College football preview: Conference champs, impact transfers, predictions

  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN

    • Senior WriterAug 21, 2023, 07:00 AM ET Close Senior college football author Author of seven books on college football
    • Graduate of the University of Georgia

Just when it looked like college football was settling down for the final season of a four-team playoff, conference adjustment shocked the sport as soon as again.UCLA and USC

are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big 10 in 2024, in addition to Oregon and Washington. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are leaping to the Huge 12, leaving the Pac-12 on life support.What else has altered? Matt Rhule is training Nebraska, Deion Sanders is at Colorado, Hugh Freeze is back at Auburn and Luke Fickell will be on Wisconsin’s sideline.What hasn’t changed? Two-time protecting nationwide champion

Georgia is still the team to beat in the FBS. The Bulldogs, 29-1 the past two seasons, will attempt to join Minnesota (1934 to 1936) as the sport’s only groups to win three nationwide titles in a row.Before the 2023 season starts with seven games Saturday, here are predictions heading into the year.. ACC

play 1:39 Is Clemsonexcellent

enough to

return to the College Football Playoff?Dusty Dvoracek and Takeo Spikes break down Clemson’s lineup for the upcoming season.Champion: Florida State Offensive player of the year: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina Protective player of the year: Jared Verse, DE, Florida State Freshman of the year: Peter Woods, DL, Clemson Impact transfer: Brennan Armstrong, QB, NC State
Return player of the year: Mike Hollins, RB, Virginia Coach of the year: Mike Norvell, Florida State
Coach on the hot seat: Dino Babers, Syracuse Coordinator who will be a head coach: Garrett Riley, offensive organizer, Clemson Nonconference game of the year:
Florida State vs. LSU, Sept. 3(7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)Conference game of the year: Florida State at Clemson, Sept. 23 3 forecasts for the ACC Forecasted finish: ACC OVERALL CONF.Clemson 11-1 8-0 Florida State 10-2 7-1 North Carolina 9-3 5-3 Pittsburgh 8-4 5-3 Louisville 8-4 5-3 Miami 8-4 5-3 NC State 7-5 4-4 Wake Forest

7-5 4-4 Syracuse 7-5 3-5

Duke 6-6 3-5 Boston College 5-7 2-6 Virginia Tech 5-7 2-6 Georgia Tech
4-8 2-6 Virginia 3-9 1-7 Clemson beats Florida State(however

not twice): With quarterback Jordan Travis returning, in addition to another boatload of crucial transfers,
Florida State believes it lastly has sufficient firepower to topple Clemson. But the Seminoles have

to dip into Death Valley on Sept. 23. The

Tigers should be better on offense with Riley calling

plays and quarterback Cade
Klubnik getting a full offseason
of operate in the offense . The Tigers are once again going to

be tough to obstruct, especially if Woods is as good as promoted. Clemson will win the regular-season conference, however Florida State will win the rematch– and end an eight-game losing streak to the Tigers– in the ACC national championship. The SEC still won’t call with an invite to join.Maye wins the Heisman: In his first season as a starter, Maye threw for 4,321 yards with 38 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, USC’s Caleb Williams, and Maye were the only FBS quarterbacks to throw for 4,000 backyards with at least 35 goals and less than 10 interceptions last season. Chip Lindsey takes over the offensive playcalling after planner Phil Longo left for Wisconsin. Maye’s top receivers from last season, Josh Downs and Antoine Green, left for the NFL. Including previous Georgia Tech receiver Nate McCollum will assist enormously, and the Tar Heels are still intending to get Kent State transfer Devontez Walker eligible.

The Tar Heels have to do a much better job securing Maye after he was sacked 40 times last season.Hollins has a 100-yard game: There won’t be a better moment in the sport this season than when Virginia running back Mike Hollins runs for more than 100 lawns and ratings a number of touchdowns against James Madison on Sept. 9. Hollins endured a shooting last November that killed teammates Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry. Hollins was shot in the abdomen and was hospitalized for a week. Extremely, he went back to practice in the spring. His return will be among the most inspirational stories of the season.Big 10 play 0:59 Sam Acho: Michigan has gone beyond Ohio State in Big 10 Sam Acho discusses why Michigan has actually gone beyond Ohio State as the very best group in the Big Ten.Champion: Michigan Offensive player of the year: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State Defensive player of the year: Jer ‘Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois Freshman of the year: Bai Jobe, DE, Michigan State Effect transfer: Tanner Mordecai, QB, Wisconsin( from SMU) Comeback player of the year: TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State Coach of the year: Luke Fickell, Wisconsin Coach on the hot seat: Tom Allen, Indiana Coordinator who will be a head coach: Jesse Minter, protective planner, Michigan Nonconference game of the year: Ohio State at Notre Dame, Sept. 23 Conference game of theyear

: Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 25 3 forecasts for the Big 10

Predicted finish: Big 10 EAST OVERALL CONF.Michigan 11-1 8-1 Ohio State 11-1 8-1 Penn State 10-2 7-2 Maryland

7-5 4-5 Michigan
State 5-7 3-6 Rutgers 4-8 2-7 Indiana 3-9 1-8 WEST OVERALL CONF.Wisconsin 9-3 6-3 Iowa 9-3 6-3 Minnesota 8-4 6-3 Illinois 7-5 5-4 Nebraska 7-5 4-5 Purdue 4-8 3-6 Northwestern 2-10 0-9 Michigan beats Ohio State again: The Wolverines think this season may be their finest chance at winning their first championship game given that 1997. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is entering his 2nd season as the undeniable starter. Tailback Blake Corum is back after running for 1,463 lawns and 18 goals last season. So is Donovan Edwards, who ran for 991 lawns with seven ratings in 2022. Stanford transfers Myles Hinton and Drake Nugent and Arizona State transfer LaDarius Henderson will provide experience and depth in advance. The Wolverines will fall at Penn State on Nov. 11,

but they’ll rebound to beat Ohio State, once again, at the Big

House on Nov. 25. 2 Huge 10 teams make the

CFP: Ohio State fans will be steaming mad about a third straight loss to Michigan in The Game, which will be the Wolverines’longest winning streak given that taking three in

a row from 1995 to 1997. The Buckeyes will get over it when they are among two Huge 10 teams to make the four-team playoff. The Buckeyes have to change quarterback C.J. Stroud; coach Ryan Day still hasn’t selected between sophomore Devin Brown or junior Kyle McCord. No matter who starts under center, the offense is going to be packed with Harrison and receiver Emeka Egbuka and tailbacks Miyan Williams and Henderson coming back . The offending line will have to mature quick, and the defense will need to play much better than a year

earlier. With roadway wins at Notre Dame and Wisconsin and a house win over Penn State, the Buckeyes will have enough meat on their résumé to make the CFP even after losing to Michigan.Wisconsin wins the West: It’s most likely a toss-up between Wisconsin and Iowa, but I’ll choose the group that will not have to attempt to win every game by holding challengers to 10 points or fewer. The Badgers are going to look totally different on offense under first-year coach Luke Fickell. Mordecai tossed for 3,524 lawns with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions at SMU last season. New offensive planner Phil Longo is implementing his variation of the Air Raid offense. Leading receivers Chimere Dike and Skyler Bell are back, as is tailback Braelon Allen, who ran

for 1,242 lawns last season. If the Badgers can make it through an early journey to Washington State, they should be 5-0 heading into an Oct. 14 home game against Iowa.Big 12 play 0:50 Sarkisian: Longhorns will ’em brace the hate ‘this season Texas coach Steve Sarkisian talks to the Longhorns ‘last year in the Huge 12 and how that will impact the upcoming season.Champion: Texas Offensive player of the year: Jalon Daniels, QB Kansas Protective player of the year: Jaylan Ford, POUND, Texas Freshman of the year: Anthony Hill, POUND, Texas Impact transfer: Dasan McCullough, LB, Oklahoma Comeback player of the year: WR AD Mitchell, Texas(from Georgia)Coach of the year: Joey McGuire, Texas Tech Coach on the hot seat: Neal Brown, West Virginia Planner who will be a head coach: Jeff Grimes, offensive planner, Baylor Nonconference game of the year: Texas at Alabama, Sept. 9( 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App) Conference game of the year: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Nov. 4

3 predictions for the Big 12 Anticipated finish: Big 12 OVERALL CONF.Texas 10-2 8-1 Texas Tech 9-3 7-2 Kansas State 9-3 6-3 Oklahoma 9-3 6-3 TCU 8-4 5-4 UCF 7-5 5-4 Oklahoma State 7-5 4-5 Baylor 7-5 4-5 Kansas 6-6 4-5 BYU 6-6 4-5 Iowa State 5-7 3-6 Houston 5-7 3-6 Cincinnati 4-8 2-7 West Virginia 4-8 2-7 Texas is back: No, truly. The Longhorns have all the pieces in place to win 10 games or more. As long as they keep it between the lines off the field, they ought to have an opportunity to win their very first Huge 12 title since 2009 in their final season in the league. If you believe coach Steve Sarkisian, quarterback Quinn Ewers put in the work this summer to enhance and has actually grown. Mitchell, who had 2 of the most significant catches in Georgia history, is a special athlete and needs to take pressure off Xavier Worthy.

All 5 starters are back on what must be a great offensive line. If a number of transfer portal additions– security

Jalen Catalon from Arkansas and cornerback Gavin Holmes from Wake

Forest– step up in the secondary and Hill is as great as marketed, the defense should be great enough.The Pokes win the last Bedlam game: With Oklahoma joining Texas in the SEC in 2024, the long-running Chaos Series in between OU and rival Oklahoma State will go by the wayside like too many other terrific rivalry games that have been the victims of conference realignment. The Sooners and Cowboys have actually played 117 times because 1904. OU has a massive 91-19-7 advantage in the series. The Pokes will get the last laugh in Stillwater with a 31-28 triumph on Nov. 4. Oklahoma bounces back: There’s no way a Brent Venables-coached defense can be that bad again. In the previous Clemson defensive organizer’s first season as OU’s coach, the Sooners ranked 122nd out of 131 FBS groups in overall defense, permitting 461 lawns and 30 points. They were ninth in the Big

12 in run defense(187.5 lawns )and dead last versus the pass(273.5 yards)

. With the addition of McCullough and

5 other protective linemen out of the transfer website, Venables should have sufficient bodies in advance to play defense the method he’s used to.
With quarterback Dillon Gabriel returning, OU won’t need to worry about scoring.Pac-12 play 2:23
Ranking the leading QBs in the
Pac-12 Dirty Dvoracek and Takeo Spikes break down the pecking order of Pac-12 quarterbacks, consisting of Oregon ‘s Bo Nix.Champion: USC
Offensive player of the year : Caleb Williams, QB , USC Protective player of the year: Laiatu Latu
, POUND, UCLA Freshman of the year: Dante Moore

, QB, UCLA Effect transfer: Dorian Vocalist, WR, USC(from Arizona) Comeback player of the year: Brant Kuithe, TE, Utah Coach of the year: Kalen DeBoer, Washington Coach on the hot seat: Justin Wilcox, California Coordinator who will be a head coach: Ryan Grubb, offending organizer, Washington Nonconference game of the year: USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 14 Conference game of the year: Washington at USC, Nov. 4 3 predictions for the Pac-12 Anticipated surface: Pac-12 OVERALL CONF.USC 11-1 8-1 Washington 10-2 7-2 Utah 10-2 7-2 Oregon 9-3 6-3 Oregon State 8-4 5-4 UCLA 8-4 5-4 Washington State 6-6 4-5 Arizona 6-6 4-5 California 5-7 3-6 Arizona State 5-7 3-6 Colorado 3-9 2-7 Stanford 2-10 0-9 A Pac-12 team makes the CFP: In what will be the last season of the Pac-12 as we understand it, one of its groups will lastly make the CFP. A Pac-12 group hasn’t made the four-team playoff given that Washington was up to Alabama in a semifinal in 2016. Even even worse, three of the past 4 Pac-12 champs in full seasons (not counting the COVID-delayed 2020 slate) had 3 losses or more. With former Oklahoma State linebacker Mason Cobb and other key transfers shoring up the defense, USC will lastly figure out how to decrease challengers and win the Pac-12. As far as a Lincoln Riley-coached group winning a CFP semifinal, well, let’s talk about that later.Two Pac-12 quarterbacks in New york city for the Heisman Prize presentation: Williams, who returns to USC for his final season in college football, will try to become just the 2nd player to win the Heisman Prize two times. Previous Ohio State running back Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner, in 1974 and 1975. Williams could be even better this year with previous Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury tutoring him. As great as Williams was last season, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. led the Pac-12 in passing lawns( 4,641 )and had 31 touchdowns and 8 picks. Both will be Heisman Prize finalists.Coach Prime’s very first season at Colorado isn’t pretty: There has actually been lots of hype and debate surrounding Deion

Sanders’move from FCS program Jackson State to Colorado in

the offseason. The Buffaloes are going to be one of the most engaging teams in the nation, however they’re not going to be great. Colorado went 1-11 last season, 1-8 in the Pac-12. Sanders and his staff attempted to trade out beans and franks ingredients for beef Wellington overnight, however it won’t make much of a distinction. It wouldn’t be unexpected to see TCU hang half-a-hundred on the Buffaloes in the Sept. 2 opener.SEC play 1:28 Can Carson Beck lead Georgia to an unbeaten
season?Paul Finebaum discusses Carson Beck’s development as the frontrunner at QB for Georgia and what it implies for its chances to win out.Champion: Georgia Offending player of the year: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia Defensive player of the year: Harold Perkins Jr., LB, LSU Freshman of the year: Caleb Downs, S, Alabama Impact transfer

: Devin Leary, QB, Kentucky(from NC State)Resurgence player of the year: Maason Smith, DL, LSU Coach of the year: Brian Kelly, LSU
Coach on the hot seat : Jimbo Fisher,

Texas A&M Planner who will be a head coach: Glenn Schumann, protective planner , Georgia
Nonconference game of the year: LSU vs.
Florida State in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 3(

7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)Conference game of
the year: LSU at Alabama, Nov. 4 Three forecasts for the SEC Forecasted finish : SEC EAST OVERALL CONF.Georgia 12-0 8-0 Tennessee 9-3 5-3 Kentucky 9-3
5-3 South Carolina 7-5 4-4 Florida

5-7 3-5 Missouri 5-7 2-6 Vanderbilt 4-8 1-7 WEST OVERALL CONF.LSU 11-1 7-1 Alabama 10-2 6-2 Texas A&M 9-3 5-3 Ole Miss 8-4 4-4 Mississippi State 7-5 3-5 Arkansas 6-6 2-6 Auburn 5-7 1-7 Texas A&M’s Bobby Petrino wins the Broyles Award: Jimbo Fisher’s choice to turn his offense over to Petrino, a previous Arkansas and Louisville coach, reeked of desperation after last season’s 5-7 ordeal. What if it really works? The Aggies ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring(22.8), 11th in rushing(141.8 lawns)and 10th in passing( 219.4 lawns)last season. Bad. With quarterback Conner Weigman taking the next step with among the league’s much better receiver corps, the Aggies must be better on offense.LSU beats Alabama in Tuscaloosa:

It’s generally a toss-up on which group will win the SEC West, however I’m choosing the Tigers because of quarterback Jayden Daniels and the Tigers ‘stout front seven on defense. Daniels needs to be better tossing the ball down the field for LSU’s offense to succeed. There are likewise some holes in the secondary at DB U. Alabama is going to be steaming mad after being up to the Tigers 32-31 in overtime in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last season. I just do not trust Alabama’s quarterbacks and receiver corps, which was quite underwhelming last season. The Tide’s offending line likewise has to play better after surrendering 167 takes on for loss and 63 sacks the

past 2 seasons combined.Georgia quarterback Carson Beck is a Heisman Trophy finalist: Beck tried only 35 passes as a backup last season, and he has the unenviable task of changing Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to consecutive national championships. While Beck does not have Bennett’s movement, he does have a more powerful arm. He’s likewise going to gain from something Bennett didn’t have: a deep and gifted receiver corps. Mississippi State Bulldogs transfer Rara Thomas and Missouri Tigers transfer Dominic Lovett provide Beck two more options to go with Ladd McConkey, Bowers and others.

Previous Article
Next Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.