Monthly Archives: August 2014

About the Forecast Top 25


This is not intended to be a power ranking but a forecast of the final AP Top 25. The rankings here assume that the 4 teams that make the playoff will finish in the top 4 of the final poll.

Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree!

Forecast Top 25 for 2014

1 Alabama Nick Saban will have the Tide hungry after the disappointing end to ’13; the strong oline and RBs will be enough to offset inexperience under center. Tide has won 2 nat’l titles with 1st year QBs.
2 FSU Returning Heisman winner Winston will operate behind all Sr o-line. Defense loses key players and 3rd DC in 3 years a challenge as is the tendency towards complacency after a championship; but talent and schedule give the Noles a chance to make another run.
3 Oklahoma Sooners ended ’13 on a high note, beating rival OK State and heavily favored Bama in the Sugar Bowl. If QB Knight can play as he did against the Tide, the Sooners will be in contention for the playoff berth.
4 Auburn Auburn returns 14 starters from last season’s BCS titlist runner-ups; schedule is tougher and they did lose a few key players. The 2nd year of a Gus Malzahn offense will be hard for opponents to stop
5 Oregon Mariota is also at the top of the list of favorites for the Heisman and will operate behind an experienced o-line; Ducks are focused on becoming more physical but lose longtime DC Allotti. Can Mariota stay healthy and can the Ducks get past their nemesis Stanford?.
6 UCLA Another great QB in Hundley leads 17 returning starters for the Bruins. Jim Mora has done a great job turning UCLA around – the challenge is a tough schedule that could include two games with Oregon.
7 South Carolina These are heady days for the Gamecocks, finishing in the top 10 three straight years. Steve Spurrier has a very experienced team that had a great chance to make it 4.
8 Michigan State Quite a finish for the Spartans in ’13, following the upset of Ohio State in the conference champ game with the victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl. One of the few top teams where the defense was the strength and a number of starters have departed. Schedule is friendly though and MSU will be in contention for the Big 10 title.
9 Baylor Another top 10 team, another great QB, this time it’s the Bear’s Petty. Baylor should continue with the point a minute offense, but defense remains the Achilles heel. Still another double digit winning season for a team that’s fun to watch.
10 Ohio State Buckeyes were a top 4 pick before QB Miller was lost for year; overall talent still high and a strong D keeps Bucks in Top 10 and Big 10 race, but playoff chances took a big hit.
11 Iowa Hawkeyes have 13 starters returning including including a stable of RBs and an experienced QB. But it’s what they don’t have this will be important: no OSU, MSU, Michigan or Penn St on the schedule and no road games against the top teams in their division (Nebraska and Wisconsin come to Iowa City)
12 LSU Tigers were only team in SEC history to have a 3000 yd passer, two 1000 yd receivers and a 1000 yd rusher; all are gone in 2014. But Les Miles has recruited phenomenally well and has produced in the past after sending a lot of talent to the NFL.
13 Stanford 4 straight 11 or more win seasons have set an incredibly high bar for an exceptional academic private school. HC Shaw will continue his theme of a physical run oriented offense and a defense that will hit you in the mouth (which has been the recipe for beating Oregon). This squad is less experienced and faces a brutal schedule so 11 wins again will be harder to come by.
14 Wisconsin A intriguing team these Badgers coming in to 2014; 2nd year HC’s frequently do well, yet Wisky only returns 10 starters. But one of those is RB Gordon, maybe the best in the nation north and west of Athens, GA. They don’t have 4 of their top 5 tacklers from last season, but they also don’t have Ohio State, MSU, Penn St or Michigan on the schedule. Certainly one of the favs in the West.
15 Georgia After beginning the season #5 numerous injuries and a porous D, UGA finished unranked. Even without QB Murray though, there’s hope in Dawg nation with RB Gurley back healthy, and new DC Pruitt from FSU to quickly improve the defense. Dawgs are definite contenders in the East.
16 Clemson Clemson winning with defense? Could be the story in ’14! Offense will drop off without their 2 superstars QB Boyd and WR Watkins but should still be solid. The defense may be the strength of the team and HC Swinney has loaded up on top recruits in recent years. A tough schedule will make it hard to match last season’s win total, but a solid season nonetheless.
17 USC Extreme highs and lows for the Trojans in ’13 from a home loss to Wash St to a win over then #5 Stanford ended with 10 wins and a top 20 ranking. New HC Sarkisian returns to where he was OC during the glory years after rebuilding Washington. The scholarship sanctions have resulted in limited depth, so injuries could be a big factor; but the talent is there and Washington and Oregon are not (on the schedule).
18 Florida Could not have been much worse for the Gators with injuries and an ineffective offense leading to the worse record since ’79. New OC Roper from Duke, and better health, brings hope to the offense and a still salty defense means a big turnaround is within sight.
19 Kansas State A rebuilding year for the Wildcats ended on a strong note with a blowout bowl win over Michigan. K-State only returns 11 starters but that’s more than last year, and HC Bill Snyder seems to always pull an upset or two. Schedule is tougher – 3rd game last year was UMass; this season it’s Auburn!
20 Texas The Charlie Strong era began at UT with Strong running off a bunch of players – not necessarily a bad thing from an underachieving team. Strong is highly respected and should turn things around, the question is how quick. Improved QB play would sure help, but starting QB Ash has been injury prone. Expect defense to play with more intensity right away. A bowl win could get the Horn’s into the final top 25.
21 Mississippi If Huge Freeze is to avoid the nickname “Mr February”, now is the time to turn that success on the recruiting front to a top 25 finish on the field. Reb’s return one of the few experienced passers in the SEC and feature 9 returning starters on D, including mega recruit Robert Nkemdiche. Less than 9 wins would be a disappointment.
22 Notre Dame Big story for Irish was supposed to be the return of QB Golson, but now it’s turned more unpleasant with reports of academic irregularities and several key players suspended. Golson makes a big difference on this team, but his talents will be muted by the loss of the suspended players and a very tough schedule that includes trips to USC, Arizona State and FSU.
23 Oregon State Beavers were a surprise pick in ’13 and they surprised me by opening with a home loss to FCS Eastern Washington. But with 14 starters back, including QB Mannion – he threw for over 4600 yards last season and will likely knock off Matt Barkley as the conferences’ all time passing yardage leader. Schedule isn’t easy, but if they can go 3-0 in OOC play, an upset here or there would result in a 9 win season.
24 Louisville Cards finished 12-1 in ’13, but the big story is the return of former HC Bobby Petrino. UL loses 1st round draftee in QB Bridgewater, but while Petrino may lack any kind of moral fiber, he has been a phenomenally successful college coach. Cards to play a tougher schedule with move to the ACC, but look for a solid debut.
25 Cincinatti Bearcats went 9-3 last season and return 13 starters, although not their QB. Notre Dame transfer Gunner Keil looked good in the spring game, but the big plus is the schedule: no UCF and Houston and ECU come to Cincy.