As the college football season grinds into the second half, it's a perfect time to look back at the pre-season predictions.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Coffee stains abound on the college football predictions. The guys who were on the magazine covers in August have been pushed aside by the stars of September and early October.
The pre-season rankings don't mean as much as they did two months ago. But that's OK. As college football tilts into the second half of the season, it's a wonderful time to look back at what I expected from Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky. I'll start with the Wildcats because they're up first this week, at Mississippi State Thursday night.
(If I get two of these correct, success. Three? I'm changing my name to Lee Corso. Four? Meet me in Las Vegas.)
Predicted Record: 4-8
Current Record: 1-5
The Computer Says: The Wildcats' average national ranking is 102.
Best Win: Trick question.
Worst Loss: Western Kentucky 35, UK 26.
Calling Card: The Wildcats have done a solid job of protecting the football. In fact, they're plus one in turnovers, forcing one (seven) more than they have given up. That's a start to building a winning mindset.
Star Watch: Linebacker Avery Williamson remains a tackling machine, averaging more than 10 per game. Only one player in the Southeastern Conference is averaging more. There are plenty of tackles to be made – and Williamson makes them.
HELP! The Air Raid Offense remains a work in progress. Kentucky ranks 92nd in the nation, and 10th in the SEC, in passing offense barely averaging 200 yards per game, an increase of about 25 yards per game from last season. But last season at Texas Tech, Neal Brown's offense averaged 356 yards. He needs more time.
Record of Future Opponents: 27-14. There isn't a team left on the UK schedule currently dragging a losing record, including the scheduled win against (5-2) Alabama State.
Revised Forecast: 4-8. This will be tricky. There's no room for error. But I'll go with the upset play at Mississippi State Thursday night because the Wildcats have had time to heal and game plan. Then they'll beat Alabama State at home – and grab the fourth win against either Vanderbilt or Tennessee.
Predicted Record: 11-1
Current Record: 6-1
The Computer Says: Average computer ranking of 28, surprising for a team ranked 16th in two human polls.
Best Win: The 42-point spanking of Ohio U or the two-touchdown win against Rutgers? Considering the Bobcats also lost at home to Central Michigan, go with the Rutgers' game.
Worst Loss: Don't ask.
Calling Card: Good thing I didn't write this Friday afternoon. I would have started with Charlie Strong's defense. Then the final 20 minutes of the UCF game happened. Now I'll go with the passing attack. The Cards rank 14th nationally in passing yards (331 yards per game) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has thrown 20 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
Star Watch: Bridgewater gets plenty of love. Time to recognize the fabulous season Calvin Pryor is delivering at strong safety – three interceptions and 47 tackles. Pryor hits receivers as if they owe him money. He'll play in the NFL.
HELP! – Strong is still waiting for somebody to put something special into the Cardinals' special teams play, especially in the return game.
Record of Future Opponents: 13-18. Houston and Cincinnati aren't great, but they're not terrible. I can't say that about the other three opponents.
Revised Forecast: 11-1. What the Cardinals do over their final five games has become secondary to what Central Florida does over the Knights' final six games. Until UCF stumbles in league play, there's not much to discuss.
Predicted Record: 6-6
Current Record: 3-4
The Computer Says: The Hoosiers are essentially average with a computer ranking of 66.
Best Win: Indiana 44, Penn State 24. Bill O'Brien still doesn't want to talk about it in Happy Valley but it will never be forgotten in Bloomington.
Worst Loss: Navy 41, IU 35. Kevin Wilson still doesn't want to talk about it, but it will not be forgotten if IU fails to make a bowl.
Calling Card: Offensively, the Hoosiers have the profile of a 6-1 team. They're averaging 514 yards per game and more than 42 points.
Star Watch: Halfback Tevin Coleman is on his way to a 1,110-yard, 15-touchdown season, impressive numbers on a pass-first offense.
HELP! This is Year Three for Wilson, and the Hoosiers are still giving up nearly 500 yards per game, more yards than IU allowed last season. The Hoosiers don't have to be great on defense. Just average. They need to improve to become below average.
Record of Future Opponents: 21-13. The only team remaining on the IU schedule with a losing record is Purdue.
Revised Forecast: 6-6. Every time Navy loses (Western Kentucky, Duke, Toledo so far), that IU loss to the Midshipmen becomes more outrageous. It's a three-game season for the Hoosiers because they won't win at Wisconsin or Ohio State. Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue are the money games. All at home, but IU has already been beaten twice in Bloomington. By Missouri and Navy.
Predicted Record: 8-4
Current Record: 4-3
Average Computer Ranking: 79.
Best Win: WKU 19, Navy 7, even though it didn't carry in-state bragging rights.
Worst Loss: South Alabama 31, WKU 24. Momentum killer.
Calling Card: As expected, Bobby Petrino's team is delivering a solid run/pass blend, averaging about 203 yards rushing and 271 passing. Antonio Andrews is the goods.
Star Watch: Xavius Boyd. He's made 67 tackles and 6 ½ sacks. He's all over the field, trying to get the ball back for Petrino's offense. Player. Big-time player.
HELP! Turnover after turnover after turnover after turnover. The Hilltoppers rank 122nd nationally in turnover margin, with eight fumbles and 14 interceptions. Only Southern Mississippi has been more careless with the football and Southern Miss is winless. Think about it: The Hilltoppers are averaging three turnovers a game and still have a winning record.
Record of Future Opponents: 14-21. It's fair to call Saturday's game against Troy a Must Win.
Revised Forecast: 8-4. If I'm not going to back off my predictions on the other three teams, no reason to start here, but there's no margin for error on Planet Petrino.