If I were still in the business of applying the Charles Rogers Theorem, Oregon would be a perfect fit. Major losses on the offensive and defensive lines, returning starters at quarterback and running back, and they played much better in their final two games of 2008 than they did all season. They should score some points tonight, but I'm fairly confident that Boise will win somewhat comfortably. This does not mean that Boise is a top ten team, as BYU is generally considered to be the best of the non-BCS teams and they are a 21-point against Oklahoma in Dallas, but it does mean that they are better than an overrated Pac Ten team.
One of the offseason memes that has driven me crazy is the comparison between Florida and either 2005 USC or 2002 Miami. Everyone seems to forget that 2005 USC had lost a ton of defensive talent from the dominating 2004 team, so it was not especially surprising that their young defense struggled. (This might be a relevant point this season, as USC again replaces a bevy of starters on defense, only they have a true freshman starter at quarterback instead of Matt Leinart.) 2002 Miami is a slightly better comparison, but they had Larry Coker as their coach. It's only in hindsight that we know that Coker wasn't very good, but we should have no such questions about Urban Meyer.
I'm a huge college football advocate, especially in comparison to the NFL, but I'll freely concede that the defending national champions opening up at home as a 73-point favorite is embarrassing.
I think that Alabama's defense is going to eat Tyrod Taylor alive. The more I think about this matchup - Saban against Stinespring, nine returning starters against a quarterback who threw two touchdowns and seven picks last year, etc. - the more I think that Alabama is not going to have to move the ball very much to win the game. Bama can afford to be very patient on offense.
Position groups whose performance will be especially interesting to me this weekend: Michigan's safeties, Georgia's defensive ends, South Carolina's offensive line, Oklahoma's offensive line, Illinois's corners, LSU's corners, and Wake Forest's linebackers.