2017/2018 College Football Championship Predictions
2017 College Football Predictions As I see it
by Jay, College Gridiron Handicapper, Predictem.com
It is that time of year again where most folks are enjoying the heart of summer. I have personally been enjoying the bulk of my summer with many poolside beverages. However, I know this summer heat will soon fade away because we are just weeks away from the start of the 2017/2018 College Football season. The official start to the season will kick off on Saturday, August 26th with a handful of games which means we are literally less than 8 weeks away from the start of the season. As usual, I want to take this time to provide my extremely early predictions surrounding the teams I believe could contend for the National Championship.
Last year, I picked the Oklahoma Sooners at 12-1 to win it all. My prediction was thwarted after the Sooners opened the year by losing 2 of their first 3 games. The Sooners did win their final 10 games including a convincing victory over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to close out the year as one of the hottest teams in the country. However, they still could not overcome the rough start which kept them out of the playoff picture. Instead the team I had picked at the number 2 spot, by way of the Clemson Tigers, pulled out a thrilling victory over Alabama in the National Championship Game in what turned out to be an encore matchup from the 2016 National Championship Game. Therefore, I feel like my predictions were very close to being spot on and I believe I can better my results this time around. With that being said, here is my list of the Top 15 teams that should be on everyones radar for the 2018 National Championship!
Current Betting Odds: (Bet these odds using your credit card and get a GIANT 50% bonus at Bovada Sportsbook)
|NCAA National Champion||Odds|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||+270|
|Florida State Seminoles||+850|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||+875|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||+2000|
|Oklahoma State Cowboys||+4800|
|Kansas State Wildcats||+7000|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||+8000|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||+8500|
|TCU Horned Frogs||+11500|
|Washington State Cougars||+12500|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||+15000|
|NC State Wolfpack||+20000|
|Texas A&M Aggies||+20000|
|South Florida Bulls||+40000|
|Arizona State Sun Devils||+50000|
|Michigan State Spartans||+50000|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||+50000|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||+50000|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||+50000|
|Boise State Broncos||+60000|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||+60000|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||+60000|
|Duke Blue Devils||+75000|
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||+100000|
|Boston College Eagles||+150000|
|Iowa State Cyclones||+150000|
|Oregon State Beavers||+150000|
|San Diego State Aztecs||+200000|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||+200000|
|Colorado State Rams||+250000|
|California Golden Bears||+300000|
|Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||+300000|
|Central Florida Golden Knights||+500000|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||+500000|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||+500000|
|Western Michigan Broncos||+500000|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||+600000|
|Appalachian State Mountaineers||+750000|
|Arkansas State Red Wolves||+750000|
|Army Black Knights||+750000|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||+750000|
|Miami Ohio RedHawks||+750000|
#15 Texas Longhorns +4500
For the basis of hope to everyone in the state of Texas, I am going to put the Longhorns at #15. I still think first year Head Coach Tom Herman has plenty of work to do in order to get this Longhorns program stable. However, Herman worked wonders during his short tenure at Houston and knows how to get the best of his personnel which will be important early at Texas. Outside of running back DOnta Foreman, most of the offense returns including sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele. The defense will be another project for Herman that needs immediate attention. If immediate improvements are found, Texas could surprise some people in Hermans debut.
#14 Louisville Cardinals +5000
The beginning of the 2016 season was captured by highlight after highlight of quarterback Lamar Jackson and a Louisville team that exploded into the national spotlight. At one point in the year, Louisville appeared destined for a college football playoff appearance. Unfortunately, two straight losses to close out the regular season dissipated those hopes. However, the Cardinals should not be forgotten. The Cardinals defense should be improved under new coordinator Peter Sirmon and it is scary to think that Jackson could be even more dangerous this year as a developed passer. There were many losses on the offensive side of the ball so Coach Bobby Petino needs some playmakers to fill the void. If that happens, this Louisville team can still be very dangerous.
#13 Georgia Bulldogs +5000
The Bulldogs had a somewhat depressing debut in Kirby Smarts first season going 8-5 in 2016. However, they lost several games by a few points and were much better than their record suggests. This year Georgia has a lot of things to be excited about. It is Smarts 2nd season, the defense returns almost everyone, quarterback Jacob Eason is back, and the SECs best running back tandem returns in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. This team will have plenty of emerging talent and they are my clear favorite to win the SEC East.
#12 Oklahoma State Cowboys +4800
If Oklahoma takes a step back with the loss of Bob Stoops, their instate rival in Oklahoma State could be best poised to take over the Big 12. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is an elite thrower on the heels of a 4,091 yard 2016 campaign that featured 28 touchdowns and just 4 picks. Star WR James Washington returns as the big threat on the outside and also prized tailback Justice Hill returns to give this offense plenty of firepower. Mike Gundy has not had much problem with the offense in recent years but defensively questions still loom. If the defense can make some steps forward, the Cowboys will contend for the Big 12 title.
#11 Michigan Wolverines +2500
Jim Harbaugh has done a great job at Michigan but this 2017 season may be his biggest challenge yet. The Wolverines return just 5 starters which is the least amount of returners from any team in the FBS. The only good news is one of those starters is quarterback Wilton Speight who had a successful freshman campaign. Even with several great recruiting classes over the last two years, Harbaugh is going to have a tough time getting these players up to speed. From a pure talent standpoint, Michigan will be a top 10 team anchored by tremendous defensive potential. However, the schedule is unforgiving starting immediately with Florida, then road trips to Penn State and Wisconsin, before ending the year with the Buckeyes.
#10 Auburn Tigers +3200
There is a lot of excitement building on the Plains this offseason. Coach Gus Malzahn established one
of the nations best rushing offenses in 2016 behind Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. As a team, Auburn racked up 271 yards on the ground in dominating fashion last season. Both Pettway and Johnson return along with a talented defense to give this team a solid foundation for success. However, the real hype surrounds Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham who gives the offense a big time passing threat which has been missing in Auburns arsenal under Malzahn. If Stidham can deliver on expectations, Auburn is one of the only teams in the SEC that could contend with Alabama.
#9 Wisconsin Badgers +4000
The Badgers fell to Penn State in the Big Ten Championship Game one year ago 38-31 but they should challenge for the crown yet again in 2017. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook returns along with 14 additional starters. After 10 wins in Chrysts first year followed by 11 wins in 2016, the Badgers have the talent to improve yet again. Perhaps the most convincing factor playing in the Badgers favor is the schedule where they get one of the easiest Big Ten schedules. A couple of big wins (Nebraska/Michigan) could catapult the Badgers right into the thick of a championship hunt.
#8 Oklahoma Sooners +1300
I was going to originally have the Sooners in my top 5 before last months sudden announcement that longtime coach Bob Stoops would be retiring. Before the announcement, the Sooners look poised for a 3rd consecutive Big 12 Championship behind quarterback Baker Mayfield and an extremely explosive offense. However, my expectations have to be downgraded with Stoops no longer calling the shots. Lincoln Riley is probably going to be a great coach but what is the immediate impact for Stoops stepping down? The offense will have a ton of firepower but Rileys head coaching debut will be greeted with an early trip to Ohio State on September 9th.
#7 Florida State Seminoles +850
The Florida State Seminoles are receiving a lot of hype yet again this summer which is typical this time of the year. I understand the reasons for the hype with quarterback Deondre Francois returning after a successful freshman campaign (3,350 yards, 20TDs). However, the loss of Dalvin Cook is going to hurt immensely. There were times last year when Cook took over the offense. I am not sure they have a player that can do this on this offense. I am not a big believer in Francois either. The good news for Seminoles fans is that their defense should be nasty which means they will compete. I am just not on the hype bandwagon.
#6 Washington Huskies +2800
The Washington Huskies breakout season in 2016 were among the big surprises to college football. Under Chris Petersen, the Huskies earned a trip to the College Football playoff which seemed unfathomable heading into the 2016 campaign. The majority of the 2016 success was a product of an emerging offense that averaged an enormous 44 points per game throughout the regular season.
Quarterback Jake Browning returns as one of the best pure passers in the nation after throwing for 3,430 yards with 43 scores and just 9 picks one season ago. Additionally, Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman return after combining for more than 2,000 yards and 17 scores last year for solid support in the run game. While I have all the faith in the Huskies offense, their championship potential will rely on the defense who has some serious holes to fill after losing the majority of their secondary from 2016. I think this defense could take a step back in 2017 but the offense will be as strong as ever.
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#5 Clemson Tigers +3500
There are a lot people that are writing off the Clemson Tigers this year. The losses of DeShaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, Mike Williams, and Artavis Scott would send any team back into the rebuilding stages. However, I think Clemson has the tools in place to remain in the National Championship hunt. Lets not forget that Clemsons defense was just as potent as their offense at times during the 2016 season. See the Ohio State semi-final for reference. This years defense has the makings to be among the best in college football behind one of the best defensive minds in the game in Brent Venables. The offense obviously has holes to fill. The quarterback position will come down to a battle between Kelly Bryant and Hunter Johnson who both have tremendous potential. I actually believe the lack of running threat may be the biggest concern but Clemson should at least continue to hold supremacy in the ACC.
#4 USC Trojans +825
Over the 2nd half of the 2016 season, USC was among the hottest teams in the country along with Oklahoma. A big reason for the Trojans reemergence in the limelight was a result of freshman Sam Darnold who threw for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns. I would expect Darnold to progress in year 2 and if that happens the Trojans will be very tough to beat. Running back Ronald Jones will help the firepower on offense. There are legitimate concerns along the offensive front which will be tested early with back to back games against Stanford and Texas in September. If the Trojans survive that stretch, they are built to get better as the year progresses.
#3 Penn State Nittany Lions +2000
I have been a fan of James Franklin since he turned Vanderbilt into a relevant program in the SEC. Now Franklin is starting to turn Penn State back into the powerhouse it once was many years ago. The Nittany Lions won the 2016 Big Ten Championship and just narrowly missed out on a playoff opportunity. If you thought last years success was a one hit wonder, think again. Penn State is perhaps poised for an even bigger season behind a ton of returning talent. The offense should be great behind quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley following a 2016 campaign that average 37 points per game. Offensively, this unit could be even better. The defense suffered a loss in the spring when John Reid went down for the year but overall the defense will still be stout. The Big Ten will be a jungle this year but Penn State will be suited for survival!
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes +875
In my opinion, the Buckeyes were the biggest success story in 2016. No disrespect to Clemson, Washington, Penn State, or any others but Ohio State returned just 6 starters heading into the 2016 campaign. Yet Urban Meyers group still managed to pull out a trip to the College Football Playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years. This year the talent returns in bundles headlined by senior J.T. Barrett and new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson who may just take this team to the next level. The Buckeyes will be tested early with a September 9th showdown with Oklahoma. The schedule gets more difficult during this 2nd half of the season but an early win over Oklahoma will set the Buckeyes up for another playoff run. If they get in, they have the talent to compete with anyone!
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide +270
I know this is possibly the most anti-climactic prediction ever but in my Conor McGregor voice I apologize to absolutely nobody. Lets face it, Alabama is absolutely loaded. They just sent 10 players total and a record tying 4 players in the first round to the NFL Draft in May. However, they are still as loaded with talent as ever. Case in point, Jalen Hurts will be the first returning Alabama quarterback since AJ McCarron in 2013. Everyone saw Hurts potential last year despite some occasional accuracy issues with his arm. In year 2, we should see better delivery from the Alabama sophomore quarterback and he will remain extremely dangerous running the football. Not to mention, WR Calvin Ridley has the makings to be the next great receiver to aid a somewhat inexperienced receiving corps. If that is not enough, Alabamas bread and butter has always been their rushing attack where they will return both Bo Scarbrough and 1,000 yard back Damien Harris. On defense, the team has some holes to fill upfront but they have done so successfully for the last several years because nobody recruits better than Nick Saban. In the modern era of College Football, never has a team made 3 straight National Championship Game appearances. However, I expect that to change this year!
Jays pick to win the 2017 College Football National Championship:
My fundamental pick is Alabama +270. I realize they are overwhelming favorites and not the greatest pick from an odds standpoint. If you want to take a better chance with the odds, consider Ohio State +875! Bet the first few weeks of your college football picks for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 50% bonus up to $1000 FREE at MyBookie!