Everyone makes outlandish predictions in July and August about college football. By December, 99.9% of those people ignore them unless they happened to get something right.
Well, not me. In fact, this is my most enjoyable post to write all year. Sure, it’s painful and I’m an idiot. But it’s fascinating to see just how wrong I was. So review my 20 Bold Predictions for the 2014 College Football season after a quick look at the piece that garnered the most traffic in October – and not so much in November.
Notre Dame will make the first college football playoff
This was my boldest of bold predictions and, for two months, it looked like I was right. Or at least in the vicinity of being right. Then Everett Golson morphed into Tommy Rees and turnovers – the exact reason I said Notre Dame was better than their record in 2013 – reared its ugly head again.
Seriously, Brian Kelly, what the hell? In three of the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been undone by turnovers. In the other season, 2012, their least talented version went 12-0 and played for a national title. How is that possible?
I won’t be jumping on the bandwagon but if they can eliminate turnovers in 2015, they should again be a playoff contender. And if they don’t, they’ll go a maddening 7-5 again. By the way, you think Kelly was missing Bob Diaco as the defense got slaughtered in November?
1) The SEC won’t get 2 teams into the playoff
My reasons were off-base but I was ultimately right. I said that the top teams would be susceptible to upsets from “lower division” teams like Mississippi State and Ole Miss, except they were upper division teams and the whole SEC West was just too darn hard.
Add to the fact the SEC East was a dumpster fire, and it really stopped this debate from happening. In fact, only the Big 12 even came close to getting two teams in.
2) Todd Gurley will win the Heisman Trophy
3) Georgia will make the college football playoff
3) Georgia will make the college football playoff
I’m putting these two together because once Gurley got suspended; both of these went out the window. I still don’t know how Georgia lost to Florida – Gurley or no Gurley – but they were not an elite, Top 4 team without him.
4) Ohio State will go undefeated
To be fair, I wrote this before Braxton Miller’s preseason injury. And if it weren’t for a baffling inability to block a blitz against Virginia Tech, I would’ve nailed this. Unfortunately, now on its third quarterback, it feels like a huge ask for them to beat Alabama.
5) Auburn will lose at least three games
This one was pretty easy, just looking at the schedule.
“The Tigers have road trips to Kansas State, Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama. Their SEC East rotating opponent went from Tennessee to South Carolina. LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M are still on the schedule. There may be nothing wrong with going 9-3 against that schedule. But that’s the ceiling.”
They went 1-3 in the aforementioned road games, only beat Kansas State, and they added a bad home loss to Texas A&M to finish 8-4. I don’t think anyone thought Auburn had a bad season – they had five road games against Top 15 teams. So I’m not sure this was a bold prediction, except in comparison to their insane 2013 season.
6) An AAC team will be in the playoff hunt come December
7) The weekly playoff rankings will be a disaster
I don’t know if disaster is the right word, since people watched and it drove debate. I will say they were pretty stupid, since TCU dropped from #3 to #6 after winning a game 55-3. Like, what’s the point? I doubt anything will change since it did good business for ESPN.
I do want to quote something I wrote just to hammer home how incredibly stupid it would be for the NCAA Tournament committee to follow suit:
“Could you imagine if the NCAA Tournament committee put out a field of 68 every week and then had the chairman defend it on ESPN? Even if they just did, say, the #1 seeds, it would be an exercise in the absolute absurd.”
They want to do this! Absurd.
8) Maryland will win 8 games; Rutgers will be lucky to win 4
Funny that I put these two together because if Maryland had held on in the finale over Rutgers; I would have gotten the first half right. But they didn’t, so I didn’t. I look forward to Stanford smashing Randy Edsall’s team in the Foster Farms Bowl.
As for Rutgers, they were who I thought they were – they beat teams they should beat and lost to teams that should lose to. The only change was the schedule turned out easier than anticipated – Michigan and Washington didn’t make a bowl and Navy fell far short of expectations. Combine that with a win over Maryland, and Rutgers went 7-5. Of course, their reward was a trip to Detroit but still, they exceeded their 6-7 record from 2013.
9) Tennessee over Oklahoma will be the year’s biggest upset
Um, no. In my defense, if Joshua Dobbs was the UT quarterback for the game, it might’ve happened. Instead, it took Tennessee about half a season to make the turnaround I was expecting from them. Oklahoma was every bit the disappointment I thought they would be.
10) The Big 12 will announce expansion plans by November
Well I guess I should have written December, but the conference is not expanding yet as it waits for the NCAA to rule on its exception to have a title game with 10 teams. If that happens, expansion will not. If it does not, then expansion will. Don’t listen to clueless Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby – what I wrote in July still holds true today:
“The talking points about no conference championship game are already starting and next year the Big 12 will be the only conference without a title game, including the non-power conferences. That’s not going to work long-term. Before this season ends, the Big 12 will realize it needs to match the number in its name and will announce such.”
11) Florida State will not make the college football playoff
I based this on Florida State losing the ACC Title Game to a massive underdog. Oh so close! I also predicted they would lose to Notre Dame. Oh so close! Instead, Florida State hasn’t lost in two years and Jameis Winston, when he’s on, is still the best QB in college football.
The Rose Bowl can’t get here soon enough.
12) Navy will win 10 games this year
Man, after the Ohio State game, I felt good about this one. It ended up being misguided. The schedule ended up being harder than I thought as both Rutgers and Air Force were much improved from 2013. Really, only the loss to Western Kentucky is a head-scratcher and they went 7-5.
13) Arizona will win the Pac-12 South
NAILED IT! I love when I get one right. Even sort of nailed the whole division:
“USC is in a year of transition under a first-year coach, UCLA is getting way too much hype and Arizona State has to visit Tucson – it’s all coming together.”
14) Oregon will lose two games…and still make the college football playoff
Do I get half-credit? I predicted Oregon to lose to Washington State (huh?) and UCLA, while beating Arizona twice. They beat Arizona once in the title game and got the playoff berth. I believed in the preseason and again during the season that a two-loss team would make the playoff. I was wrong. I do think that will happen sooner rather than later.
I also predicted Oregon/Ohio State would play in the Rose Bowl and many were confused why that didn’t happen, to also set up Alabama/Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. The committee was very beholden to their rankings at the end but maybe massaging the matchups – which give such little advantage in a four-team tournament – would be a good thing?
15) Bo Pelini will be fired
“Nebraska isn’t winning any titles this year and it’ll be time for a change that is long overdue. I cannot be the only one who finds it ridiculous that Nebraska fans are accepting of four-loss seasons, right?”
Many people dwelled on the fact that Nebraska won 9 games but that wasn’t the point. Nebraska has not won a conference championship since 1999. That is crazy to me. I don’t know if I would have hired Mike Riley but change was definitely needed. In retrospect, they probably should’ve parted ways with Bo after 2013.
16) Dana Holgorsen will be fired
Missed by a mile here.
18) South Carolina will make a New Year’s Six bowl, and be disappointed
It’s an absurd thought right now to think of the Gamecocks playing on New Year’s Day and their fans being disappointed. No, disappointment is going to Shreveport and selling less than 1,000 tickets.
In retrospect, no one knew how awful their defense would be. I was not alone in pegging the Gamecocks for big things – they were preseason Top 10 and stayed there for about, oh, 60 seconds into the Texas A&M game to start the season. South Carolina will be one of the more interesting teams to watch in 2015.
19) Ratings for the Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl & Orange Bowl will be down
Last year, the Peach Bowl drew 8.69 million viewers on New Year’s Eve night with Johnny Football. The Fiesta Bowl drew 11.30 million on New Year’s Day night, post-Rose Bowl. The Orange Bowl did 11.40 million on a Friday night, Jan. 3, opposite the Cotton Bowl.
I have maintained from the beginning that playing both semifinals on New Year’s Eve starting next year is completely asinine – the ratings this year will give us an indication of how asinine. Without a huge TV draw in any of the three New Year’s Eve games this year – I do think ratings will be down. It’ll be a test of the power of ESPN.
I mean, I’ll be watching. Will the condensed schedule of the New Year’s Six help all the bowls? We shall see.
20) Ohio State will win the National Championship
Oh, hello…Maybe I should’ve waited a month to do this post?
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