I admit to going out on a limb with a prediction or two during the course of the season. You may not have always agreed with me, but I was right more times than I was wrong. A whole lot more.
Here is a sampling of some of them. Next week I’ll look at a few (of the very few) I got wrong. That way you can kindly refer to me as your friendly neighborhood equal opportunity sportswriter, replacing those mean names some of you may have called me (even if it’s only inside of your thoughts bubbles) over the past three-and-a-half months.
‘It will be a Doug Flutie miracle if Willie Taggart is still FSU’s head coach when 2020 rolls around.’ Taggart was fired on November 3, 2019 following the Seminoles’ 27-10 loss to Miami. Florida Atlantic recently hired Taggart to take over their program when head coach Lane Kiffin left for Ole Miss, kicking off the annual game of head coach musical chairs.
‘At the very least, expect South Carolina to beat the spread (against Alabama next week).’ Final score: Alabama 47, South Carolina 23. The spread was 26 ½ points. I’ll leave the math to you.
‘South Florida brought in guru/savant Kerwin Bell to revitalize their sagging offense. After two games and putting a total of 10 points on the board, head coach Charlie Strong might be better off calling the plays himself.’ Strong should have listened; he was fired the first day after the end of the regular season.
Meanwhile, the underperforming Bell remains on the USF coaching staff. It’s worth mentioning that Bell’s offense put up a mere 37 cumulative points on the board in six of their eight losses. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, but for an outsider like me the whole matter felt a little like ‘Et tu Brute.’
‘Georgia Tech lost on their home field to the Citadel, leading to speculation that the Jackets may not even be the best team in Atlanta. What’s up, Georgia State?’
Compare these team records after 12 games: Georgia State 7-5, Georgia Tech 3-9, and Atlanta Falcons 4-9. You decide. Hint: Only one of those teams will be playing in a post-season game.
‘Add (Florida Gator) Feleipe Franks on your list of quarterbacks that have been Wally Pipped this year.’ Florida backup quarterback Kyle Trask stepped in after Franks’ season-ending injury and led the Gators to 10-2 record and an Orange Bowl bid.
Franks announced on December 1 he was ‘exploring his options to enter the NFL or transfer. What he was actually saying was this: ‘I’ve been Pipped.’
‘Michigan 10, Iowa 3. This may have very well been the most boring game in the entire history of college football.’ Try and prove me wrong.
‘Final Four: #1 SEC champion (Alabama or LSU), #2 Ohio State (they’ll edge out Clemson simply because the toughest thing left on their schedule at this point are Wednesday morning wind sprints), #3 Clemson, and #4 Oklahoma.’ Bingo.
‘The last time Arkansas won an SEC game, Chip Kelly was still relevant. After a 41-10 home loss to Auburn, the Razorback football program is one step closer to what Chip Kelly is today: irrelevant.’ Arkansas went 0-8 in SEC games (again) and Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins were 4-8; both irrelevant any way you look at it.
‘Is it possible to dink pass (a reference to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow) your way to the Heisman? Time will tell.’ Time spoke up and said ‘yes.’ Overwhelmingly, in fact.
‘Western Kentucky beat Arkansas 45-19. It’s hard to discern which is harder to believe: that Arkansas paid WKU $1.5 million for the game, or that the Razorbacks didn’t buy out coach Chad Morris’ contract at halftime, which would have been a relative bargain at $10 million.’ Arkansas waited until the day after the Western Kentucky game to fire Morris, although it’s likely the school administration had made the decision during halftime.
‘The (Georgia) Dawgs don’t have a prayer in the SEC Championship against the winner of (the Alabama-LSU game).’ LSU 37, Georgia 10 and it wasn’t nearly as close as the score might indicate.
‘If LSU wins the SEC West, there is no way on God’s Green Earth that Alabama gets an invitation to the playoffs.’ LSU won the West, Alabama didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in its six-year history, and Auburn gets an assist for making my prediction hold up. Meanwhile, Crimson Tide fans everywhere refuse to speak to me.
(After Oklahoma beat Baylor in one of the best games of the year) ‘Look for these two teams to meet again in the Big 12 Championship in December.’ They did, with the outcome the same as the first time around. It’s hard beating the same time twice in the same year (am I right, 1996 FSU Seminoles?), so watch out for the Sooners in the playoffs.
‘The (LSU) Tigers should be heavily favored in their SEC Championship game with Georgia; not by 42 points, but pretty darn close.’ The official line put out by Las Vegas was LSU by 7 ½ points; LSU won by 27. Georgia fans everywhere are probably wishing Vegas had agreed with me; at least then they could have bragged about beating the spread.
(After Virginia beat Virginia Tech to win the ACC Coastal Division) ‘The victors will be in Charlotte to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship. Enjoy it while you can, Cavaliers.’ The euphoria was indeed short lived: Clemson 62, Virginia 17.
‘The final four for the playoffs now look like this:
- Clemson (that will win the ACC by beating Virginia).
- Ohio State (that will win the Big 10 by beating Wisconsin. Again.).
- LSU (that will win the SEC. Hands down.).
- Oklahoma (that will win the Big 12 by beating Baylor. Again.).’
Batting one thousand. Any questions?
(The playoffs will look like this)
#1 LSU vs. #4 Oklahoma
#2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson
Questions? Last chance…
Also worth mentioning:
After stating repeatedly throughout the season that Notre Dame is not ready for prime time, here’s all the proof you need to see that I’m not the only one who thinks so:
With a 10-2 record the Fighting Irish will be facing an unranked and 7-5 Iowa State
in the (drum roll) CAMPING WORLD BOWL in Orlando.
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, boys.
As has been the case on several occasions, I’ll end with a nod to the NFL, although in this case it’s more of a punch in the mouth than a nod. It seems that in its infinite wisdom, the NFL decided that Michael Vick would be one of the honorary team captains in the Pro Bowl in Orlando.
That came as a total shock to me because I thought the game was still being played in Hawaii. That, and because the NFL thought it wise to honor a man with a history of animal abuse. Personally I rank people that abuse animals somewhere between child molesters and scam artists on the Most Despicable People on the Planet Scale (MDPPS).
You may recall that Vick only had to serve 18 months in Leavenworth for his atrocities, followed by another two months in confinement…in his luxury home in Virginia. The NFL Commissioner denied a petition to remove Vick from the Pro Bowl, thereby opening up a whole new category on the MDPPS for enablers.
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia. His latest book, “Southern Charm” is a collection of his first 101 columns for The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .