2016 College Football Preview
College football is almost here, we are only about a month away now, and I don’t know about you but I am definitely ready for the new season. In 2015, Alabama defeated Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to take home the title.
This season there will be plenty of battles for conference championships and for spots in the College Football Playoff, and the competition will be fierce, so without further ado, here are my picks for the 2016 college football season.
Last year Michigan State took down Iowa for the Big Ten title to advance to the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten will be deep as usual, and I expect Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan to battle to the end for the Big Ten title.
While Ohio State fell short last season, they return starting quarterback JT Barrett, who I think will compete for the Heisman Trophy, and lead the Buckeyes back to Big Ten glory. Ohio State has a relatively easy schedule, and while I expect them to lose at Oklahoma early in the season, I think they will bounce back very well, defeat Michigan at home, and make another appearance in the Big Ten title game.
The Iowa Hawkeyes made a surprise appearance in the Big Ten title game last season, and turned that into an appearance in the Rose Bowl. I expect the Hawkeyes to turn that into more success this season, they return their starting QB CJ Beathard, and have one of the best defensive players in Desmond King. Their schedule is also relatively easy, they get Michigan at home in one of their only tough games.
I expect Michigan to be much improved from last season, but I think they are one year away.
Big Ten Championship Game: Iowa vs Ohio State
Big Ten Champion: Ohio State
The ACC is probably the weakest top to bottom of the power five conferences, but there is certainly no shortage of talent, after all they did have a participant in the 2015 national title game.
The Clemson Tigers return as the defending ACC champions after defeating North Carolina in the ACC title game. They return superstars like QB Deshaun Watson and Linebacker Ben Boulware. The Tigers are loaded as usual, they have a pretty easy schedule, they do have to go to Auburn for the season opener and play at Florida State, but I expect them to win both those games and to return to the ACC title game.
While the ACC Atlantic will likely have Clemson and Florida State battling it out at the top, the ACC Coastal is much more up for grabs. The North Carolina Tar Heels took the Coastal last season, and I expect them to compete for another title this season, but I think another much improved team to take the Coastal this season. The Pittsburgh Panthers went 6-2 in conference last season, and they return 7 starters on both sides of the ball. I expect them to improve on that win total this season and make an appearance in the ACC title game. Unfortunately once they get there, I expect them to be no match for Deshaun Watson and the Tigers.
ACC Championship Game: Clemson vs Pittsburgh
ACC Champion: Clemson
Oklahoma took the Big 12 title in 2015, going 8-1 in conference. They return star quarterback Baker Mayfield and while they have a tough early schedule, I expect a loaded Oklahoma squad to win the Big 12 once again. They must face both Ohio State and Texas early, but I expect them to win both games on the strength of their quarterback play. TCU and Baylor will be solid once again, but neither of them are on the Sooners level. Expect the Sooners to return to the College Football Playoff this season.
Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma
This is the start of my upset picks. Stanford won the Rose Bowl in 2015 and return star running back Christian McCaffrey, they will be a solid team once again, but I do not think they will win the Pac 12.
The Utah Utes have improved three seasons running now, they took down Oregon and Michigan in 2015, and are set to challenge for a Pac 12 title again this season. The Utes have a solid front 7, a JUCO four star transfer at QB, a stable coaching staff, they will compete for a title once again. That’s right, Utah will win the Pac 12.
Pac 12 Championship Game: Utah vs Stanford
Pac 12 Champion: Utah
We’ve arrived at the deepest, best top to bottom conference in the country. Last year, Alabama won the SEC en route to winning the national title. But I expect them to struggle a bit this season. This is Nick Saban’s ninth year as head coach of the Crimson Tide, but has his team started to unravel? Many players have had legal troubles this offseason and have been suspended, and they have a brutal schedule. They play many of their difficult games on the road, they play at Ole Miss, at Tennessee, at Arkansas, at LSU. They do host Texas A&M and play USC in Dallas, but I think their schedule will prove too tough. I do expect Alabama to win the SEC West, but I expect them to fall short of another SEC title.
The SEC East is loaded is usual, Florida and Georgia are both improved, but I’ve picked a team that I don’t think anyone expects to win the SEC. The Tennessee Vols are much improved, they return starting quarterback Josh Dobbs, get to play Alabama, a team they gave fits last season, at home and have a rabid fan base that will lead the team to victory.
SEC Championship Game: Tennessee vs Alabama
SEC Champion: Tennessee
I’ve now picked my champions for each of the power five conferences in 2016, now it’s time to pick the participants in the third College Football Playoff.
- Ohio State
National Semifinal: Clemson vs Tennessee
National Semifinal: Ohio St vs Oklahoma
National Championship Game: Clemson vs Ohio State
National Champion: Clemson
Well there you have it, Clemson gets revenge for last season, Deshaun Watson wins the Heisman, and Dabo Swinney cements his legacy at Clemson with a national title.