Overrated or Underrated
Where Does Your Top 25 Team Stand?
Yes, it’s that time again. This is the first article of the season and I can’t wait to write more this year. Again, I want to thank Clock Dodgers for giving me the opportunity to share my College Football perspective.
As the AP released the Preseason Top 25 this past week, there were several head scratchers among those teams. We will take a look at each of the Top 25 College Football Teams and value their positioning based on several factors. Without further ado, Welcome back College Football. You don’t have to agree with me but remember, it’s all in fun.
#1 Alabama – Slightly Overrated but still #1
Alabama, while under the instruction with Nick Saban, will be a mainstay in the Preseason Top 10. Jalen Hurts showed brilliance in the National Championship Game, leading the Tide to what seemed to be a game winner late in the 4th Quarter against Clemson. He used his arm and his legs to get them in position for what would be a 30-yard rushing touchdown with 2:07 left in the game. He also showed ineptitude at times, especially against the blitz from both Washington and Clemson. His maturation and the push during fall camp from incoming Freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa (thank God, this isn’t radio), should propel him to better things in 2017. But what about the vaunted Bama Defense? Alabama lost seven defensive players to the 2017 Draft. Each of those seven were chosen in the first four rounds. The Tide may be deep but the defense will need to show up early as they face Florida State to kick of what looks to be one of the most exciting seasons of the playoff era.
#2 Ohio State – Very Overrated
What could the Buckeyes have possibly done to go from a shutout in the Playoff Semifinal to #2 overall in the preseason. This one here has me beating my head against the wall. Urban Meyer brought in three new assistant coaches during the offseason. That may not sound like a lot considering there are 20ish coaches on the staff. However, Urban Meyer has never hired more than three new coaches in a year except when taking over a new program. What has me most puzzled by this ranking is that one of the hires (Kevin Wilson) comes from Indiana. The Hoosiers ranked 88th in Total Offense during the 2016 Season and averaged only 25.8 points per game. Considering the Buckeyes struggled offensively last year against Top 30 Defenses, I don’t see the Buckeyes improving that much with J.T Barrett at the helm. I don’t have Ohio State in the Playoffs this year and I think you will all see why very soon.
#3 Florida State – Right Where They Should Be
The Seminoles are one of those teams that made you sick last year. Florida State started the first two quarters of the 2016 campaign getting a good ole fashioned beating at the hands of Ole Miss. At 28-6, it looked like the Seminoles were going to be embarrassed on the national stage (they’d save that for later). The Seminoles mounted a monstrous comeback and beat the Rebels 45-34. The next week provided a great opportunity for the Noles but ultimately ended in disaster. During their beatdown of Charleston Southern, FSU lost Derwin James for the entire season. For those of you who saw Jabril Peppers last year, Derwin is the real deal. He is Jabril in a much more physical frame and DERWIN is BACK! The defense was young and lacked a true leadership with James going down but this year, the defense returns with experience and leadership. Francois who was sacked around 6 million times last year has put on about 5 pounds of muscle and is built like Cam Newton. Newton may run better but Francois has the arm strength and accuracy to make every throw. Dalvin Cook is gone as well but Cam Akers will be a very quick study and more than capable replacement. If the Noles protect Francois this season, they will be very dangerous!
#4 USC (The Real One) – Right Where They Should Be
The Trojans aren’t the 4th most talented in College Football but they don’t have to be. USC plays in likely the worst conference this season. Everyone is high on Washington and we will get to them. Outside of Stanford though, is there really a struggle that faces USC in their schedule? The next toughest game is against Texas at the Coliseum. I know Tom Herman is the coach of the Longhorns but that group will need a lot of help if they plan on winning more than 8 games this season. USC will only face Washington if they meet in Pac12 Championship Game. Week 2 (September 9th) may showcase the Pac12 Champ. Sam Darnold is the Heisman darling right now. If the defense can show up, Darnold can lead this team to a playoff spot by scheduling default. They must do it with one or no losses.
#5 Clemson – Slightly Overrated
There is no doubt the Defending National Champions are talented again. You can’t deny that Clemson will be scary good again. Looking back to last season, three teams had Clemson on the rope before the playoffs and one team beat Clemson in the regular season. Clemson will get every team’s best shot again this year. With a new starting QB (Kelly Bryant), will they be able to overcome the adversity they will face? Deshaun Watson was great but human at times, can Bryant make the same good decisions when the game is on the line? Defensively, this defense will be (in my opinion) better than Alabama’s D last season. Brent Venables always uses the 2014 Clemson Defense as a challenge to his teams, maybe this will be the year he has to reinvent his motivational tactics.
#6 Penn St – Slightly Underrated
Don’t act like this is a surprise. The Rose Bowl loss to USC was epic. Penn St. proved they could play with the upper echelon again. This was probably the most exciting game of the Post-Paterno Era. PSU plays a schedule that is filled with opportunity. Like USC, they have a chance to be favored in 11 or more games this year. I don’t think OSU is as good as the media will have you to believe. I think Penn St has the better RB and QB. Defensively, Ohio State will challenge PSU but the firepower on offense will be too much. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Penn St go undefeated in the regular season. Michigan is down, OSU is overrated and the next best team they play will probably be from the ACC in Pittsburgh. The B1G Championship Game against Wisconsin (does anyone else play in that division) will be the deciding factor in the Nittany Lions playoff hopes.
#7 Oklahoma – Very Overrated
Let’s be honest, Oklahoma has benefited from lackluster opposition in the Big12. Until this season, there hasn’t been a question about who should win since before the scandal at Baylor. Texas has been atrocious, Baylor has had 100 coaches in the last 3 seasons and Mike Gundy has been auditioning for a part in Joe Dirt 2. Baker Mayfield is a decent QB and I won’t take that from him. Without Westbrook, (sounds like we are talking about Durant) the Sooners will be forced to find a downfield threat. Every RB who has had meaningful snaps to the offense is gone. This is a team who faces OSU early on, then they have to play OKST and Kansas St. I don’t foresee the Sooners escaping those three games with less than 2 losses. The Sooners have been great pretenders in a conference that never fields a defense but their time has come to an end. I don’t see Oklahoma in the Top 10 once the regular season is done.
#8 Washington – Slightly Overrated
The Huskies were a decent team in 2016. Yes, decent. The Pac12 faced one of its worst years in the past decade. We learned very quickly last year that Stanford was overrated and the best thing that happened to the Pac12 and Washington’s playoff spot was Colorado. One could argue Colorado was actually a good team last year but when Colorado played OKST (a team with a pulse), they got blown out. Every team in the Pac12 was overrated, including Washington. Washington should have lost three games last season (Arizona, Utah, and of course USC). However, this is 2017 and Washington again, will have a cupcake schedule. With Jake Browning back at QB and what looks to be a slightly improved defense, I have the Huskies going undefeated until they play Stanford. I believe at 11-1 the Huskies will meet the Trojans in the Pac12 Championship Game but just like last season, the Huskies will stumble against USC. I have Washington as 10th in my Top25.
#9 Wisconsin – Right Where They Should Be
Wisconsin is another team that benefits from playing in a division similar to the SEC East. Again, by virtue of the schedule, Wisconsin should find themselves sitting pretty near the end of the regular season. The bad news for the Badgers is they end up with Michigan towards the latter part of the year. Hornibrook is back under center and with a year under his belt, he should have a better grasp of the playbook and be better prepared for tough decision. However, the Badgers lost the top 2 running backs but the receiving core is still led by Jazz Peavy (WR) and Troy Fumagalli (TE). Wisconsin should see Penn St in the B1G Championship Game but that could spell trouble for the Conference. If Wisconsin beats Penn St but has 2 losses on its resume, the B1G will be left out of the playoffs. That scenario is exactly what I predict happening.
#10 OKST – Underrated and Underappreciated
The guy who is a man just hit the big Five Oh! Maybe Gundy can celebrate his birthday and ridiculous hair with a Big12 Title this year. Mason Rudolph will head up what should be the Big12’s best offense this year. Sadly enough, OKST might actually be the best defense as well (depending on Kansas St). Despite the preseason rankings, I believe OKST has the best chance to go undefeated in their Conference. They get Oklahoma at home, and are only on the road against ranked teams twice. The fact that those ranked teams are WVU and Texas makes the schedule even easier to navigate. They get an extra day to prepare for Pitt. I don’t think the Big12 could have done them anymore favors. But Mike Gundy can’t just be loud and boisterous if he wants a spot in the playoffs. I believe you will see OKST in the playoffs if they go undefeated but I just don’t think it is in the cards.
#11 Auburn – Underrated
Does anyone remember how good this Auburn team was when Sean White led the offense last year? Do you remember Jarrett Stidham? Well you will be introduced to him very quickly this year. Sean White is still there but Stidham won the starting job in fall camp. Stidham is mobile and has a cannon. He is very similar in play style to Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson. You could compare him to Cam but the body style, not so much. Auburn made great strides towards the end of the season. With Clemson early, Auburn will be tested. I don’t think they will beat the opposing Tigers but watch out for the run they make afterwards. In between Clemson and Alabama, Auburn plays only one ranked team on the road. When the travel to the “other” Death Valley, Auburn will be facing a brand new LSU with the same ole players. I believe Auburn will average 39 points a game and I don’t see LSU stopping that trend. With a lone loss to Clemson before the Iron Bowl, Auburn will be sitting pretty with a chance to play for and SEC and National Title.
#12 LSU – Overrated
Can someone explain to me, how LSU even made the Top 15? When your starting QB only has 11 TD passes and has 5 interceptions, that’s an issue. But when one of your starting receivers last year caught only one pass last year, that’s an even bigger issue. Matt Canada this, Matt Canada that. He doesn’t have eligibility and the Bayou Bengals don’t have the players to make this offense work. The running game will be fine until teams realize that the only plays called are running plays. Teams are going to double-team Chark at WR and stack the box against Guice. Etling will be forced into more bad decisions and what was a 2/1 TD to Interception ratio will be more along the lines of 3/2. Don’t get me wrong, LSU only has to play Bama and Auburn once in the west. But, they do have to play Florida and Tennessee as well. I don’t see LSU as more than an 8 or 9 game winner. This spot at #12 should be reserved for 2 losses or fewer.
#13 Michigan – Slightly Overrated
It will be easier to describe what Michigan has coming back rather than try and explain what they lost. Like LSU, this team looks completely different than the 2016 team but that is due to a loss of talent. The Wolverines do return Speight at QB which will provide some necessary leadership on offense. Harbaugh is back and I’m not sure if that really is a good thing for Michigan. Since the departure of Lloyd Carr, Michigan has been irrelevant almost every single season. No coach at Michigan has survived more than 4 seasons and I am going out on a limb and saying Harbaugh will not survive past 2019. The defense and offense took a hard hit after the final regular season game and if it wasn’t for playing in a weak conference, Michigan would be a 6-6 team. However, they do get one of the SEC’s worst teams (also picked to win the SEC East if that tells you anything) in Florida. Michigan will lose a game it shouldn’t and drop all three ranked games in conference.
#14 Florida – I Sense a Trend Here (Overrated)
Other than history, what does Florida bring to the table? If you guessed convicts and thugs, you guessed right! Florida has now suspended 10 players for the game against Michigan. Whoever starts at QB (never trust a shark conjurer), will be doing so without the help of Callaway at WR. Callaway isn’t the only Gator not suiting up for this one, Florida had to suspend 9 other players for this game. This is becoming a very nasty trend in college football, but that will be addressed another time. Florida looked good on defense last year as long as they were playing someone from the SEC East or a team that finished outside the top 60 in total offense. Zaire failed at Notre Dame (4-8 in 2016) and doesn’t provide much more than little league drama for the SEC East Favorite. I don’t have Florida as my favorite to win the East and I actually give South Carolina (predicting a 5-7 year) a 45% chance to beat the Gators.
#15 Stanford – Underrated and Underestimated
What is the one knock on the Pac12 teams? They never play defense. You can’t say that for any team coached by David Shaw. The X Factor for Stanford is not talent but the ability David Shaw has shown to squeeze every ounce of talent out of the group he has. No, there’s no Christian McCaffrey this season. Who was McCaffrey before he got to Stanford? He was a four star prospect who was recruited by very few elite programs. Ohio State and Florida State were the two biggest names to offer the future 1st rounder. In a conference who doesn’t play defense, a team needs only to be marginally better on offense than its opponents when they dominate on defense. Again, the early date with USC will decide the winner of the Pac12. Sorry Washington, you just aren’t that good. Try playing someone other than Portland State.
#16 Miami – Underrated
Like many other schools, Mark Richt and the Hurricanes find themselves in a division where there are as many questions as answers. However, from top to bottom, the Hurricanes probably have the most talent in the Coastal Division. Malik Rosier returns to lead the offense but if he struggles, Freshman phenom Nykosi Perry is ready to roll. Don’t forget that leading rusher Walton is back or that their biggest deep ball threat returns on the outside. The offensive line is comprised of 2 seniors, 2 juniors and a freshman. The experience there plus the very good looking front seven on defense will give Richt all the assurance he needs to fight through the Coastal. This is a team that could run the table after a close loss to Florida State. The two should meet again in the ACC Championship Game and Miami could spoil the Seminoles party. Look for Miami to lose one other game (sorry Richt, it’s in your blood) and finish 10-2 in the regular season.
#17 Georgia – Underrated
If any team from the SEC East deserves to be in the Top 15, it’s the Georgia Bulldogs. I don’t expect them to be world beaters but come on, they have the best running backs and best quarterback in the East. Other than Florida, they are the only team in the division to play defense and the offensive line should be much improved. There finishing spot in the Top 25 as well as their division is directly linked to the health or Michele and Chubb. If I were Kirby Smart, I would forfeit the game against Tennessee to avoid any torn ACLs or other various knee injuries. Ask Marcus Lattimore and Clowney what team is the dirtiest in the East. The loss of “The Human Joystick” is probably the best thing for the Dawgs. Tight End will be the saving grace for Jacob Eason and I expect Nauta to come out as a top 5 Tight End in the 2019 draft. UGA should be favored in all but 2 games this year and quite possibly all 12. I have the Dawgs winning the East while going 10-2. See Bulldog fans, it wasn’t just Mark Richt!
#18 Louisville – Slightly Underrated
Lamar Jackson is the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner. Whether he was handed the trophy too early in the season or not is still up for debate. He did lose to Kentucky last season. However, despite what most media outlets will tell you, this team is not all Lamar Jackson. The Cards have one of the best defenses in the country (funny, this use to be a theme for the SEC) and still have the most explosive QB. Now that can be good or bad. He is explosive on the field and on the sideline. Jackson will need to grow up and be a Mike Gundy when things don’t go his way or teams will continuously go after his emotions. Did Deshaun Watson cry like a little schoolgirl when clotheslined during the National Championship Game? Nope, Watson got up and shook it off. Mr. Jackson, if you are going to lead your team, then please do so every snap. I have a hard time believing in the Cards as a true threat to Clemson and Florida State after the collapse last season but I do believe that the Cards could easily go 9-3 or 10-2.
#19 Kansas St. – Who the Heck Thinks This is Funny?
Bill Snyder is one more close game away from his 53rd heart attack. His offensive scheme is older than he is and the only reason they are in the Top 25 is because they understand gap assignments on defense. Honestly, there is nothing to see here. I don’t believe the Wildcats will be better than 8-4 and I think they should have been replaced in this ranking by another Wildcat’s Team. Look for losses to Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, OKST and WVU.
#20 Texas – Now This is Getting Ridiculous!
New Coach! Same players! Well except for their biggest offensive weapon in D’Onta Foreman. I’m not sure why everyone was so gung ho over Tom Herman. At Ohio State, Herman struggled against good defensive teams. In Houston, Herman never played against good defensive teams and still lost. At Texas, Herman doesn’t have an offensive powerhouse nor do they have a defense. Just like Kansas State, Texas will lose four games. Don’t expect Herman to win more than 9 before the 2019 season.
#21-25 – These Spots are Just Fillers!
USF, TCU, VaTech, WVU, and Wash ST.
Charlie Strong headed to South Florida to compete with Lane Kiffin in the quickest to doom a University competition. Did anyone see how USF started against SJSU? The only saving grace for Strong is his QB and the conference (if you really can call it that) that they play in.
TCU is stuck in a conference where the majority of the teams will always be better than them on the field and off the field. TCU hasn’t recruited well in the last 5 seasons and it’s starting to show. Mediocrity will be the Horned Frogs best friend!
Virginia Tech has one good thing going for them. Bud Foster didn’t give up on the Hokies. Under Justin Fuente, the Hokies regained some of their luster and may again be competitive. However, losing their QB will be too much to overcome now that Miami has gained its confidence back.
WVU is in the Top 25 because most AP voters were too lazy to actually look at the College Football landscape. Shame on you lazy people. The mullet wearing couch burners should only be in the Top 25 if 10 other college football teams lost eligibility.
That goes for you too Washington State. Just because you were decent in a bad conference last year doesn’t mean you be relevant this season. Plus, your coach is Mike Leach. If there was ever a history of failure and whining, it would be the Leach!
My Top 25
- Florida State
- Penn St.
- Ohio State
- Virginia Tech
- Kansas State
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