Better Late Than Never: The Infallible College Football Top 25

So preseason rankings don’t me anything anyways. So what’s better than releasing a Top 25 after the first week? Well, Ohio State has yet to take a dump on Virginia Tech yet. But that’s just a formality. The first week didn’t show us tons though, at least not until these teams back it up with a second performance. And even then, as we saw with Ohio State and Alabama, losing early doesn’t mean things over (especially not now that we have a playoff system). So what do we think will happen this year and who might be the four teams playing in the final four of the FBS Playoffs?

  1. Ohio State. I’ve never been a fan, but it’s tough to not like what you see on paper. JT Barrett is likely to be the guy going forward, but Cardale Jones has been tweeting like he’s already in the NFL. Braxton Miller might have to step us sort of early, but you could have worse options. Whenever Joey Bosa plays the Bucks should be good to go. OSU is in the toughest division in college football. Don’t be surprised to see an upset this year.

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    JT Barrett won’t stop at winning the QB race.
  2. TCU. The first game of the year wasn’t the most flattering look for the Horned Frogs, but they are essentially the non-cupcake scheduling version of Baylor (though not that much tougher). Trevonne Boykin will have to get more accurate and make some big plays. The athleticism that has been the calling card for Gary Patterson’s program will be needed through a consistent conference schedule.
  3. Alabama. I know this isn’t surprising, but Jake Coker isn’t the typical QB for the Tide (not that Blake Sims was either) and yet this team will still be dominant on offense. The RBs Henry and Drake will rival previous years of Richardson/Lacy and Lacy/Yeldon. The defense is scary once again.
  4. Michigan State. Connor Cook sucked in week one while Sparty almost took one on the chin. Yet, I think that’s the worst we will see the team play any time soon. Shilique Calhoun (or however you spell his name) is a beast and the defensive unit that was considered perhaps not even the best in the Big Ten (Penn State?!?Really?) looks primed for big things.
  5. USC. I’m not a big fan of the Pac 12, nor do I care for USC and their Hollywood teams of the early 2000s (and their drunk coach). But the talent is undeniable and their schedule doesn’t look that daunting regardless of how good people will tell themselves that Oregon and UCLA are until they lose to other Big 5 teams by big margins. Cody Kessler has improved tons since his first season and last season quietly had an All-American caliber year.
  6. LSU. You can essentially mix and match any team from the SEC West and you will have good reason for doing so. It’s just been too long out of the spotlight for Les Miles not to be producing the kind of winners we know he has on that roster. With this weekend’s game cancelled, they might be a bit of a wild card. But we will see right away just how good they are as they travel to Mississippi State.
  7. Baylor. It’s not that we don’t think the Bears are a good team, it’s just that we haven’t seen them against quality competition outside of the Big 12. And we all know how much defense is played in that conference (though defense has been a universal problem in college football). So it will be interesting to see what kind of year guys like Shawn Oakman can produce.
  8. Georgia Tech. This is the year the Noles fall off a bit. Not saying they will be much lower than Tech, but the Yellow Jackets weren’t far behind last year. Jimbo Fisher is lucky to follow Bowden and Paul Johnson has been successful everywhere he’s gone. The option offense might not be the sexiest ever but it gets the job done and is a pain in the ass to prepare for because it’s so specialized. Justin Thomas is pretty good and after having guys like Calvin Johnson, Stephen Hill, and Darren Waller the past few years at receiver; you know there is size and athleticism on that roster.
  9. Ole Miss. Replacing Bo Wallace might be the toughest obstacle to overcome for this Rebels team but everything else looks really good. Robert Nkemdiche has been a star since he was running over dudes in high school. I know I said Ohio State was in the toughest division in football and I see what I’ve done with the SEC West already, but patience is a virtue and there are still more rankings to come.

    This man is a beast. His name is Robert Nkemdiche.
    This man is a beast. His name is Robert Nkemdiche.
  10. Notre Dame. I don’t see these guys winning anything of note anytime soon. But there is a legitimate chance that they make it into the playoffs this year if they make it through a daunting schedule. Malik Zaire has gotten all the publicity after winning the QB job, but the defense will make or break the Fighting Irish this year.
  11. Auburn. So I was lying about who’s in the best division, but having 5 preseason ranked teams out of 7 when the other two are a team ranked in the Top 5 last year (Mississippi State) and another that constantly churns out top talent and got rave reviews this weekend (Texas A&M) is tough to beat. Anyways, losing a team leader at QB and having a raw group of guys on offense has made this tough. These guys will need to win with defense, albeit a REALLY GOOD defense.
  12. Florida State. Is Everett Gholson good enough? There’s lots of talent back in Tallahassee. Getting by Clemson will be the biggest test in their division, but the likelihood of having to play Georgia Tech twice if they wanted to win the BCS conference bid is what will likely keep them out of the Top 4 (even though we have them here).
  13. Oregon. Was anyone else surprised that another Eastern Washington quarterback ran circles around the Duck defense? Maybe Oregon isn’t known for their vaunted defense, but the assumption was that they could steal the best option and not get humiliated the next year. Think again. Vernon Adams is very good. But whether it’s the system or the two guys that have to replace him, there’s some talent at EWU. We will see how good they are real quick when they face Michigan State.
  14. Clemson. Deshaun Watson might be a Heisman candidate by the end of the year. Provided the Tigers jump FSU and can win the conference, they’ve got all the talent to get to the Top 4. The recruiting has been great in the last cycle and Watson has some experience to really get things going.

    Clemson will look for Deshaun Watson to lead the way.
    Clemson will look for Deshaun Watson to lead the way.
  15. Georgia. After graduating Todd Gurley, the Dawgs can finally move forward with another insanely talented back in Nick Chubb. With a slightly weaker division in the SEC and a seemingly better option at QB, it will be all about ball control and defense when the real schedule hits.
  16. Oklahoma. Someone else for the Big 12 needs to be in the rankings, right? Well the Sooners aren’t world-beaters but they do have a solid group returning. With a former Texas Tech walk-on as starter (imagine saying that 20 years ago, you’d laugh) and a record-setting running back, there are certainly the right building blocks for a successful campaign. This next week at Tennessee will mean a lot to both teams, but Oklahoma might have playoff implications involved if they can win out and then pull off an upset at one or both of the top teams in the conference.
  17. Wisconsin. Yet another impressive group of runners and a tough defense. That’s what the Badgers have been about since Ron Dayne was running the football several years ago. Unfortunately, Alabama made them look ordinary. That won’t be the norm for this season though and Joel Stave won’t be asked to throw the ball 30+ times a game.
  18. UCLA. It will be interesting to see what the Bruins can do this year in a league that most think will be deeper than recent years. A lot of it will come down to quarterback play and whether these guys will have a leader. A good performance against a Virginia team will tons of talent was a good start.
  19. Missouri. After a solid freshmen season, Maty Mauk was okay last year. Missouri will need more from their leader to do much of anything in the SEC. But there’s tons of ability on this roster to win games.
  20. Oklahoma State. With a little more known commodities this year and success to follow them, the Cowboys might be the surprise team of the Big 12 this season. Mason Rudolph will look to keep the good times rolling.
  21. Mississippi State. It’s not like the Bulldogs are that far removed from their success of last season. And Dak Prescott is back to run the show. If the defense can create some turnovers and they can win the games that they are supposed to, State will be set up for good things by the end of the year.
  22. Minnesota. Being in the weaker division of the Big Ten will help. But the Golden Gophers have had two very good teams the past two years and have been on the brink of bigger things each time. Don’t be surprised to see them in the conference championship will real chances of winning the whole thing.
  23. Kansas State. Bill Snyder just keeps doing it. Every year you think he’s going to fall off a bit. And every year he comes through with a team that ends up with a very good ranking. With a fair amount of other above average teams in the conference this year might be tougher than others. But if there’s anything that can do it…
  24. Boise State. After a very good win over former coach and current Washington coach Chris Peterson, the Broncos have a depleted BYU team to play this next week and then an open schedule of cupcakes the rest of the year. They might not get tons of votes for the playoff based on their schedule, but they will have the requisite record to at least be considered.
  25. Arizona. Rich Rodriguez will probably find a way to lose next week, but for now the Wildcats will fit in here only because they haven’t lost yet. The offense looks good and the defense looks serviceable. Let’s see how they do against real competition.
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