2018 College Football Predictions: Champions, Cellar-Dwellers, and CFP
Rounding up the winners and losers.
2018 College Football Predictions: Big 12 Conference
When considering the way, shape, and form of the 2018 Big 12 football standings, ask yourself this: How is Oklahoma dealing with the loss of Baker Mayfield?
Well, as you will find.
With Bob Stoops retiring, the assumption about the Sooners was that they would regress. That never happened, and their quarterback won the Heisman. Oklahoma enters the season as the team to beat in the Big 12 once again.
Their conference proved to be deep in 2017. Eight out of their ten teams made bowl games, which is a damn fine conversion rate by anyone’s standards. Oklahoma’s schedule, as well as the schedule of all the Big 12 members, is not without pitfalls. The Sooners, however, are the team everyone else will be afraid to play, with a few notable exceptions. Kyler Murray is the new quarterback, and while he’s not going to win the Heisman himself, he’ll be more than fine.
Still, Oklahoma is not quite invincible. The real question is if any of the other prime Big 12 Norma Desmonds are ready for their close-ups. TCU is a good, not great, contender. Some think Texas is moving up, but can they win the Red River Rivalry (and then stay ahead of Oklahoma in the standings)? West Virginia will do some nice things with Will Grier, but how nice? Kansas State is a bowl team, and maybe a ranked team if everything goes right, but there’s a difference between sliding into the Top 25 and winning a power conference.
Time will tell if anyone steps up to challenge Oklahoma. In the land of bad defenses, at least the games will be entertaining. Speaking of awful defense, Kansas was worst in the Big 12 last season. What reason would anyone have to believe that this is going to improve markedly in 2018? You know, because they’ve stunk for so many consecutive years now? Let’s put it this way: if a team ASIDE FROM Kansas is last in 2018, it would be a shock.
2018 Big 12 Champion Prediction: Oklahoma Sooners
2018 Big 12 Worst Team Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks
2018 College Football Predictions: Big Ten Conference
Our 2018 college football predictions advance to the Big Ten, a spectacularly top-heavy conference. Ohio State (with or without Urban Meyer), Michigan, Wisconsin, and even Penn State are all hovering near the top. Throw in Michigan State, too, and that’s a serious top five. You have at least two College Football Playoff contenders in the bunch. Choosing among them is not going to be easy (and really, this is all academic, because it’s a preseason prediction article. My first name is not Nostradamus, and if it was, I would change it to something more emollient like Jack.)
The Buckeyes are loaded, and therefore should be able to put together a fine season with or without Urban Meyer. If Ryan Day can’t win with this roster, then that’s a big issue for the interim coach. You should also keep your eyes on Wisconsin, a team coming off of a 13-1 season and is returning a ton of starters on offense. Bucky and his Badgers appear to be best in the Big Ten West by far.
Yes, Scott Frost was a huge get for Nebraska, but kudos to him if he turns it around in Lincoln overnight. Chances are that ain’t gonna happen, so for now, it’s Wisconsin and everyone else in that division. There is a reason they were the unanimous pick in the preseason poll.
Once you get outside the Big Ten’s top shelf, it’s a long way down to the bottom. If you make the fall without breaking a leg or two, you’ll find a team like Illinois in the dungeon with you. Lovie Smith has yet to work anything resembling magic in Champaign, though to be fair, the Illini were a hot mess when he became coach, and now consistency has been established. Getting out of the Big Ten basement would be an accomplishment, let alone going toe-to-toe with anyone worth a damn in this conference.
Then there’s always dear sweet Rutgers, 3-15 in the Big Ten under head coach Chris Ash. There is reason to believe they might be a little better with Jon Hilliman transferring in from Boston College, and a more respectable defense.
2018 Big Ten Champion Prediction: Wisconsin Badgers
2018 Big Ten Worst Team Prediction: Illinois Fighting Illini