By: David Folz
As we continue the countdown to #1 on our pre-season top 25, today we focus on teams at 10-6. These teams will be in contention all year in their conference and expect at least one team here to contend in the national championship mix. With that here are the teams from 10-6.
10. Arkansas- The Razorbacks can light up a scoreboard with the best teams in the nation. The problem is they also get lit up on defense as well. Enter John L. Smith, who coached defense as well as any coach in the last decade at Michigan State. Smith comes in due to the Bobby Petrino motorcycle scandal that cost him his job in the off-season. Tyler Wilson is back for the Razorbacks, whose offense, even with Joe Adams gone, will still be one of the best in the nation. It will come down to how well the defense improves especially against the run. If the Hogs do that this year, then when the Tide and LSU come around, the 24 point blowout losses from a year ago will be a thing of the past. If those issues persist this year too, then expect a lot of the same, win 9 to 11 games, but lose to Alabama and LSU.
9. Florida State- The assumption here is that Florida State will not stay at #9 very long when they roll into the conference season. The assumption is that with 15 of 22 total starters back that the Seminoles will roll through the ACC. Well they made those assumptions last year and FSU fell flat, not even winning the Atlantic Division (that went to Clemson.) The big reason the Seminoles will need and are favored again this year is a top-10 defense last year returns eight starters this year and will again be very strong. The other reason is when healthy E.J. Manuel can be one of the best QB’s in the nation. That is a big if however that Manuel is healthy and a reason why if Florida State struggles, he will not be healthy and a rushing attack that was 112th last year will be just as pitiful this year. The questions are on the offense this year again, and could be the difference between a national championship and a Gator Bowl berth.
8. Michigan State- They lost Kirk Cousins, their team leader, a year ago and have only five starters on offense a year ago that had five or more starts a year ago, so how are they ranked 8th this year? They will have a top-5 defense until the offense gels together. Le’Veon Bell will be a running back people may not know about early on, but he will be a big role player in the Spartans winning the Legends division. It will be telling to see how the Spartans handle all the new skill position players on offense, as everyone besides Bell is new. If the offense gels, the big competition will be Michigan and whoever they face in the Big Ten Championship.
7. Michigan- The Wolverines open this year with the highest expectations since 2007, Lloyd Carr’s last year at Michigan. The difference here is that this team has both offense and defense, as six starters return offensively and seven on defense. Denard Robinson is back for Michigan, which needs his experience in many ways to offset that two new starters are on the front line. The defense does return seven starters, but none on the line, meaning the early season test against Alabama on week one will provide a look at who is on that front line going forward. You could say that with Alabama that the Wolverines national title hopes also lay within the first weekend of the year. If they manage to upset the Crimson Tide, then Michigan is in a prime position for being in that spot, lose and they will be competing for a Rose Bowl.
6. Oklahoma- The Sooners will go as far as Landry Jones goes. That statement should be the outlier of the year for Oklahoma fans because while Jones was at points one of the best quarterbacks, he was also really average after Ryan Broyles tore his knee last year. This year for Jones, Kenny Stills is back but it’s also a very inexperienced cast afterward. Eight players will be back on the defense, who welcomes new coordinator Mike Stoops. The Sooners defense should be much improved, but they will rely on Jones to get them to the Big 12 title this year.Please join us on our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter @DailyShootout