We sit roughly two weeks out from the start of the 2018 College Football Season. And, by now, you’ve read, re-read, and memorized the same variants of #Bold #Predictions for the season. (It’s a status quo kind of year; even we’re left with: Clemson and Alabama = Good. Everyone else = who knows.)
So, we’re here to give you something different today: I polled our editors and staff for their worst deeply-held contrary beliefs, countervailing hot takes, and otherwise bad opinions relating to the 2018 Alabama football season or College Football in general.
Here’s what we generated. Feel free to share yours with the class or throw digital tomatoes at us in the comments below — we’ve got thick skin.
I have racked my brain for an unpopular opinion. I am too damn Gumpy. The best I can come up with is that, barring injury, Trevon Diggs will start every game at one of the corner spots.
I think that Washington has zero chance to beat Auburn in the opener, and that Auburn will roll into Tuscaloosa with one or zero losses depending on their game in Athens.
Alabama’s corner play is going to drive people 2014-ish crazy for the first three months of the season. Jeremy Pruitt was the best, most aggressive defensive playcaller of the Dynasty Era (well, this dynasty era anyway...there’ve been so many of those.) His playcalling style, combined with Derrick Ansley’s contest-every-pass coaching philosophy, was a perfect fit for the talent on-hand: anytime you can lean on a deep veteran safety corps in one year, and the best defensive line of the modern era in another year, it forgives a lot of mistakes. And there were a ton of those you may have missed between the sacks and NOTs the last few years. Neither of those things are true this season, nor is there a veteran, coalesced defensive coaching presence on that side of the ball. Nick Saban will be earning his money this year, as he teaches the entire staff and a new secondary how to communicate and play in one of the most complex defenses in the sport. NExt year’s secondary will be transcendentally excellent. But for 2018? Ugh...Expect a lot of completed deep balls for the first 8-9 games, and a nauseating number of points surrendered, even against a weaker schedule, and amidst a constant shuffling of the two-deep (God, I hope I’m wrong about this one).
The other Alabama concerns relate to special teams: No, Alabama’s return game woes still won’t have been solved, unless one of the dynamic freshmen can step it up a notch. No, J.K. Scott won’t be missed as much as you think he will (and we love you forever, J.K.) Yes, Alabama’s kicking game will still induce heart attacks, despite Bulovas’ vast improvement.
- Auburn takes a step back. If the rest of the West weren’t in flux, this would be a 7-win team; instead, we’ll call it an illusory 8 wins.
- Florida wins the East but loses the Cocktail Party: Georgia was closer to a 4-loss team last season than they were a 15-win variety. And they lost a ton of Richt’s veterans. There’s no indication (yet) that Kirby can develop his top-end talent: The recruiting is excellent, but is he a Saban or Meyer in that respect? Few are.
- Both Mississippi State and Florida upgraded their coaching staffs, and it’s okay to admit that.
- Tennessee picked the Alabama coordinator least prepared to run a program: The Pruitt era will be a disastrous one. We love Jeremy, really. He is the best hands-on teacher and coordinator in the business. But no one thought he was ready to run a P5 program, much less an SEC program.
- This year’s existential deathmatch is not a roadie or against LSU per usual, rather, it will happen at home, against Mississippi State or Texas A&M. (Otherwise, Alabama will walk into the SECCG with a 25 PPG margin-of-victory on the season, en route to an undefeated season and an 18th national title.)
I have three...
- Not only does Ohio State retain Urban Meyer, but they retain him and make the playoffs.
- Georgia will not win the SEC East.
- LSU won’t finish in the top 3 in the SEC West.
I 100% believe Alabama could win a championship with Hurts starting the whole way. I don’t believe he will, because I think Tua beats him out, and he transfers in December. But, I firmly believe the team could win one with him.
Don’t know how hot of a take that is. I just see a lot of people convinced it couldn’t happen. If McElroy can go 6-11 for 58 yards with -27 rushing yards and win, Hurts could manage a win too...the past two championship games notwithstanding
I debated with myself over whether I should even put this one out there for all to read. But, in the end, I decided to go with it.
For the last decade, we’ve seen relatively no-name QBs have the games of their lives against ‘Bama for an upset win. Stephen Garcia, Cardale Jones, Trevor Knight, Bo Wallace, etc. And we’ve always complained that “why does that never happen for us??”
Well, what if it just did...in the National Championship? Did Tua Tagovailoa just have his Garcia game? We all expect him to come out in 2018 as a top-tier, elite QB, but what if he turns out to be a one-game wonder — another Trevor Knight — who just comes in the final game of the season and puts up an elite performance on the biggest stage before falling back into obscurity in his next season?
Now, we did see some flashes from Tua throughout last season, so he is a little more than a one game wonder, but for now only just.
Parker S (BamaBrave4):
I’ve got quite a few, although I’m not sure how unpopular some are:
I think LSU beats Miami but still ends up going 6-6. That offense could be downright embarrassing with Etling, Guice, and Chark gone. The OL just isn’t what it used to be either. Miami was overrated last season (they played a terrible schedule and eked out a number of wins thanks to a ridiculous turnover margin that won’t repeat itself), and I don’t think they improve much on it this year. Their schedule is a joke though, so expect them to win 9+ again.
Second, I think Missouri is the team to watch out for in the East. I don’t think they win it, but I expect them to make a run. The offense returns everyone except J’Mon Moore from last season, and the defense made huge strides over the course of the year in 2017 once Barry Odom took the defense back over. The biggest question mark for them is whether or not Derek Dooley can not only keep the offense rolling post-Heupel, but also get them to actually play well against good defenses. Mizzou looked like a top-5 offense against average or worse defenses, but any time they played a good defense they got shut down (with the exception of the first half against UGA).
Those same Bulldogs head up to Columbia Week 4, which could be a tricky spot for them. If Mizzou can pull it off, the ‘Dawgs may be pulling hard for the Tide come October 13th.
On the flip side of that in the East, I think South Carolina is getting way too much love. They probably weren’t as good as their 9-4 record indicated last season, getting outgained on a per-play basis in a couple of their wins. And this year’s schedule just doesn’t work out well. Georgia and Clemson are both on another level, the Gators will be tough to beat in Gainesville with Dan Mullen coaching, there is no way they win four straight against Vandy, Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas A&M, and their trip to Oxford has Jefferson-Pilot Saturday morning upset written all over it. I’m taking them to go 7-5, which would disappoint many Gamecock fans.
Lastly, I think the over hits a lot for Alabama this season. Louisville, Ole Miss, Missouri, and Auburn can all sling it, and the Tide’s secondary is incredibly raw. Fortunately, ‘Bama will be fielding the best offense of the Saban Era. Tua is a superstar, our skill positions are loaded, and this will likely be the best OL since 2012. I could see the Tide winning a few games 45-24.
Well, there are our bad takes, unpopular opinions, and contrarian predictions for the season.
Please direct all hate mail below. OR, feel free to drop your own despised talking points in the comments. This is a safe space.