VERO BEACH, FLORIDA – Donning his favorite turban — the one adorned with a replica ruby — MASwami gazes into his New York City souvenir snow globe and reveals his “Pigskin Prognostications” for the upcoming college football season.
■ Ohio State will reach the final four if it can keep quarterback Cardale Jones healthy.
Without Jones, no way the Buckeyes would have won last season’s Big Ten title game and FBS semifinal and final contests.
The 195-cm, 113-kg Jones’ rocket arm and strong bursts upfield on foot keyed OSU’s national title run. The two Buckeye QBs who went down with injuries, creating Jones’ shot, are back and are terrific athletes but not elite passers.
■ Alabama will NOT make the final four.
Lack of championship play at the quarterback position and a suspect defensive secondary will be the Crimson Tide’s dual Achilles’ heels.
As a result, Bama will lose two regular season games, preventing it from making the playoff quartet.
■ Oklahoma will once again be overrated and underachieving.
Formerly a perennial national title contender, OU will lose its now customary 3-5 games.
These are not your Grandfather’s powerhouse Sooners under Bud Wilkinson or your Pop’s coached by slick Barry Switzer, flashing his national title rings on every finger.
After starting out strong during the tenure of present coach Bob Stoops, Oklahoma these days annually fields teams supposedly brimming with talent that only manage to disappoint.
■ Drab gray will continue to be the new black in college football threads.
Prime example: Oregon. The Ducks have beautiful school colors — green and yellow — but you’d never know it.
UO, like an ever-increasing number of schools, opts for rat gray — think Japanese businessman suit — alternate unis waaay too often. Ugh!
As if the previous fad of funeral-ready, all-black outfits (with colored numbers only) didn’t stink sartorially enough.
■ Arkansas will be your unheralded, surprise final four participant.
The three yards-and-a-cloud of dust Razorbacks have been building slowly but surely under third-year coach Bret Bielema, the former Wisconsin head man.
If you follow college ball closely you know that last season in going 7-6, Arkansas dropped four games by a touchdown or less to top SEC foes (including a one-point loss to Bama).
If it gets decent QB play out of Brandon Allen to keep defenses honest, loaded Arkansas with a sumo-sized offensive line averaging almost 145 kg per man could raise everyone’s eyebrows except MASwami’s.
■ Oregon will not miss departed QB Marcus Mariota as much as you might think.
New signal caller Vernon Adams, a graduate transfer from Eastern Washington, will step in and keep the Ducks up-tempo offense humming.
While at EWU, Adams led his FCS-level ballclub to yearly upsets of Pac-12 powers and annual deep runs in the FCS playoffs.
Adams is a sensational passer-runner in the Mariota mold capable of racking up pinball machine-type numbers.
Thus, Oregon’s offensive consistency will be the difference once again as the Ducks beat out similarly talented but too hot-and-cold outfits like USC, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State for the Pac-12 title.
■ Florida State, likewise, will be fine without Jameis Winston.
New FSU quarterback Everett Golson (Notre Dame transfer) will flourish replacing the former Heisman Trophy- and supermarket crab legs-lifting Winston at the Seminoles’ controls.
Golson made a wise move freeing himself of his nagging ND coach Brian Kelly, who was constantly putting the blame for the Fighting Irish’s woes on Everett’s play (and not his at-times suspect coaching).
By the way, MASwami shops at Publix, the chain where Winston did his heavy lifting. With their king’s ransom price on crab legs, PUBLIX is the one committing highway robbery.
■ TCU and Baylor will be a threat to lay a “hunnert” (100 points) on foes weekly.
TCU, with its Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin back at quarterback and blinding speed on offense, and equally explosive Baylor will take last year’s postseason tournament snub out on this year’s foes.
Both these clubs will display a take-no-prisoners approach to make SURE pollsters don’t overlook them this go ’round.
So, be on the lookout for the first hunnert point game since 1968 when Houston steamrolled Tulsa, 100-6.
■ Many college gridiron fans will miss out on seeing, arguably, the most exciting player in the country: multitalented Brigham Young quarterback Taysom Hill.
The former Mormon mission-serving 25-year-old is a man among boys in more ways than one.
Independent BYU plays a host of games that are televised late (mostly U.S. Mountain time) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. So, while watching one of the 97 “CSI” spin-offs, much of the nation will be blissfully unaware of the scintillating and tough all-purpose Cougar QB.
■ After an absence of several seasons, Georgia and Tennessee will enjoy re-entry into the SEC’s upper echelon.
They will replace two slumping ballclubs — LSU (can’t pass — 126th in the nation in 2014) and South Carolina (porous defense since Jadeveon Clowney left for the NFL).
■ Once-proud powers like Texas, Nebraska and Miami will continue to sputter.
MASwami can’t see the Longhorns (seven losses in ’14), Cornhuskers (four defeats last season) and Hurricanes (seven L’s) improving a great deal record-wise.
Your not-so-humble soothsayer admires Texas’ Charlie Strong’s no-nonsense approach.
However, Strong seems to be a defense-oriented coach who needs to be gifted with a Teddy Bridgewater at QB (like Strong had at Louisville) to field a potent offense.
In recent years, Nebraska’s famed “Blackshirts” defense has gone into the witness protection program and is nowhere to be seen anymore. Top Cornhusker foes have been rolling up the points on U of N regularly.
Miami, since it cracked down on the obnoxious actions of its players, has become respectable in the behavior department but struggled to post great win-loss marks.
But that’s OK with MASwami, never a fan of repulsive deportment excused as “swag,” — the type “The U” was formerly notorious for.
■ This season’s final four: Arkansas, Ohio State, Oregon and TCU.
Uneasy lies the turban on the head of the sports kingdom’s premier predictor. Geez, this thing must weigh 25 pounds (11 kg) it’s giving MASwami a sore neck.
Contact MAS at: email@example.com
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