Throughout the history of college football there are a countless number of teams that could never get over the hump. Under John Cooper Ohio State had a very tough time trying to beat Michigan. Cooper had a 2-10-1 record against the Wolverines. Under Jim Tressel the Buckeyes beat Michigan and defeated Miami for the National Championship. Ohio State has played in two BCS Title games since the Miami game and participated in two Fiesta Bowls. USC lost to Notre Dame from 1983-1993. It took the arrival of Pete Carroll and years of great recruiting classes to have a seven game winning streak over the Irish. All it takes is one victory for a program to start to believe that it belongs on the big stage. Maybe these programs will finally turn it around in 2009 and qualify for a BCS game.
Pittsburgh Panthers: 25-23 Under Dave Wannstedt; Lost to Oregon State 3-0 in the Sun Bowl
The Big East has not had a dominant team since Virginia Tech and Miami left the conference. West Virginia has been the most consistent with a victory in the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl in 2004 and 2007. The Mountaineers blew a chance to play for the BCS Championship when the Panthers upset them 13-9. Now West Virginia has lost Pat White to the NFL and Pittsburgh needs to finally win the Big East and go to a BCS game under the guidance of Dave Wannstedt. If Cincinnati can win the Big East and go to the Orange Bowl then Pitt should be able to become very dominant in the league in a hurry. Pitt has experience at QB with Bill Stull throwing for 2,356 yards. Pitt also has good size at WR Greg Cross is 6-2 210, Jonathan Baldwin 6-5 220 and Oderick Turner is 6-3 205. Pitt has a lot of SR’s on defense this year. The Panthers start off the season against Youngstown St., Buffalo, and Navy. There is no excuse for Pitt not to start off the 2009 season 3-0. Their season will come down to games at N.C. State, USF at home, Notre Dame at home and at West Virginia.
Fresno State: 92-61 Under Pat Hill; Lost to Colorado State 40-35 in the New Mexico Bowl
The Bulldogs have a huge reputation of playing anybody, anywhere, anytime. I wish some of the so-called big boys of college football would have the kind of out of conference schedule that Fresno State has played. This season the Bulldogs play at Wisconsin, at Cincinnati and the Bulldogs end the year at Illinois. Fresno State gets a lot of respect for the competition they play against, but at the same time it is almost impossible to run the table with their schedule and make a BCS Bowl. Other Mid-Majors like Boise State, Utah and Hawaii have been to BCS games. The Bulldogs should focus on winning the WAC Conference. From 2002-2006 Boise State won the WAC Championship and only shared the conference crown with Nevada in 2005. Fresno State has not won the WAC since 1999. Talent has not been the problem. The Bulldogs have lost seven of their last eight games to the Broncos. This year Fresno State gets Boise State at home. The Bulldogs have a lot of upperclassmen back on defense. MLB Ben Jacobs led the team in tackles in 2008 with 113. Offensively Fresno State will rely on three above average RB’s in Ryan Mathews, Anthony Harding and Lonyae Miller. All three backs averaged more than 5 YPC in 2008. The Bulldogs might not run the table, but if they play up to their potential they can beat Boise State and win the WAC.
TCU Horned Frogs: 73-27 Under Gary Patterson; Beat Boise State 17-16 in the Poinsettia Bowl
TCU should have a huge advantage over the rest of the MWC, because they should be able to recruit a lot of talent from the state of Texas. One thing that Coach Patterson has built is one of the best defenses in the country. In 2008 the Horned Frogs only gave up 11.3 PPG. DE Jerry Hughes is very hard to block. Last year Hughes led TCU with 15 sacks. When TCU plays at Virginia and Clemson those teams better devise a scheme to get Hughes blocked. TCU has been one of the best teams in the MWC, but they have watched Utah win two BCS games in the last five years. In 2008 Utah got a narrow 13-10 victory over the #11 ranked Horned Frogs. If TCU would have won that game they could have moved up high enough in the polls to qualify for a BCS game. TCU should be the favorite to win the MWC and they should be the most likely Mid-Major to go to a BCS game in 2009. Overall, TCU is better than Virginia and Clemson, but their offense must show up in both of those games. This might be Patterson’s best shot at making a BCS game.