ACC Championship: FSU over Miami
American Championship: USF over Houston
Top 2: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma State over Oklahoma
East: Ohio State
Big 10 Championship: Ohio State over Wisconsin
East: Middle Tennessee State
West: La Tech
C-USA Championship: La Tech over MTSU
Toledo over Ohio
Mountain: Boise State
Mountain West Championship: Boise over Hawaii
Pac 12 Championship: USC over Washington
SEC Championship: Alabama over Georgia
Sun Belt Champion: Troy
Just missed the cut (in alphabetical order)
Mississippi State, NC State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas A&M, West Virginia
Healthy Josh Rosen will see improvement in year three.
24. Kansas State
Experienced and consistent across the board, but not uber talented.
Ten returners on defense, and Tom Herman/Tim Beck will be a great asset for the QB Buechele.
22. Virginia Tech
The Hokies linebacking core and a solid offensive line will lead Fuente’s team into year two.
Willie Taggart breathes new life into Eugene, and his offense will be led by outstanding RB Royce Freeman and sophomore QB Justin Herbert, who put up strong numbers after taking over the job mid-way through last year
Quinton Flowers is a severely underrated playmaking QB, and a team that went 11-2 last season returns seven and nine on offense and defense respectively.
Canes could have endured either the loss of Brad Kaaya or replacing their entire secondary, but having both happen keeps them from truly breaking out for another season.
18. Washington State
Luke Falk is the most underrated passer in the nation, and he should have an electric senior season in Mike Leach’s offense.
While I don’t love either Malik Zaire or Feleipe Franks, they will certainly be a step up from the QB play of the last couple seasons. The story for Florida is the inexperience on defense, bringing back only three from a year ago.
Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnofan are tremendously skilled, but the Cards aren’t nearly elite on either side of the ball up front.
Christian McCaffrey led the Cardinal through a few seasons of strong roster turnover, but stability is back with a now veteran linebacking core and offensive line.
Wilton Speight finished strong in 2016, but there is far too much turnover for the Wolverines, with Mike McCray being the sole defensive starter returning.
The Badgers offense has a strong air attack, with QB Alex Hornibrook, TE Troy Fumagali, and WR Jazz Peavy, but they remain a physical team on both sides of the ball up front.
All eleven are back on defense, a unit that could be one of the best in college football. Along with QB Jacob Eason, and RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Bulldogs are the favorites to win the East.
Tigers will take a step back after losing DeShaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, and Mike Williams.
While a new offense will certainly be an improvement, Danny Etling is a limited passer. LSU will certainly have a fantastic season, one of their best in a while, but it will take a QB to push them into the Playoff.
When healthy, Auburn was a top ten team last season. Most of that squad returns, and they now have a QB in Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham. The Tigers will be in position to play for the SEC West crown when they meet Alabama on Thanksgiving weekend.
8. Oklahoma State
Bold Prediction: Mason Rudolph, in his swan song season, will eclipse 5k yards behind an experienced offensive front.
Outside of Baker Mayfield, the offensive headliners are gone, but there is still experience on the O.
Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin were tremendous in 2016, and Dante Pettis should fill the number one receiver role nicely. All roads lead to a Pac-12 title game showdown with the USC Trojans, where the Huskies can earn a chance to get back to the College Football Playoff.
5. Penn State
James Franklin has Penn State back in the top echelon of college football, led by a staggering ten returning starters on offense, including QB Trace McSorley and the best running back in the country in Saquon Barkley.
After a rough start, the Trojans went 9-1 after Sam Darnold was given the keys to the car. He’s my Heisman pick, and is more than capable of leading a young and extremely talented set of weapons to a playoff berth.
3. Florida State
Noles have playoff level talent, all they need is for the offensive line to improve greatly from last season. Derwin James missed most of last year, and he is the type of player that can completely alter opposing offensive game plans when he is on the field.
2. Ohio State
Practically the opposite of their biggest rival, the Buckeyes return most of their roster, including four on the offensive line and virtually all of their offensive production from 2016. A loaded Greg Schiano defense will start only three underclassmen this season, on a unit that could be one of the most athletic in the nation.
It’s a flip for the Tide, as the secondary is the stronger unit on the defense, led by Minkah Fitzpatrick. There is turnover upfront, but Nick Saban has proven time and time again that turnover isn’t a huge problem with the kind of players he reloads with. On the offensive side, it’s scary. Jalen Hurts has greatly improved, with the help of former Patriots OC Brian Daboll, in the one area he struggled with; throwing the ball downfield. Throw in a loaded backfield, two great receivers, and an elite offensive line, and Alabama have to be the title favorites again.
I’ve written quite a bit about Colin Kaepernick, and I’ve made my stance pretty clear. He has made some flat out ridiculous statements, and isn’t talented enough for the distraction to be worth it. The biggest reason he doesn’t have a job is himself, and he lacks the self-awareness to realize he is damaging his career.
I give that background because another athlete has made a political statement that many will view as similar, and I don’t have a problem with it. Is that hypocritical? No. Here’s why.
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) June 21, 2017
From a football perspective, it’s simple. The first sentence of the Eleven Warriors article sums it up.
Cleveland Heights four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith didn’t have much to prove during Ohio State’s one-day camp on Saturday, as he’s already one of the most sought-after prospects in the country.
Colin Kaepernick isn’t quite “sought-after”, he’s marginal. When you’re marginal, you don’t get to make waves on hotbutton issues. If you’re a distraction, teams don’t want you. This is a sports truth that isn’t hard to grasp.
Let’s move to the bigger issue. “I hope I don’t get killed for being black today,” is not the same as comparing the police to the slave patrol, or any of the other divisive statements Kaepernick has made. Smith’s message isn’t divisive or inflammtory, he’s not pushing the “pigs in a blanket” narrative.
“I decided to wear the shirt because I wanted to bring attention to the epidemic of blacks being killed at an alarming rate,” Smith said. “What we would like to do is have people talk about these issues to reduce the murder rate of African-Americans.”
“The shirt was created to bring light into the every day problems that blacks face between police and black-on-black crimes,” Tyreke’s older brother, Malik, said.
The negative reaction to this shirt hinges on the idea that this is an inherently anti-cop message. Instead, it’s anti-murder of young black men, in any form or fashion, by anyone. Kaepernick disrespected what the American flag represents, and those who have fought and died to defend this country, along with defending an evil dictator, and a host of other controversial statements. Smith is promoting a healthier black community. Don’t act like those are the same.
Smith’s message is also a dose of reality, while not demonizing and stereotyping an entire group. I know a lot of police officers, and they are great people. Just as in any group, a few bad apples have ruined their perception. Demonizing and stereotyping is how we get to these points in the first place. With that said, it’s hard to watch the Philando Castile video , know that the officer got off scot-free, and then act like things are fine. Is the system broken? Yes. Is driving a wedge deeper and deeper between law enforcement and the black community the answer? No, it only makes things worse. Kaepernick chose the latter, Smith didn’t.
People only read headlines. They’ll see the headline, the shirt, and they’ll make the comparison. That’s a shame, because Tyreke Smith isn’t Colin Kaepernick. He’s not even close.
A big takeaway from all this, is that Ole Miss seems intent on protecting Hugh Freeze. They acknowledge that a lot of bad things happened, but don’t want Freeze held responsible.
I understand that Ole Miss doesn’t want to part with a coach who brought them their first real success since Eli Manning, but is Hugh really worth it? With the future of your program on the line, is this the hill you want to die on?
Why is Ole Miss so intent on protecting Hugh Freeze? You gonna go to battle over a couple Bama upsets?
— Jake Mitchell (@TheJakeMitchell) June 6, 2017
I don’t think I would go to war with the NCAA over a Peach Bowl loss and a Sugar Bowl win. When you take into account the kind of roster he was gifted, it could be argued that Hugh has underachieved. Should a team that includes Robert NKemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell, etc., lose seven games in two seasons?
Even with injuries, going 5-7 last year was inexcusable. The worst thing that can happen to a coach took place in 2016, when a 38-17 loss to Vanderbilt and a 55-20 loss in the Egg Bowl showed just how much that team had quit. You would assume a 5-7 season, after a few mediocre ones and a few above average ones, would the the death knell for an SEC coach that had been “pulling in” great recruiting classes, headlined by what Saturday Down South called the best recruiting class in the last decade.
Despite all that, considering Ole Miss talks about their wins over Alabama with more reverence than the Tide talk about their national titles, I guess they are more than satisfied.
— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 8, 2017
Woody Barrett deciding to transfer from Auburn is something that, quite frankly, most people saw coming. With the addition of Jarrett Stidham during the offseason, Barrett’s wait to see the field was extended by at least two years. The emergence of Malik Lewis pretty much sealed this up. Lewis will be going into his prime year when the quarterback battle opens back up, and Auburn coaches seem to love the shiny, new toy.
Sports fans, and more so college football fans, will be quick to throw out words like ‘quitter’, ‘disloyal’, and ‘soft’. Barrett is simply a guy who didn’t like his current career situation, so he found a better one. Barrett’s not a “quitter” for this decision, he’s a football player with four years to put together an NFL portfolio. I wouldn’t want to waste most, if not all, of that time sitting on the bench for a coach with a spotty record of developing quarterbacks in the first place.
Barrett isn’t ‘disloyal’ for leaving, just like Auburn wasn’t ‘disloyal’ for signing another QB after him. Loyalty goes both ways, but both sides should understand that college football is a business. Barrett has to do what’s best for him, and Auburn has to do the same. If Auburn had specifically told Barrett, ‘you’re our guy and we won’t recruit another one until you’re gone’, this would be different. They didn’t.