2011 Darkhorse National Title Contenders
Ten Darkhorse National Title Contenders
Last season I wrote about ten teams that were darkhorse national title contenders. I had Miami(FL) as my #1 darkhorse team but they fell off the map. But my #2 darkhorse team was the Auburn Tigers and that came through big by not only be a national title contender, they took home the BCS Title last season going a perfect (14-0). The tigers benefited from a schedule that featured eight home games with only four road games and really just one hard road game and that came at the end of the season when they beat they beat their arch rival Alabama in Tuscaloosa 28-27. I have chosen ten teams for this year that will contend for the national title at some point this season. I will not include the preseason top ten teams because they are expected to contend for a title or bcs bowl bid and those teams are Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Texas A&M, Stanford and Wisconsin. Although in my opinion there should be a poll until about the fourth week of college football if you ask me. So here are my 10 darkhorse national title teams for the 2011 college football season.
1. Arkansas – The Razorbacks took a huge lost last week with the injury to running back Kniles Davis but still have some good running backs returning to take up the slack. Although they lose quarterback Ryan Mallett to the NFL but junior Tyler Wilson is capable of being a great quarterback and he will be throwing to the best receiving corp in the SEC. The Razorbacks due have to travel to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge at the end of the year but if they can manage to win one or both of those games it put them in certain contention for the SEC West title and perhaps the national title race as well.
2. South Carolina – Like Auburn last season the Gamecocks only go on the road four times, five if you are counting their season opener against East Carolina in Charlotte. But the Gamecocks road schedule is much tougher than Auburn’s a year ago in my opinion cause they will have to travel to Starkville, Knoxville and Fayetteville in a span of four weeks! And they also will travel to Athens in week 2 which can be crucial even though it is early in the season. With 13 starters back from last season along with senior quarterback Stephen Garcia and top wideout Alshon Jeffery and some highly touted freshmen on defense the Gamecocks will look to improve on last year’s 9-5 record.
3. Georgia – The Bulldogs will know early if they are in the national title race as they will face Boise State in Atlanta in the season opener and the following week they will play South Carolina in Athens. Both Boise State and South Carolina should start off the season ranked in the top 15. If the Bulldogs can win both games they will a have a leg up in the rankings and in the SEC East race as well. They due avoid playing LSU, Alabama and Arkansas out of the SEC but due have to travel to Knoxville where they have lost their last two meetings to Tennessee. They due play Mississippi State and still have to face Florida in Jacksonville.
4. Nebraska - The Cornhuskers have made the move to the Big Ten conference this season leaving the Big 12 where they played in the Big 12 title game the last two seasons losing to Texas in '09 and Oklahoma last season. They are expected to contend for the Big Ten title this season in the Legends Division. They will see what they are made of as there first two conference games will be against Wisconsin in Madison and a home game against Ohio State. If the Cornhuskers can manage to win both those games it may go a long way on the Big Ten title and bcs bowl bid.
5. Virginia Tech - Although Virginia Tech will be breaking in a new starter at quarterback this season. The schedule is a very favorable one as they do not have to play Florida State, probably the best team in the ACC this year. The Hokies only return five starters on the defensive side of the ball but should be fine. They also get Miami(FL) in Blacksburg where the Hokies play well at. Also the four non conference games they play in they will be favored to win all of them.
Here are my other darkhorse national title contenders for 2011. Remember these teams may not necessarily win the title but they will be in contention at one point in the season and may make it to a bcs bowl game.
6. West Virginia
7. South Florida
8. Notre Dame
9. Arizona State
My Top 5 Non BCS Conference Teams For 2011
1. Boise State
2. Southern Miss