That wonderful time of the year is almost here!
You know, that time where toe meets leather and all is right in the world for 16 weeks. It is so close we can literally smell it. The dog days of summer are wearing on us all and the kids (and most teachers) are starting to feel that almost time to go back to school blues.
Now, now, I know that the season officially kicks off on Saturday, August 26th because there are about 10 games or so in what we in the fandom of South Carolina high school call week zero. For all my readers, week 1 starts Thursday, August 31st and continues through Labor Day night.
Oh, boy, I can’t wait!
However, we must pump the brakes…right now! Before we move onto pre-season predictions for 2017 we must take a look back at 2016 one last time and see how well (or not) my predictions from year ago turned out.
The Washington Huskies are overrated!
Prediction for 2016: Can Chris Peterson and the Huskies survive with only 1 loss they have a chance, but I see them going 1-2 and struggling down the stretch with a loss or 2 as well. I see 8-4 or 9-3 which is great but not Top 15 worthy in my opinion.
Actual for 2016: Wow…did I miss on the Huskies! Huge wins, only 2 total losses, and a trip to the playoff before losing to Alabama in Atlanta. Head coach Chris Peterson is building in Seattle what he built in Boise and that is scary for the rest of college football.
Christian McCaffery runs wild all year and earns another trip to New York City.
Prediction for 2016: I don’t believe he will finish #1 in the voting (pick coming later) but will have an outstanding finish to an unbelievable career.
Actual for 2016: McCaffery had a few unbelievable games, but sputtered in a few as well and the mounting losses for the Cardinal did not help with getting to NYC.
Michigan does not finish in the Top 5 and misses out on the playoff.
Prediction for 2016: The Wolverines will get to 9 – 3 but struggle in big games as their season moves into October and November.
Actual for 2016: Michigan did go 10 – 2 in the regular season before a loss in the bowl game, but a bad game in Iowa City cost them a shot at the playoff. They did finish ranked 10th in the final AP poll.
Tennessee will win the SEC East but will not beat Florida in Knoxville
Prediction for 2016: Florida will present a challenge to the Vols because of their defense playing better but Rocky Top will head to Atlanta with 2 division losses.
Actual for 2016: The Vols did beat the Gators in Knoxville…finally, but lost 3 straight games in October to drop them out of the running for the SEC East Crown. A loss to Vandy in late November did not help one bit.
Houston will lose to Oklahoma (in a close, close game), but will not lose again in 2016
Prediction for 2016: I do see them running the table after the Labor Day loss and maybe sneaking into the playoff as a No. 4 seed. The problem with all this success is that I see Herman making his way over to College Station or Austin if one of those programs decides to part ways with their coach. I know the Cougars decided to pay the man this off season in hopes of keeping him but I just don’t see it if the Aggies or Longhorns come a-calling!
Actual for 2016: The Cougars made somewhat easy work of Oklahoma opening weekend and rose up the charts quickly. Then, a trip to Annapolis happened and Houston could not recover and lost 4 total games in 2016.
San Diego State will go undefeated and make a New Year’s Six Bowl
Prediction for 2016: The Aztecs are loaded! I know they play on the West Coast and no one from the East that is a casual fan will care but they are good and deserve the respect that garners an undefeated season.
Actual for 2016: San Diego State did not make it out of October without suffering a loss after a trip to southern Alabama for a conference game (yes, you read that right!). Then, they loss 2 more games before coming back and beating Houston in their bowl game.
The Heisman Trophy will take up its second residence in the Palmetto State of SC
Prediction for 2016: People from all over will be tuning into watch the Tigers play. They might not tune in for the defensive side of it but will not miss No. 4 with the ball in his hands or his feet matriculating the orange pants down the field.
Actual for 2016: Deshaun Watson had an unbelievable year and beat Action Jackson head to head in an unbelievable game in early October, but too many interceptions caused him to finish second in the balloting. LJ won the battle, but DW4 won the war by dethroning Alabama as the champs in early January.
The Miami Hurricanes will win 8 or more games.
Prediction for 2016: If Mark Richt can win like he did at UGA then he will be fine in Miami. He only has a few teams to compete against each year so I would say his road through the ACC is a lot easier. This year might be a struggle to get to 8 wins, but in subsequent years he will move them up to 9 or 10 on a more consistent basis.
Actual for 2016: Mark Richt is an unbelievable coach and can recruit like no other. I believe the people in Athens might be second guessing their decision to oust the former leader between the hedges. He is going to take the Hurricanes places and unlike their former head men he will at least do it the right way.
2 of these 3 coaches will be hanging out in the unemployment line come early December (Sumlin, Malzahn or Strong)
Prediction for 2016: There is a lot of pressure to win across the country…and win fast! 2 of these 3 coaches will be looking for new jobs and the crazy thing is they will get picked up within 7 days of being fired from their respective former employer.
Actual for 2016: Sumlin and Malzahn escaped the unemployment line for now, but a bad loss to Kansas folded Strong’s quest to be the head man in Austin.
The ACC will have more qualified bowl teams than the Big 10
Prediction for 2016: Both conferences have 14 teams or 15 if Notre Dame counts as ACC, but the ACC will out bowl the Big 10 this year. Take it to the bank!
Actual for 2016: The Big 10 went 3 – 7 in bowl games and the ACC went 8 – 3 to edge out the northern conference dwellers. To add to the macho talk, the Clemson Tigers roughed up on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the semi-final and then took down Alabama with 1 second remaining to up the ACC record to 10 – 3.
LSU wins 11 games total but Les Miles still loses his job because he can’t beat Saban
Prediction for 2016: The Tigers go to a somewhat uber-cool bowl game in early January but don’t achieve the big prize…a win over Saban and a spot in the 4-team playoff. Sort of like Mark Richt in Athens, the Tiger administration does not realize what they have until its gone…winning more than 80% of his games at another school in 2017!
Actual for 2016: In 2016, I believe Les Miles wishes he would have made it to another meeting with Nick Saban in early November. Les was relieved of his duties following a bad loss on the road at Auburn…a lovely place that has become a thorn in the Tigers’ side! Miles’ unwillingness to change his offensive approach finally caused the Miles believers to turn into too many Nega-tigers. A great man who did it the right way, but became overwhelmed by the people who helped write his paycheck. Also, the Tigers did not get to 11 wins because of some crazy losses (Wisconsin, Auburn, and Florida) and one cancelled game as well.
Result: Win and a Loss
Kirby Smart struggles in his first year in Athens
Prediction for 2016: I know (I know…trust me) he has coached under Saban and learned the ropes, but there is still something different about overseeing the whole program instead of one side of the ball! UGA gets to 6 wins but it was ugly along the way!
Actual for 2016: I may have missed the exact win total, but there were times of struggle between the hedges in 2016. A narrow escape against Nicholls State in week 2, a last play of the game Hail Mary Loss to Tennessee at home, a loss to Vanderbilt at home, and they closed out the regular season with a loss to arch-rivals Georgia Tech at home too. 3 home losses by a total of 5 total points to those teams will cause a sense of uneasiness with the fan base as we move into 2017.
Will Muschamp and South Carolina show promise and get to 5 wins
Prediction for 2016: I don’t see this team averaging over 28 points a game this year, which will wear the defense down when they get into the meat of their SEC schedule. 5-7 is the mark this year and if they improve that much from 16 to 17 a trip to Shreveport could be in play for late December 2017!
Actual for 2016: The goal was simple in year 1. Win 4 games in 2016 and it shows improvement from a very disappointing 3-win campaign in 2015. Not only did Muschamp achieve 4, but he picked up 5 and 6 along the way as well in his first year in Columbia on the #SpursUp tour! A bad loss to in-state rival Clemson and an overtime loss to USF in Birmingham deflated a well-rounded year 1 balloon. The wins against Vandy, Tennessee, and Missouri provided a much-needed spark. However, tough contests against A&M, Georgia, and Florida spoke to hope that 10-win seasons is not too far away.
The 4-team playoff will include 2 teams from 1 conference
Prediction for 2016: I see this as the year. We have had the Big 12 left out in year 1, the Pac-12 left out last year, and it is going to get even crazier this year when a conference provides 2 representatives in the 4-team playoff. Buckle up, people, it is going to get bumpy….and crazy!
Actual for 2016: Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, and Washington made up your Final Four. The Ohio State pick was interesting because they didn’t even win their division after losing a weird game on the road at Happy Valley. Penn State was shipped to the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize for winning the Big Ten (bummer, right?). 4 different conferences represented so chalk up another loss for 2016 predictions.
The 4-team playoff will consist of…
Prediction for 2016: This year the playoff moves to Tampa for the final game and the four teams that will be playing for that opportunity to place in south western Florida will be…Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, and Ohio State.
Actual for 2016: 3 out of 4 is not bad for this baseball loving 33-year old who moonlights as a blogger. Florida State did play in a New Year’s Six contest, but those dadgum Washington Huskies proved to be a tough out and won a trip to Atlanta to play the Crimson Tide.
The Clemson Tigers will raise the Crystal Ball…I mean BIG Gold Trophy (presented by Dr. Pepper) in mid-January
Prediction for 2016: The Tigers are coming off a 14-1 season where they played out of their minds in some of the craziest conditions that could be thrown at them. This whole off season they have known what it takes to get to the Promised Land and have been dedicated to go the extra mile and watch the extra play on video to gain an advantage. Led by DW4 and his unbelievable array of weapons all over the field, the Tigers take care of business in the regular season, winning a nail-biter to FSU in Tally and dismantle the other side in the ACC championship game. Then, in the semifinal they take care of either Ohio State or Alabama (hopefully enacting revenge on the Tide) and then play a great game against their opponent in the national championship game. Dabo and his crew are the first team to go 15-0 and re-write the record books as the orange faithful party in Death Valley like its 1981…with some free pizza of course!
Actual for 2016: Some of you who are reading this blog for the first time in present day (late July 2017) might think number 1 was made up and added to the transcript after the fact, but I was drinking the orange Kool-Aid in 2016. I may have been blowing that N.C. State kick a little too far right early in the season. Also, I thought that one too many interceptions against Pittsburgh ruined the biggest prediction of them all and would have caused me to eat crow in 2016 recap. I did miss on the record, but the Tigers did take down the Tide in one of the best games in a very long time.
Overall Results for 2016 Predictions: 7 Wins and 10 Losses
Now that we have that out of the way, bring on 2017! I know I am not supposed to rush time, but let’s do this. Here’s to remembering a great 2016 and cheers to hopefully an unforgettable 2017 season of college football!
Until next time…