Before you read below, make sure to check out my previous college football prediction articles:
My favorite time of the year starts this weekend. While the games aren’t great (and I’ll give some picks down below), college football begins this Saturday!!
Though I despise the official preseason polls, here is my early top 10:
1. Alabama – Because they’re the best team in the best conference with the best college coach of all-time. I think they’ll beat Florida State in Week 1, lose once during the regular season, and end up back in Atlanta for the National Championship Game.
2. Florida State – Play ‘Bama close in the opener…don’t lose more than once more (i.e. beat Clemson and Lousiville) and we’ll see you back in Atlanta in a rematch against the Crimson Tide.
3. USC – Best QB in the nation with a fairly veteran team combined with a relatively easy regular season schedule. Injuries aside, they have no excuses not to be in the CFB Playoff.
4. Penn State – The Nittany Lions’ offense should be among the most efficient in college football this season. If Trace McSorley was 3″ taller, he’d be among the top NFL prospects in the nation. As you’ll see in the column below, I predict BIG things from RB Saquon Barkley this year. I’m higher on them than most…but if you question this pick, go back and watch this past season’s Rose Bowl and you’ll reconsider.
5. Ohio State – After watching Clemson’s thrashing of OSU in person during last New Year’s Eve’s Fiesta Bowl, I’m lower on OSU’s chances than most. But adding very bright offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson should help improve things for QB J.T. Barrett. Will still find a way to lose a game or two they shouldn’t.
6. Oklahoma State – A team with a chip on it’s shoulder and a dynamic QB-WR combo in Mason Rudolph and James Washington. My pick to win the Big XII regular season title.
7. Washington – Last year’s Final Four squad might be an 11-1 regular season and Pac-12 Championship Game win over USC away of repeating that feat. The schedule isn’t too bad…so expect it to come down to Huskies vs. Trojans for a spot in Pasadena on 1/1/18.
8. LSU – Their schedule is brutal but this is a talented team led by star RB Derrius Guice, who you’ll see playing on Sundays in 2018. I’ll predict a 9-3 season with a Cotton Bowl appearance in the first full year under Ed Orgeron.
9. Georgia – Emerging QB, dynamic running game, solid defense. Beat Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 2 and they’ll be off-to-the-races. I could see a 10-2 season and SEC East Championship.
10. Oklahoma – I’m very interested to see how this team reacts with a new head coach due to the departure of Bob Stoops in June. Under Lincoln Riley, I could see them losing at Ohio State and Oklahoma State + another Big XII game such as Texas. Either way, I have them exacting some revenge on their in-state rivals in the conference championship game and advancing to the Cotton Bowl.
**I expect letdowns this season from Clemson and Michigan. Many preseason polls have each in the top-10…but I look at 2017 as rebuilding seasons for both teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams win 9 or so in the regular season but any more than that might be asking for too much. Another prediction – don’t be surprised if Michigan is your preseason #1 or #2 team in 2018. With a year of experience, this team could be STACKED.**
Conference Championship Game Predictions
Pac-12: USC over Washington
ACC: Florida State over Miami (Florida)
Big 10: Penn State over Wisconsin
Big 12: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State
SEC: Alabama over Georgia
AAC: South Florida over Memphis
CUSA: Western Kentucky over Louisiana Tech
MAC: Toledo over Miami (Ohio)
Mountain West: Wyoming over San Diego State
Heisman Trophy Finalists
Saquon Barkley (Penn State) – PROJECTED WINNER
Sam Darnold (USC)
Deondre Francois (Florida State)
Major Bowl Game Predictions
Sugar Bowl (Semifinal): Alabama over Penn State
Rose Bowl (Semifinal): Florida State over USC
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State over Washington
Orange Bowl: Ohio State over Louisville
Peach Bowl: South Florida over Georgia
Cotton Bowl: LSU over Oklahoma
National Championship Game
FLORIDA STATE over Alabama
It’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season. In a thrilling rematch from Week 1 in Atlanta, Deondre Francois leads a late comeback to defeat Alabama 34-30 to win Florida State’s 2nd National Championship in the last five seasons.
WEEK ZERO GAME PREDICTIONS
Starting next week, I’ll be adding some fun to the weekly college football picks. In the meantime, here are my selections (straight up and against the spread) for this Saturday’s games:
COLORADO STATE (-4) over Oregon State
BYU (No line) over Portland State
HAWAII (+2) over UMass
SOUTH FLORIDA (-21) over San Jose State
Stanford over RICE (+31)
Want to be a guest weekly college football picker this season? Reach out to me on Twitter @eacohen83.