It’s now officially 2016 and there is only one game left to play in College Football. You are probably already aware that Clemson and Alabama are the last two teams standing, and they will do battle next Monday night for the national title. Therefore, it feels like a good time to have one last post about the season along with a final game prediction. I am not really sure how to organize this post, but since this is technically an “Athens” blog there will surely be a strong focus on Georgia football along with a look at the rest of the country.
Wow, a lot can happen over the course of a season. Back in August, I had no idea Georgia would have a new head coach on Christmas day. But as the year went on I became convinced that change was needed, and even stated so on this blog after the Florida game. But how did this happen? Well, I have pretty much covered this topic in numerous other posts, but what the hell this is a “recap”. So let’s look at the bad first and then finish on a good note.
This year was a tale of two seasons. The season before October and the season after October. Before October, UGA was undefeated and many fans were convinced that Lambert would be solid at QB all year. However, a strong rain system along with a team from Tuscaloosa changed all that on October 3rd. That day Alabama handed Georgia yet another humiliating defeat on national television. Despite that loss fans held out hope for the season. But the very next week, UGA lost Nick Chubb, and a 20 point lead on their way to a defeat in Knoxville. But the final straw came in Jacksonville on the 31st. The staff took a chance by starting the 3rd string QB which was an act of desperation that didn’t work. This humiliation along with similar defeats in years past proved to be the end. It really didn’t matter that Georgia won their last 4 games. The Florida game was the end, but at this point, there is no need to go back and criticize Richt or others on the staff. The administration called for a change, and moving forward Kirby Smart is the man, and now Smart Football is the word.
There were some good things to focus on this season. Overall, I think the change at head coach was needed for both parties. I wish Richt the best, and thank him for all the good he did here in Athens. But now, the program and the city seem genuinely excited about the future of Georgia Football. So for the time being, it was a good thing. On the field we saw some good as well. Let’s not forget that Georgia did win 10 games that included wins over South Carolina, Auburn, Tech, and Penn State. Not too bad for a year where the coach was fired. In addition, the defense had a good year and seems ready to improve under the new regime. Lastly, two players really impressed me as the year went on. Sony Michel does nothing but work hard and show up ready to play. Without him I am not sure
Georgia wins 8 games this year. Of course, I am partial to the number “5”, but Terry Godwin became a real stand out freshman. And he capped off the season with a great bowl performance and should contribute even more next year.
Overall, it seemed like a down year for the SEC. Georgia had 10 wins, but they were unimpressive wins. Florida won the east with no QB or kicking game. However, they finished the year with three loses to FSU, Alabama, and were killed by Michigan in the bowl game. Missouri and South Carolina were down as well. Tennessee seemed to improve, but they still lost too many games. In the west, Bama and Ole Miss were pretty good. But Auburn, LSU, A & M, and Arkansas were disappointing. In general, the SEC lacked good quarterback play and it showed. However, they went 8-2 in the bowl season, and Bama can still win the title. So maybe, just maybe the conference is still the best.
Coaching changes wound up being a huge story line as well. Georgia, South Carolina, and Missouri will have new coaches next year. LSU thought long and hard about firing Les Miles. A & M has put Kevin Sumlin on the hot seat, and
things are getting uncomfortable for Gus in Auburn. Essentially, we could see more coaching changes next year as well. Regardless, the conference should remain strong, but the East really needs to step up which I think will happen in the coming years.
Clemson is very good, and FSU was solid but not great. We all got excited about UNC, but their bowl game performance was lackluster. Right now, Clemson is the class of the ACC, and I am not sure that is going to change anytime soon. We all know that Richt has gone to Miami, and he will make them better. But in the end, I think they will be an 8 to 9 win team under Richt. Virginia Tech and Virginia both made good choices with their new coaches. So these two teams may emerge in the coming years.
The Big Ten
I am sorry Ohio State fans, but you are going to have to win them all if you play a schedule like you did this year. There was just too much down time between the big games. Even so, Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State are good, and overall the conference is stronger. But Iowa is nothing to get excited about folks. It is good to see the Big 10 return because football needs them. But I am not drinking all the Kool-Aid on the Big 10 just yet.
The Pac 12
I made a mistake early in the year by picking the Pac-12 to be strong or dominant. I just don’t follow these teams well enough to have a good opinion. Truthfully, I am usually asleep by the time these teams play on Saturday. But I know Stanford is good, and the rest of the conference won a lot of bowl games as well.
The Big 12
I just don’t know what to think of the Big 12. Once I start to think Oklahoma is good they get destroyed by Clemson. TCU and Baylor are good of course, but they have a hard time making it to the big games. Texas may be looking for a coach next year as well. They played some good football over in the Big 12 this year, but their future just feels a little uncertain to me.
Final Game Prediction
If you have read this much than you are probably ready for me to quit writing. With that in mind, I am calling for Bama to win a close one. 24 to 20. I know, I know, I am not exactly going out on a limb. I think both teams will finally meet a good match, and in the end Bama is just a more veteran team. So there you have it, a recap of the year and a prediction for another Bama championship. The football posts will likely go on hiatus until next summer. In the meantime, I will get back to real estate talk. But if I can find a good topic on football I will probably post it. Happy New Year Folks!