Finally college football season is upon us. Unfortunately we started off with a dud of a Florida-Miami Saturday night game that resembled more of a prison yard battle than an actual clean football game with all the penalties and turnovers involved.
Even the ole ball coach Steve Spurrier thought it was too painful to watch.
Steve Spurrier watching Feleipe Franks play Quarterback 😂 pic.twitter.com/VsR8B6yKPx— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) August 25, 2019
But I think we all kind of knew Florida (preseason #8) was overrated going into this season and Miami is basically rebuilding from the ground up with a first year coach in Manny Diaz and a freshman QB starting.
This week the hunt for the 2019 college football playoffs begins. It's also why college football is the greatest sport known to man. Every game means something. One single loss in week 1 all the way to week 15/16 can dismantle a playoff run. With only 4 teams eligible for the playoffs it makes every single game intense no matter who is playing. Last year we saw an unprecedented 3 teams go undefeated (Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame) during the regular season to reach the playoffs. Don't expect the same to happen this season. Undefeated regular seasons are hard to come by and as great as Nick Saban is as a coach he only has one undefeated season on his legendary resume.
Let's take a look at this season with some predictions of what I think will happen.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS
1) Clemson Tigers - The only team to ever go 15-0 in modern college football history returns the nation's best quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and one could argue maybe the nation's best running back in Travis Etienne and the nation's best duo of wide receivers in Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. Simply put the Tigers are gonna put up a shitload of points again this season and nobody is gonna stop their offense except maybe themselves. Lawrence has the benefit of a season under his belt and Clemson has the pedigree to run through a rather pedestrian ACC schedule unscathed. In fact I would be shocked if they lost before the playoffs. Head coach Dabo Swinney will have them ready and hungry. Despite the massive turnover on the defensive side of the ball most notably the front seven Clemson just reloads there with blue chip prospects ready to step up.
2) Alabama Crimson Tide - No one saw the 44-16 thrashing Bama took in the championship game to Clemson coming. Not even Clemson and you sure as shit know Nick Saban didn't expect it. I expect a very mean and focused Bama squad this season. Last year they were being discussed as one of the greatest teams ever (I was leading the argument for it) and got caught up in their own headlines. This year I expect Saban to unleash hell on the SEC like he did all last season. With QB Tua Tagovailoa back and plenty of elite offensive weapons at his disposal the Tide will compete with Clemson for the best offense in the nation. While the Tide face a little more daunting schedule in the SEC I'm not a firm believer in LSU, Auburn or Texas A&M knocking them off. Expect Bama to look to their 2nd string QB in the SEC Championship to again knock the Dawgs out of the playoff picture.
3) Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Coming off an undefeated regular season (2nd in 6 years) Notre Dame again got embarrassed on the big bowl stage, losing to Clemson in the playoffs 30-3. While Clemson players have stated Notre Dame and not Alabama was the tougher opponent in the playoffs it's time for ND to step it up to another level and win a NY6 Bowl game. The good news is the majority of their starters return on both sides of the ball and the entire coaching staff is back minus the upgrade at RB coach (Lance Taylor). QB Ian Book is back and will be looking to build off a tremendous 2018 performance in which he set an ND record completing 68.3% of his passes. Playmakers like WR Chase Claypool and RB Jafar Armstrong should have breakout seasons and with 4 starters back on the offensive line the running game should be stout. Defensively ND has the best duo in the nation in edge rushers with seniors Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem back as starters and top notch talent such as Daelin Hayes rotating in. The linebackers are inexperienced in terms of PT but the talent is there. The secondary is one of the nation's best with safeties Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott back along with CB Troy Pride. This will be Notre Dame's most talented and deepest team since 1993. With road night games at UGA, Michigan and Stanford being extremely daunting I expect ND to win 2 of those 3 and squeeze into the playoffs at 11-1. I'm sure everybody will take it in stride with no arguments.
4) Texas Longhorns - Yes, Texas is in fact back! Last year the Longhorns beat Oklahoma and UGA. Building up the program has been Tom Herman's goal since arriving and with 10 wins last season including a dominating Sugar Bowl performance vs UGA he appears to be on his way. QB Sam Ehlinger returns and should be a top 5 Heisman Trophy candidate. I think Texas beats an overrated LSU squad early in the season and while I see them eventually dropping a game vs either Oklahoma or Iowa State I think they win the Big 12 title and finish 12-1.
National Champion - Clemson Tigers
Yes they got the bulls eye on their backs this season and everybody will give the defending champs their best shot. But in the end the combination of Trevor Lawrence and Dabo Swinney will be too much for Texas in the semifinals and then Bama in the Natty. Lawrence and Swinney will both stamp their college football legendary status with another convincing championship win over Bama.
Most Overrated Team - Michigan Wolverines
I feel like this has become an annual thing with Michigan. They have only won a 1/2 National Championship in the last 80 something years but still get put in the top 10 preseason every year. Last year's Michigan team will be better than this year and that's not saying much. They got blown out by Ohio State and Florida to end the season. Ohio State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin look like losses to me on their schedule and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Army beat them in the 2nd week. They are not a top 10 team and not worthy of being ranked #7 preseason.
Most Underrated Team - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame was the third best team in the country last year and look to again be the third best team when all is said and done. This is Brian Kelly's deepest team in his 10th season. It's also a veteran squad with plenty of leadership ready to get ND to the next level. Ranked 9th in the preseason is short changing ND and should provide a chip to their shoulders mentality.
Coach of the Year - Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers
I got Clemson going back-to-back and winning their 3rd National Championship in the last 4 years. If that's not Coach of the Year status for Dabo then I don't know what is.
Heisman Trophy Winner - Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
While I think Trevor Lawrence is the better QB I think Heisman voters will have a hard time ignoring the incredible stats Tua will put up this season for a 2nd straight year. Last year it took a remarkable run by Kyler Murray to steal the Heisman from Tua who was leading on most ballots for most of the season. This year Tua edges out Lawrence to get the Heisman to delay Lawrence from getting his first in 2020.
Bold Prediction - Georgia will have a playoff berth all but wrapped up only to see Kirby Smart inadvertently go for it on 4th and long vs Alabama in the SEC Championship. Jake Fromm will get sacked and Bama will score in the final 20 seconds to send themselves back to a 6th straight playoff berth. Meanwhile UGA will be leapfrogged by an one-loss Notre Dame team whom they narrowly beat in September and an one-loss Texas Longhorns team who soundly beats Oklahoma to win the Big 12. Barking will intensify to Mark Richt-er scale levels in the great state of Georgia.