Seven bold predictions about the 2017 college football season


All the orange and blue confetti has been swept up at Raymond James Stadium and the Clemson Tigers are back home with the College Football Championship trophy. So now it’s time to look ahead to the 2017 college football season:

Three preseason title contenders

Alabama. Five or six first-round draft picks gone, and it won’t matter

Ohio State. 11-2, playoff-bound with one of the least experienced teams in the country

Florida State. Loses Dalvin Cook and Demarcus Walker but returns most everyone else

Three preseason media darlings

USC. Won its final nine games with future star Sam Darnold at quarterback

Penn State. Back to full scholarship level and has a QB/RB combo (Trace McSorley/Saquon Barkley) to envy

LSU. Recruited well for years and its major weakness – a lack of offense – was addressed with one of the top hires of the offseason (coordinator Matt Canada)

Three players who could rival Lamar Jackson for preseason Heisman hype

Sam Darnold, USC QB. Rose Bowl run showed his sky-high potential

Jake Browning, Washington QB. Returning playoff QBs always in the spotlight

Josh Rosen, UCLA QB. Top-pick talent hasn’t produced to that ceiling yet

Three really, really good early-season games

Alabama-Florida State (Sept. 2 in Atlanta). No. 1 vs. No. 2? Sign us up.

Florida-Michigan (Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas). 2015 Citrus Bowl rematch, potentially a top-10 game

Texas at USC (Sept. 16). Tom Herman against potential-top-5 Trojans

Three title contenders that could take a slight step back

Clemson. Losing its difference-making quarterback (Deshaun Watson)

Michigan. Loaded this year and may find it tough to survive injuries/departures

Oklahoma. Class of the Big 12 loses big pieces around QB Baker Mayfield

Three intriguing new coaches

Tom Herman, Texas. Can he acclimate quicker than Charlie Strong did?

Charlie Strong, USF. Smart defensive mind inherits a 10-win roster

Ed Orgeron, LSU. Had a preview in 2016, but what will the Coach O era look like?

Three divisions that will be slugfests

ACC Coastal. Tons of QB losses, but good coaches all over the place

SEC East. Georgia, Tennessee, Florida poised to battle it out

Big Ten East. Could have three top 10 teams to start the year



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