Oklahoma State's Schedule Is a Doozy
Oklahoma State is getting a lot of pretty deserved hype this year, and they get Oklahoma at home to finish the season. That could signal that this fall's Bedlam battle will be the biggest ever. But ... the 'Pokes go on the road to face almost every other good conference team: Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas and Texas Tech. That is brutal, and it will be a major hindrance. If OSU wins the Big 12 this year, they'll have really, really earned it.
The Florida State Hype Is Legitimate
Football Outsiders' projections are perhaps best at locating the paper tigers: the teams who are being given too much credit, too quickly. This year's major "too much, too soon" candidate is obvious: Texas A&M. The Aggies played like a top 40 team for the first half of the 2010 season and a top 20 team over the last half. Now they start 2011 as a top 10 team. They will be good, but they might not be that good. The Florida State Seminoles, on the other hand, have the profile to live up to the hype. Their base of talent (i.e. five-year recruiting ranking) is as strong as anybody's, and last year's surge to the ACC title game wasn't actually much of a surge.
FSU's four-year F/+ average ranks them in the top 25; they've finished in the top 30 in each of the last three years, and last year's "surge" only took them from 29th to 15th. The major difference was, before 2010, this was certainly a "whole is less than the sum of its parts" situation. The foundation has always been rather strong.
Whether the 'Noles can get past what might be an undefeated Virginia Tech team in the ACC title game is a different story. But this is going to be a damn good team.
This Is An Enormous Year for TCU
TCU has performed at a Top-Five level in recent years, and with a move to the Big East coming next year, they will be getting a lot more attention this season. In theory, that's good; Gary Patterson has done an unbelievable job in Fort Worth, and he deserves all the commendation he gets. One problem: the Horned Frogs return just eight total starters, four on each side of the ball, and they must replace both quarterback Andy Dalton and four offensive line starters, including Rimington Award-winning center Jake Kirkpatrick. The defense will be good because, well, Gary Patterson doesn't put a bad defense on the field, but the offense could regress enough to lead to an early slip-up on the road. TCU plays Baylor, Air Force and San Diego State over the first half of the season, then heads to Boise State in November. That's a lot to ask of such a young team.