NCAAF Pre-season Picks

The 2018 college football season is only days away.  All 130 FBS teams have wrapped up camp, and have a clean slate to start with.  There are many questions surrounding the top teams in America.  Paradise Picks has already broken down all 130 FBS teams. Here’s our top ten pre-season picks:

1.)  Alabama

Alabama got all they could handle from Georgia in the championship game last year, and needed OT to pull out the 3 point win.  Nick Saban enters his 12th year in Tuscaloosa with 5 National Championships.  Alabama starts the year off as #1.  Yes, they have a QB decision to make between Jalen Hurts & Tua Tagovailoa but that shouldn’t worry fans.  Alabama consistently puts the most talent team on the field because of Nick Saban’s recruiting.  Fans can expect to see them back in the playoffs again.

2.) Clemson

The Tigers met the Tide again in the playoffs last year, but couldn’t get past them.  No need to worry though, the Tigers are loaded once again.  Clemson front 4 might be the best in NCAAF history, with all 4 starters returning.  The biggest question for the Tigers: who will be the starting quarterback?  Will it be Kelly Bryant, who struggled to push the ball downfield last year, or will it be 5-star incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence?  Either way, expect the Tigers to be back in the playoffs in 2018.

3.) Ohio State

Things are a little shaky in Columbus right now, but there is no denying their talent.  With Urban Meyer suspended for 3 games (Oregon St, Rutgers, & TCU) Ryan Day takes over as the interim head coach.  The good news for Buckeye Nation is the coaching staff is full of experience; they might be the best coaching staff in America.  With Dwayne Haskins taking over as the starting quarterback, expect to see the Buckeyes push the ball down field more this year.  JK Dobbins & Mike Weber both return in the back field for a dynamic 1-2 punch.  The defense has some shoes to fill, but they are filled with young talent.  Biggest concern for Ohio State is the brutal schedule with them traveling to TCU, Penn St, and Michigan St.

4.) Washington

Last year, the Huskies finished 10-3, and there is high expectations for Seattle for 2018. With senior quarterback, Jake Browning (Paradise Picks’ Heisman Pick!) as center Washington should have another explosive offense.  However, they will have to find some targets to throw to with Dante Pettis and Will Dissly gone.  Washington’s offense line should be fantastic and they boast outstanding running back Myles Gaskin.  The defense returns 9 starters and has star power at every level.  Overall, the Huskies should be able to navigate through a pretty easy schedule to secure a playoff birth.

5.) Georgia

Get used to seeing Georgia in the running for the national title for years to come. Kirby Smart is bringing in five star athlete after five star athlete (#1 ranked recruiting class in 2018).  Jake Fromm is back for year 2 and he will play a big part in trying to avoid the championship loss hangover.  If Fromm can assert himself as the top quarterback in the SEC watch out.  You don’t get better by losing two NFL caliber running backs, but D’Andre Swift is next up in the backfield and he looked good last year.  If they get by South Carolina in week 2, there is nothing but clear skies for the Bulldogs.  Of course there are a few tough games, but Georgia will most likely be favored in all of them.  Expect to see them back in the SEC Championship Game.

6.) Wisconsin

The Badgers have the best offensive line in the country hands down.  With Jonathan Taylor running behind them, expect big numbers to be put up on the ground.  The problem with Wisconsin is you can only ground-and-pound for so long.  When the going gets tough, does Alex Hornibrook have what is takes to win a game?  The good news for Wisconsin is they play on the weaker side of the BIG 10.  Yes, they play at Michigan and at Penn State but don’t expect them to drop both games. Wisconsin should be in Indianapolis at the end of the year playing for a spot in the playoffs.

7.) Michigan

Does Jim Harbaugh finally have a quarterback?  Short answer, yes.  Shea Patterson is a legit talent that can take Michigan over the top.  There is no denying how good Michigan has been on defense the last three years (Defense Rank – #3, #1, #4).  Don Brown has done an amazing job and now gets back nine starters.  Rashan Gary & Chase Winovich make a case for the best DE tandem in college football.  Two biggest question marks for Michigan is will Shea Patterson emerge as the quarterback we think he is, and can Michigan get past a brutal schedule?  They play in the group of death a.k.a. the BIG 10 East. They have to play Notre Dame and Wisconsin in their spare time.

8.) Auburn

Auburn has a great chance to be in the playoff picture late in the year.  Two main reasons: their quarterback Jarrett Stidham and the nasty defensive front 4.  The problem with Auburn is they start the season off with Washington, and later in the year have to play at Georgia and at Alabama.  It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out.

9.) Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield is gone.  In comes in dual-threat, Kyler Murray.  The offense should continue its explosive ways in 2018. Six returning starters come back on defense and Oklahoma will need them to step up.  The past two season they have allowed 27.1 and 28.8 PPG.  They will need to improve on that number if they want to make a run at a playoff spot. (Note – the Sooners are an impressive 25-15 ATS (62.5%) the past three season)

10.) Penn State

Most expect Penn State to have a down year after losing so much talent to the NFL draft.  Plus key offensive coordinator is gone in Joe Moorehead.  However, Trace McSorley comes into the season riding some Heisman hype.  If Penn State is going to make a run they will need McSorley to continue to grow as a quarterback.  The Nittany Lions had a rock solid defense last year, but only 3 returning starters are back for 2018.  James Franklin has recruited well so expect some of their raw talent to step up.  Keep an eye on these Nittany Lions as the year rolls along.

Outside Looking In

Notre Dame, Michigan State, Stanford, Mississippi St, Miami (FL)

 

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2017 Record: 27-18

2017 Units:  +14.75

Agree? Disagree? Comment what you think about the pre-season picks below!