Predicting the college football season

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2014 - 11:31 PM

A new college football season — now available with playoffs! — is days away. To celebrate, here’s a primer on the season and predictions on how the new final four will end in January.

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Jimbo Fisher guided Florida State to the final BCS national title and will try to make the Seminoles the first champion of the College Football Playoff.

Photo: Phil Sears, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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13 thoughts

Hallelujah that college football decision-makers finally wised up and created a playoff, but crowning a true champion won’t stop the controversy. Rest assured, fans of the No. 5 team will scream at the top of their lungs once the pairings are announced. …

 

Amazing what a 45-31 victory against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl has meant to Oklahoma’s preseason expectations. The Sooners are a popular pick to make the four-team playoff behind sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight. …

 

Initially, I projected Ohio State as one of the four playoff teams, but that changed with the season-ending injury to Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes remain loaded with talent and Urban Meyer’s system still will be difficult to defend, but Miller was one of the best players in college football. Hard to include the Buckeyes in the national title discussion without him. ...

 

Remember when Florida ruled college football? The Gators went 4-8 last season, including a loss to Georgia Southern. The seat couldn’t be any hotter for Will Muschamp. …

 

Florida State needs some young receivers to emerge, but Jameis Winston has the best offensive line in college football, the best tight end (Nick O’Leary) and his favorite receiver (Rashad Greene) returning. …

 

Here’s a championship formula: The Seminoles ranked second nationally in scoring offense (51.6 points) and first nationally in scoring defense (12.1) last season. …

 

Mark it down, Charlie Strong will win big at Texas. Some argue that Strong is a bad fit because his personality doesn’t mesh with all the outside responsibilities — media, boosters, promotional appearances, etc. — required of the Texas coach. So what? The guy is a good coach and terrific recruiter. …

 

No matter what mess he makes, Lane Kiffin always manages to land in a good place. Nick Saban hired Kiffin to run Alabama’s offense as coordinator. …

 

I’d rank the major FBS conferences this way: 1. SEC. 2. Pac-12. 3. Big Ten. 4. Big 12. 5. ACC …

 

The battle for Los Angeles has become interesting with the rebuilding job that Jim Mora has overseen at UCLA. USC is coming off severe NCAA sanctions; the Bruins are good enough to win the Pac-12 and earn spot in the playoff. …

 

Here’s a fast climber: In 2009, Derek Mason served as the Minnesota Vikings assistant defensive backs coach. Now, he’s in his first season as Vanderbilt’s head coach. …

 

Nebraska’s Bo Pelini received a contract extension through 2018. Yet a number of preseason publications listed Pelini as a coach on the hot seat. Complicated relationship between Pelini and Cornhuskers fan base. …

 

And finally, how can you not love Steve Spurrier? Here was the Ol’ Ball Coach’s response to a question about a trophy named in honor of a soldier who died at the Alamo being awarded to the winner of the new “rivalry game” between South Carolina and Texas A&M: “I’m actually from Tennessee,” Spurrier said. “I always thought Davy Crockett was the hero of the Alamo, he and those 33 Tennessee guys that came in there and got killed and so forth.”

The Super Six

 

Every year, we create a list of Heisman Trophy candidates in this space. Every year, we’re flat wrong. Or more accurately, we fail even to mention the eventual winner. We had no clue about Johnny Manziel in 2012. Or Jameis Winston last season. Cam Newton’s personal bio in Auburn’s media guide took up only one line the season he won the Heisman, 2010. His bio included his birthdate and the names of his parents. So, we’ve learned our lesson. We have no clue which player will take home the Heisman this winter. But here are six players who college football fans will love to watch this season:

1. Jameis Winston, Florida State

Duh. He took the college football world by storm last season, passing for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns as a freshman. What does he have in store for an encore?

2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

If he can stay healthy, the Ducks quarterback will amass Heisman-worthy statistics in a fast-break offense.

3. Todd Gurley, Georgia

Best running back in college football. He battled injuries last season, but he’s a force as a runner and receiver out of the backfield.

4. Vic Beasley, Clemson

Explosive pass rusher at defensive end. Collected 13 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and four forced fumbles last season.

5. Amari Cooper, Alabama

He’ll have a new quarterback throwing him passes, but Cooper is electric when he gets the ball in his hands.

6. Bryce Petty, Baylor

Like offense? So does Petty. He passed for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns and also rushed for 14 TDs last season.

The Road to Arlington

One man’s view of how inaugural playoff could unfold:

The Biggies

Four games that will affect playoff chase:

Oct. 11: Oregon at UCLA: Ducks throttled UCLA last season, but Jim Mora has Bruins thinking big.

Nov. 8: Baylor at Oklahoma: Winner of Big 12 showdown could stay alive in national race.

Nov. 8: Ohio State at Michigan State: Spartans likely will be favored with possible playoff berth at stake. Not bad.

Nov. 29: Auburn at Alabama: Iron Bowl can’t possibly top last season, but this could propel one of them into playoff.

Playoff predictions

National semifinal 1: Florida State vs. Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1 in New Orleans.

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston returns to an offense that averaged 51.6 points per game last season. The defending national champion Seminoles expect to be as good, if not better. The Sooners made believers out of many by the way they handled Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Expectations are high, but Florida State has championship experience.

Winner: Florida State

 

National semifinal 2: Alabama vs. Oregon in the Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

For once, Alabama doesn’t enter the season as an overwhelming favorite, largely because the Crimson Tide must replace A.J. McCarron. Don’t bet against Nick Saban, especially with the way things ended last season: back-to-back losses. No one recruits like ‘Bama. Oregon’s offense will score tons of points behind QB Marcus Mariota. Ducks defense needs to prove it can stop the run.

Winner: Alabama

National championship: Florida State vs. Alabama Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas

Alabama has terrific skill players in tailback T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper, but we’ll give the nod to Florida State, despite the inherent challenge any team faces in defending its title. Winston showed that he can thrive under pressure and Jimbo Fisher has made the Seminoles a dominant, confident program again.

Winner: Florida State

















 

 

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Chicago 6:00 PM
Cleveland
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Washington
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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