There is not much to like about August. It’s sauna hot, and for most of it football comes at us in the form of one steamy practice after another. That and NFL preseason games.
“There’s Drew Brees, on the sideline, having a Gatorade. I wonder if that’s the same flavor Joe Montana drank?”
The best thing about August is when it ends. And when we can say, finally, that there will be real football NEXT WEEK. College football goes live Aug. 25 with the very first smattering of games, including a meeting of LSU and Southern opponents, Rice and Prairie View.
Hey, it’s something.
August is also the month for predictions. Here are a few for your amusement. Just don’t hold them against me come January:
This season LSU will go …
7-5. The Tigers face a brutal schedule — ESPN’s power ratings rank it third-toughest in the nation. LSU hosts both CFP title game participants from this past season, Alabama and Georgia, and Auburn and Miami were both in CFP New Year’s Six bowls. Then there’s that Mississippi State team that routed LSU by 30 in 2017. The Miami game is critical. If LSU can pull the opening upset, the Tigers can go 8-4 or better. And if they only have three losses after the Alabama game, they could run the table and finish 9-3. But that’s the ceiling, while 6-6 is also in the running.
The Saints will go …
11-5. I want to say 12-4, but that second-half of the schedule with Philadalphia, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, both games with Carolina — the road game is part of three straight away from the Superdome after trips to Dallas and Tampa — is a meatgrinder. Still, 11-5 could be good enough to win the NFC South again. Since 2009, the top seed in the NFC has gone 13-3 or better all but once (2014), so the Saints would have work to do to earn that crucial advantage.
And the Heisman Trophy goes to …
Bryce Love, Stanford. Love has some obstacles to overcome. The Heisman has become almost the exclusive domain of quarterbacks this century. The only non-quarterbacks to win since 2000 were Alabama running backs Mark Ingram (now of the Saints) and Derrick Henry. Also, there is the perceived West Coast bias, or simply the fact that so many games take place when so many voters in the east are not watching. That said, Love was a finalist last year and has important built-in name recognition. Perhaps that’s part of the reason Bovada lists Love as the preseason favorite, though Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is second. Second-favorite based on one second half against Georgia?
Brees will break Peyton Manning’s NFL career passing record …
In Week 7, Oct. 28 at Minnesota. Brees needs 1,496 yards to surpass Manning’s total of 71,940 yards and it was Week 7 last season before he passed for that many yards. Even if Brees is a bit ahead of his 2017 pace, the record could still likely fall on the road, as the Saints play at Baltimore the week before. Brees also has to pass Brett Favre’s 71,838 yards for second place, so he could leap both men on the same momentous Sunday night.
LSU’s starting quarterback will be …
LSU’s backup quarterback will be …
Justin McMillan. He may be the least talented of the Tigers’ four scholarship quarterbacks, but he has that Danny Etling-like pluck.
LSU’s leading rusher will be …
Lowell Narcisse. Hey, I had to take a flyer on someone. If he breaks a few long runs out of the Wildcat formation and none of LSU’s true running backs establish themselves, it could happen.
The CFP final four will be …
No. 1 Clemson versus No. 4 Georgia in the Orange Bowl
No. 2 Alabama versus No. 3 Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
The national champion will be …
Clemson. Alabama is the odds-on favorite, but I am just banking on the fact it is so hard to repeat.
My preseason top 25 is …
Now that Ross Dellenger has left The Advocate for fame and fortune with Sports Illustrated (the slacker), I am again taking up the gauntlet as our news organization’s voter in The Associated Press poll. The poll comes out Aug. 20, but here is my preseason ballot:
3. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. Notre Dame
12. Michigan State
16. Mississippi State
17. Southern California
18. Florida State
19. Virginia Tech
20. West Virginia
22. Boise State
25. Florida Atlantic
If the Tigers go 7-5 as I predict, that likely will not be worthy of being ranked. That said, all could change significantly if the Tigers can upset the Hurricanes.
The first college football coach fired …
I don’t know. I know it will not be Ed Orgeron. Folks from Vegas oddsmakers to ESPN the Magazine say his is the hottest seat in the game. I don’t think his seat is even the hottest in the Southeastern Conference. My vote goes to Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason.
Orgeron will, and should, get this second full season to prove himself. Now, 2019 could be different, but that’s heat for next August.