Ladies and Gentleman, college football is back. After a tumultuous offseason with domestic violence charges and a player dying during a practice, I think we’re all ready to get back to football. With the season kicking off in less than a week, it’s time for some good old college football playoff predictions.
College sports are consistently difficult to to predict due to the constant overturn of players every year. However, many of last year’s top teams such as Georgia and Clemson are returning multiple star players and will be looking to continue their dominance this upcoming season. There are also teams like the Texas Longhorns who struggled last year but have brought in top ten recruiting classes and have a chance to make some noise this season.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
After an absolutely soul-crushing loss in the national championship game last season, the Dawgs are going to be angry and ready to prove that they’re here to take over college football and give Alabama some competition. After a stellar season where they won the SEC and fell just short of a national championship, we can expect for them to be in a similar spot this year.
They secured the number one recruiting class in the country with multiple five star recruits such as dual threat quarterback Justin Fields and running back Zamir White. While losing star backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel definitely hurts, last year’s star quarterback Jake Fromm is back and ready to lead the offense with a year of experience under his belt. After taking over for the injured Jacob Eason early last year, Fromm took the reigns and ran away with the starting job throwing for 2615 yards and leading the Dawgs to a national championship appearance. If he plays anything like he did last year, the offense will be in great shape. Kirby Smart is one of the smartest (no pun intended) coaches in the game after spending much of his career as Nick Saban’s understudy and with all the talent he has, it’s hard to see Georgia not being a top three team by season’s end.
Similar to Georgia, the Clemson Tigers are going to be hungry after getting upset by Alabama in the playoffs last year. This team may have the best defense in the nation with one of the most talented defensive lines in recent history, led by star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. All four starters on the D-line were voted preseason All-ACC First Team. The rest of the defense lost a lot of quality talent to the NFL, but they’ll be reinforced by the 7th ranked recruiting class.
Much of this team’s success will be determined by the play at quarterback. Kelly Bryant was great last year until he wasn’t. In the playoff game against Alabama, his deficiencies throwing the ball showed greatly and were a big reason of why they were only able to put up six points in the blowout loss. To make the QB situation intriguing, the Tigers locked down Trevor Lawrence, the top rated quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class and the best lettuce in all of college football. A polar opposite of Bryant, Lawrence is a true pocket passer. If Bryant struggles early in the season, expect to see Lawrence take his place, especially since his different style of play will surely throw off defenses. Regardless of who ends up starting week one, I think this team is too well coached with too much talent to miss out on the playoffs.
This is the year Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines finally get their shit together and make a run for the National Championship. Why is this their year? Two words: Shea Patterson. The former top recruit in the country transferred to Michigan this offseason after Ole Miss became the dumpster fire that they are now, and he will be eligible to play this season. While he was never stellar at Ole Miss, much of that can be attributed to the dysfunction of the team after head coach Hugh Freeze was fired amid numerous recruiting violations. A change of scenery could definitely help him reach his potential.
What helps this team greatly is the number of returning starters. The Wolverines only have to replace seven of the twenty-two starters from last year, a huge boost for team chemistry. But in the Big Ten it will be difficult to get past Wisconsin and Ohio State. I personally think Urban’s scandal this offseason will affect the Buckeyes and while it won’t suddenly turn them into a dumpster fire of a team, it will hurt their team chemistry and keep them from being a top four team. Michigan and Wisconsin will meet in the Big Ten championship and the winner of that will most earn this spot. However, I think Jim Harbaugh is one of the best minds in all of football and he has a knack for turning programs around just like he did at Stanford almost ten years ago. With a legit threat at quarterback, this could be the year that he finally gets his team to the promise land.
I know it’s getting tiresome seeing multiple teams from the SEC in the top four once again However after both SEC teams met in last years stellar national championship game, it’s hard to imagine either falling off this year. Alabama is faced with one of the biggest quarterback battles we have seen in years. Will they go with Jalen Hurts, who has gone 26-2 in his two years at Bama, or will they go with Tua Tagovailoa after the epic comeback he led from being down 13-0 at halftime in the national championship last year? As much respect as I have for Jalen Hurts, they will end up starting Tua because of his incredible ability to throw the ball. Due to the fact that almost every Alabama game was a blowout, we got a chance to see a lot of what he can do and he impressed every time he took the field last year. Luckily the tide have a good problem on their hands and will have an excellent QB under center week one no matter who Nick Saban decides to go with.
The offense is stacked with talented young receivers, headlined by sophomores Jerry Jeudy and Devonta Smith, the man who caught the game winning pass in the national championship. No matter who starts under center, the Alabama QB will have some explosive weapons at their disposal. Running back Damien Harris decided to forgo the draft to return for his senior year and former number one overall recruit Najee Harris will surely have a bigger role in the offense this year. With the two of them heading the rushing attack, the Tide’s offense should certainly be rolling this year.
The only real question mark for the Tide are their defensive backs. All four starters from last year’s team are gone and some younger players such as Trevon Diggs and five star recruit Patrick Surtain Jr. are going to have to step up. Luckily for them, the tide have arguably the most athletic inside linebacker combo in the nation with the hard-hitting Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses, who committed to play Division 1 football when he was only a middle schooler. With the monstrous 6’7” 315 lb Raekwon Davis leading the D-line, the Tide’s defense should certainly be close to if not as good as last year’s. If this team can avoid upsets from Auburn and Mississippi State, don’t be surprised if they make it back to the playoffs whether or not they win the SEC Championship.
Although it’s not the most exciting to see three of the same teams from last year in it again, let’s be honest, it’s probably going to happen. With Alabama’s continued dominance and the emergence of Clemson and Georgia, it won’t be surprising to see these teams in it for the next few years. However, I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. As much as it looks like we’ll see a playoff similar to last year’s, there’s always a chance that some entertaining upsets could happen during the season, so we’re just going to have to wait and see.