The eve of the 2018 college football season is upon us. Literally, its College Football Christmas Eve, since the season begins tomorrow. With that in mind, the FootballScoop staff revived one of our favorite annual traditions — one bold prediction from each of us heading into this year’s campaign.
Scott: Notre Dame makes the College Football Playoff.
Brian Kelly’s squad doesn’t have the hype that many before them have had — or that longtime SEC, ACC and Big Ten leaders have this season — but this might just be the year that the Fighting Irish get into the Playoff. Kelly’s staff lost Mike Elko and Harry Hiestand. Their replacements, Clark Lea and Jeff Quinn have significant shoes to fill, but if their units (LBs and OL) play to their potential, Brian Kelly’s team can compete with anyone. If one of the Irish’s quarterbacks plays to his true potential, and the rest of the team can stay healthy, wake up the echoes…as it will be onward to victory for these Fighting Irish.
Zach: Alabama will miss the Playoff for the first time ever.
In this line of business we spend 365 days a year following and analyzing coaches so, in evaluating each team’s chances entering a given season, we tend to overemphasize the coaching staff and underemphasize the roster. It is the players who win games, after all.
But the coaching staff is still extremely important, and Alabama’s underwent nearly a wholesale change from 2017 to 2018. Six of Nick Saban’s 10 on-the-field assistants are brand new, and nine are in positions they did not hold a year ago. (Offensive line coach Brent Key is the lone holdover.) On top of that, Alabama must replace its entire secondary and enters the season with the prospect of a quarterback controversy clouding the entire season.
This is not to say Alabama will be bad. Far from it. The replacements, both players and coaches, are among the best in the country at what they do. The Crimson Tide Killing Machine is not shutting down, just taking a year to re-tool. So I’m going to be bold and predict Alabama goes — brace yourselves here — 10-2 in 2018.
Doug: A defensive player wins the Heisman Trophy.
It’s the Year of the Defensive Lineman in college football. Clemson returns four legitimate All-American candidates. Nick Bosa at Ohio State, Rashan Gary at Michigan and Ed Oliver at Houston all could be No. 1 picks in next spring’s NFL Draft. And with such a high awareness of the unusual level of elite talent at that position, I think Heisman voters buck the trends and select the best player in college football to win the award given to, drumroll please, the best player in college football.