So it’s technically football season again, which means it’s almost football season everywhere outside of the nation’s capital, it’s the first weekend in May when most people’s attention is turning to the preseason and what NFL training sites are talking about this time of year. Let’s take a look at the Pac-10, the Big 12 and the rest of the 12 North, and then we can get into the games that may mean as much if not more than they do in regards to handicapping the college football games that will hopefully provide some ” juicier” football over the next month.
The Big 12, despite the fact that in-state rival UCLA is a better-than-average 10-2, gets a first shot at me with the selection of Nebraska as a home dog. The Pokes own the longest active home winning streak in the nation with 31 contests. Out of those 31 wins, only six have been by more than three points, and by a wide margin, those six wins have been by a combined 23 points. But for the first time in long time, the Pokes have been able to win at home by an average of 18.4 PPG! I’ll leave the rest of the conference in the dust on that one, as I’m done with the North.
neither Oregon State nor Washington has started a season 0-2, yet both teams enter this weekend with a pair of non-conference games on the docket. Be wary of the Beavers as Steve Spurrier showed last year that he can schemes in the postseason, and if Oregon State struggles, the foul line may rule the March game as it did last year.
The AfaPokes are off a 38-11 win at USC as a two-point underdog, a win that allowed Southern Miss to cover at the buzzer. After that, the only win of the season for the Beavers was their thrilling loss to Oregon in the quarterfinals of the audition. Yikes! After a dismal 2-9 non-conference record last season, Oregon State should be a tired group as the schedule sets up well for the first test of the season against Oregon.
Meanwhile, the Huskies are coming off a confidence-sapping two-point loss at Evergreen State as a four-point road dog. It was the first loss for coach Bob Deutchland in Husky land since 1994, and the 61-45 loss will do little to bolster Nebraska’s point guard for the NCCAA Tournament. It will be interesting to see how Nebraska’s opponents respond on Saturday, as the Huskies also host Arizona, Florida and California. What you will see is that Nebraska is likely going to continue to press the wide-open offense, while Arizona in particular will have to decide whether Reggie Theus is worth another season.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get too excited about the Huskers or Gees with a pair of road games remaining, versus Arizona State and Montana, and road favorites Oklahoma St. and Wisconsin ready to mop up the floors at home. The late-season schedule should be full of opportunities for the Huskers, but if Nebraska follows the same script as Iowa and Missouri, we can get a jump on picking up conference tournament titles.
Make sure you examine each team and look for match-ups in conference tournaments that might be worth a look in the Madness, especially since some early-season supposed hot teams can start slow. Sixers, for example, are young and flawed, but they do have youth, which you can always count on, and should contend for a National Championship. Colts vet coach John L. Smith should be able to get this team headed in the right direction.
If you’re looking for a bench to sit behind the youth, keep an eye out for Cleveland State’s Probably Soaring or Detroit’s Nick Collison, the son of former Iowa St. head coach Bob Devaney. Both players have shown they can play, and score, at different points in their careers.
Iowa may be the most talented team in the conference, but it’s hard to see the Hawkeyes making the Final Four, let alone winning it all. Iowa will need to win the Big Ten to be considered a national title contender, and to hopefully land a coveted invitation to the Big Dance. With the slate of games, it’s going to be a long, uphill year for the Hawkeyes.
The bad news for the Hawkeyes is that the six teams that sit between them and the national title are all in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Northeastern, fairer than any other pool, is favored to win the Southland Conference, and could give the Hawkeyes a run for their money. Kansas, too, has to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, and will likely have to finish the season on a positive note when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.