Even though the player expected to be the Wildcats' biggest offensive threat, Venric Mark, is playing for West Texas A&M, this is a veteran team with seniors and juniors starting at nearly every position. And these are upperclassmen with something to prove after the way they went 5-7 last season, losing two in overtime and two more by a field goal. If head coach Pat Fitzgerald is right, and the unionization issue knit his team together, this is a team good enough to win the Big Ten West.
7. Cincinnati, not Marshall, will win the major bowl bid that goes to the highest-ranked team among the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt.
Marshall has a very good quarterback in Rakeem Cato and a veteran team. What the Thundering Herd don't have is a schedule that will impress the College Football Playoff selection committee. The Bearcats have a veteran team, and two marquee nonconference games (at Ohio State, at Miami). Cincinnati has an opportunity to make a run, and head coach Tommy Tuberville knows how to get his team there.
8. Trevor Knight still has some learning to do.
The Oklahoma sophomore played so well (32-44-1, 348 yards, four touchdowns) in leading the Sooners to their 45-31 upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl that he obscured all that happened before, a season in which he pretty much looked like a freshman. All of us are guilty of overloading the importance of a bowl game because it's the last thing we see. Oklahoma has experience on the offensive line to keep Knight upright, and a defense good enough to keep Knight from having to put a game on his shoulders. That's good, because he's not good enough to do that yet.
9. Navy will reappear in the top 25 for the first time in 10 seasons.
The Midshipmen are a veteran team that is going to make Ohio State work to win on Saturday, and Navy is playing a schedule that could easily have them 7-1 when they play Notre Dame at FedEx Field on Nov. 1. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 2-4 against the Fighting Irish, who narrowly beat the Midshipmen a year ago. Navy's biggest trouble is its schedule; the Midshipmen have a week off before four of their last five games. With an option offense that depends on timing, that might be an issue. If Niumatalolo figures that out, Navy will be back in the rankings.
10. My last bold prediction -- most of the above will be wrong.