Sunday, August 28, 2011

Predictions from the Rev

“Those who have knowledge, don't predict. Those who predict, don't have knowledge.”
          -Lao Tzu, circa 550 B.C.

"Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window."
          - Peter F Drucker, 1987

Here we go, time to dazzle and amaze you guys with my predictions for the upcoming season.  I'm going to do this in 4 sections:
  1. Conference Winners, minus the SEC
  2. SEC-Specific
  3. National Title Winner
  4. UGA-Boise State
Some of the following prognostications are well researched and thought out.  Others, not so much.  So with the two quotes above serving as my inspiration, here goes nothing.........

Conference Winners
* WAC- The WAC has had some defections the past couple of years, leaving only 8 teams in the conference for 2011.  Of those 8, this is seen as a dead heat between Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii.  However, Nevada gets both of the other two at home, and since I know nothing further about any of them, that's the difference in my mind.
Rev's Pick - Nevada

* Sun Belt - Troy has won or shared 5 straight titles.  Who am I to argue with success?
Rev's Pick - Troy

* Mountain West - I read somewhere last week that Boise State and TCU have combined for only 5 total losses the past 3 years, and 2 of those were to each other.  I don't care what conference you play in, that is ridiculously impressive.  However, this will be the first and only year that they compete in the same conference (Boise just arrived from the WAC, and TCU heads to the Big East next year).  They say defense wins championships, and Gary Patterson is a defensive genius, so despite having to travel to Boise, he gets my vote.
Rev's Pick - TCU

* MAC - Even in trying to research this one, nobody seems to have a clue who the most likely teams are to win the conference.  So I'll give you a quick anecdote instead.  You may have seen a commenter on here by the name of "haffy7281".  He and I used to work together, and the guy who sat between us was a Central Michigan grad.  We used to give that guy all sorts of grief about not having a decent team to cheer for (to his credit, he was always a good sport about it).  One day though, we decided that all of the maladies UGA has experienced the last 3 years can be traced to what we termed "The Curse of the Chippewas".  If you'll recall, we played Central Michigan the 2nd game of 2008, and waxed them 41-7.  Pretty much everything since has been downhill, so it seemed like a pretty good cause/effect relationship to us.  Therefore, in hopes of somehow appeasing the college football gods and trying to break the curse, I'll go with the the mighty men of maroon and gold.
Rev's Pick - Central Michigan

* Conference USA - Houston is excited that Case Keenum was granted a 6th year of eligibility due to missing most of last year with a torn ACL.  However, their defense stinks.  Actually, a lot of the defenses in this league are pretty weak, as Conference USA has become what the WAC used to be....all offense, all the time.  UCF impressed me as a solid, all around ballclub in the bowl game though.
Rev's Pick - Central Florida

* Big East - Every expert out there is predicting West Virginia to not only win, but pretty much dominate the conference this year.  I'm telling you though, Dana Holgorsen is a loose cannon.  It's been confirmed that he had to be escorted out of a casino for getting too rowdy, and there are other rumored similar incidents out there, not to mention the fiasco that led to him becoming head coach to start with (that wasn't his fault, but craziness seems to find him)......this all before he's coached a single game.  He may be a genius, but who knows if he's going to keep himself out of trouble from one day to the next.  So just to be a contrarian.....
Rev's Pick - USF

* Pac 12 - Unless the NCAA drops the hammer and makes them ineligible, it's pretty hard to pick against the Ducks.  Chip Kelly's got some issues on his hands, but the dude can coach.
Rev's Pick - Oregon

* Big 10 - I'll refrain from any comments about the division names or the number-defying conference name.  Even with all it has been through, Ohio State is still loaded with talent this year, and I think they will have a better year than most people expect.  However, there's only one program that looks solid from top to bottom right now.
Rev's Pick - Wisconsin

* Big 12 - Again, no comments about mathematically challenged conference names.  It's become the en vogue thing the past couple of weeks to say that Oklahoma is overrated.  Consider me non vogue.
Rev's Pick - Oklahoma

* ACC - Florida State sure is getting a lot of love for a program that hasn't had less than 4 losses in the past 6 years, and hasn't seen less than 3 losses in the past 10 years.   Until I see it on the field, I'm not ready to buy it yet.
Rev's Pick - Va Tech

SEC Predictions

* The SEC's Streak of BCS Championships Comes To An End - It can't go on forever, it just can't.  And of course, if it does happen where no SEC team wins it all, and especially if no SEC team makes the title game, we'll be subjected to article after article about how the pendulum is now swinging back, and parity will be the new norm.  Then the SEC will go on to win something like 3 of the next 5 National Titles.

* The BCS Title Game Will Not Have An SEC School - Again, it can't go on forever.  And the reason the SEC will not make the title game this year is because....

* The SEC Champion Will Have 2 Losses - I expand on this below

* UGA Will Beat the Gamecocks and the Gators - But Won't Win the East - I consider this the boldest of my predictions.  I do think we win both of these games, but I think we will find a way to lose 2 of our other conference games.

* South Carolina Will Win The East With an 11-1 Record - The 'Cocks strike me as a team that is badly in need of a wakeup call.  Their players were all over the police blotters the past few months, and their offseason has reminded me of UGA's 2008 preseason where the players seemed to start believing all the hype a little too much and lost focus.  If you've seen the pictures of Alshon Jeffery, he seemed more focused on eating this summer than anything, though his more recent pics look better.  Garcia's antics are well chronicled.  But when they are all healthy and focused, there's no team in the conference that has a trifecta on offense like Garcia, Jeffery, and Lattimore.  And their defense is always solid.  Like I said though, I think they're going to need a wakeup call to regain that focus, and I think that wakeup call will come with a loss to us.  From there though, I see them regrouping and running the table.  Like UGA, they dodge both LSU and 'Bama this year, so their schedule sets up well.

* 'Bama Will Win The West With A 10-2 Record - I could even see this coming down to a tiebreaker scenario with either Arkansas or LSU.  But with Knile Davis being out for the year for Arkansas, and the recent developments with LSU, it's hard to pick either of those two to win the West.  I have nothing but respect (ok, and a little hate) for Nick Saban, but don't see a national title run in the cards for them this year.

* 'Bama Will Beat South Carolina For the SEC Title - this is gonna be a heartbreaker for the 'Cocks.  At 11-1, they will be poised to have a shot at getting into the BCS Title Game if they win the SECCG, and their fans are going to be clucking like they've never clucked before (and that's saying something).  But Saban will have his troops focused and ready for victory.

BCS Championship

* Oklahoma Defeats Wisconsin - Like I said above, I think Oklahoma is legit, and their schedule shapes up decent for a title run.  What will probably be their 2 most difficult games will both be on the road - FSU on Sept 17th, and Oklahoma State to close the season - but both of those are winnable.  Texas is in the middle of a pretty major transition, Texas A&M has to come to Norman, and the rest of the conference is not very impressive. Even if they end up with 1 loss, I think the Sooners have a great shot at getting into the title game.  Wisconsin has to go to Penn State and Nebraska, but gets Ohio State and Michigan State at home, and nobody else looks good enough to beat them.  I can see them winning 3 of those 4 games, then winning the inaugural Big 10 Championship Game to propel themselves into the BCS Title Game as a one loss team.  In the end though, Oklahoma will be too much for them to handle.

UGA vs Boise State
Now the moment we've all been waiting for.  I've thought and thought about this.  It's one thing to make predictions about your favorite team when you're just emailing back and forth with your buddies, but it's a little different when you are putting it out there for literally thousands tens of people to read (hey, we're growing, at least we have "tens" of people coming to the blog now!).  There's so much optimism that has been flowing around the program this year.  Of course, one might actually label that as Preseason Homerism (h/t Blutarsky).  But the attitude and focus do, at least on the surface, seem to be better.

Here's my deal though.......yes, I think a lot of good changes have been made, and yes, I think the changes will bear fruit (see my prediction of beating SC and FL above).  But fruit doesn't grow immediately, and the team is going to have to overcome a mindset of not showing up for big games that has been ingrained for 3 years now.  How many times have we seen the guys come out and look like they're just going through the motions in the early part of a game?  We have occasionally fought back admirably, but had just dug ourselves too deep of a hole, and couldn't close the game at the end.  The one big game I do think the guys showed up for from the beginning of the game was last year's Florida game, but the guys were SO amped that they played out of control, and still ended up in a hole.

To win this game, we have to come out with our foot fully on the gas pedal, but with firm control of the wheel.  That comes with confidence, and fully believing that you are going to win.  Not in a cocky way, but in a totally self assured, I-know-I'm-better-than-you-and-I'm-going-to-prove-it way.  If we do come out and hit Boise State in the mouth from the beginning, and don't let up throughout the game, I have no doubt that we can not only win, but win convincingly.  But I ask you this....when is the last time you can remember us coming out and playing like that?  I'll answer for you.  It was Jan 1st, 2008, the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii.  That was a LONG time ago.  Since then, it's been a consistent pattern of playing tentatively, cautiously, disinterested, or some combination of the three like we saw in the bowl game against UCF.  It's a huge jump to go from where we were mentally at the end of last year to where we need to be to win this game.

I see this game playing out like Boise State's victory over Va Tech last year.  I can see our guys being a little too amped up for the game, making some early mistakes that allow BSU to jump out to a pretty big early lead, then BSU being able to withstand a furious rally from us at the end.  On the plus side, I would rather see us fall behind because the guys are too amped than because they just decided to not show up at the beginning of the game.  But we are going to have to learn to control that energy, and I think this game will go a long way toward teaching that to the players, and they will be able to apply those lessons against SC the following week.  We're still a very young team, so to be able to handle that energy in Week 1 is going to be a tall order.  In the end, I'm calling it Boise State 27, UGA 23.

Incidentally, combined with the 2 losses I predicted for us in the SEC Predictions section of this post, I'm picking us to go 9-3 this year, with a shot at double digit victories in the bowl game.  And if that happens, I would be happy with that, and I think it would be a solid step in the right direction for Richt.  Even though we pick up Alabama in 2012, if we can make some positive strides this year, I think we will be in for a special year in 2012.

Well folks, that's it.  LC and SimpleMan will be forthcoming with their predictions in the next couple of days.  I plan on keeping the posting to a minimum the next few days so that our predictions don't get pushed too far down, and people can give their input.  We've started seeing a bit more commenting activity, but would love to see more.  Please chime in with your thoughts, let me know how terrible my picks are, and offer some of yours.  I look forward to the responses!


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