The Weekend: 2017 College Football Preview
It’s that time of the year again. When the pride runs deep and the passion is stronger than bodybuilder/fitness coach, CT Fletcher (Youtube him).
It’s officially College Football season, and your weekends from now until December will be packed with big time games. This is also the time for Fan-I Sports weekly college Football breakdown, The Weekend. This will be our fourth season conducting The Weekend, and for those that are new, The Weekend is where you get your rankings, top player performances, top games, and opinions on the previous and upcoming week of college football. We release AP rankings every week, but most importantly, we release our Fan-I Rankings. Fan-i rankings will be available after the first week of the season.
AP PRESEASON RANKINGS
- Ohio State
- Florida State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Virginia Tech
- West Virginia
- Washington State
The talk of the college football is whether or not the Alabama Crimson Tide are getting weaker.
They have 11 starters returning, star tailback Bo Scarbrough has been suffering from an illness and it only gets worse. 3rd string tailback Josh Jacobs is still out with a hamstring injury, outside linebacker Jamey Mosley has a concussion and Donnie Lee Jr. has suffered a knee injury. Now it sounds bad, nevertheless, it is still the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tide believe that Scarbrough’s illness is not serious at all, while Jalen Hurts, Damien Harris, and Calvin Ridley are coming back. Also, the Tide still do have a lot of potential on defense, and yes that includes Fan-I Favourite DB Trevon Diggs. In addition to that, the Crimson Tide still have a fantastic recruiting class this season… again. In other words, do not expect Alabama to take a step back this season and get ready for the fireworks that will be Florida State vs the Crimson Tide on September 2nd.
- 9/2 vs. Florida State
- 10/7 @ Texas A&M (Trap Game)
- 10/21 v. #21 Tennessee
- 11/4 v. #13 LSU
- 11/25 v. #12 Auburn
Florida State will have a rough first month of the season. In September they will take on the best team in the country, Alabama, then two conference games against Miami and NC State. For the Noles, this will be a year that will test their depth and experience. They will have to replace FSU's all-time leading rusher (Dalvin Cook), an All-American pass rusher (DeMarcus Walker), and a few others but they have some talented returnees.
Everyone will keep a close eye on Deondre Francois. Francois was a true freshman last season and had a tough year inside the pocket. Francois numbers weren′t bad, 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he took big hits every game. Francois will have to get rid of the ball quicker if he wants to make it through the season. Against Alabama, he will have to use his legs, which is always the Achilles heel for a Nick Saban′s defense. Standing in the pocket will not be the answer.
Jaques Patrick is expected to be the starting running back for the Noles but he has a talented freshman behind him. Cam Akers is on everyone′s radar as the future of Florida State's running game. Akers was a quarterback and running back in high school, gaining over 13,000 yards and 129 touchdowns during his high school career. Patrick has been with the Noles for three seasons now, playing behind Cook. Patrick has the experience but Akers has the upside and big play ability that the fans want to see.
Defensively, the Noles are as good as ever. They are led by All-World Safety, Derwin James. James suffered a torn meniscus last season that cut his sophomore season short. This year, he expected to be a hybrid player on defense for the Noles, lining up on all three levels. Fan-i Favorite, Levonta Taylor, and Tavares McFadden will work the corners, backing up a deep front seven.
- 9/2 v. #1 Alabama
- 9/16 v. #16 Miami
- 10/21 v. #16 Louisville
- 11/11 @ #5 Clemson
- 11/25 @ #17 Florida
The question on everyone’s mind heading into the 2017 college football season is if the Clemson Tigers can repeat what they did in 2016. For those who missed it, Clemson had a magical run to become the 2016 National champions. With that being said, it is safe to assume that the 2017 edition of the Clemson Tigers will be much weaker than the 2016 edition of the Tigers?
The Tiger will say goodbye to quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Wayne Gallman, two men who were instrumental in the Tigers 2016 season. Watson is recognized by many as the greatest player in Clemson football history. Even though the Tigers have a talented running back in Tavien Feaster, their replacement at quarterback is relatively unknown. While Kelly Bryant is expected to start week one and has had limited experience in the NCAA, no one knows how he will fare come September 2th against Kent State
While the offense is a relative unknown, the defense is not. Tigers' fans are excited about the Clemson defensive line. Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, and Dexter Lawrence are all coming back this season. In other words, to say opposing teams might have trouble scoring on Clemson is an understatement. Still, with the offense relatively unknown, do not expect a repeat of 2016 or even 2015 for Clemson.
- 9/9 v. #12 Auburn
- 9/16 @ #16 Louisville
- 9/30 @ #21 Virginia Tech
- 11/11 v. #3 Florida State
Before knocking off Bama, Clemson defeated Ohio State 31-0 in the College Football semifinals. For the first time in 196 games, Urban Meyers suffered his first shutout, which made Meyers call in some help. Former Indiana coach, Kevin Wilson, will be the Buckeyes new offensive coordinator and Greg Schiano will be the new defensive coordinator. Both coaches have had great success on the college level, which makes this an all-star coaching staff.
Wilson is known as one of the innovators of the spread offense due to his days at Northwestern and Oklahoma. Wilson was the offensive coordinator for 2008 Sooners, a team that included Sam Bradford, Jermaine Greshman, Ryan Broyles, and Demarco Murray. Bradford threw for 4,000+ yards and 50 touchdowns in that offense; an offense that averaged 51 points a game and scored 60+ in their final five Big 12 games. Meyers is hoping that Wilson can bring some new ideas to an offense that averaged 459 yards per game last season.
It seem like yesterday when J.T. Barrett started as a freshman for the Buckeyes, landing himself as a Heisman finalist. Now a senior, the expectations are a lot heavier for Barrett. Barrett has yet to best his freshman numbers, 45 total touchdowns and 3,772 total yards, which could be a reason why the Buckeyes haven′t seen the National Championship game since his freshman season. With Wilson helping out with the play-calling, Barrett could be looking at a Heisman caliber season, which the Buckeyes will need in order to reach the National Championship.
- 9/9 v. #7 Oklahoma
- 10/28 v. #6 Penn State
- 11/4 @ Iowa (Trap Game)
- 11/25 @ #11 Michigan
With the really abrupt retirement of Bob Stoops, it is going to be really interesting how Oklahoma fairs this season. Last season the Sooners did really well, finishing with an 11-2 record; but in college football, it’s not the losses that matter, it's how and when they happened. For Oklahoma, those losses happened early and they were disappointing, despite that, some people still thought the Sooners could have been a playoff team. Now with Stoops out and Lincoln Riley in, expect Oklahoma to take a step back.
On the positive side, Oklahoma still has Baker Mayfield at quarterback, and including him, that will make nine starters on offense. On defense, the Sooners are expecting seven starters back, and thus on paper, Oklahoma should not only be able to rebound from the loss of Stoops, but they can get even better. However, coaching in football is so important. That is not to say Riley cannot be good or even exceptional, however, Riley has some big shoes to fill.
P.S. It also does not help that Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State are hot on their heels and look to maintain that this season.
- 9/9 @ #2 Ohio State
- 10/14 v. #23 Texas
- 10/21 @ #20 Kansas State
- 11/4 @ #10 Oklahoma State
- 11/25 v. #22 Kansas State
Last season, we picked the Huskies as a ″darkhorse″ in our preseason Weekend Preview. This season, they are a legitimate horse in the race. The Huskies didn′t end last season on a good note, losing to Alabama 24-7 in the College Football Semifinals, but they finished fourth in the final AP Polls, their first time ranked in the top five since 2000. This is also their highest pre-season ranking since 2002 when they entered the season ranked #9.
The Huskies are bringing back a good core group that includes the leading passer, rusher, and interceptions. Jake Browning made a name for himself last season, carving up the Pac-12 with 46 passing touchdowns. Browning is one of the reasons why many are calling this season the year of the quarterback. The junior quarterback is praised for his football IQ and lack of mental mistakes. He will be joined in the backfield by Myles Gaskins, who has rushed for 1300+ yards and 10+ touchdowns in his first two seasons at Washington. Like Penn State, this is another backfield that can be considered top in the country.
The Huskies defense is anchored by two pre-season All-Americans, defensive tackle Vita Vea and linebacker Azeem Victor. Victor will miss the season-opener against Rutgers due to a violation of team rules but he will be around for the rest of the season. They also bring back Tyler Rapp who led the team in interceptions as a freshman. The defense loss some heavy hitters, especially in the secondary but they still have a chance to be the best defensive in the Pac-12.
- 10/14 @ Arizona State (Trap Game)
- 10/28 v. UCLA
- 11/4 v. Oregon
- 11/10 @ #14 Stanford
- 11/25 v. #24 Washington State
The Trojans are probably the only team that everyone is 100% sure got better. The hype machine has been real and not one down of football has been played yet. On one hand, history would suggest that USC has tended not to live up to expectations.
There have only been four times in the last 10 years where USC has ranked has been ranked #4 or higher and in three of those years, they were in the 20s.
(via the Mercury News )
On the other hand, the Trojans will have the same coach for consecutive seasons for the first time since the 2011-2012 season (Clay Helton) and have a star quarterback in Sam Darnold with a wealth of offensive and defensive weapons. Seriously, it would be nearly impossible for a Trojan fan to not get giddy from how good the roster looks and their relatively soft schedule.
How good USC will be depends on what good is to the beholder.
- 9/9 v. #14 Stanford
- 9/16 v. #23 Texas
- 9/29 @ #24 Washington State
- 10/21 @ Notre Dame
- 11/18 v. UCLA
Penn State has a chance to win back-to-back Big Ten titles for the first time in school history. The 2016 Nittany Lions surprised everyone when they won nine-straight games after being smacked by Michigan 49-10 four weeks into the season. That run included a 24-21 win over Ohio State and a 34-31 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. This season, the Nittany Lions will not be surprising anyone, especially Saquon Barkley.
Barkley found himself in the hype machine after he rushed for 194 yards against USC in the Rose Bowl last season. Barkley always had the skills though, you won′t find many in the college football world with his speed, vision, and agility while carrying 230lbs of muscle. In an ESPN Magazine feature, Barkley says he doesn′t want to be touched on the field, which is why he led the nation in missed tackles caused (according to the same article). Last season Barkley scored 22 total touchdowns, 18 rushing. With him in the backfield, the Nittany Lions are primed for a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
Senior quarterback Trace McSorley is another reason why the Nittany Lions will be in the college football playoff discussion. McSorley doesn′t have the size of his back up (Tommy Stevens 6′5 228lbs) but he knows how to win football games. In the Big Ten title game, McSorley threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Some experts are picking McSorley to join Barkley in New York as Heisman Finalist come December. With that type of hype, you have to recognize this backfield as one of the best in the country.
- 9/23 @ Iowa (Trap Game)
- 10/21 v. #11 Michigan
- 10/28 @ #2 Ohio State
- 11/4 @ Michigan State (Trap Game)
There is a lot of Miami love and I can see why. The U is currently ranked 18 in the AP polls and some might say that is a little too low. Their defense was a lights out in 2016. That was mostly due to Shaq Quarterman who will be returning, and having consistency in a linebacking core can do wonders for a defense. Offensively, there is some work to be done but if the defense plays lives up to the billing then there is no reason why the Canes cannot be in a lot of games.
If you are looking for a reason to why Louisville is a dark horse then I got two words for you… Lamar Jackson. Jackson is coming off a Heisman trophy year as a sophomore in 2016. Jackson had a filthy 2016 season, 5,114 total yards and 51 total touchdowns. If the offensive line can keep Jackson semi-protected and the Louisville defense is just okay (and I mean just okay), then why not Louisville this year.
The Cowboys have a schedule that could land them in playoff contention at the end of the season. They have a three-week span where they will take on @West Virginia, @Texas, and Oklahoma. If they can get past that without any hiccups, they could be the second Big 12 team to play in the College Football Playoffs. All-American wideout James Washington is expected to have a huge season, catching passes from Mason Rudolph.
Jr. QB, Lamar Jackson - Jackson was a video game last season. We haven't seen a player excite the college football world like that since Vince Young. Jackson fast start was the reason for him winning the Stiff-Arm trophy. Can he be the first back-to-back Heisman Winner since Archie Griffin?
Jr. RB, Bo Scarbrough - Scarbrough will be the main running back this season for the Crimson Tide. He has the opportunity to become the third running back in Crimson Tide history to win the Heisman, all in Saban's era.
Sr. QB, J.T. Barrett - With a new offensive coordinator, this could be a monster year for Barrett, who has already experienced a Heisman like season. Barret would be the first Buckeye to win since Troy Smith in 2006.
Sr. QB, Baker Mayfield - Mayfield had a career year last season, throwing for 40 touchdowns and close to 4,000 yards. He finished third in the Heisman race last season but with a new coach, will his progression take hit this season?
Jr RB, Saquon Barkley - In order for Barkley to win the Heisman, the Nittany Lions will have to be in the playoffs. If Barkley does, in fact, wins the Heisman, it's a good chance that Penn State will be in the playoffs. Simple mathematics.
Will Notre Dame Suck again?
Don’t lie, it has been a running joke between you and your friends that Notre Dame sucked in 2016. The fighting Irish went 4-8 and have a lot of issues to figure out. Notre Dame had a horrendous defense that even a defensive coordinator firing could not fix and it does not look like it will get any better. New quarterback, young defensive unit and as usual a tough schedule. It will be interesting how Notre Dame does in 2017.
Can Willie Taggart turn Oregon around?
For anyone who talks to me about college football knows that before I became a journalist who followed everything, Oregon football was the only thing I watched. Specifically, Chip Kelly, former offensive coordinator and head coach Oregon Ducks football. It was more of an appeal for that type of style that I knew would never work in the NFL but was fun in NCAA. To be honest it was not like Helfrich was bad, at least in his first two years at helm. However 2015 and 2016 hurt and Helfrich probably needed to go and in came Willie Taggart. For the record I think Willie Taggart is a genius and I think that Taggart can make Oregon much better. In 2016 South Florida went 10-2 under Taggart and by the end of the 2016 season, the South Florida Bulls were ranked 19th by the AP and coaches rankings. If he can get the Ducks to play inspired football then I do not see why he cannot get Oregon to make a turnaround. What kind of a turnaround? Only time will tell.
2017, the Year of the Quarterback?
A college football fan has probably heard this 18 million times this year but 2017 has a lot of great quarterbacks playing. Lamar Jackson is now in his junior year and came off winning the Heisman Trophy… but wait there’s more. The list includes J.T Barrett, Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, Sam Darnold, John Allen, Jake Browning and to be honest the list can get even longer. I mean Jalen Hurts says hi, am I right. Nevertheless, expect some quarterback battles this season.
This was a very eventful off-season. Nine schools within the power five conferences will have new coaches, while some big names are coaching at others. Tome Herman will look to bring the Longhorns back to the forefront of College football, while Lincoln Riley tries to fill the large shoes that Bob Stoops left behind. P.J. Fleck, who coached Western Michigan to a 13-1 record, will now control the Gophers of Minnesota, who hasn't won a Big Ten title since 1967. Matt Luke will do his best to prove that he is more than an interim coach, while also cleaning up Hugh Freeze mess in Ole Miss. Charlie Strong will attempt to reshape his image at USF, replacing Taggert. And let's not forget about Lane Kiffin taking over Florida Atlantic. With this many big time coaching moves, this season will be nothing short of interesting story lines.
Games To Watch
- #2 Ohio State @ Indiana, 8/31 8pm
- #11 Michigan v. #17 Florida, 9/2 3:30pm (AT&T Stadium)
- #3 Florida State v. #1 Alabama, 9/2 8pm (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
- #22 West Virginia v. #21 Virginia Tech, 9/3 7:30pm (FedEx Field)
- #25 Tennessee @ Georgia Tech, 9/4 8pm (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
- #12 Auburn @ #5 Clemson, 9/9 7:30pm
- #7 Oklahoma @ #2 Ohio State, 9/9 7:30pm
- #15 Georgia @ Notre Dame, 9/9 7:30pm
- #14 Stanford @ #4 USC, 9/9 8:30pm
- #5 Clemson @ #16 Louisville, 9/15 3:30pm
- #25 Tennessee @ #15 Florida, 9/15 3:30pm
- #18 Miami @ #3 Florida State, 9/15 8pm
- #23 Texas @ #4 USC, 9/15 8pm
- #6 Penn State @ Iowa, 9/23
- #8 Washington @ Colorado, 9/23
- UCLA @ #14 Stanford, 9/23
- #23 Texas @ Iowa State, 9/28 7:30pm
- #4 USC @ #24 Washington State, 9/29 10:30pm
- #5 Clemson @ #21 Virginia Tech, 9/30
- #15 Georgia @ #25 Tennessee, 9/30
- #16 Louisville @ NC State, 10/5 7:30pm
- #1 Alabama @ Texas A&M, 10/7
- #9 Wisconsin @ Nebraksa, 10/7
- #13 LSU @ #17 Florida, 10/7
- #20 Kansas State @ #23 Texas, 10/7
- #6 Penn State @ Northwestern, 10/7
- #2 Ohio State @ Nebraska, 10/14
- #7 Oklahoma v. #23 Texas, 10/14 (Cotton Bowl)
- #8 Washington @ Arizona State, 10/14
- #12 Auburn @ #13 LSU, 10/14
- #21 Tennessee @ #1 Alabama, 10/21
- #16 Louisville @ #3 Florida State, 10/21
- #11 Michigan @ #6 Penn State, 10/21
- #10 Oklahoma State @ #23 Texas, 10/21
- #4 USC @ Notre Dame, 10/21
- UCLA @ #8 Washington, 10/28
- #10 Oklahoma State @ #22 West Virginia 10/28
- #6 Penn State @ #2 Ohio State, 10/28
- #15 Georgia v. #17 Florida, 10/28 (EverBank Field)
- #13 LSU @ #1 Alabama, 11/4
- #2 Ohio State @ Iowa, 11/4
- #5 Clemson @ NC State, 11/4
- #6 Penn State @ Michigan State, 11/4
- #7 Oklahoma @ #10 Oklahoma State, 11/4
- Minnesota @ #11 Michigan, 11/4
- #14 Stanford @ #23 Washington State, 11/4
- #21 Virginia Tech @ #18 Miami, 11/4
- #8 Washington @ #14 Stanford, 11/10 10:30pm
- #5 Clemson @ #3 Florida State, 11/11
- #4 USC @ Colorado, 11/11
- #10 Oklahoma State @ Iowa State, 11/11
- #15 Georgia @ #12 Auburn, 11/11
- Notre Dame @ #18 Miami, 11/11
- UCLA @ #4 USC, 11/18
- #11 Michigan @ #9 Wisconsin, 11/18
- #20 Kansas State @ #10 Oklahoma State, 11/18
- #13 LSU @ #25 Tennessee, 11/18
- #18 Miami @ Pitt, 11/24
- #1 Alabama @ #12 Auburn, 11/25
- #3 Florida State @ #17 Florida, 11/25
- #24 Washington State @ #8 Washington, 11/25
- #9 Wisconsin @ Minnesota, 11/25
- Notre Dame @ #14 Stanford, 11/25
- #2 Ohio State @ #11 Michigan, 11/25