1. Clemson: Returning the best Quarterback in the land in Deshaun Watson, a very good Running Back in Wayne Gallman, an incredible group of receivers and a standout Tight End. Plus, one of the best Offensive Lines and you have the makings of a great offense. The defense is in a rebuild mode, but they have recruited so well in recent years and the talent is there.
2. Alabama: Alabama has some huge losses, but Alabama is just Alabama. Nick Saban recruits the best players every year and they are simply reloading again. They do have enough returning talent and the replacements could start for about anybody. Don’t ever write off Alabama with Nick Saban on the sidelines.
the Tigers this year. He has the arm and the physical ability if he can play consistently. They have the Offensive Line, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends and especially Running Backs to be a great Offense. But, you must throw the ball to beat Alabama. I dare anyone to argue that with me. Expect better defense this year as well with the hiring of Aranda from Wisconsin. LSU will be dangerous, but Harris is the key.
4. Oklahoma: Baker Mayfield did for Oklahoma what LSU wants Harris to do for the Tigers. Even with an almost totally new Offensive Line in 2015, the Sooners rolled. It helps that they have a talented Running Back like Samaje Perine. The defense should shine under the watchful eye of Bob Stoops’ brother Mike.
5. Florida State: The Seminoles return everybody on offense, plus a few extras. At Quarterback, Florida State returns Sean Maguire, but he is being pushed really hard by talented redshirt freshman Deondre Francois. Also, true freshman Malik Henry from Long Beach Poly could challenge. The defense has a chance to be better than last year. It’s too bad that Clemson and FSU are in the same division of the ACC, that would make a great championship game.
6. Ohio State: The Buckeyes were crushed by early declarations for the NFL, but at this point under Urban Meyer they simply reload. Still, they lost more than anybody else the losses were across the board. It’s not possible to replace Ezekiel Elliott or Joey Bosa, but the Bucks will still be a good team. JT Barrett is back at Quarterback without the distractions of Cardale Jones. The Offensive Line returns 3 starters, but all of them are in different positions. Defensive losses are huge, but they do return leading tackler Raekwon McMillan and another Bosa, Nick, is soon to be looking for playing time. Some say he is better than Joey at this stage.
7. Michigan: The Wolverines have to replace their Quarterback for the second year in a row, but they have some good players to choose from. The leader could be Houston transfer John O’Korn who threw for over 3,000 yards at Houston as a freshman. They return 4 out of 5 starters in the Offensive Line. The defense was good last season, but should be even better this season with the addition of some outstanding talent and with the hiring of former Boston College coach Don Brown as the Defensive Coordinator. Beware of the Michigan Wolverines and maybe not this season, but definitely the next few years.
8. Notre Dame: The Irish were expected to challenge last season for a title, but injuries and close
losses to Clemson and Stanford knocked them out of it. The Fighting Irish return almost every injured player from last season and a lot of others. They should be tough on both sides of the ball and their schedule should be more favorable than last year, maybe. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire will battle to see who starts at Quarterback and honestly, the Irish can’t lose with either. They are both super talented. They do have some big losses up front in the Offensive Line, but the Fighting Irish will always have talented Linemen. Losing Jaylon Smith at Linebacker will also be painful, but it’s time for talented Nyles Morgan to step up.
9. Ole Miss: The only team to beat Alabama the last two seasons was Ole Miss. Quarterback Chad Kelly is back, but they lost the heart and soul of their offense in Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell and then Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil. The defense lost Robert Nkemdiche, but he never did all that much anyway. They have plenty of talent returning.
10. Florida: With coach Jim McElwain the Gators are on their way. They won the SEC East in his first season without a Quarterback. This year, probably Luke Del Rio or even Austin Appleby will be better than what they had last season. The Offensive Line is a work in progress and should be better. The Defense was stout last season and they should be again in 2016.
11. Stanford: The Cardinal returns Christian McCaffrey, but they lost Quarterback Kevin Hogan and 4 out of 5 starters in the Offensive Line which is huge. But, the defense will be good again and they always keep reloading on the Offensive Line. A Quarterback will have to step up.
12. Tennessee: It’s now or never for Vol Quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The Vols have had recent
troubles with Florida and that game will make, or break, their season in 2016. They could have beaten Alabama last year and that game is also super important. Butch Jones has accumulated a lot of talent on this team and it’s time for them to step forward.
13. Houston: First year coach Tom Herman surprised everyone by leading the Houston Cougars to a 10-0 start before they were upset by Connecticut. They recovered to win the American Athletic Conference and then they upset Florida State in their bowl game. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr is their main man and he’s back for his senior season. Herman is the hottest name in coaching right now.
14. USC: The Trojans have about as much talent as anyone not named Alabama. They did lose their Quarterback, but Max Browne has been waiting for his turn patiently and now is his time. Their Offensive Line returns most everybody and they have highly skilled Wide Receivers and Running Backs. Their defensive line lost everybody, but their new Defensive Coordinator is one of the best. I am not sold on Clay Helton as head coach, but I would love to be wrong. It’s time for the Trojans to live up to the Fight On.
15. Georgia: New head coach Kirby Smart inherits some talent at Georgia. He needs to throw all of his eggs in the basket containing new Quarterback Jacob Eason and be done with it. They should have Nick Chubb back at Running Back, plus 1,000 yard runner Sony Michel. Defense is Smart’s specialty and the Bulldogs have some good young players. Their future is Eason.
16. Miami: The Georgia Bulldogs fired long time coach Mark Richt and the Hurricanes hurriedly scooped up their old Quarterback. The Canes have plenty of talent and they could be the surprise
team of 2016. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is one of the nation’s best and this will be his shot.
17. Oregon: The Ducks are in the same spot there were in last season, needing a Quarterback. Look for either graduate transfer Dakota Prokup or redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen to take over. They were running neck and neck in the Spring. The Ducks return Running Back Royce Freeman who is one of the nation’s very best, plus plenty of speed and talent at Wide Receiver. The defense will look to improve under the leadership of former Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
18. TCU: The Horn Frogs lost some really big talent from last season, but they have become something of a machine in recent seasons and they should rebound nicely.
19. Louisville: Sophomore Quarterback Lamar Jackson is a man to watch this season. He emerged last season as a potential superstar of the future. He has an absolute rocket for an arm and he has sprinter’s speed, something along the lines of a Michael Vick. The rest of the team is coming on as well. The Cardinals could be dangerous this season.
20. North Carolina: The Tar Heels won the ACC Coastal last season and will be a threat to win it again this year. They did lose excellent Quarterback Marquise Williams, but Mitch Trubisky looks like a future star. They have some of the best Wide Receivers and Offensive Linemen around. Gene Chizek is back as Defensive Coordinator. The Tar Heels will be a threat.
21. Arkansas: Losing their Quarterback who came into his own last season will hurt, but the Pigs have his younger brother to take over and he looked good in the Spring. Despite losses in the Offensive Line, they will put another good one on the field. The defense will be tough which should keep them in most games.
22. Pittsburgh: The Panthers are my wild card team for 2016. They have rejuvenated Quarterback Nate Peterman and one of the top Offensive Lines in the nation led by Left Tackle Adam Bisnowaty. They did lose their franchise Wide Receiver, Tyler Boyd, but their running game should be second to
nobody with the return of James Connor and Qadree Ollison at Running Back. Their defense has a way to go, but having defensive guru Pat Narduzzi as head coach has to help.
23. Washington: Some people think the Huskies can win the Pac 12 this season and they might have a shot. Sophomore Quarterback Jake Browning could be great and they have talent surrounding him and an up and coming Offensive Line. Their defense returns most starters from last year’s salty bunch.
24. Iowa: The Hawkeyes return a lot of starters from last year’s Big 10 runner up and West champion. They return Quarterback CJ Beathard and a good portion of their Offensive Line. They are a conservative team and either will win close ones or lose close games next season.
25. Auburn: The Tigers had better finish in the top 25, or Gus Malzahn is in trouble. It doesn’t matter what he did in 2013 as it wouldn’t at Alabama or any other name school. If transfer Quarterback John Franklin III comes through for the Tigers, look for them to have a decent season.
UCLA: I’ve given up on Jim Mora in whom I had so much hope.
Arizona State: Likewise with Todd Graham with his teams usually underachieving. They have the talent to be a good team.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were overrated all of last season, but they could be better this season.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack need a Quarterback and a few other things.
Mississippi State: Bulldogs could be competitive.
Penn State: Actually, I wanted to rank the Nittany Lions. They have everyone back but Hackenberg which might actually be a plus.
Utah: The Utes have a lot of losses, but they have a good coach in Whittingham.