There are 14 FBS schools in the NCDA, and here’s a look at how their season is going to go (or at least how I think it will go!)
We’ll go by conference. Schedule comes first, bolded are in conference, italics are also NCDA teams, bolded + italics is a NCDA team in conference.
- Schedule: Tulsa, at Kent State, at Indiana, Murray State (FCS), Akron, UMass, at Mississippi State, Toledo, at Miami (OH), Ohio, at Eastern Michigan, at Buffalo
- 2012 Result- 8-5 (6-2), Military Bowl berth
- Media Predictions: 2nd in MAC East
- Players to watch: Max Schilz (Senior QB), Gabe Martin (Junior LB)
- My notes: Their defense was the best in the MAC last year at a shade over 295 ypg and less than 17 ppg. While they play in a weaker conference, that’s still pretty impressive. I think they will be better this year. Part of this is the schedule: they avoid NIU (picked to win the MAC West) and they get Ohio at home. Admittedly, I don’t know how much home field affects MAC schools (the only game at a MAC school I’ve been at is MSU @ CMU last year where it was definitely a pro-MSU crowd) but it has to account for something.
- Prediction: 9-3 (7-1 MAC)
- Schedule: at Michigan, New Hampshire (FCS), at UNLV, Toledo, at NC State, at Miami (OH), at Ohio, Northern Illinois, at Ball State, at Western Michigan, UMass, Eastern Michigan
- 2012 Result- 7-6 (4-4) Little Caesar’s Pizza Pizza Bowl berth
- Media Predictions- 4th in MAC West
- Players to Watch- Zurlon Tipton (Senior RB), Alex Smith (Senior DE)
- My Notes: The Chips have a great coach in Coach Enos, who has turned around CMU pretty quickly. However, it’s only a little bit of time before he’s destined to go to Cincinnati and then to a major program like his predecessors Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. They also have a QB problem, because Ryan Radcliffe is gone and Enos hasn’t named a starter yet as far as I’ve heard. Another spot they need to replace is the #1 pick in the NFL Draft on the offensive line.
- Prediction: 4-8 (3-5)
- Schedule: Liberty (FCS), Bowling Green, at LSU, at Penn State, at Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, at Ball State, at South Alabama, Buffalo, at Akron, Miami (OH), at Ohio
- 2012 Result- 11-3 (8-0) GoDaddy.Com Bowl berth
- Media Predictions- Third in MAC East
- Players to Watch: Dri Archer (Senior WR/RB), Roosevelt Nix (Senior DT)
- My Notes: Kent State lit the world on fire last season, as they spent time in the BCS rankings. A MAC team! While they ultimately missed out on a BCS berth (they lost to NIU in OT in the MAC Championship) they still had a great season. I think they can be almost as good this year, but have a much worse record. Why? This stretch is brutal- at LSU, at PSU, at WMU, vs NIU, at BSU, and at USA. If they win 2 of those games I would consider that successful.
- Prediction: 4-8 (3-5)
- Schedule: at Marshall, at Kentucky, Cincinnati, at Illinois, Central Michigan, at UMass, Akron, at Ohio, Bowling Green, at Kent State, Buffalo, at Ball State
- 2012 Result- 4-8 (3-5)
- Media Predictions: Fifth in MAC East
- Players to Watch: Austin Boucher (Senior QB), Brison Burris (Junior Safety)
- My Notes: Miami just revealed their new unis/helmets. They are terrible. They make Maryland look good. Miami was pretty bad last year, but their schedule should be easier (no OSU or Boise State and Cincy at home). They’re still probably going to lose all their OOC games, but they’ll at least be competitive.
- Prediction: 3-9 (2-6)
- Schedule: Florida International, Old Dominion (FCS), at UConn, vs West Virginia, at Florida State, Virginia, at Wake Forest, Clemson, Syracuse, at Virginia Tech, Boston College, at NC State
- 2012 Result- 4-8 (2-6)
- Media Predictions- Fifth in Atlantic Divsion
- Players to Watch: Stefon Diggs (Sophomore RB), Cole Farrand (Junior LB)
- My Notes:The sign you’re a bad team- last season, people talked more about the jerseys of UMD than their play (exception- Oregon). The game I’m looking forward to is Randy Edsall taking the Terps to UConn, his former coaching spot. Edsall got the Huskies to the BCS and then bolted for “greener pastures”. Really, UConn has a better chance at a winning season because they’re in the American Whatever Conference, whereas Maryland has to deal with a bunch of national powers. If he can build UMD it’s a good decision, but their move to the Big Ten will hurt them. Yeah, if they stay in the ACC they’ll rarely be higher than 4th in their division, but the Big Ten has just as many power programs as the ACC.
- Predictions: 6-6 (4-4)
American Athletic Conference
- Schedule: Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, at Kentucky, Florida International, at Temple, Rutgers, Central Florida, at South Florida, at UConn, Houston, Memphis, at Cincinnati
- 2012 Result- 11-2 (5-2) Sugar Bowl berth
- Media Prediction- First
- Players to Watch- Teddy Bridgewater (Junior QB), Brandon Dunn (Senior DT)
- My Notes: This is the dumbest conference since, well, probably forever. Louisville and maybe Cincinnati are the only good teams in this conference. The rest are members thrown out of the garbage Big East or wannabes from C-USA. And Temple. Temple was so bad they threw them out of the Big East, then when the Big East was falling apart they were welcomed back in…to the AAC. So this conference sucks. Louisville will dominate their conference and likely go 12-0 and be in the conversation for the BCS Championship Game. I don’t think they’ll make the BCS Title Game, but they will undoubtedly be close.
- My Prediction- 12-0 (8-0)
- Schedule: North Dakota State (FCS), University of Louisiana-Lafayette, UMass, at Texas, at Oklahoma State, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, at Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Oklahoma, at Kansas
- 2012 Results: 11-2 (8-1)
- Media Prediction: Sixth
- Players to Watch: John Hubert (Senior RB), Ty Zimmerman (Senior Safety)
- My Notes: K-State played extremely well last year, but they need to replace their QB and leader in Collin Klein. There were times where he willed them to victory (earning the obvious Tebow comparisons.) The biggest thing they had going for them was a +19 TO margin (third in the country) which with an unproven QB is going to be hard to match. K-State should be good again this season, but don’t expect 11-2.
- My Prediction: 7-5 (4-5)
- Schedule: vs Kentucky, at Tennessee, at South Alabama, Morgan State (FCS), Navy, at UL Monroe, at UL Lafayette, Troy, at Georgia State, at Army, at Texas State, Arkansas State
- 2012 Result- 7-6 (4-4), Little Caesar’s Pizza Pizza Bowl berth
- Media Prediction- Fourth
- Players to Watch- Antoinio Andrews (Senior RB), Jonathan Dowling (Junior Safety)
- My Notes: They hired Bobby Petrino this past off-season to coach the team. While Petrino’s off the field issues are well noted, he’s also a top coach in NCAA Football. He replaces Willie Taggert, who was most famous for saying this. The Toppers took out UK in OT last football season, so that’ll be a game I’d like to watch this season. WKU also has a hard schedule of UL-M and UL-LA on the road back to back.
- My Prediction: 6-6 (3-4)
- Schedule: Idaho, at Ohio, Ball State, at Georgia, at Tulane, Middle Tennessee, at Louisiana Tech, at Southern Miss, Rice, Texas El Paso, Texas San Antonio, at Tulsa
- 2012 Result: 4-8 (3-5)
- Media Prediction: Sixth
- Players to Watch: Derek Thompson (Senior QB), Zac Whitfield (Sophomore CB)
- My Notes: UNT left the Sun Belt, which is regarded as a lower league than C-USA. But they left at the wrong time, as many of the top C-USA schools left the conference, so they’re essentially in a similar league. They should probably get better this season, but they’re low on talent (especially for a school from Texas.) They most likely won’t compete for a conference title this year, but it has to be baby steps with a team like this.
- My Prediction: 5-7 (3-5)
- Schedule: vs Western Kentucky, Miami (OH), Louisville, Florida, at South Carolina, Alabama, at Mississippi State, Alabama State (FCS), Missouri, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, Tennessee
- 2012 Result- 2-10 (0-8)
- Media Prediction: Seventh in SEC East
- Players to Watch: Raymond Sanders (Senior RB), Za’Darius Smith (Junior DE)
- My Notes: Well, Kentucky can’t get much worse than they were last year, losing to both WKU and Louisville and going oh-fer in conference play. This year I think they will be better, with Mark Stoops becoming the head coach shoring up the defense. They get the other worst team in their division at home this season, and they’ll be coming off a three game home stretch against SEC foes, so maybe they’ll think it’s a walk-over. Kentucky has to beat Florida (26 straight losses to the Gators) eventually too right?
- My Prediction: 5-7 (2-6)
- Schedule: Western Michigan, South Florida, Youngstown State (FCS), at Notre Dame, at Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, at Illinois, Michigan, at Nebraska, at Northwestern, Minnesota
- 2012 Result: 7-6 (3-5) Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl berth
- Media Prediction: Third in Legends Division
- Players to Watch: Fou Fonoti (Senior OT), Max Bullough (Senior LB)
- My Notes: MSU has a top 7 or 8 defense in the country. They also have a group of QBs who are either wildly inexperienced or have no composure or have a lack of talent. They announced their starting RB today- a guy they just converted from LB this spring. Their WRs are fast and explosive, but have no hands and nobody to consistently get them the football. That defense though, man, it’s going to be nasty. If they can somehow fix their offensive woes from last year they can go to the Rose Bowl, since they avoid OSU and PSU and Wisconsin until the Big Ten Championship Game. As always, State’s biggest game will be Michigan (they will likely have only a loss to ND at that point.)
- My Prediction: 9-3 (6-2)
- Schedule: Buffalo, San Diego State, at California-Berkley, Florida A&M (FCS), Wisconsin, at Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, at Purdue, at Illinois, Indiana, at Michigan
- 2012 Results: 12-0 (8-0) Ineligible for Postseason
- Media Prediction: First in Leaders
- Players to Watch: Braxton Miller (Junior QB), Ryan Shazier (Junior LB)
- My Notes: OSU is basically 10-0 right now. They’re not losing to any OOC foes, and all their tough in division games are at home. The only two games they have to worry about are at Northwestern (a rarity that NU is the playing in a major game like this) and obviously, at Michigan. OSU has the Heisman favorite, which means he probably won’t win it because people will expect too much of him, in Braxton Miller, and one of the best coaches in the game in Urban Meyer. The current Urban Meyer “controversy” will fade away as OSU goes to the National Championship Game.
- My Prediction: 12-0 (8-0)
- Schedule: vs Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, Central Florida, Kent State, at Indiana, Michigan, at Ohio State, Illinois, at Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska, at Wisconsin
- 2012 Result: 8-4 (6-2) Ineligible for Postseason
- Media Prediction: Third in Leaders
- Players to Watch: Zach Zwinak (Junior RB), Deion Barnes (Sophomore DE)
- My Notes: PSU was a pleasant surprise after all the turmoil that surrounded not only their program but their university. They dropped games to Ohio and Virginia before rattling off eight wins out of ten. QB Matt McGloin (Big Ten Passing Yard leader last season) is gone, but Bill O’Brien should have at least a decent QB in the folds. He’s an excellent QB coach, and can if he can develop McGloin into a stud he can turn anyone into a stud. They are still ineligible for a bowl game, and I wonder if they can keep up the intensity and spirit of last year where they were truly playing for their university.
- My Prediction: 9-3 (5-3)
- Schedule: Wyoming, Southern Miss, UCLA, South Dakota State (FCS), Illinois, at Purdue, at Minnesota, Northwestern, at Michigan, Michigan State, at Penn State, Iowa
- 2012 Result- 10-4 (7-1) Capital One Bowl berth
- Media Prediction: Second in Legends
- Players to Watch: Taylor Martinez (Senior QB), Courtney Love (Freshman LB)
- My Notes: They start their season with five cupcakes at home, then two very winnable road games, then they have a brutal four game stretch. They should be 7-0 going into that NU game. Winning three of their final five games should put them into the Big Ten Championship Game, but I have hard doubts that they’ll go undefeated with that stretch of games coming up. Taylor Martinez will get Heisman hype as he trounces early opponents, but he’ll have to prove his worth at the end. Bo Pelini is an elite coach, and they will avoid Ohio State and Wisconsin until the title game.
- Prediction: 10-2 (6-2)
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