By Greg DePalma, OFN Executive Producer
College Football Futures
Investments…Teams we’ve invested in to win the national championship.
USC…7-1…QB Sam Darnold is as good as advertised, but he doesn’t have to do it alone. A top running back duo plays at the Coliseum thanks to Ronald Jones and true freshman Stephen Carr while WR Deontay Burnett provides a true No. 1 option in the passing game. These four players help comprise the best skill position group in the country which is why the Trojans will be playoff bound in January.
Auburn…16-1…Unless Gus Malzahn has the guts to let Sean White retake the quarterback job that he never should have lost in the first place, this pick is over.
Penn State…16-1…QB Trace McSorley and RB Saquon Barkley get all the headlines, but TE Mike Gesicki is another stud performer who will help the Lions win a second consecutive Big 10 Championship.
Oklahoma State…33-1…The Sooners are the media darlings today, but Bedlam on November 4th in Stillwater might ultimately decide which team from Oklahoma earns a playoff spot. Keep in mind though there is a Big 12 Championship game in Arlington for the loser of that first game to seek revenge in the second.
Under advisement…Teams we’re still vetting.
Oklahoma…8-1…Baker Mayfield has already accomplished something last year’s Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson, has failed to do at this point of his career. Accomplish a true Heisman moment.
Michigan…12-1…In actuality the Wolverines have no chance to win the national championship unless QB Wilton Speight pulls a Jake Coker. The jury is still way out on that one. Meanwhile, SI just posted an article on how teams are relying more on freshman QBs. So I ask Coach Harbaugh: Why won’t you?
Clemson…12-1…Austin Bryant and the Tigers defense played outstanding against Auburn as Bryant tallied four of the team’s 11 sacks against overrated Jarrett Stidham and the Tigers. The problem for Clemson this week is that they face Lamar Jackson in a revenge spot at Louisville.
Georgia…28-1…Not sure the Bulldogs defense can hold the fort long enough until true freshman QB Jake Fromm grows up or they get Jacob Eason back in time, but the schedule is more than manageable until they face the Gators on October 28th in Jacksonville. Lucky for Georgia that if they can make it to the SEC Title game, they’d more than likely get to face top-ranked Alabama. Meaning a win in that one and they earn a trip to the playoffs.
Florida State…33-1…Until I see true freshman QB James Blackman play, I won’t rule out the Seminoles just yet. And especially not at these odds.
Washington…33-1…They have a long way to go to prove they can beat the Trojans if they meet in the Pac 12 Championship game. But the odds are enticing.
UCLA…66-1…If the Bruins had a better head coach, I’d have more faith.
Playoff Projections…Taking futures out of the equation, here are our current picks for the College Football Playoff including our national champion.
Risers…Teams that have a good chance of earning a higher-ranked bowl game invitation than originally expected.
Central Florida…QB McKenzie Milton sure looks better in year-two with HC Scott Frost guiding him through. If the Knights are for real they’ll have to prove it over the next two weeks against Georgia Tech and Maryland. If they can win both, they’ll have a legitimate shot at a major bowl bid.
Duke…HC David Cutcliffe has another talented quarterback to groom with Daniel Jones looking more and more like a difference-maker who could end up as his best in Durham yet.
Eastern Michigan…HC Chris Creighton has won everywhere he’s coached and the winning is even starting to happen in Ypsilanti. The Eagles earned a bowl berth last year for the first time since 1987, and with senior Brogan Roback under center, they have a real shot at a MAC Championship if they can upset Toledo on October 7th.
Mississippi State…Dan Mullen is doing a great job in Starkville and he’s a wanted man for better jobs. His work with Dak Prescott is paying off in Dallas and now he has Nick Fitzgerald. The sophomore has already broken several program records and is off and running again this season. The next three weeks will tell the tale with LSU, Georgia and Auburn in consecutive weeks.
Purdue…HC Jeff Brohm is already making his mark and all you need to know about his coaching ability is look at bad Western Kentucky looks without him.
South Carolina…Don’t look now but HC Will Muschamp has a handful of offensive weapons including QB Jake Bentley, RB Rico Dowdle, TE Hayden Hurst and the player of the year for the Gamecocks so far, WR Deebo Samuel. Samuel has been so clutch after two weeks that he should be in the running for a Heisman, even though we know he won’t be. Samuel scored three times against NC State in a 7-point win on opening day and followed that up with a game changing kick-return TD, his second of the season, with Missouri leading 10-0 and in control. South Carolina would go on to score 31 of the final 34 points in their win over the Tigers.
Toledo…Even though they’re expected to contend for a MAC Title, the Rockets haven’t won a conference title since 2004. I think they’re good enough to contend for a major bowl the way Western Michigan did last season. The big test comes on September 23rd at Miami. Florida that is!
Also looking better than expected so far…Colorado, Maryland, Navy and Vanderbilt.
Fallers…Teams that are struggling and might end up playing in a lower-ranked bowl game than originally expected.
Baylor…All you have to know is that Arizona reject Anu Solomon is the new quarterback in Waco. No wonder they lost to both Liberty and Texas San-Antonio.
Also looking weaker than expected so far…South Florida, Temple, Texas A&M and Western Kentucky.