All this week, CBR's contributors will be bringing you what we call "Five Predictions of Varying Boldness" for the upcoming season. Every day one writer will offer up five predictions that will either shock you, underwhelm you, or something in between.
Allen Kenney did his predictions yesterday, and today is Jonathan Biles.
Jonathan Biles’ Five Predictions of Varying Boldness
1. USC won’t completely suck this year:
After a preseason No. 1 ranking led to a 7-6 year of disappointment in 2012, this year’s USC Trojans football team will have a modicum of respectability.
Former four-year starting quarterback Matt Barkley is on the bench in the NFL in Philadelphia, former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his collegiate confusion has been replaced by Clancy Pendergast and his 5-2 defense. The defensive scheme will finally fit USC’s personnel and should be able to adapt to the ever-changing offenses of the Pac-12.
USC still has some head coaching issues, and it will be interesting to see if Head Coach Lane Kiffin keeps his job if USC doesn’t win at least nine games. The Trojans have to figure out who will start at quarterback out of Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, but my money’s on Cody Kessler.
Once the quarterback situation is settled, USC has plenty of talent on offense: two NFL-caliber tight ends who were never thrown to last season; Six running backs, including Penn State transfer Silas Redd and two 5-star, true freshmen running backs; And don’t forget superhuman wide receiver Marqise Lee, and rising star wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
USC may not win 10 games next year, but at least this year’s team will be more fun to watch.
2. Auburn will win at least one SEC game.
Auburn didn’t win a single SEC game last year, and finished with an overall 3-9 record - resulting in the firing of head coach Gene Chizik and all of his assistant coaches. Auburn brought Gus Malzahn, who won the 2010 National Championship at Auburn as the offensive coordinator, back as the new head coach. The Chizik-coached 3-9 team tried to use players recruited to play Malzahn’s spread offensive style in a pro style. This did not work.
Now that Malzahn is back, he should narrow down a workable quarterback and maybe go 1-7 or 2-6 in the SEC instead of 0-8. War Eagle.
3. Oregon will be fine without Chip Kelly.
Chip Kelly ditched Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles after last season, leaving Oregon with a hugely talented roster and a brand new, $68 million football facility that was commissioned by Darth Vader and Uncle Phil.
Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich is taking the reins as head coach and should pick up where Kelly left off.
The defense will be solid, the Ducks still have DeAnthony Thomas scorching earth and running past people, and quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is my Heisman pick and is a Heisman dark horse candidate from other, more-reputable writers.
4. Texas A&M will be fine without Kliff Kingsbury, and Johnny Manziel will have a great season.
The coolest coach in college football left his offensive coordinator position at Texas A&M for the head coaching position at his alma mater Texas Tech, leaving Johnny Manziel without a play-caller and a chest-bump buddy.
While Kingsbury took his Oakley Frogskins and headed north to Lubbock, Manziel is talented enough to defend his Heisman trophy and drown out all of the noise surrounding his offseason.
On Monday, ESPN and their spectacular series of sources have come forth with a fifth and sixth broker to admit to paying Manziel for his Johnny Hancock. I predicted that Manziel won’t miss any time, but if the NCAA finds a way to actually prove Manziel’s wrongdoing and he is suspended, this prediction could be totally useless.
5. Alabama will win the national title, again.
Is this a surprise to anyone?
Nick Saban is still the coach, they are returning tons of starters including their three-year starter A.J. McCarron and star running back T.J. Yeldon, and are preseason No. 1, after having another No. 1-ranked recruiting class. They have the easiest schedule of a team other than Ohio State: Johnny Manziel might be suspended for their Week 3 matchup, they play LSU at home and then have the overwhelming task of playing Tennessee, Auburn and Miss. State, and they are the harder games on the schedule.
Alabama wasn’t necessarily favored to win the national championship last year, or the year before, but they are overwhelming favorites this year.