AP Top 25 Poll Preview

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College Football Playoff

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Matthew Leto, Sports Editor

The annual top 25 preseason poll was released this past week. Last season the college football playoff committee elected Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Michigan State.

Last year’s playoff ended in a Alabama Crimson Tide victory over the Clemson Tigers 45-40. The Heisman trophy went to Alabama’s running back Derrick Henry.

(1) Alabama Crimson Tide – Alabama will once again welcome in one of the best defenses in the nation. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Allen will lead the defense week in and week out. Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley is due to have a breakout season.

(2) Clemson Tigers – Clemson welcome back quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will likely be a Heisman Trophy candidate. Watson and sophomore wide receiver Deon Cain could disrupt every secondary in the nation. Clemson really has one team standing in their way of a undefeated regular season; Florida State.

(3) Oklahoma Sooners – The Sooners will have Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield back at quarterback this season. Mayfield will look to dominate offensively with star running back Samaje Perine. With Jordan Evans at linebacker, the Sooners may be the most balanced team in the country.

(4) Florida State – The Seminoles have two of the best players in the nation in wide receiver Travis Rudolph and running back Dalvin Cook. Safety Derwin James will lead a very stacked defense. However, the quarterback position could slow down this powerhouse.

(5) LSU Tigers – The Tigers have arguably the best running back in the country in Leornard Fournette. In addition, the Tigers have one of the top defenses in the nation with defensive end Arden Key and cornerback Tre’Davious White.

(6) Ohio State Buckeyes – The Buckeyes will most likely start duel-threat quarterback J.T. Barrett. A Barrett to wide receiver Johnnie Dixon combination could be brutal to defenses. The former Dwyer standout is poised for a great season in Ohio. The Buckeyes also have one of the best linebackers in the nation in Raekwon McMillan.

(7) Michigan Wolverines – Michigan has a star tight-end in Jake Butt and seven other returning starters of offense. In addition, their defense is led by Jabrill Pepers, who is widely discuses as the best defensive player in the country. However, like other powerhouses, the quarterback position is wide open for grabs.

(8) Stanford Cardinals – The Cardinals have the 2015 Heisman runner-up, Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey should keep the offense high scoring. However, with an inexperienced defense, its hard to put the Cardinals in the college football playoff.

(9) Tennessee Volunteers – The Volunteers have two star studded players leading their fast pace offense; quarterback Joshua Dobbs and wide receiver Jalen Hurd. The defense is coached by Bob Shoop, who is known for elite, aggressive and more sound. Look for the Volunteers to make a splash this season.

(10) Norte Dame Fighting Irish – The Fighting Irish will start either star quarterback DeShone Kizer or Malik Zaire. Either option will lead the offense to bunches of points. The defense will be led by senior Defensive end Isaac Rochell.

(11) Mississippi Rebels – The Rebels welcome back star quarterback Chad Kelly, who will look to target secondary’s like its second nature. Junior Marquis Haynes will look to lead a star studded defense. Mississippi stands the best chance to defeat Alabama this season.

(12) Michigan State Spartans – The Spartans lost cornerstones in their college football playoff run last season. However, the Spartans potentially have a top five defense in all of college football. The Spartans are led by Malik McDowell and Riley Bullough.

(13) Texas Christian Horned Frogs – The Horned Frogs welcome in a pure star quarterback in Kenny Hill, who should lead this team to many victories. The Horned Frogs have a tremendous linebacker core in Travin Howard, Montrel Wilson and Ty Summers.

(14) Washington Huskies – The Huskies have star quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin to lead their dynamic offense. The Huskies should have a top defense with safety Budda Baker and linebacker Azeem Victor. The Huskies should compete for the PAC-12 conference.

(15) Houston Cougars – The Cougars have a star quarterback in Greg Ward, who should lead the offense to new depths this season. The Cougars has a dynamic duo on defense in defensive tackle B.J. Singelton and Outside Linebacker Steven Taylor.

(16) UCLA Bruins – The Bruins bring back star quarterback Josh Rosen, who should benefit from a better running attack than the previous season. The Bruins actually have stability in their defense, which is led by defensive tackle Eddie Vandrdoes.

(17) Iowa Hawkeyes – The Hawkeyes have a stable quarterback in C.J. Beathard and need more consistency from the running game to challenge powerhouses in the BIG-10. Iowa is great at ball hawking and getting turnovers epically when they are led by star cornerback Desmond Cain.

(18) Georgia Bulldogs – The Bulldogs will most likely start true frehman Jacob Eason who was a prized recruit and should gel well with star running back Nick Chubb. The Bulldogs new head coach Kirby Smart coached the dynamic defense for Alabama and it should rub off on the Bulldogs.

(19) Louisville Cardinals – The Cardinals will have former Boynton Beach standout Lamar Jackson under center. Jackson paired with power running backs Brandon Radcliff and L.J. Scott should be one of the most feared rushing attack in the country.

(20) USC Trojans – The Trojans have one of the most experienced offensive lines and a star wide receiver in Juju Smith. In addition, the Trojans have a star cornerback in Iman Marshall and a surging linebacker Cam Smith.

(21) Oklahoma State Cowboys – The Cowboys have a great duel-threat quarterback in Mason Rudolph, paired with star wide receivers James Washington and Marcell Ateman. The Cowboys have a strong linebacker core that should balance this squad out.

(22) North Carolina Tar Heels – The Tar Heels have a strong and deep offensive line who should do a good job in protecting new quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The Tar Heels are mediocre at best and should drop from the top 25 in weeks to come.

(23) Baylor Bears – The Bears had trouble all season keeping their quarterback healthy and will likely struggle again. The Bears happen to have a versatile defense that might be able to keep them in the top 25.

(24) Oregon Ducks – The Ducks have a senior quarterback in Dakota Prukop, who will do his better to channel his inner Marcus Mariota. The defense needs to perform better against the powerhouses in the PAC-12 if they want to remain in the top 25.

(25) Florida Gators – Luke Del Rio will start as the quarterback by committee to start the season. Running back Mark Thompson should run the Gators into the playoff race. The Gators may have the best secondary in the country with safety Marcus Maye and cornerback Jalen Tabor.

Playoff Prediction:

I believe Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Michigan will make the college football playoffs. I believe Oklahoma will defeat Michigan and Clemson will beat Alabama in the semi-finals. Oklahoma will win the National Championship over a tired Clemson team.

 

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