1. Florida will return to the land of the living.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley has spoken forcefully in support of head coach Will Muschamp. That's not necessarily unusual, Foley speaks forcefully about what he had for breakfast. But it is significant, a sign that Foley believes the problems that led to a 4-8 record last season have been resolved. Florida is healthy again (problem 1); the offense has been retooled with the hiring of coordinator Kurt Roper (problem 2); and Florida is healthy again (it should be restated, because when 17 guys get hurt, including eight starters, that's a lot).
2. Baylor will not make the College Football Playoff.
The Bears' nonconference schedule includes SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. Was Incarnate Word not available? No other team in the Big 12 has a nonconference schedule without an opponent from the other big conferences. Baylor, like every other Big 12 team, has to fight the perception that comes with not having a conference championship game. If the Bears go 12-0, sure, they're in. But at 11-1, they will get squeezed out. And just so you know, Baylor plays Incarnate Word in 2019.
3. The surprise contender in the Pac-12 South will be Arizona.
If you think Rich Rodriguez lost his touch at Michigan, you haven't been paying attention to what the Wildcats have done the past two seasons. Rodriguez went 8-5 both years playing with a team not recruited for his spread system. He's in year three now, and as long as redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon takes care of the ball, Arizona will put up points. The Wildcats skip Stanford and Oregon State and get two weeks off in the first eight weeks of the season, which should keep them healthy for the stretch run. This is a good dark horse.
4. Miami tailback Duke Johnson will be a Heisman finalist.
At 5-foot-9, 206 pounds, Johnson is a combination of power and quickness that is ideal for today's offenses. He was on pace for a 1,700-yard season a year ago before an ankle injury knocked him out in the seventh game. Johnson has got a veteran offensive line in front of him, he has had a good August, and he has something to prove. Sign me up.
5. It won't get much better at Michigan.
The Wolverines found a way to go 7-6 last season despite an inconsistent offense. Doug Nussmeier has come in from Alabama to run the offense and the injured are healed, but the freshmen forced into action on the offensive line last season remain young. It has been 10 years since Michigan won a Big Ten title. This once-feared program has spent one week in the top 10 in the past six seasons. The schedule does no favors with visits to Notre Dame, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State. The Wolverines are what their record (15-11 the past two seasons) says they are.
6. It will get much better at Northwestern.