Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kickoff Week in College Football, as we look at the Top 25 heading into the 2016 Season

Cedar Rapids, IA -- College Football heads into Year 3 of the College Football Playoff this week, with most programs kicking off, after last week's Sydney Cup played in Australia, featuring two non-ranked programs.  In 2015, Ohio State was the consensus pick in the Associated Press entering the season, after winning the first championship. Alabama lost to Ohio State in the first semi-final in 2014, but they rebounded in 2015, winning it all, while the Buckeyes were eliminated in Big Ten Conference play.

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Ohio State won in 2014, then Alabama in 2015. Who is prime for 2016?
There is no consensus pick in 2016, but Alabama will get a lot of love and is picked in everyone's Top 4, but one preseason source. Relative newbie, Arena Fantastic doesn't have Alabama in the Top 4, after making the College Football Playoff each of the past two seasons. Arena Fantastic was #1 according to in overall preseason accuracy in 2015, overcoming Phil Steele for the first time, since 2012. Phil Steele has been the most accurate preseason magazine over the past 18 seasons.

Just about every program has certain questions heading into the 2016 season. 

  • Whether it be a new QB, 
  • Replacing players departing for the NFL or no longer in school,
  • Other personnel or coaching questions,
  • Challenging schedules,
  • Even coaches on the hot-seat heading into 2016!

The Top 4 programs over the past 3 seasons, based on winning percentage:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Florida State
  3. Alabama
  4. Michigan State
In this year's preseason Top 25 polls, there are seven teams on everyone's list as a Top 25 program in 2016.
  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Ohio State
  5. Florida State
  6. LSU
  7. Tennessee 
No Pac Ten teams are listed as a consensus Top 25 program, bu there are three SEC programs, two ACC programs, with a Big 12 and Big Ten program to fill out the list. In 2014, the list went ten deep, with someone not listing Alabama; while in 2015, the list went nine deep, with one preseason pick real good pick, not picking Auburn, who were on everybody else's Top 20, but fell to a 7-6 record in 2015.

In 2014, preseason #1 Florida State, #2 Alabama, #3 Oregon and #6 Ohio State all made the first College Football Playoff. 

In 2015, preseason #2 Alabama, #6 Michigan State, #14 Clemson and #21 Oklahoma all made the second College Football Playoff.

Who are the Top 9 in College Football that generally are underrated according to Stassen?
  1. Boise State
  2. Oregon
  3. TCU
  4. Kansas State
  5. Michigan State
  6. Iowa
  7. Alabama
  8. Arizona State
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Everyone else is typically overrated?
Most Common Overrated programs per Stassen: Texas and USC are tied for #1, dating back to 1989. Followed by: Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Florida State, Michigan, Florida, LSU and Miami-FL. The next ten are: UCLA, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Clemson, Georgia, Washington, Penn State, Ohio State, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Auburn and Colorado wrap up the list, since 1989.

Will we get three newbies again in 2016 in the College Football Playoff? 

With Clemson at #2 this season on Stassen's list, will the Tigers be this year's repeat?

Here are our thoughts on our preseason Final 4 for the 2016 College Football Playoff ...

  1. Clemson - Since they are many people's #2, and the #2 preseason pick has reached it two years straight, we will start with the Tigers.
  2. LSU -  after Clemson, we will stick with another team, with the Tigers' nickname, as LSU brought in a new defensive coordinator in 2016 ... defense wins championships and Alabama can't be there every year ... 
  3. Oklahoma - Bob Stoops hasn't won a National Championship, since 2000. He and Kirk Ferentz at Iowa are now the two longest reigning head coaches in College Football today, at the same school. K-State's head coach took some time off, so he wasn't listed.
  4. Iowa, Stanford ... well, the two Rose Bowl opponents are on the thought list, but we will choose Washington, since we have to pick a 4th. Yes, I would like to dream the Hawkeyes in the College Football Playoff, they came within inches in 2016. The Stanford QB is holding me off, with picking the defending Rose Bowl and Pac 12 champions in 2016 ...
We will us for our 2016 Preseason College Football poll ... all 48 programs! Some random thoughts, as we kickoff the 2016 College Football season!
  1. Alabama - the Crimson Tide are the defending champions, so others will have to earn the Top spot in the Poll. I do believe they will not repeat in the College Football Playoff in 2016 ... 
  2. Clemson - I would pick the Tigers to repeat and reach the Final 4 in 2016, as they open @ Auburn this weekend ...
  3. Oklahoma - They will face a heck of schedule with Houston in the opener and OSU in Week 3, but they are clearly the favorite in the Big 12 and they could open 3-0 in the OOC ...
  4. Ohio State - since Urban Meyer arrived in 2011, they have only lost 4 games, they may get through the Big Ten in 2016, but we would say losing 16 starters will likely be a huge hurdle, despite the six starters back, including QB J.T. Barrett's success in 2014 ...
  5. Florida State - They are a serious candidate for the ACC title and the College Football Playoff, but we are giving Clemson the nod, based on the starting QB ...
  6. LSU - Les Miles was on the hot seat in 2015, and his choice of defensive coordinator, matched with the possiblities on offense ... we believe the Tigers are a good choice to produce in '16!
  7. Tennessee - the Volunteers are entering 2016 with 17 starters back, but they find ways to come up short, why is this season any different?
  8. Michigan - Who is the QB for coach Jim Harbaugh?
  9. Notre Dame - What do they say, when you have two quarterbacks? Look at Ohio State in '15 ...
  10. Stanford - new QB at Stanford makes the Cardinal a quesiton entering 2016 ...
  11. Mississippi - tough season opener in Orlando on Labor Day, plus they have to face the SEC West ... don't see them as top program in 2016!
  12. Michigan State - the Spartans are a team capable of repeating in the Big Ten ...
  13. USC - personally, I believe the Trojans should begin outside the Top 25, after last year's 7-6 season.
  14. TCU - the Horned Frogs may be the best program to rain on the Sooners run in the Big 12 ...
  15. Washington - we like the Huskies to sneak up and take the Pac 12 in 2016 ...
  16. Georgia - new coach, often good recruits, but as many say, can new coach Kirby Smart "find that missing something" in Athens?
  17. Iowa - a rematch of MSU-Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game is our choice in 2016 ...
  18. Baylor - moving on out ... not a fan of Waco's program, even before the ax fell on the head coach!
  19. Houston - the Cougars open 2016 with a great showdown with the #3 Oklahoma Sooners ... a win would be huge for the Top non-Power 5 program in 2015 and likely in 2016!
  20. Oklahoma State - it will be a one QB system most likely in 2016 ...
  21. Louisville - the Cardinals play in the same ACC division as Clemson and Florida State ... spoiler alert!
  22. North Carolina - the Tar Heels can make some huge noise against Georgia in the season opener, if they can pull out the win ...
  23. UCLA - the Bruins enter coming off a bowl loss to the Big Ten's Nebraska Cornhuskers ...
  24. Oregon - the Ducks play in Week 3 at the Nebraska Cornhuskers 
  25. Florida - they begin 2016, right where they ended 2015 ...
  26. Nebraska - they may have a great offense, but will the Blackshirts live up to the tradition in 2016?
  27. San Diego State - next program in, as the next highest rated non-Power 5 program in the race to New Year's Six ...
  28. Boise State - not the program they once were, as 
  29. Arkansas - Being Bret Bielema has had some interesting programs, as a son of a hog farmer in Illinois leads the Razorbacks in the SEC West ...
  30. Texas A&M - host UCLA in the season opener in another Week 1 SEC vs. Pac 12 showdown!
  31. Miami-FL - new coach, can the Hurricane make some noise in 2016?
  32. Wisconsin - the Badgers face a challenging schedule with five AP Top 25 opponents, beginning with #6 LSU in the season opener at Lambeau, in Green Bay!
  33. West Virginia - open the season hosting Missouri, which should be a good one!
  34. Washington State - the Cougars improved in 2015 ... could they take a huge bump in '16?
  35. Mississippi State - they have a new QB ... play in a very strong division!
  36. Pittsburgh - rooting for the Panthers in the 2016 ACC Coastal race!
  37. BYU - like 2015, the Cougars will make a trip back into Big Ten country with an October date @ MSU ...
  38. Texas - open the 2016 season with a date at home with Notre Dame ... opportunity knocks for Charlie Strong's Longhorns!
  39. Auburn - the Tigers open the season with Clemson at home ... talk about an opportuntiy to throw a wrench in the Top 4!
  40. Utah - The opened 2015 with a win over Michigan and Jim Harbaugh ... a date with Southern Utah in the opener in 2016 doesn't have the same flavor to it!
  41. WKU - seeking to carry the C-USA banner as the top football program ...
  42. Appalachian State - They are looking for more wins, after a 12-2 record in 2015 out of the Sun Belt!
  43. Northwestern - the Wildcats may be a sleeper in the Big Ten West in '16, and open against #44 Western Michigan in Evanston ...
  44. Western Michigan - The MAC often schedule the Big Ten in the non-conference, with the Broncos opening at Northwestern, then travel to Illinois in Week 3 for the second B1G game ...
  45. Memphis - after 9-4 last year, can the Tigers put up style points in trying to earn a bid as a new member to the Big 12 in the near future?
  46. Temple - the Owls will be Penn State's opponent for Joe Paterno regonition day, during Week 3 of the College Football season ... can the Owls make it two straight over the Nittany Lions?
  47. Toledo - Jason Candle is the new head coach, after a 10-2 season provides coach Matt Campbell, a promotion to Iowa State University ...
  48. South Florida - the Bulls were 8-5 last year, but 6-2 in the AAC East ...
Ranking the Big Ten heading into the 2016 season ...
random thought!

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes - while the Buckeyes fell short in 2015 at home, with a single loss, and they have only three starters back on each side the football; Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are always the team to beat entering a football season in the Big Ten!
  2. Iowa Hawkeyes - if the played Michigan State right now, I like the Hawkeyes chances, with 15 starters back from Iowa's 12-2 program. The schedule remains favorable, but there are plenty of tests that still will need to be completed, including a date with Michigan in Week 10.
  3. Michigan State Spartans - the Spartans have been playing very well over the past three seasons, with plenty of positives in turnover margin, but they will have a target on their back, due to wins over Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten East, last season ...
  4. Michigan Wolverines - everybody love Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines, as they jump Michigan State and Iowa in the polls. Who is the QB for 2016? Earn it! This program has not won a Big Ten title, since 2004 and it has been nearly a decade, since they were in the conversation for the Big Ten crown ...
  5. Northwestern Wildcats - the Wildcats were outstanding in ten wins in 2015, including a season opener, against the Rose Bowl champs, Stanford; but, they were not competitive in losses @ Michigan, vs. Iowa and in the bowl game vs. Tennessee ...
  6. Wisconsin Badgers - they have a challenging schedule and conventional wisdom would suggest that the Badgers may be headed for a fall in the Big Ten West standings ...
  7. Penn State Nittany Lions - we enter Year 3 of the coach James Franklin and questions remain, as they shift to a spread offense in 2016, as they replace the other coordinator on the defensive side, as well.
  8. Nebraska Cornhuskers - the Mike Riley era began with a 6-7 season, including a bowl win over UCLA. The offense returns a lot of skill, but will the Blackshirts be championship worthy?
  9. Minnesota Golden Gophers - the Tracy Claeys era will complete a full season in 2016, after he took over for the ill Jerry Kill mid-season. Explosive plays are the question on offense and on defense, as the retooling continues, coming off a 6-7 season.
  10. Illinois Fighting Illini - the Lovie Smith era kicks off in Champaign, as QB Wes Lunt returns for his senior season. The Illini will look to be a spoiler in the Big Ten in 2016 ...
  11. Indiana Hoosiers - Kevin Wilson has the Hoosiers coming off a bowl season, which is rare, with only three bowls in the past 25 or so years! Opener @ FIU tonight!
  12. Purdue Boilermakers - Darrell Hazel has new offensive and defensive coordinators, as he enters Year 4 and a make or break season, most likely in West Lafayette!
  13. Maryland Terrapins - the D.J. Durkin era begins, as the former Michigan defensive coordinator gets the full gig in College Park. The Terrapins play back to back road games in FL, with visits @ FIU and UCF, so only six home games for a B1G team, wow!
  14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - the Chris Ash era begins, as the Iowa native brings a Ohio State and Houston flavor to Rutgers ... he will open B1G play against his native state team, the Iowa Hawkeyes. He opens the season @ Washington, which should be a great test!

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