When it comes to college football, I'm all about predictions and what happens between the lines of the field. Before the season started, I had some bold ideas on what things would look like at the end of the season. On the eve of the College Football Playoff Committee releasing its first rankings of the season, I thought it would be interesting to see where I was pretty much on target, and where I was way off.
Where I Was Right:
In the ACC, I had Clemson not only winning the Atlantic division and conference, but also the national championship. With wins over Louisville and Florida State, plus a favorable schedule the rest of the way, they are still on track to at least play their way into the playoffs. Can they afford a defeat to rival South Carolina and still get consideration? That remains to be seen. I also was correct on the emergence of Louisville, a close second to Clemson, but they'll need some good fortune to contend. Regarding Florida State, I was right on the mark there as well. On the other side of the league, I went with North Carolina in a close race, but pointed out that Virginia Tech was a bit of a wild card in Justin Fuente's first season heading the Hokies' program. Right now the two teams are tied atop the Coastal division, but Tech owns the tiebreaker and controls their own destiny.
Moving to the Big 12, I correctly predicted the bit of a slump for Oklahoma, but their losses so far have come in non-conference games. However, they have the teeth of their conference schedule remaining, and right now the league is clearly up for grabs. I picked Oklahoma State to emerge, and after a Cowboys win over undefeated West Virginia last week, that final game in Norman against Oklahoma might just decide the champion.
I didn't get much right in the Big Ten, except that my prediction algorithm correctly had Michigan as the team to beat, except I went with Ohio State instead. With the Buckeyes struggling a bit the last three games, Jim Harbaugh has Michigan in excellent position to run the table. Of course, they'll need to get past Ohio State in regular season finale. My prediction that Wisconsin's schedule would doom them is also fairly accurate, as they're easily the best two-loss team in the country.
About the only thing about the Pac-12 that I had even partly correct was that I didn't have Stanford winning the North, and it's a certainty now that they won't, already mathematically eliminated having lost to Washington and Washington State. I wasn't sold yet on Washington, and believe it or not, I'm still not. My pick was Washington State, and I'm not changing it yet. In the South, I thought USC would challenge UCLA and they're still in the hunt.
In the SEC East, I had little confidence in Tennessee and despite a solid start, albeit a little lucky, they've dropped three in a row and will need a miracle of sorts, namely a collapse by Florida, to contend. In the West, I correctly predicted a step back for the Mississippi schools, as they currently stand with two conference wins between them.
Finally, I recognized Notre Dame's demise, due mainly to a lack of quality players to get them even to a bowl game. They still have a chance, but finishing up with Virginia Tech and USC will challenge them to become bowl eligible, especially with their other two opponents, Navy and Army, having solid seasons.
Where I Was Wrong:
In the Big 12, I didn't see the emergence of West Virginia, but I might not be too far off on that, given that my pick for the title, Oklahoma State, just beat them last week. A team that could be very disruptive is Kansas State. My choice in the Big Ten was Iowa, so I whiffed on that, even though they're still in the mix if things get crazy in the West. In the East, I thought Urban Meyer's coaching and recruiting could make up for a lack of returning starters. It still may, but Michigan looks very good right now. Heading out west, I didn't see Colorado making the move they have, but they still have some tough games left to play, and their loss to USC could hurt them in a tiebreaker. My UCLA pick is just dismal, with the Bruins standing at 1 - 4 in the conference. Of course, no one predicted that the Bruins' potential All-American QB would have to battle injuries that have no doubt diminished Josh Rosen's effectiveness and playing time.
The three things I really missed on in the SEC, at least so far, were Alabama's continued dominance, the emergence of Auburn's defense and the ability of Florida to continue to win primarily with strength on only the defensive side of the ball. I felt the East would be a three team dogfight between Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, but now only the Gators are still in the race.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.