By: Joe Cardoso
Once again the time has come for Saturday’s to become a personal holiday for millions of sports fans, as college football comes back. Last years playoff was a bust in my opinion but the National Championship game was one for the ages. As we get ready for one of the most exciting opening weeks in years if not ever, I have my pre-season top 25. I love the NFL but the passion and tradition of college football are one of my true loves. So here are my thoughts going into week one of the 2016 season.
1. Alabama: The Tide come off a National championship and are reloaded at the skill positions. But all is not perfect as they must find a QB for a 3rd straight year. They don’t have both leading rushers but it Nick Saban and Alabama they will figure it out. And the monsters they can throw at you on the front seven is ridiculous.
2. Clemson: The bitter taste of last year’s defeat to the Crimson Tide will be the fuel for the Tigers this year, along with the Heisman trophy race Deshaun Watson will be leading. Mike Williams who missed a ton of time with a neck injury is back as well. They lost some players on the D to the NFL but have great replacements in the wings ready to pounce. Florida State will be hot on their tails for the ACC crown and the Tigers face expectations after last season how will they react?
3. LSU: Ole Les Miles saved his job from the fire and is back in 2016 to lead the Tigers. As always up and down the rosters is top tier athletes. Lennard Fournette is back to abuse SEC defensives and a nice receiver core is along for the ride. The question on that side of the ball will be can Brandon Harris show up BIG, week in and week out. A new scheme on the defensive will allow the players at end to really showcase what they can do.
4.Florida State: With who will be the starting QB still in limbo it starts and ends with Dalvin Cook? Sean Maguire who started 5 games last year or Denodre Francois will be under center. Last year he was ineligible but Matthew Thomas is back along with freshman Josh Brown to bring back some of that old-school FSU swag on defensive.
5. Oklahoma Sooners: Baker Mayfield is back and his name will be in Heisman talk for sure and he has what some would call the best running back duo in the country. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon will take the pressure off of Mayfield and create headaches for D coordinators all over the Big 12. Who is the go to at wide out with Shepard playing on Sunday’s now is a question that needs an answer fast? The D has had a lot of talk with the young player they have and it will be tested early and need to hold its end of things.
6. Michigan: Now let me begin by saying I am a DIE HARD fan of the Wolverines. I am also pretty good at smelling the Kool-aid before I drink it, and YES the offense made huge strides last year. BUT I do not fall for all this talk of National Titles and return to glory just yet. Ex BC coach Don Brown will bring a nasty attitude to the D and allow us to really see all world player Jabrill Peppers do his thing. But who plays at QB? And can they WIN the games “they are supposed to” win? Year two of Jim Harbaugh won’t be boring but some it will be a test.
7. Houston: Wait did him just say, Houston? YES, I did and to quote G- Easy “just know I mean it”, the cougars are coming off a fantastic season and don’t want the ride to end. After leading the nation is scoring they have to revamp the O-line and keep string bean quarterback Greg Ward Jr. In the game. They took a hit in the secondary but we all saw what they did to Dalvin Cook and FSU the front 7 is full of big, mean, scary people.
8. Tennessee Volunteers: Is this the year? All the talk about what Butch Jones had can it all come together? Well Vols nation sure hopes so, Joshua Dobbs is a senior and has shown flashes of greatness. They need a whole season from him at a high level, they can put points on the board and would love to do it through the air. They got themselves a great coaching pick up in Bob Shoop as coordinator of the defense. He will unleash the hounds on folks each and every Saturday.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes: And then there was one….JT Barrett is the lone QB and is surrounded by newcomers. BUT at OSU they have boat loads of talent and studs waiting to get on the field so the bounce back should be quick. Way too much talent on this roster to have a big drop off, growing pains yes, but Urban Myer will figure it out trust me.
10. Stanford Cardinals: Junior Ryan Burn will start the season under center….oh wait that doesn’t even matter this team is all about Christian McCaffrey. He is a human highlight waiting to happen and also at the top of the Heisman Trophy list for sure. The early season schedule is a bear! By early October we will know where this team stands in the Pac 12 race and the national stage. A ton of talented players have gone to the next level but David Shaw has retooled and will find out quickly what he has to work with.
12. Michigan State Spartans
13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
15. Washington Huskies
20. Georgia Bulldogs
21. Oklahoma State
22. Oregon Ducks
23. North Carolina Tar heels
24. Florida Gators
25. Baylor Bears
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