2016 Preseason Award Projections: College Football Playoffs



By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2016 college football season, WalterFootball.com has rolled out our projections for the nation's leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall's stars could be the headline players in the 2017 NFL Draft. We also have projected the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football. We conclude the series with predictions for the college football playoff games.

Semifinals:


Michigan vs. LSU
Unfortunately, the semifinal games will be played on New Year's Eve again. That idiotic decision caused an insanely massive, yet predictable, decline in the ratings for the playoff games last season. It was obvious that a lot of people would be attending New Year's Eve parties rather watching the games, yet the playoff committee was incredibly stupid. The ratings will be down compared with two years ago, and hopefully after two failed years, the schedulers will finally wise up to put the games on New Year's Day when a lot of the target audience is relaxing on the couch while nursing hangovers and doesn't have parties conflicting with the games. At any rate, here are my predictions for two games that a lot of college football fans are going to skip watching.

It was difficult to pick the Big Ten Champion. I went with Michigan because the Wolverines have a very talented team on both sides of the ball. The big question mark is the quarterback position, but with Jim Harbaugh coaching up his signal-callers, I think Michigan will generate efficient game-manager production to score enough points.

The SEC also looks more open. There isn't a dominant team in the SEC East, while I think the SEC West will be very competitive. Alabama lost a ton from last year's team, so I think the Crimson Tide will take a step back. LSU has excellent talent on both sides of the ball with a superstar in Leonard Fournette to carry the offense. If LSU get just average quarterback play, the program could easily be one of the best teams in the nation.

In this matchup, I think LSU's talent will win out and these Tigers will advance to the National Championship.

Projected Winner: LSU






Semifinals:


Oklahoma vs. Clemson
The Big XII looks stronger this year, and I think Oklahoma is best positioned to win the conference. The Sooners return a lot of last year's team, including starting quarterback Baker Mayfield who turned the offense into a point-machine late in the 2015 season. The Sooners have young talent on defense who could be even better in 2016.

I think Clemson will get to the playoffs on the strength of its elite offense. Deshaun Watson is going to lead a prolific attack that will light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis. The Tigers did lose seven starters from their defense to the 2016 NFL Draft, including three-quarters of their starting defensive line and secondary. That is a huge amount of talent to replace. Thus, I think Clemson will fall short of getting back to the National Championship.

Projected Winner: Oklahoma




National Title:


Oklahoma vs. LSU
Two years ago, I picked Oregon over Florida State in the National Championship, so I was pretty close there as the Ducks fell to the Buckeyes in the first-ever playoff. Last year, I chose Ohio State to repeat and was way off by picking Auburn to get to the title game, so take this with a heavy dose of skepticism.

In this matchup, I like Fournette to have a big game, but Oklahoma's balance to win out. I think the Sooners have the edge at quarterback with Baker Mayfield, and it would take a tremendous defensive effort from LSU to get a win as I don't have confidence in the Tigers quarterback being able to produce enough points against Oklahoma's defense. Thus, I have the Sooners winning the National Championship this season.

Projected Winner: Oklahoma






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