Thanks for joining us for part 2 of the national college football roundtable! We’ve already had some fun today with the first part, which you’ll find linked below, and we’d love for you to join us to find out who is going to win the national title, who is going to surprise people and who is going to disappoint people.
Here is part 1 of this monster roundtable for your perusal.
Who wins the national title?
Tyler: Georgia has played Alabama better than anyone over the last few years, and Clemson doesn’t have the defense they had a year ago. I could be boring and pick the usual two but I think this is the year Georgia gets over the hump and wins it all.
Matt: Alabama. The last two times they did not win the national title they went out the next season and did it. While it pains me to say it, I think Alabama lead by Tua Tagovailoa will get it done.
Rock: Clemson currently does not have four first round draft picks on their defensive line, giving Tua the time he didn’t have in 2019. ‘Bama wins, and the doomsday clock clicks another minute closer to midnight.
Bob: I’ll pick Alabama, as the shadow over my soul intensifies.
Biggest surprise team in the country?
Tyler: I think Utah has all the pieces to be a surprise team in college football. They’re starting to get some traction nationally. Tyler Huntley and Zac Moss are back on offense, and they’ve got a potentially dominating defensive line. With a favorable schedule, the Utes should square off with Oregon or Washington for the PAC-12 title.
Matt: I like Tyler’s pick of Utah, but for the sake of being different, I will say Virginia. They return the second best quarterback in the ACC in Bryce Perkins and they avoid Clemson in the regular season. Bronco Mendenhall has steadily improved the team, and lead them to eight wins last season with a bowl win. With only one top-25 team on the schedule this year in a down Coastal division, Virginia is primed to win nine or more games and possibly meet Clemson in the ACC championship.
Rock: Only a handful of quarterbacks can finish a season averaging 10 yards every time they throw. You’re leading your team to the division or conference title, and if you’re a Power 5 player getting Heisman buzz. But, if you only played the second half of the season as a true freshman, that may not apply to you yet. So Brock Purdy, Iowa State QB who threw for 2250 yards on 220 attempts, don’t fight the system. Run roughshod over the Big XII, beat Texas and bring your Cyclones to a NY6 bowl instead.
I believe in you.
Bob: Northwestern. Solid transfer QB, Hunter Johnson, coming in, good defense, great coaching. I think I heard a rumor the Wildcats won the Big Ten West last season? Is that true? Even though last year was a success, I think there’s a good chance NU will be legitimately arguing for a playoff spot at least once this season. The breakout will be more in their perception than actual achievement, in my opinion. I think Johnson will have a good enough season, combined with coverage from Northwestern J-school grads (Editor’s note: like our fearless leader and Medill grad, Spencer Hall), to sneak into Heisman consideration as a dark-horse feel-good story.
Biggest letdown team in the country?
Tyler: I think Oklahoma is due for a regression at some point. Lincoln Reilly is a great head coach, but he’s also had two incredible quarterbacks to run his offenses. To me, Jalen Hurts isn’t close to being what those two were. They’ll be good offensively, but not historically dominating like they were the last two seasons. They return nine defensive starters, but those are all part of a defense that was atrocious last year. Does bringing back players from a bad team help? We’ll see, but I think Oklahoma is poised for a few losses this year with Texas, Iowa State and Baylor being strong.
Matt: I am going to go with Stanford. Head coach David Shaw has lead Stanford to nine or more wins in seven of the past eight years. I don’t see that happening again this season. Gone is Bryce Love, one of the most electric running backs in program history, and in comes a very difficult schedule. In the first four games alone Stanford plays Northwestern, USC, UCF, and Oregon. Later in the season they have to play Washington and Notre Dame at home, but also have to go to Washington State and Colorado. While I don’t expect a full collapse, I would not be surprised if they ended up falling below the nine game benchmark this season.
Rock: I can see a first-year head coach failing to live up to top-five preseason rankings pretty easily. Ryan Day’s first two trips as a collegiate offensive coordinator were at Temple and Boston College, and before he took that title at Ohio State he was the QB’s coach with two different NFL teams. There’s still the default baseline talent at Ohio State, which means “Ask Corso” can get them to a mid-level bowl game. But, No. 5 means finishing with one loss, and that’s a tough sell.
BONUS LETDOWN TEAM: Texas will only continue to be back while Sam Ehlinger can run QB Power. It can be totally cool to have your QB be second on the team in rushing attempts, but only if that phrase isn’t followed with ‘between the tackles.’
Bob: I would love love love for Rock to be right, but I’m going with Nebraska. Their hype is at parody levels right now, and they’ve got a passionate fanbase to make noise about failing to meet crazy high expectations.
::hopes nobody notices I’m not super aware of what happens outside the Big Ten::