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Pre-spring bold predictions for the 2024 college football season

The 2024 college football season will be perhaps the most anticipated one in recent memory. It certainly will be that in Austin after the Texas Longhorns (12-2) won a conference title and made their first ever College Football Playoff.

Several coaches and players will have a change of scenery in the upcoming season. Presumably most of those coaches and players have already found their next stop.

Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer leaves Washington after taking the team to a national title game. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh departs for the NFL while Alabama legend Nick Saban will enjoy his first season of retirement.

With significant changes across the country, we could see significant shakeup atop the sport. Let’s predict what could happen in the 2024 college football season.

Oklahoma beats Alabama

Nov 18, 2023; Provo, Utah, USA; <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/oklahoma/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Oklahoma Sooners;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Oklahoma Sooners</a> quarterback <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/players/404456/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jackson Arnold;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jackson Arnold</a> (10) calls a play against the Brigham Young Cougars in the fourth quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

You read it correctly. Oklahoma beats Alabama in Norman in November. The Crimson Tide have plenty to be excited about heading into the season, but the development in Tuscaloosa has been on a downward trend over the last couple seasons. In contrast, the Oklahoma Sooners should be peaking by their second-to-last game of the year. Five-star quarterback Jackson Arnold should be hitting his stride while the Sooners’ offensive line should be more cohesive at this point. And we all know what the team brings back on defense. We called Kansas over Oklahoma last offseason. We’ll say Oklahoma beats Alabama.

Nebraska wins eight games

Nov 28, 2022; Omaha, <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/nebraska/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Nebraska;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Nebraska</a>, US; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule at the introductory press conference at the Hawks Championship Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska hasn’t had a winning record since 2016 when it went 9-4 before losing the Music City Bowl. Since then, the team has gone 4-8 three times, 5-7 twice, 3-9 in 2021 and 3-5 during the shortened season in 2020. That said, head coach Matt Rhule is a program builder. The Huskers go from 5-7 in his first season to eight wins in 2024.

Postseason included, Texas wins 12 again

Sep 2, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tight end <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/players/337784/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Amari Niblack;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Amari Niblack</a> (84) catches a touchdown pass against the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/middle-tenn-st/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders</a> during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 56-7. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns won 12 games in head coach Steve Sarkisian’s third year in Austin. They have the players to do it again. From continuity at quarterback and offensive line with several players entering their third season at starters to an impressive four-receiver portal haul including tight end Amari Niblack, the Texas offense should be dangerous.

Ole Miss makes the playoff

Sep 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin walks off the field after a 24-10 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin walks off the field after a 24-10 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It would have sounded grandiose an offseason ago, but Ole Miss looks primed to reach the College Football Playoff. The Rebels face a more than manageable schedule save for home games against Oklahoma and Georgia and a road trip to Baton Rouge to face LSU. 10 wins could get the Rebels in. After adding what looks to be the nation’s most impactful portal class, the team is a legitimate contender for the playoff.

Michigan loses three games

Sherrone Moore, head coach of the University of <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/michigan/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Michigan football;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Michigan football</a> team, hugs Warde Manuel, Michigan’s Director of Athletics, during a press conference inside the Junge Family Champions Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024.

Michigan is primed for a setback after winning its first national title since 1997. The loss of 16 starters is a massive hurdle for the team with most of those at high impact positions. Some would contend, the closer you get to the football the more damage you can wreak or prevent. The Wolverines lose highly projected NFL draft quarterback prospect JJ McCarthy, top running back Blake Corum, five offensive linemen and three along the defensive front. Add in big games against Texas, Ohio State, Oregon and USC and there could be three losses on the schedule.

Big 12 gets two teams into the playoff

Oct 28, 2023; Manhattan, <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/kansas/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Kansas;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Kansas</a>, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/players/404434/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Avery Johnson;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Avery Johnson</a> (5) is tackled by <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/houston/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Houston Cougars;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Houston Cougars</a> defensive lineman David Ugwoegbu (12) during the fourth quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

In my estimation, Utah and Kansas State stand above the pack in the Big 12 for the upcoming season. Texas Tech and Kansas could be primed for strong seasons, while Oklahoma State has been a consistent winner since Mike Gundy took over in Stillwater. Nevertheless, Utah quarterback Cam Rising and Kansas State quarterback Avery Johnson have the ability to be the deciding factor in close games.

Shedeur Sanders makes Heisman short list

Nov 11, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) at the line of scrimmage in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) at the line of scrimmage in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Starting quarterback Shedeur Sanders makes it into the Heisman’s final four after throwing for 3,230 yards, 27 touchdowns and three interceptions last season for Colorado. That doesn’t mean that his team will eclipse eight wins, but it does mean he could have a strong enough campaign to warrant acknowledgement.

Ohio State beats Oregon twice

Ohio State coach Ryan Day walks the sideline during Saturday’s game against <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/teams/penn-st/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Penn State;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Penn State</a>.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day walks the sideline during Saturday’s game against Penn State.

The Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks have both struggled against elite competition, but you seldom see the Buckeyes lose to a team twice in a season. That happened to Oregon last year when the Ducks fell to Washington in the regular season and Pac-12 championship. The year before saw Oregon get blown out by Georgia, 49-3. The team has to prove it can beat elite competition before it gets the benefit of the doubt.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire