The Winning Take’s College Football Preseason Top 25

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  1. North Carolina

Impact Players: DB MJ Stewart, RB Stanton Truitt, QB Brandon Harris

2016 record: 8-5

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: A schedule where almost all tough games are at home, a much-improved defense, a very good recruiting class, the addition of transfers Stanton Truitt and Brandon Harris, and the offensive knowledge from head coach Larry Fedora could make what most people view as a rebuilding year a successful year in Chapel Hill.

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  1. West Virginia

Impact players: QB Will Grier (if eligible), RB Justin Crawford, LB David Long

2016 record: 10-3

My projection for 2017: 8-4

Why: Both the defense and offense is filled with impact players. Simply just too much talent to not have a good year

  1. Oregon

Impact players: RB Royce Freeman, QB Justin Herbert, LB Troy Dye

2016 record: 4-8

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: There was too much promise shown last year to have back-to-back down years in Eugene.

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  1. Texas A&M

Impact players: WR Christian Kirk, CB Armani Watts, RB Trayveon Williams

2016 record: 8-5

My projection for 2017: 7-5

Why: With the SEC being better than it has been in recent years it will be hard for A&M to find a win, however, they will be a much better team than their record will suggest.

  1. Tennessee

Impact players: MLB Darrin Kirkland Jr., S Todd Kelly Jr., RB John Kelly

2016 record: 9-4

My projection for 2017: 7-5

Why: Similar to A&M, with the SEC very strong it will be hard to get many wins, but Rocky Top should host a top tier team with a less than great record.

  1. Washington St.

Impact players: QB Luke Falk, OL Cody O’Connor, WR Jamire Calvin

2016 record: 8-5

My projection: 8-4

Why: Although WSU has the talent of a 10-2 team the Pac-12 may be stronger than ever, and with 5 or their final 7 games on the road, including games at Arizona, Washington, and Stanford, predicting them to finish 8-4 may even be generous.

  1. South Florida

Impact Players: QB Quinton Flowers, QB Quinton Flowers, QB Quinton Flowers

2016 record: 11-2

My Projection for 2017: 10-2

Why: Quinton Flowers is one of the most underrated players the game has seen in years. He is incredibly explosive, has a cannon for an arm, and is in the perfect offense for him. This team good easily go undefeated just because of how good Quinton Flowers is.

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  1. Florida

Impact players: WR Antonio Callaway, CB Duke Dawson, RB Jordan Scarlett

2016 record: 9-4

My projection for 2017: 7-5

Why: Florida is always a talented team and they should start their year with a few wins, however, Florida has a very tough schedule, and the lack of an experienced QB could come back to hurt them deep into the season when they play teams like Georgia, FSU, and A&M.

  1. Miami

Impact players: RB Mark Walton, QB N’Kosi Perry,  LB Shaq Quarterman

2016 record: 9-4

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: An easy schedule, an ACC Coastal division that may be weaker than it has ever been, and a particularly loaded team. Is “The U” coming back? At least from the outside, it sure seems like it.

  1. Wisconsin

Impact players: RB Bradrick Shaw, LB TJ Edwards, S D’Cota Dixon

2016 record: 11-3

My projection for 2017: 8-4

Why: Wisconsin has a relatively easy schedule and they seem to avoid every major BIG 10 team except for Michigan. But, as usual, Wisconsin plays a lot of middle-of-the-pack BIG 10 teams like Minnesota and Iowa who they always seem to struggle against. Sorry Badger fans but you can chalk up a couple more heartbreakers to Northwestern and Indiana.

  1. Georgia

Impact players: RB Nick Chubb (yes, I know I can’t believe he still plays either), QB Jacob Eason,  TE Isaac Nauta

2016 record: 8-5

My projection for 2017: 8-4

Why: Georgia, again, is extremely talented. They landed a top 10 recruiting class, return almost their entire team, and their only competition in the SEC East is Florida. But, don’t worry Gator fans because Georgia is going to do a very Georgia thing and somehow blow away a season when they should when the SEC East by 3 games, make the race for the division go into the final week, go up 28-0 over Georgia Tech at halftime, then let Georgia Tech score 35 unanswered points, and lose the division to a team like Missouri or South Carolina because that is just what Georgia does.

  1. Stanford

Impact players: RB Bryce Love, DE Dylan Jackson, DT Harrison Phillips

2016 record: 10-3

My 2017 projection: 7-5

Why: I could be underestimating Stanford. But, with significant losses like Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas, such a tough schedule like they have this year, and a Pac-12 that is as strong as it has ever been. Stanford will have a very hard time getting their feet under them.

  1. Louisville

Impact Players: QB Lamar Jackson, CB Jaire Alexander, WR Jaylen Smith

2016 record: 9-4

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: If Lamar Jackson even plays half as good as he played last year the Cards will be fine. But, losing a couple of wide receivers, some important defensive players, as well as their starting running back Louisville could be in line for an early season upset if they don’t find a way to replace those key pieces.

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  1. Washington

Impact Players: LB Azeem Victor, DT Vita Vea, QB Jake Browning

2016 record: 12-2

My projection for 2017: 10-2

Why: Like last year, this team is absolutely loaded. With pieces like Jake Browning and Vita Vea returning, Seattle can count on another dream-like season, and maybe even another Pac-12 title.

11 Oklahoma St.

Impact Players: QB Mason Rudolph, RB Justice Hill, WR Tyron Johnson

2016 record: 10-3

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: A few things have worked out for OK St in 2017: all of their big games are at home, they had a good recruiting class, they landed a few solid transfers, almost everyone returns, oh, and Mason Rudolph is the program’s savior and the absolutely perfect QB to lead a stacked offense through their Big 12 schedule. Which is good because, in the Big 12, defense is optional.

  1. LSU

Impact players: RB Derrius Guice, LB Arden Key, S JaCoby Stevens

2016 record: 8-4

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: The Tiger’s bring back Leonard Fournette 2.0 and college football’s best running back in Derrius Guice, a top 3 defensive player in Arden Key, and another amazing recruiting class. Expect Coach O’s first full season to go over well even though the SEC is stacked and LSU’s most important games are on the road.

  1. Oklahoma

Impact players: RB Abdul Adams, QB Baker Mayfield, WR Mark Andrews

2016 record: 11-2

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: With 3 of their 5 biggest games this season on the road, and another at a neutral site, finding big wins will be tough for the Sooners. But, a team this talented should still be able to finish in the top 2 of the Big 12 and be 1 of the 2 teams in the inaugural Big 12 Championship.

  1. Michigan

Impact players: QB Wilton Speight, DL Rashan Gary, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

2016 record: 10-3

My projection for 2017: 9-3

Why: Even though Michigan lost almost their entire team to the draft they return their QB, a player with the potential to be college football’s best player by the end of the year, and a lot of speedsters in the backfield. In addition to all of this, Jim Harbaugh again landed a loaded recruiting class including the number 1 WR in the country and a 4 star at almost every defensive position. Yet again Michigan will have an amazing defense and a high powered offense.

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  1. Auburn

Impact players: QB Sean White, RB Kam Pettaway, S Tray Matthews

2016 record: 8-5

My projection for 2017: 8-4

Why: There is only one SEC team that seems like it has any chance to pull away from the pack, and that is Alabama. For the rest of the SEC, including Auburn, they will all be very good meaning every game will be a good one. The reason I give Auburn 4 loses is because of the sheer amount of tough road games that they have. This includes games at Clemson, LSU, A&M, and a couple of other big road games.

  1. Clemson

Impact players: WR Deon Cain, DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Christian Wilkins

2016 record: 14-1

My projection for 2017: 10-2

Why: Even though Clemson loses key pieces like Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, and many others, the Tigers have reloaded with an extremely strong recruiting class, especially on the defensive end. While I don’t think the Tigers will be able to repeat, they should yet again be a strong team.

  1. Penn State

Impact players: RB Saquon Barkley, QB Trace McSorley, LB Jason Cabinda

2016 record: 11-3

My projection for 2017: 10-2

Why: Penn St has a very easy schedule to start the year. It is in these games that both Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley will emerge as top 5 Heisman candidates. PSU fans can only hope that this duo gets hot and that their defense will step up for their brutal run of games midway through the year.

  1. Ohio State

Impact players: LB Jerome Baker, DL Tyquan Lewis, QB J.T. Barrett

2016 record: 11-2

My projection for 2017: 11-1

Why: OSU has an easy schedule and their only really tough game is week 13 on the road at Michigan. The Buckeyes should fly through most of their schedule and potentially make it back to the playoff.

  1. USC

Impact players: QB Sam Darnold, MLB Cameron Smith, DB Iman Marshall

2016 record: 10-3

My projection for 2017: 11-1

Why: This team could very easily go undefeated. They are loaded on the offensive side of the ball but even better defensively. Plus, USC has a very easy schedule and they should have no problem winning a Pac-12 title.

  1. Florida St

Impact players: QB Deondre Francois, DT Derrick Nnadi, S Derwin James

2016 record: 10-3

My projection for 2017: 11-1

Why: FSU is all about defense. They have college football’s best player by a wide margin in Derwin James. Their defensive line is filled with tackling machines, and their secondary is one of the the country’s best. FSU could easily play Alabama is the first and last games of the year. But sorry Noles fans, as a UNC fan I have to do this:

  1. Alabama

Impact players: QB Jalen Hurts, RB Bo Scarbrough, RB Damien Harris

2016 record: 14-1

My projection for 2017: 12-0

Why: Alabama will go undefeated simply because they are Alabama. The only games I can see them having any chance to lose are week 1 against FSU and week 9 against LSU. As usual, Alabama has a stacked backfield and one of the best defenses in football. Alabama is just unfairly good this year.

That’s all for my list. What do you think? Tell me where you agree and where you disagree down below in the comments. Want to read more about college football? Click here. Or are you more of a college basketball fan? Click here.

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3 thoughts on “The Winning Take’s College Football Preseason Top 25

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