SportsMap's own Heisman Trophy voter Cody Stoots weighs in on the award and more
Heisman Trophy preview and bold CFB predictions
Thanks for dropping by the article! This is my annual college football writing tradition. Every season for a few years now I have previewed the Heisman Trophy and put together some bold predictions.
It is my seventh year voting for the Heisman Trophy. It is an honor I enjoy so much and I am lucky to participate in the selection of one of the most outstanding players in college football. I play just a small part in the eventual winner hoisting the trophy but I really enjoy the process and take it very seriously.
With that said, thank you for taking the time to ready. I hopefully covered your favorite football team and if I didn't you can always tweet me because I am always ready to talk college football. Find me at @Cody_Stoots
Look, obviously Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa are the favorites and their teams are the favorites to win the whole thing. This is correct and no question they should be at the top of the list. It is REALLY hard to go wire to wire but these two have every chance to do it. Lawrence makes teammate's Travis Etienne's hopes hard as it is likely the quarterback will get the shine. Etienne might be the best back in the country though.
The Georgia Bulldogs are led by quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D'Andre Swift which hurts their candidacy. I don't believe Fromm will throw enough to get into the conversation with some of the elite passers. Swift, though one of the best backs in the country, will have a hard time sneaking into the conversation as it is such a heavy quarterback lean. He could go nuts and find himself in the conversation especially if Georgia plays some close ones down the stretch. Speaking of running backs Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor could have a Melvin Gordon-like appearance in the final standings. He is an absolute workhorse but the Badgers issues winning might hurt his quest for the trophy.
Oregon's Justin Herbert has the buzz with his return to school and he could get his campaign off the ground in a hurry with the matchup against Auburn opening the year. He will have to out-duel the two favorites on the stat sheet by a good margin as he will face inferior opponents than some of the teams on their schedule.
The Texas trio of signal callers could all be in the hunt as well. Sam Ehlinger at Texas leading the Longhorns through the air and with his legs would put him on the map if the burnt orange was atop the Big 12 standings. Texas A&M's Kellen Mond will play one of the toughest schedules in the country and dicing up those elite defenses could get him on the radar easily. His coach, Jimbo Fisher, has coached a Heisman Trophy winner before in Florida State's Jameis Winston. D'Eriq King at Houston might set the single-season touchdown record. If he does that, send him to New York.
Just above the Lone Star state, Jalen Hurts leads Oklahoma. It seems unlikely for him to replicate what Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray did but those two previous seasons didn't seem likely either. Stranger things have happened. A resurgent Nebraska led by quarterback Adrian Martinez could delight voters. Ohio State's Justin Fields could be this year's Kyler Murray with his dual threat ability and taking over for a successful quarterback the previous year.
Let's throw in Iowa's stud defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa, Ohio State's Chase Young, and LSU's Grant Delpit as the unlikely defensive players to make enough noise to get into the conversation.
Tua and the Texas boys
I believe Tua Tagovailoa will be joined in New York for the Heisman ceremony by Sam Ehlinger and D'Eriq King. I don't believe Trevor Lawrence or Jake Fromm will get there after sharing the spotlight with their stud running backs. Justin Herbert will get to the Big Apple as well. The Crimson Tide's signal caller takes home the award.
A new King of the touchdown record
It is incredible D'Eriq King was asked to play wideout by so many schools. It is incredible he was able to do it at Houston. It is the most incredible thing that he was on pace to beat the single-season touchdown record last year before his injury.
Colt Brennan, watch out. King is coached by a much better offensive staff this time around and if he stays healthy he is going past the 63 scores from Brennan's incredible 2006. The Cougars will need to play in the AAC title game and a bowl game for him to do it, but if he plays as well or better than last year King will have every chance to do so.
I don't believe the Sooners are the fourth best team in the nation and I don't believe they will hang with Texas this season. In fact, a couple of Big 12 schools could catch them. They are a machine, but they are replacing four offensive linemen and their stud wideout on offense. Jalen Hurts is a downgrade from Kyler Murray, significantly might I add. Their defense was a wreck last year and though I love their new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch I always like a one year lead before I can trust an impact from a coordinator to be huge. The Sooners might get caught a few times this season.
Coach O, oh no
I see three game the LSU Tigers could absolutely lose. @Texas, @Alabama, and vs Texas A&M are the roughest on a loaded schedule but hosting the Gators and Auburn withing a three week stint isn't easy. Utah State could be a sneaky team if they're looking ahead to SEC play.
I am not sold on Joe Burrow. He had a stretch where he threw zero touchdowns in five of six games. He regularly completed less than 60 percent of his passes. Good defense puzzles him and there are a ton of good defenses on his schedule. He's in trouble and so are the Tigers and so is Coach O after that.
Michigan's playoff march comes up short
The Wolverines could rattle off one of the most impressive resumes in college football this year. Penn State and Wisconsin on the road are their toughest games and if they roll through their schedule into the rivalry showdown with Ohio State they easily could be tasting the playoff. I don't see it if they get to that game, and frankly I don't see it at all with Michigan.
They're replacing a ton on defense and a week two trap game against Army is on their schedule. There might be a new offensive shot-caller in Ann Arbor but I can't believe Jim Harbaugh is really going to turn things over to him. A few early slips and they're in a spiral.
Say no to Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish have a matchup with Georgia on their schedule this week and that should be an amazing game in Athens. If the Irish knock off Georgia then they have a pretty smooth journey to a matchup with Michigan and after that would again be in the playoff. I'm not buying it though. Georgia early and Michigan by the time they have figured themselves out should be too much for the Irish.
Football is more fun when Notre Dame is good, and they will be good. Just not great and just not playoff bound.
Texas is back
I covered it a ton in my Big 12 preview but I believe in the Longhorns a ton this year. Their second week matchup with LSU will be huge for their resume come playoff time so they have to get that one. The Horns are back and they aren't going away anytime soon.
New Year's Day for Army
The Black Knights were one win away from finding themselves in that scenario last year. They dropped their opener to Duke and lost a nail-biter to Oklahoma a few weeks later. This year if they can keep it close or even beat the Wolverines the Black Knights have a schedule that could have them as the best non-Power five school and with that a rare humongous bowl game appearance for the program.
Pressure creates diamonds
Texas A&M is currently slated to play five games against the top 16 teams in the rankings, four against the top six, and three against the top three. Jimbo Fisher has quite the task on his hands but I guarantee you the Aggies aren't losing against Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. They are going to beat one of those teams, and maybe two. They can absolutley beat LSU and the rest of their schedule. Fisher is going to earn his money in College Station this year.
Big Red bounce back
You will not want to Nebraska on your schedule this year. The Cornhuskers are led by one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the nation in Adrian Martinez and Scott Frost should have cleaned up some of the issues from the disappointing seasons before his arrival back in Lincoln. I don't know if they are challenging for their division crown but they're going to spoil a season of two with a big win.
USC fires Helton, hires Meyer
This isn't bold as much as it feels inevitable. Clay Helton hasn't been able to get USC rolling and Urban Meyer is "retired" doing a TV show with Matt Leinhart and Reggie Bush on Saturdays. Meyer would relish the chance to find another title at yet another school. As long as USC realizes they need something like Meyer to get back to their turn of the century greatness they'll lock him up.
Baylor and Iowa State's head coaches head out
Baylor is going to have Matt Rhule for about 12 more games and then he is headed to the NFL. Rhule has long been rumored to go to the pros. This will be the catapult year for him with Charlie Brewer slinging it all over the field for the Bears. Washington would be smart to pair him with Dwayne Haskins.
Matt Campbell might have a spiffy new deal with the Cylcones but that doesn't mean he is unattainable for a program that might get interested in him. He's been a mid-west guy most his life so the Big Ten makes sense but don't rule out a SEC school that wants to change their program's complexion.
Top ten from Florida isn't ranked right now
Look, either Willie Taggart is a good coach or the greatest conman of all-time. We will find out this year with his Florida State Seminoles. I'm willing to overlook his disaster at Oregon and running from that job to Florida State where he took over a team that was ready for Jimbo Fisher's ability, not his. I'm buying in on Willie and company in 2019 and could see the Seminoles in the top ten this year.
Auburn finishes unranked, keeps Gus Malzahn
Gus Malzahn has a great agent and his buyout is awesome and Auburn isn't paying that to make him go away after this upcoming disappointing season. I can't see the Tigers escaping this tough schedule even with their nasty defense. Losses to Oregon and the Aggies in the first month and finishing with Georgia and Alabama has the Tigers poised for a rough year.
New playoff blood
Texas, Utah, the Big Ten champion will all be on the verge of being a new team in the college football playoff. The Pac-12 would love to have Oregon play Utah for the conference title with the winner headed to the playoff. Texas should have a second showdown with Oklahoma to make the playoff. If Michigan finally gets past Ohio State they'd be poised with the other Big Ten team to represent a new team.
The Rondale Moore show
It was quite the coup when Rondale Moore ended up at Purdue as a 4-star wideout. He was promised playing time right away and let me tell you, that was the best promise Purdue has ever made. Moore is one of the most dynamic things I have ever seen in college football. Think about if Reggie Bush got washed and dried and shrunk a little bit. He can run the ball. He can catch it. Hell he can probably kick it. Dude is must-watch TV and if you don't see it live you'll see the highlights for sure.
College Football Playoff Semifinal: (3) Oregon vs (2) Clemson
The Pac-12 makes its triumphant return to the playoff and does so at the expense of the Big Ten. The Ducks have a NFL-ready quarterback and I believe in Mario Cristobal and his Ducks. Even with the tough games at Washington, USC, and Stanford I think the Ducks can do it. This is a bet on their QB and their head coach.
I don't need to explain to you why I believe Clemson is here.
College Football Playoff Semifinal: (4) Texas vs (1) Georgia
The Longhorns have to beat LSU to be here. Simple fact. The victory over LSU would give them leeway to lose one game on their schedule and as long as they beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship they can be in the playoff. They have to beat LSU to get there though.
Georgia is my top team this year. They've played as well as Alabama plenty of times and this time I believe in them more than Alabama. The brain drain for the Crimson Tide coaching staff will finally catch up to them. Georgia has an incredible schedule compared to Clemson and their victory over Alabama in the SEC championship would cement them in the top spot.
National Champions: Georgia over Clemson
I'm feeling the Bulldogs this year. I trust their ability to pressure teams non-stop and play solid defense. I trust their line to hold up against what is a reloaded but not yet fully restocked Clemson defense. Kirby Smart has built nearly Alabama in a shorter time than Nick Saban built Alabama. Clemson is loaded, but they will lake the battle-tested level of experience Georgia will have this year.
BONUS: Smaller bold predictions
Baylor is the third best team in the Big 12
UCF loses three games this season
Michigan State finishes unranked
Mack Brown's return to college football is a disaster this year
Les Miles also has a terrible return to college football
Miles and Brown combine for four wins
Dino Babers coaches his last season at Syracuse
Mike Norvell coaches his last season at Memphis
Lovie Smith doesn't finish the year as the head coach of Illinois
Tennessee wins nine games
North Texas wins 11 games and Seth Littrell is one of the hottest coaching candidates in football
USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell takes over at North Texas
As I always do I finish with my Texas Tech prediction. I went to Texas Tech and I thought Kliff Kingsbury was worthy of one more season but alas he was shown the door. Worked out for him. I can understand moving on from him. I am skeptical of Matt Wells who was previously at Utah State but everything I hear is awesome.
Alan Bowman could be one of the three statistically best quarterbacks in the Big 12. Having to play at Texas and at Oklahoma every other year is hard. This is one of those years. I like their chances to start 3-0 but four straight losses after that isn't the wildest thing. Texas Tech has two swing games between good and bad season. Kansas State and TCU will both be game that Tech should be favored in so splitting those two would be nice.
Let's say Texas Tech goes 7-5 and plays and wins their bowl game. 8-5 and a fun bowl game? Sign me up. Guns up.