Fantasy Gunslinger

Football with an Emphasis on Fantasy & Gambling

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2018 PRESEASON

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Last Season: 12-2; Ranked #4. Clemson has a tremendous chance to win its 2nd national championship in 3 years. Clemson returns virtually intact which is unheard of given how talented & deep this roster is. The Tigers D-Line got a HUGE boost when everyone decided to return giving Clemson the best D-Line in the nation by a mile. The D allowed only 13.6PPG last season & should be better which is downright scary. The only question revolving around Clemson is the QB position. Whether it’s Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence won’t matter. They’ll score more than the D allows & 12-0 seems inevitable.
#2 Computer Hope Last Season 13-1; Ranked #1. There are probably more questions surrounding the Crimson Tide this year than in recent year given that the QB position hasn’t been completely resolved & Alabama’s defense returns just 3 starters. On the other hand, it’s Alabama & no program in the country better personifies the “next man up” mantra than Nick Saban’s crew. RB Damien Hurts returns & might be the best RB in the nation. The O-line is as good as anyone’s while Alabama’s toughest game should be the season finale at home against arch rival Auburn. That’s a revenge game for Alabama. Expect Saban avenged.
#3 Computer Hope Last Season 13-2; Ranked #2. Kirby Smart & the Dawgs CAME THIS CLOSE to accomplishing what Mark Richt couldn’t in Athens when they lost in OT to Alabama in the national title game. Georgia will have the aura of “unfinished business” this season which will go along way towards them getting back to the playoffs. Nick Chubb & Sony Michel are off to the NFL, but expect more of the same ground & pound from the Bulldogs with D’Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield, Zamir White & James Cook running wild. The D lost quite a bit, but is talented & deep enough to get better. The SEC East is there’s to lose.
#4 Computer Hope Last Season 7-6; Ranked N/A. Too high? The Longhorns return to prominence is going to be the biggest story of the 2018 season. Tom Herman gets it done in year 2 and for good reason. Offensively, Texas returns both Sam Ehlinger & Shane Buechele at QB. There is a lot of leadership & experience there & I think Herman turns the run game around this season. Defensively, the Horns bring back 7 starters & is a senior heavy group. DE Brecklyn Hager is going to be a monster while the secondary is big & physical. The key for UT is winning their home games. If they do that, they can get to 12-0.
#5 Computer Hope Last Season 11-2; Ranked #8. Losing Saquon Barkley & 7 of your top-8 tacklers is significant, but Penn St. QB Trace McSorley has a chance to be this year’s version of Baker Mayfield & the Nittany Lions are going to ride that to a lot of wins. Offensively I think Mike Sanders can do a solid job replacing Barkley & the O-line returns 4-starters. Defensively PSU has some significant losses to fill, but it’s a big, experienced group & I think PSU’s pass rush will be better in ’18 than it was in ’17. Keep in mind too that Penn St. gets both Ohio St. & Michigan St. at home. That’s pivotal. Win those, win the B10.
#6 Computer Hope Last Season 10-3; Ranked #16. This is the best team Chris Petersen has had with the Huskies, even better than the ’16 version that got to the playoffs. UW returns 17 starters including QB Jake Browning & RB Myles Gaskin, both All-American candidates along with OT Trey Adams. Defensively the Huskies lose DT Vita Vea who will be difficult to replace, but their pack-8 (in nickle packages) returns 7 starters & UW’s secondary is arguably the best in the nation. UW was close to a 13-0 team last year but ultimately finished 10-3. They get Stanford at home so the P12 North & P12 title look like a given for UW!
#7 Computer Hope Last Season 10-3; Ranked #13. Mark Richt has already done an amazing job in Coral Gables. In his two years at Miami, Richt is 19-7, the best 2-year record since Larry Coker went 20-5 from 2003-2004. The Hurricanes should only get better in 2018 as they bring back a loaded roster on both sides of the football. Miami’s defense should be one of the country’s best with 7 of their top-9 starters returning including LB Shaq Quarterman, S Jaquan Johnson & CB Michael Jackson. All possible All-Americans. QB Malik Rosier returns with a solid offense. The schedule sets up for an easy Coastal division title.
#8 Computer Hope Last Season 10-3; Ranked #11. The Irish need to close better. In their last 4 games over the past 5 seasons, Notre Dame is 8-12 with losses to teams like Pittsburgh, Northwestern & Navy. HC Brian Kelly enters his 9th season in South Bend & he’s always on the hot seat. This year could be special for the Irish if QB Brandon Wimbush has improved as much as we’ve heard. The defense returns 9 starters & should be the best it’s been since 2012 when ND played for the national championship! This should also be the best offense Kelly’s had thus far. The schedule is tough, but if ND wins their home games?
#9 Computer Hope Last Season 10-3; Ranked #15. Last year Michigan St. returned only 4 starters & HC Mark Dantonio did his best coaching job to date getting Sparty to 10-3 with a bowl win and coming off a 3-9 disaster of 2016! This year, MSU returns 19 starters with the only real loss being OL Brian Allen. QB Brian Lewerke is going to get better & the run game with LJ Scott will produce. Defensively, don’t underestimate how much of a ball-hawking defense Michigan St. has. DE Kenny Willekes is the best DE you don’t know about & combining that with a back-7 with a nose for the football is dangerous. Terrific sleeper team!
#10 Computer Hope Last Season 12-2; Ranked #5. Nobody is going to have Ohio St. this low in the preseason but consider a couple of things. I don’t think QB JT Barrett is going to be easy to replace. Barrett passed for 3,000+yds, completed 65% of his passes with 35TD to 9INT! That wasn’t easy to do. Defensively sure Nick Bosa comes back, but tOSU also lost Denzel Ward, Jerome Baker, Sam Hubbard, and Tyquan Lewis. Again, there is tons of talent on the roster, but that’s not easy to replace. Also consider the schedule. Ohio St. gets both Penn St. & Michigan St. on the road. It’s easy to see an 11-2/10-3 season in ’18.
#11 Computer Hope Last Season 9-5; Ranked #20. Stanford ended the season with a pretty big thud in 2017, losing to USC in the Pac 12 title game & then dropping the Alamo Bowl to TCU. Four of Stanford’s 5 losses came by 2-3 points so the 9-5 could have easily been 13-1. The Cardinal got a huge break with RB Bryce Love opted to return to Pao Alto which combined with a solid QB & a great O-Line, should provide plenty of fireworks! Losing Harrison Phillips on D is tough, but Bobby Okereke is a game changer in the middle & he’ll be leading a veteran group. The schedule is tough, but David Shaw always has them ready.
#12 Computer Hope Last Season 13-1; Ranked #7. Wisconsin’s lost to Ohio St. by 6 points in the Big 10 title game cost the Badgers a perfect season to that point & a chance to get into the playoffs. If there is a team looking to make a statement in 2018 it’s Wisconsin. RB Jonathan Taylor returns as does QB Alex Hornibrook along with the best O-Line in the country. Wisconsin should score 40+PPG! Defensively, they return 4 starters but all-world LB TJ Edwards returns & I think the defense is better this year than last. Wisconsin plays Iowa, MIchigan, Northwestern & Penn St. on the road so if they win the B10, they’ve earned it.
#13 Computer Hope Last Season 7-6; Ranked N/A. It wasn’t a great year in Salt Lake City last season, but 4 of Utah’s 6 losses were close ones & the Utes did hammer West Virginia in the bowl game. This year’s squad should be the best HC Kyle Whittingham has had at Utah since they joined the Pac 12. QB Tyler Huntley & RB Zack Moss return behind a veteran O-Line giving Utah plenty of scoring. Defensively the Utes return 6 starters but 7 of their top-9 tacklers. The schedule won’t be easy, not by a long shot, but Utah does get USC at home which is a winnable game and it will probably decide who wins the P12 South.
#14 Computer Hope Last Season 9-4; Ranked #19. A Nick Fitzgerald’s ankle issues probably cost Hail State the Egg Bowl and a 10-win season, but the Bulldogs come back loaded in 2018! The big question is how MSU will do with a new HC in Joe Moorhead? Moorhead spent the last 2 seasons as OC of Penn St., so the man knows how to score points. Giving him Nick Fitzgerald & Aeris Williams should reap big dividends & cut short an adjustment period. The D returns 8 starters including DT Jeffery SImmons who could be an All-American. The do play at Alabama, but the Bulldogs have a roster that could get them to 11-1.
#15 Computer Hope Last Season 12-2; Ranked #3. Like Ohio St., some might think this too low, but losing guys like Baker Mayfield, Mark Andrews, DJ Ward, Orlando Brown, Emmanuel Beal & Ogbonnia Okoronkwo won’t be easy, especially Mayfield at QB who established himself as one of the greatest QB in college football history. Yes RB Rodney Anderson is a beast & there is talent everywhere, but losing so much NFL talent has to sting. The Sooners also have road games against Iowa St., TCU & West Virginia to go with the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners will be really good this year, but I don’t think as good as last season.
#16 Computer Hope Last Season 11-3; Ranked #12. In his first 37 games as USC head coach, Clay Helton is 27-10. In his first 37 games, Pete Carroll was 28-9. It’ll be interesting to see where USC goes from here especially now that Chip Kelly is at UCLA. The Trojans have a tremendous amount of talent to replace on offense, but the O-Line is one of the nation’s best so it’ll come down to how soon the skill players can gel. The D has an outstanding secondary & DE Porter Gustin returns from injury & he’s one of the best edge rushers in the country. The Trojans get Stanford, Texas & Utah on the road. Can Helton keep building?
#17 Computer Hope Last Season 8-5; Ranked N/A. Jim Harbaugh has been somewhat plagued by inconsistent QB play since arriving in Ann Arbor & the play of Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson should help that immediately! The Wolverines turned in their worst record in the Harbaugh era & the whispers will get loud if Michigan turns in another 8-9 win season along wih a loss to Ohio State. Michigan has some tough road games, but everything is there for them to make the playoffs. The defense is arguably the best in the nation & the talent on offense is crazy. I might have them too low here & I suspect that I probably do.
#18 Computer Hope Last Season 10-4; Ranked #10. Even though Alabama did emerge as the national champions, Auburn actually won the SEC West by beating the Tide in the Iron Bowl last season! Auburn should probably rank higher especially with QB Jarrett Stidham improving, but they have to replace a lot on the O-Line & they also get road games against Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi St., while also playing their season opener in Atlanta against Washington! Auburn could finish the season 8-4 & be a top-10 team! Stidham is a monster & there is talent here, but the D is just OK & the schedule will be brutally tough.
#19 Computer Hope Last Season 8-5; Ranked N/A. Iowa could be a team that wins 10-11 games annually if it simply didn’t lose games they shouldn’t. You can say that about a lot of teams obviously but it seems even more accurate with Iowa. I love Nathan Stanley at QB & he’s one of the best in the game. Iowa always gets great O-Line play so Stanley could have a great year. I love the defensive line especially AJ Epenesa & Anthony Nelson. The secondary should also be solid. Replacing Josey Jewell & Josh Jackson will be difficult, but Iowa should be OK. There are a couple of losses on the schedule, but 10-2 is very doable.
#20 Computer Hope Last Season 11-3; Ranked #9. TCU had a great season in 2017, but lost to Oklahoma twice which put them firmly behind the Sooners. You can never count out a Gary Patterson led team, but the losses are fairly heavy for TCU so they’ll need to overcome quite a bit to have a shot at the Big XII title game. Offensively TCU loses QB Kenny Hill & a slew of O-Linemen. Defensively the Frogs return 6 starters, but lose Travin Howard, Nick Orr & Mat Boesen. The schedule also isn’t easy with road games against Texas & West Virginia with Ohio St. & Oklahoma on the schedule. Can’t see them winning 11 games again.
#21 Computer Hope Last Season 7-6; Ranked N/A. The last time BC was nationally relevant was back in 2007 when the Eagles finished 10th in the country at 11-3, which happened to be Matt Ryan’s senior season! They have the ability to get back to national prominence this year with an outstanding rushing attack led by RB AJ Dillon with 10 starters returning on offense! BC is going to pound a lot of teams into the ground with beautiful ball control football. Defensively the Eagles return 6 starters led by Lukas Denis & Zach Allen. I think the D can average giving up less than 20PPG meaning the Eagles are going to win a lot of games!
#22 Computer Hope Last Season 11-3; Ranked #22. Boise St. has a real chance to turning in their first undefeated season since 2009 when the Broncos finished 14-0. Getting a win in Stillwater over Oklahoma St. could set the tone of the entire season. Boise returns 6 starters on offense including QB Brett Rypien & RB Alex Mattison. What separates Boise though is their 10 returning starters on defense. The Broncos brought back 4 starters last season & gave up 22.9PPG. That number is going way down in 2018. A 13-0 season won’t put Boise in the playoffs, but they’ll crash the New Year’s 6 with a shot at perfection.
#23 Computer Hope Last Season 7-6; Ranked N/A. Last season the loss of QB Deondre Francois in the season opener against Alabama was program killing. This year the Seminoles have to replace Jimbo Fisher, the only coach not named Bobby Bowden to win a national championship at Florida State! FSU returns 8 on offense including Francois and RBs Cameron Akers & Jacques Patrick. They should find an easy way to score. What could be difficult for Florida St. is keeping other teams from scoring. FSU returns 4 starters and loses 6 of their top-7 tacklers. The talent is plentiful, but how fast can this team gel in 2018?
#24 Computer Hope Last Season 4-7; Ranked N/A. I really like Jim McElwain as a HC and I’m sorry to see that it didn’t work out in Gainesville. That’s too bad, but the Gators felt like they made a home run hire in luring Dan Mullen away from Mississippi St.! Mullen steps into an interesting situation. Sure the Gators finished 4-7, but they also return 19 starters and the talent level is still extremely high for Florida. The schedule also isn’t brutal meaning 8-10 wins is possible! I’m interesting to see how Mullen develops QB Feleipe Franks and how well the defense can come together. I don’t think anyone will want to play this team in 2018.
#25 Computer Hope Last Season 9-4; Ranked N/A. Will Muschamp has done a solid job in Columbia thus far. The Gamecocks were 3-9 in 2015 & lost to The Citadel. Muschamp had SC  to 6 wins & a bowl game in year 1 and improved the team to 9 wins & a bowl win in Year 2! SC returns 8 starters on offense including QB Jake Bentley who is good enough to put any team in the top-25. The defense returns 6 starters & Muschamp has had the defense improve in each of his first 2 seasons & hopefully that trend continues. Schedule isn’t bad, but they need to win their home games & beat Kentucky to get to 10 victories.
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July 1, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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