AUBURN TIGERS

Gus Mahlzahn has had a meteoric rise from high school football coach to college football’s premier offensive guru.  Last season with Brandon Todd, under center, Mahlzahn ignited the sleeping Tigers offense.  This season he’ll have “his” quarterback under center in junior college transfer and dual threat quarterback Cameron Newton.  It may not gin up much excitement at first glance until you recall Cameron Newton beating out John Brantley for the #2 spot behind Tim Tebow as a true freshman in 2007 and ESPN scouts comparing him to Jamarcus Russell on the Atkins diet, with wheels.  Five star running back Michael Dyer will also see the field this season.  Point is the Tiger’s offense should be among the nation’s best in 2010.
In a lot of ways, the 2010 Auburn Tigers are reminiscent of Nick Saban’s 2008 Crimson Tide team which lost to the…

UTAH UTES
Chris Peterson, the Boise State Broncos and their blue Smurf turf have the wind at their back and finally voters in their pocket but let’s not forget Utah, the original mid-major, BCS buster is alive and kicking.  2011, however, is their final season before joining the Pac-10 and they’d like to go out with a championship bang.  Instead of taking a big-time job in a power conference, Kyle Whittingham has taken Utah into a power conference.

Utah which finished 10-3 last season had three “quality” losses to Oregon, TCU and BYU in 2009.   Although, TCU flung the Utes around the field, Utah’s two losses to BYU and Pac 10 champion, Oregon had a combined ten point differential.  Utah, then closed their season with an impressive 37-27 victory over future Pac-10 rival California.

Quarterback Jordan Wynn, who was thrust into the starting spot midway through his freshman campaign will enter the 2010 season as the undisputed starter and should be even more comfortable as a starter.  Wynn was the impetus behind Utah’s victory over Cal with a 338 yard, three touchdown performance.

While Boise State (which sounds like a community college) is getting national championship hype with it’s pre-season ranking coupleds with a pair of dates with Oregon State and Virginia Tech, Utah hosts Pittsburgh on September 2nd, Iowa State on October 9th, then closes out the season with TCU , Notre Dame and BYU.

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS 

The ACC has more contenders than the  2009’s ACC Championship representatives Clemson and Georgia Tech were ravaged by the NFL Draft.  ACC runner up Clemson will miss defensive end Ricky Sapp’s pressure and CJ Spiller is eluding AFC East foes.  Defending ACC Champion Georgia Tech lost their big play threats Jonathan Dwyer and Demaryius Thomas to the NFL which leaves the ACC race wide open.  Miami and Virginia Tech would presumably be ACC frontrunners, however, North Carolina defeated both teams in 2009.

Butch Davis, arguably the most underrated head coach in college football has a track record of program turnarounds, after assembling one of the greatest teams of all-time with the Miami Hurricanes, has done it again.  NFL scouts are pitching camps outside of Tar Heels practices watching an array of prospects including linebackers Bruce Carter, Zach Brown, Quan Sturdivant, sack artist, Robert Quinn (who may be just as skilled as a young Julius Pepper), defensive tackle Marvin Austin as well as defensive backs Deunta Williams and Kendrick Burney.  In case you didn’t notice, they’ve got an All-American defense but wide receiver Greg Little is considered the lone offensive prospect.  And that’s where the problem lies.

Senior quarterback T.J. Yates has to eliminate half of the interceptions and shoddy incompletes in his final season under center.  However, all of this could be moot if Marvin Austin and Greg Little are declared ineligible after attending an agent’s party in of all places–Miami.

MICHIGAN WULVERINES

As Brett Favre would say, “This is it”  for Rich Rodriguez.  If not, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh may be rearranging his office.  Unfortunately, for Rich Rod, Michigan doesn’t have a quarterback like Favre to set himself apart in their quarterback battle.  Fortunately, they’ve got a trio of quarterbacks with skill sets bred for the spread option offense.  Terrelle Pryor was the quarterback Michigan originally had in mind for the spread unfortunately they’ve had to settle for a converted position player and a true freshman in two years.
Last fall, Tate Forcier began his career on pace to becoming a Wolverine legend by leading Michigan to a 4-0 start including a few come from behind victories but faltered in conference play

It’s appearing more and more likely that Forcier won’t be the starter this season–and that’s a good thing because Denard Robinson is a fits this offense like a glove.  Remember Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards?  Michigan fans will have plenty of flashes watching his look a like taking snaps for the Big Blue.
Robinson is the most gifted athlete in the shotgun for Rodriguez since Pat White and when his dreadlocks are flying in and zig zagging through defenders this fall you’ll swear they’re experimenting with Chris Johnson at quarterback.  Michigan doesn’t necessarily have to finish in the top ten, but a ten win season would be appreciated.

USC TROJANS
The nation’s become so used to them reloading, we were startled by their rebuilding.  Just because they can’t compete for as much as a bowl game doesn’t mean they can’t earn a top ten finish in college football’s mythical rankings.  They’ve still got five star recruits flooding the pipe, it’s just a matter of which ones standout.  You’ve got to play the percentages on this and assume, they’ll have a fair share of first round picks in their sophomore and freshman classes, including Matt Barkley who surprisingly stuck around. Running back Dillon Baxter wowed in he spring with his elusiveness as an early enrollee alongside fellow freshman receivers Kyle Prater as well as Robert Woods.