Pac-12 Power Rankings
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ACC/Notre Dame Power Rankings
1) Ohio State
Urban Meyer’s title teams at Florida didn’t fare well the following year. His Gators won the title in 2006 and lost four games the following year. A year following their 2008 championship, Florida was stacked with Tim Tebow running the show his senior year only to fall to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. You know Meyer learned from those two seasons. With his coaching and the talent in Columbus, Ohio State will be very difficult to beat. But that’s why they play the games.
Game 1 - Sept. 7 at Virginia Tech
Everything sets up well for Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs to make a playoff run in 2015. TCU is led by one of the top players in college football in quarterback Trevone Boykin. He leads a potent offense. They go to Oklahoma and then get Baylor at home to end their regular season. My question is will their schedule, or lack of (non-conference) hurt them in the end? Their toughest out of conference opponent is Minnesota.
Game 1 - Sept. 3 at Minnesota
Jeremy Johnson takes over at quarterback for Gus Malzahn’s Tigers. He has upside and weapons all around him with a balanced run game and some very good wide receivers on the perimeter like Duke Williams. The key will be on the other side of the ball and navigating through the SEC schedule.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Louisville
The Spartans lost their defensive coordinator (Pat Narduzzi), leading rusher and wide receiver. That will sting a little for this offense. Good thing Michigan State is home to Connor Cooker, one of the game’s best signal callers. You know this will be a well coached team, especially on defense under Mark Dantonio.
Game 1 - Sept. 4 at Western Michigan
The Ducks lost some key pieces, like a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and some veteran offensive linemen. Still, this is Oregon, and its next man up for this talent rich program. They can run the rock with Royce Freeman while Vernon Adams/Jeff Lockie or both transition into the quarterback role for this Ducks offense. Oregon has a great schedule that includes an early trip to Michigan State.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Eastern Washington
Nick Saban and his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will have their work cut out for them, as the offense only returns two starters. But if he can get running back Derrick Henry cranking then it will take pressure off the new Alabama quarterback (whoever that may be) as Saban navigates the Crimson Tide through that schedule. The defense has a chance to be one of the country’s best if the secondary comes through and plays well.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Wisconsin
This Bears team has a chance to be really good once again, even with a new starting quarterback in Seth Russell. He has some experience and snaps under him. KD Cannon and Corey Coleman are two outstanding wide receivers who just may be the top duo in college football. Running back Shock Linwood is coming off a 1,200 yards season behind a very good offensive front. Their non-conference schedule could hurt Art Briles once again, though they close with games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Game 1 - Sept. 4 at SMU
8) Notre Dame
I like this Notre Dame team and feel like they have a great shot at making the playoffs, especially considering their blend of talent and experience on both sides of the ball. The big question mark will be how quarterback Malik Zaire transitions into a full time starter?
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Texas
The Trojans should be explosive once again on offense, led by one of the nation’s best passers in Cody Kessler. Juju Smith is the next star wide receiver. The offensive line should be outstanding. How does this team defensively replace some experienced and talented players that moved on to the NFL like Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard? It’s a nice schedule that could set them up for a playoff run if they win the Pac-12 and get a big road win in South Bend.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Arkansas State
10) Florida State
Jimbo Fisher’s program lost so much more than just Jameis Winston. Still, Fisher and his staff have recruited as well as anyone and it’s the next man up mentality in Tallahassee. There are so many terrific, young athletes on both sides of the ball that just lack experience. I believe the defense will be better and Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson will be a great pick up for this program at the quarterback position. Getting Dalvin Cook back will be huge for the Seminoles, as he is one of the most explosive players in the nation regardless of position.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Texas State
11) Ole Miss
In terms of the SEC, there are a handful of programs that have a glaring question at the quarterback position. This is one of them. Hugh Freeze and his Rebels are loaded just about everywhere else. The defense has a chance to be lights out, as they are stacked up front and have a deep and talented secondary. The offense gets Laquon Treadwell back at wide receiver. It will all come down to getting through that tough schedule and good quarterback play.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Tennessee-Martin
This team from UCLA can go big places if they can be truly balanced on offense. That means running the ball effectively once again featuring Paul Perkins and getting good quarterback play and timely big plays in the passing game with a true freshman quarterback, Josh Rosen, assuming he wins the job. It’s still up in the air as to who coach Jim Mora goes with between the former five-star and Jerry Neuheisel. They will have one of the better defensive fronts in the Pac-12 and linebacker Myles Jack is one of the country’s best football players.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Virginia
I have been a Razorback believer for some time now and absolutely love the direction of this program. They are going to be tough to deal with on offense because of their sheer physical play up front and a dominant, pounding run game. No doubt Arkansas took a big hit with the injury to running back Jonathan Williams but they can still lean on another good one in Alex Collins. Brandon Allen brings experience to the quarterback position. The defense should be good enough. The question remains how many games can they win going old school playing that schedule? Is this team there yet?
Game 1 - Sept. 5 UTEP
The quarterback I am most anxious see play this season resides in Clemson, as I believe Deshaun Watson has a chance to be something special for the Tigers. He has an array of play makers all around him. Watson just needs to stay healthy. If he does then this offense should be one of the best in the ACC. While the defense was tremendous in 2014, Clemson lost some outstanding players and production in Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Wofford
I know I have this team rated higher than most. I believe that Tennessee will win the SEC East. For me, it’s just time for this Butch Jones program to make that next step. The defense should be pretty darn good and I like what they have on offense with quarterback Josh Dobbs and the balance between the run and passing game. This side of the SEC will come down to Vols-Dawgs and that game is in Knoxville on October 10.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Bowling Green
I keep scratching my head, seeing SEC powers LSU and Georgia at No. 16 and 17 in this power rankings. I see them as the same, great talent everywhere with a huge question regarding both quarterback positions in Baton Rouge and Athens. For the Tigers, running back Leonard Fournette will be the focal point and he’s poised for a monster season ahead. I love wide receivers Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre. The offensive line should be terrific. The defense should be as salty as ever, though losing defensive back Jalen Mills [four-six weeks] because of injury could sting.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 McNeese State
Like I said above, it’s all about the quarterback and how well the new starter plays at Georgia. We all know Nick Chubb is going to get his, as he proved last season that he’s one of the game’s elite running backs. He was outstanding. But Georgia will have to make plays consistently in the passing game in their big games to be the top dog and win the East. Brice Ramsey, Greyson Lambert and Faton Bauta are battling hard. If one emerges and plays well, then this ranking will be far too low for Georgia.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Louisiana Monroe
The Cardinal should be very formidable again in Palo Alto. Kevin Hogan is one of the most seasoned veterans at the quarterback position in college football. Despite the NFL loss of Andrus Peat, the offensive line unit should be a good one at Stanford, as David Shaw will try and get running back Christian McCaffrey going. That run game sets up everything for this team.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 at Northwestern
The Wildcats have a real nice trio of players in quarterback Anu Solomon, running back Nick Wilson and wide receiver Cayleb Jones to lead this offense. While they are deep with the skilled players they are not so much up front. Defensively, Scooby Wright is the man for Arizona. He’s been sensational for two seasons now and this unit will need another productive campaign from him this fall to stay in contention. This is a team that can’t afford injuries, especially considering their bye week is in last November.
Game 1 - Sept. 3 Texas San Antonio
20) Georgia Tech
I like this Georgia Tech. I am a fan of Paul Johnson and his outstanding quarterback in Justin Thomas. He’s ideal for the triple option attack. The offensive line should be stout. Two areas of concern - the Yellow Jackets lost a ton of production from their A and B backs. The defense needs to respond with a much better 2015.
Game 1 - Sept. 3 Alcorn State
21) Arizona State
Mike Bercovici is a classic, pro-style quarterback with a big arm and lots of upside. Running back D.J. Foster switched from running back to wide receiver. Foster will need to make a quick transition, especially with ASU losing wideout Jaelen Strong to the NFL. The run game should be stout with Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage. Defensively, this is a program that really gets after it and they return a lot of experience.
Game 1 - Sept.5 Texas A&M
The Sooners needs to bounce back in a big way in 2015 after a five-loss 2014 that included their final two games against Oklahoma State and Clemson. Baker Mayfield takes over at quarterback, hoping to revitalize the Sooner passing attack. At least this team has Samaje Perine and a stable of backs. I wouldn’t exactly count this team out yet in the Big 12.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Akron
23) Boise State
Ryan Finley takes over for the Broncos, looking good this fall camp at the quarterback position. That bodes well for this Boise State offense and all the returning starters they have on this side of the ball. Certainly this offense will miss running back Jay Ajayi and his 1,800 yard production. If they can strike balance, the Broncos will be tough to beat. They are also loaded on defense at all three levels with experience and talent. This team has a chance to be really good this season.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 Washington
This will be a year of transition for the Badgers football program, as Paul Chryst comes back to Madison. He inherits a pretty talented squad and a very favorable schedule. Wisconsin has experience at the quarterback position in Joel Stave. Their next elite running back appears to be Corey Clement. The Badgers lost some key members of their offensive line but that’s typically not a real area of concern because this program has always done such an outstanding job of developing linemen. Defensive coordinator David Aranda remained with the team. That stability will be huge for this unit this season.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 - Alabama
25) Texas A&M
This Kevin Sumlin edition in College Station has a chance to score a ton of points. The triggerman will be Kyle Allen. The weapons on this team at wide receiver are deep and very talented. The offensive line should once again be very good. Sumlin’s biggest off-season recruit was defensive coordinator John Chavis. If he can turn Myles Garrett and company into a good unit quickly than this program is going to make some serious noise this fall.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 - Arizona State
26) Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy played a lot of young players in 2014, which bodes well for this season and beyond in Stillwater. Case in point is Mason Rudolph, who’s a talented, young quarterback. He gets to throw to a very deep of set of talented wide receivers. The offensive front has to stay healthy, as there is not much depth behind the starting five. The defense has a chance to be one of the better ones in the conference, led by defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Good athletes at linebacker and in the secondary allow coordinator Glenn Spencer to get aggressive.
Game 1 - Sept. 3 at Central Michigan
27) Virginia Tech
Quarterback Michael Brewer has the talent to lead this team to places but must play with more consistency. Wide receiver Isaiah Ford is coming off a killer spring and very good freshman season in 2014. He has a chance to emerge as one of the top wide receivers in the ACC. The defense has talent, depth and production across the front, which is the strength of this football team. Of course their secondary is one of the best in college football. This could be a dangerous team if things come together for them on the offensive side of the ball.
Game 1 - Sept. 7 Ohio State
The Bulldogs are not going to sneak up on anyone this season, as Dan Mullen and company look to build off a breakthrough 2014 campaign. Though they lost some key pieces but I still believe they can make a serious run at the West. Mississippi State has the league’s top quarterback Dak Prescott. De’Runnya Wilson is his big and talented go-to wide receiver. The offense is deep at running back and has a chance to be good up front. The defense really needs Chris Jones to play up to his ability.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 at Southern Miss
If this team is to make any kind of run in the Pac-12 South then they must get monster production from their franchise player, running back Devontae Booker. Quarterback Travis Wilson brings a lot of experience to the position. This is a physical offense that must get good play up front to succeed in 2015. John Pease takes over as the Utah defensive coordinator. His first task is to find the 18.5 sack production from the departed Nate Orchard. Good thing Hunter Dimick is back. The front seven should be their strength while the secondary remains the question.
Game 1 - Sept. 3 Michigan
The Tigers have a good quarterback in Maty Mauck. He’ experienced and talented and should have a good running game to take some pressure off of him. Russell Hansbrough will have a chance for a big season on the ground for Missouri. They are not quite as experienced at wide receiver and needs some players here to really step up. The Tigers lost one of the best players in defensive lineman Harold Brantley. He was injured in a car accident and will miss the season. That’s a big loss for Gary Pinkel’s defense.
Game 1 - Sept. 5 SE Missouri State