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It’s that time of year again, boys. Though we had a few games last Saturday, the meaningful games really start to pick up this week. There are a ton of storylines going into this year, such as SEC vs. the ACC and Big Ten. Can Alabama get back to the CFB Playoff for the fourth year in a row? Can Ohio State rebound from that absolute beat down Clemson gave them last year? Who is going to be the dark horse team to make some noise late in the year a la Penn State last year? I’m unbelievably pumped, for both watching the games and the money to be made.
In this iteration of The Degenerates Guide To Gambling, I’ll give you my picks for the bet that I make with one of my buddies every year: winners of the power five conferences, CFB Playoff picks, and national champion. Grab one of your buddies, make these picks, put $100 on each pick, let the picks add up and cancel each other out, the winner wins the difference. Let’s go.
I’m a huge opponent of the narrative that the ACC is the premier conference in college football. Sure, you have Florida State and Clemson, followed by Louisville and an upstart Miami team. But you also have Boston College, Wake Forest, and a slew of other teams who are not competitive whatsoever. The teams at the top are great, but the conference has little depth.
Anyways, Florida State and Clemson are the two teams that most have winning the conference. Akers and Francois should be enough for a strong offense, and the defense returns a lot of starters to make the team special. I see them losing week one against Alabama, then having a strong chance to run the table. Clemson will be good, but will have a lot of holes to fill, specifically QB1, RB1, and WR1.
I’m actually taking the U to win the conference, though. They should be a favorite in 11 of 12 games, with the lone dog game being at Florida State in mid-September. Just like with any rivalry game, though, anything can happen (evidenced by Miami blowing the game last year). Year two under Richt will be a huge step forward for the program. A tough November game against Virginia Tech will be a hurdle, but I’ll take Miami as the team on the outside to make a run.
Conference Champ: University of Miami (FL)
Fair warning: Though I live in central Ohio, I am extremely biased against Ohio State. Ohio State has a very good chance to run the table, as they don’t play a meaningful game between week two and late October. That said, I truly believe in Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley and think that they can take out Goliath once again this year, even if the game is in the Shoe. Michigan will be taking a step back with the loss of key talent, and Wisconsin will be the fraud team in the country this year with a great record by way of a terrible schedule. I expect another Penn State/Wisconsin rematch in the conference title game, but Penn State dominating. Sorry, Jared.
Conference Champ: Penn State
This is, to me, the most intriguing conference in the country. You have perennial powerhouse Oklahoma. Oklahoma State returns a ton of starters at key positions, and has the most electric coach in the country. Texas now has Tom Herman and has big hopes for his future, but this may be one year too soon. Throw in teams that are supposed to have better years in Kansas State and TCU and you have a very intriguing conference. I personally think Oklahoma State will get over the hump and take the conference this year with Mason Rudolph leading the way. Even if they happen to lose Bedlam, they would get another chance at Oklahoma (presumably) in the new conference title game. Oklahoma State is the team that I’m riding and dying with this year; their offense will be electric.
Conference Champ: Oklahoma State
USC is back. That eight-game stretch leading to the Rose Bowl last year was incredibly impressive, and I expect them to pick up where they left off. They should be making a statement when they play Texas early and ride that wave throughout the year. USC is one team I’m expecting to run the table in the regular season on their way to the CFB Playoff. Washington will drop a couple games due to losses on the defensive side of the ball, and Stanford will be a solid 9-3, maybe 10-2 team per usual. Also, the Pac-12 South will be very poor this year. Expect Sam Darnold to be in the Heisman discussion all year long. Fight On.
Conference Champ: Southern Cal
I feel like a pawn for making the pick that I’m going to. LSU is an interesting team with Matt Canada coming in to run the offense. Auburn will be interesting with Jared Stidham coming into town to run the show. Georgia has a ton of talent in the backfield coming back, and Jacob Eason is looking to take a huge step forward in his sophomore year. That said, it’s Alabama. They’re returning the SEC offensive player of the year, have weapons all over the offense, and we all know they are going to reload on defense. It’ll be incredibly anti-climactic, just like it always is. There will be teams that seem like they’re making runs like Manziel’s A&M teams or Ole Miss before sanctions, but at the end of the day? The Tide will roll into the playoff once again with one or no losses in the regular season.
Conference Champ: Alabama
Playoff: Alabama, USC, Penn State, Oklahoma State
Miami will be the conference champ left out of the playoff. They may stumble against Virginia Tech or Florida State, but will get into the conference title game to win the whole thing. Not playing Louisville and Clemson helps their cause, but the possibility of two losses leaves them out of the conversation. That leaves USC, Alabama, Penn State, and Oklahoma State, in that order. Between those teams, I can see USC and Alabama getting through to the championship game, facing off in an all blue-blood final.
National Champion: USC
Sam Darnold will lead the way to the Trojans winning the entire thing. He’ll win the Heisman, national title, and be the number one pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Hell of a year for that guy. With Texas and Notre Dame not being great teams, this leaves USC with a very manageable schedule and smooth sailing into the playoff. They will use all of the talent that’s always across a USC roster to get it done. It’s USC’s year. Fight On..
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