Daly Dose #144 The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview

This week on the Dose, we are getting you ready for the upcoming 2017 College Football season!

What are the major storylines heading into the season?

We look at the contenders, the pretenders, and the sleepers from the ACCthe Big Tenthe Big 12the Mountain Westthe Pac 12, and the SEC!

We give our pick for the Heisman Trophy, and we tell you which four teams will end up playing in the College Football Playoff!

Plus, we count down the Top 5 most exciting players that we have ever seen in college football!

Listen here to Episode 144: The Daly Dose 2017 College Football Preview!

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The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The SEC

Southeastern Conference

The rumors of the demise of the baddest conference in college football have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the league has been a little down the past couple of years, but make no mistake this is where the big dogs run.  Yes, Alabama is stacked every year, but those next level teams are getting better, and even the lowest level teams are as talented as any team in the country. It is no surprise that these are the greatest players in the country. I mean, you get what you pay for, right?

SEC

East

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Predicted finish: 10-2

The Bulldogs regressed significantly in 2016 under new head coach Kirby Smart, but this team has a ton of young talent. The defensive front seven is a force, and the running game should produce results with Nick Chubb, and Sony Michel. If the offensive line can show up, and the wide receivers can actually catch a ball, this team could really accomplish something. And if not? Well, Georgia fans are used to that.

2. Florida Gators

Predicted finish: 9-3

Has anyone gone to the SEC Conference Championship Game more quietly than Gators head coach Jim McElwain? In his first two years on the job McElwain has gone 19-8 and represented the SEC East to decide the conference. Yet in those two games, UF has been outscored 83-31, and McElwain’s record against ranked opponents? Just 3-7. Fortunately, Florida fans are a model of good judgement, and realistic expectations. So none of this will ever be a problem for Coach Mac.

3. Tennessee Volunteers

Predicted finish: 9-3

Last year was a big test for this team. They returned a ton of talent, but went just 9-4, and even lost to Vanderbilt. Numerous injuries, and a porous defense were simply too much to overcome. This season, there will be less talent, but also much lower expectations. And that’s just the way Rocky Top likes it. Just ask Peyton Manning.

4. Kentucky Wildcats

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Wildcats actually found themselves playing in a bowl game last season, as they went 7-6, after adopting a run-heavy offense. UK rushed for nearly 240 yards per game behind Freshman All-American running back Benny Snell, who returns for his sophomore season. You might be tempted to think the Cats could contend in the SEC East with that running game. Well, you might be tempted… if you hadn’t seen the UK defense. If you have seen them, then you know better.

5. Vanderbilt Commodores

Predicted finish: 7-5

They didn’t start very strong, but the commodores finished the 2016 season by beating Ole Miss and Tennessee, to finish 6-6. There’s nothing like a great comeback to make everyone to feel better about your program. And also to help everyone forget the fact that you started the season 4-6, and almost lost to Western Kentucky.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks

Predicted finish: 6-6

You have to give head coach Will Muschamp some credit for the way that he got this group to respond in his first season in Columbia. The Gamecocks somehow won six games, and went to a bowl game, despite having a very depleted roster. This year the roster is a little better, but the schedule is also much more difficult. This team won’t have much depth, so any injuries will be magnified. As will Muschamp’s crazy eyes the first time he loses his temper on one of his players.

7. Missouri Tigers

Predicted finish: 5-7

There will be more scoring in Missouri games this year. The problem for Tigers fans, is that most of it will be done by the opposing team.

 

West

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Predicted finish: 11-1

Head coach Nick Saban lost some significant talent to the NFL, but does it even matter anymore? He just reloads more quality players, and goes back to the College Football Playoff again. There are a few things you can count on in the world. Death, taxes, and Nick Saban getting better recruits than everyone else. Oh, and also…about once a season, his talented recruits will lose a game on the final play of the game.

2. Auburn Tigers

Predicted finish: 10-2

After taking a step back over the past few seasons, this Auburn team could return to being a contender. The Tigers should be loaded on offense with quarterback Jarrett Stidham and running back Kamryn Pettway. And don’t forget that this team almost beat eventual National Champion Clemson last season. Gus Malzahn’s team could be getting ready for something special.  Of course, every time we pick the Tigers to do anything, they make us look bad. And I think they do it on purpose.

3. LSU Tigers

Predicted finish: 9-3

Let me guess, the Tigers are loaded with talent, if they could just find some consistency at quarterback. But this season, senior quarterback Danny Etling is going to be the guy, right? Next, you’ll be telling me that you don’t judge head coach Ed Orgeron for the way he talks. I’m not buying it, is what I’m saying.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

Predicted finish: 7-5

Head coach Bret Bielema has done a very good job in Fayetteville, taking over a struggling program, and going to bowl games three years in a row. The biggest knock on Bielema, is that he has been unable to beat Texas A&M. Well, we believe that this is the year he can do just that. The Razorbacks defense has to be better in 2017, and the backfield combo of QB Austin Allen and RB Rawleigh Williams should be enough for Arkansas to slay their dragon. Of course visits to Alabama and LSU, will have them feeling like a better dragon was out there waiting to blast them with hell-fire and brimstone.

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Predicted finish: 7-5

We aren’t entirely sure how in the world Dan Mullen has built a legitimate program in Starkville, but he seems to have done it. The Bulldogs have been to a bowl game seven years in a row now, and if the defense can turn things around, this team will be going to an eighth. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is a very good passer, and has a number of weapons at his disposal. You can make a pretty decent case that Mullen is the greatest coach in the history of Mississippi State football. It isn’t that he’s that great. It just kind of tells you the history of this fine institution.

6. Texas A&M Aggies  

Predicted finish: 6-6

The Aggies are out to turn things around in 2017. For the past three seasons, head coach Kevin Sumlin has seen his Aggies start off strong, and then fade down the stretch, and finish 8-5. Well, his job might be on the line this season, so that isn’t going to happen this time. The Aggies are going to stumble both early, and late, and finish 6-6.

7. Ole Miss Rebels

Predicted finish: 4-8

Ole Miss is banned from the postseason, and will be playing for an interim head coach, after the Rebels fired High Freeze. It seems that Freeze was associating with shady boosters, and even calling escort services during his time in Oxford. It’s crazy to think that a coach with limited in-state resources would resort to such things in a football crazy conference. I mean, who saw that coming? Okay, all of you put your hands down.

Did you miss our Daly Dose Pac 12 preview?

Coming up on Saturday: We begin our NFL previews!

The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Pac 12

Pac 12 Conference

The Pac 12 is deep with talent, and there are two or three teams that are capable of contending for a national title. Yet, there is more to this group than just the top teams. The middle of the pack teams are brimming with talent too, and every week is a battle in this conference. Even a lower level team like Cal is dangerous, if you threaten the environment.

Pac-12

North

1. Stanford Cardinal

Predicted finish: 11-1

The biggest question for the Cardinal will be under center, as projected starting quarterback Keller Chryst is coming off of a significant injury. Yet, we shouldn’t underestimate this team, as they return a significant amount of talent on both sides of the ball. And does it really matter who plays quarterback for Stanford with their smash-mouth offensive front? I mean, they made Andrew Luck look good.

2. Washington Huskies

Predicted finish: 11-1

It was a memorable season in 2016 for the Huskies. They rolled through the season, winning 12 games, and making it to the College Football Playoff Semifinal. Sure, they lost 24-7 to Alabama, but this team proved they can play with the big boys, and they return 13 starters in 2017. The lone unit that could be undermanned is the secondary. Good thing the Pac 12 isn’t loaded with quarterbacks that might take advantage of it.

3. Washington State Cougars

Predicted finish: 9-3

Predictably, the Mike Leach-led Cougars will be exciting to watch with senior quarterback Luke Falk throwing the ball all over the field. If the defense line comes together, this could be a very dangerous team. And also just as predictably, the Mike Leach-led special teams will be awful, and cost this team a big game at the worst possible time.

4. Oregon Ducks

Predicted finish: 8-4

The Ducks will be one of the more interesting teams to watch in 2017. Coming off of a disappointing 4-8 season, and the firing of the coaching staff, new coach Willie Taggart will have his hands full. The Oregon defense will be a focal point, as they allowed over 40 points per game last year. They do return eight starters from that unit, but I’m not sure why I am saying that like it’s a good thing.

5. Oregon State Beavers

Predicted finish: 4-8

The Beavers finished 4-8 in 2016, and they look to be improving. Head coach Gary Anderson is working to build a physical rushing offense that can chew up clock, and wear down opponents.  Don’t forget that the Beavers actually beat their in-state rival Oregon for the first time since 2007 last year. Sure it was Oregon’s worst season since the early 1980’s , but just stop dwelling on the negatives for once, will you?

6. California Golden Bears

Predicted finish: 3-9

Cal fans will point at their 2016 season and see the positives in Sonny Dyke’s final season, like the season-finale win over UCLA. Critics will point at the Bears history of mediocrity and laugh, and laugh.

 

South

1. USC Trojans

Predicted finish: 11-1

The Trojans could be a little bit of a mystery this season. Yes, they have Heisman candidate and NFL-bound quarterback Sam Darnold back. Yet, they lost a ton of talent around him, including the bulk of his offensive line. It isn’t all bad news though. It could be good experience for Darnold to get knocked around this year. It will prepare him for his future with the Jets or the Browns.

2. UCLA Bruins

Predicted finish: 11-1

UCLA was a huge disappointment last season, going just 4-8, as quarterback Josh Rosen suffered a shoulder injury and missed significant time. This team should bounce back, with a healthy Rosen in the lineup…that is, if he can get better protection, more consistency from his receivers, and if he can somehow endure the heinous challenge of quarterbacking UCLA while attending some college courses. We all have our crosses to bear.

3. Utah Utes

Predicted finish: 7-5

They may not be the sexiest program in the Pac 12, but the Utes have proven to be the most consistent. All head coach Kyle Whittingham does is keep winning the Pac 12 South. In fact, he has done it six out of the past seven seasons. He won’t do it this year, though. This team has too many holes to fill, and too tough of a schedule. So yeah, they’ll probably do it again.

4. Colorado Buffaloes

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Buffs had a storybook season in 2016, after winning just 10 games in head coach Mike MacIntyre’s previous three seasons, CU won 10 games, made it to the Alamo Bowl, and finished the season ranked in the Top 25. Sure, they got blown out in that Alamo Bowl game 38-8 by Oklahoma State. We never said it was a great storybook. Or even one with a happy ending. It was a story, and someone made a book out of it. Get off our back.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils

Predicted finish: 5-7

The Sun Devils will have some talent. This is a collection of top-ranked recruits. They will play fast, and aggressive. They will look to attack opponents on both sides of the ball. They will also be inexperienced, make silly mistakes, and have to overcome a number of injuries. Oh yeah, and more importantly, they will lose more games than they win.

6. Arizona Wildcats

Predicted finish: 5-7

We’re not saying that head coach Rich Rodriguez is trying to run this program into the ground on purpose. But let’s say he was. It would look pretty similar to what we are currently seeing, wouldn’t it?

Did you miss our Daly Dose Other Notable Teams Preview?

Up next: The Daly Dose SEC Preview!

The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Other Guys

Those notable teams from outside the Big 5 conferences

Sure, these teams might not be the blue bloods of college football, but they are still very talented. We take a look at some of the top from the smaller conferences that might not have the big name, but they can play with anyone if given the opportunity. Except we know that they will never get the chance to play on the big stage unless there is a major world catastrophe. Then again…looking at the current political landscape, that doesn’t seem so far fetched, does it?

Independent

American Athletic Conference

South Florida Bulls

Predicted finish: 12-0

After being fired from the University of Texas, head coach Charlie Strong was scooped up by South Florida, who return a team that could go undefeated in 2017. The Bulls have talent on both sides of the ball including senior quarterback Quinton Flowers, who accounted for 42 touchdowns last season. If this team makes it through their AAC schedule without a single blemish, there is no saying where they might end up for the postseason. Like the Birmingham Bowl. Or maybe even the Vegas Bowl. The sky’s the limit.

Independents

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Predicted finish: 6-6

The Irish bottomed out last year, going 4-8, and putting head coach Brian Kelly squarely on the hot season in South Bend. Starting quarterback DeShone Kizer has departed for the NFL, and the coaching staff has been revamped. If the offensive line can live up to it’s potential, and the defense can find some play-makers this team could save their coach. Otherwise, it will be school administrators cursing in his face, like he enjoys doing to his players.

Mid-American Conference

Toledo Rockets

Predicted finish: 9-3

The rockets will be favored in most of the games on their schedule, as they have the MAC’s best quarterback in senior Logan Woodside. This squad averaged 38 points, and over 500 yards per game last year. Toledo should be the class of the MAC this year. Which is sort of like being the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback. You’re the “best”. Sort of.

 

Mountain West Conference

Boise State Broncos

Predicted finish: 10-2

Have the Broncos taken a step back since Chris Petersen left in 2013? Maybe a slight one, but don’t underestimate the job that Bryan Harsin has done in his three seasons at the helm. Boise has gone 31-9 under Harsin. Then again, they have only gone to the Mountain West Championship game once in its four years of existence. You know what? Nevermind. They have taken a huge step back. Enjoy another crappy 10 win season, Broncos.

Did you miss the Daly Dose Big 12 Preview?

Up next: The Daly Dose Pac 12 Preview!

The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Big 12

Big 12

The Big 12 is in a bit of a funk. They aren’t pulling the recruits that they are used to getting. They have only made it to the College Football Playoff one single time, when Oklahoma got blown out 37-17 in 2015. Many accuse the conference of being out of date, and not appealing to the younger generation, but we aren’t buying it. Then again, their most esteemed coach is sporting a mullet. So, we could be mistaken.

Big12

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Predicted finish: 11-1

Bob Stoops might be gone, but the expectations for the Sooners remain the same. QB Baker Mayfield should contend for the Heisman with this high- powered offense. OU should roll to their third straight Big 12 championship, and then this group will get blown out in a playoff game. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Predicted finish: 9-3

The Cowboys could boast the nation’s best offense behind QB Mason Rudolph. The offensive line that used to be a weakness has grown into a The problem is that the defense will once again be very ugly. Not unlike a certain someone’s hair.

3. Kansas State

Predicted finish: 8-4

The Wildcats were playing very good football coming down the stretch in 2016, and they are hoping it will continue in 2017. Is there a chance that K-State could sneak up on everyone, and actually win the Big 12? Well, it hasn’t ever happened before, but who are we to crush their dreams?

4. Texas Longhorns

Predicted finish: 8-4

The Longhorns will face a challenging schedule that will see them play Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. New head coach Tom Herman inherits a talented group that outgoing coach Charlie Strong said should win 10 games in 2017. Oh sure, now he says that.

5. TCU Horned Frogs

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Horned Frogs could be a surprise in the conference, if they could get some decent play from senior QB Kenny Hill. Or if the defense could step up, and get some stops….okay, who are we kidding? I just wanted to see if I could say something about a Big 12 defense without laughing. I couldn’t.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Mountaineers have a chance to surprise this year, because they are possibly the only team in the entire conference that actually plays anything resembling defense. Last year, they allowed just 24 points per game. So it is almost like defense. Like Dana Holgorsen almost has hair on top of his head.

7. Baylor Bears

Predicted finish: 6-6

Baylor hired former Temple coach Matt Rhule, who has no ties to Art Briles, or Baylor, or even Texas. Rhule and his staff were given mops, and lysol, and hazmat suits upon arrival in Waco, “Get that mess all cleaned up, Matt, and let’s never bring it up again.”

8. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Predicted finish: 4-8

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is entering his 5th season in Lubbock, and his tenure has been a mixed bag. The Red Raiders have posted some amazing passing numbers, but inconsistencies in the running game, and poor defenses have been the cause of a below .500 record. Kingsbury’s job could be on the line this season, and considering the holes on this roster, he may want to update that resume very soon.

9. Iowa State Cyclones

Predicted finish: 4-8

The Cyclones went 3-9 last season, and that included a home loss to FCS school Northern Iowa. The good news is that this team should be able to get four or five wins. The bad news is that those pesky Northern Iowa Panthers are on the schedule again.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Predicted finish: 1-11

Head coach David Beaty has actually done a pretty amazing job assembling some semblance of talent in Lawrence. You might not be able to tell, because he has gone 2-22 in his two seasons there. There is some actual progress here, and this year when the Jayhawks win three games, it will all come to fruition.

Did you miss the Daly Dose Big 10 preview?

Next up: The Daly Dose most notable teams from outside the Big 5 conferences!

The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Big 10

The Big 10 Conference

It was just a few seasons ago that the Big 10 was being talked about as being too slow, and too out of date. Then Urban Meyer went to Ohio State, and the Big 10 won a national title, and has been to all three of the College Football Playoffs. Just forget the fact that they have been outscored 69-0 in the past two. Okay?

Big-Ten-Teams

East Division

1. Penn State Nittany Lions

Predicted finish: 11-1

The Nittany Lions are for real. After going 11-3 in 2016, and beating Ohio State, they are looking for more in 2017. Penn State returns 16 starters from that team, including QB Trace McSorley, but this team will see something this year that they haven’t seen since like 2009. Actual expectations. So, a 7-5 season is probably coming.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Predicted finish: 10-2

Urban Meyer will return a ton of talent from a team that went to the College Football Playoff last year including a terrific defensive front and QB JT Barrett. The Buckeyes should once again find themselves in the…wait a second…JT Barrett? He’s still around? How old is that guy? What is he, like a seventh-year redshirt senior? I think he was handing off to Eddie George as a freshman.

3. Michigan Wolverines

Predicted finish: 9-3

2016 has to feel like a missed opportunity for the Wolverines, who probably lost too much to contend in 2017. The schedule looks to be too difficult for this team, that will be talented, but inexperienced. But at least Michigan has head coach Jim Harbaugh. Remember when that used to be worth getting excited about?

4. Indiana Hoosiers

Predicted finish: 9-3

The Hoosiers are heading into unfamiliar territory this year, as they actually have an aggressive, stingy defense. If the offense could generate a running game, IU could find themselves in even stranger territory, with a shot at a big bowl game. If not, they will struggle to finish above .500. Now that, they’re used to.

5. Michigan State Spartans

Predicted finish:: 7-5

The Spartans knew they would need to rebuild in 2017 anyways, so they decided to  go 3-9 in in 2016 too, just to hurry the process along. Now they actually don’t have much talent returning. If you thought head coach Mark Dantonio was grouchy before…

6. Maryland Terrapins

Predicted finish: 5-7

Head coach DJ Durkin inherited a mess when he took the job in College Park, but he somehow got the Terrapins to be competitive, in his first season at the helm. Durkin’s enthusiasm helped bring in a solid recruiting class, and could propel this team back to another bowl game. Unfortunately, the schedule has visits to Texas, Ohio State, and Wisconsin on it. That should sap that darned enthusiasm.

7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Predicted finish: 4-8

The Scarlet Knights still have a ton of work to make themselves look like an actual Big 10 football program, but we are saying that they are going to double their win total from a season ago. So that’s something.

 

West Division

1. Wisconsin Badgers

Predicted finish: 10-2

Don’t be surprised to see the Badgers have an excellent season, as they return talent on both sides of the ball. The defense should be terrific, and the offense could take some major strides, if they can develop a running game. A more manageable schedule, could be a recipe for another loss in the conference championship game. Keep your fingers crossed!

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Predicted finish: 9-3

The Cornhuskers haven’t been to a conference championship since 2012 when they lost to Wisconsin 70-31. They have a fair amount of transition to overcome this season, so at least they shouldn’t have to worry about another embarrassing loss like that in a championship game for a few more years.

3. Northwestern Wildcats

Predicted finish: 8-4

Northwestern just keeps surprising everyone, going to back-to-back bowl games in 2015, and 2016. Could this be the year that they actually contend for a Big 10 championship? Considering their first two conference games will be against Wisconsin, and Penn State, no….no, it will not.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes

Predicted finish: 7-5

As a true Kirk Ferentz team should be, the 2017 Iowa Hawkeyes football team will be tough. They will have a physical defensive front, and a solid running back tandem in Akrum Wadley, and transfer James Butler. That should be enough to get them to another crappy bowl game that no one cares about.

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Predicted finish: 6-6

New head coach PJ Fleck has proven himself up to the challenge of getting a program like Western Michigan into the national conversation. But that change didn’t happen overnight, and neither will this one. The Golden Gophers have a number of questions on both sides of the ball, but could be scrappy enough to go 9-3, or thin enough to go 3-9. So we will just save some time, and split the difference.

6. Purdue Boilermakers

Predicted finish: 4-8

Purdue hired what may have been a steal in Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm. He has proven to be a very capable offensive mind, and could eventually get the Boilermakers back to a level of respectability. At least, until he leaves for a better job.

7. Illinois Fighting Illini

Predicted finish: 3-9

How can a football program located in such a talent-rich state like Illinois manage to be terrible every single year? Focus and determination, mostly. And you probably thought we were going to say something negative here, didn’t you? Nope. We are glass half-full at the Daly Dose.

 

Did you miss the Daly Dose ACC preview?

Coming tomorrow: the Daly Dose Big 12 preview!

The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Coast Conference

With Clemson beating Alabama in the National Championship game last season, there is talk that the ACC might be the perennial conference in the nation. With the likes of Florida State, Clemson, Miami, and Louisville, consistently being ranked in the Top 25, it is easy to see why this is a hotly debated subject. Just don’t snooping around, and finding the Boston Colleges, and Syracuses.

ACCHelmets_zps8e2d9a13

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State Seminoles

Predicted finish: 11-1

Florida State is absolutely loaded this year, returning 14 starters from a team that finished 10-3 a year ago. QB Deondre Francois becomes the next in a line of FSU quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Will he be of the Christian Ponder/EJ Manuel ilk? Or more of a Jameis Winston-type? My advice would be to start stealing crab legs, kid.

2. Clemson Tigers

Predicted finish: 11-1

The Tigers surprised everyone in 2016 by winning their first national championship since 1981. Dabo Swinney has done an amazing job of recruiting, but with the losses of DeShaun Watson and Mike Williams, it’s hard to think they could contend again. Then again, we just keep doubting Dabo, and that little weirdo just keeps proving us wrong

3. Louisville Cardinals

Predicted finish: 10-2

Despite rising as high as No. 3 last season in the national rankings, the Cardinals stumbled down the stretch, and finished 9-4. Some of that stemmed from the fact they fumbled the ball 30 times. Heisman winning QB Lamar Jackson is back, and head coach Bobby Petrino has a history of success in his third year, so maybe we should give Louisville a higher ranking. Of course, they would probably just fumble it away if we did.

4. North Carolina State Wolfpack

Predicted finish: 8-4

NC State returns 22 seniors from a team that went 7-5, and won the Independence Bowl, so why are we predicting just a one-game improvement in 2017? Well I mean, this is NC State, folks, what did you really expect?

5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Predicted finish: 5-7

Head coach Dave Clawson has done an admirable job of making the Demon Deacons a respectable program. Wake actually went to a bowl game last year. Unfortunately, this is a young team facing a very difficult schedule but hey, going to that bowl game last year was fun, right?

6. Syracuse Orange

Predicted finish: 4-8

The Orange actually returns some players with experience, but they will face one of the toughest schedules in the country. Syracuse will play Clemson, Louisville, Florida State, Miami, and LSU. With some luck, maybe the NCAA will force them to vacate some of those losses, at a future date.

7. Boston College Eagles

Predicted finish: 5-7

The Eagles were beaten by Louisville, and Florida State last year by a combined score of 97-14. Yet, they still managed to still go 7-6, and win the Quick Lane Bowl. This is the state of college football today. Mediocrity is celebrated, and rewarded. Or maybe that’s just the state of Boston College football today.

 

Coastal Division

1. Miami Hurricanes

Predicted finish: 11-1

The Canes lost some talent to the NFL, but Mark Richt has done a good job of restocking the shelves in Coral Gables. If they can find a quarterback… they could be back to their old obnoxious selves, that we all hate, very soon.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies

Predicted finish: 9-3

It is never easy to be the guy that replaces the guy, but Justin Fuente took over for longtime head coach Frank Beamer, and had a very successful opening season. The Hokies won the Coastal Division in 2016, and should be in the hunt again this season.  If this group can find a QB, they could challenge Miami. Or they could beat Miami , and then just lose to freaking Syracuse again, like they did last year.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Predicted finish: 8-4

Nothing makes sense when you are talking about Georgia Tech. They are located in Atlanta, which is  a great recruiting spot, yet they rarely get any of the top players.  In a world of passing offenses, they are still running the triple option. And opposing teams dread seeing the Yellow Jackets on the schedule, yet they usually end up beating them.

4. Pittsburgh Panthers

Predicted finish: 6-6

The Panthers have the distinction of beating both Penn State, and Clemson in 2016. They finished the season with an 8-5 record, and went to a bowl game. So, how will they follow up such a surprising season? Most likely, by returning to reality.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

Predicted finish:6-6

Head coach Larry Fedora has done a nice job of making the Tar Heels a solid contender each year, but there may be too many questions this season. Can the offense find enough play-makers? Can the defense provide any spark? And when in the world are the NCAA sanctions going to rain hell on all of the UNC sports programs?

6. Virginia Cavaliers

Predicted finish: 5-7

Last year, Bronco Mendenhall came to Charlottesville from BYU, where he had annually produced solid teams that went to bowl games. He moved to Virginia, in hopes of finding a new challenge with the Cavaliers, and then went 2-10 in his first season. Challenged yet?

7. Duke Blue Devils

Predicted finish: 4-8

Big surprise that a David Cutcliffe-offense should continue to be a dangerous unit in 2017. Unfortunately, the defense is going to struggle, and the overall toughness of this team might not be that high either. Sort of sounds like another Duke team, doesn’t it? Maybe one that got beat by South Carolina in the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

 

Coming on Saturday: The Daly Dose Sports Big 10 preview!

The Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Mountain West Conference 

Next up, we take a look at a conference that isn’t always considered among the elite.

Sure, the SEC, the Pac 12, and the Big 10 get all the attention, but the Mountain West plays second fiddle to no one!

I think it’s pretty obvious that this conference is clearly more like 6th or 7th fiddle.

Mountain West Conference

Mountain Division

1. Boise State Broncos    

Predicted finish: 10-2   

Boise State went just 9-4 last season, including back to back losses at home to New Mexico and Air Force. But I expect the Broncos to bounce back this year, much like the ducks that bounce off of their blue field, thinking it is water.

2. Air Force Falcons

Predicted finish: 9-3

The Falcons should be very competitive, as they return 14 starters from a team that went 8-6, and made it to the Mountain West Conference Championship game. Air Force will be led by running back Timothy McVeigh, who scored 13 touchdowns in 2015, and is in no way related to the Oklahoma City bomber. We’re pretty sure.

3. Colorado State Rams

Predicted finish: 7-5   

The Rams will be playing their final season in Hughes Stadium this year, before moving to their new facility, and head coach Mike Bobo is hoping that every seat will be filled this season to pay tribute to the teams of the past. Based on the history of CSU going .500 for the most part, I’d say the stadium should only be half full.

4. Wyoming Cowboys   

Predicted finish: 7-5   

The Cowboys finished 2-10 last year under second year head coach Craig Bohl. But Bohl knows what he’s doing, and has proven it by winning three national championships when he was at North Dakota State. So Wyoming fans just need to be patient. I mean, it isn’t like there’s anything else to do in Wyoming anyway.

5. Utah State Aggies

Predicted finish: 6-6

The Aggies will see a number of changes this season, including new coordinators on both sides of the ball. And a number of new players will be getting playing time this year. And the schedule will be significantly easier this year. So this is really a year of transition for Utah State. Except for the whole being a middle of the pack team in a middle of the pack conference. That doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

6. New Mexico Lobos

Predicted finish: 4-8   

Somehow Bob Davies managed to get the Lobos to actually win seven games and reach a Bowl Game last year. Quite frankly, we aren’t sure if he has sold his soul to the Dark Lord himself or what, but the Lobos could be bowl bound again this year. Nevermind eternal damnation, New Mexico would like to go to the New Mexico Bowl again!

West Division

1. San Diego State Aztecs   

Predicted finish: 11-1

The Aztecs went 11-3 last year, winning the MWC Championship, and the Hawaii Bowl. And with 14 returning starters they are primed to be even better this season. If they can get past an early date with California, and not trip up in conference, there is a chance they could find themselves playing in…gasp!…the…Arizona Bowl!

2. Nevada Wolfpack    

Predicted finish: 9-3   

Nevada had the most proficient offense in the country when they ran the Pistol back in 2005. Since then, they have slowly been taking steps backward each year. And last season, they averaged just 164.5 passing yards per game. Is Jeff Fisher coaching this offense?

3. San Jose State Spartans   

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Spartans are hanging their hopes this season on returning starting senior quarterback Kenny Potter, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. But just so we’re clear, Potter is six foot two and a whopping 208 pounds. So San Jose State is hitching their wagon to a kid that makes Steph Curry look like The Rock.

4. UNLV Runnin Rebels

Predicted finish: 6-6   

Head coach Tony Sanchez did an amazing job changing the Rebs from doormat to a high energy team that is capable of scoring points. Unfortunately the UNLV defense allows opponents to score quicker than a Vegas call girl, and without the STDs!

5. Fresno State Bulldogs

Predicted finish: 4-8

The Fresno State defense allowed 446 yards and 38 points per game last year. So seeing the Bulldogs on the schedule is kind of like getting a date with a Kardashian. You aren’t going to have to work that hard, and I think we all know how the night is going to end.

6. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors       

Predicted finish: 2-10

The Rainbow Warriors go to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are even playing Cal-Berkeley in Sydney, Australia, because just traveling from Hawaii to the West Coast wasn’t challenging enough. They will be travelling nearly 47 thousand miles this year. I guarantee they will sleep through at least one game due to jet lag.


Did you miss the Daly Dose Independent preview?

Coming on Thursday: the Daly Dose Pac 12 preview!

The Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Big 12

We now turn our attention to a conference that could be looking to expand and add a few teams to make it a true super conference. Or maybe the Big 12 will collapse completely and go away forever.

Either way.

Big 12

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Predicted finish: 10-2

Baker Mayfield took over the QB position in Norman last year, and took the Sooners all the way to the College Football Playoff with his high-risk gambling pirate style. But then we saw what he did against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Arrrgh!

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys   

Predicted finish: 9-3

Okie State actually has a chance to contend in this conference, as they return 10 starters from an offense that averaged almost 40 points per game last year. But the Cowboys do also have to play defense. And I think we all know how that usually turns out.

3. TCU Horned Frogs

Predicted finish: 9-3

The Horned Frogs are going to miss talented QB Trevone Boykin. Can Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill take the reins? Or will he get beat out, cry about it, and transfer again? No seriously, I’m asking.

4. Baylor Bears

Predicted finish: 9-3

The Bears lost some major talent on both sides of the ball, and then Art Briles got fired because his players were quite literally raping and pillaging the Baylor campus. So the win total will probably go down this year, but the crime numbers will drop too.

5. Texas Longhorns

Predicted finish: 8-4   

The team that might stand to benefit the most from Baylor’s slide might be Texas, who has been patching together their roster over the past two seasons. Now they are finally  assembling some talent. So maybe they only lose to Notre Dame by 20 in this year’s opener instead of 50.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

Predicted finish: 7-5   

The WVU offense has some studs. Skyler Howard, Shelton Gibson, and Daikiel Shorts could compare to former Mountaineer greats Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey. Which means they will put up some big meaningless numbers this year and then get punched in the face in the NFL.

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Predicted finish: 6-6   

Texas Tech is like a big budget summer blockbuster movie. Yes, there will be special effects (high powered offense). But there will also be poor acting (no defense). And we ultimately know the outcome: the plot goes nowhere, and we end up with diarrhea from all that butter on the popcorn.

8. Kansas State

Predicted finish: 5-7   

Sure, Bill Snyder is 104 years old, but he has the passion and exuberance of an 87 year old.

9. Iowa State Cyclones

Predicted finish: 4-8

You might look at this pick and think I am down on the Cyclones, but look who’s picking them to double their win total from a year ago! This mostly drunk guy!

10. Kansas Jayhawks   

Predicted finish: 1-11

Aww come on, it isn’t that bad, Jayhawk fans. OK, maybe it is.

Did you miss the Daly Dose Big 10 Preview?

Coming on Thursday: The Independents and other notables

The Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Big 10

We now turn our attention to the heart of America. The Midwest. The Heartland. This is Big 10 country.

It was just a few years ago that the Big 10 was getting beat again and again in National Championship games.

But then Ohio State restored the conference reputation by winning it all in 2014. And just like that, the Big 10 was back in a big way.

Of course, Michigan State burned that reputation to the ground last year in the Cotton Bowl, but nevermind that. Let’s look at what will happen this season.



Big 10 East

1. Michigan Wolverines

Predicted finish: 11-1   

It isn’t that we think the Wolverines are more talented than everyone else, but they have enough talent and an early soft schedule should get them off to a fast start. Plus, this is the type of season where Jim Harbaugh excels: when the expectations are still low, and the hatred and loathing for him hasn’t yet reached its eventual peak.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes   

Predicted finish: 10-2

Urban Meyer lost a number of talented players from a year ago. So now we see whether he is up to the challenge of transforming this young roster into a contender, or if he starts clutching his chest and talking about “spending more time with the fam” again.

3. Michigan State Spartans

Predicted finish:: 9-3   

The Spartans offense will get a new look this year as three year starter Connor Cook is gone. They will miss his leadership, his poise, and his ability to rip the Big 10 trophy from legendary Ohio State players without the slightest remorse.

4. Penn State Nittany Lions

Predicted finish: 7-5   

Gone is Happy Valley favorite quarterback Christian Hackenburg, who the Nittany Lions allowed to be sacked 39 times last season alone. So maybe they didn’t like him all that much afterall.

5. Indiana Hoosiers

Predicted finish: 6-6   

The Hoosiers are showing some signs of improvement under head coach Kevin Wilson, as they averaged nearly 37 points per game last year. Of course the defense allowed nearly 38 points per game. So don’t pass yourself on the back too much there, Kev.

6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Predicted finish: 6-6   

Rutgers finished 4-8 in 2015 and head coach Kyle Flood was suspended and then dismissed amid numerous off the field transgressions by players. New head coach Chris Ash will have enough to worry about just keeping his kids in line, let alone winning. Of course, this is Rutgers, no one really  expects them to win anything anyway.

7. Maryland Terrapins

Predicted finish: 5-7   

Last June, Maryland administration gave head coach Randy Edsall a $3 million dollar extension and told us what a bright future he had. Just four months later, they fired Edsall after the Terps started off 2-4. Now they have hired DJ Durkin and are telling us that he will lead them back to prominence. And I believe them. Don’t you?

Big 10 West

1. Iowa Hawkeyes

Predicted finish: 9-3   

Iowa had a historic season last year. They finished the season 12-2 and went undefeated in the regular season for the first time in 93 years. So I guess they should be due for another big season in about 2108. Can’t wait.

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers   

Predicted finish: 8-4   

Nebraska found new and inventive ways to lose games in 2015, dropping five games by five points or less. The schedule starts off with some winnable games early on and then the Husker can revert to their creative ways down the stretch.

3. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Predicted finish: 8-4

Minnesota was 6-7 last year, but that was against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. This season will be more manageable,  but I mean, this is Minnesota and much like the hometown Vikings…I think we all know this will probably end in disappointment.

4. Wisconsin Badgers

Predicted finish: 7-5   

The Badgers are hoping their defense can stay stingy, and they are hoping for big things from Jr linebacker TJ Watts – brother of NFL great JJ Watt. Can TJ bring QB pressure like his brother? Can he force fumbles? Will he wear a t-shirt two sizes too small? Stay tuned!

5. Northwestern Wildcats

Predicted finish: 7-5   

Northwestern exceeded expectations last year, winning 10 games for the first time in 20 years. But the schedule won’t be quite as forgiving this year, so get ready for a return to reality, you purple wearing geeks.

6. Illinois Fighting Illini

Predicted finish: 6-6   

How tough is it to win at the University of Illinois? Head coach Lovie Smith actually misses working with Jay Cutler and winning five games in a single season.

7. Purdue Boilermakers   

Predicted finish: 3-9   

Purdue football is so bad that they are going to finish 14th in a conference called the “Big 10”.

Did you miss the Daly Dose ACC preview?

Coming on Tuesday: the Daly Dose Big 12 Preview!