Lindy’s 2017 Top 25: Teams 8-13 Staff

July 07, 2017 at 11:01 am.


Nov 25, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (3) throws a pass against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Huskies won 45-17. Photo Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 25, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (3) throws a pass against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Huskies won 45-17. Photo Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports


8. Washington

Get used to Top 10 bark

That coach Chris Petersen could get Washington to a Pac-12 title and the College Football Playoff in just his third season in Seattle really makes you wonder what the Huskies were doing for much of, oh, the past two decades. Get used to it. Coach Pete, now armed with a higher class of athlete than he had in his successful run at Boise State, is unleashing Washington’s full power.

THE GOOD NEWS: QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin and WR Dante Pettis are among the most impressive offensive trios in the country, and a veteran line will keep the efficiency high. The defensive front seven — DT Vita Vea, LB Azeem Victor, etc. — will be stingy once again.

THE BAD NEWS: The Huskies lose super-speedy WR John Ross and a large core of its defense, including CB Sidney Jones, S Budda Baker and DL Elijah Qualls. The secondary will go from one of the nation’s best to one of the U-Dub’s foremost questions.

OUR CALL: So, Washington couldn’t handle Alabama in the national semifinal. It happens. Another soft schedule eases any growing pains and sets up nicely for an 8-0 start before November.

9. Oklahoma

Chip on shoulder won’t hurt    

Last season started so dismayingly for the Sooners, who lost convincingly at Houston in the opener and fell hard two weeks later to Ohio State at home, that they actually fell out of the AP Top 25 for a blink of an eye. Boy, did they ever bounce back, winning out from there to finish 11-2. You think they think like we think  —  that Oklahoma State is the team to beat in the Big 12? No chance.

THE GOOD NEWS: QB Baker Mayfield is back. He’s a superstar, though the team loses Heisman-finalist WR Dede Westbrook and running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Defensively, the Sooners have re-emphasized run-stopping and rushing the passer. They have the players to be highly disruptive on both counts.

THE BAD NEWS: This team waved goodbye to more high-end talent than most. And the schedule — at Ohio State, at Baylor, at Kansas State, at Oklahoma State  — is far from ideal. But the biggest question mark for the Sooners is how the team will respond with Lincoln Riley patrolling the sidelines after the shocking retirement of Bob Stoops in early June.

OUR CALL: It’s tough to gauge how the loss of Stoops will affect Oklahoma. He has lost more than two games only once in the past four campaigns. It’ll be all the Sooners can do to keep that from happening a second time in five seasons after losing some serious skill-position firepower on offense.

10. Auburn

It’s all practice until November

College football’s biggest offseason player transaction was quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s decision to attend Auburn. The depth chart wasn’t officially decided after spring ball, but, c’mon. Stidham is the athletic dual-threat who can unlock coach Gus Malzahn’s spread attack and bring it back to 2013 levels  — 500 yards,  40 points per game and a near-miss in the BCS national championship game. Yes, Gus, this is the quarterback you’re looking for.

THE GOOD NEWS: Stidham, who began his career at Baylor, is supported by the great backfield combo of Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, and tackle Braden Smith should chase All-America honors. Good recruiting helps ease the loss of pass-rushers. In close games, Auburn has the kicking edge with Daniel Carlson.

THE BAD NEWS: The struggles have been real: Auburn is 0-6 against Alabama and Georgia in the past three years, failing to score more than 13 points in five of the losses. Point is, hold your optimism on the Tigers until mid-November this year. (At least both meetings are in Auburn.)

OUR CALL: The Tigers have lost 16 games in the past three seasons, but there’s nothing fundamentally broken. Just add the right quarterback and bring on a 10-win season.

11. Wisconsin

Clear sailing to Big Ten title game?

Things broke horribly wrong for the Badgers after they went up 28-7 on Penn State in the 2016 Big Ten title game. Playoff hopes: derailed. A spot in the Rose Bowl: denied. So, where from there? Another West Division title would be just the thing.

THE GOOD NEWS: Wisconsin lost its best offensive lineman, All-American Ryan Ramczyk, to the NFL. It has zero seniors returning to the unit. And yet this is a place of tremendous strength. Led by Beau Benzschawel, this will be an outstanding front wall. Everything seems to flow well for the Badgers when the O-line is right, and it’s right. By the way, the defensive line might be just as good.

THE BAD NEWS: It’s almost nit-picking when a team is fortunate enough to be rock-solid along both lines of scrimmage, but there are seeming weak spots. Outside of wideout Jazz Peavy and tight end Troy Fumagalli, the receiving group is wanting. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is good, not great.

OUR CALL: The walls of flesh are there on both sides of the ball — more so than at any school in the Big Ten West  — and the schedule is much friendlier than it was a year ago. Sneaky-great, this team could be.

12. Georgia

Poised to leapfrog Gators

Kirby Smart’s debut season wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Georgia lost four of its first six SEC games, and Smart dug himself an early hole in the rivalries against Florida and (even) Georgia Tech. Chalk up an inconsistent 8-5 season to the coaching transition and youth — including at QB with true freshman Jacob Eason  — but 17 returning starters are a year older and Smart kicked some Signing Day butt, bringing in the nation’s third-ranked class. The long-term plan looks just fine.

THE GOOD NEWS: Eason could blossom as a sophomore — that’s often what quarterbacks do  — and it’s hard to believe Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are still around to tote the rock. Ten starters return from a defense that allowed 24 points per game, including pass-rushing OLBs Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy.

THE BAD NEWS: The offensive line wasn’t great last season and is replacing three starters, especially dicey in the SEC, where great defensive linemen roam. There are road games at Notre Dame, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt (which won in Athens last season).

OUR CALL: Florida has won the past two SEC East titles but hasn’t exactly put a headlock on a division in transition. Georgia has the talent, balance and Year 2 comfort level to win the East for the first time since 2012.

13. Louisville

Much more than just Jackson

By chance, have you heard of Lamar Jackson?  Probably you have. Louisville brings back last season’s Heisman-winning quarterback — and if that isn’t a fine place to start, what the heck is? Last year didn’t end so well, though, with three straight defeats almost ruining things. Ouch.

THE GOOD NEWS: Jackson had a great spring, surprising approximately no one. He has a dynamite receiving target in Dez Fitzpatrick, who went wild in the spring game. Cornerback Jaire Alexander is the star of a fast, highly capable defense. There’s no reason this team can’t captivate the country again in 2017.

THE BAD NEWS: The overall physicality of the program remains in question, given how meekly the Cardinals went out the door late last year. The schedule is brutal, too, with games at North Carolina and vs. Clemson in September, and FSU looming as an away mother-of-all-tests.

OUR CALL: Ten wins? With a big victory or two in September, it seems doable. People can talk all they want about Jackson’s (seeming lack of) NFL potential. The fact is he’s a one-of-a-kind talent right now.

Teams 14-19

Teams 20-25

Follow us on Twitter @Lindyssportsmag

Get geared up for the upcoming football season by picking up our college football previews HERE

ALL  |  NFL  |  College Football  |  MLB  |  NBA