If hindsight is 20-20, my foresight was recently diagnosed as 20-2000.
Which is perfect, because the Associated Press preseason Top 25 college football poll comes out Monday, and as one of the 65 failed clairvoyants/media members with a vote, it’s time to dust off the crystal ball.
Here goes nothing:
(Note: Votes were locked in before the completion of the Urban Meyer investigation.)
1. Alabama: Five national titles in nine years. A production line of top-ranked recruiting classes. Save for their nonanabolic fuel of choice — the Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies Nick Saban enjoys each morning — the Tide remain the Drago of college football: a colorless machine thought to be unbeatable ... until they are.
2. Clemson: The Alabama Death Star. Taxes. Clemson. Fresh off three consecutive playoff trips, the Tigers have earned the kind of blind faith previously afforded only Alabama and Ohio State. Not to mention they have another hell-on-wheels defensive line that counts three people eaters — Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, and Clelin Ferrell — projected as top-10 draft picks in the spring.
3. Ohio State: If Meyer is out, we’ll adjust accordingly. But working on the assumption he’ll face no more than a brief suspension, the peerlessly talented Buckeyes remain the team to beat in the Big Ten.
4. Georgia: Who let the dogs out? It’s the question the Baha Men regrettably asked in 2000 — and college football wondered again last year. Now, is the reigning national runner-up another one-hit wonder or an awakened giant? Given the Bulldogs’ back-to-back top-3 classes under Saban disciple Kirby Smart, we’re leaning toward the latter.
5. Wisconsin: On Wisconsin ... all the way to the playoffs? Why not? With 2,000-yard back Jonathan Taylor peeling rubber behind a Goliathan line back in full — including Genoa native Michael Deiter — and a solid defense, this is classic Wisconsin at its best.
6. Washington: I’d sooner bet against the title character in a superhero movie than for a team from the Pac-12, which is coming off consecutive playoff shutouts. But the Huskies — winners of 22 games the past two years — have us thinking twice. Star passer Jake Browning returns, along with all five starters from a secondary that allowed 10 passing touchdowns last season.
7. Michigan State: You know Michigan State is good when the little brothers that subsist on water, air, and disrespect start dishing out the trash, as running back LJ Scott did in July in calling Michigan “our little sisters.” A Spartans team that brings back 19 starters from another double-digit-win season isn’t sneaking up on anyone.
8. Miami: How do we know The U officially is back? Beyond the Hurricanes returning 15 starters, look at the buzz around their Sept. 15 showdown at Toledo. Know the face-value, get-in-the-door price for adults? $58. And that’s a bargain next to the secondary market. Expect an all-time scene at the Glass Bowl.
9. Oklahoma: Like the Baha Men coming on after any band ever — sorry, guys! — new Oklahoma passer Kyler Murray has a tough act to follow in Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. A step back after two playoff trips in the past three years only feels natural. Then again, Todd Boeckman followed the bronze-armed Troy Smith in 2007 and led Ohio State to the national title game, so never say never. A Sooners program that’s nabbed consecutive top-10 classes could be deep enough to keep the schooner rolling.
10. Michigan: If Toledo native Shea Patterson is near the quarterback we expect, his playmaking addition on top of another championship-caliber defense could make a now-or-never fourth year for Jim Harbaugh one to remember. The caveat: a BRUTAL schedule that includes trips to Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State, and visits from Wisconsin and Penn State.
11. Penn State: As Harbaugh knows, there’s no shame in finishing fourth in a loaded Big Ten East. OK, there is a little shame. Regardless, quarterback Trace McSorley and company will be no picnic.
12. Notre Dame: How to best describe dual-threat Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush? “Kind of like our guy, great with his feet, good arm,” Michigan defensive backs coach Mike Zordich said, perhaps letting slip the worst-kept secret in college football (hmm, wonder who “our guy” could be?). Similar to the Wolverines and Patterson, Notre Dame will go as far as Wimbush takes it.
13. Auburn: No, $49 million just doesn’t go as far as it used to. But you wonder if it could buy a shinier toy than Gus Malzahn. Even with the Tigers’ trip to the Southeastern Conference title game last year — and a good group coming back — a seven-year extension for a coach with 20 losses the past four seasons feels like a bit of a stretch. We’ll see.
14. Stanford: As it happens, you need more than Love. But Heisman frontrunner Bryce Love — who ran for 2,118 yards in a five-loss season last year — is a heck of a place to start.
15. West Virginia: Quarterback Will Grier (3,490 yards, 34 scores last year) and All-America receiver David Sills headline what should be one of the nation’s most prolific offenses. Will it be enough to offset a defense that couldn’t stop a tortoise in an alley?
And the best of the rest ...
16. Southern California, 17. TCU, 18. Virginia Tech, 19. UCF, 20. Boise State, 21. Florida State, 22. Mississippi State, 23. Oklahoma State, 24. LSU, 25. South Carolina.
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