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Clayton Picks All the Games Correctly: The Miss Cleo of College Football’s 2017 Preseason Prognostications Part One

I, the Miss Cleo of College Football, have looked up into the heavens and learned what is going to happen this season, starting with the ACC and AAC.

NCAA Football: Miami at Georgia Tech Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Give me 10 minutes of your time.

I, the Miss Cleo of College Football, have looked up into the heavens and learned what is going to happen this season.


Championship Game: Miami 31 NC State 20

Atlantic Division:

1. NC State: This senior-laden team is going to be the one that breaks the Wolfpack out of the ACC’s junior varsity. A stout defense that includes returning standouts such as sack machine Bradley Chubb and linebacker Jerod Fernandez will earn coach Dave Doeren a letterman’s jacket. On offense, quarterback Ryan Finley will throw the ball to all-world tight end/fullback/H-back Jaylen Samuels about 47 times each game. As long as NC State scores 20 points every Saturday, they will be a splendid team.

2. Louisville: Lamar Jackson is not Johnny Manziel. He will show up ready to play this September. Jackson will not be doing this by himself, either. He has a talented corps of receivers still ready to catch his passes. The Cardinal defense is none too shabby either. It features seven seniors as well as junior corner Jaire Alexander, who is widely considered an All-American candidate.

3. Florida State: Freddy Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie” is the best song I’ve ever heard that is tangentially related to Florida State football. A lot of people think this team is pretty good. My Ouija board disagrees.

4. Boston College: Defensive end Harold Landry will have more sacks than a Cub Foods. Robust running back Jon Hilliman is finally going to become the folk hero he’s been threatening to for the last two seasons. Miss Cleo says the Eagles will win eight games and Steve Addazio will still be patrolling the sideline in Chestnut Hill in 2018, dressed smartly in a flattering maroon polo shirt.

5. Clemson: “après moi le déluge” – DeShaun Watson

6. Wake Forest: As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, the Demon Deacons will win at least four games.

7. Syracuse: Great journalism school.

Coastal Division:

1. Miami: This team returns its entire front seven on defense. New starting quarterback Malik Rosier will be buoyed by the Hurricanes’ power running game. Miami running back Mark Walton, who is coming off an 1,100 yard season in 2016, may well make a trip to the Downtown Athletic Club in 2017.

2. Pittsburgh: Innovative use of French fries. Veteran leadership abounds on both sides of the ball. Rori Blair and Amir Watts lead a talented front four on defense which will keep the Panthers in every game. Lithe quarterback Max Browne will hook up with pocket rocket wide receiver Quadree Henderson for many big plays.

3. Virginia Tech: A solid team from pillar to post that just can’t seem to run the football.

4. Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson’s raw animal magnetism will ensure the Yellow Jackets a 2017 bowl bid. Uga the Bulldog told me not to tell anyone that he loves going for a country drive in the Ramblin’ Wreck on a hot summer afternoon.

5. North Carolina: Defensive tackle Jeremiah Clarke and cornerback Patrick Rene both earned spots on my 2017 All-Handsome Team.

6. Virginia: Had Bronco Mendenhall ever met anyone from east of the Mississippi before he took this job?

7. Duke: David Cutcliffe is taking a page from the sophisti-pop playbook. He has decided to rip it up and start again.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


Championship Game: Houston 35 USF 24


1. USF: Quarterback Quinton Flowers is a genuine Heisman candidate. He flew under the radar nationally in 2016. He will be a household name by mid-October. His athleticism and excellent decision-making will make this team the top one in the AAC in 2017. South Florida’s superb defense will also contribute significantly to the cause. The Bulls have one of college football’s most skilled and experienced secondaries.

2. Temple: New coach Geoff Collins brings a winning attitude with him from Florida, one that will coalesce well with the winning culture that Matt Rhule cultivated in Philadelphia. The Owls lost a lot of talent from their 2016 roster, but their offense will remain top-notch. They have several worthy candidates ready to take the reins from Philip Walker at quarterback. The Owls have a number of productive skill position players returning on offense, including running back Ryquell Armstead and wide receiver Ventell Bryant. The biggest question marks on this team are on the defensive side of the ball. Even the guys starting on defense will need a program to know who is playing alongside them.

3. UCF: Linebacker Shaquem Griffin is a one-man wrecking crew on defense. I’m not sure that second-year coach Scott Frost and offensive coordinator Troy Walters have put together the right combination in the backfield to compete for a league title in 2017.

4. Cincinnati: Luke Fickell has the enthusiasm, the experience and the rapport with players that anyone would want in their coach. Can he find enough in the Bearcats’ bare cupboards to field a winner in 2017? I think he can get us to 6-6 and possibly a bid in the Bahamas Bowl. Quarterback Hayden Moore is going to come up big for Cincinnati this season, posting big numbers along with wide receivers Kahlil Lewis and Devin Gray. The Bearcats are certainly going to need some points with the secondary they are fielding this year.

5. East Carolina: As I noted last year, there are some great culinary options on this campus.

6. Connecticut: No Diaco? No love from the Miss Cleo of College Football. I hope they lose every game this year. Storrs has declared war on handsomeness.


1. Houston: Major Applewhite is walking into a great situation. Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen will emerge quickly as one of the country’s top signal-callers this fall. Who wouldn’t, though, throwing the football to Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar? The Cougars defense remains top-notch as well. All-American Defensive tackle Ed Oliver plugs everything up on the front line. Linebacker Matthew Adams will bat clean-up behind the havoc Oliver wreaks in the trenches. Safeties Garrett Davis and Khalil Williams are experienced tough guys.

2. SMU: Coach Chad Morris has been building towards 2017. The Mustangs are going to break out this season, posting a nine-win campaign behind that explosive offense they’ve built. Big armed, newly chiseled sophomore Ben Hicks will be a sensation at quarterback. Wide Receiver Courtland Sutton is already a bona fide college football superstar. Expect junior receiver Xavier Castille to break out as one of college football’s best deep threats this season. SMU can also run the football. Running backs Braeden West and Ke’Mon Freeman combined for nearly 1,700 yards last season. The Mustangs’ defense needs some work, but standouts like defensive end Justin Lawler and corner Jordan Wyatt look to shore up what has been the club’s greatest weakness in recent years.

3. Navy: a lot of turn-over from last year’s roster, but expect Ken Niumatalolo to field yet another competitive team.

4. Tulane: Coach Willie Fritz was on the cusp of the precipice last year, but he will be a full blown Hegelian hero in 2017. The Green Wave have found themselves a steady quarterback in option-man Glen Cuiellette. This team returns 15 starters. It will be a real pleasure for these young men when they get to say they were the ones that got Tulane back into the post-season. I can’t wait to buy a “Tulane: 2017 Miami Beach Bowl Champions” t-shirt.

5. Tulsa: I got distracted while I was researching Philip Montgomery’s club. I saw John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted fame come on the television. Apparently, he’s a big fan of the Jitterbug telephone. It has 1) Award-winning health and safety services 2) No contracts and no cancellation fees 3) 24/7 US Based Customer Service 4) Dependable Nationwide Coverage 5) Affordable phone plans. How can you beat that? Smash your phone right now and go buy a Jitterbug. Actually, call to order your new Jitterbug first.

6. Memphis: I didn’t see this one coming either, but I looked in my Farmer’s Almanac and it said it right there on page one. “Good Year for the Roses. Bad Year for the Tigers.”

As always, this is a work of parody and not intended to be taken seriously. For more of the same, follow me on Twitter: @ClaytonTrutor