Getty Images

A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25

13 Comments

The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Raymond James Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2016 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2017 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Notre Dame (ouch), No. 7 Washington (yeah us!), No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Michigan State (whoops) and No. 10 Tennessee. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants were in our Top 10; the fourth, Ohio State, was just outside at No. 11. While not No. 1, Oklahoma came into the postseason ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff Top 25, and will likely move up thanks to the 16-point Sugar Bowl win over No. 14 Auburn (not in our preseason Top 25). Florida State (No. 11), LSU (No. 20) and Tennessee (No. 21) were all ranked at least eight spots lower when the postseason began, but all three won their respective bowl games.

On the flip side, TCU, at 6-6, earned a bowl bid… and subsequently lost to finish under .500. And then there was Notre Dame and Michigan State, which combined to win a total of seven games so let’s just forget about that and move on.

The point of this whole review-before-we-look-ahead exercise? Preseason polls are meaningless — but not nearly as meaningless as polls produced nearly eight months ahead of the start of a new season. With that in mind, enjoy this way-to-early Top 25 that will put the “mean” in meaningless. And the “less” in it, for that matter.

Oh, and as always, feel free to complain/whine/moan/bitch away in the comments section below.

NO. 1 USC
WHY? As a redshirt freshman, Sam Darnold emerged as one of the most electrifying playmakers at the quarterback position in college football, and should, to the chagrin of opponents, get even better with a full offseason as the man at the position.  Winning nine straight to close out the season doesn’t hurt either.
WHY NOT? There’s always at least one team that’s way overhyped — hello 2016 Notre Dame — and the hoopla and attention proves to be too much for the young Trojans to bear.

NO. 2 ALABAMA
WHY? Nick Saban + top-ranked recruiting classes year-in, year-out + a burning desire to be the greatest there ever was at this level = a permanent spot inside the Top 10 as long as The Nicktator resides in Tuscaloosa.
WHY NOT? An NFL team (finally) entices Saban to go back and finish what he started — and abruptly ended — in the big boy league of football.  It’s not going to happen, of course, but that’s about the only thing that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — well, that and a Tiger named Deshaun.

Clemson v Florida StateNO. 3 FLORIDA STATE
WHY? The Seminoles are once again loaded with top-flight talent on both sides of the ball and at every positional unit, with Deondre Francois showing flashes in his first season as the starter of being one of the best young quarterbacks in the sport.
WHY NOT? They face Alabama on a (ahem) neutral field to open the season, then travel to Gainesville to face Florida in the regular-season finale.  In between, there’s a trip to Death Valley for their annual ACC Atlantic grudge match with Clemson.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA
WHY? With Baker Mayfield returning, and the rest of the conference still trying to play catch-up, the Sooners are clearly the cream of the Big 12 crop.
WHY NOT? The twin backfield loses of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine can’t be overcome and Mayfield has to shoulder too much of the offensive burden. Plus, the road trips to Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State for Bedlam.

NO. 5 WASHINGTON
WHY? They have a talented arm in quarterback Jake Browning, a very staunch defense and a schedule that’s very favorable, with the toughest road game being the trip to Stanford.
WHY NOT? They are losing a significant amount of talent that helped get them to the College Football Playoffs.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v ClemsonNO. 6 OHIO STATE
WHY? Given the personnel losses after the 2015 season, 2016 was thought to be a rebuilding year but turned into another playoff appearance.  The target was always the 2017 season for this young Buckeyes team, and a squad loaded with this much talent will be a factor throughout.
WHY NOT? J.T Barrett continues to regress as a quarterback despite Urban Meyer shaking up the top of his offensive coaching staff, and none of the other young quarterbacks are quite ready for prime time.

NO. 7 CLEMSON
WHY? Despite losing a couple of pieces, Brent Venables‘ defense will once again be one of the best in the nation.  The Tigers won 10 or more games in each of the three seasons prior to Deshaun Watson‘s arrival, so it’s far from a one-man show that Dabo Swinney has built.
WHY NOT? Losing Watson, a three-year starter at quarterback, proves to be too much as his replacement simply can’t handle the burden.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN
WHY? For all of his well-publicized off-field antics, Jim Harbaugh is simply one of the best head coaches in the sport and will settle for nothing less than getting his beloved Wolverines back into the national title discussion on an annual basis.  Wilton Speight was a breakout star in 2016 and should flourish despite the loss of his quarterbacks coach, while Don Brown continues to be one of the best defensive minds in the game.
WHY NOT? Too much talent was lost to the NFL, and Harbaugh simply hasn’t gotten the requisite time to completely restock the cupboard in Ann Arbor to compete with the Ohio States of the college football world.

Oklahoma State v BaylorNO. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE
WHY? One of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, eschewed an early shot at the NFL and returned for one more season in Stillwater.
WHY NOT? A defense that was 53rd in scoring as it was loses nearly half its starters, plus OSU will have to play at Pittsburgh, Texas and West Virginia.

NO. 10 PENN STATE
WHY? They return a bunch of talent from their Big Ten-winning squad, including Heisman contenders in quarterback Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, and get Michigan, Nebraska and Pittsburgh in Happy Valley.
WHY NOT? They lost a very talented wide receiver in Chris Godwin and have to play at Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.

NO. 11 STANFORD
NO. 12 AUBURN
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 LSU
NO. 15 WISCONSIN
NO. 16 LOUISVILLE
NO. 17 GEORGIA
NO. 18 WEST VIRGINIA
NO. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA
NO. 20 FLORIDA
NO. 21 KANSAS STATE
NO. 22 COLORADO
NO. 23 WASHINGTON STATE
NO. 24 SAN DIEGO STATE
NO. 25 OREGON

Five Wisconsin DBs listed as questionable on initial injury report

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Wisconsin takes the field this weekend looking to bounce back from a stunning beating at the hands of Michigan in Week 7, the Badgers’ secondary could have decidedly different — and depleted — look to it.

UW released its initial injury report for this coming Saturday’s homecoming game against Illinois, and a whopping five defensive backs were listed on it.  The injured fivesome are safeties D’Cota Dixon (right leg), Scott Nelson (right leg) and Reggie Pearson (left leg) and cornerbacks Travian Blaylock (right leg) and Faion Hicks (left leg).

Hicks, Nelson and Pearson were all injured in the loss to Michigan.  Dixon sustained his injury in the Oct. 6 win over Nebraska and didn’t play against U-M.  Blaylock, after playing in the first four games this season, hadn’t seen any action in the last two.

Hicks and Nelson, both redshirt freshmen, along with the senior Dixon were listed as starters ahead of the Wolverines game.  Pearson made his first career start in place of Dixon, who hadn’t been listed on the injury report heading into that game.

The Badgers will update the status of all five defensive backs later on in the week.

Duke DT Edgar Cerenord’s season ends after surgery for ruptured Achilles

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The depth along the interior of Duke’s defensive line has taken an injury hit.

Earlier this week, Duke confirmed that Edgar Cerenord suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in this past Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech.  The defensive tackle underwent surgery Monday afternoon to repair the damage.

Suffice to say, the fifth-year senior will miss the remainder of the 2018 season.

Cerenord could pursue a sixth season of eligibility if he so chooses.  It’s unclear at this point if he’ll utilize this option.

Thus far, Cerenord, who started all 13 games last season, has played in 41 games during his Blue Devils career.  Four of those appearances came this season, and he was credited with 14 tackles in that action.

According to the school, he’s the lone senior on the Blue Devils’ defensive line.

Iowa State to appeal $25,000 for field storming after upset of WVU

Getty Images
2 Comments

Iowa State’s not going to take the monetary hit lying down.

Earlier Tuesday, the Big 12 announced that ISU has been fined $25,000 after their fans stormed the field this past Saturday.  The field storming came in the aftermath of ISU’s huge upset of then-No. 6 West Virginia in Ames.

In a statement announcing the fine, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that the league “[has] a duty to provide a safe game environment” and that ISU “has a written event management policy that was not thoroughly implemented, and was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of all visiting team game participants” — a sentiment with which WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen is likely to agree.

Not long after the league’s announcement, ISU president Wendy Wintersteen confirmed in a statement that the university will appeal the fine.

Our institution takes the safety and welfare of all student-athletes, officials and fans very seriously. We have reviewed all of our procedures, including several videos of the post-game celebration, and we do not agree with Commissioner Bowlsby’s assessment of the events that evening,. Chief [Michael] Newton, of the Iowa State University Police Department, and the CSC staff had a very thorough and specific plan.

“Those plans were discussed and implemented prior to the game and were evaluated and adjusted during the game to ensure the safest atmosphere for everyone attending the game, including the West Virginia players and staff.

According to school officials, it took security less than 90 seconds to safely get the WVU football contingent off the field and into the locker room.  No injuries have been reported on either side.

Big 12 fines Iowa State $25K for West Virginia field rush

Getty Images
1 Comment

No one ever wants to lose $25,000, but the guess here is Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard will be happy to cut this check. (And, yes, we know no one really cuts a check in these instances. Just roll with us here.)

The Big 12 on Tuesday slapped Iowa State with a $25,000 fine for the rushing of Jack Trice Stadium’s field following the Cyclones 30-14 destruction of No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday.

“We have a duty to provide a safe game environment,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “The Iowa State Department of Athletics has a written event management policy that was not thoroughly implemented, and was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of all visiting team game participants. Although the Big 12 conference does not currently have a policy prohibiting spectators from entering playing areas for post-game celebrations, it is of utmost importance that home game management provide adequate security measures for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and spectators.”

Iowa State is the second school to receive such a fine this week. No. 5 LSU was fined $100,000 for the rushing of Tiger Stadium’s field following the Bayou Bengals’ 36-16 blowout of No. 8 Georgia.

Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen said the field rush was “very unprofessional” during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday.

“Our job is to keep student-athletes in a safe place. When you have thousands of people coming at you, it’s not good,” he said. There are league rules and a league ban against that for a reason. Our job is to keep players safe, and we didn’t have time to get them off the field. That was not good.”