Saturday, August 12, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: The College Football Playoff and New Year's Six Bowl Games

After looking at the various conferences this is how I see the final rankings:

College Football Playoff seedings:
Ohio State
Florida State
Big Six Bowl participants:
(Ranked by final ranking)
8  USC
10  South Florida
11  Penn State
12 Texas

Given that, this is how I see the bowls being seeded:

Rose Bowl:
2 Ohio State vs 3 Washington
Sugar Bowl
1 Albama vs. 4 Florida State
Peach Bowl
Georgia vs. Penn State
Fiesta Bowl
Clemson vs. LSU
Cotton Bowl
Texas vs South Florida
Orange Bowl:
USC vs. OU

This actually works out OK.  The Cotton Bowl gets the last pick so they will be stuck with South Florida, but they will have the option to pick Texas which should ensure them a sell-out.  Georgia and Penn State in the Peach Bowl sets up a tasty SEC/B1G matchup and Clemson vs LSU sets up an ACC/SEC game for everyone.  This leaves the Orange Bowl which gives us a battle of Blue Bloods.

The team with the biggest gripe is going to be Wisconsin.  IF they beat Michigan they would take Penn State's place and then the latter would have the biggest grip to make.  I could see a slim scenario where Louisville takes Georgia's place but I think you're more likely to see two teams from the SEC/Big XII (since the latter is not in the CFP) than you are the ACC with two.  

For the Playoffs I see it as follows:

Pretty simple: Alabama beats Florida State and Ohio State beats Washington.

College Football Playoff Championship Game
1. Alabama vs. 2. Ohio State
Champion:  Ohio State University

So, that's it then.  As a Michigan fan I see Ohio State winning the College Football Playoff and the de-facto National Title.  This keeps alive the fact that only 4 coaches currently active in College Football have won the darn thing.

Will the season end up like I have predicted?  Certainly not.  Because each and every week we see upsets and there are teams that are going to both underperform and overachieve.

But this is how I see it.  Your mileage may vary.

Let's kick-off already!!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: The B1G

As a Michigan fan I save this one for last because of two reasons.  First, it's nearest and dearest for me and second, this is going to be hard to put to print.

Let me get it over with, here's how I see it going....

Conference Standings:
East W L West W L
Ohio State 12 0 Wisconsin 11 1
Penn State 11 1 Northwestern 9 3
Michigan 10 2 Nebraska 8 4
Indiana 6 6 Minnesota 7 5
Michigan State 5 7 Iowa 7 5
Maryland 4 8 Illinois 4 8
Rutgers 3 9 Purdue 1 11
Won division Won division
Conference Championship: Ohio State over Wisconsin
Bowl Teams: 9
CFP: Ohio State
Big 6: Wisconsin
Big 6 2: Penn State
Others: Michigan
Most Underrated: Minnesota
Most Overrated: Michigan
Coaches on Hot Seat: Indiana

Before you guffaw too loudly I want you to take a look at Wisconsin's schedule and tell me who you think is on there that can beat them?  Before you say "Michigan" consider this: The game is at Camp Randall. I think Michigan eeks out the victory, but if they don't who else on that schedule is beating the Badgers.

I think Ohio State is good enough to run the table, I think Penn State is as well so whoever wins that game wins the whole thing. The game is being played at the Horseshoe. As much as I would like to predict otherwise, that's how I see it finishing.  

I think Northwestern surprises some people and ends up second in their division, beating Nebraska at home and generally pulling off one or two minor upsets. Nebraska will be OK, better than average, then you have a whole bunch of teams that are just meh.

Michigan State is in a rebuilding year, Indiana has a ceiling, Maryland might spring an upset or three, Minnesota doesn't have the talent, Iowa is due a fall-back year where the smoke-and-mirrors don't work and Illinois has poor coaching and is thin on talent, Rutgers gets marginally better and P.J. Fleck is going to see just how barren the cupboard really is at Purdue.

OPOY: J.T. Barrett (OSU)
DPOY: Josey Jewell (Iowa)
COY: Pat Fitzgerald (NW)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: Big XII

The more things change.....

The more I think they stay the same.

Conference Standings:
Overall Conference
Teams (No divisions) W L W L
Oklahoma 10 2 8 1
TCU 9 3 7 2
Texas 10 2 7 2
Oklahoma State 9 3 6 3
West Virginia 8 4 6 3
Kansas State 7 5 4 5
Baylor 7 5 4 5
Texas Tech 3 9 2 7
Iowa State 2 10 1 8
Kansas 1 11 0 9
Bowl Teams: 7
CFP: None
Big Six Oklahoma, Texas
CFP 2: None
Big Six 2: None
Others: TCU
Oklahoma State
West Virginia
Kansas State
Most Underrated: Texas
Most Overrated: Baylor
Coaches on Hot Seat: Oklahoma State
West Virginia
Texas Tech

Yes, I have Oklahoma pegged to win the conference again (despite the retirement of Stoops) and, yes, I have 2017 as another year where the Big XII gets left on the outside looking in of  the CFP. Even the introduction of a "championship game" isn't going to help because the feeling will be that the conference is down. I'll deal with that a little bit more in my upcoming CFP preview.

Oklahoma is going to lose big games to Ohio State and Texas but I predict that Texas will, in Tom Herman fashion, lose to TCU and West Virginia (Oddly enough, I think they beat USC early in the season.)

Oklahoma State might finish 9-3 and get their coach fired. I've heard that it's "win or you're out" this year for Gundy. West Virginia will be a tough place to play, and Kansas State and Baylor round out the bowl slate.

Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas are going to be bad teams in the weakest Power 5 conference of them all.  In fact, I think two of the three might fire their coaches after this season. The only coaches I would say are 100% safe are Lincoln Riley (OU), Tom Herman (Texas), Matt Ruhle (Baylor) and Gary Patterson (TCU). Of course, Snyder is retiring (we think) after this year so that's already a change. I wouldn't be surprised to see as many as four schools looking for new head men in the off-season.

OPOY: Baker Mayfield
DPOY: Travin Howard (TCU)
COY: Tom Herman (Tex)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: PAC-12

I found the PAC-12 to be incredibly hard to handicap this year. I want to place USC in the driver's seat but picking Todd Helton over Washington head coach Chris Peterson just feels wrong. This is another conference that's top-heavy, but it's good to see the blue-bloods coming back to the fore.

Here's how I see it unfolding....

Conference Standings:
North W L South W L
Washington 12 0 USC 11 1
Oregon 10 2 UCLA 7 5
Stanford 8 4 Utah 7 5
Washington State 7 5 Colorado 6 6
California 2 10 Arizona State 5 7
Oregon State 2 10 Arizona 3 9
Won division     Won division    
Conference Championship:
Washington over USC
Bowl Teams: 8  
CFP: Washington
Big 6: USC
CFP 2: None
Others: Washington
Washington State
Most Underrated: Utah
Most Overrated: Stanford
Coaches on Hot Seat: Arizona State
Washington State

So, I went with Washington, I see them both winning the conference and finding themselves in the CFP.  The biggest surprise is that Oregon is going to be a tough ask. After that there's a precipitous drop off to Stanford (who I feel is a team in decline) and Washington State (who has found their level) before falling off a cliff to California and Oregon State.

In the West it's USC and then a host of middling teams that could finish in any order, UCLA has Josh Rosen, and not much else, Utah is always solid but I think they've found their level as well, Colorado was a nice story last year, but I see them regressing some. Arizona State and Arizona will probably be looking for new head coaches in the off-season and both Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez get shown the door.  I also wouldn't be surprised to see Mike Leach get tossed as Wazzu.  You put up with his act when he's winning, not so much when he's close to .500.

Again we have a situation where big sports sites are afraid to predict bad seasons for Power 5 teams. In the PAC-12 this year I think it's destined to happen for at least three teams.

OPOY: Sam Darnold (USC)
DPOY: Azeem Victor (Wash)
COY: Willie Taggart (Ore)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: The ACC

2016 was the best year the conference has ever had.  Not only did they win the National Championship, but they won 9 additional bowl games as well. They were, hands down, the best conference in College football last year.

This year will be a drop-off from last, but I don't think they will fall too far.

Here's how I see it.

Conference Standings:
Atlantic W L Coastal W L
Florida State   11 1 Virginia Tech   11 1
Clemson 11 1 Miami 10 2
Louisville 10 2 Georgia Tech 7 5
NC State 9 3 North Carolina 7 5
Syracuse 6 6 Pittsburgh 4 8
Wake Forest 3 9 Duke 4 8
Boston College 1 11 Virginia 3 9
Won division       Won division      
Conference Championship:
Florida State over Virginia Tech
Bowl Teams: 9  
CFP: Florida State
Big 6: Clemson
CFP 2: None
Others: Louisville
NC State
Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
North Carolina
Most Underrated: NC State
Most Overrated: Boston College
Coaches on Hot Seat: NC State
Boston College

One of the disconnects that I see in all of the major sports sites is predicting that any Power 5 conference team is going to have a really putrid season.  Given that the cannot score, and the defense is not going to be as good this year, I think Boston College is a prime candidate to do so.  I also think coach Narduzzi loses his job because NC State is going to be much better than people think.

The top of the conference is still dominated by Florida State and Clemson, followed by a Virginia Tech team that's going to surprise many this year ( and they get a lot of key games in Blacksburg) while Miami and Louisville make up a competitive 2nd tier.

NC State is a team that I'm higher on than most. In part that's because they bring in a Senior laden team, have their quarterback situation sorted, and should have a very tough defense to score against. They went 7-5 last year and I'm seeing many predictions of the same record. I think that's underrating them greatly.

Syracuse will be better, barely qualifying for a bowl, but after that it's a parade of bad teams with Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia and Boston College all bringing up the rear with losing records.

OPOY: Lamar Jackson (LOU)
DPOY: Derwin James (FLSt)
COY: Justin Fuente (VaTech)

Monday, August 7, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: The SEC

It's Monday, time to start looking at the Power 5 conferences and sort-out who makes it to the CFP and the NY 6 games at the end.

I'll start off with the SEC, not for any reason other than they fall first on the spreadsheet I created.

When talking about the SEC you have to talk about Alabama. They've been the best team in the best conference for quite some time now, even in years they didn't win they sucked up all of the oxygen, and I don't see that changing this year.  What I do see is Florida being much improved in the East and Georgia as well.

Here's how I see it....
Conference Standings:
Alabama   11 1 Florida   9 3
LSU 10 2 Georgia 9 3
Auburn 10 2 Tennessee 9 3
Texas A&M 7 5 Missouri 6 6
Arkansas 7 5 Kentucky 6 6
Mississippi State 6 6 South Carolina 4 8
Ole Miss 4 8 Vanderbilt 3 9

Wins Division Wins Division
Conference Championship:
Alabama over Florida
Bowl Teams: 11
CFP: Alabama
Big Six LSU Georgia
CFP 2: None
Others: Auburn
* On probation Texas A&M
Mississippi State
Most Underrated: Missouri
Most Overrated: Auburn
Coaches on Hot Seat: Kevin Sumlin, Butch Jones
Brett Bielema, Mark Stoops

The question for the SEC this year is whether or not anyone will be able to knock off Alabama. My instinct says no.  gone is the distraction that was Lane Kiffin and back is a host of talented offensive players, including QB Jalen Hurts and massive RB Bo Scarborough, and a defense that shouldn't have trouble stopping anyone this year.  

The toughest team to evaluate is LSU, who I think has talent, and a good coach in Ed Orgeron, but who constantly mystifies me because their play doesn't always match up with the quality of athletes they have on the field.  That said, I think they're stronger than an overrated Auburn team who will have a solid record nevertheless because the SEC is (still) somewhat depressed this year once you get past the top six teams.

Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are all going to be good this year. Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Missouri and Kentucky are going to be around average, and Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are going to be sub-par.  That's probably not what you expect to hear about the SEC (and it's not the narrative you're going to hear all year) but it's probably the truth.

OPOY: Darrius Guice (LSU)
DPOY: Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
COY: Ed Orgeron (LSU)

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