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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Texas, Florida State among picks for Orange Bowl

The Red Zone
 Texas, Florida State among picks for Orange Bowl
Texas, Florida State among picks for Orange Bowl

Texas, Florida State among picks for Orange Bowl

College football comes back to us with a whole new look aschanges have occurred in the Bowl Championship Series, conferencesand with some familiar faces.

The BCS removed strength of schedule and quality wins from thecriteria used to select teams for the National ChampionshipGame.

The amount of weight given to the computer polls has beenreduced as well. This gives added weight to the two human polls, amove made after last season’s events that left the number oneranked team in both the media and coaches’ polls, USC, out ofthe BCS Championship game.

The ACC went from a basketball powerhouse to the dominantfootball league in the nation by adding Virginia Tech and Miami.Boston College follows next year to a league that already includesFlorida State, Clemson, NC State, Maryland, Georgia Tech and (who Ithought was going to be my sleeper pick) Virginia before seeingtheir killer last six games.

Football fans won’t be seeing USC all-world receiver MikeWilliams (ruled ineligible by the NCAA), the Nebraska option (thewest coast offense has been installed by new Coach Bill Callahan),the SEC bias of this former column writer, or defending nationalchampion LSU in my Top 10 (brutal road trips at Auburn, Florida andGeorgia with an inexperienced quarterback).

Here is my Top 10 and what needs to happen for each team to bein Miami for the Orange Bowl playing for the crystal trophy:

10) Kansas State

The Wildcats possess a Heisman Trophy frontrunner in runningback Darren Sproles, who might be the most exciting player in thenation (my apologies to Reggie Bush). The Wildcats defense retools,but Coach Bill Snyder has found junior college superstars to plugthe loss of seven starters on defense. The Wildcats have finishedin the top six in the nation on defense for the last seven years,and don’t expect that to change. The early schedule is filledwith cupcakes that should make K-State 5-0 heading into theirshowdown against Oklahoma in Manhattan.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: Sophomore Quarterback Dylan Meiermakes people forget Ell Roberson and the Cats find a way to beatthe Sooners at home and in the Big12 title game.

9) Texas

The Texas synopsis could have been written three years ago andstill would have worked for this year: The Longhorns are extremelytalented on both sides of the ball thanks to the recruiting effortsof Mack Brown and his staff. The question will be if this team canlive up to the immense expectations and become something greaterthen the sum of the parts. Seriously, just interchange Vince Youngfor Chris Simms as the quarterback who hasn’t lived up to thehype and has yet to win a big game and the review is complete. Onechange is that the defensive coaching staff has been completelychanged following the 131 points the team gave up in its threelosses last year.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: Mack Brown wins his next biggame. Oh, that would be the first big game he won in his tenure inAustin. My fault.

8) Georgia

Star senior wideout Fred Gibson hopes to end his decade (it onlyseems like he’s been in Athens that long) at Georgia with avictory over Florida. The Gators have beaten the Dawgs six straighttimes in the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” inJacksonville. The buzz is strong as senior quarterback David Greeneand All-American defensive end David Pollack join Gibson and 14additional returning starters to a team that has LSU and Tennesseeat home this year.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: Freshman Danny Ware is the answerat the tailback spot that didn’t have a single 100-yard gamerusher last season.

7) Florida

Did anyone notice how good sophomore Channing Crowder was lastyear? The media was all too often speaking about then-true freshmanwonder-kid quarterback Chris Leak to notice that Crowder had 106tackles at the linebacker spot despite missing two games. 8-5finishes aren’t tolerated in Gainesville for very long, butcoach Ron Zook looks to have the speed on defense he craves andLeek won’t be looking over his shoulder anymore.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: The highly touted freshman classbehaves and plays like seasoned vets.

6) Miami

I can’t believe I am putting them this low but there arejust too many questions at Miami. The ‘Canes only return ninestarters, have huge holes at the offensive skill positions, a muchtougher ACC schedule, and then there is Brock Berlin. Excuse timeis over for the inconsistent senior quarterback, and hedoesn’t have the Kellen Winslow security blanket anymore.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: The next wave of ‘Canesuperstars like running back Tyrone Moss (4.8 yards per carry as afreshman) announce their presence with authority.

5) West Virginia

Upon reading this many of you will pull a Lil’ Jon andscream “Whaaaat?” Believe in the Mountaineers; this isa team that returns 16 starters off a squad that rolled off six oftheir last seven games last season. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall isback to lead the multifaceted offensive attack that includes BigEast Rookie of the Year wide receiver Chris Henry and running backKay-Jay Harris. Someone is going to win the not BCS-worthy BigEast, and Coach Rich Rodriguez has this team primed to fill thevoid Miami left at the top.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: The Mountaineers find a way tobeat Maryland, who clobbered West Virginia 75-14 in two meetingslast season.

4) Michigan

How in the world can a team that replaces their startingquarterback and running back be put this high? First, the defensewill be very good with senior corner back Marlin Jackson shuttingdown one side of the field. Second, the offensive line returnsthree starters from the unit that gave Chris Perry holes I couldhave run through for a 1,000 yards. One more thing, the receiversmay be the best in the nation. Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant andSteve Breaston have the size, speed and hands to make anyquarterback look good.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: Matt Gutierrez, 37-0 as aquarterback in high school, hits only people wearing Maize andBlue, and a solid running back emerges from a slew ofcandidates.

3) Florida State

Nobody in the nation hates Chris Rix more then I do. This guy isthe epitome of wasted talent. He’s a four-year starter whohas had seven receivers and backs get drafted yet he has had three-and five-loss seasons as the Seminole quarterback. Yet for somereason, I think this is the season it all clicks for him like itdid for Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer in their fourth yearsstarting. He has all five of his offensive lineman returning, thereturning ACC 100m and 200m champion Craphonso Thorpe at receiver,and two experienced running backs (Washington and Booker) to helpshoulder the load.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: The youngsters on defense live upto expectations and the ‘Noles finally find a way to beat theHurricanes.

2) USC

I know what you are saying; they had trouble with an unrankedVirginia Tech team in the opening game of the season. Yes, theydid, but the problems were expected. A young offensive linestarting his first game in front of 91,000 Hokie supporters isgoing to struggle. The team admittedly lost some focus when theyfound out the best player in the nation, Mike Williams, was donefor the year two days before the game. The team also found answersas the new defensive starters came to play and Reggie Bush showedthe world what a few of us already knew, that he is a superstarthat offensive coordinator Norm Chow can deploy in an infinitenumber of ways.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: They win back-to-back road gamesat Washington State and Oregon State.

1) Oklahoma

In case you forgot, this is the team that 12 games into lastseason many experts were calling one of the best teams of all time.Fourteen starters are back from that team including Heisman Trophywinner Jason White and the leading receiver in OU history, MarkClayton. My guess is Coach Stoops may have reminded the team a fewtimes about how last season ended and this team is determined notto let it happen again. The times may be a changing but the SoonerSchooner seems to just continually roll, and this year they learnfrom last season’s missteps to win the NationalChampionship.

Playing in the Orange Bowl If: The number one recruit in thenation, RB Adrian Peterson, bolsters the ground game and helps theSooners get by the Longhorns and Wildcats on consecutiveweekends.

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