College Football looms in the background and haunts each day of every year for those of us at The Alabama Take. We couldn’t wait to give our thoughts on whom we think has a chance at struttin’ that ass into each of the Power Five’s championship games. Perhaps it goes without saying, but some of us are biased (and none of us are experts).
Enough with the preamble, though. Let’s dig in! Here are our predictions for the upcoming 2018 College Football season. Check back tomorrow for our thoughts on the Big Ten and PAC-12.
Blaine Duncan — As a personal rule, I put no faith in first-year coaches, even though some have exceeded expectations in recent years. So that eliminates a usually talented Florida State from reaching the ACC Championship Game for me, though they may not have had a chance anyway. It’s obvious, but I think it comes down to Clemson and Miami. Miami’s schedule is only hindered by LSU, which matters not for their conference hopes. The Hurricanes will face a Clemson team that has the benefit of a comfortable schedule (with perhaps the trips to Texas A&M and Florida State being the only true rough spots). Mark Richt had the Hurricanes on the cusp last year, but Clemson is much better on defense. Way better. ACC Champion: Clemson Tigers
Philip Williams — As a long time coordinator of a high-powered middle school offense, I know that only one question matters in regards to team success: do you have the biggest and fastest 8th grader on the field as your running back? In college football, that question flips to the defense, do you have the meanest and nastiest defensive linemen? Dabo Swinney and Clemson have a bunch of certified beasts along the defensive line in Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant and Christian Wilkins. As long as the QB (either incumbent Kelly Bryant or freshman Trevor Lawrence) can take care of the ball, Clemson has a recipe for wrecking the ACC. ACC Champion: Clemson Tigers
TD Wood — Absolutely no reason to pick anyone other than Clemson. Their defensive line alone is enough to win the conference, and Dabo has built the program into a perennial winner. Mark Richt has Miami on the upswing, but never trust Mark Richt. Florida State has some remodeling to do under first-year coach Willie Taggart, but they have the talent to make noise. Behind those three, who is there to really challenge for the conference crown? Boston College and Virginia Tech might be the two to garner consideration, but they just don’t have the guns to compete for the title. ACC Champion: Clemson Tigers
Blaine Duncan — For the eighth consecutive season, the Big 12 teams are going the round robin format, but they’ve added the conference championship recently. Good move. I like Kansas State to upset a team or two, but that will have little effect on the overall Big 12 picture. Instead, West Virginia’s favorable schedule and a top-tier quarterback will have them barely losing to Oklahoma; that mainly has to do with West Virginia being the kind of team that perpetually finds a way to keep themselves out of contention. Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma Sooners
Philip Williams — Look, Oklahoma is going to be good again, but I really don’t want to have to root for their success all year. So, I’m going with the QB that will likely have the gaudiest stats in the league, West Virginia’s Will Grier. You might remember our old friend Will from his time at Florida before he got busted for PEDs. He’s likely to throw for 4,000 yards this year with wide receiver David Sills hauling in a majority of those. Don’t forget WV also has former Alabama receiver TJ Simmons who is eligible this season. When you have a QB/WR combo like that, you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. Big 12 Champion: West Virginia Mountaineers
TD Wood — Ah, the Big 12, college football’s wild west. There will be shootouts galore, and a conference title game in which one team will have to play another team they’ve already beaten previously. I just don’t see the need for a title game with a round-robin format, and eventually it’ll cost the Big 12 a playoff berth. Anyway, Oklahoma should be the favorites this year, even without Heisman-winner Baker Mayfield. West Virginia has been anointed the biggest threat to the Sooners’ throne, and with Will Grier and that offense the Mountaineers certainly deserve that recognition. That said, their defense is awful, which means that offense is going to have to put up some mighty big numbers on a weekly basis if the Mountaineers want to take the title. TCU is always a team to keep an eye on, and the Tom Herman era at Texas enters year two with the fanbase desperate for a winner. Still, don’t see anyone but the boys from Norman winning the conference. Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma Sooners