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NCAA POWER-25 PRESEASON 2015

Better late than never! Like the NFL Power 15, the college Power 15 was a little late but it’s always fun to go back over last season to get ready for the next. Hopefully I can get some previews coming up soon as the college football season is going to be on us a lot quicker than we think!

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope The champs! This is probably the easiest choice of any in the top-25. The Buckeyes return so many starters & I simply don’t see a weakness anywhere. Ohio St. potentially has 7 All-Americans to start the season and potentially 7-8 NFL first round draft picks in 2016! They also have arguably the best coach in college football. What’s more is that Ohio St. doesn’t have a tough schedule. They play at Virginia Tech to open up the season, but if they win that game (not a given) then the Buckeyes are left  with their toughest road game potentially being at Indiana in Week 5! The most interesting thing to me is watching how the QB situation will work out. JT Barrett is the starter, but I don’t believe for a minute that Cardale Jones isn’t going to get any reps under center. I don’t think it’ll be a distraction no matter what happens, but it’ll be interesting to see because the only other thing to watch is Ohio St. punishing the other team on a weekly basis! Ohio St. could go back-to-back in 2014 & 2015.
#2 Computer Hope I don’t think there is a more motivated team playing college football this year outside of TCU. Left out of the playoffs in it’s inaugural season after going 11-1, the Horned Frogs went to the Peach Bowl & destroyed #9 ranked Ole Miss 42-3! TCU in my mind had a better resume than did Ohio St. last year yet the Buckeyes were the eventual national champions while TCU didn’t get the chance. Offensively TCU is RIDICULOUS bringing back 10 starters from an offense that scored 46.5PPG! QB Trevone Boykin is a Heisman candidate if not the front-runner coming into the season. WR Josh Doctson could also be an All-American. If there is one question about TCU isn’t their back-7 defensively which suffered a lot of losses. Gone is MLB Paul Dawson who was the heart & soul of the defense, but don’t overlook his replacement in true frosh MIke Freeze. The defense will be alright. It’s Gary Patterson for crying out loud & DEs James McFarland & Terrell Lathan are amazing!
#3 Computer Hope I’m a lot higher than most on Auburn coming into 2015, but I think Gus Malzhan is an excellent head coach & the Tigers have a truckload coming back, especially on defense. Malzahn is a great offensive mind so even with a new QB in Jeremy Johnson, the Tigers are going to score 35-40PPG. The surrounding talent it too good. WR D’Haquille Williams might be the best WR in college football. Jovon Robinson is a devastating runner while Alex Kozan & Avery Young are potential All-Americans on the line. Defensively, War Eagle returns guys like Cassanova McKinzy, Johnathan Ford & Kris Frost. They also get DE Carl Lawson back this year after Lawson missed all of 2014 with an injury. The talent here is ridiculous & Auburn’s 2nd string guys could probably still be a top-25 team. The good thing about Auburn is that they don’t have to be crazy good defensively yet they are. They also get Georgia, Ole Miss & Alabama at home. I think this is the best team in the SEC.
#4 Computer Hope This year will be a true testament to Nick Saban’s ability to reload instead of rebuild in Tuscaloosa! The Crimson Tide are losing a huge amount of talent on both sides of the ball yet here they are at #4 with a legit chance to get into the playoffs for a 2nd straight year. There are 7 legitimate All-Americans on this team so talent certainly won’t be an issue this season. Whle there sso inexperience for Alabama this season, the players that do return are devastating. RB Derrick Henry is 6’3/241lbs & could rush for 1800yds! The QB situation is unclear but Jake Coker looks the park & is a senior. Defensively guys like Reggie Ragland, Jonathan Allen, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Cyrus Jones, Geno Smith & Eddie Jackson return. The one thing to keep an eye on with Alabama is the schedule. They drew Georgia & Tennessee out of the East & get road games against A&M, Mississippi St., Georgia & Auburn. If Alabama returns to the playoffs this year, they’ll have earned it.
#5 Computer Hope I’m going to be the first one to tell you that I’m the only guy around ranking Arkansas this high outside of the players’ mothers! Arkansas is going to run it down your throats with RBs Jonathan Williams & Alex Collins who both had over 1000yds and 10+TDs a season ago. Four of the 5 starting O-Linemen return as does QB Brandon Allen. The Hogs also return their top-2 receivers so how does this team not score 40PPG!? This kind of offense also limits the other team’s ability to get on the field offensively & it’ll wear an opposing defense out in a hurry! Arkansas onlyi returns 6 starters on offense. Losing DE Trey Flowers, DT Darius Philon & LB Martrell Spaight are going to be big time losses, but Arkansas shouldn’t collapse defensively. One thing everyone is talking about is Urban Meyer bringing the SEC style of football to the Big 10 & dominating but Bret Bielema is bringing the Big 10 to the SEC & he’s winning too. Maybe not quite as fast, but this year Arkansas catches up!
#6 Computer Hope There are quite a few people who think Connor Cook might be the #1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. If that is the case then you can certainly make an argument that Cook is a Heisman front runner & possibly the best QB in the country. Lately when we’ve used that word with college football players such as Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariotta, Andrew Luck & RG3, their teams have done rather well. I’d expect the same from Michigan State. They do lose RB Jeremy Langford & WR Tony Lippett, but Cook is going to be outstanding this season & there is too much young talent for Sparty not to score. The defense returns quite a bit & while I think MSU misses LB Taiwan Jones, the front-7 is SO STRONG! It’s worth keeping in mind that Michigan St. had 2 losses last season & those 2 losses came to the teams playing in the national championship game. At least they controlled their own destiny. This season looks a lot like last year. How will Michigan St. against Oregon & Ohio St.?
#7 Computer Hope Oregon comes in this year with big question marks at QB and their secondary but does it really matter with the Ducks anymore? They haven’t failed to win 10 games in each of the past 7 years which actually spans 3 coaches. Their combined record in those 7 seasons is 80-14! The loss of QB Marcus Mariota will be felt considering just how prolific he was as a player but new QB Vernon Adams is a transfer in from E.Washington & he’s passed for 8500ds the last 2 seasons! Oregon’s skill position players all return including RB Royce Freeman & WR Byron Marshall. I think the defense will be fine. Oregon’s D-Line of DeForest Buckner, Alex Balducci & Canton Kaumatule is going to be devastating & while the CBs are new starters, both are true sophomores with tremendous talent who got their feet wet last year as freshman. I think they’ll be fine. I’ll knock them down a tick because of the Mariota loss, but if Adams plays like he did at EWU then this is a top-2 or 3 team.
#8 Computer Hope You’re making a big mistake if you are sleeping on Georgia Tech. I cannot believe this isn’t a preseason top-10 considering the Yellow Jackets were 11-3 last season including an ACC Coastal Championship & a bowl win over Mississippi State. Keep in mind that GT lost to Florida St. in the ACC Championship game by just 2 points. If GT wins that game, they don’t get to the playoffs as they would have been 11-2 & at that point TCU gets in over the ACC champ, but GT would have wound up top-5. Also consider that the 3 losses GT took last year were by a combined 13 points! QB Justin Thomas comes back to run HC Paul Johnson’s triple option & 4 O-Linemen return! SCARY! Defensively GT brings back 8 starters & the unit should get better. If you want to knock the Ramblin Wreck, you could point to them being maybe a little small on the interior D-Line. That’s nitpicking to be sure. Keep an eye on WR Ricky Jenue. He fits that Calvin Johnson/Demaryius Thomas role here. I love this team.
#9 Computer Hope I almost hate ranking Georgia in the top-10 because year in and year out you look at this team on paper and think they are going to walk away with the East only to see them lose a game or two they have no business losing which essentially knocks them out of the championship picture which has to be terribly frustrating for Georgia fans. This year is no different. RB Nick Chubb comes back with 4 starting O-Linemen! What more could you ask for. QB Brice Ramsey takes over at QB as a sophomore, but he’s got some good upside. Defensively UGA is very exciting up front. In their 3-4 scheme the OLBs are Lorenzo Carter (6’6/237lbs) & Leonard Floyd (6’4/230lbs). Carter has terrific size & ability while Floyd is likely to be a 1st Team All-American! I’m also really intrigued by the D-Line. DE Jordan Jenkins can get to the QB & UGA welcomes in #1 DL recruit Trenton Thompson who could start right away. The talent level here is ridiculous. Maybe they live up to it finally.
#10 Computer Hope I’m soft peddaling Baylor a bit and to be honest the more I look at them the more I think they should probably be closer to top-5 than 10th. I think the thing that gets me the most is the QB situation. RG3 was great at Baylor & you really thought Bryce Petty wasn’t going to come in and be as effecitve. Petty was sort of a different player than RG3, but Baylor actually won more games. The same here holds for new QB Seth Russell. Doesn’t Baylor have to regress at QB at some point? Maybe not. Russell is different than Petty in that he can get out & run. At 6’3/220lbs, he’s got great size, but can also beat you with his feet. If Russell breaks out then Baylor scores 50PPG! Defensively this is strongest Baylor team HC Art Briles has had. DE Shawn Oakman & DT Andrew Billings are All-American candidates. Oakman is a freak at 6’9/280lbs & is practically unblockable. If there is a weakness here I don’t see it. This team has 6 potential All-Americans. I’m underrating them.
#11 Computer Hope This is the best team HC Brian Kelly has had since arriving in South Bend including the 2012 team which went 12-0 and was ranked #1 before being destroyed by Alabama 42-14 in the national championship game. I think it’s worth noting that Notre Dame was fairly close to being 11-2 in each of the last 2 seasons if not for close game losses. The big issue here with Notre Dame is how well new QB Malik Zaire is going to adjust to the offense? The Irish have all their skill position players back & the O-Line is great so it comes down to Zaire. Defensively the Irish bring back 10 starters & have 4 potential All-Americans! I don’t see any weaknesses to the team defensively so expect big numbers from this side of the ball. There will be talk this year about whether or not Notre Dame is really that good in light of what happened in 2012, but if the Irish can get to their bye week undefeated, then it’s going to be pretty difficult keeping out an 11-1/12-0 Irish squad.
#12 Computer Hope The Sooners aren’t getting as much play as Baylor & TCU but they are a very dangerous team & should be looked at as a legit contender to not only win the Big XII but get into the college football playoff where anything could happen. Oklahoma boasts the best running attack in football with RBs Samaje Perine, Alex Ross & Joe Mixon. Perine rushed for 1713yds/21TD/6.5ypc as a frosh last year. Ross chipped in 595yds/4TD/6.8ypc as well. Mixon is a horse at 6’2/215lbs & redshirted last year so this will be his first year getting some run time. With 4 seniors on the O-Line the running game is going to be unstoppable. Also keep QB Baker Mayfield in mind. OU has a new OC this year in Lincoln Riley who is an “Air Raid” disciple & Mayfield is a transfer in from Texas Tech. The Sooners have their top-4 receivers back as well meaning the offensive fireworks coming out of Norman should be seen for miles & miles. I almost feel like #12 might be too low.
#13 Computer Hope This is the most talented & deep USC team we’ve seen since the Pete Carroll days now that the Trojans are completely berift of the sanctions brought down in light of the Reggie Bush scandal. The only thing that could possibly derail USC’s return to top-5 status is their schedule which includes road games against Arizona St., Notre Dame, California & Oregon. There are 5 legit All-American candidates on this team led by All-World QB Cody Kessler who should ener the year as the front runner for the Heisman trophy & being a 1st Team All-American. The Trojans also return their entire O-line so really it’ll be up to the skill position players to replace the production of Buck Allen & Nelson Agholor. It’s the same situation defensively where USC will have to figure out a way to replace the pass rushing ability of Leonard Williams & JR Vavai. The talent of course is on par with anyone in the natio so now it’s up to Steve Sarkisian to get USC back on track with a team at full strength.
#14 Computer Hope If you are looking for a dark horse team to win a national championship then look no further than Virginia Tech. The Hokies are almost being overlooked this year & in part I think it is because they are coming off a 3-year period where they went a combined 22-17 & were never ranked in the season ending top-25. I think it also has to do with the Hokies playing Ohio St. in the season opener in Blacksburg. Keep in mind that Ohio St. lost to Viriginia Tech at home last year, ran the table, got to 12-1 & won a national championship. It is definitely possible for Virginia Tech to lose their home opener to Ohio St., run the table, get to 12-1 & get into the playoffs with a possible chance at winning a national championship! For this to happen, QB Michael Brewer has to get better. Frank Beamer’s squad had to put up with the inconsistencies of Logan Thomas, but Brewer had 18TD to 15INT last year with a 59.4% completion rate. If he’s better look out!
#15 Computer Hope Clemson in some ways mirrors Georgia in that you are seemingly always waiting for the Tigers to make that next jump into the national championship hunt, but they never quite get there despite winning 10-11 games a season. Dabo Swinney has done an exceptional job taking over for Tommy Bowden & he’s rebuilt the program so the next step is into the college football playoffs. Clemson put the rest of college football on notice last year when they HAMMERED Oklahoma 40-6 in the bowl game. Clemson should have QB Deshaun Watson completely healthy this season which is bad news for opposing defenses. Mike Williams also returns & I think he is a potential All-American candidate. The one issue with Clemson is their defense. They take on massive losses from last year’s outstanding unit that allowed just 16.7PPG! DE Shaq Lawson & CB Mackensie Alexander are special players & will need to become dominating players to help the transition.
#16 Computer Hope Putting Florida St. down here at #16 almost seems sacriligious but the ‘Noles are almost in the same spot as Alabama in that this season is certainly about reloading. The losses are just tremendous and how a program doesn’t take a step or two back from these kinds of losses is beyond me. Keep in mind that over the last 3 seasons, Florida St. has gone 12-2, 14-0 & 13-1! If they drop back to 10-3 or 11-3, it’s not like the world is coming to an end. Only a handful of college football teams wind up with 10-12 wins a season & FSU can certainly be one of them even with all the departures. College football is INFINITELY better when FSU is a top-5 program & they are certainly that. During the end of Bobby Bowden’s tenure in Tallahassee, you got the feeling that national championships were never in the future, but now that is the case & it’s a good feeling for college football fans to that anything less than a national championship for the Seminoles is looked on as failure.
#17 Computer Hope This is probably way too low for Stanford to start the season. I actually have the Cardinal winning the Pac 12 North & most likely winning the Pac 12. Stanford had gone 12-1, 11-2, 12-2 & 11-3 from 2010-2013 before last year’s 8-5 finish. Stanford had a hard time rushing the football & the O-line wasn’t quite as dominating as it usually is. This season I think the offense gets signficantly better & the O-line returns 4 starters. Defensively, Stanford loses quite a few players but I really lke the way this unit shapes up. I think Peter Kalambayi gets signficantly better in his 2nd year. Kevin Anderson is solid & I love ILB Blake Martinez cleaning up the mess. The one issue I have with Stanford is the lack of size on the D-Line. Stanford runs a 3-4 & the average D-linemen is 6’3/262lbs. That’s awfully light to be a big ugly up front. Stanford has a landmine early on the road against USC, but if they get through that, they can be 9-0 when they host Oregon.
#18 Computer Hope If true frosh QB Josh Rosen wasn’t the starting QB, this is a top-5 team and potentially the #1 team in the nation! UCLA has a RIDICULOUS amount of talent returning on both sides of the football. UCLA returns the entire offense outside of the QB. This is an offense that scored 34PPG last season en route to a 10-3 season. If Rosen can come in and do a good job, UCLA could score 40PPG. RB Paul Perkins, WR Jordan Payton & WR Thomas Duarte are NASTY! True frosh Chris Clark who is 6’6/247lbs also enters the fray! On defense UCLA returns 8 starters. While losing guys like Eric Kendricks & Owamagbe Odighizuwa will hurt a bit, Deon Hollins comes back as a pass rushing guy & I’m excited to see true frosh Keisean Lucier-South who is 6’6/240lbs! Seeing Hollins & Lucier-Smith coming off the edge has to be a QB’s nightmare scneario! HC Jim Mora has done an INCREDIBLE job here & the only real worry is if/when he leaves for the NFL.
#19 Computer Hope Butch Jones is proving he’s every bit the coach that Lane Kiffin & Derek Dooley weren’t here in Knoxville. There is something to like everywhere with this Tennessee team which is why I picked them to win the SEC East. What’s really intersting to me about UT is that they easily could wind up being the team in the SEC East that finally pulls ahead of the SEC West teams in certain years. I think we’ve expected this to be Georgia on ocassion, but I think it’ll actually be the Vols who become the next SEC East team to win an SEC Championship game. This season UT returns 18 starters with the only real loss being LB AJ Johnson. Jones has increased the talent level in Knoxville considerably although UT isn’t quite where they want to be. LB Curt Maggitt is likely the only All-American. Keep an eye on the offense. It should be explosive given the skill positions. If QB Josh Dobbs has improved from last season then UT is a dark horse playoff team.
#20 Computer Hope This is WAY TOO LOW but at some point you run out of places to put SEC West squads. It’s important to remember that Ole Miss at one point was 7-0 & #3 in the nation. The thought was that the Rebels were going to run it to 11-1 before hosting Mississippi St. in what was going to be the de facto SEC West championship. That didn’t work out. WR Laquon Treadwell got injured & Ole Miss lost a couple of close games to LSU & Aubirn in back to back weeks by a combined 7 points. They went from 7-0 (#3) to 7-2 (#12). Ole Miss I think is getting a bit overlooked because they 2-4 in their last 6, but this year Ole Miss could actually be better than they were last season. The offense loses QB Bo Wallace but I think Chad Kelly could be better & Treadwell is healthy. Defensively Ole Miss returns 7 starters but lose quite a bit especially in the secondary. Hugh Freeze has improved Ole Miss by a win each year. This year 10-11 wins is possible.
#21 Computer Hope HC Todd Graham spent just one season in Pittsburgh before jumping to Tempe & he’s turned Arizona St. into a top-20/top-15 program in just 3 seasons. The big questions surrounding ASU is QB Mike Bercovici who takes over for Taylor Kelly. ASU also loses top WR Jalen Strong but otherwise returns 7 starters. I think Bercovici is up to the task and I don’t see any signficant dropoff from Kelly. In fact, Bercovici might post better numbers as Kelly completed just 59.4% of his passes. Kelly was a great decision maker but his accuracy needed help & Bercovici could be notch ahead. The defense returns 9 starters. Losing Marcus Hardison & Damarious Randall is tough but ASU returns 14 of their top-16 tacklers from a season ago! This is definitely the best defense Graham has had during this time here & the talent within the defense is extremely good. If Bercovici tears it up, then ASU certainly becomes a big factor in the Pac 12 South race.
#22 Computer Hope Same story for Boise State. After an off year in 2013 where the Broncos finished 8-5 & saw HC Chris Petersen bolt for Washington, the Broncos got back to business finishing 12-2 with a Fiesta Bowl win over Arizona which led to Boise finishing the season ranked #16. Boise returns 17 starters from that team & a quick look at the schedule shows that Boise could easily wind up 13-0 to end the year but be left on the outside looking in at playoff time due to their toughest game probably coming in Week 2 when they head to Provo to play BYU. The big questions will be at QB where Ryan Finley is a 1st year starter at at RB where the Broncos will have to figure out a way to match Jay Ajayi’s performance (good luck with that!!). Boise is at a crossroads to be honest. They need to join the big boys to get more respect because at this point they are just a team waiting to go 13-0 every year. Like TCU, they need to move up in competition & the Big XII could use them.
#23 Computer Hope Most if not all publications will have LSU way higher than 23rd, but I’m not still not sure how I feel about the Tigers. Brandon Harris should be the QB, but LSU in recent years can’t seem to stick with a QB and ride it out. We saw this disaster with Jordan Jefferson & Jarrett Lee before Zach Mettenberger stablized the position for a year in 2013. Last year we were back to the same QB issues this time being with Harris & Anthony Jennings. You can also see HC Les Miles sort of stick to running the football as well as a result, but LSU hasn’t been a national player since 2011 & before that year they had a spurt between 2008-2010 where they weren’t in the mix for a national championship. That’s a 7-year stretch with just 1 viable season. I think Miles is a decent coach but my feeling is that the SEC West coaching has passed him by. Because of talent LSU can keep winning 8-9 games per season but that isn’t enough for Miles to keep his job.
#24 Computer Hope  This is certainly a team I wouldn’t sleep on. I love everything about this Pittsburgh team & they need to get more national love than they are getting. I think hiring Pat Narduzzi was a solid move. Narduzzi did an incredible job at Michigan St. as Mark Dantonio’s DC & I’m happy he gets his chance. He did a tremendous job hiring his coordinators in OC Jim Chaney & DC Josh Conklin. I’ve written this before but Pittsburgh was once a national power so the seeds of greatness are there and just need to be watered. I think one of the big issues facing Pitt is coaching. Dave Wannstedt wasn’t the answer but Todd Graham bolted after a season & Paul Chryst left after 3. I don’t think Narduzzi looks at this destination as a stepping stone which should provide some stability to the Panthers program. RB James Conner & WR Tyler Boyd are All-Americans. The defense returns 7. If QB Chad Voytik improves, this is a helluva football team!
#25 Computer Hope This is the SEC West’s 6th team in the top-25 and I almost feel bad for leaving Mississippi St. out which would have put the entire SEC West in the top-25! This ranking almost feels too low for Texas A&M, but the Aggies are coming off an 8-5 season in which they were 3-5 in SEC play so maybe they shouldn’t be ranked this high. The SEC West is always tough because it seems absurd to put the entire 7 teams in the top-10 although that is the way it feels sometimes. A&M returns 16 starters including QB Kyle Allen & DE Myles Garrett. What really stands out for me is that Allen is going to get better & the A&M WRs are ridiculous. You can make an argument that WRs Ricky Seals-Jones, Josh Reynolds & Speedy Noil could be All-Americans! Defensively the Aggies return their entire D-line & 3 of their 4 DBs. I could be overselling the defense but Garrett is an All-American & potentially a future #1 overall draft pick. This team looks very good.
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September 5, 2015 - Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Boise St., Clemson, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan St., Mississippi, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Power 25, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech

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