Bold predictions for 2018, including Lane Kiffin, Alabama Crimson Tide national championship repeat



The 2017 college football season is usually from the books, in addition to the idea’s time to hold myself accountable for what I got right (not much) in addition to what I got wrong (a lot) in my preseason predictions.

I predicted of which Alabama in addition to Ohio State might make the College Football Playoff, in addition to the Buckeyes are still arguing of which they should have been included. Unfortunately, I also picked Florida State in addition to USC to make the playoff.

I correctly picked two of the Power 5 conference champions (Ohio State in addition to USC) in addition to six of the eight division winners. I incorrectly chose Florida State from the ACC, Alabama from the SEC in addition to Oklahoma State from the Big 12.

I told you USF’s Charlie Strong might win more games than Tom Herman, his replacement at Texas, which he did. I also told you the coaching carousel might start in October because of the brand new early signing period, in addition to of which Arizona State’s Todd Graham, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, UCLA’s Jim Mora, Tennessee’s Butch Jones in addition to Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez were in trouble, which they were.

Perhaps my most egregious mistake, however, was guaranteeing of which the hype surrounding Lane Kiffin might quiet down after Week 2. Kiffin in addition to Florida Atlantic proved me wrong on of which front. I’ll try to make up for the idea with another Kiffin prediction for 2018.

What’s in store for 2018? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait about eight months to find out.

Here are 10 early bold predictions with This particular upcoming season:

1. Alabama-Georgia Round II will decide the SEC championship (in addition to a CFP spot)

Alabama won its fifth national title in nine seasons with Monday night’s 26-23 victory over Georgia from the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T. Those teams seem to be on a collision course for the SEC championship game in 2018.

The scariest part for the Bulldogs in addition to everyone else from the SEC: The Crimson Tide had a few true freshmen playing on offense when they won the game. Sure, the Tide lose a boatload of underclassmen to the NFL draft again, including star receiver Calvin Ridley in addition to safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick in addition to Ronnie Harrison, nevertheless there are plenty of young players ready to step in.

The Tide open the season against Louisville in Orlando, Florida, in addition to they’ll play Texas A&M, Mississippi State in addition to Auburn at home.

The Bulldogs made tremendous strides in coach Kirby Smart’s second season, in addition to at This particular point they’ll have to replace many of the senior stars coming from a team of which won its first SEC title since 2005. Replacing tailbacks Nick Chubb in addition to Sony Michel in addition to linebackers Davin Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter in addition to Roquan Smith (if he turns pro) won’t be easy, nevertheless Smart in addition to his staff have recruited exceptionally well.

Plus, Georgia’s schedule in 2018 is usually probably less arduous than the one the idea navigated through This particular past season. The Bulldogs play nonconference games against FCS foe Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, UMass in addition to Georgia Tech, in addition to they’ll play Tennessee in addition to Auburn at home.

2. Freshman Trevor Lawrence will be Clemson’s starting quarterback

Kelly Bryant did a lot of great things in his first season as Clemson’s starting quarterback, throwing for 2,802 yards with 13 touchdowns in addition to leading the Tigers to a 12-2 record. nevertheless the Tigers’ 24-6 loss to Alabama in a CFP semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl also exposed some of his shortcomings as a passer.

Bryant, a rising senior, will have a difficult time holding off Lawrence, an incoming freshman in addition to early enrollee, who is usually ranked the No. 1 pocket passer in addition to No. 2 player overall from the ESPN 300. Lawrence, coming from Cartersville, Georgia, is usually 6-foot-6 in addition to 209 pounds. He has been described as a “once-in-a-generation kind of player,” kind of like the last Clemson quarterback coming from Georgia: Deshaun Watson.

Even that has a freshman quarterback, Clemson will join Alabama from the CFP. Two some other teams with first-year quarterbacks — Oklahoma in addition to Ohio State — will also make the four-team field.

3. Chip Kelly will bring life to the Pac-12

There’s no some other way to say the idea: the idea was a very, very bad year for the Pac-12 in 2017. the idea was supposed to be the Year of the Quarterback on the West Coast, nevertheless UCLA’s Josh Rosen in addition to USC’s Sam Darnold didn’t even crack the top 10 in Heisman voting. Only two Pac-12 teams (Washington in addition to USC) won 10 games or more, in addition to the league’s teams went a woeful 1-8 in bowl games (Utah was the only winner).

The Pac-12 genuinely needs a boost, in addition to former Oregon in addition to NFL coach Chip Kelly might be the one to do the idea. Kelly probably could have had any opening from the country, nevertheless he chose to replace Jim Mora at UCLA. With Rosen in addition to receiver Jordan Lasley entering the draft, in addition to the Bruins having to replace three starting offensive linemen, there are going to be some growing pains on offense. Unfortunately, the Bruins also had the worst run defense from the FBS in addition to school history in 2017.

nevertheless UCLA has enough talent on hand for Kelly to make an immediate impact. USC will still be heavy favorites from the Pac-12 South, nevertheless the Bruins should be as not bad as anyone else.

4. Jim Harbaugh’s team will beat an opponent of which matters

After winning 10 games in each of Harbaugh’s first two seasons, Michigan took a step back at 8-5 in 2017. Maybe the idea shouldn’t have been such a surprise after the Wolverines lost so many players to the NFL.

nevertheless the idea was the way Michigan lost of which was so alarming. Michigan threw nine touchdown passes, its fewest since 1975, when the idea attempted only 125 passes while running the triple option under Bo Schembechler. The Wolverines scored 13 points or fewer in losses to Michigan State, Penn State in addition to Wisconsin in addition to blew a 16-point lead in a 26-19 loss to South Carolina from the Outback Bowl.

The Wolverines are one of the more difficult teams to project going into 2018. A lot depends on the availability of former Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson, who has already enrolled in classes at U-M. He has appealed to the NCAA for immediate eligibility because of the Rebels’ probation in addition to bowl ban, in addition to the Wolverines could be pretty not bad if he’s available.

For all the bluster about Harbaugh’s return to his alma mater, the early results have been mediocre. In his three seasons, the Wolverines are 2-7 from the two regular-season games of which matter most to U-M fans (Michigan State in addition to Ohio State) in addition to bowl games. The odds are they’ll beat one of them next season, right?

5. A sophomore will win the Heisman Trophy

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy in 2007 (Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel won the idea as a redshirt freshman in 2012).

A group of sophomores will be among the favorites to win the sport’s most coveted individual award next season: Georgia’s Jake Fromm in addition to D’Andre Swift, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in addition to Dwayne Haskins, in addition to Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

6. Unless a defensive player finally takes home the Stiff-Armed Trophy

Michigan star Charles Woodson was the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1997, in addition to he claimed the idea as much for his versatility in addition to big moments on offense in addition to special teams as his stellar play on defense.

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, a consensus All-American in addition to Outland Trophy winner This particular past season, is usually arguably the best player in college football. He had 16½ tackles for loss, 5½ sacks, two forced fumbles in addition to one blocked kick while playing nose tackle in a three-man front This particular past season. Oliver is usually respected enough by voters to make a legitimate run at the Heisman Trophy in 2018.

7. Scott Frost (in addition to Nebraska) won’t finish unbeaten

After guiding UCF to a 13-0 record in addition to self-proclaimed “national championship” This particular past season, Frost returns to Nebraska, his alma mater, where he played quarterback coming from 1995-97.

Frost directed one of the greatest turnarounds in recent history at UCF: The Knights went 0-12 in 2015, 6-7 in his first season in 2016 in addition to then unbeaten This particular past season.

Should Nebraska fans expect more of the same after the Cornhuskers went 4-8 under Mike Riley in 2017? The turnaround might not happen immediately, nevertheless Frost will build a Big Ten title contender sooner rather than later.

Big Red fans will have to be patient, though. Not only might Nebraska be starting a freshman quarterback, Adrian Martinez, who missed his entire senior season of high school while recovering coming from a shoulder injury, nevertheless the idea also plays one of the most difficult schedules from the FBS This particular coming season.

The Cornhuskers play road games at Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Ohio State in addition to Iowa in 2018, along with home contests against Colorado in addition to Michigan State. Ouch. A 6-6 record in addition to return to the postseason might be a more realistic expectation for Frost in Year 1.

8. UCF won’t go unbeaten, either

Not only did Frost leave for Nebraska, nevertheless he also took UCF’s 10 assistant coaches in addition to strength in addition to conditioning coach with him. brand new UCF coach Josh Heupel, the former Missouri offensive coordinator, is usually starting coming from scratch, which means there’s going to be a transition period, regardless of the talent coming back.

UCF is usually required to bring back nine starters on offense in addition to seven on defense, including McKenzie Milton, who will be one of the better quarterbacks from the country. There are some other key pieces in place for the Knights to be just as explosive on offense.

UCF’s schedule in 2018 includes nonconference games against Florida Atlantic, Pittsburgh, North Carolina in addition to FCS foe South Carolina State. Its AAC schedule includes road games at Memphis in addition to USF. Back-to-back unbeaten seasons might be asking for too much in Heupel’s debut, nevertheless a second straight brand new Year’s Six bowl appearance seems like a realistic possibility.

9. Auburn fans won’t like Gus Malzahn after Week 1

Auburn fans weren’t sure how to react to the Tigers’ 2017 campaign. Auburn defeated rivals Georgia in addition to Alabama, when both of them were ranked No. 1, before finishing the season with consecutive losses to the Bulldogs from the SEC championship game in addition to UCF from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Then they had to watch Alabama in addition to Georgia play from the CFP National Championship.

Auburn’s 10-4 turnaround was enough to earn Malzahn a brand new seven-year, $49 million extension after Arkansas officials tried to hire him away. The Tigers will go into the 2018 season as perhaps the second-best team from the SEC West. They open the campaign against Washington from the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta. Malzahn might want to make sure his team wins of which one.

10. Lane Kiffin will get a Power 5 job after the 2018 season

There were 13 coaching modifications at Power 5 programs This particular past season, in addition to Kiffin didn’t get much of a sniff after guiding Florida Atlantic to an 11-3 record in addition to Conference USA title.

With another 10-win season — the Owls bring back quarterback Jason Driskel, running back Devin Singletary in addition to added a few key transfers — Kiffin will be one of the hottest coaching candidates going into the 2018 silly season. As long as Kiffin doesn’t implode on Twitter, he’ll be coaching at a Power 5 school in 2019.

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