2016 College Football Predictions
September 2, 2016 by Jean Neuberger • Print Story •
It's finally that time of year again!
Cal and Hawaii kicked us off. North Dakota State and Charleston Southern gave us a thriller days later. But now, the meat of college football's opening weekend starts tonight. And with that, it's time for the annual college football predictions. The past few years, I've gone with wacky, off the cuff predictions. I'll tone it down this year, but I'll throw a few ones out of left field as well.
Having said that, here's this year's prediction slate.
Boston College will win a conference game. The Eagles will stay in the ACC Atlantic cellar. However, I've got them going 5-7, winning their out-of-conference slate and spoiling someone's season with a conference win. The folks in Chestnut Hill won't like missing the bowl season again but will take some solace that things are trending up.
Charlie Strong will keep his job. Texas won't win the Big 12 and the chair will remain pretty warm, but Strong will get eight wins this season, which, coupled with Baylor's fall from grace, will encourage boosters to keep him on board another year.
The first coach to get the silly season started will be... Purdue's Darrell Hazell. Purdue is a tough place for a football coach and to win there, you've got to be able to get talent that the rest of the Big Ten can't, so you have to create a unique style. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it's a bust. In this case, I think the Boilers will have to start from scratch again.
Baylor will be glad when the season ends. Ohio State and Arkansas suffered miserable seasons under interim coaches who were picked late into the offseason, so one has to believe history repeats itself down in Waco. The key for Baylor will be the next step: hiring a permanent coach who will seriously clean the program and change the culture. That, to be honest, won't be the easiest to find nowadays. But, in terms of who might be interested, here's a name to watch: Auburn's Gus Malzahn. Auburn has a reputation for pulling the trigger fast on coaches, and Malzahn's on a very hot seat in the Plains. He might make the leap before Auburn hands him the pink slip.
If there was ever a season to document on film, it's 2016 LSU. Their coach survived what was clearly the oddest firing/non-firing in college sports. He's on a seat ensconced in flames. However, despite all of this, he landed the top recruiting class in the country. LSU is stocked with depth and talent, despite questions with the quarterback. They upgraded their defensive coordinator in Dave Aranda. The pressure is mounted to beat Alabama and win the SEC. Do they? I do have LSU beating Alabama, but I think LSU trips up the following week at Arkansas and loses a shootout in Oxford to Ole Miss, giving Alabama the division yet again.
Christian McCaffrey will win the Heisman. He'll have another great season, likely a little less yardage than last year. However, the preseason favorite never seems to win (sorry, Deshaun Watson) and I think the voters out West will push hard to ensure that some recognition will head towards the West Coast.
The game of the year will be... Clemson vs. Florida State, as I think it will decide one slot of the College Football Playoff. Florida State looks really, really good this year, but I think Clemson will be on a mission to finish business this year.
The College Football Playoff will feature... Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Nope, it doesn't change much from last year. Oklahoma's win over Ohio State will be just enough to squeak it past Washington, the surprise winner of the Pac-12.
The national champion will be... Clemson. As close as they were last year, this team will be incredibly hungry to get back to the title game and win. I think Watson has another outstanding year, I trust Brent Venables to fill the defensive gaps from last season and I think their time is now.
We're just hours away from a huge slate of games to begin ... enjoy everyone!