We are just over a week away from the first college football game of the season, so there is no better time to start making some bold predictions. Let’s preface this with the fact that my predictions are usually wrong, but there’s no fun in picking the favorites or what everyone expects to happen. College football is unpredictable, so I will do my best with my educated guesses and true gut feelings. Feel free to save these predictions, post them for Freezing Cold Takes, and laugh at them all you want.
Penn State makes the College Football Playoffs – But they do not win the Big Ten. Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State are all clear contenders in the Big Ten. A potential tiebreaker will decide who makes the Big Ten championship, but an 11-1 Penn State team will still be a great candidate for the College Football Playoffs. We have already seen an 11-1 Big Ten team make the College Football Playoffs. Drew Allar will be the difference-maker for Penn State. The Nittany Lions have not had a talented quarterback and an excellent surrounding cast in quite some time. James Franklin has a loaded roster, and he just needs a quarterback the team can rely on week in and week out. Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen should help take the pressure off a young quarterback, especially in the early weeks while he gets comfortable. The biggest question for Penn State is finding a number one target for Allar. Penn State will beat either Michigan or Ohio State but not both.
Texas Tech Wins the Big 12 – The Big 12 is as confusing as ever. A new team has participated in the Big 12 championship every season since the game was brought back in 2017. The conference does not have much separation between the top teams, and the participants could come down to tiebreakers. I am fairly confident Texas makes an appearance in the Big 12 championship game, but the other team is a mystery. Texas Tech is an interesting team if they can stay healthy. Tyler Shough is 8-1 as a starter for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech also has one of the deepest receiver rooms in the country with Jerand Bradley, Xavier White, and transfer Drae McCray. Tyree Wilson was a top pick in the NFL Draft, but the defense will still be led by the linebackers. Myles Cole and Syracuse transfer Steve Linton will be expected to lead the unit. The Big 12 is likely to beat each other up, allowing for Texas Tech to lose multiple conference games and still make the championship. The Red Raiders play Texas in the season finale. Beating a team twice is difficult, especially in two consecutive weeks.
Jayden Daniels Wins the Heisman – Jayden Daniels might be the trendiest pick for the Heisman and one of the most undervalued at the same time. Daniels flew under the radar as a transfer coming over from Arizona State. He exceeded all expectations, helping LSU finish with double-digit wins. Daniels threw for 2,917 yards, 17 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. He also added an additional 885 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He is back for one final season with a team that has been considered a contender for the National Championship. For the Tigers to reach the College Football Playoffs, Daniels will need to be one of the best players in the entire country. The schedule also sets up nicely, where he will have nationally televised games but not too many difficult opponents in a row. He can garner attention quickly with an opening week matchup against Florida State. LSU will likely need to win 11 or 12 games for Daniels to be in a position to win the Heisman, which is entirely likely given their roster and the schedule.
UTSA makes a New Year Six Bowl Game – Frank Harris is back for his seventh season at UTSA, and the goals are obvious. The Road Runners return almost everyone on both sides of the ball. They are joining the AAC with expectations that the competition will increase. UTSA had one of the best offenses in the country last season, finishing in the top 15 in scoring offense, passing offense, and total offense. De’Corian Clark and Joshua Cephus are both back at wide receiver, giving him plenty of familiar faces. Defensively, the Road Runners should look similar, with a few new faces. Linebackers Jamal Ligon and Trey Moore combined for 147 tackles and 24 tackles for loss. The duo should only get better heading into 2023. An opening game at Houston and a week four game at Tennessee will set the tone for their season. UTSA will travel to Tulane in the final week of the season in a game that could have large implications.
USC Loses Four Games – Look, I know this is going to be the hottest take, but hear me out. Every year, we have at least one top ten team that finishes the season unranked. USC’s defense was atrocious last season. The Trojans were getting into shootouts with everyone just to win the game. The rest of the Pac-12 is vastly improved heading into 2023, while USC now has a target on their back. Many expected Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams to find success, but most thought it would take a season to contend for the conference championship. Riley tried to use the transfer portal to improve the defense, but not enough to avoid high-scoring matchups. USC’s last six games are @ Notre Dame, vs Utah, @ California, vs Washington, @ Oregon, vs UCLA. The Trojans also face Arizona and Colorado. The offense will continue to be one of the best in the country, but the concern is defenses finding a way to stop Caleb Williams.