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Three Big Name Programs That Will Fall Short of the National Championship: July 14

By Rally Kapz

Not to rush the summer away, but who’s ready for some college football?  Just 44 days to go…but who’s counting?  As we sit here in mid-July, the hype and the hope are starting to build as football programs and their fans nationwide assess their chances to win their conference, and perhaps, just perhaps get the opportunity to compete in the playoff to secure the national championship. 

A lot has been written about potential contenders, including defending champ Georgia, and perennial powerhouses, including Alabama and Ohio State. But there are also some pretenders out there and that’s what we’ll focus on today.  Let’s look at some prominent programs that I think will fall short of the ultimate goal of winning it all. 

USC (+3000 odds to win at DraftKings Sportsbook):  The Trojans are coming off a disappointing 4-8 season and it’s hard to believe that they haven’t won a bowl game since the 2016 season.  High-profile head coach Lincoln Riley arrives on scene in what was arguably the biggest coaching change in FBS.  Following him to Southern Cal are members of his Oklahoma coaching staff as well as some key players, including quarterback Caleb Williams.  Williams should enjoy continued success at QB and with ample weapons at wide receiver, may even be able to build upon his stellar stats from last year, where he completed 65% of his passes, throwing 21 touchdowns along the way.  USC’s defense is where they will need some work, relying on defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who followed Riley to USC to shore things up.  USC will no doubt be better but it will take some time for new systems to gel, and USC’s schedule will prove challenging with road dates at UCLA and last year’s PAC 12 champ Utah.  They will close out by hosting Notre Dame.  I can easily see them losing two of those three games.  Under Riley, USC will no doubt be better but it will take some time before they can legitimately contend for a national title.

Notre Dame (+4500 odds to win at DraftKings Sportsbook):  Like USC, the Irish will also have a new head coach in Marcus Freeman, after Brian Kelly departed to take over the reins at LSU.  Notre Dame is coming off an 11-2 season, where they lost the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State.  The team should be strong defensively, but new starting quarterback Tyler Buchner will need to show that he can score against some of FBS’ best defensive setups.  Also, first up on the schedule is Ohio State, so an 0-1 start will add some immediate pressure.  The team will also face tough matchups against Clemson at home and road games vs. USC and UNC.  Winnable, perhaps, but not an easy route.  Two losses may be too many.

Michigan (+4000 odds to win at DraftKings Sportsbook):  Ok, so this one makes me a little nervous.  Head coach Jim Harbaugh enters his 8th season in Ann Arbor.  Had the $$$ from the NFL been there, would he still be coaching this team?  I’ll leave that debate for another day.  A win over Ohio State last year got that monkey off his back but they were woefully outmatched by powerhouse Georgia in the semi-final.  Lots of changes to this team, including a battle for the QB position.  An easy schedule early on, and the fact that they avoid Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue, should keep the Wolverines in the discussion.  The big question is, will this be a Wolverines team that is content coming off last year’s big win over OSU, or will they be hungry for more?  I think it’s the former.

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