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idleguy.com College Football Forecast, teams 13-19
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13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

With QB Sam Hartman transferring from Wake Forest, the Irish offense may be the best its had in many years. That's a good sign for head coach Marcus Freeman, who had a rough start in his initial stint in 2022, losing his first two games, to Ohio State and then, Marshall.

The Irish steadied and won eight of ten after that, capping off their season with a 45-38 triumph over the Gamecocks in the Gator Bowl.

Defense is what needs the most improvement. That unit allowed 32 points to Navy and still won, though USC handed them a loss at the end of the regular season, 38-27.

IdleGuy Take: 9-3 is about where the Irish should end the regular season. Games against Ohio State, NC State, USC, Pitt, Clemson, and Stanford are potential pitfalls. The Fighting Irish won't win all of them.

14. Utah Utes

The Utes started 2022 in high esteem, but untimely losses to unlikely foes torpedoed their season. Utah finished up with an 10-4 mark, marred by a season-opening loss at Florida and a mid-season defeat at UCLA (42-32). They took out their anger on USC the following week, the 43-42 win possibly keeping the Trojans out of the CFP. A late November loss at Oregon wasn't enough to kill their season as they finished up with a 47-24 trouncing of USC in the conference championship.

The Utes were further downgraded with a 35-21 loss to Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

Although the losses were well-spaced, there were four in total, enough to call the season something of a failure, but enough to bring Cameron Rising back for his senior year, along with wideouts Money Parks and Devaughn Vele and versatile running back Micah Bernard. However, the loss of leading receiver, TE Dalton Kincaid, and leading rusher, Tavian Thomas, leaves questions to how effective the offense will be in 2023.

The defense was a high point in 2022, and that should continue as a trend in 2023. In eight of their 10 wins, the Utah defense allowed 21 or fewer points.

Utah opens at home against the Gators, seeking to avenge last year's loss. Other key games are at home against UCLA and Oregon, and road trips to Oregon State, USC, and Washington. Tough road.

IdleGuy Take: This team could go either way. They're good enough to compete in the PAC-12, but beyond that, the offense leaves much to be desired. USC will be gunning for revenge and probably get it.

15. Oregon Ducks

QB Bo Nix returns for his fifth college season, apparently still not ready to make the leap to the NFL. It's confusing. If Bo was that good, he would have made the move already. Apparently, he thinks a solid 2023 campaign will prove he belongs at the next level.

Bo is afforded the luxury of the Ducks returning their two leading rushers from last season, Bucky Irving (1,058 yards) and Noah Whittington (779). There are some receiver spots to fill, as Troy Franklin and Don't Thornton Jr. escaped to the pros, leaving Chase Cota, Kris Hutson and tight end Terrance Ferguson to carry the load.

Defensively, Oregon needs to improve, especially against the run and short passing game. Though they mostly outscored people, they allowed 21 or more points in eight contests, including all three of their losses. They squeaked by North Carolina, 28-27, in the Holiday Bowl last season to finish 10-3.

After losing to Georgia last season, 49-3, in their opener, the Ducks opted to play Portland State to start their 2023 campaign. They meet up with Prime Time Colorado on September 23 and have road games at Washington, Utah, and Stanford, while taking on USC, Cal, and Oregon State at home.

IdleGuy Take: There just doesn't appear to be much talent on either side of the ball, but Nix is competitive and will guide the team to a fair share of wins, but 10 wins looks like a pretty high bar for this bunch.

16. Kansas State Wildcats

Even though K-State lost to Texas and TCU during the regular season, they still managed to win the Big 12 title with a 31-28 OT victory over the Horned Frogs. Their other losses were to Tulane, 17-10, in September and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, 45-20.

The Wildcats slogged through the dregs that was the Big 12 last season, but they may not be as fortunate in 2023. Their defense carried the day in more than a few contests, recording shutouts against South Dakota and Oklahoma State (48-0). They slugged out a 10-9 win over Iowa State, topped Missouri, 40-12, and mashed Baylor, 31-3.

Will Howard, who was 5-1 as a starter, returns for his senior year. The 6'5" QB has the skills and should develop even more as the season progresses. On the downside, Deuce Vaughn is now a Dallas Cowboy. The Wildcats will miss his leadership and 1,558 rushing yards. Soph D.J. Giddens may fill in well. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry in 2022.

IdleGuy Take: If the defense steps up again, this could be a very dangerous team, exceeding expectations and maybe making some post-season noise.

17. TCU Horned Frogs

After the dream season that was 2022, there aren't many who believe the Horned Frogs can make it back to the CFP again. After all, TCU got to the promised land via some late-season stumbles by other teams got in despite losing the Big 12 championship to Kansas State, 31-28, in overtime.

They proved their mettle in a 51-45 win over Michigan, but got blown out by the champion Georgia Bulldogs in the national title game, 65-7. It will be a monumental task to replace a guy as gritty and determined as QB Max Duggan, who was an inspiration to many a sandlot thrower.

Leading rusher Kendre Miller (1,399 yards) is now in the NFL, as is star wideout, Quentin Johnson. There's a lot to be replaced on this team and it's not like the Frogs are alone in Texas recruiting.

Bear in mind that TCU was a 5-7 team in 2021, so their turn-around may have just been a one-hit wonder.

IdleGuy Take: Too many holes to fill will probably mean a reversion to the norm for TCU. They get high marks pre-season because of last year, but there's a good chance they won't be ranked through most of the season, though QB Chandler Morris could change that outlook.

18. Oregon State Beavers

The Beavers were 6-3 in PAC-12 play and 10-3 overall last season, with losses coming against top conference foes, USC, Utah, and Washington. Only Utah blew them out, 42.16. The other two losses were decided by three points, so the Beavers, who boast possibly the top defense in the conference, were close to having a memorable season.

Even though they finished the regular season, 9-3, they were picked to take on Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl, and they chewed up the Gators, 30-3. Along those lines, the defense flourished late in the season, holding Colorado, Cal, and Arizona State to a combined 26 points, all runaway wins.

If the confidence built up last season translates over to this year's plans, the Beavers could surprise everybody in the West.

IdleGuy Take: With so much focus on offense, it's good to see a team that can actually produce stops on defense. The Beavers don't play USC this season, and besides Utah in late September, their biggest games are at the end of the schedule, home for Washington and at Oregon. This team may be jelling at the right time to cause a ruckus in the PAC-10 and maybe influence the CFP mindset.

19. Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers were just plain bad in 2022, going 4-5 in the conference and a sad 7-6 overall. They probably are ranked pre-season because their schedule this year is so easy. The only ranked foes they face are Iowa and Ohio State, so even if they lose both of those games, they need to beat up on the likes of Buffalo, Washington State, Georgia Southern, Rutgers, Indiana and other Big Ten schools to go 9-3 or 8-4, which seems likely.

After a sub-par season, QB Graham Mertz fled to the Florida Gators, leaving the job open to redshirt freshman Myles Burkett, an unproven quantity. The good news is that stud running back, Braelon Allen is back for his junior year, after rushing for 1,242 yards and 11 scores in 2022. Chez Mellusi will also take some of the pressure off the young QB.

Wisconsin's front line will be challenged. They're not as good as what the team usually puts forward, at least not based on 2022's results.

The defense improved after the 3-4 start, holding all their opponents to 24 points or less, winning four od their last six, including a 24-17 victory over Oklahoma State in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

IdleGuy Take: The offense will have to make big steps forward to avoid another down season. The schedule says the Badgers can win nine games, but eight may be more like it.

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