Could Kevin Hogan and Stanford be champions in 2013?
(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports)
Welcome to day three of our staff's attempt to be BOLD... That's right, we are going out on a limb all this week as every day a different writer brings you his thoughts on what could happen during the 2013 college football season. We could shock you, underwhelm you, or just plain be on the mark.
It got kicked off by Allen Kenney and Jonathan Biles picked up the torch yesterday. Both of them had a love affair with the Pac-12 and the SEC, so today you'll get some attention in other places that play football too. Amazing, right?
Andy Coppens' Five Predictions of Varying Boldness:
1) Iowa won't win a conference game, Kirk Ferentz gets fired and Bret Bielema comes home.
This is a bold pick to say the least and perhaps the boldest pick I'm going to make to some, because a lot of people see this Iowa team as decent (News flash, I DON'T). But when you step back and look at the factors at play you begin to see how it could happen. Hell, let's just take a look at their schedule in Big Ten play, shall we?
After kicking off the Big Ten slate with rival Minnesota on the road the Hawkeyes take on this brutal slate: vs. Michigan State, BYE, at Ohio State, vs. Northwestern, vs. Wisconsin, at Purdue, BYE, vs. Michigan, at Nebraska - exactly how many of those games are they even going to be favored in? A quick glance and you'd say ONE, maybe two at the very most if you want to stretch it out.
Point being, this team could come in with two loses before conference play even starts and that would put them behind the eight ball as Big Ten play begins. Their two most winnable football games on paper also happen to come on the road against Minnesota and Purdue and while Kinnick can be a tough place to play, you actually need the team on the field to be good enough and with the schedule they face I don't see many winnable games. So, at the end of the year I'm saying we're looking at a winless Big Ten season for the Hawkeyes and that gives the administration the guts to finally do something that should've been done two years ago - FIRE KIRK FERENTZ.
Yes, that's right, the most tenured coach in the Big Ten gets the axe despite that crazy $3.8 million buyout and the Hawkeyes will pursue their dream man... Bret Bielema. He jumps the SEC ship after just one season for his true dream job and ultimate middle finger to the Wisconsin Badger fanbase - a group he clearly isn't and never was in love with in the first place. (Can you just imagine that twitter war? HOLY HELL)
2) Kevin Hogan will be the best QB in the Pac-12 when it's all said and done.
Everyone wants to talk about Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley out of the Pac-12 and that's fine, both are very good QB's, however they are missing the best quarterback in the conference and that's Kevin Hogan of Stanford. If you don't believe me, just find a way to watch the Rose Bowl from last season.
All Hogan did in 2012, where he started just five games, was complete over 70% of his passes for nine touchdowns to just three interceptions and 1,096 yards. Sure, the yardage doesn't blow you away, but he wasn't the focal point of the offense in 2012 either. There were other weapons - mainly Stepfan Taylor.
Expect David Shaw to take the training wheels off this season and make Hogan the focal point of the offense. If Hogan completes 65% of his passes or more this team is going to do something few really believe can happen... I fully expect nearly 3,000 yards from Hogan, despite the power running and pro-style offense this team runs. He's a competent QB and the best pure QB in the conference. For me, when the dust settles, he'll be the one standing atop the heap in the Pac-12.
3) Clemson will.... Clemson themselves before the FSU game.
Shocking pick, right? Clemson will do themselves in... Who doesn't think that will happen? Well, sorry to not go out on a limb with that part, but what makes this pick bold is I'm saying it happens before they get to the FSU game and not during or after.
What makes this bold is I'm saying they lose to one of these ACC schools: NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse, or Boston College. My pick for Clemsoning? I'm going with NC State and their new head coach Dave Doeren. Doeren is a heck of a coach and he'll have the NC State team playing high level football right out of the gate. Besides, the cupboard isn't totally bare in Raleigh to begin with. It could be a bad matchup for the Tigers defense and if it happens you have to wonder if Dabo Sweeney is in Death Valley come this time next season as well. After all, starting out the season inside the Top 10 and losing to NC State plus all the money they are spending on his salary = not a good combination for keeping your job.
4) A Mountain West team will make the final BCS, but not the team you think.
Everyone has their eyes and hearts set on Boise State making another run to the BCS, but I'm here to tell you they won't make it out of conference play unscathed. That's because they'll lose to Fresno State, who is on the radar for some writers and pundits.
The Bulldogs are LOADED in 2013 with star QB Derek Carr, wide receivers Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse, and offensive tackle Austin Wentworth providing some great offensive weapons. Add in an ultra-aggressive defense under Tim DeRuyter and a schedule that has a good balance to it and you have the makings of a team that can easily challenge BSU for the king of the non-BCS schools out west title.
Starting out with Rutgers and also playing at Colorado in the non-conference slate isn't too shabby for a school like FSU. In conference they get Boise State at home, but then play division foes San Diego State and San Jose State on the road. If one or both of those teams can be true challengers the schedule will be good enough to qualify them for the BCS and I say they win all three of those plus the two non-conference games against AQ schools for the recipe needed to get into the party at the end of the season.
5) The Pac-12 Champ will unseat SEC champ as national champion.
Yes, finally someone doing something original here at CBR this week - after all, it's been Alabama and more 'Bama from our previous "bold predictions" out there. That ends today as I see the Pac-12 as just as tough as what the top of the SEC offers this year. Think about this... Stanford has gone to a BCS bowl game each of the past three years, Oregon has been to a BCS bowl or the national championship game each of the past four years. Who would've thought it wouldn't have been just USC with this capability only a few years ago?
The fact that I'm picking a generic Pac-12 team so far isn't bold, but what I'm about to pick will be... Stanford wins the national championship. Yes, they enter the season ranked No. 4 by the USA Today Coaches Poll, but the general public still doesn't believe in the Cardinal and it will take them more than anyone else in the national title picture to get the national respect they deserve. Since I picked Kevin Hogan as the best QB in the Pac-12 it would only be natural that he leads his team to the national title game. The defense is 100% underrated in my opinion and it will be what ends up winning them a national title, likely over Alabama or Ohio State.