Making college football predictions a fool’s errand


By Alex Wise / Staff Writer

In what seems like no time at all, we’re at the halfway point of the college football season. About a month before the first kickoff, I made a handful of bold predictions about college football, its players, its coaches and its media personalities.

As it turns out, I’m really bad at predictions.

The first seven weeks have given way to so many things I didn’t anticipate. After dwelling in the SEC’s basement for years, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are finally playing to their potential. The Big Ten is awful, as many believed it would be, but even its top teams — Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin — look mediocre. Some coaching changes appear to be working, and others don’t appear to be working at all.

Of the 24 predictions I made, the majority have already been proved wrong, or are on track to be wrong. A few are still up in the air but are looking very unlikely.

For example, Lane Kiffin still holds the offensive coordinator position at Alabama, a job I predicted he would lose before the Tide’s conference schedule began. Todd Gurley was looking like a true Heisman candidate until he was accused of signing autographs for money, so that one’s out the window. And though there’s still time for Lee Corso to injure himself with a prop on the College GameDay set, he’s been relatively under control so far this year.

I’m losing hope.

Sure, I can take pride in the two I’ve gotten correct so far. Johnny Manziel did steal center stage from Kenny Hill during Texas A&M’s first game, even though Mr. Football himself wasn’t present, and even though Hill played an unbelievable game. And the playoff debate has been more annoying than the Heisman debate, against all odds. But these don’t bring me solace. I need something spectacular to happen, like when I predicted before the World Cup that Luis Suarez would bite somebody (and nailed it).

So which predictions are doomed, and which could save me? I can rule out a few already.

West Virginia didn’t beat Alabama in Week 1, rendering my belief that Dana Holgorsen would drive to Tuscaloosa and set a couch on fire incorrect. Jacob Coker didn’t win the starting quarterback job at Alabama, so he won’t be leading them to the title game like I expected. Despite my forecast, Notre Dame is the best football team in Indiana, and it’s not even close. Thanks a lot for backing me up, Hoosiers.

It’s also looking really unlikely that the non-Power Five conference schools will secede from the NCAA and begin a college football civil war. That was ludicrous to begin with, but imagine if that was the one to come true. You’d be reading the work of a genius right now.

Some, though improbable, are still possible. If any of these things happen, I’ll declare myself a prophet and move to the mountains, never to be heard from again. 

There’s still time for Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury to pull an attractive girl out of the front row of the stands and make out with her on national television after a win. Marcus Mariota could hit a brick wall, throw a bunch of interceptions, lose another game or two and fail to be a Heisman finalist. Florida State could still lose a bad game that keeps them out of the four-team playoff at season’s end, especially if anything materializes from the Jameis Winston autographs investigation. And Lou Holtz could still die on set, though I don’t want this one to occur.

But rather than dwell on my past screw-ups, I think it’s time to try and redeem myself with a few new predictions based on what we know now.

First, I’ll go on record saying that two SEC teams will make the year-end playoff. Against the wishes of Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, who advocated in favor of a tournament featuring only conference champions, some combination of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn will be deemed two of the top four teams in the nation. At this point, Florida State, Notre Dame and Baylor look like the only true threats to spoil the SEC’s party, and Florida State plays the Irish this weekend, meaning that one undefeated top-five team will be leaving with a loss. 

Next, I don’t think that any Pac-12 team will finish the season with only one loss. Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State are the only teams strong enough to survive the Pac-12 schedule, but each has remaining games against quality opponents. Each has yet to play the surprise top-25 team Utah, while Oregon still has Stanford on the schedule. Arizona plays UCLA and Arizona State and Arizona State has to take on Stanford and Notre Dame. Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State already have a loss apiece, and each will lose another before the season ends. This means that no Pac-12 team will be a part of the inaugural playoff.

I probably shouldn’t make any guesses at the Heisman winner this year, because I’m not nearly as good at guessing legitimate award winners as I am at predicting people biting other people and stuff like that, but I’ll give it a go.

If I had any money — which I don’t — I’d put it on Baylor’s Bryce Petty. He’s not the sexiest pick for the award — his stats are inflated due to the Big 12’s complete and utter lack of defense, which was on display in Baylor’s 61-58 win over TCU. He throws a lot of touchdowns and doesn’t throw many interceptions, which the committee will be pleased to see. And though Baylor’s remaining schedule isn’t conducive to an undefeated season, the Bears are bound to come out on top of at least two of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

 Like my prediction that Texas and Florida would resurge, however, I’m bound to be wrong about Petty. So from here on out, I’ll keep my ego intact by sticking to what I’m good at: nonsense guesses about physical violence and things that don’t matter.  


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