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Twenty Questions? - Gerd Has the Answers
By Tony Gerdeman

College football is so predictable. Much in the same way a pond is so easy to hit with a rock. Everybody can throw a rock in a pond, but not everybody can skip it out into the middle of said pond.

So the following are some attempts to skip some rocks across the 2006 college football season.

There is no guarantee all of these are going to be six or seven-skippers. There may be a couple that take a nosedive and end with a resounding “plunk!”

Keep in mind however, that these are not “predictions”, they are “educated guesses”. And given that spring is still a couple of months away, consider these “semi-educated guesses”. (Although if most of them right, we predict that you’ll hear about it later on down the road.)

Now that we've covered my tracks enough, here are some questions and answers about the 2006 season. (In random order.)

Who will be 2006’s Tennessee? (The team that starts in the Top 10 only to fall like a monkey with an inner ear infection.)

Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Florida’s fall is going to be as magnificent as Tennessee’s. However, I also don’t think Florida is going to be the Top 5 team that many are saying they will be. Historically, Urban Meyer’s second year in a program has been his best. His second year at Bowling Green he was 9-3. His second year at Utah he was 12-0. (It must be noted, however, that neither of those two teams played in the SEC during Meyer’s tenure.) The Gators go to Tennessee, Auburn and Florida State. They host Alabama, LSU and South Carolina. There’s also the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with Georgia. There are four losses in there somewhere.

Who will lead the nation in rushing?

Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois. Yes, Adrian Peterson has a shot. But using my skills in educated guesses, I’m going to have to guess that Peterson won’t crack the 1,700 yards that Wolfe will. There’s also Cal’s Marshawn Lynch, but he won’t stay healthy enough to win the rushing title. Wolfe won’t stay healthy either, but in his ten games he’ll rush for more yards than anybody else’s twelve games. However, if somebody steals the title from Wolfe in their bowl game and NIU doesn’t go bowling, I will feel robbed.

Should the West Virginia BCS Championship Game threat be taken seriously?

Yes. Any time you are threatened you should take it seriously. Especially if the one threatening you is wielding a musket and deerskins. Don’t lose sleep over it, though. When considering West Virginia’s chances, there are three things to keep in mind: 1) They play in the Big East, which means they are fielding a team with Big East talent; 2) They don’t throw the ball well; and 3) They go to Louisville and Pitt. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Louisville will beat them. (If Louisville can get by a home game against the Hurricanes on September 16, then you may want to start worrying about the Cardinals.)

Will there be a mid-major in the BCS this year?

Yes. Notre Dame. (You had to see that one coming, right?)

Who is a relatively unknown player that will be relatively known by October?

Aaron Brown, RB TCU. Brown was one component of a three-headed backfield for the Horned Frogs last year. He will do more of the same in 2006, but should be a larger part of the attack. He will be the most explosive player on the field in each game he plays. If he ends up with 20 carries per game, TCU might be the answer to the mid-major question above.

Who will play in the Sugar Bowl?

Auburn and Louisville. Auburn has the schedule to go undefeated, just not the talent. Louisville will fight to keep mighty West Virginia out of the BCS.

Who will win the Biletnikoff Award?

Jason Hill, WR Washington State. The Biletnikoff Award selection committee doesn’t always take the biggest name out there, just ask Marcus Harris. Hill will put up impressive numbers for the third straight year and after his name is called, he will have an awkward interview with Lee Corso in which Lee will call him “Jason Harris”.

Which true freshman will have the biggest impact in 2006?

Mitch Mustain, QB Arkansas. The Razorbacks don’t really have anybody else of substance to throw in there and Mustain is the biggest thing to hit Arkansas since Oliver Miller. Arkansas has the running game to take some pressure off of Mustain, but the SEC is never easy for a true freshman quarterback.

Who will play in the Orange Bowl?

Florida State and LSU. The Seminoles will have to beat the Hurricanes twice to get to the BCS Championship Game. That’s not happening. However, if Florida State gets by Miami in Miami on September 4, I may have to amend my “that’s not happening”, as their only other regular season road games are at North Carolina State, Duke and Maryland. The ACC will be pitiful in 2006. LSU will have two losses in 2006, but it’ll be good enough for an at large berth.

Who will win the Butkus Award?

Honestly, who even cares anymore? The Butkus Award has turned into the NIT of individual awards after that sham last year. If I saw the Butkus Award on the street and it was dying of thirst and it started raining, I would put my umbrella over top of it.

Which team is going to be crying the loudest about being left out of the BCS?

Miami. That’s the price you pay when you travel about as well as a family of six in a Chevy Monza.

Who will win the Doak Walker Award?

Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma. Just give him the award now. After his injury-plagued season last year, people are clamoring to give him his accolades and hoping he does well. I apparently am only giving him accolades because I know others will. (What if that’s what everybody else is doing as well?)

Will there be more than two undefeated teams?

No. There may not even be one. TCU has the best shot. They have a great schedule and decent talent, but they have a tough one at home against Texas Tech. USC has the best schedule, but a new offense. Oklahoma has a nice schedule as well, but they travel to Oregon on September 16.

Who will lead the nation in passing efficiency?

Brian Brohm, QB Louisville. Brohm, for the most part, has all of his skill players coming back, including bruising running back Michael Bush. Bush will allow Brohm to thrive with the play action and no defense will be able to solely play the pass against Louisville in 2006.

Who will play in the Fiesta Bowl?

Texas and TCU. The Fiesta Bowl will reluctantly take TCU simply because there will be no other teams to match TCU’s 12-0 record. Texas will get the nod because they will be the second best team in the Big XII. The game will be billed as the Battle of Texas in Arizona. Actually, they’ll probably come up with something catchier than that.

Which big shoes to fill heading into 2006 will be filled the easiest?

Laurence Maroney’s. Gary Russell will pick up right where Maroney left off and he’ll put Laurence’s shoes on the shelf with Tellis Redmon, Terry Jackson III and Marion Barber Jr.’s. Of course Russell’s numbers will be cut some because of Amir Pinnix’s emergence.

Who will win the Bednarik Award?

LaRon Landry, S LSU. Landry came back to the Tigers after considering leaving early for the NFL. Right now, Landry is the safe pick. He is a playmaker on a talented team that has a chance to go very far. (Penn State loses quite a bit on defense, which is why Paul Posluszny is not the surefire pick right here.)

Who will play in the Rose Bowl?

Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes will get there by winning the Big Ten. The Irish will get there because of their BCS stipulation which states that they must win at least four games to be considered.

Who will win the Heisman Trophy?

Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma. Peterson will win and he had better thank the development of his quarterback, Rhett Bomar. The Heisman voters will appreciate the fact that Peterson carried the young Sooners to the BCS National Championship Game.

Who will play in the BCS National Championship Game?

Oklahoma over USC. The Sooners were a young team last year. They learned a lot from the rough season. They will put that to good use against a Big XII that really only has one other competitor, Texas. USC has some tough games, but nothing that they shouldn’t be able to get through. This is more of a testament to the state of the Pac 10, rather than the state of USC. Obviously the Trojans' season is dependent upon finding a quarterback, but the quarterback that they’ll eventually find will only have to go against other Pac 10 defenses. Doesn’t seem that daunting.

So there you have it. Twenty semi-educated guesses. Although truth be told, I’m already regretting putting that USC pick in print. Actually, I’m already second-guessing a lot of it—except for the ones I get right.

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