Before we get started, I just want to mention one thing about Miami’s season. Tickets to the UF game are almost sold out and I’m thrilled that Canes fans are so pumped about the match-up. That being said, I want Miami fans to support this team on the road as well. The four best teams in the Coastal Division are UM, Ga Tech, Va Tech, and UNC. I think the Canes will take care of business against VT and GT with the games being in Miami. The game in Chapel Hill on Thursday October 17th will be the most important ACC game of the year for Al Golden’s team. Miami needs to reach and possibly win the ACC title game to consider this season a success, and the winner of this matchup moves to the driver’s seat in the Coastal. If you haven’t been to a Thursday night road game, I would strongly encourage you to make the trip. Hope to see you there.
While I’ve enjoyed catching up on Ron Zook’s new career and the concert escapades of Charlie Weis, it’s time to get back to business. Get ready for more college football predictions. I call this post "Don't be Surprised When". I will nervously check this list at the end of the season to see how I did. I want to receive some minimal praise, but also hope to hear the complaints from those of you who disagree with me. Debates and arguments are crucial aspects of the preseason. Miami dominates FAU in just 43 days and the excitement continues to build.
Don't be Surprised When......ACC Edition
The NCAA treats Miami fairly at long last
Miami fans, coaches, and players have been dealing with the NCAA cloud for what feels like a decade. Soon, this difficult period will be behind the Canes and everyone can finally focus solely on football. The Miami administration did a great job dealing with the NCAA during the COI meetings and I expect nothing more than a few scholarship penalties. The Canes will get credit for time served and their two previous self-imposed bowl bans will be enough to satisfy the NCAA. Mark Emmert and company know that in order to have time to rehabilitate their image, the NCAA must fade away from the headlines for a while. If Miami is punished with an additional bowl ban, the public outcry will be substantial. After hearing SEC commissioner Mike Slive’s comments that essentially bashed the NCAA and questioned its existence, I became very confident about Miami’s fate. With Penn State actively questioning their severe penalties and receiving public support, all signs point to a Canes reprieve. Oregon was the first beneficiary of the NCAA’s need to fade into the background and Miami will be next.
Clemson goes undefeated in ACC regular season play
The Tigers have a dream conference schedule in 2013. The Atlantic Division is far weaker than the Coastal in terms of depth, and Clemson avoids playing Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech. Clemson hosts Florida State and will have revenge on their mind. The experience of Tajh Boyd will be the difference and FSU freshman QB Jameis Winston will be facing the toughest challenge of his young career. Clemson’s road games are against Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, and NCST. With the talent of Boyd and Sammy Watkins and four returning offensive line starters, this Clemson team is finally ready to avoid a terrible road loss. Dabo Swinney has improved as a coach and the Tigers’ win over LSU gave them confidence they can play with anyone. Clemson opens with Georgia at home, and a win could have the Tigers in the Top 5 all season, setting up a season ending thriller against South Carolina.
Virginia's Mike London is fired at the end of the season
After three seasons at the helm, his record at Virginia is 8-16 in the ACC and 16-21 overall. It's sickening as a Miami fan that three of those wins came against the Canes, but that streak surely ends this season. 2011 was a strong year for the Cavs, but London's team regressed in 2012. With tough out of conference games against BYU and Oregon to start the 2013 season, breaking in a new starting QB will be difficult. Don't be tricked into thinking that experienced assistant coaching hires can right this ship. Tenuta and O'Brien aren't wearing pads. The talent level isn't there to win in the ACC and the quarterback situation spells disaster.
Don't be Surprised When......National Edition
Urban Meyer becomes a disciplinarian to try to save face
Meyer will immediately throw the next player that is arrested at Ohio State off the team. Meyer will scold him publicly because he must make an attempt to mend his national reputation. OSU has a national championship caliber team in 2013 and Meyer must keep the media's focus away from his years at the helm of #LochteNation. Miami and FSU fans shouted from the rooftops about Urban's legacy of arrests and player leniency during his time in Gainesville. No one listened back then due to the media's love affair with Tim Tebow. Meyer is finally facing the heat he deserves as details are released about a seemingly endless number of "alleged" shootings involving Aaron Hernandez. Just when Urban tried to calm the situation down, his former players the Pouncey twins decided to show their fashionable support to Aaron in public. Now current UF coach Will Muschamp is taking shots at Meyer and most college football fans couldn't be happier to see Urban's hypocrisy being exposed.
The Media revels in the struggles of Johnny Football
Every incompletion or interception by Johnny Manziel will be blamed on excessive partying, a drinking problem, a lack of focus, or an ego that he cant control. No defense will ever get credit for making a play, or for making adjustments to stop an Aggies offense that they now have more familiarity with. No one will mention that Manziel lost several key playmakers and talented offensive linemen to the NFL. No one will mention the loss of his OC Kliff Kingsbury. It will all be about his partying and social media escapades of the offseason because it's the type of story the media dreams of. Most writers probably already have their story written, waiting to release it after Manziel's first poor performance. If and when Texas A&M loses a game, Manziel will be instantly labeled a Heisman bust and will be criticized beyond belief. (forgetting the Aggies lost two games In 2012)
Mark May and Lou Holtz are FINALLY removed from ESPN's College Football Scoreboard and Final after the 2013 season
Fox Sports 1 will try to challenge ESPN's college football supremacy, starting this season. In the past, viewers were forced to endure the painfully awful ESPN shows with Holtz and May if they wanted college football highlights. With another option now available, ESPN will discover just how hated these two men are as broadcasters. Mark May has stooped to new levels this offseason with his hypocritical outrage over Johnny Manziel's behavior. The novelty of "Dr. Lou" wore off years ago and he no longer provides any real insight or information, other than celebrating Notre Dame's success. I have pity for Rece Davis because I know he must be praying for the day that he is given better talent to work with. Being forced to watch "The Final Verdict," where Rece wears a robe and tries to stimulate discussions with May and Holtz, almost constitutes torture. ESPN must prepare for the 2014 season with commentators that viewers actually enjoy and respect. The playoff in college football will bring the sport even more popularity and ratings, so expect a change to be made at the end of this season.
The SEC's run of 7 straight National Titles ends this year
I realize this prediction is out of consensus, but all streaks are made to be broken. The SEC champion will face a much better opponent than Notre Dame this January. I believe in the Pac 12 this year and think that the winner of the Stanford Oregon game could be the team that dethrones the SEC. The Ducks are loaded on both sides of the ball and Marcus Mariota still doesn't get the respect he deserves. Alabama has to be very careful to not get complacent this year. The Tide will be ready for Texas A&M and seek out their revenge, but I'm not sure their focus will remain at that level all season. If Georgia or South Carolina ends up winning the SEC, that could open the door even further for a non-SEC national champion. Ohio State plays a very easy schedule and Braxton Miller will be tough to stop as his confidence increases.
Oklahoma State wins the Big 12
The Cowboys have a favorable conference schedule, hosting Baylor, Oklahoma, KState and TCU. The only road game that will present a challenge is a trip to face Texas. With Oklahoma likely to have a down year, the road to a BCS bowl could be decided on November 16th when the Cowboys take on the Longhorns in Austin. The Cowboys should be favored in their first nine games and will gain confidence as the year progresses. Jeremy Smith is a talented RB and both JW Walsh and Clint Chelf have proven their talents at quarterback. Both guys are capable of leading this team to a conference title. Mike Gundy has replaced offensive coordinators with success in recent years and I have confidence in his hire of Mike Yurcich. New defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will be an upgrade over Miami’s former defensive "guru" Bill Young.
Follow me @JPickens15 for winning picks and predictions all season long. Get your popcorn ready.