With the 2016 college football season ready to get into full swing this weekend, FanSided college football experts Jack Jorgensen and Patrick Schmidt sat down to make some predictions
It’s always a long, grueling wait from the time the college football national champion is crowned to the beginning of the new season, but thankfully, that wait is over. This weekend, the wonderful sport of college football re-enters our lives, and we can begin the journey of a new season that will surely be as exciting as ever.
What makes college football one of the most popular sports in the country is the unpredictability that it brings to the table. It seems that week in and week out during the college football season we’re given something that makes our jaws collectively drop, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
Because of the unpredictability, it’s hard to try and look into the future when it comes to the college football season and predict what may happen. That’s not stopping two of our college football experts from giving it a try, though.
Jack Jorgensen is an Associate Editor for FanSided.com and has been in charge of college football for the site since the 2013 season. Patrick Schmidt is FanSided.com editor and the editor of FanSided’s college football specific site, Saturday Blitz. He’s been a proud member of the FanSided network since the 2013 season, where he began covering college football for FanSided.com. Together, these two college football aficionados (as they’d like to call themselves) answered some questions about what we might be able to expect from what very well could be one of the more exciting college football seasons in recent memory.
With a stacked Week 1 of the season coming up, who is on the biggest upset alert?
Patrick Schmidt: I was tempted to go with Oklahoma because I think the Sooners could take a step back this year and I love what Tom Herman is doing with the Houston Cougars. But I’m going to go with the Florida State Seminoles on upset alert against the Ole Miss Rebels. Jimbo Fisher has a loaded roster but he has questions at quarterback with Sean Maguire out with an injury and redshirt freshman Deondre Francois starting in his place. Ole Miss has wins against Alabama in back-to-back years and won’t be intimidated by Florida State and have one of the most confident players in the country in quarterback Chad Kelly. The Rebels lost a lot of star power to the NFL Draft but Ole Miss has the quarterback to put the Noles on upset alert on a neutral field.
Jack Jorgensen: We’re almost on the same page here with this one, as I am indeed going to go with the Oklahoma Sooners to be on upset alert in Week 1. Oftentimes we’ve seen that a Bob Stoops Oklahoma defense can struggle against a versatile quarterback, and Houston has one of the best in the nation in the form of Greg Ward Jr. This young man is ready to break through as a legitimate Heisman candidate this season, and there will be no better way for him to make that statement than with a huge neutral field win over the mighty Sooners. Offensively I don’t think Houston will have an issue keeping up, the defense just has to do their job against a very good Oklahoma offense and hold up their end of the bargain.
Which coach is on the hottest seat in 2016?
PS: I can’t say Al Golden this year, so I’m going with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. Auburn was picked to win the SEC last year and came in last place in the SEC West with a 7-6 overall record and a 2-6 mark in the SEC. Since leading Auburn to the BCS Championship Game in his first year at Auburn, Malzahn is a combined 15-11 and 6-10 in conference. Another seven-win season and that could be it for Malzahn.
JJ: I’m gonna stay with you here in the SEC, but I’m gonna go with a man down in College Station, Texas by the name of Kevin Sumlin. Eventually, something has to give, and I think this could be the season where Texas A&M brass finally gets fed up if something big doesn’t happen. And by “something big,” I would have to say a New Year’s Six appearance at the very least. It’s not playoff or bust for Sumlin to keep his job, but he can’t turn in another 8-5 season or even 9-4 for that matter. He’s going to have to revert back to that 2012 season where they went 11-2 to really make sure that he stays getting paid by Texas A&M to lead their football team.
Who wins the Heisman Trophy?
PS: Leonard Fournette – I think the LSU junior running back tops the 2,000-yard mark this year and provides a number of highlight-reel runs and Heisman moments along the way. He’s a better running back than last year’s winner, Derrick Henry, and if LSU beats Alabama, then he’s running away with the Heisman. Should he stumble against Alabama again, then I like Deshaun Watson over J.T. Barrett, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey
JJ: Christian McCaffrey. I made it no secret that I firmly believed McCaffrey should have been the winner last season –all due respect to Derrick Henry– but this season that trophy will not elude him, barring injury. With a new quarterback entering the fold this year in Ryan Burns, McCaffrey will have to shoulder even more of the load on offense, and that will only help his cause of being considered the best college football player in the nation. Stanford will have another solid season, and part of the ending to that season should see McCaffrey walking away with the most coveted statue in college football.
It’s debated every year, so why not keep it up. Should the College Football Playoff be expanded to eight teams?
PS: Absolutely not. The playoff format is just fine. Expanding to eight would be great for television because it’s more games to sell commercials but it would dilute the product. I don’t want a playoff field with multiple teams with multiple losses. The playoff format is a much better system than the BCS and has been more than fine for two years. It’s not broken, so there’s no need to fix it.
JJ: For right now, we’re in agreement on this one. The first two years of the College Football Playoff have not only been exciting, but they really got it right both times. That first season Ohio State proved they were the best of the best, even though some didn’t even want them in there. Last season there was no debate who the best four teams in college football were, and we also knew that Alabama and Clemson were the two elite. And of course, that’s the title game we got and it was one of the best in history. We’ll see if the committee can go 3-for-3 this season in regards to getting the four teams right, but I do think that because this is the unpredictable sport of college football, we may eventually run into a scenario where the eight-team discussion is legitimately warranted. But so far, that time is not right now; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Speaking of the CFB Playoff, who will the four teams be this season vying for the national title?
PS: Ohio State, Clemson, LSU and Oklahoma.
Ohio State has the best player in the Big Ten with Barrett and Michigan isn’t quite there to unseat them yet. Clemson may not have the best roster in the ACC but they don’t have answers at QB like Florida State has so they are my pick. It may be foolish to pick against Alabama in the SEC, but I have Fournette winning the Heisman and think his supporting cast will do just enough to navigate the hellacious SEC gauntlet. Oklahoma doesn’t have any peers in the Big 12 and I think they’ll hold off the Pac-12 champ and Notre Dame for the last spot.
JJ: Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and UCLA
Led by Deshaun Watson, and a lot of other good talent returning, I truly believe Clemson will run the table again and capture the top seed. Once again, though, they’ll be the only undefeated team in the fold. Alabama will falter somewhere again, but they’ll take the SEC and get in. While Michigan is the sexy pick in the Big Ten, as you said, Urban Meyer has that J.T. Barrett guy, who is another year older and will take this team to the conference crown. And yes, I am going to drink the UCLA Kool-Aid this year and say that Jim Mora will get himself a Pac-12 title and the country will be properly introduced to the phenom that is sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen. I just have a feeling that the Big 12 will eat themselves alive this year, even for as talented as Oklahoma appears to be.
So with the picks in, who plays for the national title and who wins it?
PS: Clemson over Ohio State. For the first time since 1981, Clemson will be national champions of college football. Deshaun Watson is the best college quarterback since Andrew Luck and will cement his status as the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft with a 300-yard passing and 100-yard rushing performance against a depleted Buckeyes defense in the National Championship Game.
JJ: Although the College Football Playoff isn’t that old, yes, we’re going to get the very first rematch in history. This time, however, things will work out a little differently as we’re gonna have to end up on the same page again. Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman and the rest of the Clemson Tigers will avenge their loss from last year and capture that national championship that eluded them last year.