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Preseason Picks: College Football's Dartboard

Choose your dart and make your guesses. This is what preseason prognostications are made of.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Accurately picking who will make the second ever College Football Playoff, let alone who will win the dang thing, is much like trying to hit the bulls-eye on a dartboard, blindfolded, after four jager bombs, and spinning around 20 times.

Is it impossible? Pretty close.

Is it even plausible? Not really, but with a little luck it can be done.

Just how unlikely is it that the preseason #1 team will eventually win the national championship? Well, it hasn't been accomplished in this decade and  hasn't been done since 2004 USC Trojans FSU went wire-to-wire in 1999.

The following 15 seasons have been at best a guessing game with few certainties.

*list stolen borrowed from the SportingNews


Preseason No. 1: Nebraska (finished No. 8) 
National Champion: Oklahoma (preseason No. 19)

Preseason No. 1: Florida (finished No. 3)  
National Champion: Miami, Fla. (preseason No. 2)

Preseason No. 1: Miami, Fla. (finished No. 2)  
National Champion: Ohio State (preseason No. 13)

Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: USC (preseason No. 8)

Preseason No. 1/National Champion: USC

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished No. 2) 
National Champion: Texas (preseason No. 2)

Preseason No. 1: Ohio State (finished No. 2) 
|National Champion: Florida (preseason No. 7)

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: LSU (preseason No. 2)

Preseason No. 1: Georgia (finished No. 13) 
National Champion: Florida (preseason No. 5)

Preseason No. 1: Florida (finished No. 3) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 5)

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 10) 
National Champion: Auburn (preseason No. 22)

Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma (finished No. 16) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 2)

Preseason No. 1: USC (finished unranked) 
National Champion: Alabama (preseason No. 2)

Preseason No. 1: Alabama (finished No. 7) 
National Champion: Florida State (preseason No. 11)


Preseason No. 1: Florida State (finished 6th)

National Champion: Ohio State (preseason 5th) *ranked 16th in first playoff committee rankings

Interesting point: Out of those 15 seasons, the eventual national champion started in the top 4 only five times - each one starting at #2.

I have shared, many times, my disdain for preseason polls. If it were up to me, the first rankings wouldn't be posted until week 6 after natural selection worked out who were the contenders and who just looked good on paper (i.e. Notre Dame virtually every year).

Unfortunately, like my daughter who wants an R.V. for Christmas, you don't always get what you want, and I'm not changing a tradition that is as old as Mississippi State's national championship drought.

So, even though history tells us that trying to pick the eventual champion  before a single game has been played or before the first snot bubble of the college football season, is a fools errand, we do it anyway — cause the off-season. And it's just fun.


Ehhh. Clemson? Maybe? Florida State is replacing what seems like their entire starting 22, but even with all that turnover they are still the most talented team in the ACC, by a lot. Louisville should make a strong push to win the Atlantic, but they'll have to make it through a road game at FSU and home against Clemson to make that happen.

Georgia Tech is likely a lock to win the Coastal, but that's only because that division is hot garbage. An outside shot to win the Coastal would be VT.

Pick: Georgia Tech (9-3)

Big Xii

Everyone seems to think the Big Xii will come down to Baylor vs TCU. While that will likely be the case, don't disregard Oklahoma as an option and even Okie State as an outside pick.

Pick: TCU (11-1)


Oregon is the easy pick, but Stanford, USC, Arizona State, or even UCLA are all viable options. If I were a beating man I'd put my money on Oregon, but only because they've been so consistent lately. So, since I don't bet real money on college age kids, I'm able to go on a limb and pick whoever I want..

Pick: Arizona State (10-2)


Ohio State. This is the closest thing to a "conference lock" in football you're going to find. Maybe Sparty rises up late in the year and ruins Bucky's season, or maybe Wisconsin seizes redemption in the B1G championship game, but those are more of a hope than a real possibility.

Pick: Ohio State (12-0)


Much like Oregon in the Pac-12, Alabama is the easy pick to win the conference yet again. The Tide have the depth, talent, and coaching staff to once again make it through the SEC gauntlet, but as we've seen before talent, depth, and coaching doesn't always equal championships. In football, sometimes, the "best" team doesn't always win.

LSU will be good, but not great, but could easily win the West. Ole Miss should have an elite defense and an offense good enough to pull an upset or two. Auburn will be Auburn, meaning that offense will get points, but will their defense take enough strides to hold up late in the year? Probably not. Same could be said for A&M.

UGA will likely win the East but probably with two or more losses. Florida will still be a 4-5 loss team and Tennessee just isn't back enough to push UGA for the East crown. Sure, USCe will beat UGA, because that's what they do, but they'll also probably lose to Vandy.

Pick: Alabama- 'cause I'm a gump (11-1)

Based on my picks above the second College Football Playoff should be:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Alabama
  3. TCU
  4. Arizona State
However, I'm going to do what I told you not to do and trust a team that looks good on paper...

My final four:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Alabama
  3. Notre Dame
  4. TCU
Winna: Alabama (Did I mention I'm a gump?)

Laugh if you will, and to be honest I don't truly believe Notre Dame will live up to the hype, but their schedule is manageable and we all know that the media will buy stock in Notre Dame if they pile up a few wins. My belief is if Notre Dame ends up at 11-1 or even 10-2 they will be in the playoffs over a two loss Arizona State or ACC champ.

But who are those losses to? Do they come early or late in the season? What about injuries? Well, I don't have those answers, which is exactly why preseason polls are dumb. We just don't know enough about these teams to accurately guess who may be good, and the fact preseason polls play at even the slightest role in the committee's rankings (because how could they not) makes them more relevant then they should be.

Kick back, have a little fun, and name your conference champs, final four, and national champion in the comments.

Roll Tide