Fall camps are under way and the regular season will be here soon so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time and author is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
#4 – Texas Longhorns 13-0 SU; 11-2 ATS
Fargo’s Take If Vince Young decided to stick around for his senior season, the Longhorns would be the easy favorites to repeat as National Champions while Young would be the likely Heisman favorite as well. Instead, Texas must try and defend its title with a quarterback who has never played in a college game. Colt McCoy has the name and raw talent to become a star but the inexperience is a huge concern. What he does have is playmakers aplenty around him which should ease some of the transition. The defense will also be asked to step things up early on but that will not be a problem at all. The Longhorns have won at least 10 games for five straight seasons so winning is never a question. Breaking through and winning the big games was a question prior to last season but with the first National Championship in 36 years in Austin, Texas is now part of the elite category. The schedule will be difficult yet again but if McCoy learns quickly, a repeat title is not out of the question.
Returning Starters on Offense – 6 McCoy redshirted last season so he does have a season of the system under his belt which is what was the deciding factor in winning the job over true freshman Jevan Snead. Two of the top three receivers are back in Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman while redshirt freshman Jermichael Finley turned a lot of heads at tight end. Three starters along the offensive line are back and depth is everywhere so there will be no dropoff there. The running game will be just fine despite the suspension and subsequent transfer of running back Ramonce Taylor. Leading returning rusher Jamaal Charles, who gained 878 yards and an amazing 7.4 ypc, is only a sophomore but he is projected as a first team All-Big XII running back. Senior Selvin Young (461, 4.8) is also going to be a big contributor. Texas finished 1st in scoring offense, 2nd in rushing offense and 3rd in total offense and while those rankings likely won’t be matched, this is still going to be a very potent offense.
Returning Starters on Defense – 7 If for some reason the offense struggles, the defense is more than ready to pick up the slack. The Longhorns finished 8th in scoring defense and 10th in total defense last season and will be even better in 2006. This is tabbed at the best defense in the conference and 2nd best in the nation thanks to seven players coming back and depth everywhere on the field. The secondary has two first team All-Big XII players in corner Tarell Brown and strong safety Michael Griffin both of whom are on All-American watch lists. The defensive line also boasts two first-team all-conference players in defensive end Tim Crowder and defensive tackle Frank Okam. If there is a weakness, it is at linebacker but speed and depth will make that unit successful as well. Texas has one of the best defensive coordinators in the country with Gene Chizik, who is in his second season after leading Auburn to the top ranked scoring defense in 2004.
Schedule Everybody will be coming after Texas this season but matching the talent to actually win those games is a completely different scenario. The Longhorns start the season with a home rout of North Texas before hosting revenge-minded Ohio St. in what should be a similar classic to that of last season. Texas then gets a three-game break against Rice, Iowa St. and Sam Houston St. before heading to Dallas to take on Red River Shootout rival Oklahoma. The Longhorns should win the remaining games on the slate starting with a home game against Baylor and finishing with games against Oklahoma St., Kansas St. and Texas A&M at home. Sandwiched in there however are two road games at Nebraska and Texas Tech that are by no means easy wins. Another trip to the Big XII Championship is likely if it can get past the Sooners and Red Raiders away from home.
You can bet on… USC was able to repeat, twice actually, so the Longhorns are certainly capable. Young at the helm would have made things a lot easier but this is still one of the most talented teams in the country. Texas has won 20 straight games, the longest streak in the country and no team wants to snap that more than the Buckeyes who were defeated at home last year by the Longhorns in the final seconds. Texas destroyed most of its competition last year which led to its 11-2 record against the number. The Longhorns are 10-4 as road favorites over the last three years and if it is available, that is where the value will be found albeit not much. The first road game this season is at Rice and not only does it follow Ohio St. meaning letdown but the home team is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings in that series.
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