The college football season is finally upon us and I could not be more stoked. This article will preview all five major conferences, who is going to win each conference, and then at the end I will predict who I believe is a sleeper, which teams will be a bust, the 4 playoff teams, and then end with a National Championship prediction. We start with a conference that is always considered to be one of the best in the nation.
The Southeastern Conference is a perennial powerhouse that is led by great matchups week in and week out. The conference for the last decade or so has been led by the Alabama Crimson Tide. All 13 teams are chasing Bama and I don’t think that is going to change this year. Alabama is stacked on both sides of the ball this year and their defensive front is one of an NFL caliber. Bama has a tough week 1 test against Florida State, but I think Bama will cruise in the second half. Another team with a tough week 1 opponent is the Florida Gators. After last years appearance in the SEC Championship game, Florida’s expectations are high coming into the season. They are going to have to prove themselves early as they play Michigan in week 1. I don’t think they can win that game, but think they will compete in the SEC this year. It will also be interesting to see how the Tennessee Volunteers will preform without their star QB Josh Dobbs. Their defense is good, but I don’t think their offense is going to be good enough this year to compete. The team that has the best chance to take down Bama is Georgia. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both healthy and looking to tear it up. Auburn is also going to be good with two sensational running backs in Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. In the end, Bama will once again win the SEC and remain the kings of the south.
The Pac 12 is loaded with talent this year and in my opinion is the second most talented conference behind the Big Ten. I think Washington is going to have another big season led by their fast paced offense. I believe that Colorado will also be successful; carrying the momentum they had from last year’s success, and I think there are some sleepers. One of the nation’s best quarterbacks comes out of UCLA in Josh Rosen. The dude throws one of the prettiest balls you will ever see and has the poise of an NFL vet. Washington State is another team you can’t sleep on in the Pac 12. Led by QB sensation Luke Falk, the Cougars can put up points in bunches and can sling it with any of the big boys in the conference. Overall though, I think the conference is going to be won by a school that has one of the most talented quarterbacks I have seen in a long time. USC is loaded. Their defense is good and their offense is one of the best in the country. With Sam Darnold, who I think will be a Heisman finalist, under center I believe the Trojans will not only win the Pac 12 but will make the College Football Playoff.
No more Deshaun Watson. No more Mitch Trubisky. No more James Conner. That being said, the ACC is still very talented this year. Lamar Jackson is back after his sensational freshman campaign as he is looking to lead Louisville to an ACC title. Another team that is going to be a force to be reckoned with is Clemson. Even though they lost huge stars like Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams, their offense is still one if the best in the country to go along with their ferocious defensive line. Another team that you will have to watch out for is the N.C State Wolfpack. I know what you’re thinking. NC State, really? Yes. They’re as legit as can be this year and are led by one of the best defensive lines in all of college football. Ryan Finley is a good quarterback and the Wolfpack are going to surprise some people this year. Now, you are going to have your middle of the pack teams like Miami and Virginia Tech, but I think there is one team that is vastly more talented than the rest. The Florida State Seminals are National Championship good. They have the best secondary in the country led by safety Derwin James. They also have an explosive quarterback in Deondre Francois and a great o-line to protect him. I think the Noles win the ACC this year handidly.
Oh the Big 12. I don’t know how I feel about this conference. Some years they are the most dominant conference in the country, others they are flat. This year I think it’s going to be a mic. There is definitely potential for success. One team in particular that has potential for that success in Oklahoma. Baker Mayfeild has potential to be one of the best QB’s in the country. He needs to stay out of trouble and stay focused. I think it is safe to say that they are the favorites to win the Big 12 this year. Another team you have to watch is Kansas State. With a legend like Bill Snyder and a defense like their’s, it’s going to be hard for them not to succeed. I think Baylor is a mess and Matt Rhule is going to have a hard time finding wins. Oklahoma State is another team you are going to have to watch for. There is a seamless connection between QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington and that is going to be a problem for Big 12 defenses this year. I think Texas could also really turn some heads this year between new coach Tom Herman and up and coming star RB, Collin Johnson. Tom Herman is a phenomenal coach and knows how to win, this should transfer to the big stage. My Big 12 champion may surprise you though. I really like West Virginia. I don’t know, I just love how fast their defense is and how quick they fly after the ball. If Will Grier plays to his full potential this prediction could very well become a reality.
And now it’s time to talk about the best conference in college football. The Big Ten is loaded this year and honestly there are 3 teams, maybe 4, that have a legitimate shot to make the playoff. Let’s start with Ohio State. The talent they have on this years team might be the best they’ve ever had. J.T. Barrett is back and is looking to end his college career with a bang. They also have a shifty running back in Demario McCall and a playmaking receiver in Johnnie Dixon. The Buckeyes will be in contention the whole year and are certainly talented enough to win the Big Ten. Another team that has a good chance to win the Big Ten is Michigan. Led by Jim Harbaugh and a grueling defense, the Big Blue are looking to make some national headlines this year. Their defensive line is comparable to Alabama’s. Rashan Gary and Maurice Hurst are absolute studs and will pile up the sacks this year. I like Michigan to perhaps make a CFP run this year. One of the most underrated defenses in college football is Wisconsin. Watching them last year in the Big Ten title game, I was amazed at how fast and explosive they were. They also have a pretty good QB in Alex Hornibrook. Wisconsin will have no trouble holding their own in the conference this year. One sleeper team in the Big Ten that you are going to have to watch this year is Minnesota. New coach P.J. Fleck, who I am a huge fan of, is looking to row the boat at his new home. It will be hard to have a lot of success as this conference is literally stacked, but I know that Fleck and his men will be up to the challenge. Finally, it’s time to talk about the champs. The Penn State Nittany Lions are coming into the 2017 football season with much confidence. Trace McSorely is looking to repeat his success from last year and has another outstanding WR core to throw to. They also have the most talented player in college football. Saquon Barkley is the best show on grass. There is just too much great things to say about this freak of nature. I think that Penn State repeats as Big Ten champions and will be in the CFP come the end of the season.
2017 Teams to Watch
Charlie Strong is looking to show the world he’s still got it. After being let go by Texas, this is Strong’s last chance to prove himself as a legitimate coach in D1 football. His QB should help him do just that. Quinton Flowers is a stud and you should expect to see him put up video game numbers this year.
I might be totally wrong about this prediction, but I don’t know something about P.J. Fleck just motivates me. Don’t get me wrong, this is a talented football team with some big playmakers, but with Fleck leading the ship I think the Gophers are for sure going to turn some heads this year.
Call me crazy, but I really like this Troy football team. This small school has big time talent and needs more national attention. Brandon Silvers is a really talented quarterback and would be able to compete with the big time schools. Hot take right here and you heard it here first, Troy will go into Death Valley and beat LSU on September 30th. BOOM.
North Carolina State
NC State is going to make some noise this year. They have such a dominating defensive front and that will show from the very first game. Jalan McClendon is an above average QB who likes to scramble and will give the team plenty of rushing TD’s. I think that this Wolfpack team can be ranked and hold their ranking throughout the regular season.
The only reason these guys are on the list is because it will be interesting to see how Lane Kiffin does in his inaugural season as FIU’s head coach. They have not made a bowl game since 2008 and running back Devin Singletary and wide receiver Kalib Woods are going to have to preform at a high level if they have any chance of breaking the streak.
Teams That Will Be a Bust/Disappointment
Baker Mayfield can’t stay out of trouble lately and I think that can come back to hurt him as a player and will eventually lead to a lot of losses. They have a tough test early as they go into Ohio State week 2 which I think they will get blown out and They will not do as well in conference play as people expect.
Baylor is a mess. Their off the field troubles had to be a huge distraction and made the focus level very hard. They also are welcoming a new head coach which is never an easy thing to do and I feel like this will be a rough transition year for the Bears. I think the defense is also very weak.
The absence of QB Josh Hobbs this year is a big loss and is going to hurt the team moving forward. Their offense is still good, but not the same as it was with him under center. The defense has a lot of soft spots and that will be exposed during the season. I also think the SEC is way to talented for them to compete this year.
This year, Stanford is without their star RB, Christian McCafery. This will obviously hurt them, as he seamlessly did everything for the Cardinals last year on the offensive side. The Pac 12 is an extremely talented conference this year and I think Stanford will underperform. I also am not a big fan of their defense and they have a relatively weak secondary.
Oregon is coming into this season ranked 21 in the preseason poll and much hype is surrounding this young team. I am not buying it one but. Willie Targgart is coming in his first year as head coach and I think the Pac 12 is going to punch him in the mouth. Oregon at most will get at most 5 wins this year.
Heisman Prediction: Saquon Barkley – He is the most talented, explosive player in the nation and that will show this year. He is going to have a huge year and will lead his football team to a College Football Playoff appearance.
National Champion Prediction:
There it is, a complete prediction of the 2017 college football season. Let’s get this season underway!