College football is back, baby!
It's been a long offseason and what seems like an even longer than normal talking season this year. All of the usual talking heads and publications have bombarded us with their takes. Dozens of new social media accounts have popped up, trying to cut through the noise and clutter with their own rankings and lists.
It's too much. Let's just play football.
As teams figure out that strength of schedule matters from start to finish, we start to see better matchups early on. That's great for fans, and it's even better if you are a fan of the outrageous.
Week One gives us plenty of chances for outrageous outcomes. Here are five OUTRAGEOUS* predictions for Week 1.
Outrageous College Football Predictions for Week 1 of 2019
James Madison upsets West Virginia
Truth be told, we've seen worse FCS teams beat better FBS teams, but it's still always a shocker when we see it go down. James Madison is one of the elite programs at the FCS level, and they return 19 starters from a team that won nine games a season ago. Both head coaches are in their first year with their respective programs, but the on-field experience advantage goes to James Madison, as West Virginia only returns nine guys with starting experience in their two-deep.
Additionally, new Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown is under pressure to not lose his home opener to a team from the subdivision that used to be known as I-AA, while new Dukes head coach Curt Cignetti is playing with house money on the road against a Power 5 school. Everything just lines up for the upset.
Jalen Hurts tosses three INTs vs. Houston
It's hard to believe that Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is going to go completely away from his pass-happy scheme. He'll want Hurts to put it in the air early and often against the Cougars if only to get comfortable doing so throughout the season. As of now, that's just not who Hurts is, and it's going to show early on in the season. Look for Houston to pick off the Alabama transfer three times in a rough outing for the Sooners offensively. Oklahoma will win, but it won't be pretty.
Hank Bachmeier throws four touchdown passes vs. Florida State
Boise State saw a lot of talented players leave after 2018, including quarterback Brett Rypien. Many are expecting some sort of a drop-off, but the fact is that the Bronco program is as strong as any in the country. They have system continuity under head coach Bryan Harsin, who is heading into his sixth season at the helm of the Boise State program.
I'm not about to question confidence in starting a true freshman on kickoff weekend, especially when that freshman will be playing behind a line with all five returning starters.
Bachmeier threw for more than 10,000 yards with 124 touchdown passes during his three-year high school career. Suffice to say, he's no stranger to getting the ball downfield and into the end zone. The Seminoles won't know what hit them.
BYU beats Utah by double digits
Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake returns a roster with a decent combination of mature veterans and exciting, explosive newcomers. They also have an efficient quarterback in Zach Wilson. He had a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing nearly 66 percent of his passes in 2018. Wilson will lead an underrated BYU squad against a Utah team with a lot of hype coming into this season.
Some have the Utes sneaking into the College Football Playoff. That's a lot of pressure on a program that has rarely ever had that sort of attention on it. I see Utah looking ahead, getting caught up in playoff daydreams, while their in-state rivals stay focused on the task at hand in front of a raucous home crowd.
Oregon beats Auburn by double digits
Justin Herbert might be the best quarterback in the country. He'll be pulling the trigger behind an offensive line that returns five starters and tossing the ball to a corps of highly-experienced skill players. Defensively, the Ducks are dotted with elite playmakers who will relish in playing in the new attacking style of co-defensive coordinator Andy Avalos.
Auburn comes into the game with questions marks at every skill position, including quarterback. Jarrett Stidham has moved on to become Tom Brady's understudy, leaving an inexperienced depth chart behind him. Defensively, the Tigers will have a hard time getting pressure on Herbert with a front seven still learning how to play together. That's going to put a lot of pressure on what is a very good Auburn defensive backfield.
Looks for the Ducks to makes a statement on the national stage. They'll be a player in the race for the College Football Playoff, and it all starts this weekend.
*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. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Top photo courtesy of BYU Football Facebook page)