The 2015 season has just one game remaining to play with Clemson and Alabama squaring off for this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship. With the season pretty much in the books, I figured now would be a good time to go look back at my 2015 predictions and see how I did. I did this knowing I made some truly awful predictions that blew up in my face in spectacular fashion, but in the interest of full disclosure I felt it best to own my preseason predictions and try to make whatever lame excuses I could to validate myself. So here we go.
Note: I did not publish my picks for the MAC or Sun Belt Conference, for some reason apparently.
Best Prediction: Big drop-off season for Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech was one of the trendy picks for some in the ACC and some even went so far to mention Georgia Tech as a potential College Football Playoff team. I was having absolutely none of that in the summer and picked Georgia Tech to finish no better than .500 this season. My skepticism about Georgia Tech was met with plenty of negative feedback by many, but at the end of the season we saw Georgia Tech finish with a 3-9 record. I predicted a 6-6 finish and a 3-5 ACC record. Georgia Tech went just 1-7 in aCC play, and that one win happened to be one of the most exciting finishes of the season. I also predicted Miami to go 8-4. They did. So, yay.
I predicted Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson would be the conference’s offensive player of the year. He did win that award this season.
Worst Prediction: Virginia Tech winning Coastal Division
My ACC Coastal champion pick ended up having to fight for bowl eligibility in the final week of the season, so I naturally am not proud of this one. I thought a conference schedule without Clemson, Florida State or Louisville would end up be a nice perk for the Hokies, but Virginia Tech ended up going 4-4 in conference play. North Carolina ended up winning the division of course, and I had the Tar Heels next in line, following by Pitt. Virginia Tech finished in fifth place in the division.
New Years Resolution: Continue drawing names from a hat to make ACC Coastal predictions.
Best Prediction: Baylor goes 9-3, finishing fourth in Big 12
I nailed my Baylor prediction, although I certainly did not see the season playing out the way it did for the Bears. I called for Baylor to go 9-3 in the regular season and finish in fourth place, and that is exactly how the Bears ended the season before going bowling. In Baylor’s defense, they got hit hard by injuries at quarterback and that took the steam out of the season down the stretch. So I’ll take pride in my prediction but concede they were better than I expected when healthy.
I picked Oklahoma to go 9-3 this season and finish second in the Big 12, so I had them in the running in the Big 12.
Worst Prediction: TCU goes undefeated
TCU ended the season with a 10-2 record in regular season play, but the Horned Frogs finished in third in the Big 12. I knew the defense had plenty of holes to plug, which ended up being a concern for TCU, and the injuries to two of the top offensive players hurt them as well. Even if healthy though, I quickly lost faith TCU would stay true to my undefeated prediction when they had to escape a road trip at Texas Tech with a 55-52 win and a few weeks later escaped Kansas State with a 52-45 win. I will also note I was down on Oklahoma State, predicting eight wins for the Cowboys when they went on to go 10-3 this season.
New Years Resolution: Nobody is going undefeated in the Big 12.
Best Prediction: Michigan State?
I should not take too much credit for my prediction on Michigan State. I said if it was not Ohio State representing the Big Ten East in the conference championship game, then it would be the Spartans. That was hardly a reach though, so I feel pretty silly suggesting it was my best prediction in the Big Ten this past season. In truth, my most accurate prediction was Purdue going 2-10 and 0-8 in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers finished with just two wins but scored one victory in Big Ten play. Again, this was hardly a reach.
I did not include it in my Big Ten preview post, but I did say over the summer Illinois head coach Tim Beckman would be the first power conference coach fired this season. Turns out Beckman didn’t even coach the first game for the Illini, so score.
Worst Prediction: Nebraska winning 10 games
Giant swing and a miss. I thought the coaching change at Nebraska with Mike Riley was going to have a much more positive effect on the Huskers, but Nebraska stumbled out of the gate with close call after close call going the other way. Nebraska may have been the best five-win team in the country, but that was only half of the regular season wins I thought they would have. I also missed on Michigan (thought they’d just miss postseason) and Penn State (totally expected more from offensive line). Also, I once again totally disrespected Northwestern by picking them for three wins. And I predicted Christian Hackenberg to be the offensive player of the year.
New Years Resolution: Just because people love Mike Riley, doesn’t mean Nebraska is good.
Best Prediction: Utah going 9-3
My Pac-12 predictions were not great, but I do take pride in my assessment of Utah this season. I called for Utah to go 9-3 during the regular season, which included a nice start early on against teams like Michigan and Utah State. I called the Utes my wild card team in the Pac-12, and for a while they looked like the top team in the conference before coming down the back-half of the season. So yes, I’ll say I was not surprised by the season Utah had overall.
Worst Prediction: Cal and Washington State
I predicted Cal and Washington State to go a combined 5-19 this season in my preseason predictions. Needless to say, I was way off on both the Golden Bears and the Cougars. I predicted Washington State to beat Wyoming in week three and then go on a long-suffering losing streak the rest of the way. I predicted Cal would win just three games against the Cougars, Oregon State and Grambling State. So, naturally, both teams ended the season with a combined record of 17-9 and each scored bowl victories to cap the season. These two were among my worst predictions in 2015.
New Years Resolution: Start trusting Mike Leach and Sonny Dykes a little more.
Best Prediction: LSU starting 8-0, finishing 3rd in SEC West
I did not get much right about the SEC this season, but I seemed to hit the nail on the head with LSU. I called for LSU to jump out to an 8-0 start, which I believed would make them the last SEC team to lose a game. Hey, what do you know, that’s exactly what ended up happening. I also had LSU finishing third in the SEC West, as I called for the Tigers to lose games against Alabama and Ole Miss. I also strongly suggested Arkansas would be dangerous, and they certainly were.
Worst Prediction: Auburn winning the SEC
Yep, I blew it. I bought into the preseason hype surrounding Auburn. While many seemed to buying into the Jeremy Johnson Heisman hype (I was more cautious here), I do admit to getting suckered into thinking Will Muschamp was going to drastically overhaul the defense at Auburn. Whoops. I also stated I trusted Gus Malzahn to have the offense ready to do some good things. Yikes. I’ll just stop now.
New Years Resolution: Never trust Will Muschamp.
American Athletic Conference
Best Prediction: Houston goes 11-1 and hosts AAC Championship Game
I really liked Houston’s schedule and expected Tom Herman to have a nice impact on the offense in his first year as a head coach. I expected Houston’s passing game to come together quickly under Herman and said in July Houston would flirt with its first New Years Six bowl game since 1979. I had the Cougars hosting the conference championship game and losing just to Louisville during the regular season. The Cougars ended up beating Louisville and losing to UConn later in the year.
I’ll also note I had Navy’s Keenan Reynolds winning AAC Offensive Player of the Year and Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich winning defensive player of the year. I went with Herman winning coach of the year, and he ended sharing the honor with Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo.
Worst Prediction: Cincinnati wins the AAC, UCF wins eight games
Despite my documented optimism about Houston, I actually had Cincinnati winning the conference. Cincinnati ended up finishing third in the AAC East behind Temple and South Florida and was then routed in its bowl game. UCF was one of the worst teams in college football in 2015, going 0-12 and being outscored by nearly 300 points, leading one local bar to give away free beer just to give UCF fans something to get excited about. I’ll easily call UCF’s season one of my biggest regrets of the season.
New Years Resolution: Hop on Willie T’s bus sooner.
Best Prediction: Western Kentucky tops Marshall in East
This is one of those predictions I don’t like taking too much pride in. The east in Conference USA was very likely to be decided between Marshall and Western Kentucky this season, although this year Middle Tennessee got in the mix as well. Western Kentucky ended up on top of the division and went on to win the conference. I actually predicted Louisiana Tech to top the Hilltoppers in the C-USA championship game. My east picks were not too far off from the end result either.
Worst Prediction: Southern Mississippi winning four games
I don;t mind saying I missed on Southern Mississippi this season. The Golden Eagles were one of the most pleasant surprises in college football this season, winning nine games and taking the West Division crown to advance to the Conference USA Conference Championship Game. Southern Miss went 7-1 in C-USA play during the regular season, more than double the number of wins I predicted for them.
New Years Resolution: Pay closer attention to Conference USA beyond WKU, Marshall and Louisiana Tech.
Mountain West Conference
Best Prediction: San Diego State goes 9-3
My preseason pick in the West Division was San Diego State. I picked the Aztecs to go 9-3 in the regular season, which they did, although I thought they would lose a pair of conference games en route to a spot in the conference championship game.
Worst Prediction: Boise State goes undefeated, returns to New Years Six
Oh boy, this one was bad. I picked three teams to go undefeated this season, but Boise State may have been my worst of the three undefeated picks. The Broncos lost four games, including back-to-back home losses to New Mexico and Air Force late in the year. Boise State didn’t come close to sniffing the New Years Six after an early loss to BYU.
New Years Resolution: Respect Boise State’s division rivals more.
College Football Playoff
My preseason @CFBPlayoff predictions:
1. Ohio State vs. 4 Oregon
2. TCU vs. 3. Auburn
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) January 6, 2016
Best Prediction: The Big 12 would not be left out
Because I predicted TCU to go undefeated, I had the Big 12 locking up one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma ended up representing the Big 12 in the playoff. I’ll give myself half credit for this prediction.
Worst Prediction: Auburn
I went 0-for-4 on my playoff participant predictions, but Auburn was my biggest miss of the four. Ohio State was one win away from likely playing (and some even argued they still deserved to be in). TCU lost twice this season with a walking M.A.S.H. unit. Oregon stumbled early but ended the year with nine wins. Auburn finished the regular season 6-6. That was rough.
New Years Resolution: Never trust Auburn until November.
Preseason Prediction: Trevone Boykin, TCU QB
My preseason Heisman Trophy pick ended the year suspended from his team’s bowl game following a bar fight. Even before the late night bar fight for Boykin before the Alamo Bowl, his Heisman candidacy fell in the second half of the season once TCU started to crumble. Boykin was injured and his team lost a couple of games, effectively removing Boykin from the Heisman race that was taken by a firm hand by Alabama running back derrick Henry from LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Boykin finished 10th in the Heisman voting with 13 total points.