Today is August 17th, which means it is only 17 more days until the 2015 college football season kicks off.
This is the biggest "holiday" in my life. I'm as giddy as a kid opening a present when college football season starts. College football is, by far, my favorite sport. It may not be the cleanest, most ethical sport (what NCAA sport is?) yet it's so entertaining. College football, and sports in general, are the only TV show or movie that there's any real drama involved. There's dramatic TV shows and movies, but the outcome, for the most part, is positive. Not the case in sports. Sports can make you extremely happy and can depress you for hours or days, depending on how your team plays that particular day. College football, in my opinion, holds the most drama of all sports. College football also has the best die hard fans. We aren't fans, we are fanatics.
Which brings me to my main reason for my blog today, it's my college football preview. I will make this a yearly thing, so this marks the first annual, "Ty's College Football Season Preview". I'm not going to pick a preseason top 25, because that's stupid and pointless. I'm going to pick my winners of the major conferences, I'll talk about teams that can surprise, I'll give you my favorites for the Heisman and who I think the four playoff teams will be, and who I think will win the whole thing. So let's get started.
First, the Pac 12. You have the usual suspects competing for the Pac 12 title this year in Oregon, USC and UCLA. Of those three teams, I would pick Oregon to, once again, be in contention and most likely win the Pac 12 again. The transfer quarterback from Eastern Washington, Vernon Adams, will somewhat ease the loss of last year's Heisman winner, Marcus Mariota. It's always hard to replace a player like Mariota, but I think that Adams will run this offense very well, and they won't miss Mariota as much as other people think they will. USC returns star quarterback, Cody Kessler, but I don't think that Steve Sarkisian is the answer at head coach. The last time USC had this kind of preseason buzz was the year they started out as preseason number one, lost badly at Arizona State on a late Saturday night game, fired Lane Kiffin when they returned home and finished the year 7-6. I personally don't trust USC. UCLA also has to replace an all Pac 12 QB in Brett Hundley, but they have Myles Jack coming back, and they have a decent defense. They're good for 8 to 10 wins. Teams like Arizona, Arizona State and Washington will be decent too. Arizona won't be as good as last season, they played completely out of their minds, but they have a good young core and are led by the best linebacker in the country in Scooby Wright. Arizona State will be good on offense and sub par on defense, and Washington's opener versus Boise State will tell you everything about their season. If they win or win big, they will be a really good team, and if they lose, it will be a long season for the Huskies. With all that being said, I see Oregon winning the conference again this season.
On to the "powerful" SEC. I'd like to start by saying, I think the SEC is very overrated and I wish companies like ESPN would stop with the constant coverage, it drives me nuts. Anyway, here's another conference with the usual suspects. Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia and Ole Miss are the class of the conference. Alabama is Alabama, they will be good for 10 wins at least, anything less is a failure. They will be good, probably great, all season. It's Alabama after all. Auburn and Ole Miss are very similar in my opinion. They both have decent offenses, Ole Miss is better with LaQuean Treadwell coming back after that horrific injury last season and they both have very good defenses. Auburn got a great hire in Will Muschamp as their new defensive coordinator. He was not a good head coach, but the guy is a defensive genius. They're also helped by the addition of graduate transfer, Blake Countess. That guy is a great cover corner. Ole Miss still has the Nkemdichi brothers, and Robert Nkemdichi is, by far, the best interior defensive lineman since Ndamonkong Suh. The guy is unblockable. Mississippi State has their QB, Dak Prescott, back and he runs Dan Mullen's read option to perfection. I don't think they'll be as good this season as they were last season, but they're still good for 8 or 9 wins. Georgia lost Todd Gurley, but replace him with Nick Chubb. They also have a decent defense. They should win at least 9 games. LSU and Arkansas are kind of a mystery to me. LSU has a lights out defense and probably the best running back in the nation in Leonard Fournette, but they have no QB capable of running an offense. Arkansas has a so so defense, but their running game is legit. Even with the injury to star running back, Jonathan Williams, they have a stable of guys willing to take his place. Missouri and Kentucky are probably your next level of teams. They'll compete, but if either of them wins more than 8 games, I'll be surprised. I'm going to have to go with Alabama to be the champ of the SEC again. Two conferences, two repeat champions.
Next, the Big 12. The Big 12 might be the most explosive offensive collection of teams in the country. First of all, there's Baylor and TCU. Baylor has to replace Bryce Petty, but it seems like anyone can come in there and throw for damn near 4,000 yards. That's how well their offense is coached and run by the players. On defense, they showed flashes, but disappeared late in games last season. Look at the Cotton Bowl loss to Michigan State last season for evidence. They do have a freakish athlete on that side of the ball. Go do a google image of Shawn Oakman and be aghast at how big and quick and nimble he is. The dude is a beast. TCU's offense is led by their explosive QB Trevoyne Boykin. He may be the best QB in the country and he runs their offense to a T. He's crazy accurate, can run if need be and makes the right decision 99% of the time. Their coach, Gary Patterson, is known for his defensive mind, but he will rely heavily on the offense this year. They shouldn't disappoint either. They should be one of the most explosive offenses in college football history. After these two teams, there's a pretty big dip. Oklahoma is Oklahoma. They should be decent, but they could also very well disappoint. That's the bummer of being an Oklahoma fan. They should compete every year, but they are on a down swing for them right now. Texas is still rebuilding, but you have to give them another two to four years before they are making any kind of noise in the national conversation. I do like their coach, Charlie Strong a lot. He doesn't take any crap from anybody. Oklahoma State has all these pending violations and recruiting problems that I think will affect their play on the field this season. Kansas State will be a 7 or 8 win team at best, and the same goes for West Virginia. I think that TCU basically runs away with the Big 12. Baylor will make it interesting, but TCU is going to be really special this season.
Next, the Big Ten. Full disclosure, I'm a die hard Michigan Wolverines fan, but that won't sway me from being biased. That being said, the story of this offseason is the hiring of Jim Harbaugh by Michigan. He's expected to return this team to glory, and with his track record, he should do that. In fairness, this season will be tough for him and my beloved Wolverines. I expect them to make a bowl game and I think they should have, at least, 7 wins, but their schedule is tough and we will see if the running game can finally live up to the hype and see if the defense can be as good, if not better than last season. Okay, I talked about Michigan. The Big Ten will be about two teams this season, Ohio State and Michigan State (ed note: That was the hardest sentence Ty has ever written). Ohio State is the defending national champions. They have three great QB's and one of them is now playing receiver(Braxton Miller). They have one of the best running backs in the country in Ezekial Elliot. But, I don't see many explosive receivers on this team and I think teams will stack the box on them. That doesn't mean they'll stop them, but they will be predictable on offense. I also think that both JT Barrett and Cardale Jones will take a step back. Cardale Jones made a mistake in not turning pro, because his stock will never be as high as it was at the end of last season. Ohio State has a great defense. Nothing more needs to be said. There defense will be hard to get points on. Michigan State has Connor Cook back and a highly aggressive, hard hitting defense. Cook is one of the top QB's in the country. A lot of his top receivers have graduated or are in the NFL, so he will have to find new guys, but he will, he's good. Their running game will be by committee, but that's what works for them. While having a great defense, they play undisciplined and get penalized a ton. They are one of the dirtiest teams I've ever watched, but that gets in other teams heads and takes them off their game. You do what works for you. I feel like this is Michigan State's last, best shot at doing something special. They better take advantage. After that we have, the aforementioned Michigan Wolverines, Penn State, Iowa and Minnesota. Penn State should be good, but they haven't really lived up to any expectations lately and their offensive line has got to play better for them to win. Iowa will be good on the ground, but the QB situation is clearer, with Jake Rudock transferring to Michigan, but we will see how CJ Beathard does as a full time starter. Their defense is in a down swing right now too. Minnesota is a good team. They're predictable, but they have an awesome offensive line and a bunch of good running backs. Mitch Leidner does exactly what the coaching staff asks him to do too. They are not great on defense and that will hold them back. Rutgers, Maryland and Northwestern are teams, like Missouri and Kentucky in the SEC, that will compete, but anything more than 7 wins will shock me. It boils my blood, but I think Ohio State will win the Big 10 once again (ed note: Sorry Ty).
Lots of the same conference champs for me. I'm going to bundle the ACC and the AAC, because these are both jokes of conferences. The ACC has only three teams that are legit. There's Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson. Georgia Tech will run the triple option really well and confuse a lot of opponents, but they will take a step back from last season. Florida State is replacing Jameis Winston with Everett Golson, so they will not miss a beat, They'll be good, but blow some games late, like they always do. Clemson should be really good this year and they may make the ACC look like a halfway decent conference. Duke will be decent again, but not as good as last season. I'm going to pick Clemson to win the ACC. I don't watch the AAC at all, but I know that Cincinnati is in the conference. The only other teams I know are UCF, SMU and maybe Temple. I know UCF was good a few years ago with Blake Bortles at QB, but this conference is such a joke, I guess I'll pick SMU to win it this year. That's just a blind guess on my part and for all my AAC fans out there, sorry but your conference stinks.
As far as independent and teams from other conferences go, I'd like to talk about Notre Dame, BYU, Boise State and Marshall. Notre Dame is kind of an enigma to me. At the start of last season they looked like world beaters to me, then they fell on their faces when they played Arizona State, but closed out the season with a bowl win over LSU. They will either be a 10 win team or a 6 win team to me. It all depends on how well new starter Malik Zaire plays. If he plays like he did against LSU, they'll be good, but if he regresses or gets found out, they will be lucky to win 6 games. He has good offensive players around him, but it's always on the QB. BYU gets QB Taysom Hill back, and he's almost unstoppable running the read option. The problem lies with him though, when he got hurt, they were terrible. I believe they lost 4 or 5 straight after he got hurt. That team is completely reliant on the health of their QB and that's a double edged sword. Boise State had a down year for them and they still won 9 games and played Ole Miss tough in the opener. The same goes for them as goes for Washington. It all depends on who wins that game to see who will have the better season. I think Boise State will be good this year. Marshall almost went undefeated last season. They were led by their all world QB, Rakeem Cato, but he's graduated, and I think this marks the end of Marshall winning double digit games. It's not happening.
As far as the Heisman Trophy goes this season, I see it coming down to a lot of running backs and one QB. I think we'll see Ohio State's Ezekial Elliot, Georgia's Nick Chubb, LSU's Leonard Fournette and TCU's QB Trevoyne Boykin get invited to New York. I see Boykin winning the Heisman in an almost landslide vote. He's going to have a special season if he stays healthy.
Now the playoff. I see the Big 12 being represented by TCU, the SEC sending Alabama and the shocker being the Big 10 getting two teams in, in Ohio State and Michigan State. I think in order of ranking the final four teams, it will be Ohio State 1, Alabama 2, TCU 3 and Michigan State 4. So, we'll get an Ohio State-Michigan State game for the third time this season and I see Ohio State winning this time and we will get Alabama-TCU in the other playoff game and I see TCU pulling away late in that game to advance to the title game. So that leaves us with Ohio State and TCU playing for the championship. I see this game being close for about 2 and a half quarters and then TCU puling away and winning by at least 17 points. So, TCU will be your 2016 NCAA Football National Champions.
Tell me why I'm right or wrong in the comment section and sit back and enjoy watching football. It will be here before we know it.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the co-host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. The editor is eagerly awaiting his NCAA Division 3 football preview. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik