With all college football fall camps now opened (the last ones got going this morning), the off-season is finally over. Too bad we still have to wait a few weeks for actual games. That’s not going to stop us from making a few bold predictions for the 2015 campaign.
TCU and Baylor have Company
Among all the talk about TCU and Baylor being contenders in the Big 12 (and the College Football Playoff), no team in the league goes undefeated in 2015, with Oklahoma State and OU creating a very tight race for the league crown. TCU beats Baylor in the final weekend while OSU downs OU in the Bedlam series. A tiebreaker between TCU and OSU is required to determine the league champion. The winner of the Nov. 7 game between the Frogs and Cowboys in Stillwater will win the Big 12.
SoCal Rules the Pac-12
The Pac-12 will come down to USC and UCLA (and the South division), as both teams go undefeated until their match-up at the end of the regular season. The winner will also win the league championship game and go to the playoff. Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State are good but disappointments as possible league contenders.
Penn State Gives Ohio State a Run
Sanctions and penalties behind them, the Nittany Lions enter year two under James Franklin with a clean slate, a decent schedule, and a hunger they’ve not had in years. Ohio State is the early favorite to run away with the Big Ten but Penn State will have something to say about that. The Lions play at Temple and then have five straight home games before a date in Columbus on Oct. 17. Both teams will be undefeated to create a top-10 matchup. Hello, College Gameday.
SEC East Takes its Turn
The SEC West has won the last six conference championship games and the division is as balanced as it ever has been (literally any of the seven teams could win the division). The West champ will possibly have two losses in the regular season. But the battle between Georgia and Tennessee will be the one to watch, as the winner of the East will also win the league for the first time since 2008. I can’t decide who I like better but I lean towards the Dawgs today.
Wide Open Race in the ACC
The Coastal Division is the side that is really wide open. Georgia Tech returns quarterback Justin Thomas and an improving defense, but their schedule isn’t so favorable. Virginia Tech has the top defense in the ACC but question marks remain on offense. North Carolina and Pittsburgh look like decent sleepers. Someone will rise and down Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, I’m just not sure who yet. An early guess is Virginia Tech. Yes, Florida State takes a step back.
Early Contender Predictions for the College Football Playoff
I’m not ready to give my final four prediction as to which teams will make the College Football Playoff, but I’ll narrow it down to eight at this point (as we sit here on August 10). In no particular order, I’ll go with Georgia, Clemson, USC, Ohio State, Penn State, TCU, Alabama and UCLA. Only one team will go undefeated (the Pac-12 champ). Who’s going to get left out? I’ll go with the ACC champion, as I see the Coastal Division winning the league and knocking out a contender (in this case, Clemson).