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College Football

Midseason Crystal Ball

After providing their original forecasts back in August, SI.com's college football writers Stewart Mandel, Andy Staples, Cory McCartney, Luke Winn, Arash Markazi, Bill Trocchi and Gennaro Filice regroup at the halfway point and offer their predictions for the rest of the season.

Mandel:National title:Texas vs. Penn State Rose: USC vs. Florida Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Utah Sugar: Alabama vs. Pittsburgh Orange: Wake Forest vs. Boise State

Staples:National title: USC vs. Penn State Rose: Alabama vs. Michigan State Fiesta: Texas vs. BYU Sugar: LSU vs. Oklahoma Orange: Wake Forest vs. South Florida

McCartney:National title: Florida vs. Texas Rose: USC vs. Penn State Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. BYU Sugar: Alabama vs. Ohio State Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

Winn:National title: USC vs. Penn State Rose: Alabama vs. Oklahoma Fiesta: Texas vs. BYU Sugar: Florida vs. Boise State Orange: Wake Forest vs. Cincinnati

Markazi:National title: Texas vs. Alabama Rose: USC vs. Ohio State Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Penn State Sugar: Florida vs. BYU Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Trocchi:National title: USC vs. Penn State Rose: Ohio State vs. AlabamaFiesta: Missouri vs. BYUSugar: Florida vs. TexasOrange: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh

Filice:National title: Alabama vs. Penn State Rose: USC vs. Ohio State Fiesta: Missouri vs. Utah Sugar: Florida vs. Texas Orange: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh

Mandel: Texas. The 'Horns will lose once but get in with their impressive résumé. Their swarming defensive front will spoil JoePa's retirement sendoff.

Staples: USC. Unfortunately for the SEC and Big 12, the conferences are so deep that it seems unlikely the champs will escape with one or zero losses. By December, USC's loss at Oregon State will be forgotten, and the Trojans will beat a previously undefeated Penn State.

McCartney: Florida. The win over LSU showed us how good this team can be when it's clicking on all cylinders. The Gators have more collective talent than any team in the race. A re-energized Florida is scary thing.

Winn: USC. Thanks to Big 12 and SEC attrition, the Trojans will creep back up to No. 2 by season's end -- and then shut down the Spread HD in the title game.

Markazi: Texas. It won't be easy with the Longhorns' incredible schedule down the stretch, but after Texas' win over Oklahoma last week, it's hard to imagine any team derailing Mack Brown's bunch.

Trocchi: USC. Pete Carroll adds to his trophy case and sends JoePa into retirement with an almost-perfect season.

Filice: Alabama. By containing Florida's electric playmakers in the SEC title game and taming Penn State's Spread HD in Miami, the Crimson Tide will prove once again that national titles are won in the trenches.

Mandel: Cincinnati. Once QB Tony Pike returns, the Bearcats will make a run at the Big East title (but come up just short).

Staples: LSU. The loss at Florida was an anomaly; the Tigers are loaded but raw.

McCartney:Tennessee. At 2-4, it can't get any worse in Knoxville. And if the performance against Georgia was any indication, the Volunteers defense is still potent. The Vols could finish strong with just one obvious loss (Alabama) among the last six games.

Winn: Cincinnati. Don't be stunned if the Bearcats pull off a Halloween upset of South Florida and take the Big East crown. They haven't looked like world-beaters yet but have a solid run defense (ranked No. 13 in the nation) and their conference's top passing offense.

Markazi: Cal. Except for an early morning loss at Maryland, Cal is undefeated and actually ahead of USC in the Pac-10 standings. No team will benefit from the Pac-10's weakness more than Cal, which just might find a way into the Rose Bowl if it can upset USC in the Coliseum.

Trocchi: Cal. A healthy Jahvid Best makes this team a contender for No. 2 in the Pac-10.

Filice:Arizona State. On the heels of their fourth-consecutive loss, the Sun Devils (2-4) get this week off. After the break, though, their schedule significantly lightens up; ASU's remaining opponents are a combined 15-22.

Mandel:Kansas. The Jayhawks have stayed in the rankings based on a high preseason spot and soft schedule. Reality is about to hit.

Staples:Texas Tech. The cannibalism in the Big 12 South will not be distributed equally.

McCartney: Kansas. The Jayhawks have been slow starters of late (nine first-half points in their last two games) and it's bound to get them into trouble with potent Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Missouri still on the schedule.

Winn: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders (now No. 7) should fall far from the top 10 after a four-week run against Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

Markazi: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders may be undefeated and in the top 10 now, but I see Texas Tech losing four games in the difficult Big 12 and possibly dropping out of the top 25 before Thanksgiving.

Trocchi: Michigan State. A difficult schedule and a worn-down Javon Ringer will slow the Spartans after their 6-1 start.

Filice:Georgia Tech. The Paul Johnson era is off to a 5-1 start, but the Yellow Jackets' back-loaded schedule will engender a second-half swoon.

Mandel:Colt McCoy, Texas. If the 'Horns remain in the national-title mix until the end, their 79-percent passer will be a no-brainer choice.

Staples:Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. One of my preseason predictions has to be correct.

McCartney: McCoy. Could Colt actually make Longhorns fans ask "Vince who?" McCoy is the reason the Longhorns will be in the title hunt and he'll do what Young couldn't -- win the Heisman.

Winn: McCoy. College football's most famous milk-drinker is completing 79.4 percent of his passes. For comparison's sake: Tim Tebow completed 66.7 last season, and Troy Smith completed 65.3 the year before.

Markazi: McCoy. There should be plenty of "Real McCoy" headlines in December after McCoy collects Texas' first Heisman since Ricky Williams. McCoy won't have the stiff competition that prevented Vince Young from winning the trophy a few years ago.

Trocchi:Chase Daniel, Missouri. He has plenty of time to retake the lead, and my feeling is Missouri will win the Big 12 title.

Filice: Daniel. Three interceptions in the loss to Oklahoma State didn't help the cause, but a win at No. 1 Texas Saturday night gets him right back on track and a Big 12 title hammers it home.

Mandel:Javon Ringer, Michigan State. The Spartans' tailback will keep putting up 100-yard games, but a lack of highlight-type runs and a couple of losses will do him in.

Staples: Ringer. The human body isn't meant to withstand so many carries.

McCartney:Chase Daniel, Missouri. One of the Big 12 quarterbacks has to fall out of the race, and Daniel's performance against Oklahoma State means his margin of error is smaller than his conference brethren.

Winn:Graham Harrell, Texas Tech. See flop team explanation above.

Markazi: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri. Arguably the most exciting player in college football won't be going to New York for several reasons, the most important being that there are so many great quarterbacks this year that no non-QBs will even be in the Heisman mix.

Trocchi:Colt McCoy, Texas. A brutal schedule and the lack of a running game to take the heat off him will lead to some un-Heisman-like games.

Filice: Harrell. Harrell's candidacy is directly correlated to Texas Tech's success because voters question his video-game stats. As the Red Raiders fade from the Big 12 title race, so will Harrell's Heisman hopes.

Mandel:Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee. If the Vols finish below .500, which appears increasingly likely, the school will buy him out.

Staples: Fulmer. If things get much worse, Fulmer -- an alum who loves his school -- may offer to fall on his sword.

McCartney: Fulmer. How can they be my surprise and Fulmer still get fired? Making a mid-level bowl (if they make it that far) won't be enough for a fan base that's tired of lagging behind in the SEC. And you know Tennessee's not scared of that rumored $6 million-plus buyout.

Winn: Fulmer. When the Vols finish at .500 this year, the heat from alums will be intense enough to warrant paying the $6 million buyout and starting over with a stronger recruiter at the helm.

Markazi:Mike Stoops, Arizona. It may seem hard to put a coach of a winning team (4-2) on the hot seat, but when those wins are against Idaho, Toledo, UCLA and Washington, it's really not. A fifth disappointing season in Tucson will earn Stoops a one-way ticket back to Oklahoma to help his brother, Bob.

Trocchi:Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State. If Mississippi State finishes .500 or below (and at 2-4 with road games at Tennessee, Alabama and Ole Miss remaining, that seems likely), that will give Croom one winning season in five years in Starkville. Croom is popular, but at some point the Bulldog faithful are going to want a change.

Filice:Tommy Tuberville, Auburn. The theoretical seat of Kirk Ferentz, my preseason selection, is definitely hot, but Tuberville's is on fire. The erratic Auburn fan base isn't too happy with the Tony Franklin fiasco. Not to mention this former top 10 team has lost three of its past four.

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