The polls are out. The odds are set. The pundits and prognosticators have all had their say. I've made my preseason OUTRAGEOUS* predictions for the Power 5 conferences and the Heisman race. There's nothing left to do before the 2017 college football season kicks off, right?
Who am I kidding?
For better or worse, it's time to wrap up this series of preseason outrageous predictions by going macro -- covering the big picture nationally.
Outrageous College Football Predictions for the 2017 Season
Three of the four teams in last season's College Football Playoff won't make it back
College football is cyclical, even when it feels like the blue bloods are always dominating. We saw all four playoff participants lose a whole lot of talent to the NFL draft and graduation. That opens the door for new teams to chase. Three new teams will join Washington in this year's four-team tournament to decide who is the king of the college football mountain.
All four College Football Playoff participants are in the top 12 of the preseason AP Poll
It's not like the three teams who will join Washington will be coming out of nowhere. They're all contenders, and if you've been following these outrageous predictions over the past couple of weeks, you have an idea of which teams they are. Look for Penn State to qualify by running the table in the Big Ten, Auburn to win the SEC and Oklahoma State to win the Big 12. The ACC will get left out, largely due to its contenders having too many losses as a result of the overall strength of the conference.
Notre Dame finishes .500 and the Brian Kelly era ends
If they couldn't win with an eventual NFL quarterback under center last year, this Irish team is going to have a tough time navigating an even more difficult schedule in 2017. Back-to-back seasons of failure and mediocrity don't fly in South Bend. The national championship game appearance to cap off the 2012 season seems closer to 15 years ago than just five. Kelly is a good coach, but he can rub people the wrong way as well. That's fine if you're winning, but a character trait that makes you expendable if your on-field results are not where fans and boosters want them to be.
Two Group of 5 teams run the table
Going undefeated is tough to do, but the schedule sets up nicely for two Group of 5 teams to accomplish the feat in 2017. Appalachian State is loaded with all the right pieces in all the right places. After opening against and upsetting a perennially overrated Georgia program, the Mountaineers should be favored in every game they play during the rest of the season. Over in the MAC, Toledo is a rising power full of upperclassmen on both sides of the ball. They'll be the class of their conference, but not before putting the nation on notice with a win over the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 23.
Oklahoma State wins the national championship
It's Mike Gundy's world – we're all just living in it. He's got a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, a dynamic young running back, an elite receiving duo and finally a solid offensive line. He has the most talented group of athletes he's ever coached on defense, and his in-state coaching rival retired suddenly earlier this summer. The stars have aligned for Oklahoma State to hang video game-esque numbers all season en route to the Big 12 title, a victory over Auburn in the College Football Playoff semis and a shootout win over Penn State in the national title game.
*Remember, "outrageous" can be defined as “wildly exaggerated or improbable,” and “very bold, unusual, and startling.” These are "outrageous" predictions and should be treated as such.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also covers the Big Ten for Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa's SB Nation blog. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.