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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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 0 1st Qtr 5:45
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 2nd Prd
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 51 2nd Half 3:31
North Carolina 74
Long Beach State 13 1st Half 10:48
Western Mich 9
Marquette 0 1st Half 19:28
Georgia Tech 2
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 7 2nd Qtr 1:20
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 13 2nd Qtr 4:54
Texas 3
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 16 1st Half 3:37
Richmond 21
Oklahoma 11 1st Half 12:02
South Florida 15
Princeton 11 1st Half 12:30
Wake Forest 5
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
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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 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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