ESPN College Football Analysts Ruminate on Conference Winners, BCS Champion

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ESPN College Football Analysts Ruminate on Conference Winners, BCS Champion

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August 31, 2010 

In preparation for the 2010-11 college football season, ESPN’s College GameDay analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard discussed Heisman hopefuls, conference predictions, surprises and standouts during Saturday’s College GameDay Season Preview on ESPN.

Here, ESPN college football analysts Ed Cunningham, Bob Davie, Lou Holtz, Craig James and Jesse Palmer joined the GameDay crew in the discussion, with each analyst providing his prediction for winners in each of the six automatic qualifying  BCS conferences as well as the winner of the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

ESPN will kick off the 2010 college football season with 31 games in five days across ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU,, ESPN 3D and ESPN Radio beginning Thursday, Sept. 2, with six games, including Southern Miss at South Carolina on ESPN College Football Primetime at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. For complete details, see Monday’s news release.

Big East

ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit UConn I think that this football team obviously went through so much last year, won their last four games, I think really came together. Great nucleus of that team comes back this year.
Lee Corso Pitt They’ve got West Virginia at home, and Dion Lewis is the best player in the conference.
Desmond Howard Pitt I like returning (RBs) Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin, fantastic offensive players; plus they’ve got only two tough road games, Utah and UConn.
Ed Cunningham Pitt This program is for real, this is the year it comes true.
Bob Davie Pitt Running game and improved defense.
Lou Holtz Cincinnati Talent on offense: Zach Collaros at QB, Pead at RB, Woods and Binns at WR. Can’t be any worse on defense than in ’09 and they won it anyway.
Craig James Pitt Wins and championships usually go to teams who can dominate in the running game. I expect another great year on the ground by Pitt.
Jesse Palmer West Virginia 19 starters return to a team that finished 9-3 in 2009 regular season. Maybe the best defense at WVU since the 1988 team that played in national championship game.


ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit Miami (Over Boston College) I think the ‘Canes have been a very young team the last couple years, they group up this year, show some maturity, more consistency.
Lee Corso Virginia Tech They run the old-fashioned way: Run it, kick it, play defense.
Desmond Howard Miami I think they do have the talent to do it this year; the coordinators are in place finally for two years in a row.
Ed Cunningham Florida State The champion will have two or three in-conference losses and Florida State is good enough to only do that.
Bob Davie Virginia Tech Great balance and skill on offense. Always good on defense.
Lou Holtz Florida State (Over Georgia Tech) Christian Ponder will have a great year at QB. Five starters back on the offensive line, good receivers and defense can’t help but be better under Mark Stoops.
Craig James Georgia Tech Very balanced league, yet again I go with a team who I know will run the ball and control the clock.
Jesse Palmer Virginia Tech Improved passing QB Tyrod Taylor has his top six targets back, as well as one of the best RB tandems in the nation, Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.

 Big Ten

ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit Ohio State (Over Boston College) Terrelle Pryor will use the Rose Bowl as kind of a balancing opportunity to get into 2010 and really showcase his talents. I think Jim Tressel will trust him more and really attack on the offensive side.
Lee Corso Iowa They’ve got Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin all at home, and Ricky Stanzi has never lost a game that he started and finished.
Desmond Howard Wisconsin This is the year that they finally get over that hump; they have Ohio State at home, they’ve got to travel to play Iowa.
Ed Cunningham Wisconsin Call me after October 16 and make fun of this pick.
Bob Davie Ohio State Confidence again in winning big games after last year’s Rose Bowl.
Lou Holtz Ohio State They are a complete team. They can run and throw, good offense and good defense, plus an excellent QB in Terrelle Pryor.
Craig James Ohio State Loads of talent and an offensive line that I expect to make Terrelle Pryor and the rest of the offensive players look great. All great offenses have one thing in common: great offensive lines.
Jesse Palmer Ohio State Terrelle Pryor demonstrated his potential during last season’s Rose Bowl victory and he’s surrounded by gifted and experienced playmakers at the skill positions.


ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit Stanford Jim Harbaugh obviously built this program from the ground up. I think they’ll show that there’s more to this team than Toby Gerhart, and Andrew Luck could be the best player in the Pac-10.
Lee Corso USC Monte Kiffin’s defense and they’ve got Oregon and Cal at home.
Desmond Howard Oregon Nick Costas is not a great quarterback but he has great talent around him.
Ed Cunningham USC Don’t forget, Tennessee got better in the second half of last season.
Bob Davie Oregon Even without Masoli, they still have the best spread scheme in the conference.
Lou Holtz USC One of three teams with a proven QB, still the most talented team in the Pac-10. They will rally together because of the probation and people are writing them off.
Craig James Oregon I worked their spring game and I didn’t see one bit of distraction within the team from off-field stuff. The Ducks are focused and talented and have a very good coaching staff.
Jesse Palmer Oregon 17 starters return to a team that must overcome the loss of QB Jeremiah Masoli, however they still have the talent to survive conference road tests at USC and Oregon St.


ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit Florida (Over Auburn) John Brantley is going to perform well, I think Jeff Demps is going to have a breakout year this year, put up some huge numbers. And the defense will have a chance to really rally around people questioning some of the youth and inexperience.
Lee Corso Florida They’ve got tremendous athletes on both sides of the ball, a favorable schedule — they could lose to Alabama at Alabama, and still win it in the SEC title game in Atlanta.
Desmond Howard Alabama But not against Florida. I have Alabama against Georgia in the SEC championship game.
Ed Cunningham ?? There are almost four teams that can compete with all too many unanswered questions.
Bob Davie Alabama Because of their ability to run the football and minimize mistakes.
Lou Holtz Alabama (Over S. Carolina) A winner at QB, two great RBs, Julio Jones at WR, good offensive line and SABAN will always have a great defense.
Craig James Alabama Anybody who picks another team to win the SEC is throwing mud against the wall trying to look good “if” their pick is right. No plausible reason to pick any other team in the SEC.
Jesse Palmer Alabama With nine starters back on offense, and the best 1-2 combination in the Bowl Subdivision at RB, Alabama continues its physical dominance on both sides of the ball in 2010.

Big 12

ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit Oklahoma (Over Nebraska) Sense of urgency after an 8-5 year. Landry Jones, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles, that trifecta will put up some huge numbers for the Sooners.
Lee Corso Nebraska They’ve got a kicker, Alex Henery, he does it all. I like him.
Desmond Howard Nebraska I like Bo Pelini’s group and I think they’re going to beat Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship.
Ed Cunningham Texas Nebraska just can’t win the conference in their last year, can they?
Bob Davie Texas They have the best defense in the league.
Lou Holtz Nebraska (Over Oklahoma) Zac Lee & Cody Green at QB, Roy Helu Jr. at RB, three starters on offensive line, but mostly because of Bo Pelini’s defense.
Craig James Nebraska This being their last season in the Big 12 and with a bulls-eye on their chest, Bo Pelini will have his team ready to take on the world. I’m expecting a much more opened-up offense to go along with another strong defense.
Jesse Palmer Nebraska Bo and brother Carl Pelini continue to mastermind dominant defense, while Nebraska is able to establish a more consistent and dependable running game in 2010.

BCS Championship Game

ESPN Analyst Winner Comments
Kirk Herbstreit Ohio State  (Over Oklahoma) I like Oklahoma coming out of the Big 12 but I think Jim Tressel will open up the playbook this year for Terrelle Pryor.
Lee Corso Nebraska Beating Florida, just like in 1995. Nebraska’s defense wins it.
Desmond Howard Alabama The trend right now is whoever wins the SEC championship game, they go to the BCS championship game, so I’ve got Alabama beating the team who I say will be there in 2010, Miami.
Ed Cunningham Wisconsin (Over TCU) TCU overtakes Boise State in the standings because of tougher in-conference play at the end of the season and Wisconsin’s schedule sets up pretty well.
Bob Davie Alabama Over Ohio State, Alabama is a back-to-back champ.
Lou Holtz Ohio State (Over Boise State) The Big 10 wins the championship. Boise State loses their first game. Ohio State is not the best team, Alabama is – but they lose to Florida in Tuscaloosa. With a target on your back, it’s hard not to get wounded when everyone is shooting at you.
Craig James Alabama (Over Ohio State) The balance of the Tide’s offense and their speed on defense will allow them to somewhat contain Pryor. There’s nothing like experience when it comes to playing BIG games, and the Tide has lots of experience to pull from.
Jesse Palmer Alabama (Over Ohio State) SEC wins fifth straight national championship behind physical running and aggressive defense.


Media Contact: Jenny Zimmerman at 407-566-2213 or [email protected]

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