18 August 2014

2014-15 College Football Predictions

(Getty)
We are entering a new age in the world of college football and it finally involves a playoff. The Bowl Championship Series went out with a bang back in January with a thrilling championship game that found Florida State rallying from an early deficit to defeat Auburn and become the first non-SEC national champion since Texas in the same stadium eight years prior. But those days are over as the long-awaited College Football Playoff (creative, right?) debuts this January. Can Florida State become repeat? Will the SEC get back to the top, or will they possibly miss out on the playoff altogether?

It's time for my predictions for the 2014-15 college football season.

Now if Clemson and Florida State were in different divisions, then this conference race would be interesting unlike this year with a wide open Coastal race. Now with Clemson coming to Tallahassee this year, Florida State will sail to Charlotte where they will take out a solid Virginia Tech club to get to the Playoff. 

Atlantic 
1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. Louisville
4. Syracuse
5. N.C. State
6. Boston College
7. Wake Forest

Coastal
1. Virginia Tech
2. Miami (FL)
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
5. Pittsburgh
6. Georgia Tech
7. Virginia

Championship
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech
Pick: Florida State

Bowl Projections
Florida State - Sugar Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)
Clemson - Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech - Belk Bowl
Miami (FL) - Sun Bowl
Louisville - Music City Bowl
Duke - Pinstripe Bowl
North Carolina - Military Bowl
Pittsburgh - Quick Lane Bowl
Georgia Tech - Independence Bowl
Syracuse - St. Petersburg Bowl

This will be a fun conference in 2014 because I think you could make a legitimate claim for the top four programs to be conference champs. That said, I think that the Bearcats have the most talent and the most favorable run to win the American. And it isn't crazy that they can get the Group of Five selection for a New Year's game.

1. Cincinnati
2. Houston
3. East Carolina
4. UCF
5. USF
6. SMU
7. Memphis
8. Connecticut
9. Tulane
10. Temple
11. Tulsa

Bowl Projections
Cincinnati - Military Bowl
Houston - Armed Forces Bowl
East Carolina - Birmingham Bowl
UCF - St. Petersburg Bowl
USF - Miami Beach Bowl
I was feeling confident in Ohio State taking the Big Ten, or the B1G if you will, but now in the wake of the loss of Braxton Miller for the season, Michigan State is now the team to beat in this conference. The Buckeyes still have plenty of talent and an awesome defensive line, but they are no longer a title contender and thus will slide a little. Out in the West, a lot of people like Iowa due to their weak schedule, Nebraska is always seemingly cruising for nine wins but I like the Badgers. They can run the ball really well, which is a shocker. 

East
1. Michigan State
2. Ohio State
3. Michigan
4. Penn State
5. Maryland
6. Indiana
7. Rutgers

West
1. Wisconsin
2. Nebraska
3. Iowa
4. Minnesota
5. Northwestern
6. Illinois
7. Purdue

Championship
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Pick: Ohio State

Bowl Projections
Michigan State - Orange Bowl
Wisconsin - Capital One Bowl
Ohio State - Outback Bowl
Nebraska - Holiday Bowl
Iowa - San Francisco Bowl
Michigan - TaxSlayer Bowl
Minnesota - Quick Lane Bowl
Northwestern - Pinstripe Bowl
Maryland - Heart of Dallas Bowl
Indiana - Independence Bowl

Oklahoma is a program getting a lot of love as a national title contender and they will certainly be in the mix, although I wonder if they could be overhyped. But with a good quarterback in Trevor Knight, a veteran club led by nine returning starters on the defense and a beneficial schedule with Baylor coming to Norman, they should win the XII. However, you can never rule out the Baylor offense and quarterback Bryce Petty although they have to rebuild much of their defense.

1. Oklahoma
2. Baylor
3. Kansas State
4. Texas
5. TCU
6. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
8. West Virginia
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas

Bowl Projections
Oklahoma - Rose Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)
Baylor - Fiesta Bowl
Texas - Alamo Bowl
Kansas State - Russell Athletic Bowl
TCU - Liberty Bowl
Oklahoma State - Cactus Bowl
Texas Tech - Texas Bowl

This looks like the best Marshall team since Chad Pennington and Randy Moss hooked up and they should go undefeated in my eyes. And I think an undefeated Marshall club could be the Group of Five representative in one of the New Year's bowls. Rakeem Cato is awesome under center and Doc Holliday has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. The rest of the conference is pretty wide open and the West divisional race should be a fun one to watch. I think the Owls of Rice has a slight edge.

East
1. Marshall
2. Middle Tennessee
3. Florida Atlantic
4. Western Kentucky
5. Old Dominion
6. UAB
7. FIU

West
1. Rice
2. UTSA
3. North Texas
4. Louisiana Tech
5. Southern Miss
6. UTEP

Championship
Marshall vs. Rice
Pick: Marshall

Bowl Projections
Marshall - Peach Bowl
Rice - Hawaii Bowl
UTSA - Heart of Dallas Bowl
Middle Tennessee - Bahamas Bowl
North Texas - New Mexico Bowl
Florida Atlantic - Boca Raton Bowl

Independents
Notre Dame does not look to be New Year's game material, but they should easily get to a nice bowl despite having to replace both coordinators. Fortunately, Brian Kelly has done some stellar recruiting and Everett Golson returns under center. BYU should be as solid as ever and Navy should plug away as usual to get to a bowl. I think Army has some promise under Jeff Monken but will have to wait at least a year to get to the postseason.

Notre Dame
BYU
Navy
Army

Bowl Projections
Notre Dame - Russell Athletic Bowl
BYU - Miami Beach Bowl
Navy - Poinsettia Bowl

The #Maction will be exciting once again but as one divisional race looks to be all but a lock, the other could be wild. Bowling Green should cruise to the East divisional crown despite a new coach as Dino Babers replacing Dave Clawson. With a very good quarterback in Matt Johnson, the high-powered offense should not miss a beat in 2014. In the West division, any of Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ball State could win there. I like NIU even after losing Jordan Lynch and safety Jimmie Ward. However, they'll promptly fall to the Falcons in Detroit.

East
1. Bowling Green
2. Ohio
3. Akron
4. Buffalo
5. Kent State
6. Miami (OH)
7. UMass

West
1. Northern Illinois
2. Ball State
3. Toledo
4. Central Michigan
5. Western Michigan
6. Eastern Michigan

Championship
Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois
Pick: Bowling Green

Bowl Projections
Bowling Green - GoDaddy Bowl
Northern Illinois - Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ball State - Camellia Bowl
Toledo - Boca Raton Bowl
Ohio - Bahamas Bowl

Despite the return of Chuckie Keaton for Utah State, there seems to be consensus that the teams chowing down for the Mountain West crown will be Boise State and Fresno State. Both clubs lost a number of key contributors, as did much of the conference, but I do like Boise State under new coach Bryan Harsin to claim the conference. I think running back Jay Ajayi and wideout Matt Miller will help lead the way. 

Mountain
1. Boise State
2. Utah State
3. Colorado State
4. Wyoming
5. New Mexico
6. Air Force

West
1. Fresno State
2. San Diego State
3. Nevada
4. UNLV
5. San Jose State
6. Hawaii

Championship
Fresno State vs. Boise State
Pick: Boise State

Bowl Projections
Boise State - Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State - Poinsettia Bowl
Utah State - Armed Forces Bowl
San Diego State - Hawaii Bowl
Colorado State - New Mexico Bowl
Nevada - New Orleans Bowl

The Pac-12 is looking as strong as ever but even as I think that the caliber of talent in this conference could hurt somebody trying to get into the College Football Playoff, Ohio State losing Braxton Miller for the season will open a door here. Oregon and UCLA look like the strongest teams in the conference but Stanford looks to be dangerous and nobody should sleep on USC as a potential conference champion either. Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota will be a fun shootout for the conference crown but I think that UCLA lacks the depth to put them over the top.

North
1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. Washington
4. Oregon State
5. Washington State
6. Colorado

South
1. UCLA
2. USC
3. Arizona
4. Arizona State
5. Utah
6. Colorado

Championship
Oregon vs. UCLA
Pick: Oregon

Bowl Projections
Oregon - Rose Bowl
UCLA - Fiesta Bowl
Stanford - Cotton Bowl
USC - Alamo Bowl
Washington - Holiday Bowl
Arizona - San Francisco BowlSun Bowl
Arizona State - Sun BowlLas Vegas Bowl
Oregon State - Las Vegas Bowl
Utah - Cactus Bowl
Washington State - Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Seemingly everybody and their crazy uncle has Alabama getting through the SEC and on to the College Football Playoff. However, I see it a tick differently. I think Steve Spurrier's South Carolina club, with has a lot of experience despite losing star-power, will pull the upset in Atlanta over the Tide and get a berth in the Playoff, while Alabama has to settle for a New Year's bowl. 

East
1. South Carolina
2. Georgia
3. Missouri
4. Florida
5. Tennessee
6. Vanderbilt
7. Kentucky

West
1. Alabama
2. Auburn
3. Ole Miss
4. LSU
5. Mississippi State
6. Texas A&M
7. Arkansas

Championship
Alabama vs. South Carolina
Pick: South Carolina

Bowl Projections
South Carolina - Sugar Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)
Alabama - Cotton Bowl
Georgia - Peach Bowl
Auburn - Capital One Bowl
Ole Miss - Outback Bowl
LSU - Music City Bowl
Missouri - TaxSlayer Bowl
Florida - Belk Bowl
Texas A&M - Texas Bowl
Mississippi State - Liberty Bowl
Vanderbilt - Birmingham Bowl

The Sun Belt always has some good action at the top of the conference but unless Arkansas State and South Alabama, among others, fill some voids on their rosters, this is Lafayette's title to lose. Mark Hudspeth has done great work with the Rajin' Cajuns and with 15 returning starters from a team that shared the conference title this past season, including quarterback Terrance Broadway and a loaded backfield, they should be tough to stop.

1. UL-Lafayette
2. Arkansas State
3. South Alabama
4. Troy
5. UL-Monroe
6. Texas State
7. Georgia Southern
8. Idaho
9. Appalachian State
10. New Mexico State

Bowl Projections
UL Lafayette - New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State - Camellia Bowl
South Alabama - GoDaddy Bowl

Semifinal #1
Oklahoma vs. Oregon
Initially I had Ohio State taking out Oklahoma in this ballgame but now with Oregon in the Playoff instead, I think Oklahoma will get to Arlington now. Oregon has a better offense and a star quarterback in Marcus Mariota, but I think this will be a weaker defense and one that Trevor Knight and the Sooner offense. Plus, they do call him "Big Game Bob," after all.
Pick: Oklahoma

Semifinal #2
Florida State vs. South Carolina
This semifinal, on the other hand, will probably be a beat down. I think Florida State is a much better team than a really good SC team. Although who would not love Steve Spurrier taking on FSU once again?
Pick: Florida State

College Football Championship Game
Florida State vs. Oklahoma
Even though they lost a number of key contributors, I still believe that Florida State is the best team in the country. With coach Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston and plenty of talent, I think this is a club that is primed to repeat as champions of college football.
Pick: Florida State

4 comments:

  1. The amount of Bowl games is really past a joke. It has become so diluted that a 6-6 team can easily qualify for a post-season Bowl. Ridiculous

    ReplyDelete
  2. Better edit this now that Miller is out for the year!! I have Bama, Oklahoma, FSU, Michigan in final four

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct, I will be updating it shortly. I am awaiting the official word from Ohio State as well.

      Delete
  3. find it a bit ridiculous that a team who finishes 6th in their division out of 7 can qualify for a bowl?!

    ReplyDelete