The Loaf: The Most Accurate Preview of the 2019 College Football Season You Will Find Anywhere Ever

Sports Section Chair: Michael Brown

Welcome back to The Loaf!! It’s been too long, man. The Loaf returns to The Wolverine Times for its second season, and this time we’re actually starting on time, and we’ll get to go through the whole season! The Loaf is also making its debut on my own personal blog “Pigskin and Pastime,” so if you’re reading on there, congrats for reading my first ever blog post!! If you’re reading this on The Wolverine Times, be sure to head over to Pigskin and Pastime where I will be dropping weekly content!

So, now that all that intro stuff is out of the way, we can get right down to business. Last year on The Loaf, we did exactly what we set out to do, and we got that Toast, finishing a very respectable 30-18 in an abbreviated season (The Loaf’s inaugural edition wasn’t until Week 10 of the 2018 season). However, in this edition of The Loaf, I won’t be making any actual “Loaf” picks – that is, no actual game picks today. Today’s my grand spectacular preview of the season, where, after having gone game-by-game through every FBS team’s schedule (all 130 of them!!), I give my record predictions and predicted order of finish for each conference.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!! The following picks and projections have a very high likelihood of being accurate, so don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know exactly how the season is going to fold out. You’ve been warned.

We start with the Sun Belt:

Sun Belt – EAST

  1. Troy >> 10-2 (7-1)
  2. Appalachian State >> 8-4 (6-2)
  3. Georgia Southern >> 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Coastal Carolina >> 6-6 (4-4)
  5. Georgia State >> 3-9 (2-6)

Sun Belt – WEST

  1. Arkansas State >> 9-3 (7-1)
  2. Louisiana >> 7-5 (5-3)
  3. Texas State >> 4-8 (2-6)
  4. UL Monroe >> 4-8 (2-6)
  5. South Alabama >> 1-11 (0-8)

It’s not always pretty, but it’s always fun. FunBelt, that is. I actually do enjoy watching Sun Belt football. The top teams are always really really good, and the bad teams are one of the best memes in college football. I’ve got the West Division champs, the Red Wolves of Arkansas State defeating East Division champ Troy to win the 2019 Sun Belt Championship.

troy

My pick to win the 2019 Sun Belt Championship: the Troy Trojans. (Photo courtesy of Athlon Sports)

Next up is the MAC:

MAC – EAST

  1. Ohio >> 9-3 (7-1)
  2. Buffalo >> 8-4 (5-3)
  3. Miami (OH) >> 5-7 (4-4)
  4. Akron >> 3-9 (3-5)
  5. Kent State >> 3-9 (3-5)
  6. Bowling Green >> 2-10 (1-7)

MAC – WEST

  1. Toledo >> 10-2 (7-1)
  2. Northern Illinois >> 6-6 (5-3)
  3. Eastern Michigan >> 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Western Michigan >> 6-6 (4-4)
  5. Ball State >> 3-9 (2-6)
  6. Central Michigan >> 4-8 (2-6)

MACtion, baby. There are lots of great things about college football being back. I for one, am incredibly excited for some Tuesday night MACtion on a cold night in November. Seriously, though. This conference reeeeeeks, but Toledo is a bright spot. The Rockets are gonna be really good. The defense will struggle, as it always does, but the offense will carry yet again, and I’ve got Toledo defeating Ohio to take home the 2019 MAC Championship in Detroit.

toledo

My pick to win the 2019 MAC Championship: the Toledo Rockets. (Photo courtesy of Toledo Athletics)

Now we move on to the Conference USA:

C-USA – EAST

  1. Marshall >> 11-1 (8-0)
  2. FAU >> 9-3 (6-2)
  3. FIU >> 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Middle Tennessee State >> 6-6 (4-4)
  5. Old Dominion >> 5-7 (3-5)
  6. Charlotte >> 3-9 (1-7)
  7. Western Kentucky >> 1-11 (0-8)

C-USA – WEST

  1. UAB >> 12-0 (8-0)
  2. Louisiana Tech >> 8-4 (5-3)
  3. Southern Miss >> 6-6 (5-3)
  4. North Texas >> 7-5 (5-3)
  5. UTSA >> 4-8 (3-5)
  6. UTEP >> 4-8 (3-5)
  7. Rice >> 0-12 (0-8)

That’s right. The Blazers are gonna do the dang thing. Seriously man, UAB has something special with Bill Clark. And I don’t want to discount  Marshall; I think the Thundering Herd will have a very special season this year in the CUUUUSA, but I don’t think they can handle UAB on Championship Saturday. Give me UAB in the C-USA title game and that’s your 2019 Conference USA Champion! Also,  UAB is my pick to be the Group of 5’s representative in the New Year’s Six. I don’t see them losing a game this season, and I even think they pull the upset against Tennessee in Knoxville! I might be reaching here, but it just wouldn’t surprise me. UAB, folks. Remember the Blazers.

uab

My pick to win the 2019 Conference USA Championship: the UAB Blazers. (Photo Courtesy of SB Nation)

We now head out west…to the Mountain West:

Mountain West – MOUNTAIN

  1. Boise State >> 10-2 (7-1)
  2. Air Force >> 8-4 (6-2)
  3. Utah State >> 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Wyoming >> 6-6 (4-4)
  5. Colorado State >> 5-7 (4-4)
  6. New Mexico >> 3-9 (1-7)

Mountain West – WEST

  1. San Diego State >> 9-3 (6-2)
  2. Fresno State >> 9-3 (6-2)
  3. Nevada >> 6-6 (4-4)
  4. Hawaii >> 7-6 (4-4)
  5. UNLV >> 3-9 (1-7)
  6. San Jose State >> 1-11 (0-8)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Boise State is going to win the Mountain West. Everyone knows about Boise; the blue turf, the dominance out west, pulling upsets against big time teams, etc. It’s a broken record at this point. They were the UCF before UCF was a thing. So yeah, their dominance will continue this year. I do think they drop the opener against Florida State in Orlando, but then rattle off 11 of their next 12, defeating San Diego State in the Mountain West title game, avenging last years MWC Championship game loss to Fresno State, and claiming yet another Mountain West crown. Broncos will just miss out on the New Year’s Six, however. The loss to FSU to open the year, (as well as UAB being 13-0 champs of the C-USA) will keep them out this season.

boise

My pick to win the 2019 Mountain West Championship: the Boise State Broncos. (Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics)

Our final Group of 5 Conference is The American:

American – EAST

  1. UCF >> 10-2 (7-1)
  2. Cincinnati >> 8-4 (6-2)
  3. South Florida >> 6-6 (4-4)
  4. Temple >> 4-8 (3-5)
  5. East Carolina >> 4-8 (2-6)
  6. UConn >> 1-11 (0-8)

American – WEST

  1. Houston >> 10-2 (7-1)
  2. Memphis >> 11-1 (7-1)
  3. Navy >> 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Tulane >> 5-7 (3-5)
  5. SMU >> 4-8 (3-5)
  6. Tulsa >> 2-10 (1-7)

There’s kind of a lot to dig through here, a few things I want to point out and mention in regard to the American. I guess I should start with the most glaring – so, yes, that isn’t a typo you see. I think UCF drops two games this season. Obviously the Knights are still going to have a great season; they outclass just about everyone in the Group of  5 (and some Power 5 teams) when it comes to talent. But all good things must come to an end. Their winning streak of 25ish games came to an end in Phoenix last year in the Fiesta Bowl, and I think their absolute ownage of their entire schedule also ends. Mackenzie Milton and Darriel Mack are both hurt so it’s gonna be Brandon Wimbush at quarterback. Yikes. That being said, that opens the door for other really good teams in the AAC. And I don’t necessarily abide by the Power 6 doctrine, because I think it’s stupid, but there are a lot of good teams in this conference. I think we’ll see that highlighted with both Houston and Memphis this season. Memphis is gonna open the season with a win over an SEC team in Ole Miss, and I think they do win 11 games in the regular season. Unfortunately for the Tigers, I think their lone loss comes to Dana Holgersen and his Houston Cougars, who I believe use that win to lead them to a West Division title, as well as an American Championship victory against UCF.

houston

My pick to win the 2019 American Championship: the Houston Cougars. (Photo courtesy of Houston Athletics)

We’ll sandwich the Independents between the Group of 5 and Power 5 Conferences:

(listed alphabetically)

Army >> 11-2

BYU >> 4-8

Liberty >> 7-5

New Mexico State >> 3-9

Notre Dame >> 9-3

UMass >> 4-8

There are a few things I want to note here. Army is going to be really, really good. Jeff Monken has thinks rolling at West Point, and it isn’t slowing down this year. Army will likely lose in Ann Arbor, but a win on the road against Michigan could very easily propel the Black Knights into the Playoff conversation (at least to UCF post-Auburn win levels). Also, BYU at 4-8 seems pretty pessimistic on the Cougars, but their schedule is simply brutal. BYU’s first four games? Holy War, a trip to Neyland, and then USC and Washington at home. Then they go to Toledo and to South Florida. Boise State and San Diego State also make an appearance on the BYU schedule. In short, it’s rough. On the brighter side, I do think Liberty makes it to its first bowl game ever, and I think Notre Dame responds to the Cotton Bowl embarrassment with a respectable 9-3 season, but their three toughest games are on the road (Georgia, Michigan, Stanford), and I think the Irish drop all of those.

 

Power 5 time!!! We’ll start out west with the Pac 12:

Pac 12 – NORTH

  1. Oregon >> 10-2 (8-1)
  2. Washington >> 11-1 (8-1)
  3. Stanford >> 8-4 (6-3)
  4. Cal >> 6-6 (4-5)
  5. Washington State >> 5-7 (3-6)
  6. Oregon State >> 2-10 (1-8)

Pac 12 – SOUTH

  1. Utah >> 10-2 (7-2)
  2. Arizona State >> 9-3 (7-2)
  3. USC >> 7-5 (6-3)
  4. UCLA >> 3-9 (2-7)
  5. Colorado >> 3-9 (1-8)
  6. Arizona >> 3-9 (1-8)

No surprises here, for the most part. The Pac 12 is once again going to be the worst Power 5 conference, and it’s going to be obvious. I’ve got 4 teams finishing with three or fewer wins. The conference’s best are going to be pretty good, though, I think. Utah, for example, has been getting some College Football Playoff buzz around the media, and while I think that’s a bit much, I do think the Utes are going to have a great year, and fight off the fightin’ Herm Edwardses from Tempe to win the South. Up north, I have Oregon handing Washington its only loss, and that’ll be enough to get the Ducks to Santa Clara. Oregon beats Utah to win the Pac 12 title and will be in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.

oregon

My pick to win the 2019 Pac 12 Championship: the Oregon Ducks. (photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics)

Next up is the Big Ten:

Big Ten – WEST

  1. Nebraska >> 10-2 (7-2)
  2. Iowa >> 8-4 (6-3)
  3. Purdue >> 9-3 (6-3)
  4. Minnesota >> 8-4 (6-3)
  5. Wisconsin >> 8-4 (5-4)
  6. Northwestern >> 6-6 (4-5)
  7. Illinois >> 3-9 (1-8)

Big Ten – EAST

  1. Michigan >> 11-1 (8-1)
  2. Ohio State >> 10-2 (7-2)
  3. Michigan State >> 9-3 (6-3)
  4. Maryland >> 5-7 (3-6)
  5. Penn State >> 6-6 (3-6)
  6. Indiana >> 4-8 (1-8)
  7. Rutgers >> 1-11 (0-9)

Whew, lots to uncover here. We’ll start in the West, where I think Nebraska has a great year 2 under Scott Frost. I don’t think the Huskers can pull it off, but it’s certainly possible Nebraska beats Ohio State at home, and if it does, the schedule sets up very nicely. I’m not saying they’re a Playoff sleeper, but I give them a better chance than Utah or Florida, for example. The West as a whole is getting to be pretty solid. The days of “Wisconsin and some bums” are long gone. In the East? Well, I think Michigan finally gets it done. I think the Wolverines beat Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State (all of which they get at home), and suffer their lone loss on the road in Happy Valley in front of a whiteout crowd. Ohio State will still have a great year 1 under Ryan Day, and will likely be the Big Ten’s representative in the Rose Bowl again (because I think Michigan will find itself in the Playoff). Sparty will be pretty good this year, as it continues its good year, bad year alternation. You might also notice Penn State being pretty low in the standings; I’m not high on the Nittany Lions in their first season post-Trace McSorley. I do think they beat Michigan, though, and make a bowl once all is said and done. Finally, like I said, I’ve got Michigan in the Playoff, so give me the Wolverines over Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.

michigan

My pick to win the 2019 Big Ten Championship AND be one of the 4 teams in the College Football Playoff: the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Athletics)

Up next: The Big 12:

  1. Oklahoma >> 12-0 (9-0)
  2. TCU >> 10-2 (8-1)
  3. Baylor >> 9-3 (6-3)
  4. Iowa State >> 9-3 (6-3)
  5. Texas >> 8-4 (5-4)
  6. Oklahoma State >> 7-5 (4-5)
  7. (tie) Kansas >> 4-8 (2-7)
  8. (tie) Texas Tech >> 4-8 (2-7)
  9. (tie) West Virginia >> 4-8 (2-7)
  10. Kansas State >> 3-9 (1-8)

I love the Big 12. It’s how a conference should be. Everybody plays everybody, and the top two teams play each other in a rematch for the championship. Love it. And this is how I think those standings will look after the round-robin. Jalen Hurts is going to do great things with Lincoln Riley as his mentor, and Oklahoma isn’t going to lose a game until they get to the Playoff. TCU will bounce back this year, as it tends to do, and will get back to the Big 12 title game for a rematch with Oklahoma, though the Sooners will prevail once again. As for the rest of the standings, you’ll probably notice that I have Texas remaining mediocre. I actually think they beat LSU, but the Big 12 slate will prove more challenging than they would have thought. Furthermore, I think Texas Tech and West Virginia struggle under their new coaches in year 1, and Kansas, on the other hand, does well in Les Miles’ first season. As a result, I think those three teams end up tying for 7th place in the Big 12.

oklahoma

My pick to win the 2019 Big 12 Championship and head back to the Playoff for the third year in a row: the Oklahoma Sooners. (Photo courtesy of Crimson and Cream Machine)

The SEC is up next; #ItJustMeansMore:

SEC – EAST

  1. Georgia >> 11-1 (7-1)
  2. Missouri >> 10-2 (6-2)
  3. Florida >> 9-3 (5-3)
  4. Tennessee >> 8-4 (5-3)
  5. South Carolina >> 5-7 (2-6)
  6. Kentucky >> 5-7 (2-6)
  7. Vanderbilt >> 4-8 (1-7)

SEC – WEST

  1. Alabama >> 11-1 (7-1)
  2. LSU >> 10-2 (7-1)
  3. Texas A&M >> 8-4 (5-3)
  4. Auburn >> 9-3 (5-3)
  5. Mississippi State >> 7-5 (3-5)
  6. Ole Miss >> 5-7 (2-6)
  7. Arkansas >> 4-8 (0-8)

Saturdays down South are going to be really exciting this year, as always. I’m excited to hear the CBS theme music at 3:30 on Saturday afternoons. I’m READY!! There isn’t too much to get into here. It’s gonna be the same as it has been for the past few seasons. Georgia and Alabama are going to dominate (although they both lose to Auburn), LSU is going to be really good but not good enough. Yada Yada Yada. The one noteworthy thing I’d say is that Missouri is going to be really good. I believe in Kelly Bryant. Also, I think Georgia finally gets the job done in Atlanta against the Tide. It’s going to happen. And (brace yourselves) Alabama is going to miss the College Football Playoff.

georgia

My pick to win the 2019 SEC Championship and make the College Football Playoff: the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo courtesy of Athlon Sports)

I saved the best for last with the ACC:

ACC – ATLANTIC

  1. Clemson >> 12-0 (8-0)
  2. Florida State >> 9-3 (6-2)
  3. Syracuse >> 8-4 (4-4)
  4. Boston College >> 7-5 (4-4)
  5. Wake Forest >> 7-5 (3-5)
  6. NC State >> 6-6 (3-5)
  7. Louisville >> 4-8 (2-6)

ACC – COASTAL

  1. Miami (FL) >> 10-2 (7-1)
  2. Virginia Tech >> 8-4 (5-3)
  3. (tie) Virginia >> 7-5 (4-4)
  4. (tie) Georgia Tech >> 7-5 (4-4)
  5. (tie) Pitt >> 7-5 (4-4)
  6. North Carolina >> 3-9 (1-7)
  7. Duke >> 2-10 (1-7)

2019 is going to be our first season of ACC football post-Raycom era and that’s kinda sad, but we can still eat Bojangles and get our cars fixed at Havoline all the same. The Atlantic is going to be par for the course yet again. Clemson isn’t going to lose, Cuse is going to be good again, and Florida State will return to the Seminoles of the late Jimbo-era. The rest of the division will be mediocre, including Louisville, who will be better than the experts believe in year one under Scott Satterfield. In terms of the Coastal, I think Miami has a gem in Manny Diaz. He loves being there, his players love him, and he’s comfortable there already. I think Virginia Tech will remain garbage but benefit from a laugher of a schedule. Virginia and Pitt will be pretty good too, and Georgia Tech will surprise some folks. Carolina will experience growing pains but will be decent for Mack in year one. And Duke is going to be really, really bad. Yay Coastal!! In terms of the  title game, Miami will give Clemson a game for maybe a half, and then the Tigers will pull away in the 3Q and cruise into the playoff with their 28th straight win.

clemson

My pick to win the ACC, return to the College Football Playoff for the 5th year in a row, and to win the National Championship once again: the Clemson Tigers. (Photo Courtesy of True Median)

So that’s what I’ve got for my regular season predictions. Here are my playoff and NY6 bowl projections plus a couple awards:

PEACH BOWL (PLAYOFF SEMIFINAL) >> #1 Clemson vs #4 Michigan

FIESTA BOWL (PLAYOFF SEMIFNAL) >> #2 Oklahoma vs #3 Georgia

SUGAR BOWL >> #5 Alabama vs #10 TCU

ROSE BOWL >> #9 Nebraska vs #8 Oregon

ORANGE BOWL >> #13 Miami (FL) vs #6 LSU

COTTON BOWL >> #17 UAB vs #11 Ohio State

HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER >> JALEN HURTS, QB, Oklahoma

COACH OF THE YEAR >> Bill Clark, UAB

 

I asked a couple of my favorite teachers ever at this school about me having Georgia in the Playoff and not Alabama, and here were their responses:

“If Georgia can avoid the injury bug, they will be in the playoff.” – Mr. Sailers

“I would say…emotionally I agree with you. Logically, I’ll believe it when I see it. My heart says yes, but my mind says no.” – Dr. Engram

 And that’s about it, folks. I’m really excited for another season of college football! We’re so close! Here’s to the Pacific Life whale commercial, College Gameday on Saturday mornings, #Pac12AfterDark on Saturday nights into Sunday morning, weeknight MACtion, SEC on CBS at 3:30, etc. Happy football season!!

 

 

 

 

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