With less than 20 days until kickoff, the buzz for the 2018 College Football season grows stronger every day. Fans across the nation are eager to pack up the tailgate, make the pilgrimage to their team’s campus, and get this season underway. With new drama unfolding every day, it’s no surprise that the prelude to this season has been so hot.
While some teams rebuild, others reload, and looking ahead there are always going to be surprise teams to watch out for. Nonetheless, the outlook for 2018 sure is grand in nature, so, in turn, here are Berger’s Bold Predictions for the 2018 College Football season.
CONFERENCE CHAMPION PREDICTIONS
Clemson: A very favorable schedule coupled with, arguably, the best defense in Clemson history, gives the Tigers a great edge going into 2018. They play in a weaker Atlantic Division, and have a great chance of not only winning the ACC, but going undefeated in the process.
Memphis: Motivated by revenge, the Tigers enter 2018 looking to win the conference after losing to UCF in last year’s championship game. To do so, they will rely on a strong and experienced defense, along with a fast offense anchored by quite possibly the best offensive line in the conference. Mike Norvell’s offense will be flying all over the field with a very favorable schedule where their toughest games are all at home. Look for Memphis to be in the conversation for the Group of 5 representatives in the New Year’s Six Bowl Games.
Oklahoma: Baker Mayfield may not be in Norman anymore, but QB Kyler Murray is the ideal dual-threat person to replace Mayfield. RB Rodney Anderson adds a solid option to the backfield. The Sooners are arguably the fastest team in all of college football with WRs Ceedee Lamb and Marquise Brown and CB Tre Norwood. Add in a solid Front 7 on defense, and the Sooners are poised to win their fourth straight Big 12 title.
Wisconsin: Last season the Badgers went undefeated through the regular season, and incurred their only loss in the Big Ten Championship Game. This year they return nine starters on offense including QB Alex Hornibrook and RB Jonathan Taylor. The schedule is less favorable this season, but the depth and experience should lead Wisconsin to their first conference title since 2012.
Florida Atlantic: Year One on the Lane Train proved to be a major success for the Owls. Year Two looks to be no different. They have a monster defense with ten returning starters and the electric offense brings back RB Devin Singletary. Lane Kiffin has done a fantastic job in recruiting and it will start to show this year as the Owls go for their second straight C-USA title.
Northern Illinois: Anchored by strong offensive and defensive lines, the Huskies will be poised to win their first MAC Championship since 2014. The schedule is decently favorable with their toughest conference games against Ohio, Toledo, and Miami (OH) all being at home.
Boise State: With talent and experience on both sides of the ball, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Boise not only wins the Mountain West for the second year in a row, but they should also represent the Group of 5 in the New Year’s Six Bowls. The Broncos are loaded on defense and have a solid QB in Brett Rypien to lead Boise through an extremely favorable conference schedule.
Washington: The Huskies have one of the deepest teams in all of college football. They return 17 out of 24 starters including QB Jake Browning. As the Huskies push to their second PAC-12 title in three years, their schedule will truly be a gauntlet. Games against Auburn, at Utah, at UCLA, and at Oregon will test this talented team, but the aforementioned depth should power them through.
Georgia: If the Dawgs look to repeat as SEC champs they’ll have to survive their SEC schedule first. Granted, the Dawgs have speed, depth, and experience on offense, but lack the experience on defense. Georgia will be tested early in the season with a Week 2 showdown against South Carolina. If the Dawgs can win tough games against USC, Florida, and Auburn, Georgia should be well on their way to playing for back-to-back SEC Championships on December 1st.
Appalachian State: Making the jump from FCS to FBS has been great for the Mountaineers. They’ve won the Sun Belt two years in a row and look to make it three-in-a-row this season. They are deep at RB and WR on offense and have a very talented DB group on defense. The schedule has tough road games at Penn State, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern, but even when in FCS, Appalachian has done fairly well when playing in hostile road environments.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF & NEW YEARS SIX PREDICTIONS
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Capital One Orange Bowl (Semifinal Game) on Saturday December 29, 2018 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL: Clemson vs Alabama
Goodyear Cotton Bowl (Semifinal Game) on Saturday December 29, 2018 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX: Georgia vs Wisconsin
CFP National Championship Game (Semifinal Winners) on Monday January 7, 2019 from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA: Clemson vs Georgia
NEW YEARS SIX BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday December 29, 2018 from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA: Miami vs South Carolina
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday January 1, 2019 from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ: Boise State vs Texas
Rose Bowl Game on Tuesday January 1, 2019 from Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA: Ohio State vs Washington
Allstate Sugar Bowl on Tuesday January 1, 2019 from Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA: Oklahoma vs Notre Dame
HEISMAN TROPHY PREDICTIONS
This year’s Heisman race is pretty wide open. There are solid candidates across the landscape. Seven of the last eight winners have been QBs, but this year’s race has the best chance of an RB winning the award.
HEISMAN FINALISTS (in no particular order)
- Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
- Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State
- Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
- Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Taylor has already joined the long list of great RBs that have come through Madison. In his freshman season, he rushed for over 1,500 yards and was a major focal point in the Badgers’ offense. He would also become the third RB from Wisconsin to win the award joining Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne. Look for Taylor to put up big numbers on the field and amass multiple awards andrecognitions off the field.