Moller: College football predictions after week one
Nate Moller | Tuesday, September 7, 2021
With the first full week of college football in the books, it’s time to make some predictions for the season ahead.
1. Georgia and Alabama will make the CFP
After Georgia’s victory over Clemson this past weekend, the Bulldogs are in a great position to make the College Football Playoffs even if they were to lose in the SEC Championship game. The only remaining ranked game on the schedule for Georgia is against Florida. The Bulldogs defense looked sensational against Clemson, and if J.T. Daniels and the Georgia offense can get things together, they are going to be tough to beat. If Bryce Young and Alabama continue to look like they did on Saturday as well, it is very feasible to imagine Alabama and Georgia in the SEC Championship undefeated. I have to imagine that the loser of that game makes the playoffs as well.
2. Clemson will not make the CFP
Clemson’s only chance for a ranked win in the regular season might have been against Georgia on Saturday, as they now have zero ranked teams remaining on the schedule. Without regular-season games against Miami, UNC, and Virginia Tech, it is hard to imagine any of Clemson’s opponents being ranked in the top 25. Even if the Tigers record a ranked win in the ACC Championship, it might not be enough to get the Tigers back into the playoff picture depending on how things play out elsewhere across the country.
3. Iowa State will end up with at least three losses
Iowa State was one of the most hyped-up teams coming into the season, but they did not look like the seventh-ranked teams in the country against FCS Northern Iowa this past weekend. In the 16-10 win, the Wildcats surprisingly contained Cyclone running back Breece Hall, holding him to only three yards per carry. Iowa State plays Iowa next week and has games against Texas and Oklahoma on the season. It’s tough to imagine them winning any of those games unless they improve their play significantly.
4. Bryce Young will win the Heisman
In Alabama’s 44-13 win over Miami, Bryce Young was 27/38 for 344 yards and four touchdowns. Young showed that he could step into Alabama’s offense and perform at a high level. With Spencer Rattler, J.T. Daniels, and Breece Hall struggling elsewhere across the country, it appears that Young is now the early favorite for the Heisman. I expect Young to get even more comfortable in the Alabama system, and by the end of the year, he will be the definitive choice to win the trophy.
5. Iowa will win the Big Ten West and challenge for a Big Ten title
Iowa demolished Indiana 34-6 on Saturday in a stunning display of offensive and defensive prowess. Iowa’s defense is always solid, but if their offense can continue to gel around running back Tyler Goodson and quarterback Spencer Petras, they could be very tough to beat going forward. If Iowa can get the win against Iowa State next week, the only two remaining ranked games on the schedule include Penn State at home and Wisconsin on the road. The Hawkeyes are the clear favorites to win the Big Ten West now, and they definitely could find themselves in the playoffs if they pull off an upset in the Big Ten Championship game.
6. USC-UCLA will decide the winner of the PAC-12
USC looked impressive in their week one 30-7 victory over San Jose State, and UCLA surprisingly took down LSU by eleven points. Neither team has to play Oregon in crossover games in the regular season, and the PAC-12 schedule is seemingly manageable for both teams. The two teams will face off against each other in the Coliseum in late November, and the winner of that game should be in prime position to win the PAC-12 South. With Oregon looking not great in their opener this week, I like one of these PAC-12 South teams to win the PAC-12 Championship game this year.
7. Oklahoma won’t finish the year undefeated
Oklahoma was very lucky to sneak away with a win against Tulane in week one. Spencer Rattler looked less than impressive in the season opener, and he will have to be much better going forward if the Sooners are going to prove themselves as national title contenders. Oklahoma tends to choke early in the season, and I expect Spencer Rattler and company to struggle again in the near future. I expect a loss for Oklahoma in the coming few weeks.
8. Cincinnati will make a case for a spot in the CFP
Cincinnati is arguably the best non-power five team in the CFP era, and they have a chance to get a huge win against Notre Dame in early October. If the Bearcats can find a way to win in South Bend, they should have no problem managing their AAC schedule. There has never been a non-power five team to make a serious case for a spot in the CFP, but if they are 13-0 with a top ten road victory against Notre Dame, it’s going to be tough to leave them out.
9. Florida State will finish the season ranked
Florida State looked like a different team Sunday night against the Irish. It looks like McKenzie Milton should be QB1 for the Seminoles going forward. If he is, I anticipate teams having a hard time stopping the Florida State offense. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, they have games remaining against four ranked teams. They’ll play UNC, Clemson, Miami, and Florida, and only one of them is at home. It will be a tough schedule to navigate, but the Seminoles should be ready for it.