By technicality, college football has already begun. But with Labor Day weekend now behind us, the season is really starting to ramp up with both the ACC and Big 12 kicking off this week, with the SEC coming in the next few weeks.
So with college football season officially here, what better time than the present to put my college football picks for the season on paper?
Below are my playoff and title picks, with the one simple caveat: These picks are obviously being made under the assumption that the Big Ten assumption that the Big Ten can't get its act together and doesn't play this season. If they were to somehow waive a wand and play games starting in October, these picks would look different (hello, Ohio State!). But until then however, I have to go with the teams who are actually playing this season.
Below are my College Football Playoff and national championship picks:
College Football Playoff:
Alabama: Yeah, no shock here. But the bottom line is that after missing the playoff last year, the Tide are going to come out re-focused and hungry this season. Yes, it's possible the offense could take a step back. But for all that talk, Mac Jones was actually awesome in the two games he started against FBS teams (they put up an average of 40 points per game), Alabama might have the best running back group in all of college football, oh and two future first rounders at receiver. Oh, and the defense should be much improved after an abysmal showing last season as well.
The only thing scarier than Alabama, is Alabama with a chip on its shoulder. And that's what we're getting this season.
Clemson: Another surprise, I know. But the Tigers are far and away the class of the ACC. Adding Notre Dame to the league makes the conference tougher, and with league just flat out better across the board, I wouldn't even be shocked if Clemson got upset somewhere along the way in the regular season. But they still have significantly more talent than anyone in the league, and barring something truly shocking with Trevor Lawrence, this team will be in the playoff.
Georgia: I know, I know. No one has been more critical of the Dawgs than I've been through the years. Still, say what you want about Kirby Smart (and believe me, I've said it all) but this defense will be filthy and I believe in USC transfer JT Daniels at quarterback. The fact that they have to play Alabama in the regular season scares me, but with less competition for playoff spots (no Big Ten, no Pac-12) someone has to get that fourth spot. And I see no reason why it can't or won't be the Dawgs.
Oklahoma: Yes, the Sooners have struggled when they've gotten to the playoff. And by "struggled" what I really mean is that they've largely embarrassed themselves. But for whatever disappointments they've had on college football's biggest stage, they've dominated the Big 12, winning five straight titles, with four playoff appearances over that stretch. There's no reason there won't be another this year.
Clemson over Georgia: I don't know exactly how the bracket will shake out, but to do a little something different and not pick "Clemson vs. Alabama" like everyone else, let's go with these two teams. Georgia's defense can carry them against anyone, and Clemson probably has the best balance between explosive offense and dominant freaks on defense of anyone in the country (especially now that Ohio State isn't playing).
In the end, not only am I not betting against Trevor Lawrence. But I'm not betting against an angry Trevor Lawrence after he suffered the first loss of his college career in the title game against LSU last year. Give me Lawrence and give me the Tigers to win it all.
To listen to more of Aaron's college football predictions, listen to today's Aaron Torres Podcast.