Mind of Mike: Early top 10 for 2018
It’s never too early to take a look ahead to the 2018 college football season is it? Nope. So here’s my early, early Top 10 for next season.
The talent on the Crimson Tide roster is off the charts and this year’s team was young, so you have to expect them to be the early favorite next season. Nick Saban is the best coach in college football and it doesn’t matter which defensive coordinator leaves, Alabama seems to handle things just fine.
I’m not sold on Kelly Bryant, but Clemson's depth at quarterback is ridiculous and this year’s recruiting class has many elite prospects who will fill much needed holes. Travis Etienne will emerge as a superstar and the defense, led by Dexter Lawrence, will be stout. Dabo Swinney is one of the game’s top coaches and the roster talent is among the top three or four in the nation for next season.
3. OHIO STATE
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins shows great signs of promise, J.K. Dobbins is a star in the making and the defense will be deep and nasty. The Buckeyes could be better off without J.T. Barrett and that could be scary when talking about a playoff push. The big question – will Urban Meyer lose a game he shouldn’t again?
Jake Fromm is a leader, D’Andre Swift and a dynamic duo of freshmen running backs will replace Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and the receiving corps should be better. The Bulldogs lose a lot on defense, but the influx of talent will help fill holes. Can Georgia replace the senior leadership lost on defense? That’s the big question.
Lincoln Riley has proven he is the next great coach in the Big 12. Kyler Murray will be a dangerous replacement for Baker Mayfield and the defensive will improve with some young talent. The Big 12 is getting tougher and the Sooners have a couple out-of-conference tests, but I think they just re-load and own things again.
The Hurricanes flopped down the stretch and I worry about the quarterback play, but the defense is going to be downright nasty and they are adding more offensive playmakers. The ACC isn’t very tough next season and they could take it a step further and approach a playoff berth or at least give Clemson a better title game.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham is back but the loss of Kerryon Johnson, Jeff Holland and others is alarming. However, there is depth on the roster and some young talent ready to fill in and the Tigers will push against for the SEC West title. The team's early game against Washington is a big one but even with a loss they showed they can bounce back.
8. PENN STATE
Saquon Barkley is gone but Miles Sanders could have a breakout season, the defense should be very solid and stopping quarterback Trace McSorley has been proven to be difficult. How much will the loss of Joe Moorhead hurt the offense? James Franklin and company will not miss a beat.
Chris Petersen is a great coach, quarterback Jake Browning is back and his experience will lead a potent offense. The Huskies' defense doesn’t get as much credit as they deserve. The big question will be how will either Washington or Auburn recover from a loss as the too battle in the season opener.