Photographs by FR111446 AP
Alabama NCAA college football coach Nick Saban speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Sunday, August 13, 2017
It is that time of the year to look into the crystal ball, throw in some stats, trends and traditions and make a prediction of how the final regular-season poll will look in December.
- ALABAMA -- Who else? The Crimson Tide need a little help at linebacker and defensive end, but there never seems to be a shortage of those in Nick Saban's World.
- FLORIDA STATE -- The offensive line will be exposed a little in the opening game against the Tide, but this is a talented bunch and will run the table after the loss and get a shot at payback.
- USC -- The Trojans may be in La-La land, but they finally have rebuilt the foundation. Solid and stable.
- OHIO STATE -- The Buckeyes were embarrassed by Clemson in the playoffs and aren't quite as good this season. May be a year away from top spot.
- WASHINGTON -- Will give Trojans a run for their money in the Pac-12, but will have to score a lot of points. Losses in the secondary will hurt.
- CLEMSON -- Defense will be solid, but too many offensive losses, especially quarterback Deshaun Watson, to repeat. Tigers need a split in their two biggest tests -- Florida State and Louisville.
- PENN STATE -- Nittany Lions have 10 offensive starters back, which counterbalances some key defensive losses.
- OKLAHOMA STATE -- The Cowboys will be great on offense and may be just good enough on defense to hold opponents to 30 points or fewer.
- AUBURN -- Tigers face some offensive issues after a trying season on defense, but Gus Malzahn is great at making offenses score.
- LSU -- Ed Orgeron understands the need for speed and that he needs to keep his paws off the play calling. The Tigers are a little young but talented.
- FLORIDA -- Questions remain on defense and offense, but Jim McElwain has found answers for two years.
- WISCONSIN -- Talented and deep in trenches. Defense should be great, offense very good.
- TEXAS -- Almost as talented and deep in the trenches as Wisconsin. Tom Herman wins with Charlie Strong's players and the honeymoon begins.
- LOUISVILLE -- Offense is never a concern when Bobby Petrino is the head coach, and the secondary is strong. Cardinals could be special if the defensive line gets it together.
- MICHIGAN -- Jim Harbaugh will need to be a magician after losing 10 starters on defense and seven on offense.
- STANFORD -- Really stingy defensively with a chance to be good on offense. Will miss Christian McCaffrey early.
- OKLAHOMA -- Former Coach Bob Stoops kept the defense running; new head coach Lincoln Riley, the former offensive coordinator, has to worry about that.
- NOTRE DAME -- Brian Kelly's tenure rides on the development of a quarterback.
- OREGON -- New coach Willie Taggart understands you can't outscore everyone, that you have to play some defense.
- GEORGIA -- Most are picking the Bulldogs to win the SEC East. In this space Kirby Smart still has something to prove, and he could with all the returning talent.
- KANSAS STATE -- Head Coach Bill Snyder is fighting throat cancer, but the tough old goat won't give up and his teams always reflect his mental and physical toughness.
- MIAMI -- Mark Richt is safe again; he's got a strong defense coming back and most of his offensive line.
- VIRGINIA TECH -- The Hokies' linebackers and D-backs are tough, as Arkansas witnessed in the Belk Bowl, and they are back.
- WEST VIRGINIA -- Will Grier, 5-0 at Florida in 2015 before PED suspension, is set to quarterback a very potent offense.
- NORTH CAROLINA STATE -- The ACC is tough, but Wolfpack appear poised to make a statement.
Sports on 08/13/2017
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