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College Football 2019 Season Early Projections

By Steve Makinen  () 

With all but about 15 teams having completed their spring games and the release of season win totals just on the horizon, it’s a great time to look ahead at the coming college football season. What I have done is gone and researched all of the various teams and conferences and set up my baseline power ratings for the season. I then compared these ratings against each team’s schedule to come up with the projected won-lost records for each team. All of these projections are below. Let’s look at some of the highlights.

• According to my figures, South Carolina plays the nation’s toughest schedule, at least as it stands now. The Gamecocks are ranked just ahead of USC and Auburn in that regard, and along with Texas A&M, face the unenviable task of having to play both Clemson and Alabama in 2019. They do bring back QB Jake Bentley, who has started 32 games at SC in his career, along with several other contributors on both sides of the ball. My projections show a record of 5.7-6.3, so a better chance to finish under .500 than over for HC Will Muschamp’s team.

clemson

• The country’s easiest schedules belong to UAB out of Conference USA. The Blazers come off an impressive 11-3 season of 2018, one that culminated in the program’s first-ever bowl game victory. Army, another big bowl game winner that won 11 games, has the country’s second-easiest schedule. Both teams are expected to see bowl games in 2019, according to my projections.

• Clemson has the highest win projection of any team, with 11.6, a bit better than Alabama (11.1), Oklahoma (10.9), Georgia (10.4) and the aforementioned Army (10.0). The Tide & Bulldogs are expected to win their respective SEC divisions, setting up a rematch of last year’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. The Tigers are an overwhelming choice to win the ACC, projected to win at least three more games than any other conference mate, while Oklahoma also looks to be a prohibitive choice in the Big 12, despite having to replace QB Kyler Murray in 2019. Former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts is the frontrunner for that job, a story that will be one to watch.

• Assuming the projections play out accurately, besides Clemson, Alabama, and Oklahoma, the other Power 5 conference teams that would be expected to contend for a spot in the college football playoffs this year would be Michigan, Ohio State, Washington and Utah. Notre Dame, predicted to go 9.5-2.5, could also be in the mic.

• Memphis & Boise State (9.8 wins each) have the highest projected win total of any non-group of 5 team, although Appalachian State (9.5) and Central Florida (9.4) are close.

• In terms of teams expected to improve from last season, North Carolina is expected to win the most games in the regular season compared to last year, 3.2. Nebraska & Central Michigan (2.9), Western Kentucky & UCLA (2.8), and Arkansas (2.7) are the next teams on that list.

• The list of teams expected to decline 2.5 games or more this year in terms of regular season record, Utah State (3.2 win drop) heads the list, followed by Georgia Tech (2.7), Cincinnati & Middle Tennessee State (2.6) and Buffalo & Notre Dame (2.5).

Use the projections on the next page or create your own to help beat the season-win totals when they are released for the college football teams in the coming days. Of course, I will give my Power Ratings a full review once the season draws nearer, to reflect any key injuries, additions/subtractions, or positional 

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