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The Corn Nation Staff Predicts The 2016 NCAA Football Season

What do our writers think will happen this season in the CFB landscape?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Media Day Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images


Salt Creek: I’m just here so I don’t get fired. But seriously, I probably won’t get to watch any college football until October, so don’t be all smug about getting to watch football.

Cobcast Joe Canale: Wait, we can get fired? Warning to readers. I strongly advise you to gamble large amounts of money on all of my predictions. I own stock in some online gambling sites. Who am I kidding? I can’t even afford chicken stock. Yep, that last “joke” is the quality you can expect.

Ranchbabe (Jill): That Superbowl win was so amazing. Did you see Von Miller…..oh wait. That Foster Farms bowl win was a really nice springboard that gave me hope for this season. Did you see the Huskers Run That Dang Ball?

Patrick G.: I’m just here to remind you to that Nebrasketball Starts Sunday, November 13th so don’t complain when you randomly see articles in the middle of football season.

Cobcast Ryan: Football season not only gives my life meaning, but it also gives me unending anxiety for 3 months. So it’s a wash.

Jon: I hate doing these damned things. There isn’t a whole lot of variance when it comes right down to it because the same teams tend to win their conferences over and over. It’s difficult because if you pick a wildcard people tend to take you not serious (perhaps I shouldn’t worry about this), so, what you’re supposed to do is pick the same old favorite but mix up the reason as to why. As in, returning quarterback, great defensive line, and if you do that, it makes everything credible.

David: C’mon Jon, these are fun! You get to make ridiculous statements and maybe one of them looks brilliant in a few months. Then you get to brag about it. That said, if my predictions come true, college football in December will look super weird.

Greg: A word to all you youngsters out there...DON’T PLAN A DAMN FALL WEDDING!!! Then you (and your invited guests) don’t have to miss football.

Pat Janssen: It's time for the point in the year where I simultaneously feel excitement, nerves and guilt for the head trauma kids are sure to endure.

Conference Champions:

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12:

Salt Creek: Oklahoma wins the Big 12 but Texas makes a hard play for the title that no one expects. TCU has an average fall, Kansas State gets nine wins, and Baylor loses to Kansas.

Joe Canale: A team with a gimmick offense will win a 6 way tie for first place based on a complicated formula that does not consider arrests or cover ups so that all teams remain eligible. Bill Snyder stays awake for all conference games. Glad we’re outta there. Though I’d like to play OU more. .

Jill: Some team that has a chance to win the Big XII gets so heavily rumored to leave for another conference that they begin to get the “Nebraska” treatment by the officials. It costs them the title (that and the tiebreaker “changes” that are introduced in secret during Thanksgiving break to rig it for the team the Big 12 thinks has the best chance to make the playoff). It seems like Oklahoma’s conference to lose but if the Longhorns get some competent QB play, they could make it interesting.

Patrick G.: My head says OU but my gut says TCU. I really like the Horned Frogs chances this year as they should have one of the best defenses around. Their offense will be a work in progress but should be okay with a favorable schedule. Yes, they play Arkansas but that’s in September and hogs are still summer drunk in September. BTW, Nebrasketball plays Kansas again on December 10th! (loud little girl squeal comes out of northeast Nebraska)

Mike: Boomer. Sooner. It all starts when Stoops takes out his home state Bucknuts in September.

Jon: ESPN and Fox when it gets announced that the Big 12 won’t be expanding because Oklahoma and Texas have been warned if they screw around with television contracts and profits right now, they will be paying them back forever. As for football, it’s Oklahoma. They have Baker Mayfield. He’s a great quarterback.

Cobacast Ryan: Don’t Care. Oklahoma?

David: I think you all got the state right, but I see Okie State coming out on top here this year. Bedlam’s gonna be the best it’s been in a while.

Greg: What are the odds of Oklahoma winning the conference? I’d go with those odds. I think they’re primed for a return to the national scene.

Pat Janssen: Not Baylor. Oklahoma if you need an official answer.

Brian: Texas. Not when they lose to Oklahoma and see the Sooners take the B12. No, that comes when they fire Charlie Strong and hire Tom Herman.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac 12:

Salt Creek: Washington heads to the Playoff while UCLA prepares for a rematch in the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 runner up.

Joe Canale: The pack 12 season will feature the 12 best games that no one will see because they are asleep. Oregon State will go undefeated and the state of Nebraska will collectively gulp.

Jill: One of the Arizona schools is due to win something, right?

Patrick G: Let’s go with Washington because it’s the trendy pick that many believe will most likely fail. However, I have faith in Petersen and his coaching ability along with the recruiting he has done the past few years. That and I think UCLA’s Josh Rosen will self destruct at some point. You know who’s teams never self destructed, John Wooden's teams. Mora, take note.

Mike: UCLA.

Jon: I agree with Mike, it’s UCLA. Seth Rosenberg is an exceptional quarterback.

Cobcast Ryan: Don’t Care. Probably someone in California?

David: The Air Raid offense is going to take full effect in Pulman and take the Pac 12 by storm. Washington State is gonna light up late night Saturday’s this year.

Greg: I am also in agreement with Mike and Jon when I say UCLA. But I also agree with Joe when he says no one will see those games because I don’t have time for a game that kicks off at 10pm normal people time.

Pat Janssen: No one's picking the team with the most electric player in the country? Who thought id be an outlier picking Stanford?

Brian: What’s wrong with you save Pat? Stanford is the rock steady here.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Florida vs Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


Salt Creek: Give me Alabama over Tennessee for a spot in the playoff. Georgia is mediocre and Sumlin gets fired by Texas A&M for yet another disappointing season. Les Miles finally canned by LSU. Miles has a new job before January 1st however.

Joe Canale: The conference will continue it’s mission of returning college football to the pre forward pass era. 50 percent of conference games will go to overtime scoreless. Nick Saban will have a sign that says “get off of my lawn” put up at all stadium entrances.

Jill: LSU.

Oh, who am I kidding? Bama beats up whichever hapless East division school is sacrificed to appease Saban bloodlust.

Patrick G: Bama all the way, Roll Ham!!!! (I have no basketball reference here, it’s the SEC)

Mike: Alabama until proven otherwise.

Cobcast Ryan: Doesn’t matter, they’re all overrated. They are like the Dom Perignon of College football. Everyone says it great, so people buy it but in the end they’re just an expensive bottle of Freixenet. Don’t care. LSU?

Jon: I hope like hell it’s LSU, otherwise they’re going to disembowel Les Miles and whomever has supported him in the past. They’re going through hell right now, so maybe God will give them some payback come November. LSU will win because they have (firstname here) Fournette and he is the best running back in the nation.

David: I’ve picked Mississippi State to win each of the past two years. That was a mistake. What can I say, I was a Dak Prescott believer. I’m sticking with the state of Mississippi and Ole Miss to come out on top this year. They’re gonna be dancing between the hedges in December! I agree with Salt, that Miles gets fired, but his new job will be as a consultant in Lincoln and will get to watch his son play college ball.

Greg: Leonard, Jon. His name is Leonard. I’m hopeful that it’s not Alabama. Maybe all the talent we’ve given them over the years will help Kentucky finally be successful. (Stop laughing, Brian)

Pat Janssen: Alabama is real. The rest of the SEC likes to believe they are. They are not. Tide.


NCAA Football: ACC Football Championship Game-Clemson vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports


Salt Creek: Clemson (by virtue of beating Florida State) with the win over their northern neighbors, the Tarheels. Jimbo Fisher leaves for LSU.

Joe Canale: The ACC will announce that it will move up to division 1 football starting in 2019.

Jill: Tar Heels. I don’t like it any more than you do.

Patrick G: I really want to pick someone other than Clemson or Florida State. I’m going to roll the dice here…...DUKE!

Mike: Florida State.

Cobcast Ryan: Don’t care. Clemson?

Jon: Florida State because they huuuuuge talent and Clemson already had their day in the sun.

David: Here’s one: North Carolina. They lost the opener to South Carolina then reeled off 11 straight before losing to Clemson in the ACC title game last year. They’ve got a decent schedule that includes an opener vs. Georgia and a trip to Tallahassee, but beyond that, it’s manageable, or at least it should be. I think they get revenge on Clemson in the ACC title game and are fringe playoff contenders.

Greg: If we were talking about basketball, I’d say you can take this conference and lower it into The Dip (10 points to the first person in the comments to place that reference). Has anyone said Miami yet? NO! AND THEY NEVER WILL! I’m picking North Carolina.

Pat Janssen: It's going to take a strong (negative) effort for Clemson to lose this thing.

Brian: I was going to say Florida State earlier, but for some reason I think the QB situation is making that shaky. So, Clemson again?

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Iowa vs Michigan State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten:

Salt Creek: Nebraska wins a crazy rematch with Ohio State involving a blocked punt, a botched option play, and Tommy Armstrong Jr. running for almost 200 yards, mostly on zone read. Tim Beck is fired so hard he becomes a head coach at some D3 school in Texas. With an early loss to Oregon and the in-season loss to Ohio State, Nebraska misses the playoff and goes to the Rose Bowl instead, for a rematch against UCLA. Unlike Iowa, Nebraska wins. Nebraska re-signs with Adidas, giving fans something to squabble about all spring and summer.

Joe Canale: Nebraska wins 9 games but doesn’t win the west. Michigan and Ohio State meet ranked #1 and #2 in the country. Michigan wins. Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer engage in a 15 minute long handshake/stare off before being pulled apart by their teams in what turns out to be another 5 minute long tug of war. When Jim Harbaugh speaks to the press he reveals that he is still holding Meyer’s hand, which was ripped from his arm. Iowa wins 8 games despite looking like the 3rd best High School team in Iowa. Kevin Williams is an all american at michigan state (kidding). The slipper falls off of the Minnesota QB when people realize he can’t throw. Northwestern turns it’s entire stadium to the visitors section. Several other teams are so boring that they are forgotten by history. Penn State fans finally start going “You know what? Maybe Coach Paterno wasn’t such a great guy”, before building a new 75 foot gold statue of him that they then immediately move to an undisclosed location that only graduates can go to. Several other teams are so boring that they are forgotten by history.

Jill: This season will bring back the whole #BigTenSucks narrative.

Patrick: Michigan State again because Izz...Dantonio likes to prove everyone wrong and pull off close wins.

Mike: Khakis win and fake Weasels the world over make even Ohio State fans look tame.

Jon: Michigan. Because it would so forced for us to have to hear about Harbaugh to the point that we wanted him assassinated in November. Michigan has Jabrill Peppers. That guy is the second best all-around player in the nation next to Stanford’s Christian McAffrey. Peppers will carry Michigan to a championship season.

Cobcast Ryan: Huskers. We run the table. Can’t nobody touch us! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR! GBR!

David: Minnesota stuns the college football world behind the talents of NFL prospect Mitch Leidner and wins the Big Ten, though they lose in Lincoln.

Greg: You always want to say Nebraska without sounding biased. Unless you’re Tweedy. Here’s the thing - based on my own pre-conceived biases, I can’t say Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State. Maybe Lovie Smith has the Illini ready to compete for championships.

Pat Janssen: Every day I'm homering. Huskers all the way. Or Purdue. They did beat us last year.

Brian: Ohio State, which makes Michigan fail again in their propaganda bullshit. But when Jim Harbaugh is asked about it, he’ll quote Walt Whitman and something from John Cusack in Say Anything when talking about life.

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Houston vs Florida State Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Best “Group of 5” school:

Salt Creek: Since BYU is ineligible, give me South Florida. It’s between them and the Aztecs at San Diego State, in my opinion. I don’t see Houston catching lightning twice.

Joe Canale: My “best group of 5” pick is that same this year as it is every year….. The Dave Clark 5! If you get this reference then you are older than me. Also Boise St.

Jill: Does North Dakota State count?

Patrick G: I’m going with Jill’s pick or Villanova right now. They lose two but return three starters and are bringing in one hell of a center this year.

Mike: Houston will give Oklahoma a bit of a scare, and hold serve the rest of the year.

Cobcast Ryan: Wayne State College.


David: Houston’s not gonna give OU a scare, they’re gonna outright beat ‘em. They’re gonna nearly run the table and pull a Boise St. and lose the last week of the season. We’ll all have a good laugh. Tom Herman will get a nice power 5 gig next year. Probably in the SEC.

Greg: North Dakota State could compete in the Mountain West and likely win it. But I’m saying Houston.

Pat Janssen: Houston is for real. The pressure may be a bit much, but they have the benefit of being the underdog in an early game to help keep their edge. I see the Cougs pushing for the playoff.

Brian: Houston, which will be cool when they join the Big 12 and be rewarded with Texas taking Tom Herman for $6 million a year.

NCAA Football: Heisman Trophy Presentation Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman Trophy Winner:

Salt Creek: Iowa’s quarterback. I hear he’s basically a mixture of all of the best QBs to ever play the game.

Joe Canale: Deshawn Watson. He’s good. Also, I would make the two deep on most ACC secondaries. So he should do well.

Jill: Christian McCaffery. Duh. He even thanks Iowa for propping up his resume in his acceptance speech.

Patrick G: McCaffery is out because he plays on the left coast, Fournette will get hurt, and Watson will open his mouth and piss off voters so I’m going with Josh Jackson of Kansas

Mike: It’ll be a quarterback - just don’t know who.

Jon: Greg Ward, Sr. of Houston.

Cobcast Ryan: WESTERKAMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or maybe Johnny Stanton but probably WESTERKAMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David: Luke Falk. Remember the name. He’ll be slinging the football for Mike Leach and will put up a bazillion yards.

Greg: Here’s my thing - you can at this point say 100 names. Me? I don’t know who I’d put on that list. Hell, we’re tossing out names? Tommy Armstrong. There - that’s a name.

Pat Janssen: Probably whoever ends up being Alabama’s running back.

Brian: Thing is, it probably won’t be someone we’re thinking about now. But, I do like Greg Ward and Christian McCaffery. But, I know it won’t be someone from my most overrated team.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Day David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Most Overrated Team:

Salt Creek: Give me Michigan. The HOT TAKES over the end of Harbaugh’s honeymoon will keep us warm this winter. Expect at least twelve NFL teams to be reportedly hiring Harbaugh, including the Patriots.

Joe Canale: Every SEC team. Except Vandy. They are who we think they are. RIP Dennis Green.

Jill: The Raiders.

Patrick G: Texas A&M in everything except screwing up a women’s football clinic. They take the cake there.

Mike: Might be Ohio State with only 6 returning starters.

Cobcast Ryan: The SEC but unlike Joe I believe this extends to Vandy. Also, Iowa.

Jon: Yours, unless it’s Nebraska.

David: Washington. I like Chris Peterson, and he’s probably doing great things there, but I’m not quite sold they’re ready to jump into the upper tier of the Pac 12 yet. A lot of people think they are.

Greg: Overrated: Past Participle. Def: have a higher opinion of (someone or something) than is deserved. Let’s just say that the top 3-4 teams in each conference and all of the SEC should be considered overrated...except that Mountain West Conference. Because no one is talking about them except for my two mentions here.

Pat Janssen: Tennessee. Tennessee. Tennessee. Every school in the SEC that's not Alabama.

Brian: With a hard giggle at Tennessee, I have to say Washington. 14th in the preseason AP, above a Houston team that has been proven?

NCAA Football: Georgia Spring Game Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Most Underrated Team:

Salt Creek: Purdue or Kansas, one of whom manages to make it to a bowl game.

Joe Canale: Can I say Nebraska? Is that cheating? I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who thinks it, but for the record, I’m saying it first.

Jill: I cannot believe Salt has gone this far without mentioning Northwestern.

Patrick G: Texas…..

Cobcast Ryan: Huskers. Period, We’re the greatest and if you think some other school is better then why don’t you just go live THERE.

Jon: Mine.

David: Georgia. Mark Richt could recruit. He left a lot in the cupboards in Athens. If Kirby Smart can whip them into shape, they could make a lot of noise in the SCE sooner rather than later.

Greg: Let’s see what happens up in Minnesota.

Pat Janssen: Nit even being a homer here...Nebraska.

Brian: Pitt! Pat Narduzzi is actually a decent HC, and they should be better than people think this year.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Media Day Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Playoff Participants & National Champions:

Salt Creek: My four seeds: 1.Alabama, 2.Clemson, 3. Washington, 4. Oklahoma. Alabama over Oklahoma (best game of the entire bowl season), Washington over Clemson (probably on some weird officiating), and what the hell, let’s put a stop to the SEC’s dominance and give it to Washington, after Saban gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Huskies kick a field goal as time expires.

Joe Canale: 1. Clemson 2. Ohio State 3. Oklahoma 4. Boise State. Clemson wins it all easily. The SEC uses its exclusion from the final 4 as a reason to “secede” from the NCAA, instead they form a 32 team “super conference” by adding teams from the florida and texas prison leagues, reuniting Coaches with many of their ex-players. Vandy wins the conference in 2017.

Jill: Let’s see, I picked an Arizona school, Bama, Okie, and North Carolina to win their conferences to go with a craptastic Big Ten (who would get excluded from the playoff).

In order to increase my odds of getting something right, I will go with Clemson, Bama, Meechigan, and Okie Lite, or maybe Houston. No, I’ll stick with UCLA.

TCU wins it all.

Patrick G: Okay, I’m going to be serious here. Let’s go with Alabama vs.TCU and Florida State over Ohio State. Championship game will be ‘Bama over Florida State. After the game Nick Saban will have a moment of enlightenment, walk off the field, and disappear. He is eventually found 10 years later in the jungles of Nicaragua teaching the locals about Jai alai and looking like Christopher Walken from The Deer Hunter.

Mike: Alabama, Oklahoma, UCLA and Florida State

Jon: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State

Cobcast Ryan: Huskers over Bama, Clemson over LSU. Nebraska takes it all 42-31.

David: Oklahoma St., Ole Miss, North Carolina and Washington State. Yeah, this isn’t gonna happen, but if it does, the playoffs will get low ratings but the regular season will probably be exciting. Let’s say Wazzu beats Ole Miss and Okie St. beats UNC. The Cowboys will beat the Cougars in a shootout. ESPN will lament the low ratings they’ll get. It will still suck to have these games on New Year’s Eve.

Greg: In no particular order: UCLA, LSU, Michigan, and either Oklahoma or Clemson. Let’s say something weird happens and UCLA wins it? I mean - that would be unpredictable.

Pat Janssen: Bama, Clemson, Houston, Big Ten Champ. NEBRASKA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

Brian: Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma make it to the final 4 teams. I think Clemson beats Oklahoma in the NC game.