The best time of the year is back! College football is almost here, and with a nice slate of week 1 games, it’s easy to get excited about this season. Alabama faces Louisville in Orlando, Auburn meets Washington in Atlanta, Michigan and Notre Dame are playing a primetime matchup, and Miami has a date with LSU in Dallas. With so much good football on, I’m here to sort out the contenders and the pretenders and provide a few scorching hot takes as always.
First Coaches Fired:
At this point, it could actually be Urban Meyer. However, I don’t see Ohio State firing him after announcing the investigation will only take two weeks. Ed Orgeron is a popular pick, but with an improved roster, I think LSU starts off hot. Keep in mind, a few missed field goals cost them a game against Troy and their bowl game against Notre Dame. 9-4 could have easily been 11-2. I’m going to go with Kansas coach David Beaty. Kansas has been absolutely smacked around since their Orange Bowl berth in 2008, and it’s time for another regime change. They’re 3-33 over their past 3 seasons under Beaty. Don’t worry Jayhawks fan(s), basketball season is just around the corner. I also see Lovie Smith getting the ax, but I think Illinois waits until the end of the season.
USF – Even after losing Quinton Flowers, USF is returning a lot of athletes. Charlie Strong seems to have found his niche in South Florida, and USF is in a position to challenge Boise State as the best Non-P5 team this season.
Michigan State – Michigan State isn’t necessarily a surprise after going 10-3 last season, but with all the controversy surrounding the program, getting back to 10 wins will be a challenge.
Troy – After losing longtime starter Brandon Silvers, Troy is looking to continue their roll after going 11-2 last season. I think they’ll be a surprise in a sense that they will garner more national media attention this year, and battle it out with App State and Arkansas State for the Sun Belt title.
Michigan – I’m still not buying what Jim Harbaugh is selling. Notable anti-chicken activist and 2nd runner-up in his own division 3 years in a row, he’s generated a lot of hype for this upcoming season. However, that’s all that Michigan usually is: hype. He finally has his “star quarterback”, a defense laced with 5-star talent, and multiple returning starters. What other excuses will the national media make for him after another third place finish in the Big Ten East?
UCF – Relative to expectations, UCF is bound to disappoint. Their fans still brimming with pride over their fake National Championship, it’s almost impossible for smaller schools to reciprocate that magic when their head coach leaves for greener pastures. McKenzie Milton should still have a strong season.
South Carolina – I’m not buying the hype in Columbia. Will Muschamp has consistently proven he’s not head coach material, and even though the Gamecocks are returning electric offensive weapon Deebo Samuel and quarterback Jake Bentley, they’re still a longshot to win the SEC East. Coming in 2nd isn’t some big consolation prize either; this is the worst the East has been in quite some time sans Georgia.
West Virginia – Another team with sky-high expectations, Dana Holgorsen’s club is returning David Sills and Will Grier, who are both drawing considerable Heisman odds. However, I just don’t see it with this club. There’s a Big 12 hype train for one non-Oklahoma team every season, and the results usually end up being the same. They can’t beat the Sooners, lose an embarrassing game to someone they shouldn’t, and finish the season outside the playoff. For a team with playoff aspirations, 10-3 or 9-4 is a disappointment.
FAU over Oklahoma:
Lane Kiffin storms into Norman, winning a close one and letting all of the tweets loose after the game.
TCU over Ohio State:
With all of the controversy surrounding the program, it’s easy to see the Buckeyes coming out uninspired.
LSU over Georgia:
I think this is the only game Georgia loses this season. A nightcap in Baton Rouge
Florida State over Clemson
Clemson will be in the college football playoff for the third straight year, but I think they could fall asleep against a Seminoles team with something to prove.
Heisman Dark Horses:
AJ Dillon – Boston College doesn’t get a lot of National Media love, but Dillon can straight up ball.
JK Dobbins – Dobbins isn’t that dark of a horse, he’s an electric running back with elite quickness. Nobody would be surprised if he was in New York, but running backs don’t get a lot of Heisman love.
D’Andre Swift – Even with a lot of mouths to feed in Georgia’s backfield, Swift is the man after the departures of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Ed Oliver – We all know this is a quarterback’s award. That’s why I’ve only mentioned Running Backs so far. Make no mistake, Ed Oliver is an absolute monster. He will be living in backfields this season.
Miles Sanders – The man tasked with replacing Saquon Barkley isn’t some no-name. Sanders is a former 5 star himself, and even after losing offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to Mississippi State should have a big season
Khalil Tate – Not getting much love outside of Tuscon, the already electric Tate will thrive in Kevin Sumlin’s QB friendly system.
Early Heisman Candidates Who Will Flop:
QB Shea Patterson – Michigan
I haven’t seen enough out of Patterson to warrant him getting any Heisman love whatsoever. Keep in mind, he was the man under center for Ole Miss’ 66-3 absolute drubbing at the hands of Alabama last season. Notre Dame’s defense will be a very tough challenge week 1 for a young quarterback.
QB Justin Herbert – Oregon
I think Herbert is a fine Quarterback, but the injury risk is there. With head coach Willie Taggart leaving for Florida State, he’ll have to adjust to a new coaching staff after an injury-shortened season. There have been whispers of him being the first QB taken in the NFL draft, so that could also be on his mind.
QB Jarrett Stidham – Auburn
Once again, Stidham is an excellent Quarterback. However, Auburn lost a majority of their offensive line and both of their running backs; that’s not the recipe for a Heisman season. I expect them to regress slightly this season
HB Jonathan Taylor – Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a strong offensive line and solid defense, a perfect recipe for a bell-cow running back. Taylor takes it home in New York over Dobbins, Tagovailoa, Tate, Sanders, and Love.
Most Impressive Freshmen:
QB Trevor Lawrence – Clemson
Anyone who has watched Trevor Lawrence knows the kid is special. I saw him as a high school freshman, all 6’5 of him. He casually threw for 500 yards like he was playing in his neighborhood pickup game. I think Kelly Bryant falters early, Lawrence takes over, and gets a little Heisman consideration. He won’t win it this year, but the hype train will be full steam ahead next season.
HB Zamir White – Georgia
The aforementioned crowded UGA backfield is stacked with talent, and the most talented of the bunch might be Zamir White. An absolute mountain of a running back, White is coming off of a torn ACL. He’ll get carries though, and will also put the rest of the SEC on notice.
HB Lorenzo Lingard – Miami
Lingard is regarded as an athletic freak, and with Mark Walton leaving for the NFL, Mark Richt could use him as a plug and play starter immediately.
WR Justyn Ross – Clemson
Ross will see plenty of targets in a Clemson offense that just lost Deon Cain. Ross and Tee Higgins (more on him in a second) will run wild on ACC secondaries.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown – USC
The brother of *squints* Equanimeous St. Brown, Amon-Ra is going to an unstable QB situation in Los Angeles. However, High School teammate and fellow freshman 5 star JT Daniels is the favorite to start, it’s safe to say that they already have some chemistry.
DE Eyabi Anoma – Alabama
Anoma is already making splashes in Alabama’s practices, and Nick Saban has a habit of getting his freshmen plenty of playing time. With Bama running thin on the D-Line and in the linebacker corps due to injuries, you have to think Anoma will get his fair share of snaps.
CB Tyson Campbell – UGA
Tyson Campbell is stupid talented, and even with incumbent alpha DeAndre Baker roaming the secondary, he should get some reps and show some serious flashes in his first season.
CB Patrick Surtain Jr. – Alabama
Once a virtual lock to be an LSU commit, the son of longtime NFL DB Patrick Surtain chose Alabama on National Signing Day. With Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison, Anthony Averett, and Levi Wallace all going to the NFL, Surtain is getting first-team reps immediately.
S Tyreke Johnson – Ohio State
The Buckeyes have a knack for developing talented defensive backs, and Johnson could possibly slide into the hole left by Denzel Ward, or occupy the same role Malik Hooker did two years ago.
S Kelvin Joseph – LSU
LSU’s defensive backfield is already stacked, and the rich get richer, and Joseph will benefit greatly from playing alongside All-SEC CB Greedy Williams and in front of an absolute monster in ILB Devin White. Joseph joins a rich fraternity of Tiger Safeties.
QB Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
The kid is special. He can absolutely spin it, is cool under pressure, can make plays with his legs, and is a fearless leader respected by his teammates. Oh, and he plays for the greatest college football coach of all time. Expect Tua to take the Bama starting QB gig and run with it.
HB Cam Akers – Florida Stae
Akers was actually once an Alabama commit, but changed his mind and headed to Tallahassee once he saw how loaded the backfield was. It was a great choice because he showed superstar flashes as the Seminoles lead back last season. He could get some Heisman consideration.
HB D’Andre Swift – UGA
Swift terrorized SEC defenses last season, and expect him to be the alpha dog in a stacked UGA backfield. SEC Player of the Year will be in the cards for him this season, and maybe even a trip to New York
HB Stephen Carr – USC
With Ronald Jones leaving for the NFL, USC will be looking at replacing their HB along with their QB. St. Brown, Daniels, and Carr could be their new 3 headed monster.
HB Najee Harris – Alabama
Harris provided a sneak peak of what he could do last season during the playoffs, and he’s primed to be the 2nd back behind Damien Harris. Harris has a rare combination of size and speed that few possess. He’s a violent runner with serious agility and finesse at the same time.
WR Tee Higgins – Clemson
Even though Kelly Bryant isn’t the greatest passer, Higgins can make plays in space. You can also throw it up, and he’ll go get it. WR1 Potential for the 2020 draft class.
WR Jerry Jeudy – Alabama
Speaking of receivers who are electric in space, Jerry Jeudy is ready to take over Calvin Ridley’s role as the alpha of the WR corps. He already has great chemistry with Tagovailoa, so expect him to get a healthy dose of targets in a new look Bama offense.
DE Joshua Kaindoh – Florida State
Another 5 star, Kaindoh will be living in ACC backfields this season. Physically gifted, the sky is really the limit for him.
OLB Dylan Moses – Alabama
Moses is another athletic freak, and even though he’s struggled with injuries, he’ll be a key part of an Alabama linebacking corps that has been ravaged by injuries yet again. He and Mack Wilson will be the impact players this season.
CB Shaun Wade – Ohio State
Wade will likely take over Denzel Ward’s spot in the secondary, and continue the process of putting 5 stars in the Ohio State defensive backfield machine.
AAC – USF
ACC – Clemson
BIG 12 – Oklahoma
B10 – Wisconsin
C-USA – FAU
MAC – Toledo
MWC – Boise State
Pac 12 – Stanford
SEC – Alabama
Sun Belt – Troy
College Football Playoff
1 Alabama v 4 Georgia (Orange Bowl)
2 Clemson v 3 Wisconsin (Cotton Bowl)
3 of the teams from last year’s playoff will be making an appearance in the playoffs. It’s going to be difficult for the committee to set up a rematch between Alabama and Georgia, but after seeing how electric Auburn v Georgia round 2 was last season and how great the national championship was, I think they can make an exception. I don’t see any other teams that are wowing me, I have Stanford penciled in for 2 or 3 losses, and Oklahoma will have a lot more competition in the Big 12 and an early season loss to FAU will hurt their resume. As it stands, I think these are the three best teams in college football right now. Ohio State is more talented on paper than Wisconsin, but who knows how their situation is going to shake out.
Alabama – 31 Georgia – 24
Clemson – 27 Wisconsin – 17
CFP National Championship
Alabama v Clemson
The saga continues. The two titans of college football will meet again in Santa Clara. After Clemson came out flat last season in a 24-6 loss in last year’s Sugar Bowl, Dabo will bring arguably the most talented defensive line in college football history to face Nick Saban’s highest octane offense he’s ever had. Alabama has an impressive stable of running backs led by senior workhorse Damien Harris, a trio of talented sophomore receivers, and the best Quarterback Nick Saban has ever coached in Tua Tagovailoa. This one will be an all-time classic.
Alabama – 27 Clemson – 21
#1 Draft Pick
DE Nick Bosa – Ohio State
Bosa absolutely dominated last season, and he looks even more impressive in college than big brother Joey did. That’s saying a lot considering Joey is overwhelming NFL offensive lines at 23 years old. Ed Oliver will get looks here, but the position he plays isn’t as valued as a defensive end. If the team drafting first has a dire need for an offensive tackle *cough* Browns *cough*, Jonah Williams could be the pick. As always, a quarterback-hungry team could look to trade for the #1 pick and select a future franchise quarterback, however, Bosa is by far the most tantalizing prospect in this year’s draft.
Hot Take Lightning Round:
- Jalen Hurts transfers to Texas to play for Tom Herman
- Troy plays in a New Years 6 Bowl
- Washington loses 5 games
- Jeremy Pruitt flirts with being fired after his first season in Tennessee after clashing with Fulmer all season
- Ed Orgeron saves his job.
- Urban Meyer is NOT fired but suspended 4-6 games.
- Justin Fields takes some snaps for UGA and looks like a future phenom
- Georgia Southern wins 6 games in year 1 under Chad Lunsford
- Jim Harbaugh is officially on the hot seat after 2018.
- Texas A&M finishes 4th in the SEC West but looks like a much better team heading into next season.
- UCLA looks underwhelming and Chip Kelly’s Offense looks stale
- Arizona looks impressive yet inconsistent with Khalil Tate and Kevin Sumlin
- Drew Lock is the first QB taken in the draft
- Tyree Jackson of Buffalo (6’7, 245) is the Josh Allen of this next draft.
- Davis Mills takes over the Stanford QB job and gets Heisman love for next season