Wednesday, January 2, 2013

College Football Predictions in 2013

By Jean Neuberger

As we turn to a new year, it's time to make some really early predictions for what next season has in store.

We've had some surprises already in the aptly named "silly season." Bret Bielema surprised many by bolting to Arkansas from Wisconsin. Tommy Tuberville surprised everyone by leaving for Cincy. And we'll have more stories unfold; especially as Chip Kelly's NFL rumors heat up after the Fiesta Bowl. What else could happen this fall when the new season kicks off? Here are some predictions for what's to come.

San Diego State will return to the Mountain West. Similar to Boise State, the Aztecs will make the eventual shift back to their current stomping grounds. The Big East is collapsing within itself and with absolutely no value left for making a move to play schools on the other side of the country, San Diego State will rejoin the Mountain West. Whether the conference helps them pay their exit fee, as they reportedly are doing for Boise State, is another story.

2013 will be Mack Brown's last year. It will not be Steve Spurrier's last season. Mack Brown just doesn't seem to be having as much fun as he once was. The Longhorns are still a work in progress and likely won't be the national or conference favorites come next season (watch TCU in the Big 12 next year, by the way). The coach will bow out at the conclusion of next season. As for Spurrier, he's not going anywhere just yet. He'll have another good team lined up next year and likely will stay around at least two more seasons.

The hottest seat belongs to Lane Kiffin. The appearance (or lack thereof) on and off the field in El Paso, coupled with an underwhelming season from start to finish, means that Kiffin has to be on the edge of unemployment. How Pat Haden hasn't shown him the door already is a bit of a shock. USC alums have to be outraged at the way their players and coaches acted during their time at the Sun Bowl. Enough eventually has to be enough for the Trojans. However, it's comic relief for the Volunteer fans he burned back in Knoxville, who have to be enjoying his collapse.

Southern Miss will win a football game. I'm just saying.

Johnny Manziel will not win the Heisman. The target will be too big this year, despite how freakishly good Manziel is. However, he will lead the Aggies to another solid season. Make that, two more solid seasons.

Urban Meyer will be back in the title game. Urban will take on the SEC's best next year in the title game. Despite some holes that need to be filled next season, I don't see anyone in the Big Ten making a run at the Buckeyes next season. Which, if that's the case, you can expect Braxton Miller to be in the thick of the Heisman race. But there's no doubt that Ohio State will start the season high and most likely will find a way to play for the BCS title.

The team who's stock will fall furthest? West Virginia. This one took some thought, as I believe Kansas State will take a step back with Collin Klein's departure. However, Geno Smith's departure will set the Mountaineers back further. Dana Holgerson has his work cut out for him. He can bring WVU back up; the fans will have to show him some patience.

If Aaron Murray retuns, I'll take Georgia vs. Ohio State for the 2013-14 BCS title game. If he bolts for the NFL, I'll have to take a step back. Georgia will be loaded no matter the situation. However, Murray's veteran presence would be a huge benefit next year.

Texas Tech will play Cincinnati in the Pinstripe Bowl. It will be as entertaining and intense as expected. Texas Tech will win it too, adding to Kliff Kingsbury's lore in Lubbock.

Army will finally beat Navy. Just a hunch. Besides, some predictions have to be out there, right?

Western Kentucky will go 2-0 vs. the SEC. The Bobby Petrino era in Bowling Green will start with a win over Kentucky, followed by a close shootout win over Tennessee, which will send Clay Travis into new levels of lunacy. On a related note, this year's Sun Belt Media Days will be its biggest ever. Easily.

James Franklin will get at least a reprimand from the SEC. Franklin, to me, is like a cross between Dabo Swinney and Bo Pelini when it comes to emotions. Sometime, I see the Pelini side of him boiling over and the SEC coming down on him. I'll go ahead and say it will happen next season.

And on a final note, next week's title game will go something like: Alabama 24, Notre Dame 21.

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