Thursday, September 1st can’t get here fast enough, right?
Not only is it the first day of college football (which is like a kid on Christmas or their birthday for a lot of us), but the 3 guys of our immediate family….son, father in-law, and I….are headed to the Midwest for the ultimate sports weekend!
Thursday night we will be sitting high in the first base bleachers of the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field watching the red-hot Cubs take on the struggling Giants. This will be our second trip to Wrigley for 2 of us while we will be in the party with a Wrigley first timer, my father in-law.
After spending a day in Chicago we will head up the coast of Lake Michigan toward Green Bay for the first ever college football game in Lambeau Field to watch LSU take on Wisconsin. Then, we will spend Sunday recovering from the first day of college football on television and in person as we travel home on Labor Day in time for Florida State and Ole Miss in Orlando.
Man, I am ready to go right now! Like, get me on that plane and let’s do this! Let’s GEAUX!
Now, it is on to the final review of the 2015 season before we move into my preseason prognostications for the 2016 season that is now under 2 weeks away. I have reviewed 10 of 15 No Doubters and currently sit at 5 wins and 10 losses….you know, really tearing it up!
Let’s see how the Top 5 from 2015 No Doubters turned out (these are my actual words from last year’s blog—look it up!)…
5—Tennessee will contend for the SEC East title but late losses down the stretch in November will knock them out of the running and leave Butch Jones with only recruiting victories to revel in during the winter months on Rocky Top. He is a good recruiter and getting the fan base energized, but a closer to a season he is not. It shows again in 2015.
Well, the losses did mount and knocked the Vols out of contention before the calendar turned to November so I definitely missed this one! Ugh! Butch Jones and his team responded to those October losses with an unbelievable November and a great bowl game to finish the season with 9 wins. All off season the orange-clad eastern Tennesseans have wondered what would have happened to the 2015 season if not for late losses to Florida (again!) and Arkansas. They would have been 5-1 going into the Alabama game with much more hype. Matt, your No Doubters should be renamed No Chancers! 1 LOSS
4—The Ohio State Buckeyes will once again hold the hardware come the early part of January. They will struggle through a few Big Ten games on the road, but will make their way to the playoff. Even though they are the hunted in 2015, they have too many athletes and returners to be knocked off their pedestal. Urban gets the repeat he always wanted in Gainesville.
Wow, the losses keep mounting and it doesn’t look like the bleeding is going to stop anytime soon! Ohio State was in it until those pesky East Lansing Spartans marched into The Horseshoe and stole a last second victory from Urban’s Nuts. All I can see when reliving this game is the MSU kicker wind milling his arms for 60-plus yards like a 3rd base coach knowing he is sending the winning run home. With this loss and Michigan State’s run the Buckeyes missed the playoff too and took their frustrations out on the Golden Domers in the Fiesta Bowl. 1 LOSS
3—Leonard Fournette will run for over 1,400 yards and another Tiger back will amass 800-plus yards on the season. The QBs struggle in parts during the season, but LSU still wins 10 games and is in the playoff hunt until late November when the Bama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas gauntlet catches up with them. Miles can recruit and win games, but these tough losses with bonehead time management does him in for 2015.
LF7 definitely amassed the 1,400 yard number as he finished with over 2,000 yards and a score-plus of touchdowns on the year. The next closest back was Derrius Guice with almost 450 yards so I was a little off there but I think worthy of 1 win and 1 loss. I need all the help I can get, right? LSU did win only 9 games but had 1 game stormed out against McNeese State so I believe a win was within reach. The November gauntlet was brutal and all started with a dreadful offensive performance against Alabama. Then, the Hangover I and Hangover part II occurred in back to back weeks after the Tide broke their spirit! And, those Ls almost cost the Mad Hatter his position. 3 WINS and 1 LOSS
2—The Fighting Steve Spurrier’s will have a better defense in 2015. Like UNC, it cannot get much worse, right? As good as their offense was in 2014 (yes, I realize they had letdowns late in games) it will be that bad this season. The HBC will have to win games 17-14 and 21-17 and 16-14 this year like he did his first couple of years here when the offense was in transition. The running back combo of Brandon Wilds and David Williams will put up yards, but who throws the ball to Pharaoh Cooper? Pharaoh Cooper? USC will struggle, once again, to win 6 games during the year. Just a sign of the times for USC fans, but get ready Gamecocks, wait until next year. 2016 is going to be 10-11 wins…no doubt!
The Gamecocks did win 2 of their 3 games by scores of 17-13 and 19-10 (1 by Spurrier and 1 by Spurrier replacement, Shawn Elliott). Their 3rd win was against a terrible (and, I mean terrible) UCF team 31-14 but they were actually losing at halftime 14-8. It was a tough season for Gamecocks all over and Steven O. Spurrier didn’t even make it through the season, retiring from leading USC after the LSU loss. Shawn Elliott tried to pick up the slack left by the HBC’s rapid departure but could not get over the hump and the losses mounted. The lone win, against Vandy in Elliott’s first game, was followed by 5 tough losses to end the season that was by a combined 26 points. USC finished 3-9 and 1-7 in SEC….enter Will Muschamp. Totally sarcastic comment about the 2016 prediction above! 1 WIN
1—Oh, how the times change? A few years ago we were wondering if Dabo would keep his job after losing 3, 4, and 5 straight to the Columbia Farms Chickens from the Capital City. Now, we are all thinking Spurrier might retire after this loss or that loss or hell, in the middle of the week following a poor offensive performance. I know I will catch a lot of ridicule for this, but I am drinking the orange Kool-Aid. I am ALL IN in 2015 for Clemson! The Tigers go 12-0 and make the 4-team playoff. They get 2 of their 3 toughest games at home and their tough road contest is early in the season after 2 warm-up scrimmages against former SOCON rivals (Wofford and Appalachian State). Dabo and the Boys ride the right arm of Mr. Watson all the way to the playoff.
The Tigers ran the table and played in the final four playoff beating Oklahoma to earn a spot in the National Championship game against Alabama. The Fighting Dabo’s put up a valiant effort in Phoenix, but came up 5 points short in the end while they allowed an insane onside kick and kickoff return for a touchdown. What could have been has floated around Pickens County all spring and summer long as move into 2016! The Tigers did go 12-0 and made the 4-team playoff. Also, Steve Spurrier did retire on a Monday after a loss and a terrible offensive performance in a weird home game against LSU in Baton Rouge due to historic flooding in the Palmetto State! 2 WINS
I am going to out on a limb here and sticking with the motto, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish! The losses mounted as I entered the Top 5. But I found a way to sneak out 6 more wins and 3 losses to bring the final 2015 No Doubters record to 11 wins and 13 losses. Not too bad of a finish after a terrible start!
My former college coach preached, “It’s not a sprint, it is a marathon, boys!” I am taking that advice to heart as I wrap up the final thoughts on the 2015 season and look ahead to what the 2016 crystal ball will show me!
As always, thanks for reading and the 16 (Un)-Sweet and Senseless Forecasts for CFB will be released very, very soon!