Deace: Top 25 & projected All-Americans

Cyclone Fanatic

Cyclone Fanatic

By Steve Deace

Each year I begin my rankings by giving each team’s talent a win range within two games. Teams with returning quality upperclassmen starting quarterbacks are then given a bonus win. From there I factor in each team’s schedule game-by-game to compile the rankings you see below, which are my prediction of what the final BCS standings will look like on December 8th.

1. ALABAMA

THE GOOD — Like Miami in the 1980s, Florida State and Nebraska in the 1990s, and USC in the 2000s, Alabama has become a dynasty because it’s recruiting at a level unmatched by any other program in the country. Despite all the players the Crimson Tide lost from last season’s second consecutive BCS championship, there isn’t a team in the country that wouldn’t trade rosters with them in a nanosecond. 

THE BAD — The returning secondary lacks a proven man-to-man shutdown corner, so Alabama is going to have to develop that consistent pass-rush from its defensive front that was missing last year.

THE BOTTOM LINE --- Alabama will lose a game (they lost a game each of the past two seasons remember), but will become the first team to win three straight national titles since Dr. Bennie Bierman’s legendary Minnesota teams did it from 1934-36.  

2. OHIO STATE

THE GOOD — It didn’t take long for Urban Meyer to instill his unique combination of finesse spread offense and edgy arrogance in Columbus. The Buckeyes responded by becoming the first team banned from the postseason since Auburn in 1993 to go undefeated, and with the ban now lifted and Braxton Miller having another year in this offense even more is expected this year. It could be argued Ohio State has the Big Ten’s best units across-the-board. Even the inexperienced defensive line features two future pros in sophomores Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.

THE BAD — I’m not sure there is any. If the defensive front develops as expected there’s not really a weakness to attack in the starting unit. Ohio State doesn’t have Alabama’s depth, but playing in the Big Ten means they don’t have to.

THE BOTTOM LINE — The Buckeyes will be riding a 23-game winning streak as they prepare for back-to-back meetings with arch-rival Michigan.

3. STANFORD

THE GOOD — No one could’ve predicted it 10 years ago, but this elite private school from laid-back California has become perhaps the most physical team in the country. Nobody, not even Alabama, is as fortified on both sides of the line of scrimmage as is the Cardinal. In fact, when you include two potential All-America candidates at linebacker Stanford might have the best defensive front seven in the sport. David Shaw has built on Jim Harbaugh’s NFL-influenced foundation by building the team from the inside out, which is why Stanford has done something even Alabama hasn’t—qualify for three straight BCS bowls.

THE BAD — While no one can match Stanford’s physicality, to win the national championship against a rugged schedule the Cardinal must develop some game-breakers on offense. Especially since the tight end position that is such a fixture in their offense will feature several youngsters. Maybe returning running back Tyler Gaffney can add that spark?  

THE BOTTOM LINE  --- Stanford won’t play for the national championship, but will become just the fifth school to make it to four consecutive BCS bowls.

4. OREGON

THE GOOD — Few programs can match the Ducks’ offensive firepower, and eight starters return from a unit that averaged almost 50 points per game last season. Marcus Mariota is the proto-typical spread quarterback, De’Anthony Thomas and incoming freshman Thomas Tyner might be the fastest running back duo in the country. All of last season’s top receiving threats and three starters on the offensive line are also back. The defense returns every impact player but its most impactful player of all last season—Dion Jordan. If the Ducks can overcome his loss this might be their most talented team yet on paper.

THE BAD — In recent years we’ve seen schools replace a coach from within and continue to have immediate success, and the Ducks already did it once by promoting Chip Kelly when Mike Bellotti. But can you strike lightning in a bottle twice in a row? When Kelly bolted for the NFL Oregon promoted Mark Helfrich from within. However, while Kelly was already a major gameday force on the coaching staff before getting the top job, and remained so as head coach, Helfrich was not.

THE BOTTOM LINE — The streak of BCS bowls reaches five, but Stanford stands in the way of winning the Pac-12.

5. LOUISVILLE

THE GOOD — The Cardinals have one more year to use a weak conference as a springboard to national recognition before joining the ACC next fall. Louisville should be favored in every one of its games, and also has a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate (and perhaps the favorite to be the top pick in next year’s NFL draft) in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He should put up even bigger numbers than a year ago thanks to a talented and deep pool of receivers and a solid offensive line. On defense, where almost the entire two-deep returns, Louisville is even deeper. This program is riding some serious momentum after the Sugar Bowl win and Coach Charlie Strong’s decision to rebuff overtures from other programs in the offseason.

THE BAD — A running game that was only 102ndin the nation remains an uncertainty. With last year’s leading touchdown scorer Senorise Perry still rehabbing a knee injury, Louisville will rely heavily on Dominique Brown, who missed all of last season with a knee injury of his own.

THE BOTTOM LINE — The season finale at Cincinnati in December may be all that stands in the way of the Louisville football team following in the foot-steps of its men’s basketball program last March.

6. MICHIGAN

THE GOOD — This year’s Michigan squad is an example of that type of team that each year over-performs its preseason ranking, because magazines focus more on who’s returning than whose being developed. This will be the year Brady Hoke’s recruiting will pay off and the Wolverines will get back to imposing their will on opponents. It starts with quarterback Devin Gardner, who was arguably the best quarterback in the Big Ten during the final month of the season. Look for tight end Devin Funchess to become a breakout star. All-American Taylor Lewan is back to anchor an offensive line that should be more physical with an influx of highly-recruited new talent. The kicking game is outstanding, and as long as Greg Mattison is on the sidelines the defense will be solid.

THE BAD — This will be the deepest and most athletic defense Michigan has had since the 2006 unit featured eight players that went on to the NFL. However, it’s most proven disruptive force, linebacker Jake Ryan, suffered a serious knee injury in the spring making him iffy for this fall.

THE BOTTOM LINE — A friendlier schedule and lots of young talent waiting to emerge makes the Wolverines one of the dark-horses heading into the season.

7. SOUTH CAROLINA

THE GOOD — Anytime you have the most dominant player in the country playing at the second-most impactful position behind only quarterback, and a Hall of Fame coach to boot, that has to count for something. An old maxim says “anytime you have two quarterbacks it means you don’t have any quarterbacks.” But in Spurrier’s case that’s not necessarily the case, and last year the Gamecocks proved they could win 11 games with either Conner Shaw or Dylan Thompson and both return. The schedule is also about as manageable as the Gamecocks could’ve hoped for playing in the SEC East. Four starters return on one of the SEC’s best offensive lines.

THE BAD — There aren’t many proven offensive playmakers returning, so newcomers like Kwinton Smith and Mike Davis are going to have to grow up fast.  

THE BOTTOM LINE — Spurrier’s 31 wins the past three seasons are by far the best three-year run in school history, and he’s posted the school’s only 11-win seasons the past two years. The next step is South Carolina’s first conference championship since 1969, but an early road loss at Georgia will keep the Gamecocks from reaching Atlanta and the SEC title game.  

8. CLEMSON

THE GOOD — The minute Tahj Boyd announced he would return for his senior year comparisons to Homer Jordan and Clemson’s 1981 national championship season began, and rightfully so. At the very least Clemson is far and away the best team in the ACC on paper. As much excitement as there is for Boyd’s return, the reality is if Sammy Watkins returns to his 2011 form then Boyd isn’t even the best player on his own team. Whichever highly-touted recruit emerges at tailback will have four returning starters on the offensive line leading the way. The Tigers also rank among the nation’s best on special teams.   

THE BAD — Brent Venables came over from Oklahoma and patched enough players together to make the defense at least adequate, but for all their highly-ranked recruiting classes as of late the Tigers still lack explosiveness on that side of the ball.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Don’t be surprised if Clemson is undefeated heading into the season-finale against instate rival South Carolina. 

9. TCU

THE GOOD — Pretty much everything that could’ve gone wrong for the maiden voyage in the Big 12 did go wrong, and the Horned Frogs still managed to win seven games, beat Texas, and reach the postseason. Now 16 starters return, including arguably the best quarterback and the best defense in the Big 12. If Casey Pachall has his life in order, this will be an explosive offense because TCU also expects top tailback Waymon James back from a knee injury, and there is depth after so many young players were forced into the lineup last year. The defensive line and secondary are loaded and also feature All-American candidates, which should give Gary Patterson leeway to develop his next crop of linebackers. The special teams are solid as well.

THE BAD — While there’s a lot to like about TCU’s personnel, the schedule is another matter. The Horned Frogs have LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State away from home, plus have a sneaky trap game at Iowa State (who beat them last year). The road back to elite status in 2013 is a treacherous one.

THE BOTTOM LINE — In a Big 12 loaded with parity, give me the team with the best quarterback, best defense, one of the best head coaches, and playing with a chip on its shoulder after what happened last year.

10. GEORGIA

THE GOOD — It wasn’t that long ago the ‘Dawgs opened the 2011 campaign 0-2 and Mark Richt was on the hottest of hot seats in Athens. Since then Georgia has won two straight SEC East Division titles and is favored to make it three in a row this fall. It’s all about offense between the hedges. Quarterback Aaron Murray will leave Athens after this season with every meaningful school and SEC passing record. Super sophomore tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall join Murray to form perhaps the best offensive backfield in the country. In total, 10 of 11 starters return from a unit that only failed to score less than 28 points in two games last season. 

THE BAD — The defense was absolutely gutted by the NFL draft, but then again even with all that NFL talent Georgia wasn’t that great on defense a year ago. Four times the ‘Dawgs surrendered 30 points or more.

THE BOTTOM LINE — The schedule is tough, but getting South Carolina at home in a revenge game is a huge advantage in the SEC East race. That should give Georgia the edge to a third straight divisional title, but another loss to Alabama looms in Atlanta.

11. TEXAS

THE GOOD — This is the year Mack Brown has been pointing towards. He has the most experienced squad returning in the Big 12. Quarterback David Ash showed flashes of coming of age last season, and in ranked in the top 25 nationally in pass efficiency. A bevy of highly-recruited tailbacks will churn out yardage behind an offensive line that returns intact. The good news is Texas returns nine starters on defense, but that’s also the bad news since that unit ranked 73rdin scoring defense a year ago. However, the two best players on its front seven, Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks, missed substantial time with injuries and are back for 2013.

THE BAD — The kicking game is a bit of mess. The Longhorns are breaking in a new punter and have to improve on last season’s nine field goals, especially with a schedule that features five road games against 2012 bowl teams.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Several of my simulations had Texas either going undefeated or finishing with just one loss. So I have the Longhorns ranked lower than what I’m anticipating, because I’m gun-shy until Texas beats Oklahoma again. The Sooners have won the last three by an average of 29.3 points per game.

12. OKLAHOMA STATE

THE GOOD — Mike Gundy has proven his offensive system is plug and play. The names may change each fall, but the prolific results remain the same. The only question mark on this side of the football is new starting running back Jeremy Smith, and he’s averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 25 touchdowns as a backup thus far. The Cowboys have the Big 12’s best depth at quarterback and wide receiver as well. Then there’s the schedule, where as it stands now the road date at Texas on November 16this the only game for sure you anticipate Oklahoma State will be considered an underdog by the oddsmakers.

THE BAD — The reason Oklahoma State went from 11 wins and a Big 12 title in 2011 to 8 wins and the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2012 had nothing to do with the losses of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. The Cowboys did more than enough on offense last season to remain an elite team, even with the musical chairs at quarterback. Oklahoma State’s decline was all about turnover margin. The Cowboys went from first in the nation in turnover margin in 2011 to 58thlast season, and it’s because the Cowboys forced about half as many turnovers last season as they did in 2011.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Oklahoma State will at least share the Big 12 title this fall.

13. NEBRASKA

THE GOOD — It’s all about offense for the Huskers beginning with explosive quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has gained more yards than anyone else in the vast and illustrious history of Nebraska football. Ameer Abdullah stepped right in for the injured Rex Burkhead and rushed for over 1,000 yards. Kenny Bell might be the best wide receiver returning in the Big Ten. And have you seen the Huskers’ schedule? They could very well be 8-0 heading to Michigan on November 9th.

THE BAD — The Black Shirts have been de-panted the past couple of years. Last season Nebraska was an abysmal 90th nationally in rush defense, and gave up more than 58 per game in their four losses. With just three returning starters, this unit is being almost entirely rebuilt this season, and that’s probably not a bad thing.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Playmaking senior quarterback plus soft schedule means Bo Pelini finally loses less than four games in a season for the first time since he became the head coach in Lincoln.

14. FLORIDA

THE GOOD — So how does a team that was 103rdin total offense and 76thin scoring offense win 11 games in the rugged SEC last season? They do it by finishing 5thin scoring defense, 4thin rushing defense, 5thin total defense, and 7thin turnover margin like the Gators managed to do last season. Florida is planning on fielding another strong defense this season with honors candidates like Ronald Powell, Dominique Easley, and Loucheiz Purifoy. If an adequate kicker can be found than Florida should excel on special teams again. There are plenty of speedy return men and punter Kyle Christy is an All-American.

THE BAD — Florida returns the fewest starters in the SEC. Of the many players who moved on, none will be tougher to replace than Mike Gillislee, who essentially was the entire Gators’ offense in 2012. Former top recruit Jeff Driskell still hasn’t developed as a consistent presence at quarterback, and until he does Florida won’t win the SEC.

THE BOTTOM LINE — With only five of the Gators’ 22 preseason starters being seniors it seems like Florida is a year away. But look out in 2014.

15. VIRGINIA TECH

THE GOOD — Nine starters return on what was still a pretty good defense last season despite the disappointing record. The entire secondary is back, as is defensive James Gayle, the most disruptive defensive lineman in the ACC. Aside from a likely pistol-whipping against defending national champion Alabama in the opener, the rest of the schedule is quite manageable.

THE BAD — At this time a year ago Logan Thomas was considered one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2013 NFL draft. But as he struggled to connect with new receivers behind an overhauled offensive line the Hokies struggled as well, finishing 86thnationally in turnover margin and with their fewest wins in 15 years. My forecast of a bounce-back season comes down to Thomas. If new offensive coordinator Scot Loefler can rehabilitate him Virginia Tech will soar, if he can’t they won’t.

THE BOTTOM LINE — I’m banking on Frank Beamer’s track record in calling for a return to form this fall. However, if the Hokies struggle again it may be a sign the 67-year old future Hall of Famer has lost his touch.  

16. ARIZONA STATE

THE GOOD — Despite the questionable circumstances that landed Todd Graham in Tempe, the Sun Devils quietly won eight games in his first season, which was their best season since George W. Bush was still president. Taylor Kelly was a revelation at quarterback last season, quietly completing 67% of his passes with 29 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. Top tailback Marion Groce scored 19 touchdowns, and tight end Chris Coyle is an All-American candidate. On the other side of the ball Will Sutton is perhaps the top returning defensive lineman in the country. Arizona State ranked in the top 40 nationally in three major defensive categories last season, and eight starters return from that unit.

THE BAD — Nobody starts off with a tougher schedule. Starting in week 2 the Sun Devils play Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks. Three of those teams were in BCS bowls a year ago. The kicking game was a hot mess in the spring.

THE BOTTOM LINE — If the Sun Devils can survive their first half schedule they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12 South Division.  

17. NOTRE DAME

THE GOOD — Even without All-Everything Manti Te’o there is still plenty of talent on the Irish defense. It starts up front with All-American candidates and top NFL prospects Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt. That duo might be the two best defensive linemen on any one team in the nation. Sheldon Day is expected to become a breakout star. Other than Te’o the rest of last season’s linebacker corps is back, and the secondary also returns three starters. Last season Notre Dame was 2ndnationally in scoring defense and 7thin total defense. The personnel are there to approach those kinds of numbers again this fall.

THE BAD — The offense is going to look a lot different. Tommy Rees is a capable quarterback, but he just doesn’t bring the playmaking ability to the table Everett Golson did prior to his academic suspension. Only two starters return on the offensive line, and last season’s top two receivers and top two running backs are now in the NFL.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Notre Dame’s storybook 2012 season won’t be repeated this fall, but the Irish aren’t going to totally go away, either. 

18. FLORIDA STATE

THE GOOD — Top to bottom this is still the most talented roster in the ACC despite all the players lost to graduation and/or the NFL. Per normal the skill positions are stocked with 4-and-5-star talents, and word is this may finally be the season running back James Wilder, Jr. follows in his daddy’s footsteps by becoming a star. Four of five starters return on the offensive line. The natives are eagerly anticipating Jameis Winston’s debut at quarterback, and the talented redshirt freshman has enough experience around him to make the transition smooth.

THE BAD — There’s plenty of talent on defense just not a lot of experience. The Seminoles are banking heavily on former elite recruit Timmy Jernigan, who has been sensational as a rotation guy, to step up and become the anchor of the defense. Much is expected of Mario Edwards, another former elite recruit.

THE BOTTOM LINE — It’s an odd year, which means the Seminoles get both of their two toughest games against Clemson and Florida on the road. That, combined with all the new faces, means Florida State won’t make a repeat appearance in the BCS.

19. TEXAS A&M

THE GOOD — The Aggies’ first season in the SEC couldn’t have gone much better. They gave Alabama its only loss. They beat Oklahoma by four touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl. They have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. And Texas fans are openly talking about firing Mack Brown. Now there’s more hope and excitement for a Texas A&M football since the old SWC days.

THE BAD — This is rarified air for Texas A&M, and I have a lot of doubts on how they’ll handle top billing. For example, Johnny Manziel has gone Hollywood. He’s anywhere and everywhere, and even taking online classes while every other quarterback in the country is busting his tail to beat him this year. The defense lost almost every impact player it had from last season. You have to think SEC defenses will adjust with a year to prepare for Kevin Sumlin’s offense.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Last season Texas A&M was one of my top three surprise teams. Now I think they’re one of the most overrated teams in the country heading into 2013.

20. OREGON STATE

THE GOOD — 12 months ago it looked like Mike Riley was wearing out his welcome in Corvallis, but that was before he led the Beavers to just their sixth 9-win campaign since 1962. 17 starters return from last season’s surprise squad, including two proven quarterbacks in Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, who took over for Mannion when he was injured. Brandin Cooks is a 1,000-yard receiver and Storm Woods should be a 1,000-back if he stays healthy. Oregon State returns the bulk of a defense that was behind only Stanford and Oregon in the Pac-12 in 2012, and is also strong on special teams.

THE BAD — There’s a lot to like here, so really the only skepticism is whether last season was a flash in the pan or a young team developing all at once? The Beavers were 8-16 the previous two seasons prior to last season’s improvement.

THE BOTTOM LINE — This might be Riley’s best team since the 10-win squad of 2006, but unfortunately the Beavers are in the same division as Oregon and Stanford.

21. MIAMI, FLA.

THE GOOD — It’s hard to imagine a young team overcoming as many distractions and doing as well with them as the Hurricanes did last season. From the future of their head coach, to more NCAA investigations and self-imposed penalties, Miami had plenty of reasons to say see you next year. But the Hurricanes persevered to finish tied for first in the ACC Coastal Division. Now they’ve got momentum and an emerging superstar in Duke Johnson, who was a Freshman All-American last season. Steady Stephon Morris is back for his senior year under center, and six of his top eight receivers from last year are also back.

THE BAD — A young defense was abused early and often in 2012, finishing a very unMiami-like 116th in total defense. With just three senior starters, the outlook for this season hinges on this unit’s ability to improve.

THE BOTTOM LINE — If the NCAA doesn’t hand down any further penalties, and I don’t think they will, then Miami will battle Virginia Tech in the ACC Coastal Division.

22. LSU

THE GOOD — Despite the record losses to the NFL draft, LSU still has a roster superior to 90% of the programs in college football, one of the great home atmospheres in the sport, and a culture used to competing at an elite level.

THE BAD — The Tigers are one of the least experienced teams in the country with just nine starters returning. They’re banking heavily on quarterback Zach Mettenberger developing, but at no point last season was he a serious threat and he’s got a new offensive coordinator this year, too. Only one starter on the defensive front seven returns, which is a chore to revamp even for a program of LSU’s magnitude. The schedule is unrelenting, beginning with the opener versus TCU. Road games against Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama are a bear. Home games with Florida and Texas A&M won’t be a cakewalk.

THE BOTTOM LINE — If Les Miles wins 10 or more games for a fourth straight season with this schedule and this lack of experience, he deserves serious consideration for national coach of the year.

23. OKLAHOMA

THE GOOD — It all starts with an outstanding offensive line that should ease the transition from the Landry Jones era to the Blake Bell era. Both Damien Williams and Brennan Clay are dynamic runners. Aaron Colvin is one of the top cover-corners in college football.

THE BAD — Oklahoma was the preseason #1 team in 2011, but lost three games and watched Oklahoma State win the Big 12 and challenge for the national title instead. The Sooners were preseason #4 a year ago, and again didn’t qualify for the BCS and was embarrassed in the Cotton Bowl. Bob Stoops fired assistant coaches this offseason for the first time. Mike Stoops’ return to run the defense fizzled, and now he faces a major retooling effort on that side of the ball. It’s hard to see how Oklahoma is going to compete nationally this season when it couldn’t the previous two.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Oklahoma has lost three or more games three times in the last four seasons. Oklahoma’s only BCS bowl victory in the last 10 years came against UCONN, maybe the worst team to ever play in a BCS bowl. Stoops’ program is showing all the signs of slippage.

24. NORTHWESTERN

THE GOOD — Pat Fitzgerald has been a part of breaking down barriers at Northwestern. He was an All-American on the breakthrough Rose Bowl team back in 1995 that repeated as Big Ten co-champs in 1996. He’s gone from the youngest coach in college football to Big Ten Coach of the Year, and the winningest coach in school history. And last season he coached the Wildcats to their first bowl victory in 64 years. For an encore Fitzgerald returns every key contributor from last season’s 10-win team, which had the lead in the second half of each of its three losses.

THE BAD — For Northwestern to take the next step and represent the Legends Division in Indianapolis the passing game on both sides of the ball must be improved. The Wildcats were 10thin the Big Ten in passing offense and dead last in pass defense.

THE BOTTOM LINE — Northwestern won’t sneak up on anyone this season. It also got the toughest draw possible with Wisconsin and Ohio State, the top two teams in the Leaders’ Division, added to the schedule.  

25. USC

THE GOOD — There’s nowhere to go but up after suffering through the worst season for a preseason No.1 team in the modern history of college football. But despite the depth problems presented by NCAA probation, the Trojans still have one of the more talented two-deeps in the Pac-12. Marquise Lee might be the most explosive player in all of college football. Running back Silas Redd will perform better than last season or he’ll be replaced by one or several top recruits. Tight end Xavier Gimble seems ready to blossom into a pro prospect. And there’s hope a new defensive coaching staff is a better fit for the Trojans’ smaller, quicker defensive talent than Monte Kiffin was.

THE BAD — It really comes down to the mercurial Lane Kiffin, who seemingly looks for ways to self-destruct and rile up his many detractors. His antics are considered quirky when you’re winning 10 games like the Trojans did in 2011, but when you’re suffering through a national letdown like last season was it’s a fireable offense.

THE BOTTOM LINE — USC will win more games this season than it did a year ago, but it won’t be enough to save Kiffin’s job. Instead, he’ll hand a young, talented roster to his successor in 2014.

HONORABLE MENTION

26. Baylor…The Bears closed out 2012 on a high note, but that 2013 schedule will be a bear if the defense isn’t improved.

27. Mississippi…This is the most excitement on the grove since the Eli Manning days, and the Rebels could finish much higher.

28. Washington…If there was ever a season for Steve Sarkisian to take the Huskies to the next level this would be it.  

29. Michigan State…The defense probably won’t be quite as good as last season, and the offense certainly can’t be as bad.

30. UCLA…The Bruins face what might be the toughest schedule in the nation: road games at Nebraska, USC, Oregon, and Stanford.

31. San Diego State…Everybody’s focusing on Boise State and Fresno State in the underrated Mountain West, but the Aztecs have the best team. 

32. Wisconsin…New Coach Gary Andersen wants to be more multiple on offense but he inherits a typically bruising Badger squad. 

33. Central Florida…New league, same results. Don’t be surprised if George O’Leary comes close to duplicating last season’s 10 wins.

34. North Carolina…Larry Fedora quietly won 8 games in his first season in Chapel Hill and could be a dark horse in the ACC.

35. Utah State…Gary Andersen is now in the Big Ten, but 16 starters from last season’s school-record 11-win team remain.

36. Kansas State…The Wildcats will dip somewhat this season, but not as much as they probably should as long as Bill Snyder remains on the sideline.

37. Fresno State…Tim DeRuyter’s first year was a smashing success with nine wins, and the Bulldogs could top that in year two.

38. Boise State…Young Broncos play all their tough games on the road at Washington, Fresno State, Utah State, BYU, and San Diego State.   

39. Missouri…Look for Gary Pinkel to bounce back somewhat with James Franklin and Henry Josey back from injury. 

40. Mississippi State…Despite substantial losses Bulldogs still bring back 1,000-yard rusher LaDarius Perkins and improving quarterback Tyler Russell. 

First Team All-American Offense

QB — A.J. McCarron, Alabama (Sr.)

RB — T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (So.)

RB — Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona (Jr.)

WR — Marquise Lee, USC (Jr.)

WR — Sammy Watkins, Clemson (Jr.)  

TE — Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (Sr.)

OL — Taylor Lewan, Michigan (Sr.)

OL — Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (Sr.)

OL — Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma (Sr.)

OL — James Hurst, North Carolina (Sr.)

OL — Cyril Richardson, Baylor (Sr.)  

K — Cairo Santos, Tulane (Sr.)

AP — De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon (Jr.)             

First Team All-American Defense

DL — Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (Jr.)

DL — Will Sutton, Arizona State (Sr.)

DL — Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (Jr.) 

DL — Louis Nix, Notre Dame (Sr.)  

LB — C.J. Mosley, Alabama (Sr.)

LB — Anthony Barr, UCLA (Sr.)

LB — Shayne Skov, Stanford (Sr.)

DB — Bradley Roby, Ohio State (Jr.)

DB — Ed Reynolds, Stanford (Jr.)

DB — Jason Verrett, TCU (Sr.)

DB — Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (Jr.) 

P — Kyle Christy, Florida (Jr.)

Second Team All-American Offense

QB — Braxton Miller, Ohio State (Jr.)

RB — Duke Johnson, Miami (So.)

RB — Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska (Jr.)

WR — Amari Cooper, Alabama (So.)

WR — Davante Adams, Fresno State (So.)

TE — Chris Coyle, Arizona State (Sr.)

OL— David Yankey, Stanford (Sr.)

OL — Spencer Long, Nebraska (Sr.)

OL — Travis Swanson, Arkansas (Sr.)

OL — Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama (Jr.)  

OL — Xavier Su’a’-Filo, UCLA (Jr.)

K — Chris Boswell, Rice (Sr.)

AP — Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky (Sr.)  

Second Team All-American Defense

DL — Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (Sr.)

DL — Devonte Fields, TCU (So.)

DL — Scott Crichton, Oregon State (Jr.)

DL — Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (Sr.)

LB — Chris Borland, Wisconsin (Sr.)

LB — Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (Jr.)  

LB — Morgan Breslin, USC (Sr.)

DB — Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (Sr.)

DB — Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (Sr.)

DB — Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (Jr.)

DB — Hakeem Smith, Louisville (Sr.)

P — Richie Leone, Houston (Sr.)  

Third Team All-American Offense

QB — Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Sr.)

RB — Todd Gurley, Georgia (So.)

RB — Venric Mark, Northwestern (Sr.)

WR — Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State (Jr.)

WR — Noel Grigsby, San Jose State (Sr.)

TE — Devin Funchess, Michigan (So.)

OL — Bryan Stork, Florida State (Sr.)

OL — Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (Sr.)

OL — Zack Martin, Notre Dame (Sr.)

OL — Hroniss Grasu, Oregon (Jr.)  

OL — Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (Jr.)

K — Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson (Sr.)

AP — Tyler Lockett, Kansas State (Jr.)

Third Team All-American Defense

DL — Anthony Johnson, LSU (Jr.)

DL — Domonique Easley, Florida (Sr.)

DL — Henry Anderson, Stanford (Jr.)  

DL — Ben Gardner, Stanford (Sr.)  

LB — Trent Murphy, Stanford (Sr.)

LB — Carl Bradford, Arizona State (Jr.)

LB — A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (So.)

DB — Derron Smith, Fresno State (Jr.)  

DB — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (Sr.)

DB — Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State (Jr.)

DB — Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (Sr.)

P — Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State (Sr.) 

 

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