Athlon’s Top 25
For Athlon’s Top 25, you will see the team rank, conference & division affiliation, the number in prentices indicates the # of conference teams are ranked to that point, their best Non-Conference (NC) opponent & that opponent’s conference, site & date the regular season game will be played, and finally, the number of Top 25 listed here they will play in the 2019 season!
1. Alabama SEC, West Division, Best Non-Conference game (NC) is Duke (ACC) @ Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium on August 31st (Bama plays 3 teams in the Regular Season (RS) on this top 25 list: LSU, @ Texas A&M, & @ Auburn)
2. Clemson ACC, Atlantic Division, Best NC game is Texas A&M (SEC) @ home (Clemson Memorial Stadium, seating 81,500) on September 7th! (Clemson plays 2 teams in this Top 25: Texas A&M & 2 Syracuse)
3. Georgia SEC (2), East Division, Best NC game is Notre Dame (IND) at home (Sanford Stadium, seating 92,746) on September 21st. The Dawgs play a whopping 5 Top 25 teams off this list ( Notre Dame, Florida (Jacksonville), Missouri, @ Auburn, & Texas A&M)
4. Michigan B-10, East Division, Best NC Game is Notre Dame @ Home (Michigan Stadium, seating 107,601) on October 26th! ( The Wolverines play a crazy 6 teams of this Top 25 List: Ohio State, ND, @ Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa, & @ Wisconsin
5. Ohio State B-10 (2), East Division, Best NC Game is Cincinnati (AAC) @ home (Ohio Stadium, seating 104,944) on September 7th! (Ohio State plays 5 teams listed here: @ Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, @ Nebraska, & Wisconsin)
6. Oklahoma B-12, B-12 plays a Round-Robin w/o divisions, Best NC game is @ UCLA (P-12) Rose Bowl is the Bruins home stadium, seating 91,113) on September 14th! (OU lines up against 2 teams list here: Iowa State & Texas @ a neutral site, Dallas)
7. LSU SEC (3), West Division, Best NC game is Texas (B-12) in Austin TX (@ Darrell K Royal -Texas Memorial Stadium, seating 100,119) on September 7th! (LSU plays 5 teams listed here: @ Texas, @ Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida, & Auburn)
8. Florida SEC (4), East Division, Best NC Game is Miami FL (ACC) @ Camping World Stadium in Orlando FL on August 24th! (The Gators play 4 teams from this list: @ LSU, Georgia (Jacksonville), Auburn, & @ Missouri)
9. Notre Dame IND, Toughest game in 2019 is Georgia (SEC) @ Samford Stadium seating 92,746, on September 21st (The Irish play 3 teams on the Top 25 List: @ Georgia, @ Michigan, & Virginia)
10. Texas A&M SEC (5),West Division, Best NC game is Clemson (ACC) @ Clemson Memorial Stadium, seating 81,500 on September 7th! (The Aggies play 5 teams that are listed here: Bama, @ LSU,@ Clemson, @ Georgia, & Auburn)
11. Texas B-12 (2), Best NC game is LSU (SEC) @ Home (Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, seating 100,119) on September 7th! (The Longhorns play 3 Top 25 teams: OU @ Neutral Site, Dallas, @ Iowa State, & LSU)
12. Washington P-12, Best NC game is BYU (IND) @ BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium, seating 63,470, on September 21st! (The Huskies play 2 Top 25 opponent: Oregon & Utah)
13. Utah P-12 (2), Best NC game is BYU (IND) @ BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium, seating 63,470, on September 21st! (The Utes play 1 Top 25 opponent: Washington)
14. Penn State B-10 (3), Best NC game is Pitt (ACC), @ Home (Beaver Stadium, seating 106,572) on September 14th! (the Nittany Lions play 4 Top 25 teams: Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, & Iowa)
15. Oregon P-12 (3), Best NC game is Auburn (SEC) @ AT&T Stadium in Arlington TX, on September 21st! (The Ducks play 2: Washington & Auburn)
16. Michigan State B-10 (4), Best NC game is Arizona State (P-12) @ Spartan Stadium, seating 75,005, on September 14th! (The Spartans play 4 Top 25: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, & Wisconsin)
17. Nebraska B-10 (5), Best NC game is Colorado (B-12) @ Folsom Field, seating 50,183, on September 7th! (The Huskers play 3 T-25: Ohio State, Wisconsin, & Iowa, all @ Home)
18. Iowa B-10 (6), Best NC is Iowa State (B-12), @ Jack Trice Stadium, seating 61,500, in Ames, Iowa on September 14th! (The Hawks challenge 4 Top 25’s: @ Nebraska, @ Wisconsin, @ Michigan, & Penn State)
19. Wisconsin B-10 (7), Best NC game is South Florida (AAC) In Tampa FL @ Raymond James Stadium, seating 65,618, on Friday August 30th! (The Badgers play 5 ranked teams: Michigan, @ OSU, MSU, @ Nebraska, & Iowa)
20. Auburn SEC (6), Best NC game is Oregon,@ AT&T Stadium in Arlington TX, on September 21st! The Tigers play 6 rated teams: Bama, @ A&M, @ LSU, @ Florida, Georgia, & Oregon)
21. Syracuse ACC (2), Best NC game is Maryland (B-10), @ Maryland Stadium, seating 51,802, the game will be played on September 7th! (The Orange play 1 ranked team listed here: Clemson)
22. Central Florida AAC, Best NC game is Stanford (P-12), @ Home in Spectrum Stadium, seating 44,206, on September 14th! (UCF does not play a team that is rated by Lindy Sports)
23. Missouri SEC (7), Best NC game is West Virginia (B-12), @ Home in Memorial Stadium, seating 71,168, on September 7th! Mizzou plays 2 teams ranked in this Top 25: @ Georgia & Florida)
24. Iowa State B-12 (3), Best NC game is Iowa, @ Home in Jack Trice Stadium, seating 61,500, on September 14th! The Cyclones play 3 teams ranked listed here: Iowa, @ OU, & Texas)
25. Virginia ACC (3), Best NC game is Notre Dame, @ Notre Dame Stadium, seating 77,622 on September 28th! (The Cavaliers play 1 ranked team: @ Notre Dame)
Athlon’s has identifies, SEC: 7 teams; B-10: 7 teams; B-12: 3 teams, ACC: 3 teams; P-12: 3 teams; AAC: 1 team; & IND: 1 team to comprise their Top 25 rankings!
Street and Smith Top 25
Street & Smith have 8 of the 10 teams Athlon has in their Top 10, S&S added Michigan and Texas A&M and subtracted Texas & Oregon! In identifying road games vs Top 25 Teams, I used only Street & Smith’s roster; for instance, Wisconsin and Iowa were ranked by the Athlon staff but not by Street & Smith’s; so the Hawks and the Badgers were not recognized as a road game vs a Top 25 opponent! The SEC had 7 teams ranked by Street and Smith, the same number as Athlon with one distinction, Mississippi State was added and Missouri was removed! The B-10 went from 7 ranked teams by Athlon to 5 by S&S! While the P-12 went up from 3 teams to 5 with the addition of Washington State & Stanford! The B-12 stayed @ 3 teams, the ACC fell from 3 to 2 with the loss of Syracuse, the IND’s grew from 1 to 2 with the addition of Army and the AAC stayed @ 1 team (UCF) the only Group of 5 team to be ranked!
1. Alabama: SEC West Division, vs Street & Smith (S&S) T0p 25 road games (3), @ Texas A&M (OCT 12th) @ Mississippi State (NOV 16th), and @ Auburn (NOV 30th)!
2. Clemson ACC Atlantic Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games: (0) None!
3. Georgia SEC East Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): Florida (Neutral Site, Jacksonville FL, NOV 2nd) and @ Auburn (NOV 16th)
4. Oklahoma B-12 has no Divisions, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): Texas (Neutral Site, Dallas TX, OCT 12th)
5. Ohio State B-10 East Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ Nebraska (SEPT 28th) & @ Michigan (NOV 30th)
6. LSU SEC West Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (3): @ Texas (SEPT 7th), @ Mississippi State (OCT 19th), @ Alabama (NOV 9th)
7. Notre Dame IND, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (3): @ Georgia (SEPT 21), @ Michigan (OCT 26th), & @ Stanford (NOV 30th)
8. Florida SEC East Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ LSU (OCT 12th), Georgia (Neutral Site, Jacksonville FL, NOV 2nd),
9. Texas B-12 has no Divisions, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): Oklahoma (Neutral Site, Dallas TX, OCT 12th) & @ Iowa State (NOV 16th),
10. Oregon P-12 North Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (3): Auburn (Neutral Site, Arlington TX, AUG 31st), @ Stanford (SEPT 21st) & @ Washington (OCT 19th)
11. Michigan B-10 East Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): @ Penn State (OCT 19th)
12. Washington P-12 North Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): @ Stanford (OCT 5th)
13. Texas A&M SEC West Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ Clemson (SEPT 7th), & @ Georgia (NOV 23rd)
14. Auburn SEC West Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (3): Oregon (Neutral Site, Arlington TX, AUG 31st), @ Texas A&M (SEPT 21st), @ LSU (OCT 26th)
15. Central Florida AAC East Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (0): None!
16. Mississippi State SEC West Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ Auburn (SEPT 28th), & @ Texas A&M (OCT 26th)
17. Washington State P-12 North Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (3): @ Utah (SEPT 28th), @ Oregon (OCT 26th), & @ Washington (NOV 29th)
18. Iowa State B-12 has no Divisions, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): @ Oklahoma (NOV 9th)
19. Michigan State B-10 East Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ Ohio State (OCT 5th) & @ Michigan (NOV 16th)
20. Penn State B-10 East Division,vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ Michigan State (OCT 26th) & @ Ohio State (NOV 23rd)
21. Utah P-12 South Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): @ Washington (NOV 2nd)
22. Stanford P-12 North Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (2): @ Central Florida (SEPT 14th) & @ Washington State (NOV 16th)
23. Army IND, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): @ Michigan (SEPT 7th)
24. Nebraska B-10 West Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (0): None!
25. Virginia ACC Coastal Division, vs S&S Top 25 Road Games (1): @ Notre Dame (SEPT 28th)
Lindy’s Sports Top 25
1. Clemson ACC (1) Atlantic Division (1): The Tigers return a generational QB, Trevor Lawrence (3,280, 30 TDs, 4 INTs, & 65.1%) , 2 great receivers, Justyn Ross & Tee Higgins, both are quick, have break away speed and are big (6’4” & 205), an all American RB in Travis Etienne, 4 starters back on the O-Line, and potential All-Americans @ all three levels of the Defense, DE, Xavier Thomas, OLB, Isaiah Simmons, & CB, A. J. Terrell.
2. Alabama SEC (1) West Division (1): The Tide is loaded and refocused after last year’s 28 point (44-16) ‘tail whippen’ in the National Championship by Clemson! QB Tua Tagovailoa (3,966 yards, 43 TDs, 6 INTs, & 69 percent completion percentage), RB Najee Harris, WRs All American Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith, & Jaylen Waddle, the O-Line is talented, but inexperienced, losing 3 starters! The D has talent everywhere, D-Line is led by Raekwon Davis, the LBs feature, Dylan Moses, & the secondary is patrolled by Xavier McKinney.
Note: Clemson & Alabama are on a collision course in 2019 and the 5th in this series looks, on paper, to be the best of the 5 games!
3. Georgia SEC (2) East Division (1): The Bulldog Offense is led by the 2nd best QB in the SEC, Jake Fromm (2,749 yards, 30 TDs, 6 picks and 67.3 completion percentage) , the best RB in the conference, D’Andre Swift, the WR position is a question mark as the 3 top receivers are gone, the O-line returns 3 starters and is consider the best in the SEC ang by Athlon 2nd best in the country! The defense is directed by all everything, Safety, J.R. Read, while the D-Line is talented yet young, & the LB’s are loaded with talent, but will lack experience at the beginning of the season!
4. Oklahoma B-12: Hard to over-rate Lincoln Riley, 2 years = 2 B-12 championships, 2 CFP appearances, & 2 Heisman winners! I am not sure that this is not the best start to a college football coaching career ever! At QB, they will feature the 3rd straight transfer in as many years, Jalen Hurts, and oh, by the way, the last 2, Baker Mayfield & Kyler Murray, won the Heisman Trophy! Hurts is capable of making in 3 in a row under Riley’s toutalidge! The RB position will be filled by last year’s 1000 plus rusher, Kennedy Books, WR receivers will be led by Pre-Season All American CeeDee Lamb,! However, 4 of the 5 O-Linemen are off to the NFL! On D, it is another matter, Lindy Sports does not rank the Sooners in the Top 10 at any of the 3 levels assessed, D-Lines, LB’s or Secondary. The good news is they do return 9 starters on defense, led OLB, Kenneth Murray!
5. Michigan B-10 (1) East Division (1): For the first time in a decade, someone other than Ohio State, had the #1 Recruiting Class in the B-10, and that someone is Michigan! QB Shea Patterson is rated as the #1 signal caller in the B-10, that said, the RB position while talented is untested. The WR are the best in the B-10, led by Donovan Peoples-Jones , Nico Collins, & Tarik Black. and the O-line, a liability a year ago, should be the best in the B-10! While the D lasks the star power of a year ago (Devin Bush, Chase Winovich, & Rashan Gary are gone) should be solid, led by CB, Lavert Hill!
6. Florida SEC (3) East Division (2): Danny Mullen went 10-3 in his first year, beating a very good LSU team, 27-19 and pounding a 10 win Michigan in the Peach Bowl, 41-15! The Strength of the team heading into the 2019 is, w/o question, the defense; D-Back, CJ Henderson is a pre-season All American, D-Line is led by Jabari Zuniga and the LB position is centered around the play of David Reese. That said, Mullen is a master at developing QB play, this was clear in the improvement of Feleipe Franks and Kadarius Toney is of the best special team players in the country!
7. Ohio State B-10 (2) East Division (2): Urban Meyer is gone and so is his 86-9 record over the past 7 years! The Ryan Day Era begins in 2019 and the Buck’s schedule is easing him in as Ohio State does not have a Power 5 opponent in their Non-Conference schedule! The Bucks, per usual, have talent everywhere! Five Star, Georgia Transfer, Justin Fields will take over @ QB, the RB duties will be carried by out by 1st team all B-10, DJ Dobkins, @ WR it is likely that K.J. Hill will show the way, while the O-Line is anchored by Thayer Mumford, a Preseason All-Big Ten 1st team Selection. The Defense is led by Pre-Season 1st Team All American (DT), Chase Young and All B-10 1st Team, D-Backs (CB) Daman Arnette & (S) Jordan Fuller
8. LSU SEC (4) West Division (2): In the short term, Ed Orgeron, is proving he was/is the “right man’ for this job! He currently is recruiting the 4th best class in all of college football and is 25-9 in his 1st three years! He is 2-1 in bowl games beating Louisville 29-9 and last year handing Central Florida its 1st loss, 40-32, in 26 games! It also should be noted, he landed LSU in a New Years 6 Bowl in 2018! The Defense is led by 1st team, Preseason All-American Safety, Grant Delpit, DT Rashad Lawrence, OLB, K’Lavon Chaisson, ILB, Jacob Phillips, & CB, Kristian Fulton. The challenge this season will clearly be on QB, Joe Burrow, an Ohio State transfer, who passed for 2,894 yards, 16 TD & 5 picks. The Tigers featured RB, Clyde Edwards, is talented but untested, while WR Justin Jefferson will be Burrow’s primary target (54 catches for 875 yards, 16.2 YPC, & 6 TD in ’18).
9. Notre Dame IND (1): The Irish have won 22 games the past 2 seasons, only 4 P5 Clemson & Bama 27, Ohio State 25 & OU 24 have won more games! If ND puts another double digit winning season on the board, given their schedule, I think it would be fair to say they are re-entering their former status as a member of college football’s elite! No question that Ian Book’s insertion into the Notre Dame starting 11 catapulted the Irish to their undefeated regular season. ND’s RB, are talented but unproven as featured backs, the WR corps (Claypool, Fink, & Young) are ranked as the 10th best in Lindy’s National Unit Ranking, O-Line is led by Street & Smith 1st team All-American, Tommy Kraemer. The success of the Irish D is centered around D-Ends Julian Okwara & Khalid Kareem (ND’s D-Line is ranked 6th Best Nationally by Lindy), while the secondary features the Safety play of Alohi Gilman & Jalen Elliott (also ranked 6th Nationally by Lindy).
10. Oregon P-12 (1) North Division (1): It would be hard to overvalue the work that Mario Cristobal has done in his 1st year as HC, as well as his work as OC the previous year! In 2019, he recruited the 6th best class in the country and is doing the same thing in the current 2020 class! At QB, Justin Herbert, is 1st Team Preseason All-Pac 12 selection, @ RB, 1000 plus rusher, CJ Verdell returns, the WR will be bolstered by 5th year (PSU) transfer Juwan Johnson (would have been Penn State “go to receiver”), while the O-Line is led by Preseason 1st Team All-American, Calvin Throckmorton and are regarded as the best Offensive Line in the P-12! On Defense LB, Troy Dye is a 1st Team Preseason All-Pac 12 pick, DL Jordan Scott is a 2nd Team All Pac 12 selection, as is DB, Thomas Graham Jr.!
11. Texas B-12 (2): Texas won 10 games a year ago, currently a big deal, yet historically, 10 wins was an expectation, if they really are back, they need to win 10 again, and again. and yet again! We should find out a lot about the Longhorns on September 7th when they host LSU and by October 12th the verdict will be in (Oklahoma State @ home Sept. 21st & OU in Dallas on Oct. 12th) as to their locale … back, almost back, or way back! On Offense, QB, Sam Ehlinger is the man, passing for 3,292 yards, 25 TDs, & 5 INTs, while rushing for 482 yards and 16 TDs! His 41 TDs are the second most in Texas history behind only Colt McCoy’s 45 in 2008. Texas RB will be Keaontay Ingram a sophomore with break away speed and @ WR the Horns will feature Collin Johnson. The O-Line loses 3 starters, so inexperienced yet talented! The Defense will be led by DB, Caden Sterns and who will need to be vocal on game day as the Longhorns must replace 8 starters!
12. Utah P-12 (2) South Division (1): Kyle Whittingham led the Utes to their 1st PAC 12 South Division Championship in 2018. The Utes had been the only team in the South Division not to have won the Division … not anymore! The Utes are picked to win the South again by at least 3 publications (Street & Smith, Athlon, & Lindy’s Sports) and with good reason, as they return 14 starters, 7 on O & 7 on D! QB, Tyler Huntley, passed for 1,788 yards, 12 TDs & 6 INTs, while RB, Zack Moss rushed for 1,096 yards and 11 scores! WR Britain Covey, is recovering from a knee injury that occured in the P-12 Championship Game vs Washington (a 10-3 loss), Covey caught 60 balls for 637 yards and is expected back in the fall! On Defense, the Utes return every starter on the D-line, LB is a concern as both Barton & Hansen have graduated and were the teams leading tacklers in 2018. The secondary returns 2 starters and should be solid!
13. Texas A&M SEC (5) West Division (3): Jimbo Fisher promised that A&M would utilize the TE position and would run the ball in the rugged SEC West, and that is exactly what they did! TE Jace Sternberger let the team in receptions (48), receiving yards (832), & receiving TDs @ 10! Sternberger is off to the NFL, so Jimbo brought in 5 start TE, Baylor Cupp, who tore it up in Spring Ball. Trayveon Williams ran for 1,760 yards, 6.5 YPC & scored 18 TDs, he is also off to the NFL, Jashaun Corbin will replace Williams,well, maybe not replace, but Corbin showed breakaway ability in the spring ball! QB, Kellen Mond, passed for 3,107 yards, 24 TDs, & 9 picks! The O-Line returns 4 starters, but must replace, All-SEC Center, Erik McCoy. On Defense, A&M returns only 4 starters and must get the newbees up to speed quickly, as they travel to Clemson in week two!
14. Iowa B-10 (3) West Division (1): Kirk Ferentz is the Dean of B-10 coaches as he enters his 20th year at the Hawkeye helm! He enters the 2019 season with a record of 152-101 in his time @ Iowa City! On offensive RT, Tristan Wirfs & LT Alaric Jackson lead the way, while the defense features 1st Team Preseason All-American, DE, A.J. Epenesa. All three of these players are preseason, All-Big Ten 1st team selections! QB Nate Stanley is back for his 3rd year as a starter and should improve on his 26 TDs in each of the last 2 years! The Hawks also return their top three RBs, led by Mekhi Sargent, who rushed for 745 yards and 9 TDs. The Hawks can win the West this year, but their schedule is not favorable, @ Wisconsin, @ Northwestern, & @ Nebraska. While they do get Rutgers @ home in one of the 3 divisional crossover games, they have to travel to the ‘Big House’ (Michigan) and play Penn State at home! The Hawks will need their A game every week to survive their 2019 B-10 schedule!
15. Auburn SEC (6) West (4): The Tigers may have the best D-Lineman in the country, DT Derrick Brown and the best D-Line in all of college football, when you factor in DE, Marlon Davidson & Buck End,Nick Coe! The LBs long on talent and short on experience, while the Secondary has the potential to be one of the best in the SEC!. Auburn returns all five starters on the O-Line and have budding stars at RB and WR. The issue is at QB, Jarrett Stidham is off to the NFL, where 3 players are locked in a competition, Joey Gatewood, Bo Nix, & Malik Willis, with no one winning the job in the spring. What we do know is that HC, Gus Malzahn’s seat is getting hot (at least a little strange when you consider he is 62-30 in 7 years @ Auburn) as a result Coach Malzahn has announced he will call the plays this year! They get Bama & the Dawgs @ Home (a challenge anywhere … so … better at home) and just as tough, they travel to LSU (Death Valley) & College Station (A&M), arguably the 2 rowdiest venues in all of college football! Then the AD decided to add insane to crazy, by scheduling the most explosive team in the P-12, Oregon, at a neutral site, Arlington, TX, to open the season!
16. Wisconsin B-10 (4) West Division (2): The Badgers have been among college football’s elite when you consider RB and O-Line play. Nothing new to report in 2019, the Badgers have the best running back in college football, 1st team preseason All American, Jonathan Taylor and their O-Line is anchored by their center, Tyler Biadasz, also a 1st team preseason All-American. Bucky’s WR underperformed in 2018, injuries and some unacceptable off the field behaviors disrupted their focus as they came in to 2018 as the 4th ranked team in the country yet finished a disappointing 8-5! The QB position will be interesting to follow this year, Alex Hornibrook, who went 26-6 as the starter over the past 3 seasons has transferred to Florida State! That leaves Jack Coan, who led the Badgers to an impressive bowl win over Miami, 35-3, in the Pinstripe Bowl, or highly recruited 4 star QB Graham Mertz to battle for the staring role! The D will get a boast with the return DE, Garrett Rand, out with an Achilles last season and the emergency of 4 star LB Jack Sanborn, while the secondary returns a ton of experience in 2019, due in part, to injuries in 2018!
17. Washington P-12 (3) North Division (2): Chris Peterson has more than revived a stagnant Husky program. Peterson went 15-12 in his first 2 years, since then he has gone 32-9, won the North Division & Pac 12 Championship in 2016, & 2018, tied Stanford in 2017 for the divisional title (lost the tie breaker to the Cardinal, 30-22), been to three straight New Year’s Day 6 Bowls, and the College Football Play-offs in 16! Coach Peterson is a difference with a distinction … winning! The Husky’s lost record setting 4 year starting QB, Jake Browning, enter Jacob Easton, a home state product, who elected to attend Georgia and as a true freshman, passed for 2,430, 16 TD’s, 8 INT,s, while completing 55.1% of his passes. Easton should bring a consistence that at times was vacant in 2018. He will not have to do it alone, all of the receivers return and 4 of the 5 O-Linemen who started in the Rose Bowl are back in 2019. RB, Salvon Ahmed (996 yards in 2 years as a backup to Myles Gaskin should be ready to step up)! The D lost 5 starters to the NFL, yet the secondary is ranked 2nd and the D-Line is ranked 3rd in the preseason P-12 unit evals! Now put all this together and add in Peterson and you understand the optimism in Seattle!
18. Central Florida AAC (1) East Division (1): This is a program that has won at a pace that rivals Alabama & Clemson’s the past 2 seasons (UCF 25-1, Bama 27-1, & Clemson 27-2) I said rivals, not equals, due to the respective schedules. In 2017, UCF beat Maryland 38-10, their game with Georgia Tech was cancelled due to weather. and then the Knights beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, 34-27! In 2018, they beat Pitt, 45-14, who won the ACC Coastal, and then lost to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, 40-32. Their is no question that the American is the best conference in the Group of 5 (G5), that UCF is the best program in the the G5, and that that are better the majority of Power 5 teams. That said, the Knights do not have to play in the B-10 East, the SEC West, The SEC East, the PAC 12 North, or a round robin in the B-12. Those challenges, in the P5 Conferences week in — week out, are simply not the same in the AAC East! That said, the Knight play 2 P5’s this coming season, Stanford, @ Home and take on Pitt @ Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh!
19 Miami FL ACC (2) Coastal Division (1): Mark Richt has left the building and Manny Diaz is at the helm. After a 7-6, injury riddle and QB Play that at best was wildly inconsistent consistent in 2018; Richt decided to call it quits! Miami has more star power on defense than Clemson, the canes have 4 players on the All ACC 1st team heading into the 2019 season, led by DE Jonathon Garvin, LBs Michael Pinckney & Shaquille Quarterman, & CB Trajan Bandy, The Offense is led by TE Brevin Jordan, LG Navaughn Donaldson, & RB DeeJay Dallas. However, the key to what category the Hurricanes are placed in this year will be centered around the development of their QB! Ohio State transfer, Tate Martell, a top 5 QB in the 2017 class, could be exactly what the Canes need to win the ACC’s Coastal Division!
20. Michigan State B-10 (5) East Division (3): The Spartans, @ least arguably, have the best defense in the the B-10 coming into the 2019 season. Last year, they led the nation in Rushing Defense and return several of the reasons as to why they were able to do this! MSU D is led by, Preseason All B-10 Ten, 1st Team DE Kenny Willekes, LB Joe Bachie, & CB Josiah Scott. DT’s Raequan Williams & Mike Panasiuk are really good players and make this one of the best D lines in the country. LB, Tyriq Thompson provided solid play in 2018 and newcomer, Antjuan Simmons is a proven contributor, whose production should sour as a full time starter in 2019! Finally, S, David Dowell will provide senior leadership and experience as he directs the Spartan D from the backend of their defensive formations The Spartans can defend Thermopylae, no question, the real unanswered quire is can they counter attack? This will be answered by the play of Brian Lewerke! Last year, in the Spartan upset Penn State, Lewerke hurt his shoulder and played through considerable pain and a disrupted throwing motion. He is now healthy and so are three dependable receivers, led by Cody White! The run game will be led by 7 returning limemen with starting experience and a host of RB’s led by Connor Hayward!
21. Nebraska B-10 (6) West Division (3): Scott Frost’s ‘Dream Job’ did not begin the way he or the faithful had longed for in 2018! The Huskers lost their first six games and were bowl eligible after the 9 game (7 losses). However, they never lost their focus or played dead, in fact, quite the opposite, the Cornhuskers won 4 of their last six and were close to going 6-0 in the last 6 games, losing @ Ohio State, 36-31 and @ Iowa 31-28! QB, Adrian Martinez, who Frost says has the potential to be the greatest player to ever play at Nebraska. Quite a statement given Nebraska history! If that boast is going to become anywhere near true, he is going to need a lot more help then he received last year! WR, JD Spielman (66 catches, 818 yards, 12.4 YPR, 8 TD) is a good place to start, while RB/AP Maurice Washington, would have been a huge assist, had legal issues off the field and his status is unknown! The O-line has 3 starters returning and may need to be reshuffled positions to maximise incoming talent! On D, LB, Mohamed Berry and CB Dicaprio Bootle are Preseason All Big-Ten 2nd team and will need to provide leadership as the Huskers return only 5 starters on that side of the ball!
22. Stanford P-12 (4) North Division (3): David Shaw is one of the best coaches in all of college football. He has to recruit with one hand tied behind his back, as Stanford is actually serious about the admission of college ready students! In the last 5 years, the Cardinal have won 48 games and lost 19, an average of 9.6 wins to 3.8 losses, translated into the real world as 10-4 in each of the past 5 seasons! Beyond impressive! That said, last year was different, Stanford struggled to run the ball, did not dominate the LOS on either sided of the ball, and for the 2nd, time since 2009, finished the season unranked! The question one asks; was last year an anomaly or are their recruiting challenges finally overwhelming their roster? The Cardinal return their QB, K.J. Costella (3540 passing yards, 29 TD’s, & 11 INT’s), a 2nd team selection Preseason All PAC 12, TE Colby Parkinson (29 receptions, 16.8 ypr, & 7 TD’s and massive O-Lineman, Walker Little (6’7 313)! The Defensed is led by CB, Paulson Adebo (1st team All P-12), DL Jovan Swann (a 3rd team selection) all very capable, yet the D returns only 5 starters to open the season against Northwestern (won the B-10 West), @ USC (best skilled players in the P-12), @ UCF (25-1 the past 2 years), & Oregon (Preseason pick, w/ Washington, to to win the North Division) in their 1st 4 games of 2019!
23. Iowa State B-12 (3): Matty Campbell has changed the culture @ ISU and as an outcome of that, the programs national perception! In his 2nd year, the Cyclones beat OU, 38-31, in Norman & TCU 14-7, @ home, and won their Bowl game vs a 10 win Memphis team, 21-20! Coach Campbell’s teams have gone 16-10 over the past 2 years, after winning just 08 games in 3 years prior to his arrival! The Offense was led by, true freshmen, Brock Poddy, (2250 passing yards, 16 TD’s & 7 INT’s), Poddy was also the teams 2nd leading rusher (100 rushes for 308 yards) an is a 3rd team Preseason All B-12 selection! ISU returns 14 starters, 7 on O and 7 on D! While the O-Line was highly productive in 201`8 for the 1st time since 2014 all 5 starters return. RB is an issue as 2 time all B-12, David Montgomery is gone, Tarique Milton looks to be the replacement! the WR position features, Deshaunte Jones, who has to fill the shoes of, All B-12, Hakeem Butler (1318 receiving yards, 22.0 YPR, & 9 TD’s). Jones’ challenge is arguable greater than Milton’s! No question the strength of ISU 2019 addition is the Defense! The have the best D-line in the B-12, led by DE, JaQuan Bailey & NG, Ray Lima and Safety, Greg Eisworth also a preseason 1st team B-12 selection!Mike Rose will provide outstanding play at LB!
24. Missouri SEC (7) East Division (3): HC, Berry Odom lost 13 of his 1st 18 games, but since then, has won 14 0f his last 20! As he heads into his 4th year at Mizzou, he is 19-19. He must replace, Drew Lock, who many NFL scouts thought, other than Trevor Lawrence, was the best (NFL perspective) QB in the Country. The Tigers return 13 starters ( 7 on Offense & 6 on Defense). The offense is led by TE, Albert OKwuegbunam and OT, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, while the Defense features LB, Cale Garrett!. The Tigers line up against Georgia, @ home & Alabama, in Tuscaloosa in 2 of their 1st three SEC games!
25. Washington State P-12 (5) North Division (4): Washington State may be the 4th best team (Washington, Oregon, & Stanford) in the 4th best division (SEC West, B-10 East, & SEC East) in college football! WSU strength on Offense is on the O-Line, massive RT Abraham Lucas (6’7” 320) and Center, Fredrick Mauigoa (6’3 3120) and @ WR, The cougars often line up with 4 WR and no TE, they have 2 very productive returning wide-outs, Davontavean Martin (69 receptions for 8 TD’s and Dezmon Patmon (61 receptions and 5 TD’s). The Air Raid O revolves around its QB (Gardner Minshew) and Gage Gubrud (a former FCS All-American @ Eastern Washington) is the leading candidate to lead the O! The D will be led by D-Lineman, Will Rodgers III and LB, Jahad Woods. The Cougars schedule is not helpful as they travel to Washington & Oregon in the division and play Utah in Salt Lake City!