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

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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

Indiana TE Peyton Hendershot out of Hoosiers’ doghouse following February arrest

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One Indiana football player has climbed out of the program’s doghouse.

In late February, Peyton Hendershot was arrested on multiple charges in connection to an alleged domestic violence incident.  The tight end was facing one count each of residential entry, domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion.  The residential entry charge was a felony; the other three were misdemeanors.  That felony charge was shortly thereafter reduced to misdemeanor criminal trespassing.The Indiana football program subsequently announced that Hendershot had been indefinitely suspended from all team activities.

In early June, Hendershot pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor criminal trespass.  The other three misdemeanors were dropped.  A month later, Indiana head coach Tom Allen confirmed that Hendershot has been cleared by the football program and has been fully restored to the team.

“He has completed his team-sanctioned discipline,” the coach said. “He has completed the conduct process that we went through for the student conduct as a student athlete of Indiana University. He completed that. He’s closed his matter with the judicial system. We have a campus committee that determines when a student athlete is reinstated to their team and to be able to be cleared and that is the case. He’s been completely cleared and he is back with the team now fully as he completed all the things that he was asked to do.”

The Hoosiers returned for voluntary on-campus workouts in mid-June.

Hendershot was a three-star member of the Class of 2017 for Indiana Hoosiers football.  An injury his true freshman season allowed the Indiana native to take a redshirt.  In 2018, Hendershot started 10 games, catching 15 passes for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This past season, Hendershot set a school record for tight ends by catching 52 passes for 622 yards.  After starting all 13 games, Hendershot was named third-team All-Big Ten.

Two-year starting QB Isaiah Green leaves Marshall for transfer portal

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This is certainly an unexpected — and significant — loss for the Marshall football team.

According to multiple media outlets, Isaiah Green has left the Thundering Herd and entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The quarterback’s name is no longer listed on the Marshall football roster that’s available online.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

If the move is permanent, it’s a significant one for Marshall football.

Green was a three-star member of the Class of 2017 for the Thundering Herd.  The Fairburn, Ga., product took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past two seasons, Green has started 22 of the 23 games in which he played.  Included in that were starts in all 13 games in 2019.  In that action, Green completed 56.5 percent of his 666 passes for 4,897 yards, 30 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.  He’s also added another 416 yards and six scores on 159 carries.

With Green apparently out of the picture, Grant Wells Will Likely take over.  Wells didn’t attempt a pass last season as a true freshman.

Marshall is coming off an 8-5 campaign in Doc Holliday‘s 10th season with the football program.  Included in that was a Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl loss that ended the Herd’s bowl winning streak at seven straight.

Florida State-Notre Dame game in 2021 moved up to Labor Day Sunday

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While all of the focus is on the 2020 season — and rightly so — Florida State and Notre Dame are peeking ahead to the following campaign.

Back in 2014, as part of the football independent’s scheduling agreement with the ACC, it was announced that Notre Dame and Florida State would square off on Sept. 6 of 2021.  That just happens to be the date on which Labor Day falls next season.

Tuesday, however, the Seminoles confirmed that the game versus the Fighting Irish has instead been shifted to Sept. 5.  That’s the Sunday before the holiday and the day after the first full weekend of the 2021 football season.  At this point, it’s unclear exactly why the date of the game was changed.

The game, which will be played in Tallahassee at Doak Campbell Stadium, is expected to be played in primetime.  A time and television network will be announced at a later date.

Florida State and Notre Dame have met nine times previously, with the first coming in 1981.  The most recent meeting was in 2018.  The most famous of the nine?  The 1993 matchup that saw No. 2 Notre Dame knock off No. 1 Florida State in South Bend.

The Seminoles have won six of the nine meetings in the series.  In four of those matchups, both teams were ranked in the Top Ten.

LSU LB Marcel Brooks is reportedly transferring to TCU

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It appears TCU has landed one of the more intriguing football transfers on the market.

Following a late-June conversation with the LSU coaching staff, Marcel Brooks entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  It was thought at the time that the Lone Star State native would likely head back closer to home.

Tuesday, that’s close to becoming a reality as 247Sports.com is reporting that Brooks will transfer into the TCU football team. In fact, according to the website, the linebacker was on campus Tuesday and “will be able to start working out with the team as soon as he passes a physical.”

Thus far, the TCU football program has not confirmed Brooks’ addition to the roster.

It’s expected Brooks will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy current NCAA bylaws. That would then leave him with three years of eligibility starting in 2021 to use with the Horned Frogs.

Brooks was a five-star member of the LSU football Class of 2019.  The Flower Mound, Tex., native was rated as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the country.  He was also the No. 5 prospect regardless of position in the state of Texas.  The only two signees in the Tigers’ class that year rated higher?  Freshman All-American cornerback Derek Stingley and running back John Emery.

As a true freshman, Brooks appeared in 11 games in the run to the national championship.  He was credited with eight tackles and 1½ sacks.