Everybody seems to be doing one these days, a way too early top 25 for next season. The early odds are out from Las Vegas on college football teams to win the CFP National Championship Game. Instead of just looking at ESPN or some other site and having watched so much of the bowl games and the playoff and having a lot of information to go on, we decided to do our own top 25. Here we go with Part 2.
15. Houston (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 100-to-1)
Tom Herman has been outstanding in his building of the Cougars offense and the program overall. He returns Earl Campbell Award winner (best Texas-born player in college football) in QB Greg Ward Jr., WR Chance Allen and cornerstone OL Will Noble. The defense had more losses but they have young players poised to jump in. Speaking of jumping in, the Cougars do by hosting OU at NRG Stadium in the season opener.
14. Oklahoma State (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 40-to-1)
The Cowboys have QB Mason Rudolph back and he has the offense to himself and wants it. The receiver corps is back with James Washington, Marcell Ateman, Jhajuan Seales, Jalen McCleskey and Chris Lacy as my picks to click. Can the OL and RB produce a better run attack while Glenn Spencer has a core group and lot of talented young players ready to erase the defensive despair from late in the season.
13. Stanford (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 20-to-1)
I know that most people see all the losses the include QB Kevin Hogan, the OL, and most of the defense and feel that David Shaw is rebuilding. You don't rebuild when you have one of the best players in the country in Christian McCaffrey. Stanford has enough parts to put around McCaffrey and the Cardinal is a tough group with a determined mindset.
12. Georgia (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 30-to-1)
Former Bama DC Kirby Smart inherited a gold mine at Georgia as the Bulldogs have top QB recruit Jacob Eason, son of former NFL QB Tony Eason, coming in and several RB candidates including injured Nick Chubb. Smart will bring the defense and the UGA roster has athletes. A fresh spirit and start may be what the program needed.
11. Michigan State (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 20-to-1)
Here's the team that may have lost too much as QB Connor Cook is gone as is WR Aaron Burbridge and All-American OC Jack Allen (no relation). I'll miss DE Shilique Calhoun too. Talented Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry will battle for next at QB and LB Ed Davis returns after missing the 2015 season to injury.
10. Tennessee (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 15-to-1)
Lots of folks are high on the Vols, higher than I am. Some think they could win it all. QB Joshua Dobbs and RB Jalen Hurd are the returning headliners on the offense with the area of development being pass catchers. The defense is loaded as eight starters return including LB Darrin Kirkland Jr., CB Cameron Sutton and DE Derek Barnett. Butch Jones has been pointing to this season and now it is close and the expectations are sky high in Knoxville.
9. Clemson (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 7-to-1)
I got ripped from several people for this selection when I announced my Top 25 on radio. The biggest complaint is how can you pick a team with the best returning starting quarterback in college football for ninth? I like Deshaun Watson and I believe he is as good as he appears, but there are a few missing pieces. One will not be WR Mike Williams, who returns from a neck injury that cost him most of 2015. DC Brent Venables has holes to fill on defense with the biggest losses being DE Shaq Lawson and CB Mackenzie Alexander, who both left early for the NFL. It will still be BYOG (bring your own guts) time for Dabo Swinney this season.
8. Ohio State (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 7-to-1)
Dysfunctional is what I called it last season as Ohio State may have had the best team but couldn't cure their internal demons enough to win gmes the Buckeyes should have won. No competition now as J.T. Barnett is the last one standing from the QB trio of two years ago. DE Joey Bosa is gone to the NFL but little brother is signing with the Buckeyes. LB Darron Lee and RB Ezekiel Elliott both left early too. It just doesn't seem right in Columbus.
7. North Carolina (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 100-to-1)
I can see the comments now, Robert Allen must really like Larry Fedora. No, the answer is I like the players that Fedora has and that will be back for North Carolina. Remember this is team that took Clemson to the wire in the ACC Championship Game and QB Mitch Trubisky steps in for Marquise Williams and RB Elijah Hood is back as is playmaker Ryan Switzer. DC Gene Chizik has almost his entire defense back.
6. Michigan (Vegas odds to win CFP in 2016 - 15-to-1)
Count me in as I am a Jim Harbaugh believer. I know he says silly stuff sometimes but he is a competitor and in one season he seriously changed the culture at Big Blue. He will need to find a new QB, but that guy will have talent galore around him with RB De'Veon Smith and WRs Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, and TE Jake Butt. BC architect Don Brown is the new DC and inherits a strong defense with most of the players back.
(Editor's note: Part 3 will feature the projected top five for next season including our picks to be in the CFP for 2016.)