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Reliving My Insane Predictions for the 2015 College Football Season

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 

As a sports fan, I’ve always loved reading pre-season predictions, as they offer both writers and readers their first real glimpse into exactly how the upcoming season may play out. Well, that, and a chance to yell at each other and call everyone who disagrees with you an idiot.

That brings me to the other great part about preseason predictions: no one ever remembers them. No one ever remembers which prognosticators are particularly prophetic, which are hit and miss, or which are consistently so far off that they should probably consider a career change. 

Well, if I have anything to do with it (and I don’t), that’s about to change. If I’m going out of my way to publish my preseason predictions, you better believe I’m going to revisit them. I want to be able to bathe in the prescient glory, and also explain away the errant forecasts. And, of course, give everyone a chance to call me an idiot in the process (which will undoubtedly happen more often than not). 

So, let’s all take a journey through my “insane” preseason predictions for the nearly completed college football season. For each of the 20 predictions, I’ll give a quick analysis of the prediction and then a grade, plus a recap and final grade at the end.

Of course, I should probably mention that these predictions were meant to be on the bold side, and I honestly haven’t looked at them since the season began. You know, if that helps them look any better in retrospect. (Yeah, I know, it probably doesn’t.) 

On to the wrongness!

Royce Freeman will break LMJ’s school record of 21 rushing touchdowns. 

Freeman has had a marvelous year for the Ducks, and is on the verge of breaking one of LaMichael James’ all-time single-season Oregon rushing records (with one game left on the schedule). Unfortunately for me, it’s for rushing yards, as Rolls Royce sits just 99 yards away from matching James’ school record of 1,806. So, while his 14 rushing touchdowns are impressive, barring an Alamo Bowl for the ages, the rushing touchdown record is safe for another year. 

Result: Not really, but, kinda? (Yeah, I’m giving partial credit for the (potential) yards record. Deal with it.)

Cal will beat Stanford for the first time since 2009, and finish 2nd in the Pac-12 North.

Through 5 weeks, with Cal sitting at 5-0 and ranked in the top 25 for the first time in years, and with Stanford struggling a bit after an opening week loss to Northwestern, this pick was looking pretty good. Then the rest of the season happened. Cal fell apart down the stretch and Stanford turned it around, culminating in a 35-22 Cardinal win (that wasn’t as close as the score), and another conference title in Palo Alto.

Result: WRONG (Hey, at least I thought Cal would be decent!)

A Washington State quarterback will break an NCAA record this year.

No NCAA records fell in Pullman this year. BUT, Luke Falk did set school record for touchdown passes, and earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors, which I don’t think anyone saw coming. Unfortunately for me, the Cougs had a slightly more balanced offensive attack this season, and barely even cracked 500 yards and 70 attempts in a game this year. Pssh. Amateurs!

Result: Nope (Falk was great, but, far from the typical absurdly prolific Mike Leach QB.)

Announcers will talk more about Marcus Mariota than Jeff Lockie over the course of the season. 

If Vernon Adams’ right index finger stayed in one piece all season long, then this one was probably in the bag. Unfortunately for Duck fans, that didn’t happen, and Lockie was pressed into action for multiple games, keeping him fresh on announcer’s tongues all season long.

Result: WRONG (If, if, if… sigh.)

Vernon Adams will win All Pac-12 honors.

See above. If Adams’ doesn’t get hurt, he’s a virtual shoe-in for a spot on the All-Pac-12 team, and maybe even Offensive Player of the Year. Heck, he had a decent argument even having missed most of 3 conference games, thanks to his sparkling 25-to-6 TD-to-Int ratio and nation-leading 179.6 QB rating. 

Result: Technically Wrong (Although, when in the lineup, he was certainly playing at an All-Conference level.)

Someone will still mispronounce Marcus Mariota’s name at some point, causing Duck fans around the globe to throw their hands up in disgust and curse at the TV. 

I definitely heard a Mario-TAH at least twice this season. I’m fairly certain one was from college football’s absolute worst announcing duo of Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham. Or, maybe I just wanted to call out their terribleness in a public space. Either way, I’m sure I heard one somewhere. Trust me. 

Result: Correct! (You’re gonna have to trust me on this.)

The #1 seed in the College Football Playoffs lose to the #4 seed.

Clearly, this is still up in the air, as the game hasn’t even taken place yet. That being said, can I get some partial credit for the fact that #4 seeded Oklahoma is actually favored over #1 seeded Clemson according to Vegas sportsbooks?  In the end, that means nothing (just ask last year’s favorite in the 1-4 matchup, Alabama), but, at this point, it’s the closest we have to an answer.

Result: Correct-ish (for now)

Ohio State will be that #1 seed.

I could make the argument that they were 4 points away from making this come true, with only a 17-14 loss to #3 Michigan State keeping them from an unblemished record. But, in all honesty, this team never fully regained their form from last year’s dominating finish, and was far from a lock at #1, even with an undefeated record.

Result: Close, but… No Cigar.

True freshman Ugo Amadi will be starting at CB for the Ducks in the post-season. 

Amadi did manage to get 2 starts this year, in Week 3 vs Georgia State and in Week 4 vs Utah after starter Chris Seisay went down with an injury. However, he was not able to hold on to that starting job after the debacle against the Utes, and eventually safety Tyree Robinson was moved to corner to solidify the position, leaving Amadi sitting 2nd on the depth chart heading into the Alamo Bowl.

Result: Nope. (but, hey, he still did crack the starting lineup at some point! Does that earn me bonus points?)

Whoever finishing #5 in the final College Football Playoff rankings will lose their bowl game. 

#5 Iowa had a miracle run this year, with its only loss coming in the Big Ten Championship Game when #3 Michigan State plunged across the goal line with 27 seconds remaining to secure the 3 point win. At the same time, that was also their first game against a ranked opponent all season. Yes, you read that right. So, while motivation won’t be an issue for a team who hasn’t appeared in the Rose Bowl since 1991, and hasn’t won one in over five decades (1959), talent might be. Vegas has them as 6 point underdogs against Pac-12 champ Stanford, so, this one still looks pretty good.

Result: Correct-esque (again, for now)

Colorado will get their first marque upset as a member of the Pac, taking down one of the conferences bowl teams.

The Buffalo only won a single conference game (yet, again), defeating winless-in-the-conference Oregon State. They did play bowl teams Arizona, USC, UCLA and Utah tough, staying within a score of each, but, there are no moral victories in the Pac-12. Sorry Buffs, maybe next year.

Result: Wrong

The Oregon Ducks will actually average more points per game this season. 

While the team averaged “only” 42.3 points per game this year (against 45.4 in 2014), they did manage to put up 45.1 per game that included Vernon Adams in the lineup. And, considering the night-and-day difference between the Lockie/Alie-led Ducks offense and the Adams-led Ducks offense, it’s completely reasonable to say that the Ducks likely would have eclipsed last year’s offensive numbers. But….. the didn’t. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Result: Technically Wrong (The best kind of wrong. Sigh.)

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner will not be a quarterback. 

Huzzah! Not only was the winner not a QB, neither was the runner up! Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (literally) ran away with this year’s award, and made me look smart in the process. (It’s about damn time!)

Result: Nailed it! 

Washington at Oregon State will be a pivotal game in the Pac-12 North... as it will decide last place in the division. 

This is a matter of semantics, as it comes down to which part of my prediction was the crux of the statement. While these teams did end up in the Pac-12 North basement, the Beavers ran away with last place, going winless in the conference and finishing four full games behind the 5th place Huskies. So, while I was correct predicting the standings, the game ultimately didn’t factor in to the order at all.

Result: Kinda Right. (Kinda wrong, too.)

SEC once-again fails to make it to the National Championship game. 

So, once again, this is still up in the air (maybe I should have waited another month to do this?). That being said, I’ve set the precedent above by using Vegas lines as a de facto decider, and while that worked to my advantage on my other bowl-related predictions, this time Vegas gets its revenge (as it always does). Alabama is a 9 point favorite against Michigan State, and the even money favorites to take home the championship. Of course, that’s similar to where things stood this time last year, before the #1 Crimson Tide fell to the #4 Buckeyes. So, there’s still hope!

Result: Wrong-like (for now!)

DeForest Buckner will be named a consensus All-American.

Ahhh, more technicalities. Buckner was chosen to USA Today’s All-American First Team, and made various Second and Third Teams (and honorable mentions). He also took home Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, despite the Ducks having one of the worst defenses in the nation as a group. So, while he was technically not a “Consensus First Team All-American” (by definition), the consensus around the nation as that he was an All-American of some sort or another, and almost assuredly a first round NFL draft pick come April.

Result: Mostly Right (even if technically wrong)

Both Arizona schools will finish above both SoCal schools. 

Ouch. Both Arizona schools had very disappointing years, only finishing ahead of lowly Colorado in the Pac-12 South, while USC won the division and UCLA finished the season ranked in the top 25. That being said, USC was a dumpster fire at mid-season after firing head coach Steve Sarkisian after he was allegedly drunk on the sideline during his team’s game against ASU (among a few other notable alcohol related transgressions). So, that counts for something, right? Yeah, probably not. Especially considering the Sun Devils ended up losing that game. I repeat: Ouch.

Result: Very, Very Wrong.

Utah will upset a top 10 team this year… and it will say more about the team they beat than the Utes.

Welp, this one stings. While technically (there’s that word again!) the Utes thrashing in Eugene came against the 13th ranked Ducks, this one just feels like a win from a variety of angles. First, the Ducks were a top 10 team at one point, and with a win in the Alamo Bowl, they could finish the year ranked in the top 10. Also, you could just look at the fact that the win itself vaulted Utah themselves into the top 10. Either way, rankings aside, this was exactly what I was talking about when I said that the Utes would take down a big time foe… and it definitely was more about the Ducks failings at the time, than Utah being a powerhouse (as the end of their season proved).

Result: I’m Counting It. (and if the Ducks win their bowl and finish in the top 10, lock it up!)

The Ducks will wear green and yellow in the National Championship Game this year.

Yeah, not so much. Although, as bad as the Ducks looked at times this year, they were likely one broken finger away from winning the Pac-12 (there’s no way they lose to Washington State with Adams at the helm) and maybe even earn a trip back to the Playoff (does a healthy Adams hit a wide open Byron Marshall in the closing moments in East Lansing?). Of course, there’s probably 20 teams that could make a similar case. Plus, with the Ducks 118th ranked defense, even if they somehow managed to sneak into the Playoff, getting to the National Championship would be a tall order. So, we’ll just call this one what it was…

Result: Quite Wrong

And, finally, my boldest prediction of all: I will get at least one of these predictions right this year.

Honestly, this one was touch and go for a while there. While I was reeeaally close on quite a few of my bold predictions, it wasn’t until this past Saturday when Derrick Henry took home the Heisman Trophy that I 100% nailed one. But, boy did it feel good!

Result: Hell yeah!

In the end, I’ve definitely gained some respect for those that put out preseason predictions year-in-and-year-out, because, it (clearly) is not easy. At the same time, I was this close to hitting on about half of my predictions (with a few still up in the air), so, I can at least hold my head high that only a couple were outright awful, which I consider a win. Especially when you consider that the point was to make bold (aka “borderline insane”) predictions.

Either way, I can’t wait to do it again next year… and give you all more chances to call me an idiot. And, it’s ok, don’t hold back. Because, you’re probably right.

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Top Pac-12 College Football Players

Here are some of the Oregon players who have managed to make it into the 2014 Top Pac-12 Players List.

Prev Next

#22 Byron Marshall

College: University of Oregon

Position: Running Back

In 2013 he had 168 carries, 14 touchdowns, 13 catches, 155 receiving yards, and 1,038 rushing yards.  It’s no wonder he makes it as #22 on this list.  Not only do these stats make him a player to watch, but also a player with a lot of potential to climb the rankings.

 

Photo Credit: Scott Enyeart (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

Prev Next

#19 Isaac Seumalo

College: Oregon State University

Position: Offensive Lineman

This Offensive Lineman managed to block QB Sean Mannion who set the Pac-12 single-season record with 4,662 yards passing.  With his abilities to block in the manner of which he did makes him a prime candidate to possibly win the Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy, and/or Rotary Lombardi Award.

 

Photo Credit: Karl Maasdam (Own Work) (Image Cropped) Courtesy Oregon State University

Prev Next

#10 Hroniss Grasu

College: University of Oregon

Position: Center

As a junior in 2013 he became one of three Oregon native players to be named All-Pac-12 two seasons in a row.  He has managed to lead the offensive line to the conference’s number 1 rushing attack.  Entering his final year at U of O, Grasu has started all 40 games of his career at UO making him one of the Duck’s greatest players.

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Hartwig (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

Prev Next

#6 Sean Mannion

College: Oregon State University

Position: Quarterback

Ranking here for breaking the Pac-12 single-season record with 4,662 yards thrown, 35 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions, this is a player the NFL is watching closely. Already sitting at #10 on the conference’s all-time passing list, it’s going to be a breeze for him to pass Matt Barkley’s record of 12,327 yards thrown.

 

Photo Credit: Karl Maasdam (Own Work) (Image Cropped) Courtesy Oregon State University

Prev Next

#4 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

College: University of Oregon

Position: Cornerback

In 2013 he was the second Ducks player to have 84 tackles with 3 interceptions, and 9 passes defended.  He is a force to be reckoned with.  It has been unanimous that he is to be the 2014 Preseason All-American.  It’s also been hinted that he may not last too long in the 2015 NFL draft.

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Hartwig (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

Prev Next

#1 Marcus Mariota

College: University of Oregon

Position: Quarterback

With stats such as completing 63.5% of his passes with 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns, only 4 interceptions, rushing a total of 715 yards with 9 touchdowns, this makes him a hot candidate for the NFL.  He has managed to make U of O one of the Pac-12 favorite college teams as well as a national title contender.  He has also set a U of O single-season record throwing 4,380 total yards and set a Pac-12 record by attempting to throw 353 consecutive passes without interception.  He is also in the running to win the Heisman Trophy as a 1A option.

 

Photo Credit: Scott Enyeart (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

 
 

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