Utah as a Top 5 team? Iowa sitting at 7-0? Four unbeaten Group of 5 teams in the Top 25? Yes, yes and yes — and nobody saw any of it coming.
A phenomenally outrageous first half to the 2015 college football season has positioned the dominoes in a way that should make the stretch run one of the more memorable in recent years. There are still well over 20 FBS teams who can control their own destiny and realistically contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Some of those teams are going to need the outrageous to happen.
Here are my outrageous predictions for the second half of the 2015 college football season.
Ole Miss will win the SEC West
Sure, the Rebels have two losses — including one in conference. They also still have nothing but SEC West games on their schedule — including LSU, Texas A&M and Arkansas at home. They control their own destiny via a win over Alabama. Running the table would punch Ole Miss' ticket to the SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome, potentially to avenge its earlier loss to Florida.
Duke will win the ACC
The Blue Devils are quietly 5-1 and playing some of the best defense in the country, allowing only 131.2 yards and 9.3 points per game. They play only one currently ranked opponent (Pitt) the rest of the season. If they can navigate trips to Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest while holding serve against Miami at home, they'll likely meet either Florida State or Clemson in the ACC title game. They'll be easily the best defensive team either team will have faced all season. A win in that game could make Duke the first school to send its basketball and football teams to the final four of their respective sports in the same calendar year.
Iowa will win the Big Ten
If the Michigan State-Michigan game was any indicator, nobody is getting out of that round-robin in the East Division unscathed, including Ohio State. The winner of that gauntlet is likely to face an Iowa Hawkeye team that features arguably the nation's best offensive line and has done nothing but play injured all season. The Hawkeyes have a bye week to get healthy before taking on a very manageable schedule to finish out the year. They'll be fresh and firing on all cylinders in Indy, facing what will probably be a very banged-up Big Ten East champion.
Notre Dame runs the table and qualifies for the College Football Playoff
The Irish still have three games against opponents that are currently ranked. If they win the rest of their games — including the one against Stanford to end the season — it's going to be awfully difficult for the College Football Playoff committee to keep them out. They'll have a bye week to get ready and healthy for the stretch run.
The Big 12 and SEC will both be left out of the College Football Playoff
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU all have yet to play one another. That's going to get ugly in a hurry, and I'll be shocked if any of these teams come out of it unbeaten. Ole Miss will beat Florida in the SEC title game, leaving both teams with two losses. Notre Dame is going to run the table and get in. If Iowa (or any other Big Ten team) finishes unbeaten, you can't keep them out. Same goes for Utah and a one-loss Duke, which will have just played in a conference championship game. Too bad, so sad. This is what you wanted, America.