Pigskin Pickin’: Georgia Tech to win four games, Georgia to win all but one

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Not to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but games have become the least interesting things about college football. Example: Georgia went 14-1 last season and won the national title. How many of its 15 games do you remember?

The two with Alabama, sure. The opener against Clemson, though the only touchdown was scored by the Bulldogs’ defense. Maybe the first half of the Michigan semifinal. Of the Bulldogs’ eight SEC regular-season games, only Kentucky came within 17 points, and the Wildcats scored with four seconds left.

The College Football Playoff has staged eight championship games. Alabama has graced six, Clemson four, Georgia and Ohio State two each, LSU and Oregon one apiece. That’s 16 finalists from six schools.

As we unveil our annual college football picks, the mind reaches for something different. This mind just reported back, saying: “I got nothing.” As much as I’d love to project a title tilt of Wake Forest against Utah, that’s not happening.

Alabama has gone 176-19 over the past 14 seasons. That’s a winning percentage of .903. Georgia is 58-10 over five years. That’s .853. One win will another title. Big shock, huh?

» Georgia Tech will go 4-8. That would mark the most wins of Geoff Collins’ four seasons, the first three having seen his Jackets win three, three and three games. It might also get the Brand Master deep-sixed. (It also might not. Todd Stansbury isn’t exactly an activist athletic director.)

Collins has pledged to do “more coaching” in 2022, though he hardly could do less. With the best of his ballyhooed recruits – Jahmyr Gibbs – enrolled at Alabama, hope seems more of a wish. Vegas Insider sets the over/under on Tech wins at 3.5. Optimistic Bark Madly is taking the over, if only just.

» Auburn will go 7-5, which won’t be enough to save Bryan Harsin, who sin it is to hail from Idaho. Enough Tigers fans have convinced themselves that a non-Southerner can’t succeed in the SEC without resorting to, ahem, Southern methods that a coach who won 78.4% of his games at Boise State will be gone in the time it takes to say, “Is Tommy Tuberville available?”

» The CFP will consist of, in alphabetical order, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State. The Fighting Irish were 53-10 over Brian Kelly’s final five seasons in South Bend. They’ve got it going in a way Notre Dame since the glory days of Lou Holtz. Marcus Freeman seems an inspired choice as head coach. The Irish will be a losing semifinalist yet again.

» Clemson didn’t have a terrible 2021 season – ⋅it was 10-3, losing to Georgia, N.C. State and Pitt – but it was the Tigers’ first year without a high-level quarterback since Tajh Boyd was a sophomore, which was 2011. The succession from Boyd to Deshaun Watson to Trevor Lawrence lifted this program into the stratosphere. DJ Uiagalelei brought it back to Earth. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns and completed only 55.6% of his passes.

The Tigers, finally, are without defensive coordinator Brent Venables and OC Tony Elliott. That Clemson held onto both when other schools wanted to make them head coaches was the greatest trick of Dan Radakovich’s time as AD. Now D-Rad works for Miami. Dabo Swinney’s support system has been shredded. Clemson will go 9-3. It still will win the ACC, which looks unusually tepid.

» LSU has a new coach who might be a bad fit. Auburn has a good coach who’s a bad fit. Texas A&M has the highest-salaried freshman class in the history of the sport. (Remember, NIL money is allowed!) Sam Pittman hasn’t been a disaster at Arkansas. Lane Kiffin has been quite good at Ole Miss. The sixth-best team in the SEC West would finish second in the East.

The SEC’s biggest regular-season game will come Oct. 8, when A&M plays in Tuscaloosa. Former friends Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban will glare at one another from the sidelines. “Go look into how God did his deal,” Jimbo said of Saban. Not to be sacrilegious, but the deity doesn’t often lose at home.

» Alabama will lose one regular-season game. Georgia will go 12-0 but lose to Bama for the SEC title. The Bulldogs will beat the Crimson Tide in L.A.’s Sofi Stadium on Jan. 9. Say what you will about Stetson Bennett, but he’s unbeaten in national championship games. We began by speaking of a sameness in college football. We end by predicting the same result – Georgia over Alabama – as last season.