Because I Say So


football-starsLast year I around this time I made a few bold predictions about the 2016 college football season. In the end, the prognostications were less “bold” and more “dumb as hell.” I had Notre Dame going to the College Football Playoffs for God’s sake! There was a better chance Kurt Cobain was the original writer of the lyrics to the song “Walking on Sunshine.”

Anyhoo, I am not one to let a little thing like being egregiously and historically wrong keep me from making more clinically bad forecasts, so below are a few thoughts as to how the 2017 season will (not almost assuredly) go: 

SEC Champion: Alabama. We will finally see, if, indeed, four in a row will make a rooster crow as ’Bama shoots for its fourth straight league title. Assuming the Tide can wash away the rest of the SEC West, I can’t see a team in the other division giving them much trouble in Atlanta. It’s becoming trendy to pick Auburn to win the league right now, but I am not falling for that old trick. It should be concerning to UA fans that the SEC has a lot better quarterback play overall this season, but Alabama has the same kind of defense it always does…and defense wins championships.

SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Derrius Guice, LSU. Okay, so I just said the QB play is going to a lot better in the league, right? So how do I not pick a quarterback to win this title? Well, my theory is with so much strong play from the passers, they will ultimately wind up splitting votes. Guice is the best returning running back in the league and he won’t be sharing the ball like some other players that may challenge for that moniker (i.e., Bo Scarbrough). There were times last year that Guice even looked more like Leonard Fournette than Leonard Fournette did. Add in LSU’s still-questionable quarterback situation, and I believe Guice will get umpteen carries per week to prove himself.

SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama. Fitzpatrick looks rather diminutive on the field next to several of the Tide’s behemoths, but there is no defensive player in the country with a better knack for making plays. Going back to my “better QB play in SEC” theory, it also stands to reason that quarterbacks will throw more. This means more chances for Fitzpatrick to take an interception back for a score (he seems to do that a lot). Fitzpatrick’s is more versatile than McGuyer’s Swiss Army knife, and when he gets his hands on the ball he scores more than Wilt Chamberlain at a Hedonism Resort.

SEC Special Teams Player of the Year: Daniel Carlson, Auburn. Any other year, I put Alabama’s JK Scott in this slot, but Carlson is just too good. Even his rare misses look pure. How fitting is it that while Alabama can’t find a kicker who is even moderately consistent at making routine field goals, Auburn has one who may be its best one ever—and who also grew up an Alabama fan? I am trying not to go over the top, but Carlson may be the best kicker in SEC history.

SEC Freshman of the Year: Trey Smith, Tennessee. Yes, this is a long shot. It’s hard to tab an offensive lineman for many awards, but Smith is a rarity. He’s big, strong, mean and is desperately needed along UT’s offensive front. My prediction of Smith’s winning SECFOTY is no reflection on how I think Tennessee will do; I think they will be pretty bad, really. I actually believe this will be Butch Jones’ last year. It’s just that Smith will be the lone, orange bright spot.

College Football Playoff Final Four: Alabama, Ohio State, Washington and Oklahoma State. “Luke, are you drunk?!?”, you ask. Well, maybe. What time is it? Either way, ‘Bama and Ohio State are easy and logical choices (Ohio State brings back quarterback JT Barrett for his 23rd senior season after all), but Washington and Oklahoma State? Bear with me here for a moment. Washington lost some top picks to the draft, but they have playoff experience after last year, and they avoid USC in the regular season of the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Okie State brings back a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,300-yard receiver. The Cowboys’ toughest game is Oklahoma at home November 4 and the Sooners will be breaking in a rookie coach. Get by that one and I can’t see Oklahoma State having a loss. Also, it should be noted Cowboys coach Mike Gundy has a mullet of mesmerizing proportions. It’s like watching a bear eat a salmon from a rolling stream—both terrifying and beautiful. Theoretically, a coach’s hair style should have zero effect on his team’s  performance, but there is no chance in hell I am betting against Gundy’s hairy “Beaver Paddle.”

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