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10 fearless second-half college football predictions


As we turn the page on the first half of the 2015 college football season, here are 10 fearless predictions for the second half.

1. Utah will win the national championship: The "national-champion Utes" won't exactly roll off the tongues of college football's bluebloods, but they'd better get used to it. Expect Kyle Whittingham's team to take the Pac-12 title and the College Football Playoff berth that will certainly go with it. They will finish the job in January with star rusher Devontae Booker playing the 2014 hero role of Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott.

2. Fournette to be foiled for Heisman Trophy.A few weeks ago, it was predicted here that LSU sophomore running back Leonard Fournette would not win the Heisman Trophy. He's leading the nation in rushing (1,022 yards) by a wide margin, but there's no wavering now. As good as Fournette is, at least three teams left on the schedule (Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss) have the necessary defense to make Fournette look merely human. TCU's Trevone Boykin, a legitimate Heisman candidate himself, will dissect every defense he sees the rest of the year.

3. Michigan State will knock off Ohio State. The defending national champions will fall at home against the regular-season opponent to whom they can least afford to lose. There are just two quarterbacks on the OSU schedule good enough to knock off the Buckeyes, and one of them (Christian Hackenberg) doesn't have enough help around him to do the job. The other, MSU's Connor Cook, does.

4. Ole Miss will make the College Football Playoff field There's only one way it can happen -- the once-beaten Rebels would have to run the table from here. Star left tackle Laremy Tunsil is returning from suspension to bolster the offense, and their two toughest games (Texas A&M and LSU) are at home. If they win out to take the SEC West, winning the SEC title game won't be any more challenging than getting there.

5. Georgia Tech will topple Florida State. The Yellow Jackets have been downright bad this season. With four consecutive losses, they are arguably the most disappointing team in the country. They're also certain to beat a team they're not supposed to beat, because Paul Johnson's triple-option offense always bites someone on the wrong Saturday. Meanwhile, FSU quarterback Everett Golson hasn't thrown an interception all year, and we've seen enough of Golson to know that won't last.

6. The midseason firings aren't finished. Maryland's Randy Edsall and USC's Steve Sarkisian are already out. Coaching turnover in college football this winter is going to be even crazier than normal, and athletic directors, more and more, are keen on getting the head start on a search that midseason terminations provide. One coach to watch here has to be Rutgers' Kyle Flood, who has already been suspended for three games this year and his team could be headed for a 4-8 season.

7. Oklahoma will finally start riding Samaje Perine The Sooners' star sophomore is getting fewer touches in new OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's pass-happy system than he did a year ago. Riley himself said not to expect anything to change after an embarrassing loss to Texas. But when a back who ran for 1,713 yards as a freshman last year gets just 10 touches in a loss to a bitter rival, something has to change; if not in scheme, then in approach. Riley lamented eight-man defensive fronts as a reason Perine wasn't a bigger factor, but it's not as though Perine didn't see any of those a year ago.

8. Jeremy Johnson will win his job back at Auburn Before the end of the season, expect the benched Tigers quarterback to be back in the lineup. As awful as he was before yielding the job to freshman Sean White, he's only a junior and he could come back next year and be the quarterback that was expected this year. Auburn's season is headed toward 2016 look-ahead mode, and unless White emerges in a big way, Johnson could make the most of one more look.

9. Sony Michel will make a huge second-half splash Few could believe it when the Georgia running game lost Todd Gurley last year but didn't lose any effectiveness. Nick Chubb posted Gurley-like numbers in every game thereafter. Meet Chubb's replacement, Sony Michel, who is about to do the same thing. He's a different style than the powerful pair that preceded him -- smaller but quicker -- and Michel will prove himself to be another weekly 100-yard man for the Bulldogs.

10. The Toledo Rockets will emerge as the "Group of Five" major bowl qualifier. Boise State is ranked higher this week, and an assortment of other hot teams from the five smaller conferences -- Memphis, Houston, Temple, Western Kentucky, Marshall and Ohio -- could all make a push. Toledo (5-0) has a solid rusher in Terry Swanson, a stingy defense, and might not have a real challenger in the MAC. The Rockets' remaining schedule finds six MAC teams that stand at a combined 13-21.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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