College football preseason 2017 top 25: 10-6

The football season is right around the corner so let’s dive into more rankings. This installment will go over top ten teams that will be vying for a title. For a spot on this list, teams need to have a lot of talent on their rosters.

To look at the previous list of teams, go here.

10. Georgia Bulldogs

College football top 25

Jacob Eason (Photo by 247sports.com)

Kirby Smart had a decent first season as head coach of the Bulldogs and helped them finish 8-5. They won the Liberty Bowl to finish last season, beating TCU 31-23. Smart will have 15 returning starters to work with, which includes 10 on the defensive side of the ball. This season the Bulldogs look to take a step forward and win the SEC East.

Offensively, the Bulldogs are set in the backfield. Jacob Eason will be entering his second season and there are high hopes for his career. He was a highly-touted prospect that threw for 2,430 yards as a freshman. He will have two good running backs in Nick Chubb and Sonny Michel. They will get the bulk of the carries and have amassed almost 6,000 yards on the ground during their time in Athens. Chubb is the lead man and averages 6.4 yards per carry over his career.

The offensive line returns two starters and will be the key to the Georgia attack. There isn’t too much experience returning at the receiver position, but tight end Isaac Nauta is getting a lot of hype. At 6’4″ 246 pounds he provides a good target for Eason, while the receiving unit as a whole needs to step up.

There may not be a weak point on the defense with how much experience they have returning. John Atkins returns in the middle of the defensive line, while Trenton Thompson returns at defensive end. Thompson had five sacks last season. The linebackers might be the most talented unit on the defense. Lorenzo Carter is a good pass rusher from outside linebacker, while Roquan Smith is a good run stopper from his inside linebacker position.

Dominick Sanders is the most talented out of the secondary players and has the most interceptions returning to the team from last year with three. Georgia’s defense was good last year and now must take the step forward to become elite.

Tough non-conference games will be had against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Their games that could give them trouble in conference are Tennessee, Florida and Auburn. Georgia has the talent on their roster to win every game on the schedule. They will likely drop two of the tough games on the schedule and go 10-2 on the season, with a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

9. Clemson Tigers

College football top 25

Christian Wilkins (Photo by si.com)

The Tigers lost a lot from the team that won the National Championship last season, but some respect has to be shown to the fantastic job Dabo Swinney has done recruiting. They do still return 12 starters from last year’s team and will be looking to get back to the College Football Playoff.

Clemson will win a lot of games because of the play of their offensive line, which returns four starters. This includes Mitch Hyatt, who is a 2018 NFL Draft Prospect. The running backs getting carries behind this offensive line will change a lot, but C.J. Fuller looks to be the lead man.

Kelly Bryant has to fill some big shoes that were left by Deshaun Watson. The junior was a good prospect himself out of high school and has all the tools to be successful. If he does end up struggling, Clemson has recruited freshman Hunter Johnson to step in. Deon Cain is a good receiver that now gets his chance to shine without Mike Williams on the team. Hunter Renfroe will continue to do work and make clutch plays from the slot.

The defensive line will be stacked with talent, with Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence returning. All three were highly productive for the team last year, with Ferrell leading them all with six sacks. Kendall Joseph leads the linebackers now after the departure of Ben Boulware, but is pretty accomplished himself with 124 tackles last season.

Van Smith is the leader of the secondary from his safety position and has the most interceptions returning with two. The pass defense will likely take a slight step back, while the run defense will stay about the same.

The schedule is tough and will be tougher with the fact that now Clemson will have a target on their back. They have games that will challenge them in Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech and South Carolina. For the most part Clemson should be able to manage these tough games, but will likely drop two or three of them.

8. Oklahoma Sooners

College football top 25

Baker Mayfield (photo by usatoday.com)

Oklahoma’s ranking would’ve been higher had Bob Stoops still been the head coach. Lincoln Reilly takes over now and will have a good team to work with. They went 11-2 last season and beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. With a lot of talent returning, the Sooners will be looking to make the College Football Playoff.

The offense will start with Heisman Trophy Finalist Baker Mayfield. He has had a storied career so far for Oklahoma and will continue to put up big numbers this season. The problem is that he doesn’t have all the weapons he had in previous years. Jeff Badet transferred in from Kentucky and should provide a spark to a receiving core that only returns one starter, Jeffrey Mead.

There is good news for Oklahoma fans: The offensive line returns every starter. Orlando Brown is getting looks from the NFL and is a dominant force. The bad news is that there isn’t much experience returning at running back and Abdul Adams and Rodney Anderson will fight for carries.

Defense for the Sooners was average at best in 2016. The secondary gave up a lot of passing yards, but does return some good players. Jordan Thomas is a good college corner, but teams find a way to throw around him and pick up a lot of yardage.

Ogbonnia Okronkwo returns at linebacker and leads the pass rush with nine sacks last season. The Sooners will be inexperienced up front, with no returning starters on the defensive line.

Oklahoma gets to play Ohio State, Texas (neutral), Kansas State and Oklahoma State all away from home. West Virginia travels to Norman to give them plenty to focus on for this year. The Sooners’ offense will be high-powered enough to get them 10 wins this season and a spot in the new Big 12 Championship Game.

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys

College football top 25

Mason Rudolph (Photo by ncaa.com)

The Cowboys finished 10-3 last season and blew Colorado out in the Alamo Bowl. Mike Gundy has one of his most talented teams ever. His team is good enough to win the Big 12 and get to the College Football Playoff, but they have a long road a head and a lot of history to overcome.

Mason Rudolph returns at quarterback, after flirting with the idea of going pro. He will put up big numbers while protecting the football, which makes him an elite college quarterback. The good news for him was that his teammate and top target James Washington also chose to return to school. Tyron Johnson, an LSU transfer, will be eligible to play this season and will provide another good target for Rudolph.

Three offensive linemen return, but the unit will be more than capable of protecting Mason Rudolph. Oklahoma State found their running back of the future last season in Justice Hill. Hill ran for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman last season. He will be asked to put up similar numbers in 2017.

In terms of scoring defense, Oklahoma State ranked third in the Big 12, but that isn’t saying too much. Essentially they were an average defense. Five starters return including two in the secondary. Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers will be starting again at safety, while new corners are broken in.

Chad Whittener returns to the linebackers and will be asked to step up his production this season after finishing with 71 tackles a year ago. The Cowboys don’t have much returning in the middle of the defensive line, but do have a lot of experience at defensive end. Both starters return as well as Trelund Webber, who comes off the bench to rush the passer. He returns as the team leader in sacks in 2016 with six.

The schedule features games against Pittsburgh, Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Oklahoma State will win at least nine games, but probably finish at 10-2, getting them a rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game.

6. USC Trojans

College football top 25

Sam Darnold (photo by dailynews.com)

The Trojans went on a magical run to the Rose Bowl last season and beat Penn State in a thriller. Clay Helton did a fine job last year as head coach, but has a new challenge this year. Only 10 starters return, meaning a lot of players will need to step up to help USC win the Pac-12.

Sam Darnold is the potential number one overall pick in the 2018 draft. He still has a lot to prove, but finished the season with 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns, which is even more impressive considering he didn’t start the first few games of last season. Darnold won’t have an elite receiver to throw to this season, unless someone really improves, but Deontay Burnett is the leading returning receiver with 670 yards in 2016.

Ronald Jones II is overlooked because of how well Darnold played last year, but he can flat out run the football. His 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns will be improved upon this season. Just two offensive linemen return this season. If the newcomers don’t step in and do their jobs the whole offense will suffer.

The linebackers return the most experience, with three of four starters returning. Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith are both playmakers. Smith had 83 tackles last season. Only one of three returns on the defensive line, Rasheem Green. Green had six sacks last season and will need to improve production to lead the pass rush.

Iman Marshall returns at corner and will now be asked to shut down the other teams’ best receivers, as Adoree Jackson is now in the NFL. He has a chance to be drafted early, like Jackson was, in the 2018 NFL Draft. Marveil Tell is back at safety and Chris Hawkins will be solid at the other starting safety spot in 2017. The defense was good last year and if they want to get to the College Football Playoff, need to improve this year.

USC has a tough schedule, which includes games against Stanford, Texas, Washington State, Notre Dame and UCLA. While they should have their fair share of struggles, they will have at least 10 wins entering the Pac-12 Championship Game. At that point it may be a play-in game for the College Football Playoff.

 

Featured image by usatoday.com.

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Where Bob Stoops retiring leaves Oklahoma Sooners football

There was a shock in the college football world today when Bob Stoops decided to retire as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. Stoops is only 56 years old, but has already become the winningest coach in Oklahoma history.

Bob Stoops with the 2000 BCS National Championship Trophy. (Photo by newsok.com)

While retiring at a relatively young age is surprising, Stoops retiring in June is more surprising. He has gone through the offseason and spring practices with the team as the head coach, which is a rarity for a coach that is retiring.

By staying past February, he made sure the recruiting class stayed in tact for this season. Now he has to explain to his players why he is retiring. After likely telling them that he’d be the head coach during their careers in the recruiting process, he is now gone and players who were under the impression that they’d be playing for him will not be happy.

Stoops had a tumultuous last couple seasons for the Sooners which included the high of reaching the College Football Playoff in its second year. The low part was how he handled player behavior, which included running back Joe Mixon. Mixon was suspended for one year after an incident in which he punched a woman. Stoops and the Sooners used a redshirt on Mixon back in 2014, which made it so although he was suspended, he would still keep all four years of eligibility.

Ultimately Stoops will be remembered for winning the National Championship in 2000 and being an all-time great coach.

Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley (Photo by: footballscoop.com)

Lincoln Riley is the new man in charge and the Sooners almost couldn’t ask for a better solution this late in the game. Riley has been the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma the past two seasons. He helped create a powerhouse of an offense that finished third in the country averaging 43.9 points per game.

During his tenure at Oklahoma Riley has helped make Baker Mayfield into one of the best players in college football. They lost Sterling Shepard after the 2015 season and Dede Westbrook stepped up and became a Heisman Finalist at wide receiver position. This season Riley was looking forward to getting Mayfield back, but did lose Samaje Perine, Mixon and Westbrook to the NFL.

Due to his impressive work as an offensive coordinator, Riley was one of the most coveted coaches in college football. Bruce Feldman has reported that he turned down some decent job offers like Cincinnati, Purdue and Houston. While these aren’t the biggest jobs in college football, it is impressive for a coordinator to get that many offers. Had he been at Oklahoma for another year under Stoops, he would have likely gotten even better offers after this season.

Riley is the youngest coach in the FBS at age 33, but will prove why he is a good choice. It may not go smoothly and turn into a National Championship right away, but Riley was the right choice given the circumstances and timing of the decision of Stoops.

The 2017 Season

Oklahoma will have a tough time making it into the College Football Playoff without going undefeated because they are in the Big XII. With big games at Ohio State and Oklahoma State this season, Riley will be tested in his first season.

He does have an experienced offensive line and quarterback coming back, but will need some new skill position players to step up. Their secondary has a lot of experience on defense, but the front seven is unproven.

Even with all of these circumstances, Oklahoma should be able to win at a minimum nine games. That would be a good start to what could be a great career at Oklahoma for Lincoln Riley.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 Sugar Bowl Preview

Auburn and Oklahoma will face off in a titanic clash in the 2017 Sugar Bowl.

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a six game win streak in the middle of their schedule to help them reach 8-4. They only lost to bowl teams, with two of their losses coming to the two teams playing in the National Championship. They have five wins over bowl eligible teams with their victories over: Arkansas State, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

Sugar Bowl

Carl Lawson (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

Auburn has had to play multiple quarterbacks this season due to inconsistency and injury. Sean White has taken the most snaps and has been effective. He has thrown for 1,644 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. His 65% completion percentage works well because of the rushing attack of Auburn.

Because the pass offense isn’t great, there is only one player who does a lot of damage as a receiver. Tony Stevens has 466 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The run game is where the Tigers are able to do the most damage. Kamryn Pettway has been the leading rusher with 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns. Kerryon Johnson has added 866 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Tiger defense is good at stopping the run and allow just 125 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is average and gives up 224 yards per game.

Carl Lawson has had a great season rushing the passer with nine sacks. He will have to get pressure to slow down Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense.

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is on a nine game winning streak and has a record of 10-2. They have beaten five bowl eligible teams in TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. Their losses came to Houston and Ohio State.

Sugar Bowl

Baker Mayfield (Photo courtesy: usatoday.com)

Baker Mayfield has been great ever since he took the field for Oklahoma. This season he earned a spot as a Heisman Finalist with 3,669 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also completed an impressive 71% of his passes.

Dede Westbrook also got an invite to the Heisman ceremony as Mayfield’s best receiver. He finished the season with 1,465 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Westbrook creates big plays at 20 yards per reception.

Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine have split ball carrying duties with a smash and dash approach. Mixon is the speed back and has rushed for 1,183 yards and even missed a game with suspension. He also is a good receiver out of the backfield. Perine is the power back, who has picked up 974 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

The run defense is above average for the Sooners and allows 161 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is one of the worst in the country as Oklahoma gives up 279 yards per game.

Ogbonnia Okronkwo has been one of the bright spots on defense for Oklahoma with nine sacks this season. Jordan Evans has helped out with his four interceptions.

Prediction

Oklahoma will move the football through the air and Auburn won’t be able to keep up. Baker Mayfield will elude pressure to make great plays and pick up the win.

 

Oklahoma Sooners 35 Auburn Tigers 25

 

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Four Teams That Will Make The College Football Playoff

The college football season has just kicked off, which begins the season long quest for teams to make it to the playoffs that conclude the season. The first two years of the College Football Playoff has produced great results and this year might have more anticipation for the Playoff than any other. Could their be a rematch between some of the teams involved in last year’s playoff? Here are the four teams that will make the College Football Playoff:

1.Clemson Tigers

Deshaun Watson looks to lead Clemson to a second straight College Football Playoff appearance. (Courtesy cbssports.com)

The Tigers finished as the runner-up in college football last season and return a lot of players, which have Clemson fans ready to kick-off the season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for over 4,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and should be more efficient this season, with more talented receivers suiting up this year. Wide Receiver Mike Williams, who missed most of last season with a neck injury, is back and should provide another great receiver for Watson to throw too. The other great receiver is Artavis Scott, who led the Tigers in receiving yards last year. Clemson also returns tight end Jordan Leggett, who will be playing on Sundays soon. Wayne Gallman will man the running back spot, after rushing for over 1,500 yards last season. He is one of the most underrated players in the country because Watson overshadows him. The offense does lose a few offensive lineman, but Clemson recruits enough to fill the void left on the offensive line. Last season the Tigers averaged 38.5 points per game last season and that should increase this season.

Defensively, the Tigers lost a lot from last season. Ben Boulware and Cordrea Tankersley are the players who started last season who will have to lead the team this year. The pass rushers are inexperienced, but Clemson has a knack of producing top-level pass rushers. With the offense being so good this season, the defense just has to be average and timely for the Tigers to win the ACC this season.

Key Games: Oct. 1 Louisville, Oct. 29 at Florida State

2. LSU Tigers

Leonard Fournette is going to have another great season for the Tigers. (Courtesy bleacherreport.com)

LSU has the most talented team from top to bottom in the country. Everyone knows what you are getting from Leonard Fournette, a possible 2,000 yard rusher this season. The offensive line should be great on the interior and solid on the outside, which will be capable of opening up holes for Fournette and pass protecting.The top two receivers from last season in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, who are both long and lengthy, return and can be threats on the outside of the offense. The problem is they don’t have a lot of depth at the position. To help though, Colin Jeter, their tight end, should be able to help over the middle. The x-factor for this team is Brandon Harris at the quarterback position. He has a strong arm, but isn’t very accurate. He needs to complete passes to keep defenses honest and not completely focused on Fournette.

The secondary of the Tigers is the best in the country. Tre’Davious White, Kevin Toliver, Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson will make it hard for any offense to throw against them. The defensive line will also be stacked on the interior and the exterior. Their defensive line is huge and should help plug running lanes. Arden Key will rush the passer with his great length and speed from his outside linebacker position. Kendall Beckwith is the leader in the middle and will rack up a lot of tackles. The defense allowed 24.3 points per game last season, but they should be one of the best in the country this season.

Key Games: Oct. 22 Ole Miss, Nov. 5 Alabama

3. Oklahoma Sooners

Baker Mayfield does a little bit of everything for the Sooners. (Courtesy usatoday.com)

The Sooners will make a run to the College Football Playoff, much like last year, thanks to Baker Mayfield. he can throw the ball with accuracy, he completed 68% of his passes last season, and run the ball to keep the defenses on their toes. His partner in the backfield, running back Samaje Perine, will run over people and create a dynamic duo that will create havoc for defenses. The problem for the Sooners is the wide receiving core. Losing Sterling Shepard to the NFL hurts a lot. They really need Dede Westbrook to step up and be the go-to receiver this season without Shepard. The offensive line has a lot of experience returning and should be solid to set up the skill position players for great seasons.

Defense will be the key for the Sooners, much like Clemson. Last season they allowed just 22 points per game, but need to replace a lot of players. The secondary is the most experienced group and Jordan Thomas should be a dynamic player for Oklahoma at corner back. He will be able to shut down most of the Big 12’s best receivers.The rest of the defense will need to step up in some of their close games. If the Sooners have a weakness, it will be stopping the run, which could cost them in a few games.

Key Games: Sep. 3 vs. Houston (NRG Stadium), Sep. 17 vs. Ohio State, Oct. 1 at TCU

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

J.T. Barrett is the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes this season. (courtesy cbssports.com)

J.T. Barrett returns as the full-time starter and will have a lot of new pieces to fit in with. The good news for Barrett is the two other returning starters on offense are offensive linemen Billy Price and Pat Elflein. The skill position players will need to step up, but the Buckeyes are one of the few university’s that just reload.

The Buckeyes lose a lot on defense this year, but get a player returning on each level of the defense. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis returns after recording eight sacks last year. Sam Hubbard also had experience from the defensive end position, and will need to have an improved season. Raekwon McMillan is the best inside linebacker in the country and should be considered for Big Ten defensive player of the year after the season. Gareon Conley played well last season, but will need to lead an inexperienced secondary that could be the defense’s weak point.

Ohio State can afford to lose to Oklahoma in week three if they sweep the rest of their schedule.

Key Games: Sep. 17 at Oklahoma, Nov. 19 at Michigan State, Nov. 26 vs. Michigan

Terrance’s Top Ten Returning College Quarterbacks: #2 Baker Mayfield

It is near the end of my list of the best returning QBs. We are down to the Top 2. And coming in at my #2 spot is…

Wade Payne/ AP

Wade Payne/ AP

#2- University of Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. When I look at my prototype quarterbacks the first thing I look for is that passion and heart. I like quarterbacks that actually show emotion, quarterbacks just like Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Probably one of the smaller guys on this list but he plays so much bigger than his stature. Mayfield started his career at Texas Tech as a walk-on and he won the starting job. After that year, he left and transferred to Oklahoma. Last year in his first year with the Sooners, Mayfield passed for 3700 yards, 37 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. And also had an impact in the run game. He rushed for 405 yards and had seven rushing touchdowns. He led the Sooners to a 11-2 record and a College Playoff appearance. Let’s take a look back at Mayfield’s best three games from the 2015 season.

And to no surprise, I start with their 2OT game at Tennessee in week 2. It was one of the magical games of the season, but before the ending the Sooners were down 17-3 going into the fourth quarter. Then enters Baker Mayfield. His start to this game was very poor. In the first three quarters, Mayfield went 8 for 25 on his passes, 84 yards, and two interceptions. But, from the fourth quarter on he was almost unstoppable. He hit 11 of his last 14 passes, threw three touchdown passes, and ran for a score as well. He overcame the big deficit and won the game in the second overtime 31-24. This was the game where the College Football world was introduced to Baker Mayfield. Next week there was no big game hangover for Mayfield.

Next week, week 3, the Sooners played the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. Baker Mayfield lit up the field that day. He was 32 for 38 on his passes, threw for a season high 487 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had 2 scores on the ground and 85 yards rushing. It was his most all-purpose yard all season. In this game, he also had a season high passer rating of 226.6. He accounted for six of the seven touchdowns the Sooners scored. The Sooners won the game 52-38. This was the game that put Mayfield into the Heisman Race. This game was one of the most impressive games I saw all year from any quarterback in the nation. This back-to-back great games by Mayfield gave the Sooner fans something to celebrate about again.

In week 11, the Sooners were playing for their Big 12 Championship when they went to Waco when they played the undefeated Baylor Bears. Just like I expected Baker Mayfield played with no fear. Mayfield didn’t care that they were undefeated or the a Top 10 Big 12 opponent. He didn’t even care that Baylor had the FBS longest home-win streak of 20. By the end of the day the Baylor Bears didn’t get their 21st straight home-win, but they did get their first lost of the 2015 season. Mayfield threw for 270 yards on 70% passing, threw three touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, he had 76 yards and one score. At this point in the season, this was Mayfield’s 7th game with four touchdowns, which was tied for most in the nation. Mayfield and the Sooners ended the Bears’ College Playoff hopes and started theirs.

Mark D. Smith/ USA TODAY Sports

Mark D. Smith/ USA TODAY Sports

This 2015 campaign for Baker Mayfield was otherworldly. It was a beautiful season for a player that has been a walk-on and a transfer student. Mayfield has that “It” factor about him. He reminds me of Johnny Manziel. Both quarterbacks are very passionate about the game and the game very similar. In the 2016 season, the sky is the limit for OU and Baker Mayfield. They could easily run the table and come into the Playoff with no losses. Baker Mayfield could even cap his individual season of with the Heisman Trophy. At the end of the day, the Sooners season is almost completely dependent of how good Mayfield is. And I am sure that Baker Mayfield would want it no other way.

Way Too Early College Football Final Four Picks for 2016

The College Football season has just ended, but it is never too early to start thinking ahead to next season. There is a lot that still has to happen before teams are fully formed, such as National Signing Day and spring practice, but based on what is known now, here are the teams that will be in the College Football Playoff next season.

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

The Tigers get back the best running back in college football next season. Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

  1. LSU Tigers- LSU had a successful season with plenty of talent left on its roster. In addition to the talent of the players, Head Coach Les Miles was brought back for another season. His leadership will help LSU reach its goals for next season. Running back Leonard Fournette, one of the most talented players in college football, returns after rushing for 2,000 yards in this season. The Tigers may return two to four offensive linemen to block for Fournette, depending on who leaves for the NFL Draft. The returning players will be tasked with protecting quarterback Brandon Harris. Harris showed improvement in his second season and can take pressure off of Fournette with his arm and his legs. Most people believe wide receiver Travin Dural will come back for his senior season to lead the Tiger receiving corps and Malachi Dupre will also be back for his junior season. The defensive line should remain in tact as there are no highly sought after prospects or significant seniors. All of the linebackers are graduating, besides Kendell Beckwith, who has to decide whether he wants to go pro or stay for his senior season. He can bring stability to an otherwise young linebacker core by coming back. The secondary will be good no matter who leaves for the draft. Jalen Mills will have exhausted his eligibility and Tre’Davious  White may go pro, although he has made comments leading people to believe he will stay for his last season of eligibility.  The Tigers will return defensive backs Kevin Tolliver and Jamal Adams, who are defensive play-makers. With all of the returning players LSU has coming back, they also have the number one recruiting class according to ESPN, which has a chance to get even better after National Signing Day.

    Running back Tarean Folston missed this season with injury, but will be back next season for the Irish. Courtesy of zimbio.com

2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- Notre Dame lost two games in the 2015 regular season by a combined three points. They had plenty of injuries, which makes their season very impressive. Quarterbacks DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are back and will most likely have to fight for playing time. Running Back C.J. Prosise has decided to leave for the NFL, but the starting running back Tarean Folston returns after missing the whole season with a torn ACL. Wide receiver Will Fuller decided to come back for his senior season and will have talented receivers around him, with the Irish only losing Amir Carlisle and Chris Brown. Freshman tight end Alize Jones will also be featured more next season. The offensive line will lose Ronnie Stanley, who will be a high draft pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and Nick Martin, but return everyone else for what should be a solid group. On defense Notre Dame loses Sheldon Day and Romeo Okwara from the defensive line, who will be tough to replace, but bring back a lot of experience in Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell. Linebacker Jaylon Smith has made his decision to leave for the NFL. The Irish also lose Joe Schmidt at linebacker, but they have a very talented group who have experience behind them and are more than capable of stepping in. The secondary is going to lose Kevare Russell, Elijah Shumate and Mathias Farley, but return Cole Luke, Max Redfield and Drue Tranquill, who all have significant experience. The Fighting Irish currently have the fourteenth best recruiting class according to ESPN.

Courtesy of, www.usatoday.com

Baker Mayfield returns for a potent Sooners’ offense. Courtesy of, www.usatoday.com

3. Oklahoma Sooners- The Sooners return a lot of players from their College Football Playoff team this season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield will return and be a front-runner for the Heisman. Running back Samaje Perine will also be back and has a chance to go down as one of the best running backs in Big 12 history depending on how he finishes his career. They do lose their top wide receiver and some of their offensive linemen, but should have enough with Perine and Mayfield to have a successful offense. The front seven loses end Charles Tapper and Eric Striker, but the rest of the seven should stay in tact. To go along with that the secondary all has eligibility remaining and corner backs Jordan Thomas and Zack Sanchez are extremely talented. Oklahoma has the twenty-seventh best recruiting class in the country according to ESPN.

(Courtesy of tigernet.com)

Deshaun Watson can lead the Tigers back to the College Football Playoff next season. (Courtesy of tigernet.com)

4. Clemson Tigers- The Clemson Tigers just got to the National Championship Game and can get to a second straight College Football Playoff next season. They lose two starting offensive linemen, but return the most important player, Deshaun Watson. His running back Wayne Gallman, who compliments him very well, is also back for at least one more year. His leading receiver Artavis Scott is also coming back after a successful year and will likely be with Mike Williams at receiver who got injured in the first drive of the season and never returned. The defense’s success relies heavily on who comes back. There are only two seniors leaving, but if more leave for the NFL, it could be detrimental. Defensive end Shaq Lawson has an NFL decision to make and can be the third returning starter on a very good defensive line. The Tigers lose linebacker B.J. Goodson, but return Ben Boulware and Travis Blanks. The secondary could have players leave for the NFL as well, but all of them are very talented and have eligibility remaining, which could make the Clemson defense even better next season. Clemson currently has the tenth best recruiting class according to ESPN.

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National Signing Day

Courtesy of, cantonathletics.com

                           Courtesy of, cantonathletics.com

For most college football viewers, the college football season ends after the National Championship game. Some only watch on those fall Saturday afternoons, but the real reason why teams like Alabama and Clemson were in the championship game is because they perform well on every first Wednesday in February. The day where high school athletes choose the university they will play for.

National Signing Day is the 3rd biggest day on the College Football schedule. First being the Championship Game, second being Opening Day of the season, and third is National Signing Day. This year it is on Wednesday February 3rd.

Recruiting is a 365-day, year long process. Your favorite team’s recruiting team is vital to your team’s success on Saturdays. For example, from the 2011 recruiting class to the 2015 recruiting class Alabama has an average rating on ESPN of 1.2. They have been number 1 in recruiting 4 years in a row. In that same span of time, Clemson has ranked no lower than 13 and has an average ranking of 9.4, according to ESPN. As of the January 6th, ESPN Team Recruiting ranks Alabama 6th and Clemson 10th. I chose those two teams not because they just played for the National Championship but because they are the only two teams in the past 5 seasons to have 10+ wins.

It is not just being a 4-Star or 5-Star talent that everyone knows. We all know Derrick Henry, Alabama’s star running back, was a ESPN 5-Star RB from the 2013 class. We all know Clemson’s QB Deshaun Watson was an Elite 11 QB and the nation’s top Dual Threat QB in 2014 class. Saban and his recruiting team at Alabama wanted Henry because he is the right fit for Alabama. Swinney wanted Watson because he is the QB Clemson needed to push them to be where they are now. Along with Henry and Watson’s supreme talent, they are great human beings. They are hard workers. They have great tangibles and great intangible, which set them apart. This is something that can only be known after getting to know the prospect personally and not just on the field as a football player. If Henry and Watson were not humble and coachable. Good players have talent; great players are coachable. We know those two players could not be in any better hands than Saban and Swinney, respectively.

The 3 and below star recruits, walk-ons and transfer athletes always play a part into making a good college team, because one school can only get so many 4-Star and 5-Star players.

A little under the radar Rival’s 3-star QB from Austin Texas who only had 3 offers coming out of high school. Those offers were Washington State, Rice, and Florida Atlantic, so he wasn’t highly recruited. He took none of these offers. He instead went to Texas Tech and walked on to their football team and in that same year Baker Mayfield was Texas Tech’s starting QB in 2013. He then transfers to Oklahoma in 2015 and is the starting QB for them now. And he is one of the main reason Oklahoma was in the playoffs this year. Not only is he MVP of his team he is one of the best QBs in the nation.

So go ahead and call in sick on Wednesday, February 3rd and watch your school land that recruit that can change your team in 2016.

Stats Courtesy of: Yahoo Sports, ESPN, Tigernet.com

New Year’s Eve Bowl Preview

Peach Bowl: #18 Houston Cougars (12-1) vs.  #9 Florida State Seminoles (10-2), 12:00 P.M.

Houston became the automatic qualifying team from a team not in a power five conference by only losing to UConn this season. Their quarterback, Greg Ward, played limited snaps in that game due to an injury. Ward is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in college football and had over 2500 passing yards and over 1000 rushing yards. With Ward at quarterback the Houston offense was able to average 40.6 points per game on the season. The offense for Houston gets most of the publicity, but the defense only allows 20.5 points per game, which is the tied for nineteenth best in the country. They are particularly good at stopping the run, giving up only 116 yards on the ground per game.

Courtesy of, www.todaysu.com

              Courtesy of, www.todaysu.com

Florida State was one freakish play away from being in consideration for the College Football Playoff. They lost to Georgia Tech and Clemson this year, but got still has a chance to have its fourth straight year of twelve wins. The starting quarterback will be Sean Maguire because Everett Golson will not attend the bowl game due to personal reasons. Maguire doesn’t have much experience, but will have running back Dalvin Cook to help him out. Cook was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but still managed to gain 1658 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He will be a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy next season. The Seminoles have great defense that only allows 15.8 points per game. Safety Jalen Ramsey is the most talented player on the defense and has the potential to be a top five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Courtesy of, noscrubsports.sportsblog.com

 Courtesy of, noscrubsports.sportsblog.com

The Seminoles will be able to contain Ward just enough to halt their drives. Ramsey and the defense will show why they are one of the best in the country.

Capital One Orange Bowl: #4 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) vs. #1 Clemson Tigers (13-0), 4:00 P.M.

Oklahoma lost to Texas, but still managed to make it to the College Football Playoff game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is the best walk-on in the country and was snubbed by not being invited to the Heisman Trophy Presentation. The Sooners have three great players on offense with, Mayfield, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Mayfield threw 3389 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He also creates problems for defenses with his mobility. Perine is a great power running back who rushed for 1291 yards and 15 touchdowns. Shepard is a smaller receiver, but was still able to get open and have 1201 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Defensively the Sooners turned their horrible pass defense from a year ago into a strength. Cornerback Zack Sanchez has helped hold opponents to 201 passing yards per game, which is impressive considering the number of teams that like to throw the ball in the Big 12. Their rush defense is average, but linebacker Eric Striker will make plays all over the field.

Courtesy of, www.usatoday.com

                 Courtesy of, www.usatoday.com

Clemson went undefeated, but now has to deal with three players being sent home from this game due to failed drug tests. The most notable player is wide receiver Desmond Cain, who was the team’s second leading receiver. The Tigers still have quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accounted for 4399 yards and is also a good dual threat quarterback. Running back Wayne Gallman has helped the offense by rushing for 1332 yards and 10 touchdowns. Without Cain for this game the team’s leading receiver, Artavis Scott, will have to step up even more than usual and have more than the 61 receiving yards he averages per game. The Tigers have a slightly better scoring defense than the Sooners, giving up 20.2 points per game. Defensive end Shaq Lawson has been very disruptive and has played his way into being a likely first round pick in the NFL Draft. Safety Jeyon Kearse covers a lot of space with his 6’5” frame and his 4.4 second 40-yard dash time, which is reminiscent of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor.

Courtesy of, nfldraftgeek.com

                   Courtesy of, nfldraftgeek.com

Oklahoma has had a lot of things that have happened, which has brought them together as a team. They came together after there was racism on their campus and supported Mayfield when he got snubbed from the Heisman Trophy Presentation. Clemson has the distraction of losing three players for the game. The Sooners will take advantage of this and Mayfield will outplay Watson for the win.

Final Score: Oklahoma 32 Clemson 26

 

Cotton Bowl: #3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1), 8:00 P.M.

Michigan State lost to Nebraska, but beat two top five teams in their last three weeks to make the College Football Playoff. Quarterback Connor Cook has been on fire this season throwing for 2921 yards and 24 touchdowns. He did injure his shoulder this season and miss a few games, but it should be fully healed for this game. Cook’s favorite receiver is Aaron Burbridge, who has 1219 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The Spartans have used a few running backs this season, but the position isn’t a weakness, but rather a deep position group. Michigan State’s offensive line wasn’t good to start the season, but came on strong in the end of the year. The defense gives up 20.5 points per game this season, but still has people thinking that it isn’t as good as defenses in years past. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun has had as good of a season as possible with 10.5 sacks. Their rush defense has been great and their pass defense has been pretty good as well.

Courtesy of, michiganstate.247sports.com

Courtesy of, michiganstate.247sports.com

Alabama may not be the number one seed, but they are the favorites to win the National Championship. Their defense is what makes this team so impressive. They have the best run defense in the country, as they only allow 74 rushing yards per game, which is the best since the 2011 Alabama team allowed just 72 rushing yards per game. Their pass defense is also good, giving up the seventeenth fewest passing yards per game in the country. Moving cornerback Eddie Jackson to safety this season has improved their pass defense to new heights. On offense running back Derrick Henry has had the greatest rushing year in SEC history by rushing for 1986 yards and 23 touchdowns. The question is still quarterback Jake Coker, who is the least accomplished, but highest recruited quarterback in the Playoff. He passed for 2489 yards, but threw eight crucial interceptions.

Courtesy of, www.gettyimages.com

Courtesy of, www.gettyimages.com

This game is a matchup of what college football looked like in the 1980s. It is going to be a physical game that features a lot of running the ball. Alabama will win because their defense is better than Michigan State’s defense. Henry will not be stopped in this game.

Final Score: Alabama 38 Michigan State 28

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