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
1. Ohio State
Biggest Positive: Almost everyone of note is back offensively. Four starters are back up front and there are more weapons and quarterbacks to fill a few top-tier teams. The Buckeyes have an embarrassment of riches - this was the year it was all supposed to come together.
Biggest Negative: It’s Ohio State, so there are replacements, but losing DT Michael Bennett, CB Doran Grant and LB Curtis Grant hurts. The placekicking could be a wee bit better, but that’s nitpicking.
Biggest Positive: The receiving corps could be the best year under Art Briles and the 1-2 rushing punch of Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson is great. The defense is going to be phenomenal – believe that, or Shawn Oakman will destroy you.
Biggest Negative: Bryce Petty. It’s always a next-QB-up for the Bears, but without Petty, there’s one big piece of the puzzle that’s a question mark. Everything else is in place, but the passing game needs its triggerman.
Biggest Positive: It’s still Alabama and there are still loads and loads of five-star guys to work around. There might not be a ton of experience, but this is still one of the nation’s most talented teams. The defensive front should be fantastic.
Biggest Negative: Yeah, it’s Alabama, but you don’t get better with a new quarterback, no Amari Cooper, no T.J. Yeldon, no Trey DePriest, no Landon Collins, and concerns in the secondary. Has the D lost its mojo in the really, really big games?
Biggest Positive: The offense is absolutely loaded. The line gets back all five starters and there are more than enough skills players to explode – especially at RB with Paul Perkins back. The D loses a ton, but it’s still really, really talented.
Biggest Negative: No Brett Hundley hurts. If he was back, UCLA might be the preseason No. 2 and challenge Ohio State – okay, maybe be No. 1A. LB Eric Kendricks and DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa were key parts now off to the next level.
Biggest Positive: The Horned Frogs get just about everyone back on offense. QB Trevone Boykin and the passing game might be unstoppable behind a line that gets back all five starters. The scary part? Now the offense knows what it’s doing.
Biggest Negative: Leading LB Paul Dawson was a terror on the field, and not having running mate Marcus Mallett doesn’t help, either. The secondary needs to replace three key parts.
Biggest Positive: It took a while, but the depth and overall talent level are almost back up to USC snuff. QB Cody Kessler should have time to work behind a line that gets back all five starters – there are always going to be skill players ready to shine at SC.
Biggest Negative: DT Leonard Williams, WR Nelson Agholor, RB Buck Allen, CB Josh Shaw – okay, maybe not after last year – LB Hayes Pullard. There are some big losses for a team that has the upside, but needs some key pieces to fill in the gaps.
Biggest Positive: If the Tigers figure out their quarterback situation, then look out. Leonard Fournette is ready to explode as one of the best running backs in America, and the receiving corps is absolutely loaded. The defensive front should be a rock.
Biggest Negative: That quarterback situation. Just about everything else should be in place, but LSU isn’t going to navigate the SEC waters without more consistency under center.
Biggest Positive: The scheme is still in place and the athleticism and speed are still there on both sides of the ball. The running back tandem of Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner will be unstoppable, and the addition of Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams helps make up for the loss of Marcus Mariota.
Biggest Negative: Losing a Heisman winner hurts no matter who replaces him. The receiving corps will help, but No. 8 was obviously special. The lines have to replace some excellent NFL talents – there are just enough holes on both sides to take a step back.
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