With spring football about to kick in, how do each of the teams look? What are the first impressions? These are the first thoughts that can and will change over the next several months before diving deep into the team-by-team previews. Please, give us your thoughts and questions – be pleasant – hitting us at @ColFootballNews.
- The best and the brightest teams going into spring football.
- Crank up the realistic playoff expectations if everything breaks right.
- They'll all be in the mix for a conference title, with a little luck.
- Probably a bit low - all could challenge for big things.
- Some new high-risers - there's promise and potential.
- Likely bowl teams - or at least that's the expectation.
- Low-end Power 5 teams, but there's surprise potential.
- Possible bowl teams and some star Group of 5ers.
- Some bottom Power 5s and top Group of 5ers as the rankings roll on.
- Teams that have several major question marks, or are missing top talent.
- They need to replace too many key parts, but there's hope.
- They're not quite at the bottom, but they need a whole bunch of work.
- As spring ball is rolling, which teams come into the year looking up?
The Bottom Ten
59. Texas Tech
Biggest Positive: The D needs to be far better, and it could be with a veteran secondary back returning the top four starters. The offense will rock as always with six of the top seven targets back along with 1,000-yard rusher DeAndre Washington and the quarterback options of Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes.
Biggest Negative: The defense still has to show it can play. There needs to be more of a pass rush and the linebacking corps has to make more impact plays. Losing PK Ryan Bustin will hurt.
Biggest Positive: There’s a chance this could be one of the surprise breakthrough teams in the Big Ten with an O line that returns all five starters and a receiving corps that gets back the top six receivers. The linebacking corps is deep and with big upside.
Biggest Negative: The one loss in the secondary – S Landon Feichter – is a huge one. The quarterback situation needs to be settled, and the running game has to find a way to replace the raw blazing wheels of Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert.
Biggest Positive: There’s pop to the offense with QB Sefo Liufau and WR Nelson Spruce back along with a good line that should provide just enough time to let everything work. The defense could take a massive step forward with the top pass rushers returning and the top four tacklers back.
Biggest Negative: The kicking came has to undergo an overhaul after losing decent PK Will Oliver and P Darragh O’Neill, who averaged 44 yards per punt. All the top runners are back, but the O has a long way to go before the ground attack starts to shine.
Biggest Positive: The secondary could be solid with three starters returning to a group that could be a sneaky-good plus as the season goes on. The kicking game might be the best in the Big Ten with all-star PK Brad Craddock back along with P Nathan Renfro.
Biggest Negative: The offense loses an NFL receiving tandem in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, but that might be the least of the problems. The entire defensive front seven needs to be replaced, while the offense loses three starters up front.
Biggest Positive: Getting QB Nate Sudfeld back from a shoulder injury should mean everything to an offense that hit the skids over the second half of last season. Three starters return up front to protect him. The receiving corps should be strong despite the loss of Shane Wynn – expect the passing game to be far better.
Biggest Negative: The Indiana defense is still the Indiana defense, and now it has to replace CB Tim Bennett and S Mark Murphy from the secondary that can’t afford to lose key playmakers. Of course, offensively, finding another Tevin Coleman to run the ball will be next to impossible.
64. Iowa State
Biggest Positive: All of a sudden, Iowa State has a little bit of talent and depth starting with a defensive front that welcomes back three starters and gets everyone back in the secondary. QB Sam Richardson and almost all the top targets return for what should be a far more dangerous offense.
Biggest Negative: The linebacking corps needs a little bit of an overhaul – the defense has way too much work to do and can’t afford to have problems in the front seven. The offense has the experience, but does it have the running game without Aaron Wimberly handling the rock?
Biggest Positive: New head coach Tom Herman should do even more to get the offense going, and he has a good QB in Greg Ward to start with. The O line gets three starters back, and the running backs are solid. The secondary should be the strength of the defense.
Biggest Negative: The front four has to do some reworking, and leading tackler and heart-and-soul LB Efrem Oliphant has to be replaced. There’s talent on offense, but WR Deontay Greenberry was one of the key parts of the puzzle. He’s gone along with Markeith Ambles.
Biggest Positive: Tackling machine Tyler Matakevich leads a great-looking linebacking corps that should anchor a loaded defense with all 11 starters returning to the nation’s No. 4 scoring D. With ten of the 11 top backups also returning, this is a very deep, very, very good group that should be a brick wall. All five starters are back on the O line, but …
Biggest Negative: The offense might not be able to hold up its end of the bargain. The miserable passing game loses top target Jalen Fitzpatrick and needs far more out of QB P.J. Walker.
Biggest Positive: The secondary has the potential to be a major strength with talent to go along with the depth. Josh Ferguson is a great-looking running back and Wes Lunt could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten if he can stay in one piece. The receiving corps could be great if the production of Jon Davis can be replaced.
Biggest Negative: The O line has to do a little reworking with three starters gone, but the bigger problem is a defensive line that couldn’t get into the backfield and needs to find a way to generate some sort of a pass rush.
Biggest Positive: QB Keenan Reynolds is back for what seems like his 14th season – he should be in for a huge statistical season. The backfield has to find some replacements, but it’s Navy – the ground game will work. The defensive front should be solid.
Biggest Negative: Safeties George Jamison and Parrish Gaines will be sorely missed, and linebackers Chris Johnson and Obi Uzoma are gone, but the biggest loss is leading tackler Jordan Drake. Yes, the offense will be fine and will work like it always does, but three starters have to be replaced up front.
2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: No. 59-68
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