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Our Boldest Predictions for the 2019 Season

Changes are Coming to College Football


Hello again, and welcome back to The Kickoff blog. As the leading predictor of college football results and statistics, we wanted to take some time in today’s blog to go over some of the boldest predictions that are floating around during the offseason. While it is true that every offseason brings with it a large amount of off the wall predictions, we feel that the predictions that we are going to list in today’s blog post have some merit to them and, as a result, deserve a little more analysis than the typical rumors that get thrown about. With just around three months until the start of the 2019 season, there are now a handful of teams that we believe will be ranked among the elites in August. In addition to these noteworthy teams, we feel that a few teams are going to come out as darkhorse candidates this season and could surprise quite a few people. Continue reading below to learn more!  


Notre Dame: Highly Ranked Flop or Potential Powerhouse?


The term “flop” may be a bit harsh when it comes to describing Notre Dame but there is a chance that the Fighting Irish, despite a load of talent returning on both sides of the football, finishes the year with three regular-season losses. This number would surely keep the Irish well shorty of their expectations this season as quarterback Ian Book returns as a preseason Top 10 pick. Notre Dame will not be favored in road trip games against Georgia or Michigan and there are several other games that could go either way for the team during their fall schedule. We predict that their hopes of getting back to a Playoff game after the predicted setback that is going to hit them in Athens.


The Tennessee Volunteers are Going to Win 9 Games


We know that this prediction sounds a little ludicrous after the Vols’ abysmal season last year, but hear us out. Jeremy Pruitt has laid the groundwork for a successful season and we are predicting a better than expected finish for Tennessee this season, especially if they can go into Gainesville and beat the Gators in their SEC opener. The offense this season should be improved under Jim Chaney as long as their is solid play up front. Depth could be an issue if the Vols experience any major injuries in the beginning of the season, however, we expect Tennessee to only lost to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mizzou during the regular season. This will be a tough year for the boys in orange, but we expect them to surprise more than a few people with their performance this season.


Heisman Finalist: Sam Ehlinger


Sam Ehlinger has that rare quality where he can make the players around him want to use every last ounce of energy they have to win football games. Not only is he an outstanding player with a canon for an arm, he is a player that inspires his team to be better than their individual selves. We feel that Ehlinger is one of the players this season that has it, that intangible factor that is needed to be successful in the important leadership position that comes with being a quarterback. If Ehlinger decides to step up and take the next step as a passer this season, a step that we see happening after last years showing, we expect that he could exceed 50 total touchdowns by season’s end. Because of this, we feel that his play will be too impressive for Heisman voters not to mention him in spotlight games.


Join us again next time as we continue to cover some of our boldest predictions for the 2019 college football season. If you would like to keep up with the latest, most in depth stats in college football, we encourage you to signup for our monthly Kickoff stats package. We break down all of the important information so that you can accurately predict which teams are going to come out on top this season.

The Post-Mortem: 2019 College Football Recap

Now that the 2018-19 College Football Season is over with the Clemson Tigers claiming the National Championship, it’s time to do a “post mortem” on how the season went, including how The Kickoff measured in terms of our preseason predictions. Of course, you can only be so accurate before Game One, basing your analysis on the prior season’s performance, historic performance over time, the quality of returning and new players, and factors such as the difficulty of schedule, coaching changes, etc. That can all get thrown off if a seemingly difficult schedule ahead is impacted by teams who underperform. That’s part of what makes the off-season so exciting: Trying to look into a crystal ball and determine how things will turn out.

As always, 2018 brought us the share of disappointments and surprises. Once we got into the actual games and Media Days hype turned to Game Day realities, adjustments in expectations naturally followed.

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College Football News: The Kickoff Looks Back and Ahead

College Football News

College Football News: Regular Season Retrospective and Bowl Season Preview

With the regular season ending and bowl games starting, it’s time to reflect on where schools stand and what lies ahead for some of them. Kickoff Editor Tommy Duff offered his thoughts on 2018 college football. Our final regular season issue, the Bowl Wrap Up issue, will come out January 9th!

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College Football: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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We are now in the thick of the 2017 season, gaining some clarity about which college football teams are contenders and which ones simply hope to salvage what’s left.

The preseason was full of talk about potential, but we never really know how teams will perform and respond to pressure until practice turns into full-contact games.

The season, so far, has produced some stunning upsets and surprise upstarts. We are at the stage where teams are hoping the successes or losses of their recent opponents reflect well on the College Football Playoff selection committee. This is also a critical time when injuries will begin to slow the momentum of teams.

Vanderbilt started out 3-0 and was riding high after beating Kansas State 14-7 in Week 3. The Commodores, however, hit a brick wall called the Alabama Crimson Tide in Week 4 and found themselves 3-2 after losing to Florida.

Enthusiasm also rose in Starkville after Mississippi State beat LSU 37-7. This was tempered by a 31-3 loss to Georgia and a 49-10 pounding by Auburn, as well as the realization that LSU would lose to Troy in week 5. Speaking of Auburn, they got off to a slow start in 2017 with an anemic offense that failed to live up to preseason hype, losing to the defending national champion Clemson Tigers and barely beating Mercer before turning things around with impressive wins over Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Then they blew a 20 point lead in Baton Rouge and fell 11 spots in the latest AP Poll, breaking the hearts of fans who were beginning to think the Tigers might actually be in the College Football Playoff discussion after all.

Ohio State’s fortunes fell after the Buckeyes couldn’t complete passes over 10 yards against Oklahoma on their home turf, but came back with wins over Army, UNLV and Rutgers. They fell from a No. 3 ranking to No. 12 this week. The Sooners fell from their No. 3 ranking after losing a Week Six shocker to Iowa State, which was a 31-point underdog.

The Florida Gators lost their opener against Michigan, then struggled to beat Tennessee and Kentucky — then came Saturday’s 17-16 loss to struggling LSU. An ugly 41-0 loss by the Volunteers to Georgia was enough to make Butch Jones’ seat much warmer. The Bulldogs, in contrast, look like the team to beat in the SEC East. Speaking of Butch Jones, he looks like a “dead man walking” as he faces Nick Saban.

Alabama is off to an unsurprising undefeated start that included that 59-0 humbling of Vanderbilt and a 66-3 win over Ole Miss. So far, the Tide has done nothing to prove itself unworthy of the top spot in the polls. Aside from Bama and Georgia, the rest of the Southeastern Conference is uncharacteristically weak so far this season. Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M have had mixed success. Arkansas was 2-2 headed into the loss at South Carolina. On Sept. 2nd, the Gamecocks handed NC State their sole loss so far, which seems odd considering the Wolfpack has wins over better teams like Florida State and Louisville.

Perhaps no team in the country has disappointed this season like Florida State, which was expected to give Alabama more of a challenge in the season opener and also had that 27-21 loss to NC State. Initially ranked No. 4 in the preseason, the Seminoles aren’t even in the Kickoff’s Top 25 rankings anymore.

Things have not gone so well for Nebraska, Missouri or Stanford, earning them mention on the chilly end of the Kickoff Thermostat — our newsletter feature highlighting weekly good or bad superlatives.

On the flip side, Washington State’s 30-27 upset of USC had fans talking playoffs before they lost this past weekend. At the start of the season, USC was ranked No. 2 in The Kickoff Preseason Top 25. At UCF, Scott Frost has done a phenomenal job of turning the program around. Clemson has shown capable of winning without Deshaun Watson — at least until facing Syracuse.

Other teams on the rise so far this year include TCU, Michigan, Miami (FL), and Utah. However, the Wolverines lost 14-10 at home to Michigan State. The Hurricanes managed a last-minute win to end the losing streak to Florida State. And how about Penn State?!

The polls have seen tremendous change with so many upsets over the last couple of weeks. As the saying goes, any given Saturday…

To get the special Buy One Get One Free Special on 2017 electronic versions (PDF) of The Kickoff newsletter, delivered weekly on Monday mornings to email inboxes (as advertised on WDEF Channel 12), click the link.

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The Kickoff: Thoughts on the College Football Season Ahead

college football preview

Our patience is nearly rewarded as we get ready for the start of another exciting season of college football action. Kickoff Editor Tommy Duff offered a few thoughts while preparing Issue One of the college football newsletter, arriving August 28th. The new and improved newsletter is adding two additional pages to the PDF version this year, available for a limited time as a Buy One Get One Free Subscription Special online.

The early lead to the College Football Playoff starts on September 2nd at Mercedes Benz Stadium. That game will be one of our Games of the Week, along with Florida vs Michigan and West Virginia at Virginia Tech.

“We will know quickly whether Alabama will live up to the high expectations as the Tide play FSU on a neutral field in their opening game,” Duff said. “It will be interesting to see as that game should tell us whether FSU is ready to take the next step and/or if years of recruiting at an elite level gives the Tide an advantage of filling holes with seasoned talent.”

Duff said defending National Champions Clemson could be right back in the playoff picture for 2017, but “they’ll need for their young talent to mature fast. Kelly Bryant is expected to take over at the QB position. On defense, Clemson will be strong up front with 5 of their front 7 back. They have an extremely tough early schedule, with Auburn and Louisville in the 2nd and 3rd weeks.”

An embarrassing loss to Clemson in the playoffs should give Ohio State’s 15 returning starters motivation, which they may need going into an early season matchup against Oklahoma. “It is always very difficult to project how a program will respond to the loss of a head coach as respected as Bob Stoops, but Oklahoma returns a load of talent, including All American Quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Oklahoma State game on the road becomes a lot more interesting with Stoops retired.”

Duff expects much from Southern Cal as they build upon a 9-game win streak and a victory in a Rose Bowl Classic. “Though their schedule isn’t easy, they play all their toughest matchups at home,” he said.

Penn State’s success last season surprised many. “Nobody saw them making it to the Rose Bowl Game, but now the faithful expect them to build upon that success, and the pieces are in place for them to do just that. Their most challenging games are in late October, though having Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive weeks is never ideal,” he said.

Other question marks heading into the new season:
• Can Ed Orgeron continue to right the ship at LSU with QB Danny Etling and RB Marion Guice as his main weapons?
• Will Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham finally give Auburn a proven efficient passer with a cannon under center who can make Gus Malzahn’s offense finally produce again?
• Can we expect some significant improvement in Mark Richt’s 2nd year at the helm in Miami?
• Will Richt’s old team, Georgia, be able to capitalize on a wealth of returning talent and avoid the last second meltdowns?
• How will the suspension of 7 players, including star WR Antonio Callaway, affect the Florida Gators in their opener against Michigan?
• Will defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson — the most electrifying college football player in the country last year – make Louisville one of the hottest teams in the country again after 3 losses to end the year left a sour taste?
• Will Michigan be able to replace the talent lost from their 10 win squad of last year before facing off against Penn State on October 21?
• Has Stanford’s rising junior Keller Chryst fully recovered from the ACL injury from last season’s Sun Bowl?
• Can Boise State prevail in week two, when they travel to Washington State, and enjoy one of those type years they perfected during the BCS era?
• What will Charlie Strong be able to do with a South Florida team with one of the country’s most manageable schedules and led by one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Quinton Flowers?
• What will be the impact of all of the turmoil on Ole Miss?
• Where will teams like Tennessee, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Arkansas end up after teams in the Top 25 start to fall?

Catch more of Duff’s Analysis of college football news and statistics in Issue One of The Kickoff, coming August 28th. Our prognosticator-in-chief gives his opinions each Friday from noon to 1 pm Eastern on WAAK 94.7 FM radio in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can listen online at

The long wait for a new season officially ends at 1:30 pm Eastern on Saturday, August 26th as Oregon State and Colorado State clash at Sonny Lubick Field. Stanford, Rice, Hawaii, UMass, South Florida, San Jose State, Portland State and BYU also have games that day before the majority of FBS teams play on Thursday, August 31-Saturday, September 2nd.

To get the special Buy One Get One Free Special on 2017 electronic versions (PDF) of The Kickoff newsletter, delivered weekly on Monday mornings to email inboxes (as advertised on WDEF Channel 12), visit  

Additionally, you can subscribe by visiting this link to print, fill out, and mail the form to us with your enclosed check or credit card number. A third option is to call our office at (423) 267-0953.

Just don’t wait because the season is almost underway!

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