Here are ten 2016 College Football BOLD PREDICTIONS:
1. Tennessee will finally beat Florida. I shit you not it's been 11 years since Rocky Top has been sung in victory at the end but somehow, someway Butch Jones manages not to fuck up this game and the Vols come out with a HUGE W.
2. Houston QB Greg Ward will be the early Heisman Trophy favorite after his Cougars upset Oklahoma and he outplays top Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield.
3. LSU will fire Les Miles after he again goes through a 3-game losing streak in November capped off by a devastating loss in Fayetteville. It will also end Leonard Fournette's Heisman run.
4. Your 2016 College Football National Champion will come from the ACC conference or at least a team with an ACC affiliation. Whether it's Clemson, FSU or Notre Dame it remains to be seen who can stay injury free but one of those programs will win it all.
5. Houston head coach Tom Herman will take the LSU job after they fire Miles and it will be a huge story in regards to whether he coaches the Cougars in their bowl game or leaves early.
6. The PAC 12 and Big 12 conferences will be shut out of the CFB Playoffs.
7. Michigan and Jim Harbaugh will be a major disappointment this year. A lot of pundits have the Wolverines pencilled in for the playoffs but despite a great start to the season against a weak schedule they crash and burn by the last week of October.
8. There will be three 2000 yard rushers (Fournette, Royce Freeman, and Dalvin Cook) and none of them will win the Heisman.
9. UCLA QB Josh Rosen will talk about skipping his junior season in 2017 and instead prepare himself for the NFL Draft through a "QB guru" and workouts off campus.
10. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will save his dead man walking job by beating an undefeated Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
1. Ohio State (11-1) - You can never underestimate an Urban Meyer led football program but I feel a lot of pundits are doing just that. The Buckeyes are 50-4 since Meyer took over. They should again win the conference with playmakers like QB JT Barrett and LB Raekwon McMillan back.
2. Michigan State (10-2) - Sparty should have one of the better defenses in the college game led by DE Malik McDowell. They get Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State all at home which should help.
3. Michigan (9-3) - Road games at Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State will torpedo a tremendous first half start by the Wolverines because of the lack of good QB play.
4. Penn State (7-5) - As the norm the Nittany Lions have a tremendous group of linebackers and a great tailback in Saquon Barkley. Problem is the rest of the roster is very young and will be starting a new QB.
5. Indiana (6-6) - The Hoosiers have one of the better offensive lines in the conference and should score a lot of points. If the defense can step up they could make another bowl game.
6. Maryland (6-6) - I might be underestimating the Terps with new coach DJ Durkin. They got talent but they still don't have a QB.
7. Rutgers (4-8) - All I can say is good luck to new coach Chris Ash. He's got a complete rebuild in store for him and the schedule does him no favors.
1. Iowa (10-2) - Hawkeyes again will benefit from a joke of a schedule with their toughest road game being in Happy Valley. Desmond King is surprisingly back at cornerback and many pundits are high on QB C.J. Beathard.
2. Wisconsin (9-3) - The early season schedule is brutal for the Badgers with LSU in the opener and Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State all before mid October. If they can manage to pull off a couple of upsets they should finish strong.
3. Nebraska (8-4) - I feel like the Cornhuskers are a legit QB from wining this division. Tommy Armstrong Jr put up some decent stats last year on paper but if you watched him live you would say why is this guy even playing much less starting for Nebraska.
4. Northwestern (8-4) - Pat Fitzgerald is one of the better coaches in the conference and has a big time LB in Anthony Walker leading the defense. If they can pound the ball with RB Justin Jackson I could see them pulling off some upsets including 1 of the road games vs Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.
5. Minnesota (7-5) - Like Iowa the Gophers play a joke of a schedule and they get the three worst teams in the East Division instead of the best.
6. Illinois (4-8) - It's a total rebuild for new coach Lovie Smith who hasn't coached at the collegiate level since 1995. I like who Lovie brought in as assistants but it's going to take some time to get their talent up to winning standards.
7. Purdue (4-8) - Purdue is 1-11, 3-9, and 2-10 the last 3 seasons. Holy shit they are terrible! Congrats Boilermakers you win 4 games this season.
OVERRATED TEAM - Michigan is top 5 in the nation in the preseason polls but I got them finishing third in their division because of their QB play or lack thereof.
UNDERRATED TEAM - Wisconsin is being written off of their schedule but talent and coaching wise they could be the best team in the Big Ten West Division.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKER - Ohio State's J.T. Barrett was a top 5 Heisman vote getter his redshirt freshman season. This year he has the starting job and should put up monster numbers.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYMAKER - Sparty's Malik McDowell is basically unblockable at times and should rack up double digit sacks.
TOP FRESHMAN - Michigan got the #1 recruit in the nation in DT Rashan Gary who is expected to contribute right away.
COACH OF THE YEAR - Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. He's 50-4 as the Buckeyes coach and has 3 Natty's under his belt.
FINAL PREDICTION - Ohio State (11-1) beats Iowa (10-2) to advance to the College Football Playoffs.
1. Clemson (12-0) - Just a couple of plays away from completing a dream 15-0 season, Deshaun Watson and Dabo Swinney are back to complete the mission.
2. FSU (11-1)- Any other division besides the SEC West would have FSU #1 in it. QB Deondre Francois will be the X Factor. If he can play smart football and get the ball into Dalvin Cook's hands watch out for the Seminoles.
3. Louisville (9-3)- QB Lamar Jackson is a stud but Louisville's defense is down right terrible at times.
4. NC State (7-5) - Huge October home game vs Notre Dame could be breaking point for the Wolfpack to get to a New Years Day bowl game.
5. Boston College (6-6) - It will be interesting to see how they replace their great DC in Don Brown.
6. Syracuse (5-7) - The Orangemen seem to be heading in the right direction with Dino Balbers
7. Wake Forest (3-9) - Honestly can't name a player or coach off the top of my head.
1. Pitt (10-2) - 16 returning starters. Great offensive line. John Conner beat cancer and is back at tailback. The defense should be good enough to win the division.
2. North Carolina (9-3) - Elijah Hood is the best back who many people haven't heard of.
3. Georgia Tech (8-4) - Just a gut feeling but I think QB Justin Thomas and head coach Paul Johnson have Tech bounce back in a big way after struggling to a 3-9 record last season.
4. Miami (8-4) - New coach Mark Richt has his work cut out for him. If he can close the southern Florida borders he should have plenty of talent to work with.
5. Virginia Tech (7-5) - Another new coach in Justin Fuente who is drawing rave reviews so far in Blacksburg. Gotta find a QB and they could build something special.
6. Duke (6-6) - I'm probably underestimating David Cutcliffe and his team here but I'm sure they don't mind playing the underdog role.
7. Virginia (4-8) - Bronco Mendenhall is another new coach in the Coastal but he will have the most daunting task of filling up a roster full of average at best players.
OVERRATED TEAM - North Carolina. I see them taking a step back this season.
UNDERRATED TEAM - Pat Narduzzi will get Pitt to the ACC Championship when most pundits have them finishing 5th or lower in the Coastal.
OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKER - Tie between Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook. Both are home run threats whenever they have the pigskin in their hands.
DEFENSIVE PLAYMAKER - FSU Safety Derwin James is a bad, bad manchild.
TOP FRESHMAN - Dexter Lawrence should make an immediate impact on Clemson's defensive line.
COACH OF THE YEAR - Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi.
FINAL PREDICTION - Clemson (12-0) beats Pitt (10-2) and advances to the College Football Playoff Final 4.
Afraid to admit but I actually like these new Adidas Chrome uniforms more than the regular red unis Nebraska wears. What do you think? For one game vs Northwestern these are tight!
With the Coaches and AP preseason polls both out I figured I would look at the programs who are the most underrated going into the 2016 season. These teams are all predicted to either finish middle of the road or near the bottom of their respective conferences despite their numerous starters returning and top head coaching ability.
1) Pittsburgh Panthers - Pitt went 8-5 in their first season under coach Pat Narduzzi. They return 8 starters on each side of the ball including cancer survivor James Conner, the ACC Player of the Year in 2014. I could see them contending for the ACC Coastal division even though many pundits have them finishing near the bottom half of the division.
2) Wisconsin Badgers - The Badgers won 10 games in their first season under coach Paul Chryst. They have a roster capable of winning the Big Ten North over Iowa. If they can somehow manage to beat LSU in their opener at Lambeau Field I could see them upsetting the likes of Michigan and Ohio State this year because of the confidence factor.
3) TCU Horned Frogs - TCU is projected to finish 5th in their conference behind Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and even Texas (a team they beat 50-7) despite winning 11 and 12 games the last two seasons. You know head coach Gary Patterson is going to have them ready to make some noise and it wouldn't shock me to see them win the Big 12 even with Kenny Hill at QB.
4) Utah Utes - The Utes have the best defensive talent in the PAC 12 and return a veteran offensive line from a team that won 10 games last season including beating the likes of Michigan and Oregon by 42 points in Eugene! But still most pundits have them finishing in the back of the PAC 12 South. If they can find a consistent QB and some solid playmakers on offense I don't see any reason why they can't contend for a PAC 12 Title under coach Kyle Whittingham.
5) BYU Cougars - Taysom Hill is back at QB! BYU also returns 16 starters and while their coaching staff is brand new and the schedule is rather brutal the first half I can see them upsetting the likes of Utah, UCLA, West Virginia, Michigan State and Mississippi State. They should score a ton of points under first year coordinator Ty Detmer's offense.
ESPN's Scott Van Pelt offered his thoughts on the quarterback "controversy" brewing at Notre Dame and with head coach Brian Kelly's decision to play both.
Personally I agree with SVP here. You really can't go wrong with either QB: Malik Zaire or Deshone Kizer. Both are dynamite college quarterbacks who can throw and run with the best of them. They both have plenty of experience. Both seem to be good leaders and teammates also.
If anyone can handle multiple QB's it's Kelly. BK handled it perfectly in the 2014 bowl game win vs LSU with Zaire starting but letting Everett Golson get plenty of snaps too. Opposing defensive coordinators can't game plan two QBs so if anything it should be a major advantage for ND going into Austin to play Texas.
Brian Kelly announced today that both Malik Zaire and Deshone Kizer will play in the season opener vs Texas. But he hasn't named a starter.
Brian Kelly: Both Kizer and Zaire will play against Texas https://t.co/AQ1PULy3JC— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) August 17, 2016
Brian Kelly said he’d consider playing Zaire and Kizer at the same time. How? “I couldn’t tell you."— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) August 17, 2016
In an extensive interview with Matt Hayes at Bleacher Report Clemson quarterback and preseason Heisman Trophy favorite Deshaun Watson claims he wants to be the next franchise quarterback for his hometown Atlanta Falcons.
"Hayes: If you had your choice, where would you play in the NFL?
Watson: If I'm fortunate enough to play in the NFL, anywhere for anybody would be great. But if I had to pick, it would be the hometown [Atlanta] Falcons because I used to work for them. I was one of the kids who sold Cokes in the stadium. It was a lot of fun being around that environment, watching games and visualizing being there when I got older.
But I guess it will be a new stadium next year, so no more dreams of playing in the Georgia Dome for the Falcons. I don't think there would be any pressure playing for my hometown team. It would be fun. I'd just do the same thing I did before and build on it."
You got my attention dear Watson.
As an Atlanta Falcons fan I can only dream of seeing the hometown guy come back to the team he once worked for as a kid and throw winning touchdowns to the great Julio Jones in a Falcons helmet. But like all dreams the reality is the Falcons have a QB right now in Matt Ryan whom they are paying a lot of money. They will also probably need the #1 overall draft pick to get Watson. In other words it's not likely to happen. In order for the Falcons to get Watson they would have to tank the season (it's possible with their difficult schedule) and hope they luck out with other teams not being so shitty to get #1 overall pick. Then they would have to trade Ryan because you can't have two franchise quarterbacks on the same roster. I just don't see a lot of teams vying to get Ryan who has as many career playoff wins as Tim Tebow.
In other words it's a pipe dream. But as a Falcons fan it's great to actually hear someone say they want to strap on the Dirty Birds gear and play in the new stadium. To top it all off it's arguably the best player in college football right now. Man if only dreams could come true it would be great to wake up and see Deshaun Watson throwing seeds in the black and red.