The college football season has been over for a little over a week and now we turn our attention to the upcoming National Signing Day, which has become a national holiday for college football nerds like me. The newest players will cause fan bases to hold their collective breath as the 18 year-olds announce where they will be ‘taking their talents’. With that being said let’s look at our ridiculously too early top 25 poll for the 2015 season.
1. TCU Horned Frogs – There wasn’t a team that closed out the season on a higher note than TCU after their complete and utter drubbing of the Ole Miss Rebels. The Frogs return just about everyone on offense including quarterback Trevone Boykin and enough talent on defense to win more than just a share of the Big XII in 2015.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes – The national champs return a boatload of talent on offense including three quality quarterbacks, which is a good problem to have but the departure of their offensive coordinator will change things a bit. I don’t expect to see Miller in a Buckeye uniform in 2015. Defensively, the Buckeyes will need to replace some key contributors on defense but do return defensive end Joey Bosa.
3. USC Trojans – I’m going a little out of the box for my number 3 team with Southern Cal but Coach Sarkisian & quarterback Cody Kessler are on the same page and that spells danger for the rest of the Pac-12. The Trojans also return most of their top tacklers on defense along with a deep and talented receiving corps.
4. Baylor Bears – Despite losing Bryce Petty & his two favorite targets, the Bears will be loaded again on offense in 2015. Coach Briles always has a quarterback ready to step up and Seth Russell did get some quality snaps in 2014 when Petty went down with back issues and later a concussion. Plus, the Bears have Shawn Oakman…enough said.
5. Michigan State Spartans – The Spartans lost their star defensive coordinator to the Pittsburgh head coaching vacancy which will hurt but not for long as head coach Mike Dantonio will keep the Sparty defense rolling along. Quarterback Connor Cook elected to stay which will definitely help but Michigan State will miss wide out Tony Lippett.
6. Oregon Ducks – The reigning Pac-12 champs will lose a lot of marquee names but do retain some of the key players from the 2014 squad. The Ducks lose a couple good offensive linemen but have skill players all over their roster. The quarterback race to replace Marcus Mariota will be a fun one to watch between three extremely talented young players in Jeff Lockie, Georgia Tech transfer Ty Griffin & Morgan Mahalak.
7. UCLA Bruins – Last year the Bruins got a lot of preseason hype because of returning starting quarterback Brett Hundley but the hype may have been a year too early as over half the team was freshman & sophomores. Those young players have gained valuable experience and Jerry Neuheisel has the moxie and pedigree to be the next great UCLA quarterback.
8. Georgia Bulldogs – The most explosive runningback in college football again resides in Athens, Georgia, in Nick Chubb and a departed offensive coordinator hurts, but not too much when number 27 is still in red and black. The Dawgs will need to find a quarterback to run the new offense but that will be one of the only question marks on this team.
9. Arizona Wildcats – Head Coach Rich Rodriguez is known for being an offensive guru but not even he could have predicted that his true freshman quarterback Anu Solomon would have performed like this. Throw in young runningbacks, receivers and star defender Scooby Wright III and the Wildcats have arrived early to the national contender party.
10. Clemson Tigers – We all knew how dynamic of a player Deshaun Watson would be and he didn’t disappoint before being injured. If he returns to form after his offseason knee surgery and head coach Dabo Swinney can rebuild the two lines of scrimmage, the Tigers will remain one of the country’s elite programs.
11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – As an outsider looking in, the 2014 Fighting Irish team was a fascinating one to watch and I don’t expect that to change in 2015. Notre Dame is again loaded with talent and the quarterback job will be a fun one to watch this offseason. The Irish will gain addition from subtraction if Everett Golson does in fact transfer because I really like Malik Zaire.
12. LSU Tigers – The quarterback position at LSU may have been the weakest position on any team in college football in 2014. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will need to get that position on the up-and-up if the Tigers are going to contend for anything with the ridiculous amount of talent that LSU has on their roster.
13. Alabama Crimson Tide – The 2015 season will be one of the most extensive reloading jobs head coach Nick Saban will have done since taking the job in Tuscaloosa. New faces on the offensive line, new quarterback and Saban will, I’m sure, be reevaluating the Tide defense because spread teams with mobile quarterbacks have given them massive fits lately.
14. Auburn Tigers – The Tigers have a pretty substantial rebuilding job on their hands, especially on defense. New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will be tasked with fixing a legitimately broken side of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson will keep the offense rolling although he doesn’t have near the mobility of his predecessor.
15. Arizona State Sun Devils – Head coach Todd Graham will definitely miss quarterback Taylor Kelly but in 2014 Mike Bercovici filled in marvelously when Kelly was out with injury. The Sun Devils also return 9 starters on a very serviceable defense but must replace starters on both lines.
16. Ole Miss Rebels – The Rebels started the season 7-0 and then fell flat on their face for the rest of the regular season and the bowl game. Not having a returning quarterback with any experience doesn’t help matters, but that defense is still really good even with the obvious departures of four defensive starters.
17. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Head coach Paul Johnson was on a warm seat before the 2014 season but not anymore after the Jacket’ 11-3 Orange Bowl season. Sophomore quarterback Justin Thomas returns along with most of his offensive line but Georgia Tech will need to find some new playmakers elsewhere on offense.
18. Florida State Seminoles – A lot of programs would be quivering at the amount of star power that is leaving Tallahassee this off season but head coach Jimbo Fisher has stocked the Seminole cupboard with talent. Florida State will need to rebuild both lines of scrimmage and find a quarterback among John Franklin IIII and J.J. Consantino.
19. Arkansas Razorbacks – The end of the 2014 season was mighty kind to Brett Bielema’s bunch as they finished the season 3-2 with two wins over ranked opponents & a bowl win. Arkansas will bring back their two headed monster in the back field in Jonathan Williams & Alex Collins along with quarterback Brandon Allen but, all this must translate to wins in 2015.
20. Boise State Broncos – Personally, I thought Bryan Harsin did a fantastic job in his first year as head coach of the Broncos as he guided them to the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State will be the favorite to win the Mountain West again as they return just about everyone from a highly productive roster but will need to replace their quarterback & star runningback, Jay Ajayi.
21. Tennessee Volunteers – It seems as if the Vols have been ‘under construction’ for a decade now but I feel like they have finally caught up to the rest of the SEC talent-wise & three conference losses by 8 points or less proves it. Head coach Butch Jones has recruited well and I like how he’s coached up the kids on Saturdays. Tennessee turns the corner in 2015.
22. Wisconsin Badgers – There is no replacing Melvin Gordon III, let’s just get that out in the open. The Badgers will attempt to replace his production in 2015 with a better passing game & sophomore runningback Corey Clement. New head coach Paul Chryst along with offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph were a positive hires for Wisconsin as their passing game was less than futile in 2014.
23. Utah Utes – Utah was one of the most ‘old school’ teams in the country in 2014 as their strengths were stopping the run, getting after the quarterback & running the ball. The Utes got a huge win when runningback Devontae Booker decided to return to school for his senior season. The Utes must replace some studs on defense but other than that Utah will keep clicking along.
24. Louisville Cardinals – Going 9-4 in their first year in a Power 5 conference was a success for the Cardinal program in 2014 and with a lot of play makers coming back on both sides of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Will Gardner was really excelling in Bobby Petrino’s system until he was injured in November. I don’t expect much of a drop off from Louisville in 2015.
25. Oklahoma State Cowboys – The month of October & November were not kind to the Cowboys in 2014 as every quarterback on the roster seemed to get injured. If Oklahoma State can avoid the injury bug in 2015, the roster chock full of talent will be able to show what it can do in an already crowded Big XII.
Again, this was the Ridiculously Too Early 2015 Top 25 so take all of this with a grain of salt. This poll will matter when the season starts about as much as the UAB Blazers players’ feelings mattered to the Alabama Board of Regents.