These are the 5 teams that start off our daily countdown to kick-off. I didn’t rank them 26-30 but rather just give you the teams I think could have good seasons and make moves up the rankings. Neither of these teams have much of a shot at conference titles or competing for meaningful postseason games but they can be dangerous enough to ruin a legit contenders season.
Mike Leach will have his offense ready to go again and that alone will give them a chance in every game. Coming off a season with Quarterback Luke Falk throwing for nearly 4500 yards with 38 TD’s they seem to be only a couple of good breaks away from a run at the Pac 12 North. The usual question surrounding a Leach led team is can they stop anyone, well… NO! But they may not need to in most of their games. They should get off to a 4-0 start and come into back-to-back games against USC and Oregon with all their goals in front of them. The schedule stays tough but if they can split the 4 hard games (USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington) they have a chance to do something special.
Week 1, Week 1, Week 1!!! This team has a test week 1 against Tennessee. Getting off to a great start will be key for Paul Johnson and the Ramblin Wreck. They get a break with the schedule avoiding FSU, Louisville and NC State, and they should benefit from getting Georgia and Virginia Tech at home. Traveling to Clemson and Miami will be their toughest games and they would hope to split those games if possible. Being a spread option team it is nearly impossible to predict how they will play from game to game but they seem to have the SEC’s number (3-0 against in 2016) and that will be huge in getting the ball rolling week one.
The Hornfrogs are the biggest wild card on this list because they play in a conference that is wide open. They also are difficult to know what you’re going to get from guys like Kenny Hill. After bursting onto the scene at A&M his freshman year he has had a weird career. Last season he had ups and downs and will need to be more consistent for TCU to compete for the Big 12 title. Gary Patterson will have the defense ready to go as always and that’s rare in a conference full of offense. One huge challenge will be navigating 9 games in a row against Big 12 teams and only one bye week in that stretch.
Will the Ducks ever return to the 2010-2014 days? Is the new coach Willie Taggart ready for the Power 5 and the pressure that comes with that? Can Justin Herbert build on a good freshman season? Where in the world did Royce Freeman go? Do they still play defense in Eugene? Of all of these questions you have to start on the D, giving up 34 points or more in 9 games last year. That includes Washington hanging 70 on them at home. If they can get that side of the ball together then the offense should be good enough to win games. The schedule should be manageable as they avoid USC and their only out of conference test is hosting Nebraska week 2.
If only they were in the SEC East… In all seriousness their schedule is a bit overwhelming when you look at having to go through the SEC West and getting East favorites Georgia and Kentucky. Out of conference they have a bit of a break and shouldn’t have an troubles. This team will go as Nick Fitzgerald goes, a huge bright spot last season he will look to build on that and contend to be the best player in the SEC. Being able to stop the run will prove to be the biggest challenge for the Bulldogs, teams like Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Georgia are built to run.