There's a fine line between being bold and spewing nonsense. Today, we've set out to find exactly where that line is.
With the college football season barreling down, it's prediction time. But we're not just looking for any prediction.
Alabama will win the national championship.
Spencer Rattler will win the Heisman.
Pac-12 officials will make horrendous calls.
These kinds of opinions have no home in this piece. No, today we're celebrating those willing to say something daring.
More specifically, we're highlighting some of the boldest takes B/R readers supplied us with this week. Needless to say, they delivered.
No need to tease it any further. Let us dive right in and embrace them all.
All odds referenced come courtesy of DraftKings.
Down Goes 'Bama in Week 1
Prediction: "Miami beats Bama Week 1 [eye emoji]"
This is, without question, the best time to play Alabama.
Considering what this team lost over the offseason—a starting quarterback, a Heisman-winning wide receiver, another big-play wide receiver, a game-changing running back, key offensive linemen, a shutdown corner and more—Miami will face a completely rebuilt roster.
The problem? This is also Alabama.
Nick Saban's team has been labeled as an 18.5-point favorite. That really speaks to the sheer talent scattered across Alabama's roster and just how routine Saban makes these yearly reboots look.
Alabama isn't the only team losing pieces, though. Miami's defense lost Jaelan Phillips, Quincy Roche and Gregory Rousseau (who didn't play last year) to the NFL. These were massive contributors during their time with the Hurricanes.
An upset isn't out of the realm of possibility. But despite all the new faces in Tuscaloosa, it still feels unlikely considering how significant the talent gap is in so many areas.
Where this gap isn't significant, however, is quarterback. Miami's D'Eriq King, fresh off an ACL tear, appears healthy. If that is the case, given just how much he can impact a game, the Hurricanes have a shot.
KU Goes Bowling
Prediction: "KU football has a winning season and makes a bowl game."
I feel like I am being trolled, although allow me to engage.
The last time Kansas had a winning season, I had recently turned 21 years old. I am now 36, a father of three and completely washed. My back hurts, and I am old.
It's been a minute, folks.
In the past 12 years, Kansas has 26 wins. I don't have words for that. I suppose this is where I remind Texas fans that they are one of the 26.
Anyway, DraftKings has given Kansas a win total of one game. ONE.
I do really like the hire of Lance Leipold from Buffalo. He did an exceptional job turning around that program, which was an appetizer to the main course he is now being served.
In time, he could do well. But it will take years for him to overturn the roster and remake Kansas football.
The good news in 2021 is that the Jayhawks open with South Dakota. That is about the only good news on a schedule that includes out-of-conference games against Coastal Carolina (yikes) and at Duke.
Kansas will steal at least one game this year. The product will be much improved. But three wins would frankly be a massive turnaround. A bowl game would be one of the greatest stories in the history of the sport.
Not an exaggeration.
A New Playoff Face and National Champion
Prediction: "A team that hasn't made the playoff before will win the National Championship."
First and foremost, golf clap for this prediction. Given how familiar the faces have been in the era of the College Football Playoff, this might be the boldest prediction made.
Well, other than the person who said Alabama would go 0-12. Swing away, my friend.
Here are the teams that have made the College Football Playoff since it began in 2014: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington, Florida State and Michigan State. (I am still deeply bitter it wasn't Iowa over Michigan State in 2015-16.)
That's 11 teams total in seven years, which isn't exactly a lot of variety. It's worth noting that Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma are the five favorites to win the national championship this season, according to DraftKings.
Now, let's explore teams that could see this through.
USC has a shot to make the playoff out of the Pac-12. Texas A&M could be in line to take the next, next step in the SEC. And Iowa State, which returns a ton of really good players, might be the best candidate of them all in the Big 12. It would also be foolish not to mention Cincinnati.
If I'm being honest, however, betting against the chalk doesn't seem wise. Could a new team make the playoff? Without question. This feels likely. But winning the four-team bracket is another task entirely.
As a proud member of #TeamChaos, however, I support this movement.
Florida finds a New Star at Quarterback
User: @Bungle4Burrow Prediction:
Prediction: "Emory Jones outshines predecessor Kyle Trask."
First, let me come clean. I am sitting on an Emory Jones Heisman wager. While he's now 40/1, I snagged him earlier this offseason at 80/1. For an elite athlete playing under quarterback-whisperer Dan Mullen, that felt like tremendous value.
Translation: If this prediction proves to be correct, I'm buying.
I suppose, however, much of this depends on your definition of "outshines." While Kyle Trask was dreadful in his final collegiate game—throwing three interceptions against Oklahoma without many of his starting wideouts—his season was spectacular.
He accounted for 46 touchdowns and only eight interceptions, ultimately finishing fourth in Heisman voting.
This will be difficult for Jones to match, although I am intrigued to watch him try. When he saw the field last year, he flashed with the limited reps he was given. His style of play, a mix of passing and running, will certainly make him a must-watch.
Look, I bet him to win the Heisman. Regardless of whether I agree with you, I sincerely hope you're correct.
Boo Hoo Sooners
Prediction: "Spencer Rattler disappoints, Oklahoma misses out on the CFB Playoff."
This isn't an outrageous prediction. That is not to say either will occur, although the margins are so much smaller when the expectations for a player and a team reach this threshold.
Let's start with Rattler. After some early struggles last year—the Kansas State game certainly stands out—he rounded into form.
His numbers weren't enormous, although it wouldn't be surprising to see them improve. His wideouts are great, his head coach is brilliant and the schedule, which doesn't appear to be all that challenging on paper, should produce plenty of numbers and wins.
But again, this is the Heisman favorite and one of the top choices to win the national championship. Anything less than perfection, especially for a team that has been looking to finally make a title game, would be a disappointment.
I certainly don't think Rattler will be bad. I also don't believe Oklahoma will lose more than two games. But with so much pressure to deliver yet again, there is a possibility that either team or player fails to reach their ceilings.
There is also a possibility that Oklahoma finally breaks through, and Rattler winds up as the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft.
Fascinating potential. Enormous stakes. I am punting on an answer but wildly curious as to how it plays out.
LSU is Certifiably 'Meh'
Prediction: "LSU will be a .500 ball club again"
While this sentence would have been considered blasphemy a few years ago, it doesn't seem all too outrageous now.
The Tigers are stockpiled with talent—more so than most teams in a conference overflowing with great players—so a rebound of some kind wouldn't shock anyone. And yet, there are legitimate concerns and reasons to believe this season could be a replay of 2020.
It starts with a schedule that features familiar, challenging faces.
How's this for a gauntlet? LSU plays at home against Florida followed by back-to-back road games against Ole Miss and Alabama. The Tigers also play at Mississippi State, against Auburn and against Texas A&M.
Heck, even the opener at UCLA is a bit tricky. The Tigers are only a four-point favorite in that game, which is a bit eye-opening.
While there are plenty of exciting pieces on both sides of the ball, including Derek Stingley Jr., the best cornerback in the country, the road will not be easy.
And if the Tigers lose the opener? Look out.