5 Bold Predictions for 2021 College Football Season
The 2020 college football season was one for the ages. Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, the college football season, albeit a shortened one, crowned a champion.
Not many people could have predicted that before the season.
Nobody predicted that a wide receiver would win the Heisman Trophy for the first time in nearly 30 years, but that's exactly what happened with Alabama's DeVonta Smith taking home the award.
While we don't envision a receiver winning the award next year, we do have five bold predictions that we feel pretty darn confident in.
Here's what could be in store for the upcoming campaign.
Sam Howell will win the Heisman and be the No. 1 pick in 2022
Sam Howell is in line to be the next highly coveted quarterback. The North Carolina passer will enter the season as one of the Heisman favorites and if he performs to his capabilities, he should be the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Tar Heels had one of the most explosive offenses in the nation this past season, and although they're losing a majority of their offensive playmakers, they should be able to keep their high-octane offense running thanks to Howell's skills.
Mac Brown has North Carolina headed in the right direction. They finished the 2020 season ranked in the Top 25 and should begin 2021 somewhere in the Top 15. Look for a massive statistical season from a more polished Howell in his third year as he makes his case as not only the best quarterback in the country but the best player.
A Team Not in the 2020 CFP will win the National Championship
Aside from being the four College Football Playoff teams this past season, what do Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame all have in common? They will all have new quarterbacks under center next season.
These four teams are also losing numerous starters on both sides of the ball. We saw what happened to LSU after their National Championship win last year. While these four teams may not be losing as many players as that LSU team did, they are still losing major core pieces.
Of course, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame are four of the best schools in the country. However, it is difficult to expect a first-year starting quarterback to come in and lead a team to a National Championship.
With teams like Oklahoma, Georgia, USC, North Carolina and Miami all returning stud quarterbacks, we may see a big shift in the competition next year.
Alabama won’t win the SEC
Alabama will be losing Mac Jones, Najee Harris, Jaylen Waddle and Smith on offense. That would be the team’s quarterback, starting running back and top two wide receivers. While Alabama will surely reload with five-star recruits, that is still a lot to overcome in a competitive SEC.
While Alabama essentially survived that turnover from last season, there is a different feel this season. Jones, Smith and Harris were all seniors and had plenty of experience in starting roles. This time, Alabama will be rolling with Bryce Young at quarterback, who will be a sophomore with no starting experience. While the likely starting running back will be Trey Sanders, the team’s third-string running back in 2020.
Another undefeated season in Alabama seems unlikely in 2021. While they may be the favorites in the West again, it will be their counterpart in the East who is likely to be the favorite. Georgia should be looking at a big season in 2021 as they cruise through the SEC East.
Look for the Bulldogs to claim the SEC title in 2021.
USC Will Win the PAC-12
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis didn’t exactly make a big improvement from his freshman to his sophomore season. In a shortened season, Slovis’ completion percentage dropped nearly 5% down to 67% and he still managed to throw seven interceptions, five of those in his final two games.
While Slovis’ rating dropped from 167.6 to 144.1, he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country that will be returning in 2021. The PAC-12 appears to be continuing its decline, which makes the Trojans' path to the PAC-12 Championship an easy one.
The Trojans finished the 2020 season with a respectable 5-1 season and a Top 20 CFP ranking. Their lone loss was to Oregon in the PAC-12 title game.
Since 2011, USC has won the PAC-12 Championship Game only once (2017). If Slovis can make that jump this season and reach the next level of his potential, this could be the year that USC reclaims supremacy in the PAC-12 and maybe makes a case at the CFP.
The Big Ten Finishes With the Most Ranked Teams
Among the Power 5 conferences, the ACC led the way with five teams in the final CFP rankings, thanks to Notre Dame joining the conference this season. The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 all had four teams each in the rankings.
Every year these are the four conferences that sport the most ranked teams, which is no surprise. However, next season we could see the Big Ten reign supreme with the most ranked teams in the country.
While nothing is a given, there are a few teams we can certainly expect to see in the 2021 final CFP Rankings. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa are three teams that we can certainly expect to see in the final rankings next season. On top of that, look for them to be joined by three or possibly even four more Big Ten teams in Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana.
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