2008 College Football Preview
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Last season began with a stunner, as Appalachian State won at Michigan — and the upsets just kept coming. Stanford beat USC in possibly the largest point-spread upset in history. South Florida was no. 2 in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings of the season. Missouri and Kansas played a game with major national-title implications. West Virginia blew a berth in the national title game by losing at home to a four-touchdown underdog. LSU lost its 12th game — its second loss of the year — and won the national title. Ohio State lost its 11th game — and still reached the BCS title game. Scholarship limits and the proliferation of the talent-neutralizing spread offense would suggest that similar results are to be expected this season.
Will 2008 end with an upstart such as Missouri or Clemson accepting the BCS championship trophy? Both could be out of the running after tough openers on September 30. Will this be the year Ohio State breaks through? The SEC might once again have something to say about that. If last year was any indication, about the only safe assumption is that the story line will change every single week.
Last year was the ultimate season for haters of Notre Dame, as the Irish staggered to a 1-9 start before winning their last two. The size of Charlie Weis’s contract probably kept him off the hot seat in 2007, but another such campaign won’t be tolerated in South Bend. The good news is that Weis continues to reel in top-notch talent, and this year’s schedule is considerably easier, making a bowl a real possibility.
New Faces, New Places
Coaches are college football’s marquee stars. There were plenty of big names on the move during this offseason, as two of the sport’s Tiffany jobs were open (Michigan and Nebraska). Here’s a look at the most significant hires:
- Arkansas: Bobby Petrino (from Atlanta Falcons)
- Michigan: Rich Rodriguez (West Virginia)
- Mississippi: Houston Nutt (Arkansas)
- Nebraska: Bo Pelini (LSU defensive coordinator)
- Texas A&M: Mike Sherman (Houston Texans offensive coordinator)
- UCLA: Rick Neuheisel (Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator)
Tebow = Griffin?
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow made Heisman history in 2007 as the first sophomore winner. But don’t assume he’s going to join Archie Griffin as the trophy’s only two-time honoree. All the short-yardage running Tebow did last season (23 rush TDs) left him battered and ineffective in the critical loss to Georgia. Look for coach Urban Meyer to limit his carries this fall. Here’s a look at some other Heisman hopefuls:
- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
- Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri
- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
- Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State
- Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Our pick? Wells.
Two years ago, the NCAA attempted to speed up games with a foolish set of clock rules. The new system was so reviled that it was scrapped after a single season. For 2008, common sense has prevailed and the NCAA has opted to go with an NFL-style 25/40-second play clock, which should help ensure a consistent pace of play. As well, the clock will be restarted after certain out-of-bounds plays. The net result should shave a few minutes off those 3:30 marathons, without leaving loopholes such as the one Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema so infamously exploited in 2006.