Golden's 2017 College Football Predictions

Prediction for LSU 2017

Pluses for LSU entering the 2017 season

  • Terrific defense led by outstanding coordinator Dave Aranda
  • Improved special teams with Coach O's emphasis on this area and the hiring of consultant Greg McMahon, formerly of the Saints
  • More varied offensive scheme under new coordinator Matt Canada, whose Pitt unit finished 10th in the nation in scoring last year
  • Improved QB play from Danny Etling for three reasons: (a) He is free of the back issues, which, unknown to everyone, limited his effectiveness last year; (b) The improvement in his fundamentals and awareness under Canada's tutelage; (c) the unpredictability of Canada's offensive scheme

Minuses for 2017

  • Uncertainty in the offensive line, in part because of injuries, in part because of shifts in position, especially Will Clapp to C
  • Youth on defense, with possibly as many as four true freshmen starting
  • Difficult schedule with five SEC road games (damn you, Jeremy Foley!).

Bottom line

The Tigers should win nine games for sure. The final record comes down to how they do against Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. I think they'll win at least one of those (most likely Auburn at home) to finish 10-2.
Predictions for College Football 2017
Don't be surprised if ...
  • At least two SEC coaches don't return for the 2018 season - and I'm not including the Ole Miss interim coach as one of the two.
    Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M and Tennessee's Butch Jones are the most likely targets. But Kentucky fans are losing patience with Mark Stoops also, and Missouri may jettison its second-year coach if a better alternative appears.
  • Alabama does not go undefeated.
    The almost unanimous coronation of the Tide as national champions puzzles me. First, they lost seven defenders to the NFL draft. Sure, Saban has talented recruits to take their plac,e but they're young. Also, Bama lost a key component of their recent success: O-coordinator Lane Kiffin. Saban was reduced to his third choice when Kiffin's replacement, Steve Sarkisian, left for the NFL. Will Jalen Hurts continue to improve under the new O-coordinator?
  • Georgia wins the SEC East.
    Florida has won the last two East titles almost by default, losing to Alabama by 14 and 38 points in the championship clashes. Jim McElwain's domain is showing cracks, as evidenced by the 10 suspensions for the opener against Michigan. The Bulldogs have lost three straight to the Gators but that will change in 2017.
  • Derrius Guice makes the trip to NYC as one of the five finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
    LSU has been burned the last two seasons by high expectations for Leonard Fournette that didn't materialize - in 2015 because of the debacle in Tuscaloosa and last year because of a string of injuries that began in August. But Guice is a more elusive and shift runner than Leonard, which means he is less injury prone. He'll catch more passes in Matt Canada's offense as well as have ample opportunities to reach 1000y rushing again.
  • The following teams will not finish the season as high as they are ranked in the Composite College Preseason Rankings:
    USC (composite #4) - The last four times the Trojans were ranked in the Top Ten to start a season, they lost at least four games. QB Sam Darnell set the Trojan world on fire with his 2016 performance, culminating in a sensational Rose Bowl. The Trojans play Stanford at home September 9 and don't have Washington on their schedule. But I'm not convinced second-year coach Clay Helton is ready for the pressure that comes from high expectations.
    Clemson (#5) - The defending national champions, who were runners-up in 2015, lose eight starters on defense but return eight on offense. But they lost the most important piece of their puzzle - QB DeShaun Watson, whose failure to win the Heisman Trophy either of the last two seasons is disgraceful. He made the difference in many games, most especially the championship game when he led the drive to the winning TD in the last seconds against the outstanding Bama defense.
    Oklahoma (#7) - Most of the preseason magazines went to press before Bob Stoops surprised the football world by retiring. His offensive coordinator assumed the top job but will take some time to adjust to the role.
    Tennessee (#25) - If Butch Jones couldn't win the relatively weak SEC East with Joshua Dobbs as his QB, how can he do it without him?
  • The following teams will do better than predicted in the Composite College Preseason Rankings:
    TCU (#26) - The last time the Frogs endured a losing record (2013), they rebounded with a fine 12-1 record and just missed the first CFP. This year, they're coming off a losing season because of a bowl defeat.
    Oregon (#28) - New coach Willie Taggart has done a fine job at Western Kentucky and South Florida. He'll have an immediate impact in Eugene, making the Ducks a more physical team in the first year of a quest to return to the Pac-12 title game.

 

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