|SEC Champ||Texas A&M|
|Pac 12 Champ||Arizona St.|
|Big 12 Champ||Oklahoma St.|
|ACC Champ||Florida St.|
|Heisman Winner||Cody Kessler|
|Heisman Dark Horse||Jared Goff|
|First Fired Coach||Al Golden|
|Game of the Year||Week 2: Michigan St. at Oregon|
|Four Playoff Teams||Ohio St.
|Playoff Darkhorse||See Above|
|National Champion||Ohio St.|
I am always big on finding a team to pick based on schedule because so much is hard to determine this early on. Arkansas has a neutral site game against Arkansas, has a bye week before Alabama and only has to go on the road to Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and LSU. They aren’t the best team talent wise in the SEC, but things might align the right way for them.
Pac 12 Champ
Sticking with that logic, let’s go off the board a bit in the Pac–12 as well. USC is probably the best team talent-wise, but let’s roll with Arizona St. here. They have USC and @UCLA back-to-back, but it’s early. They have a by week before Oregon and get Washington St. the week after. We will know a lot about them after their week one non-conference game against Texas A&M.
Big 12 Champ
Baylor plays probably the best four teams that aren’t them in the last four weeks of the season, which just be too hard to get through. So let’s get crazy again! Oklahoma St.!!!! They get TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma at home! That is amazing luck. They catch Texas on the road earlier enough that they might still have the apprehend.
I so badly want to pick someone other than Florida St., but it’s just impossible. I don’t see anyone that will really challenge them, and Clemson has let me down far too many times over the years.
USC QB Cody Kessler was 10th in QBR last season. So I think I was a little early on picking him. And I am going to roll with him again because I think USC will put up gaudy numbers and be in the Pac–12 hunt for most of the season. He could emerge as one of the best NFL QB prospects by the spring. Ohio St. QB JT Barrett is probably my 1B selection because I think he is going to have a monster year.
Heisman Dark Horse
Way off last year, as Bo Wallace got no votes at all. Cal QB Jared Goff is pretty far down the list of odds according to this site. I think he could have a monster season, and Cal could be a lot better this season.
First Fired Coach
I want Al Golden to succeed at Miami, but he had a rough year last year. The sanctions are over and this team should take a step forward from 6–7. If they don’t stick in the ACC hunt for a while he could be in real trouble.
Game of the Year
Let’s just roll with last year’s copy verbatim:
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.
Everything still applies except this game is in East Lansing. A win for Michigan St. vaults them to one the playoff favorites early.
Four Playoff Teams
This is really about which conference gets left out. I think many years it will be the ACC or Pac–12. If Florida St. isn’t undefeated I think they are left out this year. And I think they lose along the way. So the four teams are Ohio St., Oklahoma St., Arizona St. and Texas A&M.
The rule for darkhorse national champion in past years has always been someone outside of the preseason top 10. Two of my playoff teams aren’t even in the top 25. So I feel like I have already gone dark horse, three times over. So let’s skip this.
It’s hard to see Ohio St. not winning this but things change in college football so much over the course of the season. By Tuesday morning this could already be wrong, but they deserve the benefit of the doubt. There are tons of good teams in the SEC, but it’s so hard to zero in on a one I just can’t.