The first game of the 2023 college football season is currently more than five months away. Does that mean we can’t start making predictions for the upcoming season? Not even remotely!
Today, as spring practice begins across the country, we’re going to be making some bold predictions for the upcoming college football season. There’s a very good chance that most of these predictions will age terribly, but that’s the fun of making predictions so early. Without further ado, let’s get to the predictions.
5. Deion Sanders leads Colorado to a bowl game in Year 1
In the blink of an eye, Colorado has gone from being an afterthought to one of the most talked about teams in college football. That’s largely because the Buffaloes hired former Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders to fill their vacancy. As well as being a football legend, Sanders has done a great job at Jackson State and has become arguably the most exciting coach in the country.
Despite the exciting setting, expectations seem pretty low this season. Colorado’s total projected earnings in 2023 is only 4.5, which is still better than the 3.5 it opened at. Given the Buffaloes’ brutal schedule and Sanders not having a full offseason to assemble their roster, it’s easy to see why expectations are low.
However, it would be a mistake to write off Colorado entirely. Yes, the Buffaloes should be in for a few surprises, but it’s not that far-fetched. If Sanders can keep doing what he did at Jackson State, then he has a good chance of making a bowl game in Year 1 in Colorado.
4. Neither Utah nor USC win the Pac-12
We’re sticking with the West Coast for this college football prediction, but this time we’re expanding it to the Pac-12 as a whole. There are two teams that most assume will win the conference, Utah and USC. The Trojans are among the top national contenders and the Utes have won the conference for the last two years, so it makes sense that they are the clear favorites.
However, there’s a good argument that neither of them will win the Pac-12. They’re both great teams, but so are Washington, Oregon and UCLA, with the former two also bringing back their star quarterbacks. The Pac-12 has also been a very chaotic conference over the years, so it would be wise to expect the unexpected.
3. Penn State wins the Big Ten
Penn State could be the team in the most unfortunate position because of its conference. The Nittany Lions have been a consistently strong team for a number of years but happen to share a division with two blue bleeders in Ohio State and Michigan. They had a great 2022 season by finishing 11-2 and winning the Rose Bowl, but those two losses to the Buckeyes and Wolverines ended their Big Ten title chances.
This season, Penn State has a chance to reclaim the throne. The Nittany Lions may have their best roster in years, bringing back many top players and having a promising new quarterback in sophomore Drew Allar. It’s a tall order, but James Franklin’s team may have the tools it needs to finally topple its division rivals.
2. Alabama OR Georgia makes college football playoffs, not both
Normally it wouldn’t be very daring to predict something that just happened last season, but this is an exception. There have been two occasions, in 2017 and 2021, when two SEC teams have made the College Football Playoffs. In both instances, these two teams, Alabama and Georgia, met in the National Championship Game. The Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs have the top two odds of winning the title this year, and many expect them to make the playoffs again.
While both of these teams will undoubtedly be among the elite next season, they are not playoff bans. Both teams need to replace their star quarterbacks along with many other key contributors. Also, Alabama has two new coordinators and Georgia has had a generally chaotic offseason.
Yes, Georgia and Alabama have been the best teams in the sport lately, but there are challengers to the throne. There are too many other strong teams to keep these two teams stuck in a four-team field already. One of them will almost certainly make it, but both don’t make it that clear.
1. A non-quarterback wins the Heisman Trophy
Over the years, the Heisman Trophy has evolved into a quarterback-dominated award. Only four non-quarterbacks have won the honor since 2000, most recently Devonta Smith in 2020. Looking at preseason odds, many expect that trend to continue in 2023.
According to FanDuel, Heisman’s top 13 picks are all quarterbacks. The first non-quarterback on the list is Michigan running back Blake Corum at +3000 odds. Other notable non-quarterbacks include Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
The odds are clearly not in favor of a non-quarterback winning the award. It may not seem likely, but there’s certainly a possibility that one of these players will buck the trend.