What’s longer: football season for football prediction season?
Every year, the summer soothsayers talk non-stop about what will happen in the fall. Finally, the mouths quick yapping and the pads start smacking.
That said, here’s a little bit more yapping, a few last-minute predictions:
•Madison County (4-6): The Red Raiders will improve on their 1-9 finish last season. If the Madison County offense finds a rhythm, the team could reach .500 and even exceed that. But Region 8-AAAA is super stout and wins won’t be easy.
•Georgia (8-4): This is a very vanilla pick. Predicting 8-4 is essentially saying, “not that good, not that bad.” But this will be a wild 8-4. Look for Georgia to start 2-0, surprising everyone in the Dome against Boise State and against South Carolina. Then, welcome the hype and a top-10 ranking. The Dawgs won’t handle this well and will fall to Mississippi State at home and Tennessee on the road. They’ll fall again to Florida (how can you pick anything else?), then they’ll drop their second-straight game against Auburn. After a four-game winning streak against Auburn, shouldn’t you expect Auburn to return the favor? So, will Richt return in 2012? Well, the debate will rage on during 2011, with the team doing better, but still not meeting the expectations of rabid fans. My prediction: Richt returns.
•SEC champion: Auburn. Many pundits are picking the defending national champions to finish next to last in the SEC West. But the Tigers return Michael Dyer and plenty of talent. They won’t be as potent offensively as they were with Cam Newton. But they’ll still move the ball under Gus Malzhan. And whatever they lose on offense, they’ll make up for with improved defense. This is traditionally a program that responds to naysayers quite well and performs poorly when they’re hyped.
•ACC champion: Miami. Well, they have Jacory Harris…OK, I’m kidding. I guess they’ll actually play football this year, but the scandal in South Florida is shocking. And now everyone realizes that the NCAA needs to send a message to help rein in all this corruption in the game. Prediction: Miami gets the death penalty, because NCAA president Mark Emmert finally gets too tired of all the criticism about the NCAA turning a blind eye to the seedy side of the sport … Oh yeah, the football — Florida State grabs the ACC title.
•Pac-10 champs: Probably Oregon, but I’m going with Stanford. They have Andrew Luck, who passed on being the number one pick in the NFL draft to remain a Cardinal.
•Big 12 champ: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have a lot of firepower. This will be their breakthrough season.
•Big East: South Florida proves that it will be the team of the future in south Florida.
•Big Ten: Nebraska steps on the stage and takes the crown as Ohio State buckles.
•National champion: Nebraska. It will look like old times with the Cornhuskers finally back on top.
•Atlanta Falcons: They’ll get to the playoffs, finishing 10-6. They’ll lose in the second round.
•Super Bowl champs: New England. The Patriots are always talented and due for another crown under Tom Brady.
OK, there’s a quick wrapup. Thankfully, we’ll soon see the truth on the field. The countdown to the end of prognostication season is almost over.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.