On the eve of college football's opening night, here are 10 fearless predictions for the 2015 campaign.
1. Michigan will disappoint -- again -- in Year 1 of the Harbaugh era
For all the excitement about Jim Harbaugh's return to Michigan, a Year 1 turnaround isn't forthcoming. UM will lose to Utah, BYU, Michigan State and Ohio State, to name four -- and that won't be all. The Wolverines are headed for another down year, perhaps even shut out of the bowl picture for the second year in a row. Harbaugh will cook up some big seasons for Big Blue, but he's not using a microwave to do it. Think crock pot.
2. USC's Jackson will be a Heisman Trophy finalist
How big a splash will USC's Adoree' Jackson make as a sophomore? Heisman Trophy finalist-big. It's not easy for a cornerback to make the Heisman trip to New York, but not impossible (Tyrann Mathieu did it in 2011, and don't forget about Charles Woodson's Heisman win in 1997). And it's not as though Jackson's stellar play at cornerback will be the sum of his resume. The dynamic athlete will be playing more receiver this season, as well, and he'll break his share of kick returns.
3. Southern Miss will shock Mississippi State this Saturday
You want a Week 1 shocker of an upset? We'll take Southern Miss, 4-32 over the last three years, to knock off a Mississippi State team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation just 10 months ago. MSU thrashed Southern Miss, 49-0, last year and are, of course, expected to win on Saturday. They should be. They're the better team. But Week 1 is optimum upset timing, and Golden Eagles coach Todd Monken is poised to turn USM around. He's also revamped his roster with -- hold onto your Hattiesburg -- 21 transfers (21!). USM would need a sluggish start by visiting MSU to keep it close. With LSU looming ahead for the Bulldogs in Week 2, they'll get it.
4. Boykin will lose his grip on the Heisman Trophy against Oklahoma
TCU QB Trevone Boykin, everyone's front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, will exit the Heisman race with a thud on Nov. 21 in a road loss at Oklahoma. TCU will enter the game unbeaten, having not yet played an offense that can keep up with the Horned Frogs. OU will do just that behind RB Samaje Perine, leaving Boykin and TCU on the wrong side of the College Football Playoff fence once again. Unfortunately for Boykin, a Big 12 title will be as crucial to his Heisman hopes as his yardage and touchdowns.
5. Miami will win at least nine games this season
After a 6-7 season and an 0-4 finish to 2014, Miami coach Al Golden's program enters the season flat on the canvas. Behind sophomore QB Brad Kaaya, it will come off the mat in a big way. An Oct. 10 road trip to FSU is the only unwinnable game on the schedule. They won't win all the rest, but the Hurricanes will make significant improvement despite losing seven NFL draft picks, including two first-rounders. Who leads the defense, you ask? Watch for DB Deon Bush to post an All-ACC season.
6. Hackenberg will lead the Big Ten in touchdown passes
Yep, after throwing just 12 last year, and only four in Big Ten play, Christian Hackenberg will light the scoreboard more than Michigan State's Connor Cook, and more than either of Ohio State's still-battling quarterback candidates, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. With more experience on his offensive line and a rough 2014 behind him, the Penn State quarterback has the potential and the talent to triple his touchdown output from last year (12). And coach James Franklin isn't going to be shy with the play-calling.
7. Georgia's Floyd will fall flat on the stat sheet
Statistically speaking, look for a "down year" from Georgia star pass rusher Leonard Floyd. Why? Because he's not truly a pass rusher anymore. Georgia is expected to play him all over the field, at as many as three positions, and that can't help but negatively impact the Bulldogs' pass rush. Floating Floyd might be a good move for the UGA defense as a whole, so defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt can't be blamed. But know this: Floyd won't be doing what Floyd does best on an every-down basis.
8. ASU's Bercovici will lead the Pac-12 in passing yards
Mike Bercovici didn't play enough to rank with the top passers in the Pac-12 last season, but as the Sun Devils' starter this year, he'll finish ahead of USC star Cody Kessler, much-hyped Oregon transfer Vernon Adams, and everyone else in the league, too. Bercovici provided quite a glimpse of his skills last year in torching UCLA and USC for 998 yards in back-to-back weeks while subbing for injured starter Taylor Kelly. But as good as Kelly was, Sun Devils fans will find Bercovici to be an upgrade at the position this fall.
9. Day will be an All-American
Notre Dame DL Sheldon Day will be an All-American selection as production finally intersects with his NFL-quality physical traits. A double-digit sack total is too much to ask of an interior tackle like Day, but he could approach that number and be one of the most disruptive tackles in college football against the run. As a 2016 NFL Draft prospect, it's a money year for the senior. And for a guy who has just 3.5 sacks in his career, he needs one.
10. Cal will pull off a road upset at Texas
Cal, 5-7 last season, will go into Austin on Sept. 19 and show Texas fans just how far coach Charlie Strong still has to go. Losing to a Pac-12 doormat will be an awfully bitter taste for Longhorns fans, but Golden Bears QB Jared Goff is one of the best passers in the country, and this is his year to pull off an upset that makes the nation notice. It might not happen in conference play, where the top opposing quarterbacks are capable of outpacing Goff. The Longhorns will pose no such threat. Cal 35, Texas 28.