Bold predictions for college football season

Bold+predictions+for+college+football+season

Carson Field, Sports Editor

The 2016 college football season kicked off Friday, when the California Golden Bears defeated Hawaii 54-34. This weekend is the first full set of games in the season, and there is plenty of anticipation surrounding it.

Bo Scarbrough will not fill the footsteps of Derrick Henry:

It is never easy to produce like a former Heisman winner, but Alabama’s ground game will be more of a combined effort this year. Derrick Henry, who is now on the Tennessee Titans, won the Heisman Trophy with Bama last year, rushing for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns. Scarbrough was highly touted out of high school, as he was the second-ranked athlete in the 2014 ESPN 300, but has had issues with the heat in practice. The Tide will likely opt to use a combination of Scarbrough and backup Damien Harris to effectively run the ball.

11 SEC teams will be invited to bowl games:

The SEC is often seen as the most dominant conference for the past decade, and that likely will not change this year. There were 10 teams that made bowl games last year, and that total will go up by one this year. While not many experts predict them to have success, I expect Vanderbilt and Missouri to win at least six games this year, therefore giving them bowl-eligibility. The three teams left out from the 14-team conference will be South Carolina, Kentucky and Auburn.

Washington will lose at least four games:

The preseason polls have shown Washington love, as they are No. 14 in the AP (Associated Press), and No. 18 in the USA Today. Their defense is possibly the strongest in the Pac-12, but I am not sure that they are going to perform as well as they are ranked. The Huskies have an easy nonconference schedule, but their schedule does feature always tough tests against Stanford, Oregon, USC and Utah. I expect them to lose at least three of these games and be upset by either California, Arizona State or Arizona.

Despite turmoil, Baylor will win at least nine games:

The offseason for the Baylor football team has been rather chaotic, as they had to let go of most of their coaching staff, including former head coach Art Briles, because of their involvement of covering up multiple rape accusations of football players. The 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes have suffered due to these sanctions, but the Bears are likely to still be contenders this season. They return quarterback Seth Russell, running back Shock Linwood and receiver K.D. Cannon. If the Bears’ season is as successful as I predict, their future recruiting classes should be boosted.

Greg Ward Jr. will be a Heisman Finalist:

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. hopped into national attention last year when he led the Cougars to a 13-1 record, including a win in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Cougars are once again expected to be good, and I expect Ward Jr. to be a star. He will get serious Heisman hype if the Cougars can defeat Oklahoma this Saturday at NRG Stadium. Ward will put up video game numbers in 2016, which will secure his spot in Manhattan, the location of the Heisman Trophy presentation.

The Pac-12 will be left out of the College Football Playoff AGAIN:

The Pac-12 Conference was left out of the College Football Playoff in 2015, and it will likely happen again in 2016. Stanford was the closest to the playoff last year, but was ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings, and only four teams make it. While the Pac-12 is often seen as the second-best conference, its depth makes teams beat each other up, leading to the conference champion likely having two losses. Stanford has the best chance to win the Pac-12, but I see them losing more than one game, for they have a difficult schedule.