Ahhhh…. Late August. It’s still hot as hell outside, the sun doesn’t go down until 8 pm, and you’re still forgetting about that dang school zone on your morning commute… But there’s a little hint of something better to come. There’s something keeping you sane, something that tells you to hold on for one more week…
That’s right! IT’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON!
And with college football season comes the inevitable tide of season previews, predictions, and prognostication from folks who don’t know any more than you do. We here at gtpdd aim to be a little different: We’re wrong about most things, and we openly admit it–nay, embrace it! In fact, a couple of weeks ago we launched our podcast by making fun of our season predictions from last year.
How’d we do last season?
So maybe you should stop reading now…
Just kidding! But before we jump in to our predictions, let’s talk shop a little bit. This season, we’re providing even more #content than ever before. Each week, we’ll have the gtpdd Podcast, the gtpdd Contest, a recap post of the previous week’s game, and a preview post on the next opponent.
The schedule should look something like this:
- Monday: Recap post
- Tuesday: gtpdd Podcast
- Wednesday: gtpdd Contest opens
- Thursday: we take a gaht damn break
- Friday: Preview post
Nathan and Evan will also be writing over at BleedTechBlue again with all of their spare time.
Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get to 2019!
1a. Best case scenario?
Evan: Look, the dream this year is pretty easy to describe: Tech wins all of its games and goes to a NY6 bowl. That’s not necessarily reasonable, but it’s possible. If I’m being honest, I think the best case scenario we’re looking at is losing a close game in Austin, running the table until November, and winning 2 of 3 in the horror stretch of UNT, @Marshall, @UAB. I don’t think we’re equipped to win those three. So 10-2 in the regular season is the absolute best I could see Tech doing this season.
Nathan: There truly isn’t a game on the schedule that isn’t winnable for the Bulldogs. Even beating Texas is attainable as long as the Longhorns are heavily favored and their coach’s name rhymes with Guam German. I hate saying that a best case scenario is 12-0 because it feels like a cop out, but the 2012 or 2014 Tech squad would have a chance to go undefeated with this schedule. The question will be: is 2019 Tech as good as either of those teams?
Daniel S: As much as I would like to say we will go 11-1 (13-1 with a conference championship and a bowl victory), the reality is we probably won’t. With that being said, I think Tech can have a very strong showing this year. Texas is a winnable game, and I could very well see Tech Teching their way to a
one point loss huge upset of a top 10 team. Other than Texas, we have fairly good odds against most teams and I could see us finishing the regular season 10-2 with losses to Marshall and USM *sigh*
Daniel A: The most reasonable best case scenario is that J’Mar takes a big step forward in his development as a passer and he’s able to breathe life into what was a lifeless offense last season. In this universe, Amik stays healthy and cements himself as the one of the best defensive backs in the country, Willie Baker fills the freakishly large Jaylon Ferguson-sized hole on the defensive line, and Diaco fares better than Blake Baker did in his first few seasons. The year would finish with a conference championship and a decent bowl game.
Josh: I’ve decided to ditch my optimistic attitude when it comes to Tech football and play more of a realist for gtpdd this year. That being said, I think the best case scenario for this year is a C-USA West division title behind an improved offense and a decent defense led by the secondary. Losses to Texas, FIU or Marshall, and USM or UAB give us a decent record. I know I’ve been talking about how Tom Herman teams play down to their opponents, but I’m not super confident that will happen with us; and if it does, it turns into us losing by one score. FIU, Marshall, USM, and UAB are 4 games that could go either way depending on a lot of things. In the best case, I see us splitting them giving us a 9-3 regular season record. Follow that up with a C-USA championship loss and a bowl game win, and we’re sitting pretty at 10-4. In this scenario, Amik wins DPOY for C-USA, Willie Baker lives up to the potential he showed in the Hawaii Bowl, and the offense improves.
1b. Worst case scenario?
Evan: As we covered in another preview post, there are several games Tech has a higher than 80% chance to win: Grambling, Rice, uMass, UTEP, and UTSA. That’s 5 games that Tech is “supposed” to win. Outside of Texas and Marshall, the other games are closer to “toss up” level. I think the worst case would be to lose all of those toss up games: we’re talking FIU (49% chance to win), USM (49%), UNT (58%), UAB (51%), BGSU (67%) AND dropping both to Marshall (26%) and Texas (9%). That’s 5-7, and the death of the Bowl streak.
Nathan: My personal worst case scenario is going 10-2, but having the two losses be to UAB and USM. The two conference losses would probably keep us out of the CUSA championship game. And although Tech would go bowling for a chance to tally eleven wins in a season for the first time since 1974, the two losses to those particular teams would leave me dead inside.
Daniel S: Realistically I can’t see us going worse than 6-6, which is not that bad. We are favored heavily in 5 of our games, and we should win those. At the absolute worst, I can see us squeaking out a win against Bowling Green to make us bowl eligible. Maybe it’ll give us another chance to play SMU in the Frisco Bowl.
Daniel A: Another uninspiring and unexciting season of sludgy football that feels like a chore to watch would be my worst case scenario, topped off with The Baffling Conference Loss™ to UTEP that’s been brewing for some time now.
Josh: So I talked about this in the gtpdd official podcast™ some, but with how the Advanced Analytics are ranking us and predicting the season (see Evan’s comments above), I’m slightly worried that we could be looking at a 6-6 regular season. I really don’t see it being any worse than that, but injuries and other issues can always happen as the season progresses. Still, I think the absolute worst case is a 6-6 regular season with a bowl loss (*gasp*).
2. Where will Tech not go and also die?
Evan: As usual, there are multiple candidates for Tech’s annual WTF™ game. Rice, UTEP, Grambling, and UTSA seem like automatic victories for the Dogs, but with Tech, anything (bad) is possible! I’m going to choose UTEP. The lack of humidity out there is so jarring to our guys that they do the unthinkable and drop one to a really bad Miner squad.
Nathan: I said this on the podcast, but it’s worth repeating (so I can get called out on it when I’m wrong): Tech will lose to Rice this year. The Bulldogs have struggled against the Owls the past couple of years (in large part due to Rice’s run first philosophy), and I expect Rice to be significantly better than the parody of a football team that “competed” last year.
Daniel S: My prediction for this remains the same as it is every year due to my lack of
creativity faith that we will ever beat Southern Miss again. This year will be different, though. Tech will go. We will play the best game we have played against USM in recent years but still lose it late, leaving us with an even worse taste in our mouth than normal.
Daniel A: My money is on Bowling Green being a good chance for a letdown. After starting off the season with a big non-conference money game and then a home opener that will hopefully boost the team’s confidence, the Bulldogs will head out to play a middling non-conference foe on the road with a huge conference game against FIU the following week.
Josh: Marshall, but I’m not sure that really counts. Regardless, I think that has the potential to be a bad, bad game for the Bulldogs.
3. Breakout player of the year
Evan: Isaiah Graham (WR). In an episode of the gtpdd podcast, I talked about how excited I was about the wideout group going into fall camp. Well, so far my excitement has been vindicated by Graham. He transferred in from TCU, sat out last year, and now he’s ready to lead–yep, I said it–the Bulldog Wide Receivers. Hardy will be great, but Graham will be better.
Nathan: My lawyer has advised me not to answer this question (see below).
Daniel S: Willie Baker (DE/OLB). After his performance in the Hawaii bowl last year, I think many of us are beyond excited to see this man play again. From the shadows of the Sack Daddy himself he dominated with a 4 sack effort. I can’t wait to see what he can do now that the position is entirely his.
Josh: BEEEEE JAAAYY WILLIAMSONNNNNNNN (S).
Jeremy: Going against the grain a little, but I’m picking Courtney Wallace, defensive tackle. Wallace is one of the few Tech players I’ve had the pleasure of competing with in sports not named football (Boston Scott absolutely wrecked me in soccer, but that’s a story for another time). During my second or third year in Ruston, I signed up for a basketball class and had the responsibility of guarding Wallace in a pickup game. To paint a picture, I’m a 5’8″ half Korean child that weighs in around 165 pounds. Mr. Wallace is a 6’2″, 305 pound MAN. So only half a foot taller and almost twice my weight, whatever. But BOY can that dude move. He’s got incredibly quick feet, great strength, and was super competitive in a pickup game. No wonder he beat me in the post for 45 minutes straight. I say he has a solid final year and fans take notice.
4. Make an oddly specific prediction.
Evan: Piggybacking off my Isaiah Graham prediction for breakout player of the year, I’m going to say Graham ends the season as Tech’s leading receiver with 1232 receiving yards on 81 receptions.
Nathan: J’Mar will statistically outperform Mason Fine this year, but Fine will still win C-USA Player of the Year. Tech fans will want to create a #CUAB style Twitter campaign to vent their frustrations toward C-USA’s “favoritism” towards the Mean Green, but will quickly realize such a hashtag for UNT is probably a bad idea.
Daniel S: We’ll beat UAB after they commit an illegal forward pass on a potential game winning drive. There’ll be a 10 second runoff giving Tech a 24-22 victory.
Daniel A: Tech will be leading in the fourth quarter in Austin, Texas, but UT will be driving and have goal to go with less than a minute to go and needing a touchdown to tie. Ehlinger will receive a snap from the shotgun and take a three-step drop. He’ll look to his right — the strong side slot receiver will begin running what will be a quick out route. Ehlinger will wind up and fire a dart towards his man, but number 21 in white will jump the route and pick off the pass. After being forced out of bounds five yards after the interception, the heroic CB will remove his helmet to reveal that it was actually Terry Bradshaw wearing Amik’s uniform. The Blonde Bomber will perform two crotch crops towards the overrated UT QB and be removed from the game. Tech will close out the game in victory formation and leave Austin with a win, but the NCAA will vacate it soon after due to the use of an ineligible player. The memes will be good though.
Josh: Tech beats UAB, who has a less than stellar season due to attrition, and their hordes of twitter fans calls me fat and ugly after I gloat on twitter. 😦
5. Final predictions
Evan: Tech’s going to be pretty solid this season. I think we lose to Texas, probably by 1 because that’s our #brand at this point, then drop a close and well-fought game at home to FIU. Then we’ll embark on a five game winning streak, dispatching USM (finally) and UNT. That streak will end with gtpdd in the house at Marshall on a Friday night (why?), but we’ll bounce back to beat UAB and UTSA to end the season. 9-3 (6-2) in conference should be good enough to squeak into the CUSA title game, where we’ll lose again to either FIU or Marshall.
Nathan: There are three categories to Tech’s schedule this year: “easy”, “toss-ups”, and Texas. I think Tech will win the “easy” games minus Rice, lose to USM, UNT, Marshall, but beat Texas. That would bring Tech to 8-4, and probably not headed back to a third C-USA Championship game. UAB’s 2018 conference title will be followed up with a 2019 title for Southern Miss, as if this whole thing was planned by a supreme being that takes delight in making Tech fans suffer.
Daniel S: I’m really excited for this season. Tech has a lot of potential to be great and playing for a conference title may even be in the equation again. I think we can finish the season 9-3 with losses to Texas, USM, and Marshall. Tech will narrowly squeak into the title game against Marshall, edging out Southern Miss.
Daniel A: This is yet another Tech football season with high expectations, but it’ll end just short of a conference title. Tech will head to an okay bowl game against either a similar G5 school or a mediocre P5 squad and everyone will be mad.
Josh: It’s really hard for me to not go into the season super high on the team with a lot of expectations, but I’ve learned to control myself. There are a lot of questions on offense and the depth of the team worries me, especially when it comes to the linemen. As long as we can mitigate injuries and keep the team on the field, I’m pretty confident that a winning regular season is well within reach. I’m standing by my best case losses (Texas, FIU/Marshall, UAB/USM), but there will probably be at least one more loss somewhere on the schedule. 8-4 with a C-USA champ game (maybe) and a bowl game, so I’ll split those and say 9-5, which is a good season for Tech.