Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 8:37 AM
Hey, the way things finally shook out in the 2011 College Football Season, the phrase "nobody's perfect" certainly applied:
Among the 120 FBS teams out there from coast-to-coast there wasn't a single team that finished unbeaten as BCS title-winner Alabama went 12-1 overall while the likes of Houston (13-1), LSU (13-1), Boise State (12-1) and Oklahoma State (12-1) all shined brightly but couldn't avoid stubbing their respective toes during their single-loss seasons.
Are there teams - or maybe just one team - that can shoot for the stars this year and look to finish without a blemish?
Ahh, wouldn't we all like to know right about now?
In today's College Football edition of Jim Sez - yes, we're now less than four weeks away from the opening night (August 30th) - here's a quartet of teams that would like to believe that they could be unbeaten at the close of this 2012 season.
Here's the potential "perfect" role call the way we see it here in the first weekend of August:
USC - Now that the various preseason top 25 polls have started to pop up here and there you're likely gonna be seeing the same four or five teams sitting at or near the top but most in-the-know folks believe the Southern Cal Trojans will be there on top of those polls come mid-January.
The Troy Boys are loaded - and just got richer with the addition of former Penn State RB Silas Redd (he could be a 1,500-yard rusher if given enough carries by pass-happy head coach Lane Kiffin) - with Heisman Trophy QB Matt Barkley (3,528 yards passing with 39 TDs and 7 INTs last year) ready/willing/able to utilize his many weapons but is there a fly in the ointment with this USC schedule?
Note that the Pac-12 team must play a September 15th road game at Stanford off a non-league road game at Syracuse and will either the game at UCLA (November 17th) or the regular-season ending tilt against Notre Dame (Nov. 24th) provide stumbling block material?
One scenario we could see: The Trojans run the table with a 12-and-oh regular season but get beat by either Oregon or Washington in the conference title game. Hmmm.
ALABAMA - To paraphrase South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, last year's champs didn't even win the SEC but still won the national championship, so maybe it is tougher to win this league than it is to cop a national crown!
No doubt the Crimson Tide found a path to last year's BCS Championship Game "through the back door" but sixth-year head coach Nick Saban is hinting that won't be necessary this year with yet another super-loaded 'Bama bunch on hand in Tuscaloosa. There's no question that the always well-schooled Alabama defense will be great (duh!) but it's ultra-confident quarterback AJ McCarron (2,634 yards passing with 16 TDs and 5 INTs) who holds the key as attacking fellow SEC West defenses on third-down plays likely will make the difference between another BCS Championship Game appearance or a nice New Year's Day bowl game in the state of Florida.
No doubt the season-opening road game at Michigan jumps right out at you but it again all likely comes down to the road game at LSU on the night of Nov. 3rd. Win that one and Saban's squad has a real chance to be perfect for the second time in four years (see 14-and-oh back in 2009).
LSU - The 2012 preseason coaches poll was just released the other day (see below) and these Bayou Bengals were ranked #1 despite the fact they'll be led by a new quarterback (although that might be a good thing considering the mess left by last year's tandem).
The Les Miles-led Tigers have their usual abundance of team speed - especially on defense - and the usual stable full of quality running backs but what figures to make-or-break a potential perfect season (besides that aforementioned early November clash against archrival Alabama) is a schedule that pits the Bengals against hosts Auburn (Sept. 22nd), Florida (Oct. 6th) and Arkansas (Nov. 23rd) as the odds of winnin' all three of these tough SEC road games remains on the short side.
If expected quarterback starter Zach Mettenberger - an inexperienced 6-foot-5 junior from the state of Georgia - winds up showing great maturity and poise at the position, than maybe LSU will be able to topple all these tough road foes - a big "if" indeed!
FLORIDA STATE - It's hard to believe we're coming up on Year Three of the Jimbo Fisher Era in Tallahassee but it's true and now this yeller/screamer coach has some Bobby Bowden-like season expectations to live up to following on the heels of 10-4 and 9-4 campaigns.
As you can see from the coaches poll below, the Seminoles find themselves ranked #7 overall while heading into this 2012 season and note there's really only one ACC road game on this schedule that should be a major pain (see Nov. 8th at Virginia Tech) - otherwise the 'Noles should be able to handle the likes of N.C. State, Miami and Maryland in their own respective backyards.
A Florida State defense that last year held its final eight foes to below 20 points in each game is getting a lot of "love" from media folks but just how well FSU handles Clemson WR/KR Sammy Watkins in that Sept. 22nd duel at home probably contains the answer as to whether or not the Seminoles have a shot at perfection this year or not.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are gearing up for a big-time NFL Preseason run all summer long and we'll get you started with the Side & Totals Winners of this Sunday's Hall of Fame Game in Canton between the Saints versus the Cardinals. Folks, it promises to be a very lucrative summer time of pigskin fun for Jim and his clients and so don't miss out on all the profits beginning this weekend.
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THE USA TODAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES POLL
Here's the recently-release USA Today Coaches Poll that we referenced earlier in this Jim Sez College Football column. Note that half of the top 10 come from the mighty SEC (that's #1 LSU, #2 Alabama, #6 Georgia, #9 South Carolina and #10 Arkansas) while we claim the real dark horses to watch in terms of this year's national title chase include #14 Clemson and #20 Virginia Tech ... you've now been forewarned!
7. FLORIDA STATE
9. SOUTH CAROLINA
11. WEST VIRGINIA
13. MICHIGAN STATE
19. OKLAHOMA STATE
20. VIRGINIA TECH
21. KANSAS STATE
22. BOISE STATE
24. NOTRE DAME
NOTE: Our NFL Training Camp coverage rolls on in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez plus there's College Football and Major-League Baseball all the time too!