2016 College Football Predictions "As I See It"
by Jay, College Gridiron Handicapper, Predictem.com
The 2016 College Football season is just a few weeks away and anticipation has peaked for college football enthusiasts everywhere. As soon as time expired in last year’s National Championship Game, there were already experts and fans that were weighing in predictions for the teams that should contend this season. With recruits on campus and practices officially underway, we finally have a clearer picture of what teams really have on their roster heading into this season.
Of course the talent factor is just one part of the equation in the formula that derives from a National Championship team. You have to look at coaching, schedules, match-ups, and so much more to determine the teams that can legitimately contend towards for a trip to Tampa in January. Therefore, we take this time to give a more comprehensive look at the teams that should contend for this year’s National Championship and give our expert predictions on who has what it takes to take home the crystal ball!
2016 National Championship Odds:
#15 – Nebraska Cornhuskers +16500 (Preseason Rank – NR)
So you want a bold prediction right out of the gate? Consider the Nebraska Cornhuskers at whopping 165-1 odds. Things may not have gone extremely well in Mike Riley’s debut season in Lincoln as Nebraska ended with a measly 6-7 record. However, the team returns a lot of talent on both sides of the ball to make Riley’s 2nd year a lot more memorable. The continued development of quarterback Tommy Armstrong and replacing 4 starters along the offensive line will be the biggest challenges for the team. If they can find answers early, an upset over Oregon in mid-September is not out of the question especially considering the Ducks problems on defense. If that happens, late season showdowns with Wisconsin and Ohio State could carry extra meaning.
#14 – Boise State Broncos +22000 (Preseason Rank - NR)
If 165-1 odds are not good enough for you, let’s try 220-1 odds on the Boise State Broncos. I know by now you are asking is this guy just throwing out bold predictions? Well not completely but the Broncos are more of a situational threat. With the playoffs now making it possible for 4 teams to get into the dance, the chances of a Cinderella story coming outside of the Power 5 Conferences are more plausible. Looking at the Broncos schedule, they have a good opportunity to win every game. The Broncos were favored in nearly every game in 2015 and the same will be true again this year. The offense is one of the fastest tempo groups in the country and young quarterback Brett Rypien could make this offense even more special in year number 2. Boise State may not have National Championship type talent but if they run the table they will be in the playoffs. Then they will just need some magic!
#13– Ole Miss Rebels (Preseason Rank - #12)
The Rebels lost a good bit a talent from 2015 but they do return some of the most important pieces to their 2015 team that compiled a respectable 10-3 campaign. QB Chad Kelly should be the best in the SEC and his play will likely determine how far this team can go. Last year, Kelly threw for 4,042 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 picks. The losses of Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core cannot be undermined. However, this offense is still going to be good and the defense is loaded with talent. Also, do not forget that the Rebels have done something nearly no other team in the country has been able to do the last two years by beating Alabama. They get Alabama at The Grove in mid-September and if they can pull out another win then the race for the SEC West will be on!
#12– Notre Dame Fighting Irish +2200 (Preseason Rank - #9)
For the record, I think Notre Dame is completely overvalued at 22-1 odds. However, we are talking about the teams with the best chance to be a National Champion and not which teams have the most value to make a run at college football’s top prize. With that being said, the Irish have some holes to fill as they return just 5 starters on each side of the ball. The good news is that their playmakers return in the form of QB DeShone Kizer and safety Max Redfield. If you look at the Irish’s 2015 work, their only two regular season losses were both two point losses to Clemson and Stanford. They were flirting with the playoff picture last year and their schedule sets up for similar potential this year with battles against Michigan State, Stanford, and the season finale against USC. This team should get better as the year progresses and that is just what this schedule allows.
#11– Florida State Seminoles +1350 (Preseason Rank - #4)
I was going to have Florida State ranked much higher on this list but the recent news of quarterback Sean Maguire breaking a bone in his foot has changed things. The Seminoles were going to have a heavy running approach on offense anyway behind one of the best tailbacks in the country in Dalvin Cook. However, Maguire’s absence is going to hurt especially in their big season opener against Ole Miss on September 5th. If the Seminoles lose that game, there season could be over before it begins. However the offense is loaded with experience and the defense is going to be good as well. If they can weather the storm until Maguire returns, their October 29th showdown with Clemson will definitely have College Football Playoff type of implications on the line. If the Seminoles can get to the playoffs, they have the talent to make things interesting.
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#9– Stanford Cardinal +2800 (Preseason Rank - #7)
Stanford is high on the preseason rankings and that is for a number of factors. Coach David Shaw has produced nothing but quality results with four 11 win seasons in his 5 years at Stanford. Despite losing some talent on both sides of the ball, we know that the Cardinal defense will produce just as they do every year. The question comes in at the quarterback position with Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns. One of those guys has to step up for this offense to be on a National Championship level. Chryst appears to be the guy that will get the early nod but Burns will be close behind if things go south. Having Heisman Trophy Finalist Christian McCaffrey back will definitely help but this offense needs to come together quick. If that happens, then the rest of the Pac-12 does not look too intimidating.
#8– LSU Tigers +900 (Preseason Rank - #6)
LSU returns 18 starters which is tied with Kent State, Louisville, and Wyoming for the most in the nation. However, that number is not as high as it seems. The Tigers have lost 3 starters already since practices began to injuries. All 3 of those injuries have come on the defensive side of the ball. The good news is that this is still a veteran team and likely as physical as any team in the country. There is plenty of talent that will step into those holes on defense. On offense, the Tigers feature the best (yes the best) tailback in college football in Leonard Fournette. This team has the makings to be great. The problem is that a tough SEC West schedule along an opener against Wisconsin does not allow much room for error.
#7 – Washington Huskies +4500 (Preseason Rank - #18)
There is going to be a lot of disparity in the Pac-12 this year considering there are not any true front runners that appear poised to storm through the conference. Oregon has a new quarterback and still has a ton of defensive issues. Stanford should be good but has some question marks as well. The rest of the Pac-12 is pretty much a guessing game. However, Washington is in position for a breakout season. The conference’s best defense returns 7 starters and could be even better in 2016. The offense returns 8 starters including quarterback Jake Browning (2,955 yards, 16 TDs, 10 INTs) and running back Myles Gaskins (1,302 yards, 14 TDs). Where most teams in the Pac-12 have question marks this year, Washington appears to have the answers. Back to back games with Stanford and Oregon at the midway part of the season will determine how far this Huskies team can go!
#6– Tennessee Volunteers +1450 (Preseason Rank - #10)
There has been an unprecedented amount of buzz coming out of Knoxville this summer. While I am not one that usually falls victim of the preseason hype, I do think this Tennessee team is worthy of the attention. The Volunteers closed out the season with 6 straight wins in 2015 and despite 4 losses they never lost a game by more than 1 score. They took Alabama to the brink and this year they will be even better as they return 17 starters including all of their key playmakers. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, running back Jalen Herd, and almost every member of the 2015 offense will be back. On defense, the Volunteers will be strong where you need to be in the SEC by way of the trenches. Possibly the best news for Tennessee hopes for a return to prominence includes the fact that the SEC East remains down. As of now, the Volunteers will only be underdogs in one game this season against Alabama. Either way this team has the talent to go head to head with any team in the country.
#5– Ohio State Buckeyes +1075 (Preseason Rank - #5)
A lot of preseason ballots have Ohio State projected as one of the top teams to make a run at this year’s National Championship. However, I am still a bit weary of that prediction. The Buckeyes return the least amount of starters than any team in college football with just 6 returners. Obviously, Ohio State’s talent level that is ready to fill those holes is among some of the best in college football if you study recruiting rankings each year. Still, I am not confident quarterback J.T Barrett is going to be able to overcome the amount of game time inexperience. The Buckeyes are still hands down among the most talented in the Big Ten but I question if that will be enough?
#4– Michigan Wolverines +1300 (Preseason Rank - #8)
The Wolverines are another Big Ten team that is heavy in the talent department. Coach Jim Harbaugh’s first season in Ann Arbor was marked by a 10-3 campaign that exceeded expectations. Now this team has the talent and the coaching support to get to the next level. Defensively, the Wolverines will be one of the best groups in the country. They were ranked #4 in total defense last season giving up just 280 total yards per game and they have the potential to be even better. There is some legitimate concerns at the battle behind center between John O’Korn and Wilton Speight. Harbaugh needs for one of those guys to step up and just be decent. If that happens, a favorable schedules gives the Wolverines a lot of potential.
#3– Alabama Crimson Tide +665 (Preseason Rank - #1)
As much as everybody hates reading about Alabama, I sometimes get tired of writing about them. However, give credit where credit is due. The Crimson Tide keep beating everyone on the field and keep beating everyone off the field in recruiting which is a deadly combination. The team returns about half of their starters from last year’s National Championship team along with a host of big time recruits. Once again they will be the best team in the trenches on both sides of the ball and sophomore running back Bo Scarbrough looks to be the next big time Alabama running back. My concerns with this team include the fact that there is not any know playmakers. Talent wise they will be as good as anyone but it takes players to standout to get a team to the championship level. The schedule is daunting with USC in the opener and the Crimson Tide’s 3 toughest games are all on the road with Ole Miss, LSU, and Tennessee. The Crimson Tide has rebounded from early losses the last two years to get back to the College Football Playoffs. This year the schedule presents bigger challenges and the SEC Championship Game itself promises to no longer be a cakewalk as well.
#2– Clemson Tigers +725 (Preseason Rank - #2)
Clemson’s 2015 emergence as one of the best teams in the country was impressive to watch. They swept through the ACC with ease, pounced Oklahoma in the College Football Semifinal and nearly beat Alabama in the Championship Game. The Tigers success came at the heels of one of the best offenses in the country and one of the best players in the country in quarterback Deshaun Watson. The 2015 Heisman Trophy Finalist is undoubtedly one of the biggest playmakers in college football and is a big reason that Clemson has reached the championship level. The return of Watson and nearly the entire offense is going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses. The big challenge will be replacing the talent on the defensive side of the ball. Despite the talent from the 2015 group, the Tigers still gave up a lot of points at the end of the year and ultimately cost them the National Championship. If you look through the National Champions list over the last decade, every one of those teams were backed by strong defenses. Offensively, Clemson will be as tough to beat as any team in the country. However, I think the defense will be their Achilles Heel.
#1– Oklahoma Sooners +1200 (Preseason Rank - #3)
My #1 pick to take home the National Championship this year is the Oklahoma Sooners. I think this is one of the most complete teams in the country on both sides of the ball. The offense is going to be explosive and the defense is going to be rock solid. The Sooners get a big test with Ohio State in early September but honestly that is a good time to get the Buckeyes as they have a lot of inexperienced players on their roster. While Ohio State should take some time to gel, the Sooners should be good out of the gates. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine are going to provide a lot of firepower for the Sooners offense. Both players are on the Heisman Hopeful list and this offense has the ingredients to post big numbers. The Sooners have some big time recruits that will step into holes on the defensive side of the ball. If things go as expected, this group is going to be very difficult to beat. If they get past Ohio State early, the rest of the schedule is very favorable. More importantly they will be a lot tougher to beat in the playoffs this time around!
Jay’s Pick to win the 2016 College Football National Championship: Oklahoma Sooners +1200. Where are you betting on games this year? Did you know that you could be laying -105 odds instad of -110? Making the switch to reduced odds will save you a boatload of cash! Be wise and get rolling with 5Dimes Sportsbook TODAY!
Editor's Picks - Each weekend our very own in-house All-American Editor makes his NCAA point spread predictions in an attempt to force fumbles, sack and intercept your bookie!
Expert College Football Picks - Free premium college foots plays against the spread from expert handicappers from around the web from week 1 through the National Championship.
Underdog of the Week Pick - We sort through it all and find out which University is getting "too many points" this week. If there was a Heisman Trophy for picking underdogs, we'd be a frontrunner. Expect a 57%+ winning percentage with these picks as we've got a keen ear for loud barking dogs.
Line Movement - NCAA football lines open early in the week and often times move up or down based on wagering activity, injuries to key players and weather. We decipher whether it's square or wiseguy action and predict the point spread winner based on value.
College Football Consensus Picks - We assess the public perception each week and let them pick the winners for us as we fade their selections which provides us with many trips into our bookies endzone.
Computer Picks - We enter them into the computer and the machine makes it's picks. This is a great guide especially when betting totals! These are available after the first few weeks of the season.
Trends - Despite what you have been told or read on tout sites, the trend ain't your friend. We however turn the tables and fade the almighty trend for what should be some great profits over time.
2016/2017 College Football Predictions - Bob gives his picks to win each major conference. At the end, he gives his prediction on who thinks will win the 2017 National Championship game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9th.
2016 Heisman Trophy Predictions - DeShaun Watson is favored to win the award at +575 with Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey (+575) and LSU RB Leonard Fournette (+850) close behind. However, the real value may be with Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman at 40/1.
2016-2017 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football experts have the National Championship as a 4-horse race which includes Bama at +665, Clemson +725, LSU +900 and Ohio State +1075. Teams on teh bubble include Oklahoma at +1200, Michigan +1300 and FSU at +1350. Jay gives his pick to win it all along with how his top 15 rankings for season's end. Get your bets in early before your favorite team's line drops!
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Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - Clemson QB DeShaun Watson will have the ball in his hands a TON and he plays on a good team so he's the obvious favorite to win the award this year at +575. Leonard Fournette at 8.5/1 looks like he could play in the NFL right now. Bama WR Calvin Ridley brings experience and big-time playmaking ability and will be featured on National TV a bunch, giving him a legit darkhorse shot. It's unlikely to happen as offensive players usually win this honor, but Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers (75-1) and Texas AM DT Myles Garret (110-1) could be in the running as well. It might be a good year to bet more than one prediction!
Odds to Win the 2016 College Football Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored to be repeat winners of the National Championship this year at +700 followed by Ohio St. at +750 and Clemson at +800. Things drop off a bit with the Michigan Wolverines, LSU Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners all coming in at +1200. Check out your favorite school's odds here!