Chat with Graham Watson
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.
Send your questions now and join Watson in The Show at 4 p.m. ET on Monday!
Graham Watson (4:00 PM)
Hey, welcome to the chat. I'll be with you in just a sec.
Graham Watson (4:01 PM)
OK. Let's start.
Lee J. (Cincinnati, OH)
Graham: Ohio was forecast to be good last year but had a poor season. This year the predictions are even higher. What will turn their season around this year? Thanks.
Graham Watson (4:03 PM)
I think the fact that they have two high-level quarterbacks and a bunch of great receivers will help. They need some help on the defensive end, but they should be better there too. They were a little banged up in the spring, so that might be a concern early, especially on the offensive line, but I think Ohio might be the sleeper in the MAC East just because of their quarterbacks.
kevin oberlin OH
For the Irish is it all about the O line this year?
Graham Watson (4:04 PM)
O-line and running game. There was too much pressure on Clausen last year to make every play with his arm. If the Irish can develop a good rushing game, then he'll play a lot better.
yo Grahamster, in your blog entry about tough scheduling blocks, you mention buffalo facing the likes of...i dont even know, yet fail to mention that, despite an easy overall schedule, Notre Dame does have that Washington, USC, BC lineup that easily out-toughs the next toughest non bcser. what gives?
Graham Watson (4:05 PM)
I didn't put any independents in that post. And really, did you just throw Washington in as a tough opponent? Just saying...
Graham Watson (4:06 PM)
By the way, and this should make some of you happy, I am no longer covering Notre Dame. Brian Bennett from the Big East blog will be handling that. Just wanted to make sure you all knew that.
Do you think the Rice Owls will be able to have enough offensive firepower after the loss of their big 3 (clement, dillard and casey) to get to a bowl in 2009?
Graham Watson (4:08 PM)
This is a very good question and one I'm not sure I have the answer to. There are good receivers and tight ends on the team, but a running back and quarterback are going to have to emerge. It was disappointing to see that none of the QB's took the reins this spring. Um, this might be a tough year for Rice, but I think 2010 will be fun with McGuffie in the lineup.
Noah (Lincoln, Nerbaska)
Graham, what do you think of Western Michigan's chances this year? Is Tim Hiller posied to be a stud QB?
Graham Watson (4:10 PM)
I think he is if he can come back from ACL surgery. I'm in the midst of coming back from it myself (shameless pity plug) and I can tell you it's not easy. I think the defense is the question mark for Western. They lost a lot of great players from the defense and it will be tough to make up for that especially in the secondary.
Hey Graham, how many games is ECU going to win this year? Are they worthy of all this preaseason hype? Will they be ranked preseason?
Graham Watson (4:13 PM)
I don't think they'll be ranked preseason, but people will be watching more this year than last. I think ECU can beat both WVU and UNC, I really do. That VT game looms large, though. And it being in the middle of the season could go either way. It's good that ECU isn't going against tough BCS teams all nonconference, but the VT game might distract from getting work done in C-USA. I really like this ECU team and I think it has a good shot to be in the hunt for an undefeated season.
Graham, did you dictate this switcheroo of notre dame coverage, or is it the higher ups who are responsible for such an injustice?
Graham Watson (4:14 PM)
Brian lives closer to ND. He'll be able to cover them better and it will be better for our overall coverage at ESPN.
What do you think about ECU's running back position? Deepest ever?
Graham Watson (4:16 PM)
It depends if they get Whitley and Williams back in the mix. I think then, yes. Otherwise, I think it's OK, but not deep with a lot of good ECU experience.
graham, do you think the magic have a chance of upending the lakers?
Graham Watson (4:17 PM)
I could see it. My parents will kill me for saying it, but I'm taking the Magic. I would have taken the Lakers against Bron, Bron...
ray gordon reid clemson sc 29364
question to graham watson AT 4.10PM HI GRAHAM WHO GONNA BE BCS BUSTER THIS YEAR
Graham Watson (4:19 PM)
I think there are a couple good choices. Boise State, TCU, ECU and I wouldn't discount Utah, though I think it's a stretch. The thing with Boise State is that it has to hope that no other undefeated team is with them, especially TCU or ECU. Both those teams have better schedules than Boise State. You know Phil Steele has Boise State's sked at No. 117? Ouch... Hate to say it, but the WAC is dragging the Broncos down.
Dave (Boise, ID)
What do you think of Boise State's new unis? http://www.broncosports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=9900&ATCLID=3745288
Graham Watson (4:21 PM)
I saw these and I think they're pretty sharp, though the pic of Kyle Wilson's backside is a little awkward... Probably could have just shown a pic of the back of the pants hanging up or something... Seems like a Baywatch shot... Anyway, I like them and I'm looking forward to seeing them in person on Sept. 3.
Graham have you seen the Kobe/Lebron puppet commercials? if not you should youtube them. right now. then get back to me and we can further discuss.
Graham Watson (4:21 PM)
I do own a television. Yes.
The Ryan (Murray)
Who has the advantage this year in the Utah vs Oregon match-up? Can Utah's D contain the Duck's running attack?
Graham Watson (4:25 PM)
This is the first time anyone has asked this question. It's been all about Boise State-Oregon, but I'm glad you asked this. I think Utah's defense is going to be great. I think it has a lot of speed and is going to get pressure on the QB. With that said, beware the Oregon running game and I'm not ready to make any judgments on the Utah secondary. I have to see them in action. Plus, playing in Autzen, contrary to what Boise State says, is a tough place to place. Remember, Utah struggled in the Big House last year. BTW, I had a long talk with coach Whittingham the other day and told him I thought his team would win nine games. He appreciated my honesty, which makes me wonder how many games people think they are going to win...?
Bryan (Chicago, IL)
If the WAC is dragging Boise State down, which I won't argue with, which conference would they try to join? Or are they content having a better chance of going undefeated and maybe a more realistic chance of getting into a BCS game?
Graham Watson (4:26 PM)
I would love to see the Broncos join... no, not the Mountain West... The Pac-10. I think it's a good fit and Petersen has ties there. I think that would be a win-win for both parties.
David Naples FL
Graham is there any "realistic" possibility that Boise State can compete for the National Title this yr? Assuming the "early" previews of the preaseason Top 25 polls are correct Boise State will be higher ranked than BYU started last yr. And Oregon will be inside the Top 15 also.. Tusla could be ranked & ur probably looking @ a ranked Fresno State and respectable Nevada & LA Tech teams
Graham Watson (4:29 PM)
Neither Tulsa or Fresno State will be ranked at the time Boise State plays them. I just don't think their schedule is strong enough to make the national championship. If you swapped their non-con for ECU's non-con, then we have a conversation. Similarly, I don't think TCU's non-con is strong enough to get them into the national championship, but the fact that they play in the highly respected MWC and they go on the road to Clemson and Virginia gives the Frogs a better chance than Boise.
what do you think of frank solich? does his mediocre record at ohio prove that his success in nebraska was the byproduct of tom osbourne recruits, or has he really just inherited that poor of a program? i like him, but i wish he'd stick to his bread and butter i-formation option offense.
Graham Watson (4:30 PM)
I'll reserve judgment until after this year because if this Ohio team can't win on that side of the conference, then there's a serious problem.
But if BSU signs the new TV contract (you posted the link last week), doesn't this lock BSU into the WAC for another 10 years?
Graham Watson (4:31 PM)
I don't know the logistics of the contract. There might be a buyout clause of some sort. I don't think Boise State would put itself in a situation to be locked to one conference for 10 years especially with all the BCS/non-BCS hoopla this past offseason.
Steve (Princeton, NJ)
Graham, there's a far less chance the PAC-10 would take Boise State than, say, Utah, right? They cry about academics, and competition in multiple sports.
Graham Watson (4:34 PM)
That's the thing that people forget is the inclusion of other sports and academics. I don't know a lot about either to just start spouting things about it off the top of my head, but that would be a concern. The Pac-10 is full of good universities that excel in a lot of things beyond football. I think the fact that Utah is a good academic institution and excels in basketball and baseball makes it an intriguing fit.
David Naples FL
Graham Why exactly does Boise State play such a weak non-con schedule? Is it because they are content or that other teams are a little nervous coming to the smurf turf?
Graham Watson (4:36 PM)
I think it's just the year. If you go back and look at some past Boise State schedules, they've never been this week. I know Boise State starts some other Pac-10 series in the future. I think Oregon State is one. By all accounts, Tulsa probably looked like good competition just like Southern Miss was supposed to be.
Can we talk about something other than Boise St. please? Someone earlier asked about ECU's deep running core, however Nevada probably has the best depth at RB in the country. How good will Nevada's offense be this season?
Graham Watson (4:39 PM)
Sure. i think, and I've written this 100 times, Nevada is going to have the best running game in the WAC and perhaps the country. I do think that Kaapernick isn't going to try and be a pass-first QB with Taua and Lippincott in the backfield. I believe it when I see it. I think one of Kap's best traits is his running ability, but the kid has a rocket arm. He just needs to focus on control and accuracy.
Graham, then how would you compare Nevada's OOC schedule?
Graham Watson (4:41 PM)
ND, Colorado State, Mizzou, and UNLV. I think this is a better nonconference schedule than a lot of teams in the WAC. I'm one of the few that thinks Nevada can beat ND in ND. Heck, if San Diego State can do it, why not Nevada? Now, whether Nevada thinks it can win is a different story. I think they'll have a better chance against Missouri, but that will probably still be a loss. Missouri is down this year, but the defense is still going to be tough. I think Nevada can sweep the MWC schools on the schedule.
Larry (greenville nc)
So your saying if ECU goes undefeated they have a shot at the MNC?
Graham Watson (4:44 PM)
I think they'd have a strong argument especially if C-USA plays as well as many expect it to this season.
Matt, Provo, UT
Graham what do you think of BYU's Odd's of beating or even competing with Oklahoma in there opening game? Also does any team in the Mid-Major's have a harder oppening 3 (Oklahoma (in Texas), Tulse(Away), Florida State (Home) games then BYU?
Graham Watson (4:47 PM)
I don't like BYU's chances in this game at all and that's nothing against BYU. I would say that for most teams in the country. This is essentially a home game for OU and OU's tough regardless of where it plays. BYU's defense is slow. If a good TCU team couldn't stay with OU last season, I think it will be difficult for BYU to do it this year. And yes, I think BYU has the toughest start to a schedule perhaps in the country. If not, it's right up there.
Spencer (Provo, UT)
I keep asking about BYU. What are their chances of taking the MWC? And how respectable is the MWC?
Graham Watson (4:50 PM)
The MWC is respectable. I think the middle is going to be a little softer than it was last year, but overall still a tough conference. I think it's going to be BYU, TCU and Utah at the top again. I just don't see any potential sleepers this year. What order those teams will come in is a mystery. I like TCU for the title, but I could see BYU and Utah in it as well.
Mike (Portland, OR)
How is Colorado State looking for the upcoming season? Can they be the fourth best team in the MWC?
Graham Watson (4:51 PM)
Not unless they find a quarterback and a running back. And I know these are the same questions as last year, but last year I think everyone knew where Fairchild was going with his offense. This year, the starters are a complete mystery.
Pal McGill (Chicago IL)
Irish 10-2 this year? Any thoughts
Graham Watson (4:52 PM)
Totally possible. Not sure that get them into a BCS game unless one of those wins is against USC. And if that happens, then their losses are against a couple not-so-good teams.
What's the Magic Formula to make the MWC an auto-qualifier? Will they need to expand before they get the Golden Ticket?
Graham Watson (4:54 PM)
I think they'll need to play in through the evaluation period for the 2001 or 2012 season just like the rules say.
Mike Fresno CA
Graham what do you think of fresno states 3 non-conference games against BCS @ Wisconsin @ Cincy & @ Illinois what would be a respectable record for the Bulldogs to finish the yr with & do you think we have a realistic shot of beating Boise?
Graham Watson (4:56 PM)
You know, I kinda like that no one is talking about Fresno. It's good for the team. I think once they decide on a QB and ultimately a style, this could be a good team, especially if they get all those injured players back. Fresno is playing a sleeper role this year, but I reserve judgment on them until I see them against Wisky. Because after Rutgers last year, I knew Fresno State was going to struggle. If they play well against UCD and Wisky, things could get interesting in the Valley
Mike Sanford (Sam Boyd Stadium)
What are the chances that my Rebels go bowling this year? What games are must wins in order to do that?
Graham Watson (4:57 PM)
I like UNLV to go bowling this year. I think the Rebels will be much better than they were a year ago. And I also think Sanford has the right mindset of getting his team ready for high-octane spread offenses early so their not cramming on game week.
Graham, is this finally Air Force's year to win the Commander in Chief Trophy? And also what sort of improvements do you expect from Army this year given the coaching change?
Graham Watson (5:02 PM)
A good question to end on... In my bold predictions, I said AFA could win the CIC. This was before the spring. Navy seemed to have a better spring than Air Force, which is dealing with an injured Asher Clark, an academically stressed Tim Jefferson, and a partially kicked out Reggie Rembert. All not good things. Navy, on the other hand, found its starting QB, has a tough defense and is developing depth in its running game. It's early, but the scales are tipping toward Navy once again. As for Army, I don't think you'll see much improvement in wins and losses, but you will see improvement in effort. It's going to take some time to get that team out of the cellar, but I do think Ellerson is the right guy to do it if Army gives him some time.
Charles, Greenville, AL
Hey Graham, what chance do you think that TROY has at a 10 win season?
Graham Watson (5:04 PM)
I think that's totally possible. Troy can go undefeated in its conference and beat BGSU and UAB. However, the Sun Belt is going to be a lot tougher this year than it was a year ago. I'd expect FAU, ASU, MTSU and FIU all to put up a pretty good fight this year.
Graham Watson (5:04 PM)
OK. I'm out. Thanks for joining and check me out on the national blog. Word.