Guessing the identity of college football's next super power leads off this week's mailbag:
From Matt in D.C.: Over the last decade, there is a pretty clear cut group of "super elite" teams. USC, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma. While I don't foresee any of these teams leaving the group, I was wondering about your thoughts on any teams joining the group? My best guesses are Alabama and Penn State. Your thoughts?
Feldman: If Nick Saban stays at Alabama, I'll say the Tide will fit in your super group. My reluctance on Penn State is two-fold: at some point in the near future the program is going to have new leadership and it's hard to say how much different things will be with the dynamic of the staff changing. Will Tom Bradley take over? Who knows for sure? Right now I also don't think Penn State is as close to that group as say Georgia is. PSU has only had two double-digit-win seasons in the past nine and they're 1-5 against teams in the top 10 since 2006, with four of those losses being by at least two TDs.
From Roxanne in Orlando: Your Jesse Scroggins story this week was really fascinating. As a Gator, I'm hoping he comes here, but I'll admit I am worried for him because it sounds like his father raised him like Richard Williams raised Venus and Serena, only harder, and hopefully Jesse doesn't end up hating his father one day.
Feldman: Thanks. It's an interesting point. I received a lot of e-mails from folks bringing up this point. Some also suspected that Mr. Scroggins wants his son to be a quarterback more than Jesse III does. I do know from what Jesse III told me he is elated to be where he's at in terms of his future and the dreams he's had. It seems like he is a very well-adjusted kid and that they have a very strong relationship. Hopefully, it works out for them.
From Chase in Sandy, UT: You have fallen to the classic BYU blunder. For some reason you think that they might run the table because of their potent offense. But remember what Utah did to that offense? And yes, Harvey Unga is a fabulous RB but BYU has no clue on how to actually use a RB. However, if you know anything about the beloved Cougs you would know that they always, always, always, choke. They look so good on paper but then fall apart towards the end of the season when they actually play good teams. Simply put they aren't good. Remember last year? They were demolishing teams left and right but then went up against an awesome TCU team and got their butts kicked.
Feldman: Look, I'm not expecting them to run the table. I think Oklahoma is a huge test and, as I said, the matchup of BYU's offensive line against the Sooners' D-line would scare me if I'm a Cougar fan, but if they can somehow pull that off, I like their chances the rest of the way. They have a ton of experience at key places and I love this stat that I saw in the Phil Steele guide: The last four times the team has had a senior QB, they went on to win conference titles. Max Hall is a senior and he's not only very talented but he has a lot of good skill players around him.
From Jon in Stevensville, MI: I am mildly disappointed TCU is not higher in your article discussing the 10 most likely teams to bust the BCS. While TCU does lose several key players on defense, they bring back a consensus All-American defensive end and a "backup" linebacker who is projected to be drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round of next year's draft (Washington). All key skill players return on offense, including Andy Dalton, who has two years as a starting QB under his belt. TCU plays only three "losable" games this year: at Clemson, at BYU, and Utah at home. The Frogs should be fired up against Utah due to the 4th quarter drive last year, and I really do not see Clemson or BYU matching up with TCU athletically. Based on both TCU and BSU going undefeated, TCU will be head over heels above BSU in SOS due to the fact that there are three good teams in the MWC and only one good team in the WAC. Decent article, just wish you had spent more time analyzing the Frogs. Most national media outlets look at TCU's losses on defense and overlook that TCU reloads every year at safety, and the fact that Washington played better and is more athletic than either "starter" last year.
Feldman: I like TCU a lot this season for many of the reasons you mention. The one point I'd differ on is how Clemson matches up athletically with them. Clemson is loaded with athletes, too. Consistency there is a big concern. Athleticism is not.
I agree about TCU's schedule being more imposing than Boise's, although the Broncos have a chance to make a big impression early against Oregon. If BSU wins that and then Oregon goes out and wins the Pac-10, the Broncos will be in the top 10.To read more of Bruce's blog -- including his thoughts on Florida's off-field issues, the overlap of the recession and college football, and how Pete Carroll is influencing the military -- please become an ESPN Insider.
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