2023 Season Kickoff – Predictions
The offseason is officially over, and what a wild and crazy offseason it has been! This past weekend, Week 0 games have opened up the 2023 football season, and we got to see how good Notre Dame looks (will be an interesting week 4 matchup against Ohio State) and USC with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. Even with those games happening, most fans feel that this week is the true start to the football season, and we are only 4 days away from the Scarlet and Gray taking the field on the road in Bloomington, IN.
In a lot of ways, this will be the last “normal” season of college football as this will be the last year of the 4 team playoff. Once we enter 2024, Los Angeles, CA, Eugene, OR, and Seattle, WA are technically B10 country, and the playoff will expand to 12 teams. Will the PAC-12 still exist at this point?
We are Buckeye 50 are excited, and just like most of you are fans of the game, and want to make our 2023 season predictions, which include who we think will win each Power 5 conference, who we predict in they playoff (including our National Champion pick), and last some bold takes. I am sure about half or more of these will be busted by week 8, but it is always fun to project how his season will playout.
Conference Champions Predictions
Florida State. There is a good chance that the conference championship game will be a rematch of the September 23rd game between Florida State and Clemson, as both of those teams have the deepest talent in the ACC, and this will be the first year without divisions for the conference, so the top two teams will play. A dark horse could potentially be Miami, but they have a tough schedule.
Texas. This might be the trendy pick for the conference because of the hype around Quinn Ewers, and the trust in Steve Sarkisian with hsi 3rd year into the program. This will be the farewell season for Texas and Oklahoma as they will join the SEC in 2024. There are several questions marks around the other schools in the conference, but this might be one of the deeper conferences in terms of competition with the additions of UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, and BYU. A dark horse contender is Texas Tech who could cause a few upsets and were a dangerous team last year.
Ohio State. Michigan has the most talented group they have ever had since Harbaugh has been coach for the Wolverines, but there is something to be said about an Ohio State team that comes in as an underdog, and Ryan Day not wanting to lose 3 straight games in the rivalry game. If Ohio State plays the way they did against Georgia, and they give their new QB between McCord or Devin Brown time to develop, they have so many weapons on offense that can make this team dangerous. Additionally, the Big Ten East is arguably the strongest division in college football this season with Penn State as a top 10 team. The match ups between Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan will be must watch television.
Oregon. Utah has won the conference two straight years, and USC is the trendy pick due to Caleb Williams, but if this weekend is any indicator, any team with a competent offense will be able to score against the Trojans, and I think you are going to see a battle between USC, Oregon and Washington. Also, this might be the last year for the Pac-12, so the champion of this season might be the last one ever. Dark horse team is Oregon State if DJ can prove his 5 star ranking with a fresh start away from Clemson.
Alabama. The Crimson Tide are the underdogs in the conference for the first time since Saban has been the head coach, and is also dealing with a quarterback battle. Georgia is the defending two time champion, and it is hard to go against Kirby Smart’s defense, but with the departure of Todd Monken, you have to wonder how well the offense will be this year even with Brock Bowers but because of their schedule, they could cakewalk into the SEC Championship game 12-0. LSU is the defending SEC West Champion, and will kick off the season with a test against FSU, who they lost to last year. They could challenge the Tide for it all, but I think Saban will remind everyone why he is one of the greatest coaches.
College Football Playoff Predictions
Sugar Bowl – Alabama (1) against Florida State (4). Alabama (13-0) will play against Florida State (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl. I think FSU loses their first game against Clemson, but beats LSU to start the year, and then beats Clemson in the rematch to earn the 4 seed.
Rose Bowl – Ohio State (2) against Oregon (3). How bittersweet will it be for the last traditional Rose Bowl to be played host the B10 and Pac 12 champion before the dissolved Pac 12 conference and enter into the 12 team playoff. I have Ohio State (13-0) against Oregon (12-1).
Ohio State (2) over Alabama (1). The top two talented teams in the CFP make the championship game for a rematch of the 2020 game, but this time Ohio State has an arsenal of weapons and are not hindered by COVID-19 protocols which kept half of their team out. This one will go into OT, with the Buckeyes coming out on top.
1. Marvin Harrison Jr. wins the Heisman
The start wide out has a lot of hype going into the season, and with Ohio State most likely playing QB roulette, the Buckeyes will depend on their playmaker to lead the team, and he will capitalize by proving he is the best WR and player. Caleb Williams will be a finalist, but Heisman voters will have a hard time voting him a winner for the second season with a team that has two losses and doesn’t make the conference Championship game.
2. Notre Dame joins the ACC
With the way the conference alignment has been happening, there will be more meetings this season about how the 12 teams will be selected for the playoff committee, and there will be a reduction in conference champions ties, and no restrictions on conference participation. Additionally if the ACC does accept Stanford and Cal, this will tip Notre Dames hand to join them in football to align with their other sports.
3. Jim Harbaugh leaves after the season to coach in the NFL
This comment is no way a knock on Harbaugh or a bitter Buckeye fan comment, but rather an acknowledgment of what he has built and a feeling that he is done with the NCAA, especially after denying the proposed 4 game suspension. If Michigan falls to reach the CFP or the Big Ten Championship with his most talented team, the NFL will surely look a lot more inviting, and he can try and win a super Bowl.