College football preseason 2023 Power Rankings

The primary school soccer Energy Rankings are right here and who else however the two-time defending nationwide champion Georgia Bulldogs reign supreme.

Michigan and Ohio State are battling it out for second with the Wolverines narrowly edging the Buckeyes for the No. 2 spot.

The remainder of the highest 10 is full of fellow blue bloods like Alabama, LSU and USC whereas Florida State and Texas are hoping for a return to former glory in 2023.

With the Energy Rankings out, our writers break down the perfect and worst case state of affairs for every prime 25 workforce this season.

A set of 57 school soccer consultants at ESPN voted on the preseason prime 25 Energy Rankings.

Greatest case: A 3rd straight nationwide championship. Georgia would grow to be the primary FBS program within the fashionable period to win three straight nationwide titles. Minnesota was the final workforce to do it in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Sure, Georgia’s nonconference schedule is particularly delicate after the SEC ordered the Bulldogs to cancel a home-and-home sequence in opposition to Oklahoma, which is becoming a member of the convention subsequent 12 months. The Bulldogs changed the Sooners with Ball State. They’re going to additionally play FCS opponent UT Martin, UAB and struggling Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs play South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Ole Miss at residence. They’re going to play solely three true SEC street video games — at Auburn, Vanderbilt and Tennessee — and can face Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia will probably be heavy favorites in each sport it performs. If Carson Beck steps in and performs effectively at quarterback, the offense needs to be explosive. The protection has to interchange quite a few key contributors once more, however 4 of the highest 5 tacklers are again in Smael Mondon Jr., Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Malaki Starks and Javon Bullard.

Worst case: Two losses? For the schedule causes acknowledged above, it is tough to think about the Bulldogs dropping twice within the common season. If we’re speaking lowest ground, then Beck must wrestle in his first season as a starter and Georgia’s operating sport must be much less productive. Beck will profit from having what is likely to be the deepest receiver corps in class historical past after the Bulldogs added Missouri switch Dominic Lovett and Mississippi State switch Rara Thomas. All-America tight finish Brock Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey are again as effectively. Possibly Georgia slips up in opposition to Ole Miss at residence after which falls at Tennessee on Nov. 18. In all probability not. Shedding at Tennessee after which falling to Alabama or LSU within the SEC championship might be a extra believable state of affairs. If Georgia finishes unbeaten within the common season and falls within the SEC championship sport, will it get the good thing about doubt from the CFP choice committee? Or will its nonconference schedule hold it out of one other playoff? — Mark Schlabach

​​Greatest case: School Soccer Playoff championship. After successful the Large Ten title and making it to the playoff the previous two years, Michigan’s aim is to make it to the ultimate sport and win a nationwide championship. The workforce is returning key starters from final season, together with quarterback J.J. McCarthy and gifted operating again duo Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, and crammed some holes by way of the switch portal within the offseason. The schedule is back-loaded, with the workforce beginning the season with East Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Inexperienced and Rutgers, then dealing with Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State to complete out the season. That stretch will decide how far this workforce goes, however the items are there for the Wolverines to achieve their aim.

Worst case: 10-2 with losses to Penn State and Ohio State. Maryland has an argument right here to make it 9-3, however the way in which this workforce is ready up, this needs to be its ground. The Wolverines cannot look previous Penn State, although, as that workforce will probably be higher than final season. Quarterback Drew Allar has all of the instruments to be a superb passer for Penn State, and the offense returns operating backs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who mixed for 1,928 yards and 22 touchdowns final season. The Buckeyes are on a mission to finish their dropping streak to Michigan and have spent your entire offseason specializing in the final two video games of their season. These two losses could be devastating to Michigan’s season. — Tom VanHaaren



Finebaum on Harbaugh-NCAA state of affairs: ‘A catastrophe on either side’

Paul Finebaum discusses why the NCAA-Jim Harbaugh state of affairs has escalated and what it might imply for Michigan soccer.

Greatest case: Nationwide championship. The highest aim in Columbus by no means adjustments, however Ohio State is approach overdue for a title, particularly contemplating its historic quarterback run below coach Ryan Day. Regardless of the Michigan meltdown, Ohio State outplayed eventual nationwide champion Georgia earlier than a calamitous fourth quarter. The Buckeyes clearly should enhance on protection and restrict the breakdowns that surfaced within the Michigan and Georgia losses. However a second 12 months below coordinator Jim Knowles and a doubtlessly elite entrance seven fuels hope for the unit. Knowles wants his most gifted gamers — ends J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer, sort out Michael Corridor Jr., linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, safeties Lathan Ransom and Sonny Types — to be nice on a constant foundation. There are questions on offense, notably at quarterback and sort out, however Day’s general observe report with the unit evokes loads of confidence. Ohio State’s street schedule is not simple, particularly a Nov. 25 go to to Michigan Stadium, however the Buckeyes have not dropped three straight to the Wolverines since 1997.

Worst case: Ohio State has by no means misplaced greater than two video games in a season below Day and has solely dropped three or extra video games in a season thrice since 2001. The Buckeyes will should be street warriors this fall, as they go to Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, in addition to Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers. Additionally they host Penn State and an ascending Maryland workforce with a powerful offense. A four-loss season is extremely unlikely however attainable for the Buckeyes. It might stem from continued regression on protection and the abrupt finish to a stretch of very good quarterback play. The questions on the offensive sort out spots would should be amplified, as would well being and manufacturing points at operating again. The defensive position has been unusual these days and, in principle, might proceed down the trail regardless of a lot expertise and expertise. Something shy of the CFP could be disappointing for Ohio State, and 9-3 or 8-4 would set off important adjustments. — Adam Rittenberg

Greatest case: Nationwide championship. The roster, prime to backside, is championship-caliber. Ending within the prime three of the recruiting rankings nearly each season for the previous decade will try this. However at key positions, Alabama wants issues to interrupt precisely proper. Whether or not it is Tyler Buchner, Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson, somebody must separate himself at quarterback. And whereas the QB does not essentially need to be one other Bryce Younger, he does have to deal with the soccer and praise what needs to be a stable operating sport with Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, Jam Miller and the No. 1- (Richard Younger) and No. 2-ranked backs (Justice Haynes) within the 2023 class. What’s extra, the Tide must develop at receiver, and rapidly, after taking a giant step again final 12 months when it comes to creating separation and drops. Do this, and the offense will probably be stable sufficient to navigate a difficult SEC schedule. Bear in mind, Alabama’s two losses final season got here on the street and on the ultimate play. And this season, each of these video games — LSU and Tennessee — are at residence.

Worst case: Three regular-season losses. The offense has a number of what-ifs. Virtually too many, in reality. Everybody will concentrate on the quarterback, however the lackluster play at receiver is sort of as obtrusive a difficulty. Bryce Younger was simply so good that he coated up for it. Until Ja’Corey Brooks or Isaiah Bond or another person steps up in a giant approach, Alabama will wrestle to attain in crunch time. And if that occurs, go forward and chalk up back-to-back losses to LSU and Tennessee. From there, it is arduous to see Alabama successful each in opposition to Texas and on the street at Texas A&M. — Alex Scarborough

Greatest case: School Soccer Playoff semifinal. No one noticed LSU attending to the SEC championship sport a 12 months in the past, particularly after getting pummeled by Tennessee 40-13 at residence the second week of October. However the Tigers picked themselves up off the turf, saved getting higher, and Brian Kelly squeezed every part after which some out of his first LSU workforce. His second workforce will probably be even deeper. Kelly is aware of extra about this workforce, and most significantly, the Tigers have a seasoned quarterback, Jayden Daniels, who has confirmed on massive levels he can beat groups each passing and operating. If LSU can handle to get by way of the month of September unscathed, that Nov. 4 sport at Alabama might find yourself being a play-in sport for the playoff.

Worst case: 8-5 with losses to Florida State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M and the bowl opponent. The Tigers completed 10-4 final season, and that was with losses in two of their closing three video games. Successful simply eight video games as an encore to what LSU did a 12 months in the past could be a disappointment on the Bayou. However there aren’t a number of simple outs on LSU’s schedule, and the September slate is full of potholes. Getting Alabama in Tuscaloosa this season mechanically makes it a tougher schedule, and 4 of the primary six video games are away from Tiger Stadium. LSU’s expertise stage is such that there should not be a major drop-off, however making it again to the SEC championship sport will show tough. — Chris Low

Greatest case: Each participant and coach at USC this season is aware of what they’ve on paper. A Heisman-winning quarterback in his closing season. An explosive offense that might be deeper and higher than final 12 months. A defensive unit that has heard loads about how a lot it wanted to enhance. A slew of gifted transfers at key positions who all noticed the potential in Lincoln Riley’s workforce after they determined to go away Arizona, Georgia, and Oklahoma State for Southern California. And maybe most significantly, the motivation of arising simply in need of a playoff spot. There isn’t any doubt USC has the expertise and skill to not simply make the playoff however compete for a title. Loads of issues need to go proper, however that is what the Trojans’ ceiling seems to be like in Riley’s second 12 months on the job. The duty at hand is hard given Caleb Williams will probably be anticipated to copy a historic season, whereas the workforce as an entire has a excessive bar to clear given the leap they made final 12 months and the more durable schedule they face this season. Enchancment is not at all times linear, however USC has the gamers to show it may be.

Worst case: It isn’t simple turning round a 4-8 season right into a 10-3 12 months. What could also be more durable is bettering upon that within the following 12 months. That is what Riley and USC need to cope with this season, on prime of a schedule that features Notre Dame and Oregon on the street in addition to Utah, Washington and UCLA during the last six weeks of the season. The Trojans might be and sure are a greater workforce this season, however the turnover margin that saved their protection afloat final 12 months might regress, as might the offense regardless of having a Heisman-winning quarterback below heart. Accidents might at all times get in the way in which as effectively. However all of that being mentioned, it is arduous to see a ground decrease than competing for the Pac-12 title for this workforce. The Trojans are too gifted on offense, particularly, to not be in each sport they play. — Paolo Uggetti

Greatest case: Florida State is at a degree now the place it’s in place to compete for championships, so it’s not arduous to ascertain a excessive ceiling in 2023 as a School Soccer Playoff look. The Seminoles could have a possibility to show themselves within the common season (two SEC nonconference video games, together with the opener in opposition to LSU) and doubtlessly within the ACC championship sport. Getting there with out divisions definitely made the trail simpler given the way in which Clemson had beforehand dominated the Atlantic Division over the previous seven seasons. The Seminoles could have among the finest, most dynamic offenses within the nation with nearly all its manufacturing again — together with quarterback Jordan Travis, operating again Trey Benson and receiver Johnny Wilson — plus a possible top-15 NFL decide in defensive finish Jared Verse. The mindset, mentality and confidence has modified on this group. They’re aiming for a championship.

Worst case: Florida State simply is likely to be forward of schedule below coach Mike Norvell, coming into his fourth 12 months in this system, contemplating the place it was when he inherited it. Till Florida State goes again to dominating its ACC opponents, there should be some doubts about whether or not it could run by way of its schedule and not using a hiccup alongside the way in which. Florida State will get LSU and Clemson in September, has powerful street video games in opposition to Wake Forest (the Deacs have gained three straight within the sequence) and Pitt (in November, not enjoyable for Florida groups!) plus rivals Miami (anticipated to be higher) and Florida (the Seminoles barely held on final 12 months). Given the expertise returning, it’s arduous to ascertain the workforce successful fewer than 9 video games. — Andrea Adelson

Greatest case: School Soccer Playoff semifinal. If Penn State can end as a one-loss Large Ten champion, it could be extraordinarily tough for the choice committee to snub the Nittany Lions — however which means they need to at the least beat both Ohio State or Michigan and pressure a three-way tie within the Large Ten East. Even then it is not a assure, as a result of Penn State’s nonconference schedule in opposition to West Virginia, Delaware and UMass goes to be closely scrutinized by the committee. With out extra Large Ten opponents within the CFP prime 25 rating, Penn State’s greatest alternatives will stay in opposition to Ohio State and Michigan. In the event that they solely get a kind of wins, the Nittany Lions higher look the a part of a top-four workforce each different step of the way in which.

Worst case: 9-3 with losses to Ohio State, Michigan and Maryland. Contemplating this was an 11-win workforce final 12 months, there should not be a lot of a drop-off with a lot expertise returning on either side of the ball. It is also the primary time since 2019 Penn State has had each coordinators return for a second season. Since 2013, Penn State has confronted each Ohio State and Michigan each season and has by no means gone 2-0 in opposition to them, solely defeating the Buckeyes as soon as throughout that span. The third loss is likely to be a shock to everybody however Maryland, which could have home-field benefit Nov. 4 and has been quietly making important strides below coach Mike Locksley. — Heather Dinich

Greatest case: Everyone knows what Clemson is able to when its offense is hitting excellent, so it stands to cause that with a brand new offensive coordinator and higher quarterback/receiver play, the Tigers will probably be again within the School Soccer Playoff. That ought to at all times be the best ceiling for a program that reached that stage six straight years from 2015 to 2020. There will probably be ample alternatives for the Tigers to show themselves, with video games in opposition to Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina among the many greatest. That South Carolina sport has taken on even larger which means this season contemplating how that loss affected 2022. The protection needs to be excellent with one other robust entrance and the perfect linebacker duo within the nation in Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Barrett Carter. If Garrett Riley can get Cade Klubnik and firm to supply the kind of offensive numbers we’re used to seeing out of Clemson, this will probably be a playoff workforce.

Worst case: This workforce has gained at the least 10 video games for 12 straight years, so it’s arduous to think about any ground that goes decrease than 10 wins. However there’s some extent of issue concerned on this schedule, with street video games in opposition to NC State (Clemson misplaced right here in 2021) and South Carolina and residential video games in opposition to preseason-ranked Florida State, Notre Dame (Clemson misplaced at South Bend final 12 months) and North Carolina. Clemson ought to nonetheless be favored to win all or almost all these video games. Nonetheless, there have been sudden losses over the previous two seasons, so it could not be a shock if a low-floor season meant no playoff look. The extra stunning low ground could be a nine-win season. Given the energy of the workforce returning, Clemson ought to win at the least 10 video games but once more. — Adelson

Greatest case: Steve Sarkisian has gained two nationwide championships as an assistant at USC and Alabama, and the Longhorns have the expertise to play for a nationwide championship. Week 2’s showcase in opposition to Alabama does not need to make or break them, however an excellent exhibiting or a win in Tuscaloosa might get Sarkisian over the hump. After that, they do not depart Texas for a sport till Nov. 18 in opposition to an Iowa State workforce suffering from a playing scandal. As normal, the Oklahoma sport might make or break the Longhorns. If they will dominate the Sooners once more, after a 49-0 win final 12 months, there is a manageable schedule, with street video games in opposition to Baylor and Houston earlier than a Nov. 11 showdown in Fort Value on Nov. 11; the Frogs are 7-3 in opposition to Texas of their previous 10 video games.

Worst case: A number of oddsmakers have Texas with a 9.5-win over/below on the season, and Sarkisian has by no means gained greater than 9 video games in a season as a head coach. With two of the perfect backs within the nation final season in Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, there have been nonetheless puzzling lapses the place Quinn Ewers struggled and the Horns could not lean on their backs. If Ewers struggles once more, there might be a quarterback controversy with Maalik Murphy and Arch Manning ready within the wings. Oklahoma needs to be improved, and a late-season stretch in opposition to BYU, Kansas State, at TCU and at Iowa State, then a finale in opposition to an skilled Texas Tech workforce, might present loads of upsets if Sarkisian cannot get all of the items to work collectively. With all of the expectations, something lower than a nine-win season going into the SEC subsequent 12 months might elevate massive questions on Sarkisian’s future given the quantity of expertise he has needed to work with. — Dave Wilson

Greatest case: School Soccer Playoff semifinal. The Vols would have been within the playoff a 12 months in the past had it not been for the November debacle in Columbia the place South Carolina gained in a 63-38 rout. So Josh Heupel’s membership wasn’t too far off in simply his second season, as Tennessee gained 11 video games for the primary time for the reason that 2001 season. Regardless of dropping Hooker and another key gamers, Heupel thinks this would be the deepest and most gifted roster he has had, and on protection, he anticipates the Vols with the ability to play extra gamers. Tennessee will get Georgia at residence within the next-to-last sport of the season, so there’s an opportunity the SEC Jap Division title might be on the road that Nov. 18 day in Knoxville.

Worst case: 8-5 with losses to Florida, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia and the bowl opponent. Although Tennessee avoids a stout nonconference check, the SEC schedule tilts in opposition to the Vols this season with journeys to Florida, Alabama and Kentucky. That is essentially the most pleasure surrounding the beginning of a Tennessee soccer season in 20 years, and the Vols aren’t going to catch anyone without warning beginning the season ranked so extremely and with Heupel’s offense placing up record-setting numbers a 12 months in the past. If the offense falls off some with Joe Milton on the helm, is the protection ok to make up the distinction? The pivotal sport is Florida. The Vols have not gained in Gainesville since 2003. Their season might fluctuate wildly relying on they fare within the Swamp. — Low

Greatest case: CFP. After successful 11 video games in coach Kalen DeBoer’s first season, the Huskies have each proper to dream in regards to the playoff. With one of many nation’s greatest quarterbacks (Michael Penix Jr.) returning, alongside arguably the perfect trio of receivers within the nation, Washington has the inspiration to be one of the crucial explosive offenses within the nation. The Huskies play 4 preseason-ranked groups in a six-week stretch beginning mid-October, which gives some apparent obstacles that additionally function potential résumé enhancers.

Worst case: 6-6. If there’s cause to be skeptical of the Huskies, it is that in their 11-win season a 12 months in the past, they missed the Pac-12’s two greatest groups, Utah and USC. Possibly that was dangerous luck and took away their probabilities to knock each from the convention title sport or possibly it boosted UW’s year-end report. There isn’t any approach to know. And with all of the offseason participant motion, these kinds of preseason prognostications are much more guesswork than that they had been in earlier years. No probability UW misses a bowl, however every part else is believable. — Kyle Bonagura



Ryan McGee’s ode to the Pac-12 Convention

Ryan McGee pays tribute to the Pac-12 by looking again at what made the convention so particular.

Greatest case: CFP. Had issues damaged barely in a different way in both of the previous two seasons, the Utes might have been there. As an alternative, they suffered the identical destiny as so many Pac-12 champions earlier than them and earned the unglamorous distinction of being a Energy 5 champion to not attain the playoff. That is why it is easy to forecast a attainable state of affairs by which the Utes do, lastly, break by way of. It might function some sort of poetic justice for the Pac-12 to qualify a workforce for the CFP because it crumbles to the bottom. And what higher approach to construct a playoff-contending workforce than with a two-time convention championship-winning quarterback (Cam Rising) and essentially the most dependable coach within the convention (Kyle Whittingham)?

Worst case: 7-5. Beginning the 12 months with a pair of losses to Florida and Baylor after which a 6-3 convention season — with a schedule that presently reveals 4 ranked opponents — is not arduous to think about. Within the Convention of Parity, that is simply how issues work. There’s not often a major hole from the perfect groups to these within the center tier, however something under seven wins could be fairly the catastrophe for a program that had grow to be a standard-bearer. — Bonagura

Greatest case: 11-1 and a CFP semifinal. Notre Dame has an opportunity to go from good to nice with switch quarterback Sam Hartman main the offense. Hartman, although, by no means defeated Clemson in three tries as Wake Forest’s beginning quarterback. That sport is Nov. 4 at Clemson, and the Tigers might be taking part in for a spot within the CFP. Notre Dame will get Ohio State and USC at residence. As a result of the unbiased Irish haven’t got a convention title sport, they will realistically afford to lose one sport. They will actually wow the committee, although, in the event that they earn wins in opposition to Energy 5 convention champs if Ohio State, USC and/or Clemson win their respective league titles.

Worst case: 9-3 with losses to Ohio State, USC and Clemson. It IS solely Freeman’s second season — and this workforce has one thing to show after losses to Marshall and Stanford final 12 months. The offense options among the finest offensive traces and a gifted group of operating backs, however there have been a number of workers strikes, together with the inner promotion of tight ends coach Gerad Parker to offensive coordinator. To be a whole CFP contender, the Irish will should be extra dominant on their defensive position, notably in opposition to Ohio State. They misplaced prime pass-rushers Isaiah Foskey and Jayson Ademilola. Marshall, Navy and USC all ran for greater than 200 yards in opposition to Notre Dame final 12 months, and the protection surrendered at the least 32 factors within the closing 4 video games. — Dinich

Greatest case: Making the School Soccer Playoff. The Geese have the quarterback to do it, they’ve the expertise and depth to do it, and, if Dan Lanning’s rent was any indication, they need to have the protection to do it, too. Additions akin to edge rusher Jordan Burch from South Carolina, security Evan Williams and even true freshman Matayo Uiagalelei ought to give that aspect of the ball an enchancment they badly want, whereas two SEC extensive receivers (Dont’e Thornton Jr. and Traeshon Holden) will give quarterback Bo Nix extra firepower to play with. Their hardest video games (Utah, USC, Washington and Oregon State) are all interrupted by a sport that, on paper, needs to be simpler for the Geese, which means there isn’t any completely brutal stretch to their schedule. Whereas USC could also be getting extra consideration, the Geese have simply nearly as good an opportunity to win the convention in what may also be their closing 12 months within the Pac-12.

Worst case: The Geese’ expertise makes their ground fairly excessive. Issues might go fallacious if there is a key harm or two, however their depth needs to be ok to maintain them afloat within the case of something unexpected. The protection wants severe enchancment since it’s going to face not simply Texas Tech early on, but in addition the Pac-12’s gauntlet of elite quarterbacks (although the Geese will not face Caleb Williams within the common season). Matching final 12 months’s win complete of 10 needs to be greater than doable, and it is arduous to see them dropping decrease than 9 wins. Lacking the Pac-12 championship would make the season a disappointment, but when the Geese do not tighten issues up on either side of the ball, particularly late in video games, that is a particular chance as soon as once more this 12 months. — Uggetti

Greatest case: One other Large 12 run is effectively inside attain, notably if the Horned Frogs’ additions are nearly as good as marketed. Chandler Morris lastly will get his flip in Sonny Dykes’ QB machine, Trey Sanders provides TCU a bruising again to fill Kendre Miller’s sneakers, a restocked WR corps is even deeper than final 12 months’s star-heavy crew, and the Frogs are again lighting up scoreboards. The important thing will probably be changing some key stars on protection, but when the protection can take a step ahead, then abruptly, TCU will probably be a giant participant within the nationwide scene once more (they’re going to have loads of eyeballs in Week 1 in opposition to Colorado and Coach Prime). The Frogs are potential favorites of their first six video games till a stretch that features a Large 12 title rematch at Kansas State, a visit to Lubbock in opposition to a gifted Texas Tech workforce after which the Longhorns coming to city Nov. 11. If TCU survives that stretch, there is a massive sport at 11 a.m. on Black Friday in opposition to Oklahoma.

Worst case: Yr 1 is a tricky bar to clear for Dykes and the Frogs, because the coach debuted with one of the crucial outstanding seasons in school soccer historical past. A brand new offensive coordinator in Kendal Briles and a brand new starter in Chandler Morris, together with new faces all around the offense, might see some rising pains. If the protection is not stingy sufficient to cowl for them, there are land mines in a visit to Houston and in opposition to Dykes’ previous workforce when SMU visits. With a backloaded schedule, issues might get messy down the stretch. It is mathematically unlikely for TCU to win all these late video games they gained final 12 months, and an 8-5 season might really feel like a letdown. — Wilson

Greatest case: A Large 12 title repeat. The Wildcats face loads of potential toss-up video games — residence video games in opposition to TCU and a doubtlessly resurgent Baylor, street journeys to Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas (and rival Kansas???) — however they could solely be a real underdog as soon as, at Texas. If their reworked receiving corps and secondary maintain up and so they discover among the identical late-game magic that drove them win three of 4 one-score finishes final 12 months, they’ve a transparent path to a different Large 12 championship look. And if you may make it to the large sport, you possibly can win it. They most likely have too many toss-ups to win all of them and attain the CFP, however an 11-2 season and title repeat are on the desk.

Worst case: It is actually arduous to win most or all your shut video games for 2 straight years. If mentioned receiver and secondary turnover flips the big-play battle in favor of KSU opponents, it might additionally flip fairly just a few video games. Within the Large 12, you are continually taking part in in tight contests, and if most or all of them go in opposition to the Wildcats, a ground of 6-6 or so — the identical regular-season report that final 12 months’s defending Large 12 champion (Baylor) suffered — is a chance. — Invoice Connelly

Greatest case: Successful the Pac-12. Severely. The Beavers stay one of the crucial underrated groups — not simply within the Pac-12, however within the nation. There’s little flash or star energy on the roster, however loads of top-tier expertise and depth that provides OSU among the finest defenses within the West. The offense is actually the query, but when the addition of D.J. Uiagalelei pays off and he matches into the present offense and not using a hitch, the mix of the previous Clemson quarterback and rising sophomore operating Damien Martinez — who had an impressive freshman marketing campaign — might give this workforce the additional increase it wants. Bear in mind: It is a workforce that gained 10 video games final 12 months, and two of its three losses got here by a mixed six factors.

Worst case: As a lot because the Beavers’ ceiling might be increased than most individuals suppose, their ground might be fairly low if issues go awry. Final 12 months might have been an aberration, an outlier the place issues broke proper for a workforce that has been on the upswing however nonetheless has an extended approach to go to compete for convention titles. The Uiagalelei addition might grow to be all hype and no substance, whereas the protection might regress and a tricky schedule that options Utah early on and Washington and Oregon to complete out the 12 months could also be too tall of a job for Jonathan Smith’s squad. A five-loss season is simply as attainable as a Cinderella run. — Uggetti



Mad Canine mocks convention realignment in epic rant

Chris “Mad Canine” Russo sounds off on the shortage of rivalries between the groups heading to the Large Ten and Large 12 in 2024.

Greatest case: The schedule fits Carolina effectively, with its possible hardest opponents — Duke, Clemson and NC State — coming in November, and quarterback Drake Maye ought to give the Heels an opportunity in each sport this season. The important thing will probably be how a lot enchancment there’s round Maye. This offseason, UNC introduced in new OC Chip Lindsey in hopes of implementing a scheme with extra emphasis on the run and rather less strain placed on an overwhelmed protection. If that works out, the Heels can definitely repeat final 12 months’s 9-3 common season, and maybe purpose a bit increased — like an ACC title.

Worst case: For all Maye’s spectacular numbers final 12 months, his heroics possible hid quite a few massive flaws for some time. The Heels opened the season 8-1, however six of these wins got here by a landing or much less, together with three by which UNC trailed within the fourth quarter. The four-game dropping streak to cap the season marked the purpose at which Maye’s magic was not sufficient, and the close-call wins become close-call losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Oregon. If all else is similar this 12 months, however the close-game luck is only a bit worse, there is a formulation for a 5-7 or 6-6 marketing campaign. — David Hale

Greatest case: Large Ten championship berth. The Badgers are within the West division of the Large Ten convention, so to be able to get in to the convention championship, the workforce realistically simply has to complete in entrance of Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota to make it in. That appears doable so long as the brand new offensive system below Phil Longo clicks and is firing on all cylinders. The workers introduced in quarterback Tanner Mordecai from SMU to assist run the Air Raid-type assault and are bringing again operating again Braelon Allen. The Badgers will play Iowa on Oct. 14, Illinois on Oct. 25 and Minnesota on Nov. 25 within the closing sport of the season. These three video games will decide how far this workforce will go in Yr 1 of Luke Fickell’s tenure.

Worst case: There’s a stretch within the season the place the Badgers need to face Iowa, Illinois and Ohio State in consecutive weeks. That would find yourself being a three-game dropping streak that derails the season altogether. The bottom ground if that occurs might be a 7-5 12 months with a loss to finish the season at Minnesota. That would not be a horrible season, however the Badgers went 7-6 in 2022, so that might be consecutive seasons with simply seven wins and no Large Ten championship berth. This workforce has added some good gamers within the offseason, however there are some roadblocks alongside the way in which that would trigger issues. — VanHaaren

Greatest case: Alabama and LSU have been the 2 favorites within the West this preseason, and Ole Miss will play each groups back-to-back on the finish of September. Lane Kiffin’s workforce began off 7-0 final season earlier than dropping 5 of their previous six video games (together with video games in opposition to Alabama and LSU). An enchancment at quarterback — whether or not that is with Jaxson Dart or considered one of two transfers in Spencer Sanders or Walker Howard — would go a great distance, assuming Quinshon Judkins stays among the finest gamers within the convention and, most significantly, Pete Golding solves the defensive woes that plagued them on the finish of 2022. If these issues occur, possibly they shock individuals and win the SEC West, or at the least end close to the highest. But when nothing else, we’ll know if they will contact that top by October.

Worst case: There isn’t any such factor as a simple path within the SEC, however the Rebels definitely haven’t got a street sport on their schedule that appears appetizing. They go to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and rival Mississippi State, whereas additionally making a Sept. 9 journey to New Orleans to play Tulane of their nonconference slate. If enhancements aren’t made defensively and Arkansas, Auburn and Texas A&M all enhance, it looks like regardless of any offensive prowess it has, Ole Miss might end in the course of the pack once more within the SEC West, if not worse. — Harry Lyles Jr.

Greatest case: The Sooners, behind a wholesome quarterback Dillon Gabriel and a revitalized protection, put all of it collectively and return to the OU normal, claiming yet one more Large 12 title on their approach out the door to complete off 20 years of dominance. The schedule units up properly, with the league sending the Sooners out because the welcoming committee to Cincinnati and BYU, and on a visit to Lawrence to face the Jayhawks. The Sooners kiss Bedlam goodbye with a win in Stillwater, then get an opportunity to complete the season with TCU in Norman, repaying the Frogs for a giant loss and a Gabriel harm that severely derailed the Sooners’ season and not using a confirmed backup. A win over Texas is likely to be essential to impress the playoff committee, however a Large 12 title and a New Yr’s Six bowl would nonetheless be fairly the bounce-back from OU’s first dropping season since 1998.

Worst case: After final 12 months’s 49-0 debacle, one other humbling loss to Texas would set off alarm bells early in Venables’ profession, notably with the Sooners gearing up for the SEC. An SMU workforce that loaded up on transfers below coach Rhett Lashlee might show to be a menace in Week 2 if the protection hasn’t rounded into kind but. A loss in Stillwater would ship the Cowboys out of Bedlam with one closing victory they will declare ceaselessly. However that is only the start of a fraught November schedule by which they’re going to get West Virginia (the Mountaineers beat them final 12 months) then an extended, powerful journey to Provo in opposition to a bodily BYU workforce, solely to face TCU in Fort Value six days later. One other dropping season could be a whole stunner with this schedule, but when the Sooners aren’t aggressive in key video games, the strain might begin to mount. — Wilson

Greatest case: A primary convention title since 1994 (and a primary solo title since 1955). When the media votes you fourth within the convention, it is naming you a contender. Joey McGuire’s second Tech workforce will face a deluge of difficult street journeys (Wyoming, West Virginia, Baylor, BYU, Kansas, Texas) plus residence video games in opposition to Oregon and each of final 12 months’s Large 12 championship-game contributors. If they maintain final 12 months’s close-game magic — they have been 4-0 in one-score finishes — they may maneuver by way of a memorable season, sneak into the title sport at 7-2 or so, after which win it.

Worst case: As with Ok-State, it is arduous to win all of your shut video games twice. And there are such a lot of potential shut video games on the schedule {that a} severely disappointing marketing campaign, replete with a 5-7 report or so, is on the desk. It is not going — we’re speaking about lowest flooring right here — however Tech nonetheless has quite a bit to show defensively, and there is nothing saying the Crimson Raiders will probably be as profitable on fourth downs as they have been a 12 months in the past, after they tried extra fourth downs than anybody (52) and likewise ranked 18th in fourth-down conversion fee (64%). Flip just a few extra of these into turnovers on downs, and the season goes sideways. — Connelly

Highest ceiling: New Yr’s Six Bowl sport. Possibly Jimbo Fisher handing over the keys to the offense to Bobby Petrino actually is the reply. Petrino’s proven time and time once more — whether or not at Arkansas or Missouri State — that he can rating factors. And with Conner Weigman at quarterback and a gifted group of receivers (Ainias Smith, Evan Stewart and Moose Muhammad III), the items to succeed are in place. What’s extra, the early a part of the schedule is favorable with video games in opposition to New Mexico, Miami, Louisiana Monroe and Auburn. Come out of that 4-0 and assured, and also you get Arkansas and Alabama at residence, which instantly appear to be winnable video games.

Lowest ground: A .500 season could be a catastrophe, however can we actually rule it out after final 12 months? There isn’t any cause the Aggies ought to have misplaced to Appalachian State however they did. And for all the chances of Petrino calling performs, how positive are we that it’ll work? Fisher appears reluctant to fully step away from the offense, and also you’re speaking about two massive personalities between him and Petrino. We might see fireworks — and never the great sort — if Texas A&M begins off gradual and Fisher feels the strain of being on the recent seat. Lose at Miami and the chatter will ramp up rapidly. Lose at residence to a rebuilding Auburn workforce and it might grow to be deafening. — Scarborough

Greatest case: Willie Fritz’s workforce rides the momentum from 2022 it created after a tough 2021, and makes one other New Yr’s Six bowl. The Inexperienced Wave are dropping some expertise on offense in star operating again Tyjae Spears and receivers Duece Watts and Shae Wyatt, in addition to defensive leaders Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson. Nonetheless, quarterback Michael Pratt is again, together with 4 offensive linemen and potential in some new and returning faces. Their three hardest video games (South Alabama, Ole Miss, and UTSA) are all at residence, and for a workforce that had a comeback victory in opposition to USC within the Cotton Bowl, a little bit perception goes a great distance. Tulane snuck up on individuals in 2022, however no one will probably be shocked if they’ve one other nice season in 2023.

Worst case: A middle-of-the-pack AAC end feels just like the worst-case state of affairs right here, barring any important accidents. Opening the season in opposition to a Solar Belt favourite in South Alabama, after which an SEC West contender in Ole Miss might actually set the tone for the season in both a optimistic or detrimental approach, and it isn’t unrealistic to suppose they may come out of these 0-2. Even when that have been the case, this does not really feel like a workforce that has an excessive downward slide in them — particularly after the challenges they confronted in 2021 being displaced by Hurricane Ida, and the way they’ve responded since. — Lyles Jr.

Source link

Spread the love

Leave a Reply