Former USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart has shared his predictions for the 2023 college football season, including the four teams he expects to make the College Football Playoff and the one he thinks will win it all.
USC among Leinart’s playoff teams
Leinart, who currently works as a college football analyst for Fox Sports, is confident that his alma mater USC will be one of the playoff contenders this season. He told On3.com that the Trojans have a talented roster led by two-time Heisman winner Caleb Williams, who is aiming to become the first player to win three Heismans in college football history.
Leinart said that USC’s goal is to make the playoff or nothing, and that anything short of that would be a disappointment. He also said that USC has a favorable schedule, with only one tough road game at Notre Dame in October. He believes that USC will win the Pac-12 and secure a spot in the playoff.
Georgia, Michigan and LSU round out Leinart’s playoff picks
Leinart also picked Georgia, Michigan and LSU as his other three playoff teams. He said that Georgia is the clear favorite to win the SEC and repeat as national champions, with a dominant defense and a balanced offense led by quarterback JT Daniels. He said that Georgia has the best chance to go undefeated in the regular season, and that they will face LSU in the SEC championship game.
Leinart said that LSU is his surprise pick to make the playoff, as he thinks that the Tigers will bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season and challenge Alabama in the SEC West. He said that LSU has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and that coach Ed Orgeron will have them motivated to prove themselves. He said that LSU will beat Alabama in Baton Rouge in November, and that will be enough to earn them a playoff berth.
Leinart said that Michigan is his pick to win the Big Ten and make the playoff for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh. He said that Michigan has a veteran team with a lot of experience and leadership, and that they will finally get over the hump against Ohio State and Penn State. He said that Michigan will beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, and that they will be a tough matchup for anyone in the playoff.
Leinart picks Georgia to win it all
Leinart said that he thinks Georgia will win its third straight national title, beating USC in the semifinal and Michigan in the final. He said that Georgia is just too good on both sides of the ball, and that they have no weaknesses. He said that Georgia will be able to contain Williams and Daniels, and that they will overpower Michigan’s defense with their running game. He said that Georgia will cement its dynasty status with another championship.
Leinart also gave his predictions for some of the major individual awards in college football. He said that Williams will win his third Heisman Trophy, beating out Daniels, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei. He said that Williams is the best player in college football, and that he will put up incredible numbers in Lincoln Riley’s offense. He also said that Williams will be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.
He said that Georgia’s Jordan Davis will win the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football, beating out Alabama’s Evan Neal and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. He said that Davis is a dominant force in the middle of Georgia’s defense, and that he will disrupt opposing offenses all season long.
He said that LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. will win the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football, beating out Alabama’s Josh Jobe and Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. He said that Stingley is a lockdown corner who can cover anyone, and that he will also make an impact as a returner and a receiver.