2018 College Football Outlook

Division Winners

1. ACC Atlantic- Clemson Tigers: Too many, they are the favorites to get back to the title game and win the whole thing and I don’t necessarily disagree with that either. Kelly Bryant can come into the year with a full season of starting experience under his belt and he can just be himself, no more talk of who he’s replaced. This is a stacked team that Dabo Swinney has in South Carolina. They have a nice tandem at running back in Etienne and Feaster, the receiving core with Hunter Renfrow, Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins, and the defense will return a large portion of their unit from last season. They’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder after their season ended in the playoffs in January.

2. ACC Coastal- Miami Hurricanes: It’s always a good thing to see a legendary institution on top again after a few down years. Mark Richt did such a great job with them last season and I look for them to build off what they did in 2017. This university has so much swagger from the legendary logo to the turnover chain that would make an appearance anytime the defense did something on the field. This football team will go as far as Malik Rosier leads them. He must play better and get off to better starts and this can go for the entire team because there were many moments when they dug themselves into a hole early on and they were able to escape with the win. That won’t always happen. Could this be the year that The U gets back to a national championship?

3. Big Ten East- Ohio State Buckeyes: A new era of quarterbacking will begin for the Buckeyes with Dwayne Haskins to be the projected starter. The running game will carry the weight of the offense until the passing game can get comfortable. Ohio State’s defense will once again be one of the best in the country and will be led on defense by end Nick Bosa, tackle Dre’Mont Jones, linebacker Tuf Borland and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. I’ll never count out an Urban Meyer coached team and they always seem to regroup so well even after losing some key players from the season before. I expect to see them back in Indianapolis once again in December for another conference title game.

4. Big Ten West- Wisconsin Badgers: I really respect Paul Chryst and the job he’s done in Madison. I truly feel he’s become one of the best coaches in the country and he always has his team ready to play. This was the best team in college football that not many spoke about last season and if they don’t lose that game to Ohio State last December, they’re in the playoffs. I remember when Alex Hornibrook made his first start as the team’s quarterback and he’s made some tremendous improvements in two seasons. Running back Jonathan Taylor continues to keep the tradition of Wisconsin running backs alive and he introduced himself to the world last year and this season, he enters as a Heisman candidate. The defense will have some new faces across the board and if they struggle, the offense will carry them.

5. Big-12: Oklahoma Sooners– There’s really no other team in this division that can overtake their spot. I think the West Virginia Mountaineers are the one team that can really challenge them, but this is still the Oklahoma Sooners’ division for the taking. Baker Mayfield is now a member of the Cleveland Browns and Kyler Murray will be filling some big shoes as his replacement. When you have a young quarterback under center, the running game is the one thing they can lean on and Rodney Anderson will be a very big component to their offense. The only thing that concerns me is their defense and how inconsistent they can be at times.

6. Pac-12 North: Washington Huskies– They enter 2018 as the favorites not only to win their division but the conference. They’ve won their share of conference games and entering the season, both quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin return which is a huge positive for their offense. On defense, the Huskies will miss the presence of standout defensive tackle, Vita Vea, and linebacker Keishawn Bierria, but the rest of the defense returns largely intact. Ben Burr-Kirven, Ryan Bowman, and Tevis Bartlett should ensure the linebacking corps doesn’t miss a beat, while Greg Gaines is set to anchor the line in his final year on campus. The secondary returns two All-Pac-12 candidates in safety Taylor Rapp and cornerback Byron Murphy.

7. Pac-12 South: Utah Utes– There’s a lot of change in the South with USC losing as much as they did and that opened things up for Kyle Wittingham’s Utes. I look for Huntley to improve this year and make some nice strides as a quarterback. It will take a while for their defense to get adjusted with their new pieces, but I see them settling in in no time.

8. SEC East: Georgia Bulldogs– They will be extremely eager to return back to the field, especially with how their season ended in the biggest game of them all. Their offense will be without Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but D’Andre Swift will be the primary running back and I see the running game still remaining consistent. Just as I mentioned about Clemson up top, this is another team that will be playing with that chip on their shoulder. I really like what Kirby Smart has started here in Athens.

9. SEC West: Alabama Crimson Tide– We couldn’t forget about the defending champions, right? Last season, they fell short to Auburn and knocked them off the top of the division for the crown. In all my years of watching them play, this is the one season where they have some concern on the defensive side of the football, especially in the secondary. Their offense can be special with the hero of the national championship now as the full-time starter in Tua Tagovailoa. Will it be another year at the office for Saban and company?

Conference Championships

ACC– Clemson defeats Miami (The U)

Big Ten– Ohio State defeats Wisconsin

Big 12: Oklahoma defeats West Virginia

Pac 12– Washington defeats Utah

SEC– Alabama defeats Georgia