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Season Preview: Florida-Oklahoma, The Sequel

by Mike Mitchell
June 17, 2009

The last two Heisman Trophy winners led their respective teams to the BCS title game last year. Now, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford appear to be poised for an encore performance in 2009.

Florida and Oklahoma are the preseason favorites to return to the title game which the Gators won 24-14 last season in Miami. The computer says the only thing different about this year's game is the venue - Pasadena - as Florida is favored by 3.83 to repeat as champs.

It would be the third national title for the Gators in four seasons, and fourth overall, while giving the SEC a fourth consecutive BCS trophy.

Oklahoma has had three championship game disappointments since it last won the title in 2000. The Sooners lost to LSU in 2003, USC in 2004, and Florida last year. In all four of its' appearances since 2000, Oklahoma's usually-potent offensive attack was held to fewer than 20 points and averaged just 15. These were the same teams that averaged no less than 36.08 per game during the regular season, and entered last year's contest with an average output of 54 points per game.

Florida and Oklahoma begin the season ranked 1st and 2nd in the CCR Top 120, but Texas and USC are not very far behind. The Longhorns trail the Sooners by just 0.93 power points, and the Trojans are only 1.98 points behind Texas.

Beyond the top four, the power ratings drop considerably with Utah, Alabama and Virginia Tech more than 7 points below USC and 14 points behind top-ranked Florida.

College Football Poll.com's unique preseason forecast is based on the Congrove Computer Rankings which "plays" every game and projects what should happen based on a number of factors that include each teams' returning talent and difficulty of schedule.

Since its inception in 1993, the CCR Top 120 has correctly pegged the exact national title match-up three times (1993, 1998, 2005), and at least one national title contestant 11 times (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007). The team it picked to win the title has played in the title game seven times (1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005), and won the title three times (1993, 1998, 1999).

For 2008, it projected the exact regular season record of 22 teams, doubling the total of 11 from a year ago. It came within one victory on 26 others. The computer correctly picked the winner in 75.1% of all games played in 2008 and correctly tabbed the winners of five conferences - ACC, Big Ten, Mountain West, PAC-10, and WAC. It also nailed the division winners of the ACC Coastal and CUSA West. Nine more conferences or divisions were won by teams that the computer picked to finish second.

This year, the computer gives undefeated regular season records to six teams with USC, Utah, Alabama and Michigan State joining Florida and Oklahoma. That many teams do not typically manage to escape a season unscathed, though it is a fairly common number to see in a preseason mathematical assessment. Every single game is "played" by the computer, so the wins and losses are reconciled across the board.

One of the dumbest comments I have seen from readers in past years is this: 'The computer is stupid because that many teams never finish unbeaten'.

Time for a refresher course.

In 2004, the computer correctly projected that USC, Oklahoma, Boise State and Utah would finish the regular season without a blemish. Auburn also ran the table that year.

Given the fact that each team only plays about 10% of the 120-team field, the argument could be made that multiple teams should go undefeated each and every season. However, math can not predict which teams will succumb to pressure, make too many mistakes, take the huge underdog opponent lightly, lose key players to injuries, or encounter bad luck.

That's why no one can claim a trophy until the games are played and won.

UNBEATEN TEAMS: 4 teams finished the regular season unbeaten: Alabama, Ball State, Boise State and Utah. However, Alabama and Ball State each lost in their respective conference championship games, and Boise State lost to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The Utes defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and were the only team to make it through the entire season unscathed. Utah also went undefeated in 2004 when it closed the season with a victory over Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl.

If Utah manages to go unbeaten this year, the Utes would be riding a 26-game winning streak by the end of the regular season.

WINLESS TEAMS: Washington was the only winless team. But SMU, Washington, and Western Kentucky all failed to defeat a FBS school.

FBS vs. FCS: FBS teams went 85-2 (.977) against FCS teams last season, and are 375-37 (.910) since 2003.

This year, 87 FBS teams will play a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each play two FCS teams.

STREAKS: Utah has won 14 straight games. The Utes defeated Alabama 31-17 in the Fiesta Bowl.

Boise State had its 12-game winning streak snapped in a 17-16 loss to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Broncos have still won 19 consecutive home games, 49 straight regular season home games, and have never lost at home to a fellow WAC conference member (32-0). Overall, Boise State has won 38 straight conference home games since losing to Idaho in the final game of the 1998 season when it was a member of the Big West.

Florida has won 10 straight. Beat Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS Championship game.

USC has won 10 straight. Beat Penn State 38-24 in the Rose Bowl.

Oklahoma has won 23 straight home games. Lost 24-14 to Florida in the BCS Championship game.

BYU has won 18 consecutive home games. Lost 31-21 to Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Washington has the longest losing streak in the nation at 14 games, and has lost 8 straight home games.

SMU has lost 10 straight overall, 17 straight conference games, 15 consecutive road games, and 21 straight to FBS teams.

Iowa State has lost 10 straight overall, and 17 consecutive road games.

NEW COACHES: The 2008 season wasn't close to being over when jobs started opening up for 2009.

In all, there are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. Last season began with 18 new head coaches, 9 of which led their team to a bowl game.

Only 3 of the new hires have served previously as a FBS head coach - Gene Chizik (Iowa State to Auburn), Brady Hoke (Ball State to San Diego State), and Bill Snyder who returned to Kansas State for a second stint.

Of the remaining 19:

  • 10 were offensive coordinators in their most-recent job - Chip Kelly (Oregon); Doug Marrone (New Orleans Saints); Dave Clawson (Tennessee); Dan Mullen (Florida); Mike Locksley (Illinois); Steve Sarkisian (USC); Dave Christensen (Missouri); Stan Parrish (Ball State); Mike Haywood (Notre Dame); Danny Hope (Purdue).
  • 6 were defensive coordinators - Frank Spaziani (Boston College); Gary Andersen (Utah); Tim Beckman (Oklahoma State); Paul Rhoads (Auburn); Ron English (Louisville); and DeWayne Walker (UCLA).
  • 1 was a wide receivers coach - Dabo Swinney (Clemson).
  • 1 was a head coach in the NFL - Lane Kiffin (Oakland Raiders).
  • 1 was a head coach at the FCS level - Rich Ellerson (Cal Poly). Danny Hope was hired away from his head coaching position at Eastern Kentucky to be the Offensive Coordinator and head coach in waiting last year at Purdue.
Coaching Changes For 2009 Season
TEAM RECORD COACH THIS WEEK
Army 0-0 Rich Ellerson 9/5, at Eastern Michigan
Auburn 0-0 Gene Chizik 9/5, vs. Louisiana Tech
Ball State 0-0 Stan Parrish 9/3, vs. North Texas
Boston College 0-0 Frank Spaziani 9/5, vs. Northeastern (FCS)
Bowling Green 0-0 Dave Clawson 9/3, vs. Troy
*-Clemson 0-0 Dabo Swinney 9/5, vs. Middle Tennessee
Eastern Michigan 0-0 Ron English 9/5, vs. Army
Iowa State 0-0 Paul Rhoads 9/3, vs. North Dakota St. (FCS)
Kansas State 0-0 Bill Snyder 9/5, vs. Massachusetts (FCS)
Miami (O.) 0-0 Michael Haywood 9/5, vs. Kentucky (at Cincinnati)
Mississippi State 0-0 Dan Mullen 9/5, vs. Jackson State (FCS)
New Mexico 0-0 Mike Locksley 9/5, at Texas A&M
New Mexico State 0-0 DeWayne Walker 9/5, vs. Idaho
Oregon 0-0 Chip Kelly 9/3, at Boise State
Purdue 0-0 Danny Hope 9/5, vs. Toledo
San Diego State 0-0 Brady Hoke 9/5, at UCLA
Syracuse 0-0 Doug Marrone 9/5, vs. Minnesota
Tennessee 0-0 Lane Kiffin 9/5, vs. Western Kentucky
Toledo 0-0 Tim Beckman 9/5, at Purdue
Utah State 0-0 Gary Andersen 9/3, at Utah
Washington 0-0 Steve Sarkisian 9/5, vs. LSU
Wyoming 0-0 Dave Christensen 9/5, vs. Weber State (FCS)
*-Dabo Swinney took over halfway through last season when Tommy Bowden stepped down after a 3-3 start. Swinney was 4-3 over the last 7 games of the season.