Matt's 2009 College Football Preview: Final Top 25, Heisman, and BCS Predictions

By: Matt Barnes
By: Matt Barnes

A look at my Final Top 25, and my predictions of who wins the Heisman and BCS Championship.

I've talked non-conference games, schedules, and even made conference-by-conference predictions. The only thing left to do is to reveal my Top 25, Heisman and BCS predictions. Again, this is my FINAL Top 25, not my preseason Top 25. So this doesn't mean I think the #6 team is the 6th best team. Instead, it just means where I think these teams will finish when the season is over.

MY FINAL TOP 25

1. Texas - I still think they had a better chance of beating Florida than Oklahoma last year and that they deserved to be in that game. Whatever. This is their year. The 'Horns should run the table. Only tough games are vs. Oklahoma and at OK State. Oh, and QB Colt McCoy pulls a Vince Young and crushes the Heisman curse.

2. Florida - They return a Heisman Trophy winner. They return 11 starters on defense. They've won 2 titles in 3 years. So why not pick them to win? Because like in 2007, the pressure to repeat is tough. The Gators should run the table in the regular season. But they'll fall to the 'Horns in Pasadena.



3. Ohio State - If the Buckeyes get by USC, which I predict they will, I see them also running the table. This team lost a ton of talent but in 2002 when they won it all, the same happened. Terrelle Pryor will be unleashed and expect him to have the kind of impact on OSU that Michael Vick did for VT in 1999.


4. Oklahoma - No doubt, they are a great team. But only one team can win the Big 12. Last year Texas beat them. I see the same again. The schedule isn't overly easy but they should escape with just one loss. Sam Bradford will have a good season but not as good as last year. Call it a Heisman hangover.


5. USC - This team is almost in here by default. The Pac-10 is still weak. So while USC returns just 3 starters on defense, starting a frosh QB in Matt Barkley, and replacing both coordinators, they'll win the conference. Trips to OSU, Cal, ND, and Oregon won't be an easy task at all but 10-2 or 11-1 should be attainable.


6. Georgia Tech - Some may think this too high for them but I'm confident in this team. The triple-option attack is hard to prepare for, especially when only 5 or so teams run it. Thing is, GT runs it better than anyone else. I say 2 losses for them, an ACC title, and a bowl game victory. That happens, they finish right here.


7. Penn State - Their non-conference schedule is a joke. And besides OSU, the Big Ten is too. With only 8 starters returning, I don't see PSU beating OSU, even in Happy Valley. They may have trouble at Illinois and MSU but I predict wins. An 11-1 regular season followed by a bowl loss sounds right.


8. Ole Miss - This team could easily finish the regular season undefeated, thanks to an incredibly weak schedule. They miss Florida, a la Alabama in 2008. Plus, they get Bama at home. QB Jevan Snead showed signs of stardom last season. They won't beat Florida but at 12-1, they'll make a BCS bowl.


9. Boise State - Put this team in a real conference please! Yet again, the schedule is weak, but that's cause the WAC is weak. Once they beat Oregon in Week One (tomorrow), they'll finish 12-0 and find themselves in another BCS game. Look out for soph QB Kellen Moore. Could be a Heisman winner in 2010 or 2011.


10. Oklahoma State - Will be a better team than their record will indicate at the end of the year. Losses to Texas at home and at Oklahoma are in the cards but not without giving both teams a fight. QB Zach Robinson and WR Dez Bryant are a great show. It's the defense that will keep this team from a Big 12 title.


11. Alabama - Possibly, the most overrated team. They do return 9 starters from the 3rd best defense last year. But that defense will be on the field a lot this season, thanks to what will be an inept offense. New QB behind an inexperience line doesn't equal success. Will have at least 2 losses before the bowl game.


12. Virginia Tech - They struggled last year with a two-QB system and 3 frosh WRs. This year, the offense should be much improved. QB Tyrod Taylor will struggle through some games so VT will fall a few times. But the Bud Foster-coached defense will keep this team in the top 15 all season.


13. Cincinnati - The Bearcats are only this high because the Big East isn't that strong. Their offense should be even more dynamic than last year. But the defense returns just one starter. Yeah, just one. Look for losses at Oregon State, USF, and at home vs. Illinois. But they'll cruise to the conference title again.


14. California - In Jahvid Best they trust. the junior RB is no doubt one of the best, if not the best. But Cal has it rough in the Pac-10. Facing Oregon and USC back-to-back isn't easy. Not to mention they always seem prone to a bad loss, like last year's 42-27 at Arizona. They'll be good, just not great.


15. Utah - They didn't lose one game last season but this season, they've already lost both coordinators and NCAA Football 10 cover boy QB Brian Johnson. The schedule will prevent them from finishing unblemished. Road games at Oregon, TCU and BYU will mean one or two losses, which also means no BCS berth.


16. Kansas - I'm a big fan of QB Todd Reesing. with all 3 starting wideouts back, the offense will keep the Jayhawks in every game. But their defense still isn't strong enough to beat the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and maybe even Texas Tech in Lubbock. But getting Nebraska in Lawrence wins them the Big 12 North.


17. Florida State - If not for such a brutal schedule, this team would be higher. But I don't see this team surviving their schedule without falling at least 4 times. The offense should be much improved after a down couple years. But the defense returns just 5 starters, which worries me with their schedule.


18. Oregon State - Their home matchup against Cincinnati will be their first test before their tough conference schedule. Road games at USC, Oregon, Cal, and ASU means the Beavers will have to have their A-game every week. But that won't happen, even with playmaking RB Jacquizz Rodgers.


19. Nebraska - Bo Pelini has this team on the right track. But graduation was not kind to the Huskers. The new QB threw just 2 passes last season and they have all-new starters at every offensive skill position. The schedule includes trips to VT and Kansas and a home date with Oklahoma. Not easy, but not crazy hard.


20. Clemson - This may be wishful thinking. Clemson returns 15 starters and that doesn't include all-ACC player C.J. Spiller. But the team needs to improve on offense incredibly to contend. Dabo Swinney has the fan base excited. Having TCU and FSU at home is nice but on the road at GT and South Carolina is not.


21. Michigan State - No Javon Ringer to carry the team anymore. No, this year, it'll be about the defense in East Lansing. With the Big Ten weak, the Spartans should have a good record. They miss OSU and they get PSU and Iowa at home. They could be upset though by ND, Illinois, and even Central Michigan.


22. Oregon - 10 starters return for the Ducks but head coach Mike Bellotti does not. New head man Chip Kelly enters his first head coaching gig with a tough September slate. First, a trip to Boise St and then at home against Purdue, Utah and Cal. After that though, it's favorable with USC, ASU and ORST all in Eugene.


23. LSU - It was a bad year for the Tigers last year, going 3-5 in SEC play. It shouldn't be that bad this season but road games at UGA, Bama and Ole Miss should be 3 losses. Add a home date against Florida and there's loss #4. If the offense and pass defense improves, the Tigers should avoid loss #5.


24. Georgia - The big 3 on offense (Stafford, Moreno and Massaqoui) are gone. And so are some big players on defense. That doesn't bode well for a team with probably the hardest schedule in America. Start the year at OKST, finish at GT and Florida in between. Their success will depend on QB Joe Cox.


25. TCU - They may have the least feared nickname in the college game (Horned Frogs) but teams should still fear them. They had the best defense in the NCAA last year but only return 4 starters. But expect another solid season from TCU. They travel to Clemson and BYU but do get Utah in Fort Worth.


HEISMAN PREDICTIONS
1. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
3. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
4. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
6. Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State

BCS BOWLS PREDICTIONS
January 1: USC vs. Ohio State - In the rematch of these two conference champs from September, expect a closer game, especially considering the game is in USC's backyard. USC frosh QB Matt Barkley should be much improved from his first performance in the Shoe. But look for the Buckeyes to redeem themselves after an array of big-time bowl losses with a game-winning FG at the horn. OSU 31, USC 28



January 1: Ole Miss vs. Boise State - Last year, it was an SEC team with nothing to gain in Alabama. This is different though, because Ole Miss is not regarded as one of the highly regarded programs. Boise State will be competitive but look for Ole Miss to not be too wrapped about their lost title game bid but instead, show up ready for this game and win. Ole Miss 42, Boise State 31



January 4: Oklahoma vs. Penn State - Pitting two teams with just one loss, this one should be a gem. Sam Bradford plays great in his final game as a Sooner before turning pro. Meanwhile, Daryll Clark performs admirably to make up for his 2009 Rose Bowl performance. The difference in the game ends up being Oklahoma's tougher schedule, preparing them for the Nittany Lions. Oklahoma 45, Penn State 27




January 5: Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech - In what will be billed as a game between programs on the rise, this one will be ugly. Cincinnati will come in ready to play like they were last year against VT. But Georgia Tech will be coming off an impressive ACC title game victory over FSU and riding that wave to a blowout of a Cincy team still trying to gain respect nationally. Georgia Tech 34, Cincinnati 10



January 7: Texas vs. Florida - After 5-6 weeks of excruciating coverage, the BCS title game will provide us with plenty of offense. Tim Tebow will play an amazing game, proving he is one of the best college players of all-time. But this time under the lights, as it was 4 years before, it will be a Longhorn who steals the spotlight. Heisman Trophy winner Colt McCoy drives the Horns to the endzone for the game-winning TD and the national championship. Instant Classic anyone? Texas 41, Florida 38


SUNDAY: Conference Predictions

MONDAY: UGA and USC Previews

TUESDAY: Clemson and GT Previews

TOMORROW: Week 1 Preview
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