By: Joe Cardoso
Last year’s college football season was non-stop heart pounding action! Each week we saw something shocking and amazing. Who was talking about Lamar Jackson before the season started? Michigan was still building how did they get into CFP playoff talk? Ohio State was too young, right? And if you had Sam Darnold pegged as a stud you need to call me so we can plan our Vegas trip. Preseason rankings are fun to do but 99% of the time are blown up by the end of the first week, but as a lifelong college football addict, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, let’s see my top ten for 2017-2018!
1.Alabama Crimson Tide:
The Tide lost some very key players but we all know one thing, Nick Saban reloads talent like your mom did laundry when you were a kid. Year 2 of the Jalen Hurts era should be improved he must get rid of the ball faster. They have return 6 players on offense and 5 on the defense. Deep at running back led by powerhouse Bo Scarborough. I love Minkah Fitzpatrick all the kid does is make BIG plays. Week one vs Florida State is MUST watch TV.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes:
You are insane if you think the Buckeyes aren’t using a 31-0 playoff loss as fuel for the season. The wrap last year was “too young” well I’m not making that mistake this year even with 3 new starters on defense. Big game vs a talented Oklahoma State team but it’s at home as always, the season will come down to Nov. 25th vs Michigan. New offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson is one of many new coaches on the staff, what does he bring. Barrett has a shot to go down as the greatest OSU QB of all time.
3. Florida State Seminoles:
How can you be a Noles fan and not be bouncing off the walls about this seasons squad? Feeding off the bowl win against Michigan FSU is primed to leap back into the game. Sophomore QB Deandre Francois will be better, GET RID OF THE BALL FASTER is what I was screaming all last year. We will find out quick what they are made of with a clash against Bama week 1. The schedule is brutal and that’s how Jimbo Fisher likes it no cupcakes or ducking on his watch. Two things to watch is the Derwin James as the next Sean Taylor hype real? And how good is Cam Akers at running back?
Fight On! Is back America, after a roller-coaster ride season that ended with the best bowl game against Penn State in the historic Rose Bowl. Ronald Jones is a beast and with Heisman candidate, Sam Darnold at QB the running game should be pumping. Jones spilt time last year and still rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. The end of the year will be tough but also get them playoff ready. Not too many schools can own the hype machine like USC, this will be fun.
5. Clemson Tigers:
I know, I know, I know. Who replaces Deshaun Watson? Is it Kelly Bryant or Hunter Johnson? With 7 starters, back on defense, that is who the Tigers will lean on at the start of the year. It is a group of nasty, angry studs on the D-Line that will come at you in waves. No easy Saturday’s Hosting Auburn early, FSU and road trips to Virginia Tech and N.C. State.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions:
The feel-good story of the season, but can they live up to the hype? Wildcard quarterback Trace McSorley and all world running back Saquon Barkley are an awesome 1-2 punch. And remember the name Juwan Johnson 6’4 wideout with major speed. For this team, it comes down to the last 3 weeks of the season. Home for Michigan, on the road to Ohio State, and then Michigan State. James Franklin will earn his money this season for sure.
7.Oklahoma State Cowboys: YES, they play in the Big 12 which is the ugly stepchild of the college football playoff committee. With Coach Gundy and his mullet, they are deep and hungry to prove how good they are. Mason Rudolph under center and James Washington is a playmaker on the outside. What will hurt them is NOT having a championship game, but crazier things have happened.
8. Washington Huskies: Jake Browning had a year to remember all while fight through a shoulder injury. Well, he is healthy this year and Pac 12 defensive coordinators should be staying awake at night because of it. The Huskies lost a TON on defense and need 2nd teamers and freshmen to step up quickly. Dante Pettis will be a breakout star at wideout. End of the day this team will contend for the Pac 12 championship.
9. Oklahoma Sooners:
Bob Stoops is out and Lincoln Riley is in. Strange I know, but such is the way of modern CFB. Last season the Buckeyes blasted the Sooners at home and they look for revenge on Step. 9th at the shoe. Some MAJOR holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball, with all the talent that went to the NFL. Riley should have an easy first year and have his team in the conversation for a good bowl game. Baker Mayfield will wrap up his assault on the OU and Big 12 record books.
10. Georgia Bulldogs:
Man, I am all in on the Kirby Smart comeback train! After his performance at South Carolina looks like ole Kirby has a home in Athens. Just look at the players he has coming back and the new ones in the fold. Start with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel coming back and being healthy. Year two of Jacob Eason at quarterback and he is being pushed by two good backups. They lost 3 games by 3 points or less last year keep that in mind. In the pass-happy SEC, it’s good to have a senior filled secondary.
Honorable mentions: LSU, Wisconsin, Auburn, Michigan, Florida.
The season is almost here and the fun part will be in two weeks when we can come back and read this and ask, what was I thinking? This is a sport that lives off the passion of its fans Saturdays in the fall across the country are EPIC. From the killer tailgate menus to corn horn battles and bragging rights when facing a bitter rival. I for one have been hooked for as long as I can remember. Give me College Gameday to start my day and a days’ worth of great games and it’s heaven on earth. College football there is nothing quite like it.
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