September 01, 2017
By: Doug Heater
College football officially began Thursday August 31st, despite a handful of games being played last weekend which I will refer to as Week Zero. With week one upon us, here is my take on the top 4 teams this season in the FBS.
Just to make sure we are clear with my predictions, this will be where I think the team’s will finish at the end of the year. Preseason polls are like an odd painting in someone’s house. Something to talk about.
The number one team to finish the 2017 season will be Alabama. Seconds after last January’s loss to Clemson, I realized that Alabama would be my choice. The way Jalen Hurts led his team to what looked like a victory, as a true freshman mind you, against Clemson, and with all the talent in the offensive backfield on this year’s roster behind him, along with the most consistent college football program in the country, they are the logical choice.
2nd will be Ohio State. If Alabama has something to prove this season with their loss in the final, Ohio State has even more. An upset loss to Penn State in the regular season still stuck in their craw, and an embarrassing loss to Clemson in the National Semi-Final, one in which they were shut out, what more motivation could a coach ask for? Let’s also factor in that outside of Nick Saban, Urban Meyer is the top coach in college football. They should be even better than they were, over the course of the entire season, than when they won the National Title in 2015.
Here is where things get interesting. I have Florida State at #3. I expect them to drop their opener against Bama on Saturday, and then not lose again. They have an extremely challenging schedule, but only two of those games are on the road, November 11th at Clemson, and they close the season at Florida. Home games against Miami, N.C. State and Louisville all look to have the Seminoles favored going in. That schedule, and the motivation to avenge losses from last season to Clemson and Louisville, plus a vastly improved quarterback in Deondre Francois under center, is why I have FSU at #3.
#4 is a spot that I have gone back and forth with. Some like Penn State, or Clemson, or USC. I’m going with Washington. The Huskies, who earned the 4th seed last season, one in which they appeared ahead of schedule, have a regular season slate that is very manageable. Add to that talent at the key offensive and defensive positions and with quarterback Jake Browning leading the way, a possible Heisman finalist. The Dawgs do not play south division favorite USC, they host UCLA, Oregon, Utah and rival Washington State this season. Their biggest challenge, a road game against Stanford on Nov. 10th, a Friday, which could be tricky. I still think Washington feels they are getting no respect this season, have the sick feeling of getting dominated in the semifinal game last year by Bama, and have a manageable schedule, all that pointing to a top 4 finish in the committee’s poll come season end.
As you can see I do not have a team from the Big 12 in the playoff this season, which would mean they missed out on the postseason in 3 of the first 4 year’s. I have a feeling that their new conference championship game will actually hinder their chances of getting in, as opposed to helping it. I think that Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are the two best teams, but think that the team that wins the regular season game on November 4th, will lose in the championship game on December 2nd.