Predictions for the remainder of the college football season, picks for this week’s games
The 2020 college football season has already nudged past the halfway point. But the numerous COVID-related postponements and cancellations give this Saturday the feel of a mid-season intermission.
That means it is a good time to offer up a few predictions for the rest of the year.
Prediction #1: Mac Jones will win the Heisman Trophy.
The Crimson Tide signal-caller is currently edging out Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in ESPN’s Heisman Watch. Jones is putting up historic numbers and has the playmakers at his disposal to finish the season the way he started — on a tear. After the legendary program not having a Heisman winner until 2009, Alabama could be looking at its third recipient in the last 11 years.
Prediction #2: Gus Malzahn will earn his 70th win as Auburn head coach.
If Malzahn’s Tigers win three out of their last four during the regular season, plus a bowl victory, then that will leave him with 70 total wins, 40 of those in SEC play. Hitting that mark will also solidify Malzahn’s place as the greatest coach to ever walk the sidelines at Jordan-Hare.
Prediction #3: Clemson will fail to make the college football playoff for the first time in its existence.
We have written before about the gap between Clemson and Alabama this season. Those weaknesses in Clemson’s roster also showed up against Notre Dame last weekend. If Dabo Swinney does not give the NFL a shot during the offseason, look for his Tigers to be back in contention in 2021.
Prediction #4: The SEC will have two teams in the playoff.
Winning out and losing to Alabama in the SEC championship will likely earn Florida a place in the college football playoff. Notre Dame looks best-positioned from the ACC to reach the playoff, and Ohio State seems to not have a peer in the Big Ten. If Notre Dame were to slip up before its championship game, the clamoring for a Group of 5 team, such as Cincinnati or BYU, will become loud among the national sports media.
Let’s get to some picks for this week.
Arkansas at No. 6 Florida (-17.5): Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman is out this week after testing positive for COVID-19. Would the Razorbacks’ athletic department eliminate his position if they pulled the upset without him? Fortunately for him, Pittman will not face such cost-cutting measures.
The pick: Florida 42, Arkansas 28
TCU at West Virginia (-3): We are charter members of the Neal Brown fan club dating back to his time as the head man at Troy. For years, defense and tackling were optional in Morgantown under Dana Holgerson and his Air Raid-focused teams. Brown has changed the culture, and the Mountaineers are now ranked fourth in the nation in total defense.
The pick: West Virginia 24, TCU 16
No. 2 Notre Dame (-11.5) at Boston College: Euphoria spilled out across Ireland last weekend after Notre Dame beat a historically overrated Clemson team fielding no playmakers, very little defensive talent and a bad offensive line. That exuberance is the reason why Boston College has become a trendy upset pick this week. While Notre Dame would be the fifth-best team in the SEC, it will be good enough to handle the Eagles.
The pick: Notre Dame 39, Boston College 21
Colorado at Stanford (-7.5): Does anyone really know what is happening out in the Pac-12? Even with all the modern advancements in communication platforms, tracking the Pac-12 is like trying to follow Korean baseball or a golf tournament in Dubai. We are led to believe they are playing this year, and we have heard Colorado got a big emotional victory last week against UCLA, a school which previously fired Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell. Word is that Stanford has been holding bootleg practices in a neighboring county due to local government lockdown rules.
The pick: Stanford 26, Colorado 7
UTEP at Texas-San Antonio (-6.5): UTEP has had some trouble getting on the field this year with canceled games against North Texas and Florida International. Nevertheless, its school president is a Yellowhammer favorite, former secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson. Her team is a stingy bunch, currently sitting 19th in the country in total defense.
The pick: UTEP 20, Texas-San Antonio 17
No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech (-1.5): Virginia Tech might be the most inconsistent Power 5 team in the country. At least Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State have been consistently bad this year. Meanwhile, Miami still has quite a bit to play for with an outside shot to reach the ACC championship game.
The pick: Virginia Tech 38, Miami 31
South Alabama at No. 25 Louisiana (-15.5): Alabama, Auburn, Troy and UAB have all fallen victim to postponed or canceled games this weekend. So the weight of the state of Alabama falls on USA. Since its season-opening upset of Iowa State, Billy Napier’s squad has lived dangerously, winning by 10 points or fewer in its five other victories. Look for USA to represent its state honorably.
The pick: Louisiana 27, South Alabama 23
Last week: 3-2 straight up; 2-3 ATS
Season: 24-8 straight up; 18-14 ATS
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia