We are fewer than a hundred days away from the greatest day of the sports year – college football kickoff. Amidst the coronavirus crisis, the NCAA will allow teams to begin voluntary summer workouts on June 1. 

It won’t be long before we are back to thinking about the College Football Playoff. Thank God! While you daydream, here are eight things Coach Rick predicts will happen in 2020.

LSU Will Not Win the SEC West

Last year was awesome for LSU and head coach Ed Orgeron. Facing 2020, Heisman winning QB Joe Burrow is gone as are RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and WR Justin Jefferson. The real loss for the LSU offense is coordinator Joe Brady, who left for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

Yes, there is still plenty of talent at LSU, but the Tigers will not repeat as SEC champions. In fact, they will not play for an SEC title because they will not win the West Division. Their rival, Alabama, will.

Alabama Back in CFP

The Alabama Crimson Tide will not only win the SEC West, head coach Nick Saban will put Alabama right back in the College Football Playoff. Saban has the deepest group of running backs in the nation all running behind the best offensive line in the conference. That will open things up for QB Mac Jones.

 


Alabama Crimson Tide 2020 College Football Schedule Preview


 

Jones will have two elite receivers in DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and the defense will once again reload. Alabama will play LSU on the road, but Saban and company will have a bye week before heading to Death Valley. Make reservations for the CFP.

Oklahoma State Challenges for Big 12 Title

While Texas is getting most of the hype to challenge Oklahoma for the Big 12 title, it will be the Sooners’ in-state rivals in Stillwater that offer the biggest roadblock.

Head coach Mike Gundy returns almost all 22 starters from a year ago. The best is 2,000-yard rusher and Heisman Trophy candidate RB Chuba Hubbard.

The defense improved from 97th to 61st in the country last year. If that improvement continues under coordinator Jim Knowles, the Cowboys will put up double-digit victories and have a shot at the Big 12 title.

Oklahoma State will face Texas in the season finale, a game that could decide the Cowboys’ fate.

Firing Trend Takes a Break

At least 20 FBS head coaches per season have been fired since the 2015 season. That isn’t going to happen this year. Money is the big reason why.

The COVID-19 crisis has hit college sports’ revenue streams hard, and you can put NCAA football teams on top of the list.

With a lack of revenue, not many schools are going to have the funds to pay the large buyouts that many coaches have in their contracts. Take one look at college basketball. Only one Power 5 program (Wake Forest) fired their head coach since the pandemic.

Clemson Wins ACC

Wow! You really went out on a limb there, Coach Rick.

It’s hard to pick against the Tigers though. Head coach Dabo Swinney returns almost the entire offense from last season. You know, the one that averaged nearly 44 points per game.

Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne might be the best in the country at their positions. The defensive line returns the entire two-deep depth chart from last year. Ring up another ACC title for the Tigers.

Florida Wins SEC East

Georgia this. Georgia that. It ends in 2020. Head coach Dan Mullen and the Gators will beat the Bulldogs in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and win the SEC East.

The reason?

Kyle Trask and one of the nation’s best defenses.

Trask is as good a quarterback as there is in the SEC, and he’s definitely better than Georgia’s Jamie Newman, who transferred from Wake Forest. Newman was awful last year against teams with a winning record (54.8 completion percentage, 10 interceptions).

Heupel Becomes Hottest Coaching Commodity

UCF head coach Josh Heupel will be the most sought after coach by Power 5 teams in need. In just two seasons, Heupel’s Knights are 22-4 overall. His 2020 team should contend for the American Athletic Conference title. UCF returns QB Dillon Gabriel, who threw for 3,635 yards and 29 touchdowns last season.

The big reason why Heupel will be a hot prospect is his buyout. Teams shied away from Heupel in 2019 because of a huge $10 million payment. When the 2020 bowl season ends, that buyout goes away.

Fans in the Stands

Among all the coronavirus talk and returning to play college and professional sports, there has been discussion of playing without fans. It may be true that there are games this fall where there are no spectators present.

At some point though, there are going to be fans in the stands.

Maybe it’s a regional thing. Maybe certain schools allow fans and others don’t. Maybe stadiums are only filled to 50 percent capacity. I don’t know what it is going to be, but you heard it here – fans will be in the stands somewhere this season watching college football.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.

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