Every now and then some random person on the Internet asks me which teams I cheer for, which teams did I grow up watching and which teams I hate. Since we’re so close to the beginning of the season, I think this is a good time to pull back the curtain and tell you about the teams I’ll be cheering for this season. Note: I’m still not going to tell you my teams. Everyone has secrets.
Alabama Crimson Tide
This IS actually a team I grew up cheering for. I went to the 1993 Sugar Bowl where my guy Gene Stallings led the mighty Crimson Tide to a National Championship after defeating the hapless Miami Hurricanes. Keith Jackson, Bob Griese, Bourbon Street and tons of women. I don’t remember any of it, but I’m told it was all there.
Anyway, I expect the 2016 version of the Tide led by Nick Saban to, well, win another title. I am a Bama guy and Saban basically wins it every other year. There will be struggles – the obvious being: Who is the quarterback? Will the defense survive the season without a major injury? How many games will the Tide lose this season?
The last is the most important of those questions, so let’s get to it. Alabama will lose a game this season and it will mean something in the long run. Most likely, the loss comes to, yes, LSU and Les Miles on Saturday, November 5, in beautiful Baton Rouge.
I only give the Tigers a chance at this because I’m not stupid enough to pick against LSU at home, at night. That’s it. If this somehow turned into a 3:30 start (the time hasn’t been announced yet), I’d take Alabama without thinking twice.
On August 31, under the assumption Alabama plays LSU at night, I’ll say this is the Tide’s only loss. Won’t matter. LSU will have two losses and Alabama wins out the rest of the year and, yes, wins another championship. #BookMostOfThat
Again, this IS actually a team I grew up cheering for. I love Navy, how can you not? The Silent Service, the SEALs, the jets and yeah, Top Gun. Exactly. Navy will not win the American Athletic Conference, the Middies will not beat Houston (I won’t be mad if they do) and they will not make the AAC championship game.
Here’s what Navy will do: Beat Air Force, Beat Army and make Notre Dame shake in their shorts a little bit. None of those three predictions is surprising. I expect a down year for Navy after the graduation of Keenan Reynolds and transition to Tago Smith (probably). As a result, I expect the overall offensive production numbers to be low.
If you’re available on October 8 and can get to Annapolis, then watching Houston play Navy is worth your trip.
Go Navy. Beat Army.
I have a team in the Pac-12 I like, but it isn’t UCLA. I’ve also made it clear I think USC is overrated in every imaginable way. I don't care if my Pac-12 team and USC make me look stupid this year, but if they do, I’m still on the Josh Rosen train. I read Matt Hayes’ profile of Rosen [link http://thelab.bleacherreport.com/a-beautiful-brash-mind/] and it’s worth every moment of your time.
Rosen, much like me, comes across as a straight-shooter. He’s a, “It is what it is and they are who we thought they were,” kinda guy. Rosen knows he’s good and doesn’t give a damn. He says what he wants even if it might hurt him at the next level, but he’s there for his teammates and in the end that’s all that counts.
Was told by a top NFL personnel guy that UCLA QB Josh Rosen better drop entitlement attitude if he wants to be as good as he thinks he is
— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) August 24, 2016
I’m sure there are other Josh Rosen’s in college football this season, but he has my attention right now and that’s all that counts. Can Rosen and UCLA head coach Jim Mora lead the Bruins to the Pac-12 Championship, sure.
I don’t think they will. I think Stanford has the best chance.
UCLA’s losses this season: vs. Stanford, vs. Utah, and at Colorado (only because it’s a Thursday night). Remember: USC will not be as good at the end of the season as people think they are now.
UCLA over USC.
I have zero connection to the Tigers except for my friend who’s a Tigers fan, so I’ll take it. I also think the Tigers make the playoff this year, but I’m not sure they’ll make it past the semi-final. If Clemson makes it past Auburn this weekend (spoiler alert: they will) then the [Clemson] Tigers should run the table.
That includes beating Florida State in Tallahassee and whatever lower-level team Dabo Swinney and company face in the ACC Championship. Deshaun Watson, Dabo Swinney, and a workable schedule put the Tigers back in the playoff two years in a row.
That’s it. This pick is based purely on how many good starters Clemson is returning and a friendship. Go Tigers…or whatever they say in South Carolina.
Four is probably enough, but I’ll throw two more teams in for shits and giggles:
Michigan State – I like Mark Dantonio a lot and I like Tom Izzo a lot. I think the Spartans have a lot of work to do in a reloading year, but I think having Michigan and Ohio State at Spartan Stadium works in their favor. The primary goal this year should be to defeat Ohio State since the Buckeyes will beat Michigan in Columbus this year.
Create Big Ten chaos, Mark. It’s been forever.
Arkansas – This is sort of a shot in the dark. I like Bret Bielema and I sort of feel like he’s the kid at school that will do whatever it takes to get just a tiny bit of attention. I think that’s why he embraces ‘Bert’ and says stupid things like his kids will never get in trouble.
The Razorbacks might also be the only team in the SEC – and maybe the country – that faces five ranked teams with four at home. It won’t matter, Arkansas will get slaughtered by Alabama and Ole Miss. And ya know what, there’s a chance they face a sixth (SIXTH!!) ranked teams this season.
Look, I know a lot of people think Bielema is in over his head at Arkansas, but as I said earlier this week, it won't matter who else is coaching in the SEC West as long as Nick Saban is there.
That’s it. Those are the six teams I’ll be cheering for this season.
Bruin Up (or whatever)
Go Tigers (that fits everywhere)
Sparty On (I wonder if the MSU people like that?)
Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!
E-mail me at email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @damienbowman or if you think you’re good enough, join the staff.
Comment on this and every article by becoming a Campus Pressbox Insider. #DontBeScared