College Football Predictions

The 2014 college football season saw a four-team playoff for the first time in history. It was a massive success as the Ohio State Buckeyes upset both Alabama and Oregon with a third-string quarterback to capture the National Championship under Urban Meyer.

The 2015 season is just around the corner. I have gone through and broken down each team to make my predictions for each conference . If you want to read up more on your favorite team, just click on your teams’ conference prediction link at the bottom of this article.

The following is how I see the 2015 season playing out with each conference winner. I provide brief analysis as to how I came about my prediction. I have also pinpointed the four teams that will make the playoffs, as well as my national champion.

SEC Champion: Alabama

The Crimson Tide have won three nationals titles in the past six years, but none came when they opened the season as the No. 1 team in the AP Poll. They will once again not be No. 1 in the poll as that distinction belongs to Ohio State. While I believe you could make a case for up to six teams to win the West, I have the Crimson Tide coming out on top. I have pegged them at 10-2 (6-2 SEC) and tied with Ole Miss and LSU for first place in the West. But they host both Ole Miss and LSU, which will ultimately get them into the SEC Championship Game. There, they’ll take on one of the most improved teams in the country in the Tennessee Volunteers, who gave the Crimson Tide all they wanted last year. Alabama will take down the SEC East champ and get into the four-team playoff despite two losses.

Big Ten Champion: Michigan State

Everyone and their brother is picking Ohio State to win the Big Ten, and for good reason. But it is hard to come back with the right focus off a National Championship, and I look for the Buckeyes to slip up this year. Michigan State’s only two losses last year came to Oregon and Ohio State, who played for the National Championship. Veteran QB Connor Cook returns to lead an improved offense, while the MSU defense is loaded with seven starters back and will be one of the best in the country again. It will come down to the November 21 showdown at Ohio State. While the Buckeyes have home-field advantage, that hasn’t mattered recently as the visitor has actually won the last three meetings. I’ll call for the Spartans to pull off the upset and to earn the tiebreaker over the Buckeyes to get into the Big Ten Championship Game. There, they’ll face a weak West division champ in Nebraska and take care of business to advance to the four-team playoff.

Big 12 Champion: TCU

I was one of the only experts anywhere who picked TCU to win the Big 12 last year despite coming off a 4-8 season. They did not disappoint, going 11-1 with their only loss coming to Baylor on the road after they blew a 21-point lead in the 4th quarter. Their 42-3 win over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl really put an exclamation point on a spectacular season. Now, they return 15 starters, including 10 on offense. This will be the best offense in the country after the Horned Frogs averaged 46.5 points and 533 yards per game in the first year of their new spread attack last season. They outscored Big 12 opponents by 23 points per game last year. They get their key game against Baylor at home on November 27. I have them running the table and going 12-0 to earn the No. 1 seed in the four-team playoff in 2015.

ACC Champion: Florida State

The loss of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston hurts, but the Florida State Seminoles have come away with another one of the top recruiting classes in the country. They are 29-1 over their last 30 games overall, but they aren’t getting a whole lot of respect heading into 2015. They do have just 11 returning starters, but the addition of Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson at QB essentially gives them 12. Golson will be primed for a big year after a successful career up to this point with the Fighting Irish. The defense will be one of the best in the country with seven starters back. FSU does draw two of the best teams from the Coastal in Georgia Tech and Miami, and it also plays Clemson on the road, but this is the most talented team in the ACC. Clemson loses almost everyone on D and will not match FSU’s 7-1 record in conference play, which will be good enough to win the Atlantic. I have VA Tech as the winner of the Coastal with a 10-2 record. Ultimately, FSU will win a close one over the Hokies to win its fourth straight ACC Title.

Pac-12 Champion: Stanford

Stanford had won 11 or more games in four consecutive seasons before slipping to 8-5 last year. Three of their five losses last year came by exactly three points. With 13 starters back in 2015, the Cardinal are primed to win 11 games again. They have nine starters back on offense including QB Kevin Hogan, and their defense will be fine even with only four starters back because it always produces one of the best stop units in the country. Stanford gets five Pac-12 home games, including the key games against UCLA and Oregon. Three of its four road games come against Oregon State, Washington State and Colorado, who went a combined 4-23 in conference play last year. Even a potential loss at USC won’t stop the Cardinal from winning the North. I have them meeting up with South champ USC in a rematch in the Pac-12 Championship Game. I expect Stanford to win the rematch and make the four-team playoff at 12-1.

AAC Champion: Houston

The Cougars have won eight games the past two seasons. Houston has been a perfect place for previous head coaches to make names for themselves as Art Briles (Baylor) and Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) have done just that. It managed to nab Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman as its next head coach. Herman obviously guided a high-powered Buckeyes’ attack to the National Championship last year. He steps into a good situation with 11 starters back and plenty of talent. The Cougars have lost five games over the past two seasons where they were driving deep into opponent’s territory late in games, so they have been unfortunate to not have a better record. QB Greg Ward completed 67.3 percent of his passes last year. 1,000-yard rusher Kenneth Farrow is back, and the defense should be one of the best in the AAC with seven of the top 11 tacklers. The Cougars get key conference games against Cincinnati, Memphis and Navy at home this year, and face a soft road slate at Tulsa, Tulane, UCF and UConn. A home win over Memphis on November 14 will have them winning the West. I have East Carolina coming out of the loaded East division thanks to winning the tiebreaker with a home win over Cincinnati. I’ll call for Houston to win the AAC Championship Game and finish 9-4 entering their bowl game.

Mountain West Champion: Boise State

The Broncos finally broke through and won their first outright Mountain West Title in 2014 in Brian Harsin’s first year on the job. They went 12-2 and won the Championship Game with a 28-14 triumph over Fresno State. They lose QB Grant Hedrick and RB Jay Ajayi, but they have plenty of talent returning as 17 starters are back. They are the clear-cut favorites to win the Mountain division because they avoid three of the top teams from the West in San Diego State, Nevada and Fresno State. They do have to play Utah State on the road, but even if they lose that game a 7-1 record within the conference will be good enough to win the Mountain division. The West division will be won by San Diego State, which returns 14 starters and the best defense in the MWC. The Aztecs avoid Boise State from the Mountain and get Nevada and Fresno State at home. I ultimately have Boise State defeating San Diego State in the MWC Championship Game and finishing 11-2.

Conference USA Champion: Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech lost 26-23 to Marshall (13-1) in the Conference USA Championship Game last year after giving up a touchdown with less than two minutes to play. The Bulldogs were far and away the second-best team in C-USA last year as they outscored conference opponents by 21 points per game and outgained them by 113.3 yards per game. Now they have 13 returning starters, and they add in Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at quarterback. Driskel was the top-rated QB coming out of high school, and entering his senior season, he’ll far much better against the talent in C-USA than he did in the SEC. The Bulldogs will run away with the West division. In the East, it’s clearly a battle between Western Kentucky and Marshall. WKU handed Marshall its only loss last season on the road, and it won each of its final five games of the season. Now it has 16 returning starters, including QB Brandon Doughty (4,830 yards, 49 TD, 10 INT) and RB Leon Allen (1,542 yards, 13 TD). Marshall only has 11 starters back this year. WKU hosts Marshall on November 27, so I have to give it the tiebreaker edge as both teams finish 7-1 in C-USA. I’ll call for Louisiana Tech to beat Western Kentucky in the C-USA Championship Game.

MAC Champion: Western Michigan

After a 1-11 campaign in his first season in Kalamazoo, head coach PJ Fleck guided one of the best turnarounds in college football and led the Broncos to an 8-5 record in 2014. They blew a 21-10 halftime lead at home to Northern Illinois in a game that decided the West division champion. The Huskies won their fifth straight MAC West title and went on to beat Bowling Green 51-17 in the Championship Game. The MAC West belongs to Western Michigan in 2015. It has the most talented team in the conference with 16 returning starters, including QB Zach Terrell (67.9% completions), RB Jarvion Franklin (1,551 yards, 24 TD) and all of its top receivers, namely Corey Davis (78, 1,408, 15 TD) and Daniel Braverman (86, 997, 6 TD). The defense is loaded as well with seven returning starters from a unit that gave up just 24.9 points per game. While WMU has to face West contenders Toledo and NIU both on the road, I expect it to split those two games and finish 7-1 within the conference, which will be enough to win the West. I am calling for a surprise winner in the East in UMass, which went just 3-9 last year, but lost five games by a touchdown or less. The Minutemen return 19 starters and are the class of the wide-open East in my opinion. I’ll call for Western Michigan to knock of UMass in the MAC Championship Game.

Sun Belt Champion: Appalachian State

Appalachian State opened 1-5 last year, but then it shifted into high gear and went 6-0 the rest of the way while outscoring opponents by a ridiculous 21 points per game. With 20 starters back, the Mountaineers are now the most experienced team in the country. They face three of their top Sun Belt contenders in Georgia Southern, Arkansas State and UL-Lafayette at home. That’s key because they are 60-14 at home over the past 10 years. While they may get upset by one of those three teams, a 7-1 record within the conference will be enough to win it.

Top Independent: Notre Dame

There are only three Independents now in Notre Dame, BYU and Army as Navy moves to the AAC. That leaves the competition very thin for top Independent. While BYU will be a very good team once again, it’s Notre Dame that should finish with the best record among these three Independents. The Fighting Irish open the season ranked among the Top 15, and for good reason. They return a whopping 17 starters, which is tied for the most of the Brian Kelly era. The Irish disappointed last year in going just 8-5, but they were ravaged by injuries in the second half. They do face a tough schedule with the likes of Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC, Pitt and Stanford. I expect them to get through it at 9-3, while BYU comes in a close second at 8-4.

College Football 4-Team Playoff


(1) TCU defeats (4) Alabama
(2) Stanford defeats (3) Michigan State

Championship Game:

(1) TCU defeats (2) Stanford

My Preseason Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. TCU
3. Alabama
4. Baylor
5. USC
6. Florida State
7. Michigan State
8. Oregon
9. Georgia
10. Stanford
11. LSU
12. Ole Miss
13. UCLA
14. Notre Dame
15. Auburn
16. Oklahoma
17. Arkansas
18. Tennessee
19. Wisconsin
20. Virginia Tech
21. Georgia Tech
22. Utah
23. Clemson
24. Oklahoma State
25. Penn State

More Predictions

Conference USA

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