite these factors I still have Ohio St tied atop the Leaders division for a couple of reasons. While losing Tressel will hurt, the Buckeyes do have a veteran coaching staff that has spent several seasons together. The loss of Pryor is less of an issue because he already was going to be suspended for the first five games and I thought they would probably have QB controversy on their hands when he came back for the 6th game but now that major distraction can be avoided. They still host Wisconsin and Penn St late in the year after the suspended players return and provided there are no more players suspended or bowl bids being taken away, I still have the Buckeyes going to the first Big Ten title game.
In the preseason magazine, I picked Wisconsin in a first place tie with Penn St and Ohio St but that was before Russell Wilson transferred there. Last year Wilson threw for 3,563 yds with a 28-14 ratio while also adding 435 rush yds (3.0) and 9 more td’s. He moved in to 2nd place in ACC history in total td’s with 93 (trailing only Phillip Rivers) and now joins a talented Badger backfield with a 1-2 punch of RB’s Ball and White. DC’s in the Big Ten will now have to prepare for not only Wilson’s great scrambling ability but he is a very accurate thrower as well and has the NCAA record for most passes without an int (379). It’s been a long time since Wisconsin had a running/passing threat at QB and that will make them even more dangerous. But remember they have to travel to an underrated Michigan St team who beat them last year and also travel to Ohio St later in the year with the Buckeyes looking for revenge from their only loss last year. Even with Wilson I still have Wisconsin tied at the top of the Big Ten Leaders division.
While the other two teams don’t change my predictions with the recent news that is not the case with North Carolina with the recent firing of Butch Davis. In the magazine I picked NC tied for 2nd in the Coastal Division but now they would probably be picked for 3rd or even 4th. The reason for this is the firing is so close to the season and the interim coach Everett Withers has no previous HC experience. It also seems like the program is in a bit of chaos right now and I think it will be tough for the players and coaches to come together and prepare accordingly for the upcoming season.
Another question I often get throughout the late summer is why do I not release an up-to-date magazine with all the changes. First, hundreds of thousands of people buy my magazine in late May and early June and if I were to put out another magazine later in the year it would be unfair to those customers who paid for my first magazine. Plus the costs would be exorbitant and with different forecasts and predictions I would be hedging my bets. I do have an updated list of all the players gone, transferred or out for the year with injury and will be featuring on blog on this next Thursday.