College Football Second Half Predictions
Brad Curnow | Sports Writer | @jojocornrow
Photo credit Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo
We’re halfway through the season and I wanted to make my bold predictions for what we might see the rest of the way. We’ve seen surprise teams come to the top of the standings while other teams drowned in the competitive river of college football. At the start of the season Auburn, Oregon, and USC were all given preseason top-10 rankings. Since then, USC has lost their head coach Steve Sarkisian to a firing and is spiraling down the Pac-12 ranks. Oregon is a merry-go-round at quarterback and couldn’t stop a runny nose on defense. Utah has been the major surprise and climbed from an unranked start to the third spot in the AP Top 25 Poll and favorites to win the Pac-12 South.
Here are four of my bold predictions going into the second half of the season based on what we have seen so far.
Utah fades in the last third of their schedule
The Utes have played fantastic football this season; make no mistake. They have definitely earned their spot in the rankings by knocking off quality teams like Michigan, Cal, and Arizona State. I believe that Utah will begin to tire as the season progresses and they visit more difficult venues. Husky Stadium, in Seattle is never an easy place to get a win, no matter how poorly Washington is playing. Strange things happen in the November rain in Seattle and Utah isn’t immune. The following week, the Utes travel to the desert in Tucson to play the Arizona Wildcats. Utah has lost three straight to Arizona. Utah then comes home to play UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium to wrap-up a difficult three weeks. The travel, weather, and schedule will catch up with the Utes and they fall in the polls.
Michigan wins out
The Wolverines played lights out football for five straight weeks, completely shutting down their opponents in that time. If not for the punter’s mishap, Michigan would be sitting at 6-1 rather than 5-2. The rest of the way, the Wolverines have a slate consisting of: Rutgers, at Indiana, at Penn State, and Ohio State. The only team on the remaining schedule with any beef to contend with Michigan is Ohio State. The Buckeyes have shown flaws in various games this season, especially under center. Coach Urban Meyer settled in with J.T. Barrett at quarterback over Cardale Jones. Barrett is definitely the better of the two, but he still makes untimely errors at quarterback. Michigan’s defense has stifled quality quarterbacks this season and will continue to do so for the remainder of the season.
AAC bumps MWC from New Year’s 6 bowls
There’s talk every year about conferences, especially the SEC, cannibalizing themselves and wrecking their shot at a national title or big time bowl game. Boise State is a perennial favorite to come out of the group five conferences and crash the New Year’s party thrown by the power five conferences every year. This year the Mountain West will suffer the most from intra-conference decimation with the play of Boise State, Utah State, and San Diego State. Utah State already knocked off Boise but followed that up by getting blown out at San Diego State. Timely conference losses will keep even the best of the three in the 20s, at best, in the AP Poll. The American Athletic Conference currently has three teams in the AP Top 25, a conference record, in Temple, Houston, and Memphis. Today, these teams all sit at 6-0 with a collective 4-0 record against power five opponents. One of these teams will come out on top, finish ranked inside the top-20, and win the conference an at-large bid to play in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
A shakeup in the College Football Playoff
So who makes it to the College Football Playoff? I’ll take Baylor, LSU, Michigan State, and Clemson. The Pac-12 will cannibalize itself and nobody from that conference will earn a spot in the CFP. Baylor continues to run up scores in the Big 12 and win every game big. LSU’s unstoppable force, Leonard Fournette, will overpower the entire SEC and take the conference title from Alabama. Michigan State rides the momentum from the win over Michigan, beats Ohio State at the Horseshoe in November, and goes on to win the Big Ten Championship. Clemson continues to play better defense than anyone in the ACC and will run through the rest of conference play without a challenge.
We have about a month and a half to go in the rest of the season. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited for the home stretch and you should be too.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.