Progress Report

Syracuse marching band 1990With luck, many of you have forgotten some of the bold predictions I made about the 2009 college football season.  In case you want to indulge in some schadenfreude, though, my preseason picks can be found on the July 25th post, entitled “Tom’s Top 25”.

Yes, I selected Virginia Tech and Oklahoma to finish #3 and #4, respectively.  At the midpoint of the season, it now appears that neither will be playing in one of the multimillion-dollar BCS bowls.  Oklahoma in particular seems destined to be headed for one of those bowls that pays bus fare to its participants.  The Sooners are playing stout defense, but the injuries to QB Sam Bradford have seriously harmed their chances of finishing anywhere near the top ten.  Virginia Tech’s prospects are somewhat better, mainly because its remaining schedule doesn’t include Alabama or Georgia Tech, which have already thumped the Hokies.

You’ll notice, by the way, that I predicted top-10 finishes for both Alabama and Georgia Tech.  Midway through its schedule, the Crimson Tide looks solid — at least, the defense and the running game does.  If some team figures out how to stuff RB Mark Ingram and forces Alabama to pass, though, the chance for an undefeated season evaporates.  Based on its remaining schedule, I’m sticking with Georgia Tech to wind up highly ranked.

Please accept my apologies for including Mississippi, California, and Georgia in my preseason list of contenders.  For some reason, Mississippi insists on mis-spelling its nickname as “Ole” Miss, rather than Ol’ Miss.  Either way, it’s starting to look like Same Ol’ Miss, which is to say — not championship caliber.  Cal was so awful against Oregon and USC that it will be hard for the Golden Bears to climb back into the polls.  Georgia, meanwhile, has lots of fumbles and interceptions to explain its unexpected mediocrity.

Admit it:  None of us saw Cincinnati coming, especially since it had only one defensive starter returning from 2008’s 11-win squad.  The Bearcats’ schedule gets easier the rest of the way, but the recent injury to QB Tony Pike may cause trouble for them.

Other than yours truly, most prognosticators had no preseason love for Pittsburgh (currently 6-1), Iowa (7-0), and West Virginia (5-1), but those success stories go to show that I’m not always wrong.  Of course, none of us gave Houston any reason for hope, either, and the Cougars appeared in the first BCS rankings at #17.

We all had Florida and Texas as the top two teams, and it still might turn out that way.  Or it might not.  The things I’m sure of are a) so far, no team in the country has demonstrated that it is clearly superior to the rest, and b) come December, I’ll have more rationalizations and excuses for why things didn’t turn out the way I said they would last July.

And that, my friend, is the kind of personal touch you just don’t get with ESPN or Sports Illustrated.

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