Monday, June 30, 2008

Getting Through July...

We are now entering the dullest of months in the sports world. NFL, NBA, and the NHL are all on hiatus. The Bigs are just getting to the halfway pole of its 162 game season. The Euro football tournament is done. Even the College World Series is wrapped up. So what better way to pass the time than to prognosticate. And if there's one thing I've found that gets the comment boards rolling, it's college football. So, without further delay, here's my take on the 3 Florida schools 2008 season.

First up, the Florida State Seminoles. Another disappointing finish in 2007, the 'Noles will be hoping on a relatively easy schedule to begin 2008 to get off to a quick start. FSU starts off with home games against Western Carolina, Chattanooga, Wake Forest, and than a "neutral site" game against Colorado in Jacksonville. Then comes the Miami game, and the Noles will travel south to face the 'Canes for what should be their first real test. Miami will already have played a couple tough ones, but we'll come to that later. The rest of the season actually shapes up pretty well for FSU. They get VA Tech, Clemson, BC, and Florida all at home. While wins in those games will be tough, this should be a step in the right direction for FSU.
Prediction: 8-4 (Miami, Clemson, BC, Florida losses)

Let's look at FSU's fellow ACC'ers, the Miami Hurricanes. Miami's 2007 season, much like FSU's, was one that should be forgotten. A 7-6 record that included an embarrassing end to the Orange Bowl is not what 'Canes fans are looking forward to in '08. A top recruiting class should also lend itself to a step forward after last year. If possible, Miami's schedule is even more favorable then Florida State's. The 'Canes avoid Clemson and Boston College, and get Virgina Tech at home. Miami does have 2 tough out-of-conference games on the road, first in the Swamp against the Gators. The following week, they head to College Station to play Texas A&M. A 3-1 start heading to the FSU game is not out of the question. A win against the 'Noles, and the Canes should be in contention in the ACC late into October.
Prediction: 9-3 (Florida, Virginia, VA Tech losses)

Now the Gators. Pre-season ranked #5 by ESPN's Mark Schlabach, the Gators will also be looking for an improvement on the 2007 season. A disappointing 5-3 SEC record, accompanied with a 41-35 shootout loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl should have the Gators more than focused heading into 2008. Many prognosticators, such as myself, believe this year's Gators to be a class above last years. Heisman winner Tim Tebow will actually have help in the backfield with newcomers Emmanuel Moody and Chris Rainey, along with returners Brandon Jacobs, Percy Harvin, and Louis Murphy. This could easily be the fastest offense college football has seen in decades. If the defense grows up even a little over last year, watch out. The Gators start the season with a couple of intriguing out-of-conference games, against Hawaii and Miami. Barring a major upset, the Gators then head to the annual 3rd week rivalry with the Tennessee Volunteers, which will be played in Knoxville. Since 1992, Florida or Tennessee has won the SEC East 13 times. The SEC schedule then gets a little easier, with games against Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky making up 3 of the next 4. A weaker LSU comes to Gainesville in week 7. Then comes what should be the game of the year. Florida vs. Georgia. With the Bulldogs expected to make a serious run at the BCS title, this game will go miles to determine who's Orange Bowl dreams are kept alive. Georgia, also, only has Tennessee and LSU on the schedule to provide any sort of bumps on the road to Jacksonville. However, last year's Bulldog win will be in the heads of the Gators, similar to when Auburn came to the Swamp last year, and there will be no lack of power in red and black. But should the Gators get past the Dawgs, only Vanderbilt, South Carolina, the Citadel, and Florida State stand in the way of the Gators and possible title hopes.
Prediction: 11-1 (Georgia loss)

So maybe my orange and blue blood is showing. But the amount of talent and pure speed Florida will be able to put on the field is scary good. Mix that with a more experienced, talented defense, and they shouldn't have to rely on 49-35 wins this year. Florida State and Miami, both, should have improved seasons as well. I don't think its a stretch to see these to fighting for the ACC for much of the season. Game 1 is only 61 days away...

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