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
9. Michigan State
Biggest Positive: Getting Connor Cook back – he would’ve been the third quarterback taken in the 2015 NFL Draft – might make all the difference between a good year and a possible playoff run. Getting Shilique Calhoun could do just as much for the defensive front.
Biggest Negative: There are talented options ready to shine, but the Spartans loses RBs Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill and top targets Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery. It doesn’t help to lose the best corner in the NFL Draft, Trae Waynes.
10. Notre Dame
Biggest Positive: If experience counts for anything, the Irish could be unstoppable. The receiving corps is the best in the Brian Kelly era, and the running game should be fantastic. Meanwhile, the D is loaded with seniors.
Biggest Negative: The offensive line loses three starters, and while there’s experience returning on both sides of the ball, can the team be better? The bowl game glossed over just how miserable the team was – injuries at all - at the end of the regular season.
11. Florida State
Biggest Positive: Years of great recruiting should help make the Seminoles one of the favorites for the ACC title again. The receiving corps should be outstanding, and there are several tremendous young prospects ready to show what they can do.
Biggest Negative: There’s a massive talent loss that can’t be overcome, even for Florida State. QB Jameis Winston, WR Rashad Greene, C Cameron Erving, OG Tre Jackson, TE Nick O’Leary, CBs Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams are all gone, and the defensive front is gutted.
Biggest Positive: The secondary that was so young comes back loaded, losing S Damian Swann but getting everyone else back. RB Nick Chubb should be in the hunt for the Heisman if he can stay in one piece working behind a strong O line.
Biggest Negative: Who’s the quarterback going to be? Four key parts are gone from the defensive front seven, and WRs Michael Bennett and Chris Conley are done. There might be just enough key losses to keep the Dawgs from winning the SEC.
Biggest Positive: The running back situation is outstanding with Wayne Gallman and C.J. Davidson leading a deep group, and Mike Williams and Artavis Scott form the nucleus of a great-looking receiving corps. If QB Deshaun Watson can stay healthy, look out.
Biggest Negative: The O line has to come up with some key replacements, but the D is the bigger issue losing five of the top six tacklers Vic Beasley is irreplaceable.
14. South Carolina
Biggest Positive: Six of the top seven tacklers are back to a defense that should be far more dangerous and far more aggressive. With the JUCO transfers coming in, look out. The D might have had problems last year, but there could be a night-and-day difference.
Biggest Negative: Will the offense have any pop? Coming up with a quarterback will be the key, but the O line needs work and key RB Mike Davis is gone. It’s all about the QB – USC has to be better at the position.
Biggest Positive: The D is more experienced and should be stronger on the front seven – the linebacking corps will be excellent. QB Jeremy Johnson could be an upgrade over the terrific – and somewhat underappreciated – Nick Marshall.
Biggest Negative: There’s a big overhaul on the rest of the offense after losing RBs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. There are just enough key parts missing to not have enough in the bag to win the West.
Biggest Positive: It’s time. Joshua Dobbs might be a special quarterback for an O with just about everyone returning including all of the top weapons. The defense is loaded and impressive with what should be a much-improved front seven.
Biggest Negative: The D still has to be better. The offense will take care of business, but the defense has to be steadier and more consistent. Can this team be pushed around? Get ready for the expectations.
Biggest Positive: Everything has been building over the last few years for this season. The running game is going to be unstoppable with Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins back behind a line that gets four starters back.
Biggest Negative: The D should be excellent with a little bit of time, but the secondary has to replace safeties Tevin Mitchell and Alan Turner. NFL pass rusher Trey Flowers is done.
Biggest Positive: Defense, defense, defense. The line needs an overhaul, but the linebacking corps is great and the secondary is loaded with experience. Samaje Perine is a franchise running back to work an entire offense around.
Biggest Negative: The O line loses a ton of talent with four starters gone, and there has to be consistency at quarterback if it’s Trevor Knight or Baker Mayfield. Yeah, the D is experienced, but it has to be far better.
2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: No. 9-18
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