Mountaineer Football In USA Today Coaches Poll Top 25
The preseason Amway Coaches Poll, with outlooks for the top 25:
1. Alabama (13-1)
Points: 1,621 (61 first-place votes). Previous ranking: 1. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Louisville in Orlando (ABC, 8)
Outlook: Coming off their fifth title in nine seasons, the Crimson Tide have more questions than usual with an unsettled quarterback situation, major losses on defense and changes at both coordinator positions. Still, this is a team full of talent, and Nick Saban knows how to navigate this type of challenge.
2. Clemson (12-2)
Points: 1,547 (3). Previous ranking: 4. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Furman
Outlook: If defense wins championships, then the Tigers are well-positioned to make their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Christian Wilkins heads a dominant defensive line. QB Kelly Bryant led Clemson to 12 wins in his first year as a starter, but his job status is tenuous with incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence in the mix.
3. Ohio State (12-2)
Points: 1,458 (1). Previous ranking: 5. This week: Sept. 1 vs. Oregon State (ABC, noon)
Outlook: On the field, the Buckeyes have enough talent to repeat as Big Ten champions with RB J.K. Dobbins and DL Nick Bosa among their standouts. The chief concern is off the field. Head coach Urban Meyer is on leave as the school investigates his possible knowledge of alleged abuse by a former assistant.
4. Georgia (13-2)
Points: 1,452. Previous ranking: 2. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Austin Peay (ESPN, 3:30)
Outlook: The sting of losing to Alabama in overtime in the championship game will provide motivation. QB Jake Fromm looks to avoid a sophomore slump. The defense should again be one of the top units in the country. Deandre Baker and J.R. Reed lead the secondary.
5. Oklahoma (12-2)
Points: 1,288. Previous ranking: 3. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Florida Atlantic (Fox, noon)
Outlook: Replacing Heisman winner Baker Mayfield isn’t the team’s biggest concern. Kyler Murray should be fine at QB with RB Rodney Anderson and a talented group of wide receivers as support. The defense, last seen being torched by Georgia in the Rose Bowl, has to improve.
6. Washington (10-3)
Points: 1,245. Previous ranking: 15. Opens: Sept 1 vs. No. 10 Auburn in Atlanta (ABC, 3:30)
Outlook: The Huskies have QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin returning to its offense as they bid to reach the playoff for the second time in three seasons. The season opener against Auburn should tell a lot about whether they’re a contender or just the best team in the Pac-12.
7. Wisconsin (13-1)
Points: 1,243. Previous ranking: 6. Opens: Aug. 31 vs. Western Kentucky (ESPN, 9)
Outlook: Known more for being vanilla on offense and stingy on defense, the Badgers may flip the script this season. Backed by one of the nation’s top offensive lines and RB Jonathan Taylor, they should be explosive. Another unbeaten regular season is possible if the defense can overcome some key losses.
8. Miami (Fla.) (10-3)
Points: 1,091. Previous ranking: 13. Opens: Sept. 2 vs. No. 24 LSU in Arlington, Texas (ABC, 7:30)
Outlook: The Hurricanes had a dream start last season with 10 consecutive wins before ending with a thud. LB Shaq Quarterman is part of an athletic defense that should be improved. The question is if the offense can do its part. Better play from QB Malik Rosier is pivotal.
9. Penn State (11-2)
Points: 1,050. Previous ranking: 8. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Appalachian State (BTN, 3:30)
Outlook: Gone are RB Saquon Barkley and three of the top four receivers. That’s the bad news. QB Trace McSorley and a veteran offensive line provide optimism that the Nittany Lions still will be good enough to make a run at the Big Ten title and possibly a College Football Playoff berth.
10. Auburn (10-4)
Points: 1,004. Previous ranking: 12. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. No. 6 Washington in Atlanta (ABC, 3:30)
Outlook: The only team to beat Alabama last year, the Tigers start this season focused on repeating as SEC West champs. QB Jarrett Stidham looks to be more comfortable in his second season as the starter. The success of the season likely comes down to November trips to Georgia and Alabama.
11. Notre Dame (10-3)
Points: 892. Previous ranking: 11. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. No. 14 Michigan (NBC, 7:30).
Outlook: With some key losses on the offensive line, the success of the Irish likely will fall to whether QB Brandon Wimbush can be more consistent throwing the ball. The defense will be better, but a tough schedule, starting with Michigan, will be difficult to manage without support from the offense.
12. Michigan State (10-3)
Points: 870. Previous ranking: 16. Opens: Aug. 31 vs. Utah State (BTN, 7)
Outlook: After missing a bowl game in 2016, the Spartans have 19 starters back from last year’s team that won 10 games. QB Brian Lewerke provides a running and passing threat. The defense, led by DL Kenny Willekes, is good enough to have them contend in the Big Ten.
13. Stanford (9-5)
Points: 768. Previous ranking: 19. Opens: Aug. 31 vs. San Diego State (FS1, 9)
Outlook: RB Bryce Love decided to skip the NFL draft, giving the Cardinal one of the top weapons in college football. QB K.J. Costello, who welcomes back his top four receivers, has to do his part to take some pressure off Love. The defense was down a notch last year and is expected to be better.
14. Michigan (8-5)
Points: 752. Previous ranking: not ranked. Opens: Sept. 1 at No. 11 Notre Dame (NBC, 7:30)
Outlook: The pressure is officially on Jim Harbaugh, who is 1-5 against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State in his three seasons. Shea Patterson, a transfer from Mississippi, is expected solve the team’s problems at quarterback. The defense was inexperienced last year and still ranked second in the Big Ten. That’s a good sign for this season.
15. Southern California (11-3)
Points: 691. Previous ranking: 10. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. UNLV (Pac-12, 4)
Outlook: It likely will be the defense, led by DL Christian Rector and LB Cameron Smith, that becomes the strength of the Trojans after the departure of QB Sam Darnold. With no significant experience at the position, true freshman J.T. Daniels could win the starting job which could mean some early growing pains.
16. TCU (11-3)
Points: 530. Previous ranking: 9. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Southern
Outlook: This should be another overachieving season for the Horned Frogs. Again, defense will be the team’s backbone. DL Ben Banogu is a dominant pass rusher, and LB Ty Summers patrols the middle. QB Shawn Robinson is young, but he will have two outstanding receivers in KaVontae Turpin and Jalen Reagor.
17. Virginia Tech (9-4)
Points: 524. Previous ranking: 25. This week: Sept. 3 at No. 19 Florida State (ESPN, 8)
Outlook: QB Josh Jackson looks to blossom in his second season as the starter, especially if a No. 1 option steps up at wide receiver. The defense, always good under coordinator Bud Foster, will have DL Ricky Walker up front. There are major holes to fill in the secondary with several significant departures.
18. Mississippi State (9-4)
Points: 407. Previous ranking: 20. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Stephen F. Austin (ESPNU, 7:30)
Outlook: New coach Joe Moorhead is blessed with one of the most-talented rosters in the SEC. QB Nick Fitzgerald appears to be a perfect fit in former Penn State coordinator’s offense. DL Jeffrey Simmons is one of the conference’s top defenders.
19. Florida State (7-6)
Points: 328. Previous ranking: not ranked. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. No. 17 Virginia Tech (ESPN, 8)
Outlook: Willie Taggart’s first big decision as Seminoles coach will picking between Deondre Francois and James Blackman at quarterback. RB Cam Akers is set for a breakout season as a sophomore. The defense is young and talented. It will need to grow up fast.
20. West Virginia (7-6)
Points: 310. Previous ranking: not ranked. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Tennessee in Charlotte (CBS, 3:30)
Outlook: The Mountaineers should be one of the more entertaining teams in the country with QB Will Grier throwing and wideouts David Sills V and Gary Jennings catching. LB David Long and DB Dravon Askew-Henry provide two leaders in the back seven of the defense.
21. Texas (7-6)
Points: 265. Previous ranking: not ranked. Opens: Sept. 1 at Maryland (FS1, noon)
Outlook: After leading the program to its first winning season since 2013, Tom Herman is looking to make the next step toward having the Longhorns back among the elite. Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele likely will share time at quarterback. Improved play at running back and the offensive line is essential.
22. Boise State (11-3)
Points: 261. Previous ranking: 22. Opens: Sept. 1 at Troy (ESPNews, 6)
Outlook: The Broncos are blessed with senior QB Brett Rypien, a deep backfield, options at wide receiver and depth on both lines. They’ll make another run at the Group of Five berth in one of the major bowls.
23. Central Florida (13-0)
Points: 259. Previous ranking: 7. Opens: Aug. 30 at Connecticut (ESPNU, 7)
Outlook: Under new head coach Josh Heupel, the Knights are primed for another successful season after being the lone unbeaten in FBS in 2017. QB McKenzie Milton will head a prolific offense. How quickly the defense develops will determine if UCF can avoid a loss.
24. LSU (9-4)
Points: 254. Previous ranking: 18. Opens: Sept. 2 vs. No. 8 Miami (Fla.) in Arlington, Texas (ABC, 7:30Outlook: Ed Orgeron changed offensive coordinators and brought in Ohio State QB transfer Joe Burrow to help remedy the program’s difficulty throwing the ball. Those changes must to be successful as expectations for the Tigers are to contend in the SEC West, which it has not won since 2011.
25. Oklahoma State (10-3)
Points: 168. Previous ranking: 14. Opens: Aug. 30 vs. Missouri State (FS1, 8)
Outlook: The Cowboys mostly lived on the arm of QB Mason Rudolph last year, but with his departure RB Justice Hill should carry the load of the offense. Most of the key contributors return on defense. DL Jordan Brailford has the potential to break out after six sacks last year.
DL Jordan Brailford has the potential to break out after six sacks last year.
Dropped out: No. 17 Northwestern (10-3), No. 21 South Florida (10-2), No. 23 North Carolina State (9-4), No. 24 Memphis (10-3).
Other receiving votes: South Carolina (9-4) 138; Florida (4-7) 135; Oregon (7-6) 105; Utah (7-6) 81; Northwestern (10-3) 67; Texas A&M (7-6) 67; Kansas State (8-5) 35; Florida Atlantic (11-3) 27; Boston College (7-6) 23; Memphis (10-3) 23; North Carolina State (9-4) 22; Arkansas State (7-5) 19; Troy (11-2) 19; Appalachian State (9-4) 16; San Diego State (10-3) 15; Iowa (8-5) 8; Iowa State (8-5) 8; Kentucky (7-6) 8; Washington State (9-4) 7; South Florida (10-2) 6; Duke (7-6) 5; Fresno State (10-4) 4; Louisville (8-5) 3; Arizona (7-6) 2; Houston (7-5) 2; Army (10-3) 1; Northern Illinois (8-5) 1.
The Amway Board of Coaches is made up of 65 head coaches at Bowl Subdivision schools. All are members of the American Football Coaches Association.
The Amway Board of Coaches is made up of 65 head coaches at Bowl Subdivision schools. All are members of the American Football Coaches Association. The board for the 2018 season: Blake Anderson, Arkansas State; Major Applewhite, Houston; Dino Babers, Syracuse; Mike Bloomgren, Rice; John Bonamego, Central Michigan; Terry Bowden, Akron; Jeff Brohm, Purdue; Neal Brown, Troy; Troy Calhoun, Air Force; Rod Carey, Northern Illinois; Bill Clark, Alabama-Birmingham; Dave Clawson, Wake Forest; Geoff Collins, Temple; David Cutcliffe, Duke; Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; Bob Davie, New Mexico; Butch Davis, Florida International; Dana Dimel, Texas-El Paso; DJ Durkin, Maryland; Herm Edwards, Arizona State; Luke Fickell, Cincinnati; Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; James Franklin, Penn State; Willie Fritz, Tulane; Scott Frost, Nebraska; Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech; Turner Gill, Liberty; Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Clay Helton, Southern California; Tom Herman, Texas; Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia; Mike Jinks, Bowling Green; Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech; Brad Lambert, Charlotte; Mike Leach, Washington State; Lance Leipold, Buffalo; Tim Lester, Western Michigan; Seth Littrell, North Texas; Rocky Long, San Diego State; Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern; Mike MacIntyre, Colorado; Gus Malzahn, Auburn; Doug Martin, New Mexico State; Urban Meyer, Ohio State; Jeff Monken, Army; Dan Mullen, Florida; Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh; Ken Niumatalolo, Navy; Jay Norvell, Nevada; Barry Odom, Missouri; Ed Orgeron, LSU; Gary Patterson, TCU; Chris Petersen, Washington; Bobby Petrino, Louisville; Nick Saban, Alabama; Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State; Kirby Smart, Georgia; Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee; Charlie Strong, South Florida; Dabo Swinney, Clemson; Jeff Tedford, Fresno State; Kyle Whittingham, Utah; Everett Withers, Texas State.
Original Link: USA Today