Give him credit: Mark Bradley doesn't just go Christopher Nolan, jumpy-plot weird on us in his annual long-range prediction column looking at the upcoming college football season. He flat-out channels Fellini here, which we appreciate for both the undistilled wackiness of the column and for the fact that an extreme stimulus like saying that "Georgia Tech will beat Notre Dame" forces you to react in one fashion or another. Reading the column's a little like being carjacked or going into battle--it forces you to think fast about what you really believe, son.
Felliniesque. Not always a bad thing.
Going from that dire comparison, here's some of Bradley's 120 proof predictions and our gut responses:
The Jackets will beat Notre Dame on Sept. 2 and will beat Georgia finally! in Athens on Nov. 25.
Both of these happening seems physically impossible. Yet does it seem all that moonshot improbable for Georgia Tech to roll out of the gates and stun Notre Dame in Atlanta in one of those games you'll dimly recall over your third beer during Notre Dame's post Jan. 1 bowl game?
Not particularly. Does it make sense that Georgia Tech, after playing two Dawn of the Dead heartbreakers (seeming light at end of tunnel, only to hear roar of oncoming train) in the last two years, could by probability and luck bounce one their way? Sure. Could both happen? Only if Tech loses three or four other games in flaky, half-assed fashion, a Chan Gailey specialty usually ordered up for the least likely games (ahem, er, Duke.) It seems like less of a question of whether Tech can win both of these games, and more one of will Notre Dame or Georgia lose one of them. A gaffe by a rusty Irish team playing into the hands of a hyperconservative Tech game plan in the strange territory of Atlanta seems more likely.
Auburn will essentially win the SEC West on Sept. 16 when it beats LSU in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
A leap of faith, given that past performance in the SEC West stands as no guarantee of future success. LSU in year two under Les Miles should keep cruising (little staff turnover, superb recruiting pipeline still humming, a troika of capable qbs,) Ole Miss will scare the hell out of some teams now that Brent Schaeffer's under center and the Orgeron's had a year to raid the villages and hamlets of his kingdom for talent, and Alabama's going to be no pushover despite key losses on the defense.
Bad hat. Good team.
Arkansas has even decided to look into the forward pass as an offensive tool, something practically unheard of in Fayetteville since Clint Stoerner's ass hitting the ground gave Phil Fulmer a national title. Auburn lost Stanley McClover on the defensive line, a catalyst for so much of the mayhem they made defensively last year, and Brandon Cox could have a sophomore slump after one of those freaky freshman seasons. Don't forget that Wisconsin trounced them convincingly in their bowl game, either. Auburn will be good, but handing them the SEC West title could be considered deranged at this point, much less suggesting they'll beat Florida twice. (Bias duly noted here.)
Notre Dame will lose three regular-season games, one more than last season, and one or two Irish fans will wonder if extending Charlie Weis contract through 2015 might have been a stretch.
To whom, we ask? Tech: we already said that could conceivably happen, provided Chan Gailey files his nails the whole time and sideline staff distract him with offers of pudding and Matlock reruns. USC? Not after almost beating them last year with Paris Hilton's latest herpes exchange partner and Reggie Bush. Michigan State? Not again.
That really leaves Michigan, who we think the Irish will floor with points. Besides that, no one poses a challenge for the Irish, who will play a post-New Year's bowl game with two losses easy. In fact, Charlie could lose three and still get the full-throated support of ND Nation with a strong Heisman showing from Brady Quinn. A posterboy year would stave off any doubts until the "stranded in a lifeboat" year three, the point at which college football fans decide whether to keep the coach around or eat him for valuable protein.
Even so, Florida will enter its bowl game with four losses two to Auburn (the second in the SEC championship game), one to Florida State and one to LSU.
Can't see losing to Auburn twice--much less facing them in the SEC title game. (LSU's the pick for us there, especially following their wipeout of Miami in the Peach Bowl. Momentum works most of the time, and we're banking on it here.) Four losses isn't outside the realm of reality, though, especially with the ongoing quarterback situation of Chris Leak running an offense that suits him about as well as blogging sober suits us--which means not well at all. Again, mitigating circumstances could keep Meyer from withering under the situation if fans give him advance credit for making do with Leak in anticipation of Tebow 2007; but this year's Gator team could land anywhere from 0-5 losses. Stock up on booze, antacid, and Xanax in the name of sanity and preparation.
Oklahomas Adrian Peterson will win the Heisman. Auburns Kenny Irons will finish third. Notre Dames Brady Quinn will finish fifth.
Adrian Peterson--this blog's dubious, trend-busting pick of last year that never came close to happening--could likely win the Heisman BIMOAOG Quinn at fifth? In Weis' pass first offense with the Evil Robot Genius wiring the system? Not possible, BIMOAOG, that is.
For all the mileage the ACC got from its draft-day success, the expanded league will struggle to generate a single top 10 team. Clemson and Virginia Tech lost their quarterbacks. Miami fired half its coaching staff. Florida State is in clear decline.
We don't really care if any of this is true or not. We just like to see this in print. So nice we'll print it twice:
Florida State is in clear decline.
Ahh, a belly rub for the eyes.
As a freshman, Reggie Ball was knocked out of the Georgia game in the first half. As a sophomore, he infamously lost track of downs. As a junior, he threw a killing interception in the Red Zone. As a senior, hell throw a fade that Calvin Johnson snatches for the winning touchdown with 10 seconds to play. That detailed enough for you?
Brave and detailed, yes. At the risk of pissing off Reggie Ball's very, very large and muscular father, we'll disagree and say that Ball, living out the mortgage of a phenomenal curse from another life, has another miserable tight game against Georgia. Some people get vultures plucking out their liver; Reggie gets Chan Gailey and tossing away the game at the last instant.