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 noon ET on Wednesday!
Buzzmaster (12:00 PM)
Just heard from Graham, everyone. She's doing an interview that's going long. She said she'd be here around 12:30 when she's done.
Graham Watson (12:28 PM)
Give me 3 minutes everyone
Graham Watson (12:31 PM)
One more minute
Graham Watson (12:32 PM)
OK. Sorry about that. I was doing some interviews for some posts I'm working on. To the questions...
Ryan Blue Springs, MO
Do you honestly think Utah can beat Michigan?
Graham Watson (12:34 PM)
I think Utah has the talent to beat Michigan. The game being on the road makes it a little dicey, but I don't think anyone knows what the Wolverines are going to do at quarterback and whether they're going to be able to execute Rich Rodriguez' style of offense. If this wads the fourth game of the season, I might say Utah gets smoked, but being the first game, The Utes have a chance.
What freshman are you most looking forward to seeing?
Graham Watson (12:35 PM)
If you're talking in the non-BCS, I'd like to see BYU WR O'Neill Chambers and ULM RB Luther Ambrose. I think both have a chance to do big things on their respective teams.
Mark Orem, Utah
Your interview with O'Neil Chambers for you blog created quite a stir in Utah. Could you tell us what you asked him? The radio/print people are making you out to be a cold-blooded killer of a reporter. That came to the camp to dig up dirt on one of the players, and I doubt that is the case.
Graham Watson (12:38 PM)
Ha! Cold-blooded, huh? That's funny. Well, I didn't ask him anything out of the ordinary. I think it started with how do you feel camp is going, and he went off on his lack of reps. He wanted to vent and I happened to be holding a recorder. And if I came to dig up dirt, they should read the thousands of other BYU stories I've written this season. Seriously, this question made me laugh out loud.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Graham, what are some of the big games you'll be attending this year?
Graham Watson (12:39 PM)
I don't know all the games I'll be attending this year. We do that on a week-by-week basis depending on what happens the previous Saturday. I am going to ECU/VT and Fresno State/Rutgers the first weekend. I'll probably head to South Bend for the Irish opener and again the following week for ND/Michigan. That's all I know now. Obviously, the conference season will be interesting with mid-week games.
JJ (Fort Worth)
Can the Frogs hang with Oklahoma this year? No one thought they could in 2005.
Graham Watson (12:41 PM)
I've been saying all summer that Sam Bradford is due a sophomore slump and a TCU team that is flying under the radar could catch Oklahoma napping. I will say that OU has made precautions for that game scheduling bye weeks before and after it.
Jeff Patton Valdosta, Ga
Benie Wells or Knowshon Moreno for best back?
Graham Watson (12:42 PM)
I'm a big fan of Beanie Wells. He's such a powerful runner. Always goes North-South. Big fan.
Chris: Miami, FL
What are the prospects of an automatic qualifier for the non-BCS teams if the Cotton Bowl is added to the BCS when it moves to the Cowboys new stadium?
Graham Watson (12:43 PM)
I don't think there are enough good non-BCS teams to facilitate an automatic qualifier. Look at the history of the non-BCS and the teams that have consistently won 10 or more games. It would be like the same five teams from which to pick.
Do you think another SEC team makes into the national championship game this year or is it more likely going to be 2 other BCS conference teams?
Graham Watson (12:46 PM)
A lot of people like USC or Ohio State. Some like Georgia. Some like Missouri. I personally think that the SEC beats its own teams up sometimes and this might be the year that scenario happens. Georgia and Florida both have a chance, but I think there's losses on the schedule that will enable an undefeated or even one-loss SEC team to get in.
Jeff Patton Valdosta, Ga
What will Georgia be ranked in the AP? I say 4th or 5th.
Graham Watson (12:47 PM)
Really? I think No. 1. The AP and the coaches poll shouldn't differ too much in the top five spots.
Adam (Ellicott City, MD)
Why does everyone seem to think this is Air Force's year to take back the CIC trophey? Last I checked Navy has a proven system, more talented players, and (oh yea) beaten the Falcons the past five years, with the margin of victory increasing the past two seasons. Navy's defese can't possibly be as bad as it was last year, and the Mids still managed to control Calhoun's wonder-spread offense everyone loves to talk about.
Graham Watson (12:49 PM)
Who thinks that? Navy's won it five times in a row and AF is supposed to be down this season. I actually like AF, but I like Navy better. If the Kaipo can get healthy, Navy is the academy to beat.
Mark Orem, Utah
Why are you so down on Wyoming? Do you really think he will be fired without a bowl appearance this year?
Graham Watson (12:52 PM)
I'm not down on Wyoming, I'm just looking at the history of the program under Glenn. His teams have consistently tanked in conference play and that fair because the MWC is a tough conference.They have to go to BYU, TCU and New Mexico, all tough places to play. Utah's going to be tough. And the Cowboys have to face a good BGSU team in the non-conference and a stacked Tennessee team toward the end of the season. The schedule stacks up against them. It has nothing to do with me being down on them, they just have a tough go this year.
Corey - Columbus Ohio
In Bo's first year at Michigan, he encountered many of the same personel hurtles that Rich Rodriguez did. He also faced an Ohio State team that Woody said was his best team. Any chances of Michigan beating Tressel's best team this year in Rich's first year as coach?
Graham Watson (12:54 PM)
I believe Michigan will be a much better team at the end of the year than it is in the beginning. The beginning is going to be a little rough as the team sorts out the offense and R-Rod figures out his personnel. But as the season moves on, I think Michigan will be one of the tougher teams in the country.
Of all the programs (non-BCS) you've visited, which strike you as consistent challengers for BCS inclusion? I mean, some teams have one good year, but who's in it for the long haul?
Graham Watson (12:56 PM)
I haven't visited that many programs, but of all the ones I've studied I think BYU, TCU and Boise State would be no-brainers. Second tier would be Utah and maybe Fresno State.
Not a fan of Appalachian State, but I'm intrigued by the matchup with LSU. It seems they are motivated and have a speedy offense, while LSU is a powerhouse with questions at corner and linebacker. That sort of match may help App.State make it a game, eh?
Graham Watson (12:58 PM)
You have to like this matchup simply because everyone knows App State is coming to play. LSU has a few questions, App. State is pretty veteran and got a huge boost off of creating an upset special last season. It won the D-IAA championship. Expect it to be a tough and close game, too close to call.
Who is the best none BCS quarterback? I go with Nate Davis but then again I go to Ball State.
Graham Watson (12:59 PM)
I like Nate Davis, but I don;t think he;s a better quarterback than Max Hall, Dan LeFevour or Tom Brandstater. He'd be in the Top 5, though.
Chris (Greenville, MI)
What do you think of Sam Mcguffie getting some playing time as a freshman at Michigan?
Graham Watson (1:01 PM)
I watched him play in the Army All-American Bowl and I was really impressed. He's got speed, quickness, the works. And on a team that is completely open at running back (more or less), I think he's the type of player that could catch R-Rod's eye.
Mark Orem, Utah
What do you think will happen with the Hawaii program this year/in the futre now that Jude Jones went to SMU?
Graham Watson (1:03 PM)
That's a really good question. McMackin has been at Hawaii for awhile, so I don;t think there will be any scheme change or anything like that. The biggest concern has got to be at quarterback with Graunke needing to finish classwork. Jones had two great QB's in Chang and Brennan. If McMackin can be that blessed, Hawaii might not take as big of a nose dive as many think it will.
who do you think will be the starting QB for USC?
Graham Watson (1:04 PM)
Mark Sanchez is the starting QB for USC. BUT... There's no telling what that injury will do to his mobility. Mustain has a huge opportunity to "Wally Pipp" Sanchez.
Erik (Chicago via Nebraska)
Does Northern Illinois have a shot at a bowl game?
Graham Watson (1:06 PM)
I think they'll have the wins to be bowl eligible. Whether they'll have enough to make a bowl game over some of the other MAC teams, I'm not sure.
Jeff (Las Vegas)
Will UNLV win more than two games this season?
Graham Watson (1:07 PM)
Looking at the schedule I see maybe four wins and all the opponents have "State" in their names.
Rank the Tigers...Missouri, Clemson, LSU.
Graham Watson (1:08 PM)
That's pretty much the order I'd put those teams in.
Mars (Sacramento, CA)
Do you think that college football realignment/expansion is finally slowing down?
Graham Watson (1:10 PM)
The major realignment is probably on hold, yes, at least until the BCS is reexamined after the contract with the Rose Bowl runs out. Then, I wouldn't be surprised to see more shifting and maybe - maybe - some expansion.
Speaking of re-alignment, what would be the next teams to re-align? Would Missouri go to the Big 10 to make it 12?
Graham Watson (1:12 PM)
I don't think there would be any advantage for Missouri there. Why not move Notre Dame to the Big 10? It's been talked about before.
Brandon, Boise Id
A lot of people are propping up Fresno State in the WAC this year. What do you think Boise State's chances are of shocking the country and returning to the BCS?
Graham Watson (1:14 PM)
It's possible given Boise State's history, but the team would have to find a QB and fill some holes on the offensive line first. I think BSU is rated below Fresno State because of all the positions it has to fill.
Jimmy (Provo, Utah)
Notre Dame to the Big 10, Colorado and Utah to the Pac-10 and BYU to the Big 12. Thats how I see it shaking out in the next few years.
Graham Watson (1:16 PM)
There are some logistics with incorporating BYU into any conference, mainly that the Cougars won't play on Sundays for religious reasons. That hurts in baseball series' and any basketball games that might be scheduled them. It would really change the entire conference - any conference - to bring BYU in.
Which BCS teams will be interested in Bronco Mendenhall after this season?
Graham Watson (1:17 PM)
This is a good question. I think there will be quite a few. It's hard to see him leaving BYU because he pretty much personifies what that school is about. I do think he'll have some money thrown his way if his team lives up to expectations.
Matt: (Fort Collins, CO)
How long before my Rams rebound and become a MW power again?
Graham Watson (1:19 PM)
I think Fairchild can turn CSU around, but it won't be this year. The conference is too difficult and it's non-conference has tough games against Colorado and Cal. It helps that the bulk of the tough conference games are at home. I see progress, but not a turnaround this year. Not yet.
Edwin, Lake Tahoe, Cali
Which team(s) in the top 25 do you think is getting too much love from the voters this year? I think it is Illinois and Va Tech. I really don't think Illinois should have been in a BCS bowl game last year and i think hawaii should have played Va Tech because that would have been a winnable game for Hawaii.
Graham Watson (1:22 PM)
Thanks for asking this question 75 times... I think LSU is ranked too high considering all the questions it has and I think Oregon might be a tad overrated considering how many key players it lost.
What is the best non-BCS conference?
Graham Watson (1:23 PM)
Across the board would be the Mountain West. In the last couple years? The WAC.
What's your score for the Buckeye/Trojan game? Im thinking Ohio State 32 USC 17
Graham Watson (1:23 PM)
I'd flip that score...
Joey (Clemson, SC)
Who is this year's Joe Flacco, or is there anyone comparable coming out of a smaller school this year?
Graham Watson (1:24 PM)
That's hard to say because can anyone honestly say they were familiar with Joe Flacco before the NFL Combine?
Mars (Sacramento, CA)
What do you think about voters who include teams with losing records the year before (such as Pitt, Notre Dame) in their Top 25?
Graham Watson (1:26 PM)
The first poll is always subjective. A lot of people look at last year's poll, preseason magazines, and base their votes on that. Trust me, I've seen it. Preseason polls are all speculation. I don't buy into them that much.
Mars (Sacramento, CA)
What's better: 4-0 against a weak non-conference schedule (like Kansas last year) or 2-2 against a strong non-conference schedule (like Fresno every year)?
Graham Watson (1:27 PM)
Well Kansas and Ohio State proved that the former is better, but I'm a big believer in rewarding teams for playing tough schedules and coming out victorious.
I know most sports writers are aware, but how can so many TRUE college football fans continue to leave WVU out of discussions about big time college football? I just dont get it!
Graham Watson (1:29 PM)
I honestly believe it's because Rich Rodriguez is gone and WVU did a knee-jerk hire with Stewart. I think they're going to be good this season as long s coaching doesn't get in the way of talent.
AJ (Ann Arbor MI)
Do you see any other team than ohio state winning the big ten?
Graham Watson (1:30 PM)
I really think Michigan State is the sleeper out of the conference. I know they always lose a game they shouldn't, but I really like the Spartans this season.
Graham Watson (1:30 PM)
A few more minutes guys
Jake (Salt Lake City, UT)
If you were building a team and had to choose between Max Hall or Brian Johnson, who would you pick?
Graham Watson (1:31 PM)
Max Hall. Better pocket passer and decision maker.
How many wins do you have this year for the Fightin Irish?
Graham Watson (1:32 PM)
I had nine originally, but I'm scaling it back to eight because I think the Michigan schools are going to be tough.
Any hope for the Orange in the foreseeable future?
Graham Watson (1:33 PM)
Forseeable future? No. But 2026 could be your year.
Graham Watson (1:35 PM)
Trying to find one more question...
Chad (Savannah, GA)
Graham, of course you would have Missouri as the best Tigers. You covered them for 4 years. You are suppose to be an unbias journalist. If you were you would see LSU was the best of those Tigers.
Graham Watson (1:37 PM)
Hahaha! Historically, yes. LSU would be the best Tigers. But this year, Missouri would be the best Tigers... man, that's weird to word... One more real question.... Looking for a gem...
Justin (Dallas, TX)
TX OR OU???
Graham Watson (1:38 PM)
Colby (Lincoln, NE)
What chances do you give UCF of winning the C-USA again this year, even without Kevin Smith?
Graham Watson (1:41 PM)
This will be my last question since I haven't touched on UCF much this year... The loss of Kevin Smith is tough and then you never know how off-season tragedy will affect a team. I saw that first-hand at Missouri... Tulsa and ECU are going to be tough this year. Barring a tornado that wipes out the school, Tulsa should win C-USA. ECU, if it can get through it's non-con, will be tough to knock off in the East.
Graham Watson (1:43 PM)
Thanks everyone. Sorry I couldn't get to all the questions.I tried. Oh and David, App. State will four peat. Don't see many I-AA teams that can knock them off this year.
Graham Watson (1:43 PM)
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