A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2018 Top 25

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The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2017 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2018 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or were told by our bosses to roll.  Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 USC, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Penn State, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Washington, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 Oklahoma. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma, were in our Top 10; the fourth, Georgia, stood at No. 14.  Ohio State (No. 5), USC (No. 8) and Penn State (No. 9) all currently sit inside of the Top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings heading into the postseason, while Washington (No. 11), Stanford (No. 13) and Oklahoma State (No. 19) are all in the Top 25.

The biggest swing and a miss was the one that everyone whiffed on: Florida State.  After beginning the year No. 3 in the country in both major polls as well as our little Top 25 contribution, FSU tied for its worst record (7-6 in 2006, 2007, 2009) since 1976, going 5-6 in the second season under Bobby Bowden.

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-too-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.  Not that you need permission to do that, of course.

NO. 1 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.  Or he gets bored with winning and abruptly up and quits.  Neither of those are going to happen, of course, but those are about the only things that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — unless the looming quarterback “controversy” gets away from him.

NO. 2 OHIO STATE
WHY? 12, 12, 14, 12, 11, 12.  Those are the win totals for the Buckeyes since Urban Renewal came to Columbus.  With a No. 2 recruiting class (thus far) this year added to Top Five groups each of the past four years that have added running back J.K. Dobbins, defensive end Nick Bosa and many others, OSU, like ‘Bama, is a perennial playoff contender.
WHY NOT? With eighth-year senior J.T. Barrett‘s departure, it leaves OSU inexperienced under center since Barrett’s first season as the starter back in 1986 (or 2014 if you want to get technical).  Some Buckeye fans, though, despite Barrett’s record-setting production, will view the departure as a positive.  Road trips to Michigan State, Penn State and what’s close to a home game against TCU aren’t exactly optimal.

NO. 3 GEORGIA
WHY? Kirby Smart is Nick Saban Jr., and has taken The Process from Tuscaloosa and brought it to Athens.  Jake Fromm was in his first season as a starter and helped lead the Bulldogs to the national championship game as a true freshman.  And that upcoming schedule?  Middle Tennessee State, UMass and an FCS school along with the annual in-state rivalry game with Georgia Tech make up the nonconference slate, while they get Auburn at home as one of the two crossover conference games (travel to LSU as well).
WHY NOT? In Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, they lose running backs who have combined to rush for nearly 8,300 yards and 77 touchdowns the past four seasons, including over 2,400 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.  Losing the best defensive player in the country, linebacker Roquan Smith, to the NFL draft early won’t help either.

NO. 4 MIAMI
WHY? The Hurricanes seemed poised for a breakout 2018 campaign, then returned to the national stage ahead of projections before crashing and burning in losing its last three games.  With 2018 on the horizon, a significant amount of talent returns to a Mark Richt-led squad that played in its first-ever ACC championship game.
WHY NOT? Richt brought with him to South Beach what pushed him out of Athens: a penchant for building good teams, but teams not quite good enough to contend with the best the conference has to offer.  A neutral-field game against LSU in the opener should be a good gauge for where The U stands moving forward.

NO. 5 WISCONSIN
WHY? The Badgers are the absolute class of the Big Ten West, with no one in that division even in UW’s zip code quite yet.  Jonathan Taylor broke Adrian Peterson‘s single-season FBS freshman rushing record, and will obviously return for another run at feeding the beast that is UW’s running game.
WHY NOT? Unless Scott Frost very quickly turns around his alma mater Nebraska — and don’t count that out given his work at UCF — seemingly the only thing that can prevent the Badgers from a third straight Big Ten championship game appearance and fifth in seven years is myriad injuries.  They do, though, have to travel to Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State, so there’s that as well.

NO. 6 CLEMSON
WHY? If Kirby Smart is Nick Saban Jr., Dabo Swinney is Saban’s twin brother from another mother.  In the makeup and building of Clemson into a veritable college football powerhouse, and especially defensively, Swinney’s teams are eerily reminiscent of what Saban has done in Tuscaloosa — albeit with a different offensive lean.  As long as Swinney is in Death Valley, you can go ahead and consider the Tigers a year-in, year-out Top-10 lock.
WHY NOT? Saban leaves for the NFL and Swinney takes over at his alma mater.  That’s about all that will keep Clemson from being a factor on the national stage yet again.

NO. 7 WASHINGTON
WHY? We’ve had Washington at No. 7 in each of the last two Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings; they ended the 2016 season fourth and are currently ranked 11th.  Chris Petersen has taken a Huskies football program and turned it into one that should be a 10-win team for the foreseeable future.
WHY NOT? Jake Browning‘s mini regression bleeds into another his true senior season.  After throwing for 43 touchdowns and finishing with a 167.5 efficiency rating in 2016, those numbers tumbled to 19 and 152.1 this past season.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN STATE
WHY? The Spartans return a ton of starting talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Brian Lewerke, running back LJ Scott — he’s led MSU in rushing each of the past three seasons – and 4/5ths of the offensive line.  MSU also gets Ohio State and Michigan at home, and doesn’t have to face Wisconsin as a crossover divisional opponent.
WHY NOT? 2017’s 10-win season was an aberration after a three-win 2016 season.  Then again, aside from that drop-off-the-cliff record, Mark Dantonio has won 11 or more games in five of six seasons, so 2016 was likely the aberration when it’s all said and done.

NO. 9 STANFORD
WHY? Bryce Love, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up, defies all odds and returns to The Farm for one more year.  After the first month of the season, the Cardinal’s schedule sets up very favorably as well.
WHY NOT? After myriad wooings over the past few years, David Shaw final succumbs and gives in to the NFL’s advances.  Aside from that, Stanford’s September schedule isn’t exactly a walk in pastry park: San Diego State (10-3), USC (11-3), at Oregon (7-6), at Notre Dame (10-3).  In early November, they’ll also have to travel to Washington.

NO. 10 WEST VIRGINIA
WHY? Baker Mayfield gone from Oklahoma and Mason Rudolph out at Oklahoma State leaves Will Grier as the top returning quarterback in the pass-happy Big 12.  Tony Gibson won’t allow a defense that finished second in the conference in total defense in 2016 but slipped to seventh in 2017 to slip again; in fact, they’ll be closer to the season before last than this past one.
WHY NOT? They get what will likely be preseason Big 12 favorite TCU at home, but have tough road tests in Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas.

NO. 11 UCF
NO. 12 OKLAHOMA
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 PENN STATE
NO. 15 VIRGINIA TECH
NO. 16 AUBURN
NO. 17 TCU
NO. 18 USC
NO. 19 BOISE STATE
NO. 20 MICHIGAN
NO. 21 FLORIDA STATE
NO. 22 MEMPHIS
NO. 23 OKLAHOMA STATE
NO. 24 LSU
NO. 25 OREGON

Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown announces he will no longer participate in team activities ‘until real action is taken’

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There’s further unrest within the Texas football program.

June 4, Longhorns wide receiver Brennan Eagles kicked up quite the kerfuffle by proclaiming, amidst police brutality and racial injustice, “I’ll be [damned] if you think I’ll play another snap with the platform I have that [affects the] majority of people that contribute to the sport who don’t actually play.” A week later, Texas student-athletes, including football players, took to social media en masse to spread their message: “We aim to hold the athletic department and university to a higher standard by not only asking them to keep their promise of condemning racism on our campus, but to go beyond this by taking action to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and the black community that has so fervently supported this program.” Not long after, linebacker Juwan Mitchell publicly stated, “I do not feel comfortable representing the University of Texas.

After a couple of weeks of quiet on that front, DeMarvion Overshown has shattered it.  In a statement posted to Twitter, the linebacker announced that, “until real action is taken and changes are made I will be sitting out of all team activities.”

“We have been told that things are being done behind close(d) doors but have yet to see any changes,” Overshown added.

The university has not responded to Overshown’s stance.

In their social-media message last month, the student-athletes laid out several areas of change they want to see enacted.  Among them: renaming several buildings on campus, including James Hogg Auditorium; “replacement of statues with more diverse statues on campus designed by artists/sculptors who are people of color”; the UT Athletic Department donating .5% of its annual earnings to black organizations and the Black Lives Matter movement; and replacing “The Eyes of Texas with a new song without racist undertones.”

The athletes suggested lifting the requirement of athletes to sing a song that was established in 1903 during a period of lynchings and Jim Crow society, the Daily Texan wrote two years ago.

Overshown, a junior, has appeared in 17 games during his two seasons with the Longhorns.

Texas State QB Cedric Case makes his move to the transfer portal

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Texas State has had a lovehate relationship with the football transfer portal this offseason. This week, the hate reared its head. Again.

Cedric Case Tuesday announced that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in leaving Texas State football.  The quarterback made the announcement on his personal Twitter account.

“After many discussions with my family and a lot of reflection about my future, I’ve decided at this time it’s in my best interest to transfer from Texas State University,” Case wrote. “I want to thank Coach Spavital and the rest of the coaching staff for giving me the great opportunity to be [a part] of their program, and helping me become a better football player and a better man.

“I also want to thank my teammates for treating me like family and making San Marcos feel like home from the moment I got there. I’ve made countless memories over the past year, and can’t wait to watch the success each of you will have on and off the field.”

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.

Case was a two-star member of the Texas State football Class of 2019.  The Lincoln, Nebraska, native was the No. 7 player regardless of position in his home state. He will have to sit out the 2020 season.  That will leave him with three years of eligibility to use starting in 2021.

As a true freshman, Case didn’t see the field for the Bobcats.

Texas State is coming off its second consecutive 3-9 football season, its first under head coach Jake Spavital. In fact, the Bobcats haven’t finished above-.500 since going 7-5 in 2014. The 2012 season was the program’s first at the FBS level.

Liberty the new home for Georgia Tech transfer kicker Brenton King

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The ever-evolving kicking position for Liberty football has taken another turn.

Back in March, Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins revealed that Brenton King had decided to go pro in something other than sports.  Earlier this month, though, it was confirmed that the placekicker had since placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On Twitter this week, King announced that he has committed to Liberty football.

“Excited for this new chapter in my life,” the kicker wrote. “Can’t wait to be back on the field. Thank you [special teams coordinator Tanner Burns] for believing in me and giving me a chance to play the sport I love still.

“Go Flames!”

Coming out of high school in Georgia, King was a two-star member of the Georgia Tech football Class of 2017. As a true freshman, he split time as the primary placekicker for the Yellow Jackets.  King was Tech’s primary kicker this past season.  In between, he kicked in four games but was able to take a redshirt for 2018.

During his three seasons, King connected on 42-of-46 point-afters.  However, he was successful on just nine of his 17 field-goal attempts.

King left Georgia Tech as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility.  That, of course, means he can immediately play this season as well as next.

The football independent will be looking to replace its full-time kicker from a year ago, Alex Probert.  In February of this year, Probert transferred to Iowa State.

Liberty became a provisional Football Bowl Subdivision member in 2018.  In its initial season as a full FBS member last year, the Flames qualified for their first-ever bowl game.  And won it.

Syracuse makes addition of starting FCS defensive lineman official

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Syracuse football has officially bolstered its defensive line with a lower-level addition.

Earlier this month, Cody Roscoe announced on Twitter that he will be transferring into Dino Babers‘ Syracuse football program.  This week, the Orange confirmed the defensive lineman has signed with the program.  The defensive lineman is coming to the ACC school from McNeese State.

Because he comes in from an FCS program, Roscoe will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  According to a release, Roscoe is already enrolled in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Roscoe was a two-year starter for the Cowboys.  He totaled 19 tackles for loss and 13½ sacks in that action.  The lineman had 11 tackles for loss and nine sacks this postseason, with both totals good for second on the team.

The FCS player is one of the few additions for a Syracuse football program that has lost its share to the portal this offseason.  Since mid-March, the Orange has seen four of their players leave for the NCAA transfer database.

Wallace, incidentally, has since moved on to Kent State.

Syracuse is set to open the 2020 college football season at Boston College Sept. 4.