After decades spent in the sports world industry, from all angles, I’ve realized one thing.. although the workload gets somewhat overwhelming in the Fall, I just love when it gets here! Every time, I realize how much I enjoy the College Football season, the NFL & on through College Hoops & March Madness.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy Major League Baseball but have not followed it nearly as closely as I used to because I choose not to handicap it due to the time consumption. I still enjoy the NBA & NHL and really get into both much more in the post season. The NBA has gotten so top heavy there is not really much drama on the court although there is plenty of it off the hardwood.

The NHL was a real hoot here in Las Vegas last season with the Golden Knights nearly winning it all in their inaugural season and I was glad to have experienced the madness!

The Golf Majors are still a MUST SEE for me and I do follow the Tennis Majors as well but there is just something about American Football, especially at the Collegiate level that gets my juices flowing!

The 2018 CFB Season has a similar ring to it. Yes, as Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!” – Alabama is still the team at the top of the charts and the team to beat. As the SEC powers continue to lay out their schedules with just eight Conference games and a non-Conference cupcake in week eleven before rivalry games they have an advantage.

This season before the storied Iron Bowl vs. Auburn, the Crimson Tide plays The Citadel. What a joke! Auburn plays FBS newbie, Liberty as the Flames start their first year at the Division I level. Look, I don’t care if you want to play an FCS school in your region and help them out with a Fat Check to boost their athletic department’s budget. Just do it in the first four weeks of the season instead of giving yourself two strategically placed byes during the regular season. I’m not saying Bama under Saban hasn’t been the most dominant team over the last decade because they have but the NCAA needs to step in and do something about scheduling like this. Until they do – and they won’t – it will never change. Oh, and Mr. SEC….in 2015 Bama played Georgia in the regular season. Including this seasons schedule, that is the only regular season match-up between the two in the last ten years. How does that happen?

Okay, enough whining, back to the 2018 season. There are several teams that will again challenge the Tide including those Georgia Bulldogs under Kirby Smart. QB Jake Fromm was a kid with ice in his veins last season as he preformed masterfully under immense pressure as a freshman throughout the season. As good as Fromm was, he better be solid again or incoming freshman, Justin Fields could unseat him as the Dawg’s starter.

Auburn has question marks in depth and in the running game but could still pose a threat in the SEC West while Florida under new coach, Dan Mullen, who defected from Mississippi State, could challenge Georgia in the East. The other team to still give a shot in the SEC West would be the team that Mullen left behind. MSU brings in new coach, Joe Moorhead. He transitions from Penn State and inherits one of the best dual threat QB’s in the country in Nick Fitzgerald. Oh, and Georgia best not overlook the week two SEC opener in Columbia vs. Muschamp and his Gamecocks as QB Bentley & South Carolina are a sleeper in the East.

The Big Ten is again strong in the East with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State & Michigan State all battling to see who plays Wisconsin in the Conference Title Game. Looking at Purdue as a potential moneymaker this season against that Vegas number and if Patterson is indeed the signal caller for the Maize and Blue the offense may indeed be able to help take pressure off one of the most experienced defenses in the Country.

ACC looks like a Clemson – Miami Title Game but there are several teams that could make some noise including NC State, Louisville, Wake Forest & Florida State who actually gets Clemson at home where first year HC Willie Taggart will have an opportunity to make a big slash.

Big 12 power Oklahoma should be the team to beat again this season with QB Kyler Murray taking over for Baker Mayfield. Texas may indeed be the toughest test for the Sooners in the Red River game and it won’t surprise me if the two meet again in the Conference Title Game. TCU & Kansas State are others that could be in the mix while West Virginia should be an offense that won’t quit with QB Will Grier back at the helm.

PAC-12 looks to be in favor of Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies. The battle in the North should be close with Stanford and Heisman hopeful RB Bryce Love presenting the biggest obstacle. CAL should exceed their WIN TOTAL so get down on it if you can – last I saw the total was at six wins. In the South, USC, Utah and Arizona under first year HC Kevin Sumlin should all battle it out. I don’t think UCLA first year man, Chip Kelly, has enough of his type players on the roster yet but his tempo could steal a game or two. ASU has new head honcho, Herm Edwards and is not picked highly by many prognosticators, while Colorado lost a ton of starters but does have QB Montez back.

As far as Non-Power Five teams the AAC provides two solid teams that really impressed last season in UCF & Memphis. Both can do damage in Conference and outside of the League. In the Mountain West three teams need to be looked at closely. Boise State has a huge game in Stillwater vs. Oklahoma State in week three while Fresno State takes on both Minnesota & UCLA in non-conference games that are both winnable under now second year HC and former alum, Jeff Tedford. SDSU will have a chance to make it two wins in a row vs. Stanford, although the Cardinal will seek revenge vs. Rocky Long and the Aztecs.

The MAC, Sunbelt & Conference USA will all provide some great match-ups and good races as well and we need not forget the Independents. Notre Dame has that do or die type opener vs. Michigan where the opening line has already moved eight points toward the Wolverines. BYU HC Sitake is under extreme pressure to turn around his alma mater after a miserable ( 4-9 ) campaign last season.

All in all…stay tuned for another Big Year on the College Gridiron. You can bet on it!

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