We’re almost in August. What it means is that in around 4 weeks the very first college football games of the 2017-2018 College Football Season take place. My rearly 2017 top 10 college football rankings are somewhat different than everybody else’s.
Although I believe Alabama is the class of the SEC, and, therefore, the best team in the nation, I’m not in love with Louisville. I’m not in love with Michigan. I’m also not in love with USC although I do feel the Trojans could end up making me look like I have no clue what I’m doing.
So, could Urban Meyer’s squad the Ohio State Buckeyes. Oh well, take your shots, right?
Check out my early 2017 top 10 college football rankings!
D.S.’s 2017 Top 10 College Football Rankings
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Tide lost to Clemson in the National Championship Game. Why? I blame it squarely on Alabama’s offensive coordinators, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian.
Forever and a day, the Tide has been a rushing squad. They chew up clock to keep their usually vaunted defense off the field. Then, they crush their opponents in the second half and final quarter. But, once Lane Kiffin became their offensive coordinator, the Tide started passing the football much more than rushing the football.
Sarkisian took over for Lane before the National Championship Game. Sark did his best to keep things under control. But, really, what could you ask of the guy?
Alabama’s offense should go back to its rushing ways this season. The Crimson Tide lost 10 players from last season’s CFP squad.
That shouldn’t matter too much. Nick Saban is the best recruiter in the nation. He’ll find a way to put together strong offensive lines and defensive lines. That’s where it all starts in college football.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
I have no idea why so many people are excited about Ohio State winning the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are going off at +125 odds to win the Big Ten this season. Do college football analysts really have that bad of a collective memory?
After starting slow, the Nittany Lions pretty much ransacked the conference. They beat Ohio State 24 to 21. They did lose 10 to 49 to Michigan, but that was in Week 4 before the Lions had kicked it up a notch.
Penn State not only returns quarterback Trace McSorley and a running back Saquon Barkley, but Penn State also returns 4 starters along the offensive line that played in the Rose Bowl.
The offensive line at Happy Valley, alone, makes Penn State the team to beat in the Big Ten. The defense? The Nittany Lions went deep in almost every position. The defense is experienced. This is the season when the old Penn State Nittany Lions dominate.
I see Penn State making a trip to the College Football Playoff.
3. Florida State Seminoles
I know exactly what I’m doing by putting Florida State in the Top 4. Yes, the likelihood of Florida State not losing a single game this season is 0 to 0. The Seminoles start out the season by battling Alabama. They also must take on Clemson and Florida on the road in 2017.
But, I’ve got faith. The offensive line has been rebuilt. Bad news? Not really. FSU’s offensive line stunk last season. It almost got QB Deondre Francois killed. I think that whatever Jimbo Fisher puts in front of Francois to protect the highly-talented QB is going to be a step up from last season.
The real strength of FSU’s team is the defense. The Seminoles have one of the deepest defensive line rotations. Everything on defense starts with the D-Line. Secondary players are meaningless unless you can pressure good quarterbacks.
Florida State has a huge shot of upsetting Alabama in their first game. Even if they don’t, FSU is talented enough to beat both Clemson and Florida on the road. I think FSU stamps their ticket to the College Football Playoff in 2017
4. Washington Huskies
Football analysts love skill players. That’s why USC is ranked so much higher than Washington. What many football analysts fail to realize is that skill players aren’t enough. The guys in the trenches, those who block for and protect skill players, determines who wins in college football.
Washington returns a 6’8”, 320 lbs, left tackle in Trey Adams. Adams protects the best pair of running backs in the Pac 12. QB Jake Browning, a two-year starter, is now a junior.
The defense should be just as awesome as Chris Petersen’s defenses always are. Why are people so in love with USC to win the Pac 12 this season? I think Washington returns to the CFP (College Football Playoffs).
5. LSU Tigers
Ed Orgeron is the perfect head coach for the LSU Tigers. Once LSU relieved Les Myles of his head coaching duties, and made Orgeron the interim coach, the Tigers appeared to play faster. They had more energy on the football field.
The key for this LSU team is how well senior QB Danny Etling performs. Etling gets to play behind Karl Malone’s son, K.J. Malone. Derrius Guice is one heck of a running back.
LSU’s must replace its linebacking corps on defense. They’ve never had an issue doing this in the past. Alabama’s biggest rival could turn the tide on the Tide this season.
6. USC Trojans
QB Sam Darnold? Sure, he’s the top NFL quarterback prospect in college football this season. He’s also the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. But, before I hand over the Pac 12 to USC, there are a few things consider.
First, USC lost key players along the offensive line. Darnold might have to scramble more this season than he did last season. Second, one of the best wide receivers in college football last season, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is gone. So is WR Darreus Rogers.
Finally, the Trojans must battle Washington State, and Colorado, on the road this season. Neither the Cougars nor the Buffalos are cakewalks. I’m not as sold on the Trojans as everyone else is.
7. Clemson Tigers
QB DeShaun Watson is gone. I’m not as worried about it as everybody else. The reason I’m not worried is because Clemson returns 4 starters along the offensive line. Those 4 starters dominated Ohio State’s defense, and stood up to Alabama, in last year’s College Football Playoff. Dabo Swinney should put together a fearsome offense.
The Tigers also return great players on the defensive line. A great defensive line can hide issues in your secondary. That should be case for Clemson this season. Well, it’s going to be the case for the Tigers until they face Florida State on Nov. 11.
8. Florida Gators
Florida could be the upset team in the SEC this season. I thought Florida was going to be okay, maybe not great, just okay. Then, coach Bob McElwain pulled off the coup of the off-season. He convinced Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire to transfer to Florida.
How good of a quarterback is Zaire? He’s talented enough for me to say that McElwain could turn him into the best QB he’s ever coached. McElwain knows what he’s doing when it comes to QBs. So, I’m saying a lot about Zaire.
Zaire gets to play behind an offensive line that returns 4 starters. If Florida gets its offense into shape before the Sept. 2 battle in Ann Arbor, don’t be surprised if the Gators upset Michigan and jump into the Top 10.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes
There are reasons for Buckeye fans to be bullish on the team this season. QB J.T. Barrett is ultra-talented. But, as good as Barrett has been, he’s 26-4 as a starter, Ohio State’s offensive line broke down towards the end of last season. That caused Barrett major problems.
The defense should be very good. What I’m really worried about when it comes to the Buckeyes is their schedule. To Urban Meyer’s credit, Ohio State doesn’t start the season off battling Towson State.
Instead, the Buckeyes travel to Indiana, a team that has been competitive versus Ohio State the past few seasons. From there, it’s a game versus Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy Candidate Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma should surprise some teams this season. The Buckeyes have a crazy 3-game stretch where they’re at Nebraska, at home versus Penn State, and then on the road against Iowa.
It’s going to be tough for Ohio State to not lose more than 2 to 3 games.
10. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners could end up much further ahead in my rankings once the season starts. Oklahoma is loaded to bear along the offensive line. Baker Mayfield is a stud at QB. The defense should be decent enough.
What I really love about Oklahoma is how head coach Lincoln Riley brings a different attitude to the Sooners. Riley is hungry. His players are going to feed off that hunger. Oklahoma should win a competitive Big 12, which means they have a shot to get to the CFP.