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College Football top 25: Contenders and pretenders

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College Football Contenders and Pretenders

We are at the beginning of October, which means we are one month into the NCAAF season. We’ve learned that Alabama and Ohio State are the only teams we can look and see no doubt that they’re the two best teams in the nation.

Besides the two empires, the rest of college football is at war to jostle for the other two spots. This is, of course, assuming Alabama and Ohio State continue to work through their schedules. I’ll go through a list of teams by ranks and who’s a contender and who’s a pretender.

We will start from 3 to 8…

3. Clemson- Pretender

Clemson is this year’s 2014 Florida State, the offense looks like they can make some noise, but they haven’t hit their stride yet, and their defense clearly misses Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Jayron Kearse, and MacKenzie Alexander.

I strictly believe they’re pretenders because, despite that last drive by Watson, I just don’t believe they would beat Louisville at a neutral site if they were to meet again. They could still make the playoff and that’s achievable. But this team stands no match to Michigan, Washington, Ohio State, and Alabama. I’m not sure they would beat A&M right now.

4. Michigan- Contender

I’m breaking a preseason promise about this team. I previously said that anything less than 11-0 before the Ohio State game would be a travesty. But it seems like Colorado and Wisconsin were far better than advertised, and with Jourdan Lewis, Jabril Peppers, and that defense, they might have a chance to win the Big Ten.

Unfortunately, it looks to me like the Big Ten is going to be a gauntlet. Wisconsin, Indiana, and Nebraska are challenging. Michigan has already beat Wisconsin is a great indicator of what Harbaugh brings to the table.

5. Washington- Contender

I was never happier this season than I was to see Stanford get embarrassed by Washington, a team I was very high on in the preseason. Of course, the Paul Finebaum’s of the world, SEC HONKS, will never give them the full credit, but Washington is by far the best team on the west coast and on the fast track to the Pac 12 title. Barring an epic collapse, I see them in the playoff as the Pac 12 Champion.

6. Houston- Mixed

Houston is a legitimate team, a team that beat Oklahoma, a team that gets the chance to play Louisville in November, and a team with Tom Herman as HC, that hasn’t been used to losing. The only issue I have with Houston is the fact that there’s ignorance with the AAC; that might make them the Boise State of 2016.

7. Louisville- Contender With a Clemson Loss

I warned everybody I knew about Louisville this year. Lamar Jackson was my preseason dark horse for the Heisman, and everybody clowned me… Now they have one loss, but Clemson will lose this season, Louisville can beat Houston and the rest of the ACC, and still be in the top 4. Same position as Michigan at this point, just with a loss.

8. Texas A&M- Contender

I had A&M as an 8-4 team preseason, and I’ve been proven wrong. Myles Garrett and Armani Watts lead the defense. Trevor Knight and those WRs are just running up the score, South Carolina is not terrible, but that game is my only concern so far. A&M definitely can beat ‘Bama and some of the other teams in the top of their conference. Kevin Sumlin, don’t screw this up for yourself…

This next group has a few teams that are on the outside looking in. But I’m only listing teams that are true pretenders, or contenders, no two-loss teams. I’ll lump a few teams together…

9. Tennessee and 10. Miami- Wait and See

I lump these teams together because it’s about time these programs get back into the top 10, it’s been about ten years, and I know their fans feel the same way. QBs Brad Kaaya and Joshua Dobbs have been spotty, but they both will receive NFL hype. These defenses have been stellar in the times needed. The Vols need to play four quarters of football; Miami needs to capitalize on their good competition.

11. Wisconsin and 15. Stanford- Pretenders but Pests

Ok, I praise Wisconsin for the gutsy performance, but that offense isn’t going to wow anybody, they beat an overrated LSU team, and hung on with Michigan; they just don’t match up well with Ohio State, and that’s why they have almost no chance to win the Big Ten. Stanford HC David Shaw is very overrated, it showed, his team looked lost and underprepared and unmotivated to play @ Washington, the biggest game on that campus in a long time!

12. Nebraska 13. Baylor 17. North Carolina 18. Florida- Pretenders But Entertaining

Nebraska, North Carolina, Baylor, and Florida have A LOT of talent, Baylor and Nebraska have and will continue to beat good teams, but at some point, they will meet their match. Baylor’s offense is stellar. North Carolina has beaten Pitt and Florida State but that opening loss to Georgia, a team with a lot of questions leaves me unenthused that they’ll improve from last season. Florida just doesn’t utilize their talent on offense, how the hell do you have Antonio Callaway and not try to move him around, plus where’s this offense McElwain was supposed to bring?

All four of these teams can be 9-3 or 10-2 but let’s not mistake them for teams with a chance at glory.

16. Arkansas 19. Boise State 22. West Virginia- Slept On Could Surprise

Boise State’s offense is dynamic and just insane. Watch Bryan Harsin’s squad play if you can. West Virginia’s offense is just as capable, but they haven’t hit their stride yet, the Big 12 isn’t that strong, if they can get off to a quick start against Baylor or Oklahoma State, they can erase their early season inconsistencies. A&M’s attack outmatched Arkansas. But Austin Allen and the Razorback offense can control the tempo, so beating Alabama isn’t astronomical, they just can’t commit turnovers.

21. Colorado 24. Utah 25. Virginia Tech The Best of the Rest

I won’t get to unranked teams this time around, but rounding the zero and one loss teams in the top 25, we have Colorado, Utah, and Virginia Tech. Colorado is making a comeback to the national scene; they gave Michigan a battle, and that only helps them regain respect, especially for recruiting.

As for Utah and Virginia Tech, they lost tight matchups, Utah to Cal, and the Hokies were defeated in Bristol by the Tennessee Vols, both teams look well coached and easing into life after some seniors departing last season. Utah is consistent so I have no concerns, Va Tech has QB Jerrod Evans, they should improve over the season.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]