As you know by now, college football is going to look a lot different this fall. A majority of the conferences have decided to opt-out of playing, while six other conferences will try to give it a go this fall. Among the conferences expecting to play this fall are the Big 12, SEC, ACC and American. Those who opted to postpone the fall season include two power five conferences: the BIG 10 and Pac 12. It's still up in the air if the conferences that are going ahead with the plan to play will even play at all, which is even more upsetting.
We're going to have some fun here and pretend that the 2020-2021 college football season is rolling ahead with no restrictions on fans and no coronavirus to worry about.
I'll be going over each Power Five's conference championship game and champion, the Heisman Trophy winner, the Final Four teams, and the eventual National Champion. I'm gonna be honest, some of these predictions are going to be a little out there, but guess what? It's my opinion and you don't have to agree with me. Let's do this.
Note: For the BIG 10 and Pac 12, I used the phrasing "would've and could've", because of the cancellations of their fall seasons. For the others, I will be using normal terms, as they're expected to go forward with playing this fall. When it gets to college football playoff time, I will go back to the "would've and could've" phrasing.
2020-2021 College Football What If?
BIG 10 Championship: Minnesota vs. Penn State
Remember when I said my picks were gonna be wild? Yeah, I wasn't kidding. Despite Minnesota losing arguably their two best players in Antoine Winfield Jr. and Tyler Johnson, they still had a really strong roster for the 2020 season, bringing back veteran quarterback Tanner Morgan, as well as first-round receiver prospect Reshod Bateman. They're most difficult game this season would've been the Wisconsin Badgers on the road, but the Badgers lost multiple offensive weapons to the draft and I think they would've beaten them.
As for the other side of the BIG 10, you're probably wondering where the hell Ohio State is? OSU would've played Penn State on the road in the whiteout game. I'm sorry Buckeyes fans, you weren't winning that game. Penn State lost some key pieces but had enough talent coming back to overcome that. Two good options at quarterback in Sean Clifford and Will Levis. A great 1-2 punch at running back in Journey Brown and Noah Cain. Pat Friermuth, a projected early-round pick at tight end and oh yeah, possibly the best defensive player in the country in Micah Parsons.
These two teams played last year in Minnesota, and the Golden Gophers were able to pull it out, giving them one of their biggest wins in program history. This time though, it would've been different. James Franklin made sure his kids remembered what happened last year and they absolutely boat race the P.J. Fleck led Gophers.
BIG 10 Champion: Penn State Nittany Lions
BIG 12 Championship: Texas vs. Oklahoma State
At this point, you're probably like, "Dude, this kid is off his damn rocker right now". That's honestly a compliment so I appreciate it. Yeah, I'm gonna put it out there, you're thinking where Oklahoma is? Trust me, I love me some Spencer Rattler, he's going to be a great college quarterback. That being said, the Sooners lost a lot of key pieces especially on defense and I don't think they would've been able to recover from that.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get to Texas. Are they finally back? Well, sort of. They bring back Sam Ehlinger for what feels like his eighth year in college. Along with Ehlinger, they have a projected first-round tackle in Sam Cosmi and one of the best secondaries in all of college football. The Longhorns would've most likely lost a game or two, but I think they are one of the two representatives in the Big 12 championship.
My favorite team this year is the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I went on a drive this summer and on that drive, I tried convincing myself not to put a future on the Cowboys to win the Big 12. That convincing didn't work. The BEST QB-RB-WR combos in Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard, and Tylan Wallace. Four out of five offensive linemen returning and all defensive starters returning except for CB A.J. Green. Party like it's the Brandon Weeden era.
It would've been a pretty good Big 12 championship game. A lot of points, a lot of happy over bettors, and down to the wire finish that sees the Oklahoma State Cowboys squeak out a win against the almost back but not fully back Texas Longhorns in Jerry world. Would that be enough to get the Cowboys into the playoff over a one-loss Ohio State though? Tune in to find out.
Big 12 champion: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Pac 12 Championship: USC vs. Oregon
I had a difficult time picking the Pac 12 this year. I only see four potential impact teams in this conference. Utah, Washington, USC, and Oregon. Utah and Washington both lost multiple impact players from last season and Washington is also dealing with a transition on the headset as former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake takes the reigns over from Chris Peterson, who is "retiring". (I think he'll be back soon).
Even USC and Oregon are vulnerable. USC lost its best offensive lineman and best pass-catcher to the NFL, and Oregon lost my best friend Justin Herbert and defensive captain, Troy Dye. Despite the losses, I think these two would've represented their respective divisions in the championship. Kedon Slovis took over for J.T. Daniels midseason in 2019 and never looked back. He looks to be the next elite college quarterback from Southern Cal.
That being said, if these two teams played in the championship, (I teared up writing this part knowing that the Pac 12 season won't happen) I think the Slovis wagon would've overpowered Oregon's great defense. Will that be enough for the Trojans to make their first college football playoff appearance?
Pac 12 Champion: USC Trojans
ACC Championship: North Carolina vs. Clemson
I'm not going to take a lot of time talking about Clemson. They're really good and are bringing back a lot of the same guys from last year's runner up team. Spoiler: Trevor Lawrence is probably going to win the Heisman and the Tigers will steamroll everyone on their way to another college football playoff appearance.
Now, onto a team that I'm extremely excited for. The North Carolina Tar Heels. When you think of North Carolina, you think of Roy Williams and Dean Smith leading them to multiple National titles in basketball, while players like Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, and James Worthy develop their games and show flashes of their greatness.
This year is going to be different. Former national champion Mack Brown is at the helm for his second year and he's got the quarterback that can take him to where Vince Young and Colt McCoy took him in the 2000s with Texas. Remember the name Sam Howell folks. He played as a true freshman and frankly dominated, leading the Tar Heels to a bowl game win over a tricky Temple Owls team. He almost took down big bad Clemson and could've won if not for a missed two-point conversion.
The stage is set for a Clemson-North Carolina championship game. And........... Clemson absolutely whoops them and they make their sixth college football playoff appearance in a row.
ACC Champion: Clemson Tigers
SEC Championship: Florida vs. Alabama
Again, I won't get into Alabama too much. They're loaded as per usual and will likely be undefeated heading into the SEC Championship game. Alabama has a potential QB battle on their hands. Tua's out, which means that Mac Jones, who took over for Tua when he got injured last year, will likely start the season out as the starter. However, Five-star freshman phenom Bryce Young, who committed to Alabama after de-committing from USC, is waiting in the wings and will likely get playing time at some point. If Jones struggles at any point, Saban won't hesitate to go to the freshman.
On the other side of the SEC, it's going to be a battle for the top between Georgia and Florida. Georgia brings back some quality talent on both sides of the ball, most notably rising sophomore receiver George Pickens. In addition, they bring in two transfer QBs, former Wake Forest Demon Deacon Jamie Newman and former USC Trojan J.T. Daniels. It's still up in the air for who starts week one, but if I were to guess, I would say Jamie Newman starts week one. However, expect Daniels to get playing time at some point as well.
Florida won't have to deal with QB issues. They have a clear cut starter in Kyle Trask, who came out of nowhere last year to become one of the SEC's top signal-callers. The Gators also have one of the best backup QBs in college football in Emory Jones, so if Trask goes down or struggles, Jones will step in and be just fine. This is probably the deepest, most talented Florida roster since the Tebow days and they should be able to put up a decent fight in the Championship game.
But, it's still Alabama and Alabama is going to show why they're a powerhouse year in and year out and they will beat the Florida Gators very handily. Nick Saban gets an opportunity at title number seven (number six with the Crimson Tide).
SEC Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
2020 Heisman Trophy Winner
Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence is going to be a man on a mission this year. He struggled out of the gate last year but got hot mid-season and it carried into the college football playoff, wherein the battle of the Tigers, Clemson came up short. Lawrence is going to absolutely shred this year and with the lack of competition, could put up Joe Burrow like numbers with the weapons he has around him.
Honorable mentions to his teammate running back Travis Etienne, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, and USC quarterback Kedon Slovis.
CFP Semifinal #4 Ohio State vs. #1 Clemson
A rematch of last year's Fiesta Bowl kicks off our hypothetical college football playoff. The committee decided that a one-loss Ohio State team should get in over Big 12 champ Oklahoma State and Pac 12 champ USC. Justin Fields vs. Trevor Lawrence one more time. These two have been compared to each other since youth football. Fields edged out Lawrence at the Elite 111 camp to win MVP. Fields edged out Lawrence for the #1 player in high school. Finally, Lawrence got his revenge and beat out Fields in the Buckeyes in the Semi.
I see more of the same this year. Don't get me wrong, Ohio State is still extremely talented despite losing multiple people to the NFL, most notably edge rusher Chase Young. However, Clemson's just too good and should be able to handle the Buckeyes pretty easily.
Semifinal #1 Winner: Clemson Tigers
CFP Semifinal #3 Penn State vs. #2 Alabama
A battle of two blue blood programs who've only played 15 times, with Alabama winning 10 0f them, including the last two games in 2010 and 2011. Many would immediately think that it would be an Alabama route. However, I think Penn State would've surprised some people here. While they don't have the depth of the Crimson Tide, they have the star power at the top that can fight with Bama. That being said, Alabama is too good and will pull away late to set up yet another National Championship game between Clemson and Alabama.
Semifinal #2 Winner: Alabama Crimson Tide
CFP National Championship Game: #2 Alabama vs. #1 Clemson
Clemson dominates. That's it. Trevor Lawrence is going to prove why he's the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning and he's going to shred through Alabama like he did when he was a little baby Freshman.