2014 College Football Predictions

Note: This was supposed to go up last week, but since it didn’t, I added post-week 1 notes.

Some preseason picks, with rationale below.

SEC Champ South Carolina
Pac 12 Champ Oregon
Big 12 Champ Oklahoma
ACC Champ Florida St.
Heisman Winner Cody Kessler
Heisman Dark Horse Bo Wallace
First Fired Coach Charlie Weis
Game of the Year Week 2: Michigan St. at Oregon
Four Playoff Teams Oregon
South Carolina
Florida St.
Playoff Darkhorse Ole Miss
National Champion Oregon

SEC Champ

Steve Spurrier hasn’t won an SEC title yet at South Carolina, but he is coming off three straight 11-win, top 10 finish seasons. He has a veteran QB, and both Alabama and LSU are as close to “rebuilding” seasons as they are going to get. Outside of Georgia, there isn’t much to fear in their division.

Post Week 1: Oops. This pick might already be dead. And Georgia is a major threat. So major that they might be #1 when the first official rankings are released. This pick would surely be Georgia if it was being made now.

Pac 12 Champ

Oregon has only lost 9 games total over the last five seasons, but they have failed to win the Pac–12 championship game in each of the last two years. Some people think the Pac–12 is the best conference in college football this year, so this won’t be an easy road. But Marcus Mariota might be the best QB in the country, and Oregon always has a good deal of talent around.

Post Week 1: Nothing that makes this worth changing at this point. The Pac–12 does look good though.

Big 12 Champ

Hard not to just roll chalk here. Oklahoma is a well-coached team, with some talented players and a returning QB. They host Baylor, Kansas St. and Texas, meaning they don’t play a tough conference road game. That pretty much seals it.

Post Week 1: Again, nothing that indicates this is wrong. Baylor does look good though. This is clearly a two-team race.

ACC Champ

More chalk. This conference is probably not as bad as the Big 12, but it’s close. Clemson is a solid team, and week 1 against Georgia will show how good they can be. Otherwise it’s hard to see Florida St. being challenged, let alone beaten.

Post Week 1: Clemson got crushed by Georgia, and suddenly doesn’t look like a national contender. Florida St. looked iffy at times against a better than advertised Oklahoma St. team, but this pick still isn’t changing.

Heisman Winner

Jameis Winston made four straight (Newton, Griffin, Manziel) guys to win the trophy after not really being on anyone’s radar when the season started. Nowadays there is so much scrutiny on the the “obvious” guys, that it’s easier for someone to come from nowhere and win. USC QB Cody Kessler isn’t totally out of nowhere1, but he is not a name anyone is talking about. USC should be a lot better this year, both because the personnel is better and the coach is better. Kessler got experience last year, and could really break out this year.

Post Week 1: Fresno St. won’t be mistaken for Stanford, but Kessler still went 25 for 37 with 394 yards and 4 TDs in less than 3 quarters.

Heisman Dark Horse

It is much harder to throw a dark horse out there these days because the winner is usually a dark horse, and it’s hard to find someone getting no buzz at all. Ole Miss is a team on the rise, and their QB Bo Wallace is talented and experienced. If they are cracking the top 10 late in the season, it will because Bo has played well.

Post Week 1: Yikes. Ole Miss needed a four TD 4th quarter to pull out the win against Boise St., and Wallace had three interceptions. Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill looks like the guy to have picked here.

First Fired Coach

Every Michigan fan takes joy in watching Charlie Weis fail. This arrogant dude flopped at Notre Dame, and two decent seasons with someone else’s players. The fact that the only college head coaching job he could get was at Kansas is comical. He is 4–20 there, 1–17 in the Big 12, and now 39–47 overall. It’s just a matter of when, not if Weis will be fired. It’s hard to see him being a head coach anywhere again.

Post Week 1: Kansas didn’t play in week 12, but after losing by 18 to Louisville, Al Golden’s seat in Miami is a bit warmer. He seems less likely to be fired midseason unless he really loses a bunch, but his name is in the conversation.

Game of the Year

The SEC will undoubtedly have some epic match-ups in late October/early November, but there are so many teams that could be in it by then, it’s too hard to project. Week 2 sees Michigan St. traveling to Oregon. It’s a huge game for both teams. Michigan St. is trying to show people that they (and the Big Ten) belong with the Big Boys, and even though they won’t win, keeping it close will be a victory for them. Meanwhile Oregon is looking for that signature non-conference win that could keep them in the hunt even if they don’t win the Pac–12.

Four Playoff Teams

Nothing too crazy here. It’s the champions of the four conferences that are not the Big 10. Why not the Big Ten. As a whole the Big Ten is as good as the ACC or Big 12, it’s the top part that is the problem. Oklahoma could go 12–0, and Florida St. would likely have wins over non-conference wins over Notre Dame and Florida. Michigan St. can only trump that if they someone win on the road at Oregon.

Post Week 1: The South Carolina pick has already been discussed. Replace them with Georgia here. Florida St. looked incredibly shaky, and Clemson doesn’t look to be as good as originally though. A 2nd SEC team is a real possibility here now in place of FSU, maybe an LSU or Texas A&M.

Playoff Darkhorse

The rule for darkhorse national champion in past years has always been someone outside of the preseason top 10. Using that logic, Ole Miss is the team. This team is loaded with talent, and just needs to take a step in the right direction. They play in the deep SEC West, but miss the three tough crossover teams (South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri). They get Alabama and Auburn at home, but both of those games are flanked by tough road games. But anything can happen in the SEC.

Post Week 1: They looked super shaky against Boise St, but that team was playing their Super Bowl. And this is exactly the kind of “close” game that is completely forgotten when a team is 10–0.

National Champion

The SEC’s run was finally ended last year. The Pac–12 has been so good over the last 5 years, it’s crazy they haven’t won a national championship. That ends here, with this Oregon team finally completing the job.

Post Week 1: No reason to doubt this yet. The SEC looks very good though.

  1. I am pretty sure he at least has betting odds available []
  2. Who schedules a week 1 bye? []