Spartan Nation College Football Pre Season 2014 Top 25
1. Florida State Defending national champion with a talented, but immature QB.
2. Alabama Saban has proven he can win titles with a first year QB (Twice) and the one he goes to now is FSU transfer Jake Coker who barely lost to Winston. A true stud. All of the other pieces are in place other than an OL that is super talented, but lacking experience.
3. Oklahoma has all the tools and should be rated higher, but they find a way to underperform it seems like every year in Norman. Great program and talent, but can they maintain?
4. UCLA similar to OU they should be higher than this. Loaded with talent, but a coach that has yet to get over the top. Mora is a very good coach, but FSU and BAMA have coaches that have been there and done it. He has to prove he can.
5. South Carolina Loaded and talented and while they did lose some good players, the Ole Ball coach plays a ton of guys so no one is lacking experience. They draw UGA at home that is why I have them one spot ahead of the Bulldogs.
6. Georgia They lose their QB to the NFL, but they are loaded everywhere and while Murray was injured last year his backup got a ton of reps. This team is the real deal, now Richt has to deliver
7. Oregon Key losses of both personnel and a much undervalued DC, but the name of the game in Eugene is bulk this year. Known as a fast team they have undergone a systemic shift towards bulk this off season. How do they handle that? Just like South Carolina/Georgia I have them one spot ahead of MSU ONLY because they get the Spartans at home.
8. Michigan State The offense is loaded and the defense while facing some key losses has studs to fill spots and because of the Narduzzi system all new starters have tremendous experience. If the Spartans get past the Ducks in Eugene they will vault into the top five and be legitimate threats. Offense must come out on the attack with Connor Cook to avoid deficits that plagued them last season.
9. Ohio State The Buckeyes remain loaded with talent and have a proven coach. Certainly they have a date in East Lansing circled looking for revenge from the Spartans. Miller still makes too many critical mistakes and the loss of Hyde is a killer.
10. Baylor The Bears are a great football team on offense with a ton of talent, albeit inexperienced on D. They should take care of Texas and if they can find a way to beat an Oklahoma team that every year has one loss leaving you scratching your head, look out. I believe in Briles and I believe in his team.
11. Auburn Love or hate the Tigers and Coach Gus the man can coach. They lost some great talent from last year but not as much as you think. They have a ton of NFL talent back. They will not surprise anyone in 2014. I like the coaching that happens down yonder and if their draw out of the East hadn’t been South Carolina I would have them higher.
12. North Carolina I love Coach Fedora and always have. He is a great X’s and O’s teacher and underrated as a man. I like the way they played down the stretch in 2013 getting better every week, but the schedule wouldn’t let me have them any higher.
13. Mississippi There are a lot of questions as to how the Rebels are getting the talent they are on the Grove, but make no mistake it is there. When it arrives they are getting great coaching and the only drawback is being in a stacked SEC.
14. Wisconsin The defense is the only concern in Madison and that is because of losses and not talent. Great schedule helps and I like what they are doing in Madison.
15. Stanford I love this program and the way they do it. Great defense, but losses on offense will be a killer. Getting UCLA and Oregon on the road don’t help.
16. Nebraska Not buying on Bo Pelini. There is ZERO excuse for the Huskers to not be in the top ten every single year. The road is not nice to them and we know that Coach Pelini and that staff cost them a game or two every year. This is Bo’s best team, but what do all six years of Bo Pelini as the head man in Lincoln have in common? Four losses. I don’t see four this year, but I didn’t see them returning him to coach either.
17. LSU So much talent in Baton Rouge and great coaching will get these young players ready, but that youth mixed with a tough SEC makes this a rough year on the Bayou. Now remember a bad year on the Bayou is a good year almost anywhere else, but the Tigers are one year away from another National Title shot.
18. UCF Yes I do realize Blake Bortles left for the NFL, but I also know they have the second most underrated coach in the nation. Add to that a ton of talent that helped Bortles get to the NFL and we have what could be the surprise team of 2014.
19. Northwestern The Cats took a nap last year with expectations high. That said they get a load of talent back and they still have one of the best young coaches in America. Can they upset Bo Pelini and be a real B1G West contender? I think they can.
20. TCU This pick will have many questioning my sanity and I am fine with that. I like the coaching at TCU and I love the talent. Most people look at records and not details when prognosticating. Let me say this, the Frogs were snake bit by injuries last year and they had to get a lot of guys playing time that weren’t ready. They are now.
21. Iowa The best schedule of any BCS school has the Hawkeyes in a spot to have a better record than perhaps the team they have. I project them with an 8-4 to 9-3 year and back in the top 25.
22. USC The talent is there for Coach Sark. I don’t think he is a great coach, but I do think he is solid and a very good recruiter. His team will be better coached and belong in the Top 25.
23. Marshall The Conference USA team could run the conference table and have a schedule so easy that Iowa is the only team not jealous.
24. Washington I like what Coach Sark did in Seattle before leaving, but the Huskies would have fired him to upgrade to Coach Petersen from Boise and they didn’t have to. I said before that Sark can recruit and he has talent left in Seattle and with Petersen and his staff’s ability to coach I feel very solid that they slipped in the Top 25.
25. Notre Dame Brutal schedule and lack of experience across the board gives us a foreshadow of a tough year in South Bend.