We’re in the predictions business.

That’s a blessing and a curse for writing about college football, which is a rare sport in which we get 8 months to talk ourselves into something that we expect to see. More often than not, it doesn’t turn out as planned.

Well, that’s the case for me.

It’s not that all of my preseason takes were bad. Some were decent. It’s just that many of them looking back now look, errrr, questionable. At the time, they made so much sense.

So let’s revisit those takes:

The good: The Nebraska hype train has too much steam

I understood why people were all in on the Huskers in the preseason because of the Scott Frost factor and how they finished last year.

But I was pumping the brakes on the preseason division title winner and preseason top 25 team. Why? I saw issues in the defense that still needed to be addressed and I thought ball security issues on offense were still a problem.

Through 6 games, Nebraska is 4-2 but has yet to cover the spread against a Power 5 team. It played down to the wire against struggling Illinois and offensively horrific Northwestern. That’s not including the home beatdown at the hands of Ohio State in which Nebraska looked nothing like a top team.

Consistency is still an issue for the Huskers in Year 2 of the Frost era. This is still more of a 7-8 win team than a 10-win team.

The good: Nebraska will end its College GameDay drought vs. Ohio State

Having said that…I did predict that the Huskers would host GameDay for the first time in 12 years.

It was No. 3 on my list of best chances for a B1G team to host GameDay. That did indeed happen, in part because the slate was awful and in part because following a win against Illinois, everyone was back on the Nebraska hype train.

It turned out to be more lopsided than even I thought, but it was still a nice showcase opportunity for the program. The fan loyalty is unmatched.

Is Nebraska back? No, but you wouldn’t have known it watching the craziness in Lincoln.

The good: Wisconsin will win the B1G West

A bold prediction? Not really, but I was at least on board with not picking trendy Nebraska. I was on board with Wisconsin having a bounce-back year and winning the West. Did I think they’d be this good this early? No, but I saw a path for a possible 7-2 mark against the conference en route to a West title.

I liked the idea of getting a fresh start with Jack Coan at quarterback alongside the ever-productive Jonathan Taylor. And Jim Leonhard’s defense, which was so banged up last year, was bound to make significant improvements. Needless to say, that’s proving to be the case.

As of right now, the Badgers are the clear favorites to win the division with Iowa and Minnesota threatening. Interestingly enough, all 3 of them have key, key showdowns this weekend that could prove pivotal in the West race.

The good: Noah Cain is going to be ready from the jump

I love me some Noah Cain. I spent some time with him down at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) before his senior year and thought he had such a mature approach to the game. Not only was he OK deferring high school carries to preserve his body for college, but after finishing his freshman year of high school in Texas, he went down to IMG for a camp and walked into the head coach’s office and handed him his résumé.

I’m taking that kid on my team all day, every day.

When he signed with Penn State, I was fired up to see what he could do following the departure of Miles Sanders. Sure enough, Cain is already making his presence felt. He’s second on the team in rushing and he’s got a touchdown in 4 of 5 games already.

In Penn State’s versatile rushing attack, Cain looks like the most promising back of the bunch. Already.

The bad: Penn State doesn’t deserve to start in the AP Top 25

Sooooooooo…while I was high on Cain, I wasn’t high on the Lions. I had a few reasons for that. They had massive offensive turnover, including the loss of the program’s most prolific quarterback ever in Trace McSorley. I hated how Penn State played in the Citrus Bowl, and I didn’t like how the Lions entered the year with a 5-game losing streak to Michigan/Michigan State/Ohio State.

So far, the Lions have made me eat my words. If they beat Iowa this weekend, they’ll be an easy top 10 team with all sorts of momentum heading into the latter half of 2019. Sean Clifford looks the part and K.J. Hamler is as dangerous a player as there is in the conference.

I stand by my belief that Penn State as a preseason top 10 team was a bit much and I still don’t think James Franklin will just roll through the East en route to Indianapolis, but I vastly underestimated how good this defense would be.

The Lions are far from mediocre, and I’ll turn this one into an “ugly” if Penn State continues this fast start.

The bad: Michigan State isn’t getting enough preseason love

I thought it was strange that MSU was considered a fringe top 25 team when Brian Lewerke was expected to be healthy and the defense returned loads of production from one of the country’s best units.

As we near the midway point of the season, I’m starting to think MSU is heading into a 4-4 start. The offense is just too maddening to watch. Even though Lewerke is healthy, the play-calling is vanilla and incredibly inefficient.

Can MSU still finish 8-4 and be in the top 25 conversation at the end of the regular season? Absolutely. For all I know, the Spartans will play their best game of the season this weekend and stun Wisconsin. I just wouldn’t bet on that.

The bad: Ohio State will have peaks and valleys with a first-time head coach and a first-year starting QB

I actually argued that a team with those aforementioned elements didn’t deserve to start in the top 5. In fact, I questioned it so much that I did a little research to show just how rare that was:

Needless to say, Ohio State’s inexperience at head coach and quarterback haven’t held the team back. The Buckeyes look like the most complete team in America right now having allowed just 32 points in 5 games since the opener against FAU.

Six blowout wins to start the season wasn’t just the product of Justin Fields thriving in Ryan Day’s offense. The defense is the most drastically improved unit in the country, in my opinion. Chase Young and Co. have the Buckeyes thinking “Playoff” and with good reason. Ohio State looks as good as they have since the post-Virginia Tech loss squad in 2014.

That’s scary.

The ugly: Jonathan Taylor is NOT the best running back in America

I argued that it was Travis Etienne and not Taylor. Why? The fumbling issues, obviously. Losing 10 fumbles in a 2-year stretch was the major knock against Taylor during his historic start to his career.

Yeah, about that.

Taylor has yet to lose a fumble in 2019 (he only put it on the ground once). Even better? He’s putting up Heisman-worthy numbers. He’s on a 13-game pace for:

  • 299 touches
  • 1,937 rushing yards
  • 2,233 yards from scrimmage
  • 42 touchdowns

And the crazy thing? He’s catching passes now, too.

Keep in mind this is behind an offensive line that only had 1 starter returning. Taylor looks better than ever. Even in the likely event that he doesn’t continue this ridiculous pace, the guy is plenty worthy of Heisman talk.

With all due respect to J.K. Dobbins and Chuba Hubbard, Taylor is the best running back in the country right now. Period.

The ugly: Jeff Brohm will take another step up in 2019


Yes, injuries have totally decimated the Boilers, but let’s not forget the Nevada loss. Purdue blew a huge lead late to a Group of 5 team, which certainly didn’t bode well for the rest of the season outlook.

That’s not what I saw happening for this team with Rondale Moore, Elijah Sindelar and a wide open B1G West. Now, of course, the Boilers are dealing with too many mid-season injuries to count, and just winning at home against Maryland might prove to be a tall task.

Brohm deserves at least some blame for this, especially if his team can’t go 5-2 and reach the postseason in Year 3.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was predicting this type of future for Brohm:

That’s not to say I’m selling all of my Brohm stock, and I know there are more long-term issues on the defensive side of the ball, but yikes. It shouldn’t be this rough.

The ugly: Michigan is going to win the B1G and go to the Playoff

Yeah, you knew it was coming. I’m guilty of buying into the Michigan hype. Sorry. I wasn’t alone.

I realize that Michigan has yet to lose a division game, but I’m already bailing on this woeful prediction, which was based on the belief that Josh Gattis was going to walk into Ann Arbor and work wonders. That, obviously, hasn’t been the case. At all.

Michigan’s offense is averaging 22 points against non-Rutgers teams so far. Shea Patterson looks like he’s regressed, the Michigan offensive line that was supposed to be improved has been a struggle and the play-calling under Gattis looks frustratingly predictable.

Did I think the Wolverines were going to re-write the offensive record books? Not necessarily, but I think we all expected better than this. Michigan has a daunting stretch coming up with a trip to Penn State and then at home against Notre Dame the following week.

Who knows? If Michigan can survive that and embark on the run I — and many others — predicted, perhaps this in itself will be an ugly midseason take.

…and I also said Shea Patterson was the B1G’s best quarterback