Faculty soccer season kicks off at present and already individuals wish to the long run, making predictions for convention championships and nationwide titles. A few of these takes are scalding scorching.
Earlier at present, Lee Corso instructed Faculty GameDay viewers that he didn’t consider an SEC group would win the SEC Championship! That’s fairly daring, however one way or the other it’s not the most well liked take of the day. That belongs to 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
That’s proper. Howard picked Pitt to go to the Closing 4. In reality, solely one in every of these groups, Michigan, has ever made it to the school soccer playoff. This is able to be a program-first for Pitt, Baylor and Texas A&M.
Now, don’t get me flawed, I don’t assume all of Howard’s picks are dangerous. Michigan continues to be a well-coached group (sure, I like Jim Harbaugh) contemporary off an excellent season and returns a couple of offensive line starters — and gained Olusegun Oluwatimi at middle from Virginia — returns their beginning quarterback, and returns most of their weapons from final season as nicely, which might be even higher contemplating that receiver Ronnie Bell missed most of final 12 months with a knee harm. The losses of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are large, however given Howard’s affiliation with Michigan (as in he’s an alum), I’ll let that choose slide as a slight bias. It’s not not possible, even perhaps doubtless, however provided that the participant with essentially the most sacks final 12 months returning in 2022 is Taylor Upshaw (2.5 sacks), I’d say that it’s a little bit of a attain.
I love the Texas A&M pick for the playoff. Picking them to win the natty? Now, you’ve lost me a bit. Sure, the Aggies lost Isaiah Spiller and Jalen Wydermyer, but Evan Stewart, Ainias Smith, and Devone Achane have seemed more than capable of filling those voids and then some. My biggest problem with this selection is that Alabama and Georgia are two of the favorites for the national championship, let alone the playoffs. They’re almost guaranteed to reach the CFP. You might as well pencil them into the bracket at the start of every season. Their reputation as programs makes voters less likely to drop them too far, and unless the Aggies can beat Alabama on the road on October 8, I don’t see the Aggies making it out of the SEC and into the playoff. If the game against Bama were at home, I’d feel a little more confident. As it stands right now, that selection is still a little shaky.
By selecting Pitt and Baylor, Howard basically just threw his last two picks in a dumpster. According to OddsChecker US, whereas each Michigan and Texas A&M each have good title odds, at +5000 (Eighth-best odds) and +2500 (Fifth-best odds) respectively, Baylor (+15000, Twentieth-best odds, 0.7 % probability) and Pitt (+25000, Thirty first-best odds, 0.4 % probability) are so out of left area, you’ll be able to’t assist however assume Howard is trolling. Within the historical past of the school soccer playoff, just one group has ever reached the CFP after preseason title odds of +15000 or worse: 2021 Cincinnati (+15000), and I’d argue they solely made the playoff as a result of so many faculty soccer followers had been clamoring for the CFP committee to let a non-Energy 5 faculty in. The following closest? 2021 Michigan at +10000. After that? 2014 Ohio State at +4000. Whereas I don’t assume Baylor is a nasty group by any means, the percentages are most actually not in its favor.
Most of Baylor’s high weapons from final season are gone, both by way of switch or the NFL draft. Tinheritor offensive line, howeveer, continues to be very stable, and maybe it can carry the Bears to a stable season. On protection, the Baylor’s secondary took a large hit, shedding safeties Jalen Pitre and J.T. Woods in addition to cornerback Raleigh Texada. They’re very well-coached and deep so maybe these losses will likely be mitigated. Nonetheless, with a troublesome schedule forward, Baylor’s playoff hopes appear dim at finest.
Choosing Baylor was undoubtedly puzzling, nevertheless it’s nothing compared to Howard choosing Pitt as his fourth and remaining CFP group. You’re telling me that the group that simply misplaced QB Kenny Pickett and receiver Jordan Addison goes to boast an offense ok to be one of many top-four groups in faculty soccer?
I do know the saying is “that’s why they play the video games,” and whereas there’s lots to be optimistic about when you’re a Pitt fan, that group couldn’t even crack the top-10 within the AP ballot with a Heisman finalist quarterback and Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver. Will they end the season ranked? Most likely. Will they win a Bowl recreation? Wouldn’t shock me. Will they win their convention? I imply Clemson, N.C. State, and Miami are all actually powerful, however I may see a state of affairs the place that occurs. Will they make the CFP? Boy oh boy, that’d be as loopy as Deshaun Watson getting a sponsor deal from Nickelodeon this 12 months.
Howard, we liked you in 1991, and I’m all for making outlandish predictions in the beginning of the season, however the secret’s that it’s a must to make them barely plausible. Frankly, this simply ain’t it.