The Not-So-Expert College Football Preview

I’ve said this many times before. I’m an NBA guy, and considering how much time I’ve spent playing, coaching, and studying basketball, I feel confident that I can backup my basketball predictions and opinions.

The same cannot be said for football, my second favorite sport. I’ve stated that college football is also a great passion of mine and I even did a one week spin-off piece for college football last year. But given how I have never been able to play organized football, I don’t think I can be considered an expert.

However, I know more than the average fan as I still love all things sports, and my passion for the Ohio State football team even trumps my zeal for the Sixers. Almost every Saturday during the fall, I take a seat for up to nine hours, taking in all things college football, and I don’t regret any of it. So why not attempt to predict the college football season? I hope you enjoy my first ever College Football Preview, and feel free to disagree with me in the comments!

 

SEC:

West Division:

Alabama 11-1 (8-0)

Mississippi St. 9-3 (6-2)

Auburn 8-4 (5-3)

LSU 9-3 (5-3)

Texas A&M 6-6 (3-5)

Ole Miss 6-6 (2-6)

Arkansas 5-7 (1-7)

 

East Division:

Georgia 12-0 (8-0)

South Carolina 9-3 (6-2)

Missouri 7-5 (5-3)

Florida 8-4 (6-2)

Kentucky 6-6 (2-6)

Vanderbilt 4-8 (1-7)

Tennessee 3-9 (0-8)

 

SEC Championship – Georgia 20 Alabama 14

I’ll be honest, I don’t like the SEC. I find them arrogant and ultimately not that interesting as the conference has lost its former depth and is top-heavy with their best two teams. But even then, they still matter a great deal to the college football landscape. Now the easy thing would be to pick Alabama to win the conference and eventually the national title, but I like to different. So partially due to my own bias against Alabama, I’m going to call for a regular season loss at LSU, as the Tigers always play them tough, and with Ohio St. transfer Joe Burrow at quarterback, I think they’ll get it done. That leads me to the SEC Championship, and my second loss for Alabama. This game will represent a changing of the guard in my eyes. Georgia shocked me last year in how good they have already gotten under Kirby Smart. They outplayed Bama in the title game and just had a few unlucky breaks which cost them, otherwise we’d be talking about them as defending champions. This year, with the help of their insane recruiting class and the mission to avenge their title loss, I think the Dawgs own the SEC this year and cruise to a 13-0 record.

 

Big Ten

East Division:

Ohio State 11-1 (8-1)

Michigan 10-2 (7-2)

Michigan State 10-2 (7-2)

Penn State 9-3 (6-3)

Maryland 4-8 (3-6)

Indiana 5-7 (2-7)

Rutgers 4-8 (1-8)

 

West Division:

Wisconsin 11-1 (8-1)

Iowa 9-3 (6-3)

Northwestern 7-5 (5-4)

Purdue 6-6 (4-5)

Minnesota 6-6 (3-6)

Nebraska 5-7 (2-7)

Illinois 2-10 (0-9)

 

Big 10 Championship – Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24

“Oh what a surprise, Dan picked Ohio St. to win the Big 10” – every one who knows Dan. Well just be glad that I didn’t pick them undefeated, because I originally did, then changed my mind last second, giving them a loss at Michigan St. (who is of course losing to Utah St. in the 4th quarter as I write this, but I’m no cheater so I’ll stick with my picks). Anyways, despite all the distractions that the Buckeyes might have to deal with this season, they always pull it out and end up as the best team in the conference no matter what. Otherwise, the conference has four other heavyweight programs that can compete with Ohio St., those being Michigan St., Wisconsin, Penn St., and the dreaded Team up North. But they will fall inevitably short as they usually do. One other thing I want to mention is a team on the rise in Purdue, who under the great coaching of Jeff Brohm, has finally escaped the basement of the Big 10. But overall, the Big 10 will be the most fun conference there is due to it’s great histories, rivalries, and tough play. And like always, I’m rolling with the Buckeyes.

 

Pac-12:

North Division:

Washington 11-1 (8-1)

Stanford 10-2 (7-2)

Oregon 9-3 (6-3)

Washington State 6-6 (3-6)

California 5-7 (2-7)

Oregon St. 1-11 (0-9)

 

South Division:

USC 9-3 (8-1)

Arizona 9-3 (6-3)

Utah 9-3 (6-3)

Colorado 8-4 (6-3)

Arizona St. 3-9 (2-7)

UCLA 2-10 (0-9)

Pac-12 Championship: USC 28 Washington 17

The Pac 12 is like the red-headed stepsister of the Power 5 conferences. They’ve been left out of the playoffs twice, are very weak after their best few teams, and are often not in spotlight games due to the time zone difference. And overall I’m not high on most of the teams in the conference. Stanford is always overrated and over-hyped by ESPN analysts, and even though I did not pick San Diego St. to beat them, they currently are as I write this, which may vindicate my thought. Oregon should be good and I have them as Washington’s only regular season loss, but they never have the top end talent to just run through their schedule. USC is always a two or three loss team, as despite their immense riches of talent, you can’t always count on them to choke early in the season and blow any chance at a title, and then to get on a streak and be one of the hottest teams in the country by the end of the year. The only team I sort-of believe in is Washington, as they return their star Quarterback Jake Browning and their star Running Back Myles Gaskin for an incredible third year together. They also are led by one of my favorite coaches ever in Chris Petersen, who was my hero when he created the Boise St. BCS Busters led by Kellen Moore for all those years. But here’s why I gave them a loss and I think that they’ll blow the conference championship: they won’t be undefeated because usually only two teams in the whole country are and I already have Georgia and another team coming up soon. And unfortunately I think they’ll lose the Conference Championship to USC in similar fashion to how the Trojans stopped their undefeated 2016 season. A hot USC team that struggled early in the year will out-talent Washington and ultimately ensure that the Pac 12 misses the Playoffs yet again.

 

Big 12:

Oklahoma 11-1 (8-1)

Texas 10-2 (7-2)

TCU 8-4 (6-3)

Oklahoma St. 9-3 (6-3)

West Virginia 8-4 (5-4)

Kansas St. 8-4 (5-4)

Iowa St. 5-7 (3-6)

Texas Tech 4-8 (2-7)

Baylor 3-9 (1-8)

Kansas 0-12 (0-9)

Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma 59 Texas 49

The Big 12 is pretty predictable in a way. A lot of points, really crappy teams at the bottom, and despite Oklahoma blowing a conference game that they definitely should’ve won, they still end up as Big 12 champions. It’s as simple as that. And I know that Oklahoma lost a lot of players to the draft including the Baker himself, but I’m sticking with what I know, and that is that the Sooners are simply more talented than all of their Big 12 peers. I had their one loss being to the vastly improved Longhorns in the always hard to predict Red River game, but I think the Sooners will get them back in the conference championship. The only other notable thing I have here is that I put poor Kansas at 0-12, giving them a loss against a lowly FCS team. Stick to basketball, Jayhawks.

 

ACC:

Atlantic Division:

Clemson 12-0 (8-0)

Louisville 7-5 (5-3)

Florida St. 8-4 (5-3)

Boston College 8-4 (4-4)

Wake Forest 6-6 (3-5)

N.C. State 6-6 (3-5)

Syracuse 4-8 (1-7)

Coastal Division:

Miami 9-3 (6-2)

Duke 8-4 (5-3)

Virginia Tech 9-3 (5-3)

North Carolina 6-6 (4-4)

Georgia Tech 6-6 (4-4)

Pittsburgh 3-9 (2-6)

Virginia 3-9 (0-8)

ACC Championship: Clemson 45 Miami 7

And here is the other undefeated team I picked: the Clemson Tigers. Dabo Swinney has done an incredible job taking Clemson from the embodiment of a good but not great 10-4 season, to a true blue blood of this era of College Football. To be honest, Clemson, Alabama, Ohio St., and maybe Georgia have separated themselves from the rest of the FBS as the teams that are just different in how talented and athletic they are from top to bottom. So due to their historically dominant D-Line, as well as the benefit of a weak ACC around them, I think Clemson takes the conference with little to no trouble. I take Miami to win their division simply due to pure talent, but I don’t think you can really trust them, and I really hate the culture they create as a whole. I could also see Virginia Tech sneaking their way past everybody, or even Duke shocking everyone under the great coaching of David Cutliffe. But none of it will really matter, because this year the ACC is just Clemson and 13 teams that don’t matter.

 

Independents:

Notre Dame 10-2

Army 9-3

New Mexico St. 7-5

BYU 4-8

Massachusetts 4-8

Liberty 3-9

Let’s face it, the only independent people really care about is Notre Dame and maybe BYU and Army. Many have Notre Dame reaching the playoff, but I have stayed away from that bandwagon. I have the Irish dropping games against Stanford and Virginia Tech, which is still a solid 10-2 season, but not probably their best vision. I just don’t think they have the superstar athletes you need to be a playoff team. Other than that, I think Army continues their new run of success, and BYU has another terrible year.

 

AAC:

East Division:

Temple 10-2 (7-1)

UCF 10-2 (6-2)

USF 9-3 (5-3)

Cincinnati 8-4 (4-4)

East Carolina 3-9 (1-7)

UConn 2-10 (0-8)

West Division:

Memphis 11-1 (8-0)

Navy 8-4 (6-2)

Houston 6-6 (4-4)

Tulane 3-9 (2-6)

Tulsa 3-9 (2-6)

SMU 2-10 (0-8)

AAC Championship: Memphis 52 Temple 42

Now we’re getting into the Group of 5, where it is very hard to predict everything. This is where I depend on Phil Steele’s rankings and base my predictions off of his, as he is the chief expert of all things college football. For this conference, I feel like UCF will have a regression, as all breakout Group of 5 teams do after an undefeated “we should be champions” year. I think my Philadelphia boys at Temple take the East, while Memphis replaces UCF as the Conference’s Alpha Dog after the they just barely lost in the Conference Championship last year.

 

Mountain West:

Mountain Division:

Boise St. 11-1 (8-0)

Wyoming 7-5 (5-3)

Utah St. 8-4 (5-3)

Air Force 6-6 (4-4)

New Mexico 3-9 (1-7)

Colorado St. 3-9 (1-7)

West Division:

San Diego St. 10-2 (7-1)

Fresno St. 7-5 (5-3)

Hawai’i 7-6 (4-4)

UNLV 6-6 (4-4)

Nevada 4-8 (2-6)

San Jose St. 1-11 (0-8)

Mountain West Championship – Boise St. 24, San Diego St. 23

Boise St. has always been a favorite of mine, and they should be in store for a big year as I have hem winning every game except their matchup against Oklahoma St., and I even thought of giving them the dub in that one for a while. I also think that always solid San Diego State will have a great year as well, giving us an awesome conference championship game. Only other things to note are a surprisingly good start by Cole McDonald and Hawai’i, and Utah St. nearly shocking Michigan St. in East Lansing. Overall, the Mountain West has always been very interesting for a Group of 5 conference, and I always love me some Boise St. football.

MAC

West Division:

Western Michigan 9-3 (7-1)

Northern Illinois 8-4 (7-1)

Toledo 8-4 (6-2)

Central Michigan 3-9 (1-7)

Ball St. 2-10 (1-7)

East Division:

Ohio 8-4 (6-2)

Buffalo 6-6 (5-3)

Akron 6-6 (5-3)

Miami, Ohio 5-7 (5-3)

Bowling Green 3-9 (2-6)

Kent St. 2-10 (1-7)

MAC Championship: Ohio 28, Western Michigan 25

The MAC, or the very, very poor man’s Big 10, as some may call it. Once again, I don’t know a ton about the MAC, outside the fact that Ohio, Toledo, and Northern Illinois are the usual top dogs, with an occasional good year from Western Michigan as we saw two years ago. I’m going with those Western Michigan Broncos because under P.J. Fleck they consistently brought in the Conference’s best recruiting classes, and I think that talent is good enough to take the division. And in the East, Ohio just doesn’t have enough competition to really be challenged, and I’ll go with them to win the MAC this year.

Conference USA:

East Division:

Marshall 10-2 (8-0)

Florida Atlantic 9-3 (7-1)

Old Dominion 7-5 (5-3)

Middle Tennessee 6-6 (4-4)

Western Kentucky 6-6 (4-4)

Florida International 3-9 (1-7)

Charlotte 1-11 (0-8)

West Division:

UAB 10-2 (7-1)

Louisiana Tech 7-5 (5-3)

UTSA 6-6 (5-3)

North Texas 7-5 (4-4)

Southern Miss. 6-6 (4-4)

Rice 2-10 (1-7)

UTEP 1-11 (0-8)

Conference USA Championship: UAB 41 Marshall 38

Everyone loves Florida Atlantic and Lane Kiffin after they ran through the conference last year. But once again, as with UCF, I feel like breakout Group of 5 teams typically regress the next year, so I think Marshall will take the Division from them. And as for UAB, I love their story and how they already became a winning team last year, which was their first year back in football after the program was shut down in 2015. I’m going to ride their momentum all the way and pick the UAB Blazers to win the conference.

Sun Belt Conference:

East Division:

Appalachian St. 10-2 (7-1)

Troy 8-4 (6-2)

Georgia Southern 4-8 (2-6)

Georgia St. 3-9 (2-6)

Coastal Carolina 2-10 (1-7)

West Division:

Arkansas St. 10-2 (7-1)

ULM 7-5 (6-2)

Louisiana 6-6 (4-4)

South Alabama 4-8 (3-5)

Texas St. 1-11 (0-8)

Sun Belt Conference Championship – Arkansas St. 30 ,Appalachian St. 28

We’ve finally reached the Sun Belt, the reject conference of the entire FBS. I know next to little about this conference outside of the fact that Arkansas St. quarterback Justice Hansen is definitely the best at his position in the conference, and that I will always admire Appalachian St. for beating 5th ranked X-ichigan while they were a lowly FCS team (that blocked field goal remains one of the ten greatest moments of my life). Yeah, that’s about if for the Sun Belt, and I’ll take the Red Wolves of Arkansas St. as the champs.

College Football Playoff Picks:

 

#1 Georgia vs #4 Oklahoma – Georgia 41 Oklahoma 21

#2 Clemson vs #3 Ohio St. – Ohio St. 28 Clemson 27

Championship: Georgia 35 Ohio St. 28

And if you stuck around to this point, you get rewarded with my picks for the playoff. Let me be clear, Oklahoma is not nearly as good as Alabama or even Washington, but due to the two losses I’m expecting from both of those teams and their lack of a conference championship, I think the Sooners will sneak in with their one loss and Conference title. However, they’ll only arrive in the playoff to once again fall to Georgia, this time in humiliating fashion. And while it’s a complete homer take, I think Ohio St. is being way overlooked and will take their frustration out on Clemson, who got a little too arrogant after their 31-0 playoff win two years ago. So that leads to the championship, the Dawgs versus the Buckeyes. As much as I want to see another Ohio St. championship banner, I think this is Georgia’s year. They’ve been on the rise and I think their crazy talent combined with an from blowing last year’s title will give Georgia the 2018 National Championship.

… But then again, who knows, cause I’m a basketball guy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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