Like clockwork, every spring and summer is spent praying for its quick return. The arrival is greeted with mass consumption of adult beverages and waistline expanding comfort foods. October hits, reality sets in, and tragically the college football season is halfway to non-existent. Why can't it just last forever? All good things must come to an end, but as a Louisville Football Fan the glass is more than half full in 2016. The home stretch is where these Cardinals will hit their stride.
As a fan and self-proclaimed expert, here are my predictions for the second half of 2016.
1. Lamar Jackson is your Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp, & Davey O'Brien award winner
If the offensive line and the turf monster can keep our superstar Lamarvelous healthy through six more games, then Louisville will gain its first Heisman Trophy, along with the other awards for player of the year and best quarterback. There isn't a player in football who's numbers compare to Action Jackson, not to mention Lamar has compiled these statistics against the toughest stretch of Louisville's schedule. Number eight is number one nationally in total touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, and points responsible for. He ranks second in total offense per game and fifth nationally in total rushing yards. Also, in case you forgot due to Duke's pansy keep away strategy, Lamar has only played four quarters in two of the team's six contests. Jackson's record breaking year stacks up admirably and even surpasses many superstars of years past. The kid is simply spectacular. Come January 7, 2017, Lamar will have earned those 20 candles on his birthday cake and hopefully a shot at the National Championship.
2. The College Football Playoff will include Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Louisville
Barring absolute chaos, the Pac 12 and Big 12 will be locked out the playoff due to the overall weakness of their respective conferences. Washington may go undefeated, but the Pac 12 is embarrassingly bad in 2016, and the Huskies schedule is weaker than every team in the American Conference. The Big 12 will not have an undefeated team at season's end. West Virgina and Baylor have to play each other and one, or both, will lose before their December 3rd showdown.
The SEC is arguably the second worst power five conference this year. Remove Alabama and Texas A&M and you're left with a bunch of teams hoping to get bowl eligible or looking for new coaches. The SEC is so bad this year their fans have taken up arms alongside their blue brethren and are actually talking about basketball season. After the Tide dismantle the Aggies this weekend, their path to the playoff will be all too easy. Saban's crew will cruise to another final four appearance while his legend grows. Unfortunately for America, the dynasty will continue into another offseason.
Ohio State and Michigan will meet as undefeated foes to close out the regular season. Michigan will win in a thriller and capture the Big 10 Championship as well. The committee will hope for a rematch and select both the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
Clemson is now the luckiest team in college football. Missed field goals coupled with fans/boosters as referees can only carry the Tigers so far. The luck is bound to run out on Tater Nation. Clemson is going to lose at Florida State, who appear to be rounding into form, and may drop another game to either Syracuse, Pittsburgh, or the eventual Coastal Division Champion of the ACC. If Clemson finishes 12-1/13-0 as the ACC Champion, then perhaps Louisville will be locked out. However, chaos and college football go together like bacon and every day of your life. I'm betting on Lamar carrying the Cardinals into the playoff.
3. Tom Herman will spurn Texas for LSU
Tom Herman is the mid 2000's version of Bobby Petrino. He has the resume, the wins, and the offense. The Herman sweepstakes will be exciting to watch and is a guarantee to occur thanks to the idiots in the Big 12 not selecting Houston as an expansion team. Texas will fire Charlie Strong, yet, their money and prestige will not be enough to keep Herman from donning the purple and yellow. Saban will finally face a worthy adversary and the Bayou Tigers may finally get to enjoy some revenge.
4. Kentucky will retain Mark Stoops
Much to the chagrin of the 17-20 Kentucky Football Fans out there, Mark Stoops will return to Lexington in 2017. The wild rumors have been put to rest and the Cats have put together a winning streak. If (always a big if when discussing UK football), Kentucky beats Mississippi State, then Stoops and Co are guaranteed five wins. Analyze the atrociousness of the SEC East without vomiting and suddenly beating Georgia/Missouri isn't out of the question. Even if the Cats finish 2016 at 4-8 or 5-7, Stoops's $12 million buyout is too steep to overcome. Throw in the money they just spent on Big Blue Madness, as well as their multi-million dollar recruiting allowance for Coach Calipari, and 2017 will be another season of mediocrity for Kentucky Football.
5. There will be a first time College Football Playoff Champion
Ohio State nor Alabama will hoist the trophy in Tampa January 9th. Whether it be Michigan, Louisville, Clemson, Washington, West Virginia, Baylor, or a team to be named later, the college football fanatics outside of Columbus and Tuscaloosa will not have to watch Nick Saban or Urban Meyer enjoy/hate another Gatorade bath. Praise Jesus !
College Football, alongside Filipino twilty whirl operators, is this nation's backbone (this is a movie reference and not a political stance. Neither major candidate has endorsed this message). The sprint to the finish will be chaos, as it is every year, and 2016 will be the catalyst for expansion of the current four team playoff. America's love affair with college football will endure because the uncertainty, the stories, and the drama capture us each and every season. In a time of much uncertainty and chaos, both on and off the football field, I'm hitching my wagon to a sure bet. It is your time to shine Lamarvelous: carry us all across the finish line.