Week 4 College Football Preview

OVERALL RECORD: 102-77-1 (57%)

2021 SEASON RECORD: 24-21-0 (53.3%)

4-10…. YIKES. Week 3 was terrible. awful. bad. But we are on to week 4 where we will go 13-0… HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

Week 4 Game of the Week (All Times CST)

Texas A&M (-4) vs Arkansas– Saturday 2:30pm

Arkansas has two offensive linemen that are questionable for this game which isn’t good facing this Texas A&M’s front seven. Arkansas will not be able to run it like they did against Texas. This line has gotten too low given A&M’s talent… Texas A&M wins by a touchdown.

Pick: Texas A&M 24-17

Top Picks of the Week

Missouri (-1.5) at Boston College – 11:00am

Boston College defense is bad and is now on their backup quarterback… this line doesn’t make any sense. Mizzou wins.

Notre Dame (+6.5) vs Wisconsin – 11:00am

It is the Jack Coan revenge game. With both teams led by their defense with struggling offenses, take the points.

Texas Tech (+9) at Texas OVER 61 – 11:00am

Expect A TON of points. Texas gave up 41 points against Arkansas… can you imagine what they will do against an offense that can actually pass? I like Texas Tech to keep it close and the over.

Clemson at NC State (+10) – 2:30pm

Clemson has zero offense this season as they lack explosive playmakers. NC State can keep this game close at home (I actually predicted pre-season for Clemson to lose this game). Take the points.

Illinois (+11) at Purdue – 2:30pm

Illinois can keep it close against an average Big Ten team. 11 points is way too much… take the Fighting Illini.

Iowa State (-6.5) at Baylor – 2:30pm

Baylor has played Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas… they are not ready for an actual test. Iowa State by double digits.

Louisville (-1.5) at Florida State – 2:30pm

Florida State is a bad football team with support fading from the fan base. Louisville off a big win against UCF takes care of business.

UCLA (-4.5) at Stanford – 5:00pm

It is an overreaction to make this line so small after UCLA lost to Fresno State. UCLA is still a really good football team and wins by over a touchdown against Stanford.

West Virginia (+17) at Oklahoma – 6:30pm

Oklahoma has won by a combined 12 points against Tulane and Nebraska… no way I trust them with a 17 points spread.

Indiana at Western Kentucky (+9) – 7:00pm

I don’t trust Indiana’s pass defense against this Western Kentucky offense. You know who else I don’t trust? Indiana QB Michael Penix who was just 17/40 for 224 yards against Cincinnati. Easy cover from Western Kentucky.

Week 3 College Football Preview

OVERALL RECORD: 98-67-1 (59.4%)

2021 SEASON RECORD: 19-11-0 (63.3%)

We came back down to earth last week finishing with an average record of 6-6. But three straight weeks of .500 or better isn’t bad! TGIS hits the road to Gainesville this weekend…but before we do…. HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

Week 3 Game of the Week (All Times CST)

Alabama (-14.5) at Florida– Saturday 2:30pm

Here is what you need to do: 1) travel to Gainesville, 2) buy a ticket to the game, 3) put the cost of the trip and ticket on Alabama -14.5, and then 4) smile because you just enjoyed a free trip to Gainesville. Listen… Florida has not looked good against Florida Atlantic or South Florida. The Gators are going through a major quarterback controversy because their named starter, Emory Jones, is not the guy. Meanwhile, this is the best Alabama defense in the last three years. Alabama will dominate Florida.

Pick: Alabama 41-17

Top Picks of the Week

UConn at Army (-34) – 11:00am

UConn fired their coach and lost to Purdue 49-0. You think these kids want to learn how to stop the option? Bet on the Troops.

Michigan State +6.5 at Miami – 11:00am

Too many points. Michigan State should be able to have success running the ball against the Miami defense. Like a little moneyline sprinkle as well.

Nebraska at Oklahoma OVER 61.5 – 11:00am

Oklahoma will get out to a big lead and score at least 40 points. Nebraska will be able to score some garbage points to hit the over with ease. Oklahoma 45-27.

Virginia Tech +3 at West Virginia – 11:00am

I feel like the wrong team is favored and I’m walking into a trap. Don’t care. I was impressed with Virginia Tech against North Carolina and think they win this game.

Northwestern (-3) at Duke – 2:30pm

Northwestern is bad… but they aren’t Duke bad. Northwestern wins comfortably.

Arkansas State +16.5 at Washington – 3:15pm

Why would I take Washington (0-2) as a 16.5 point spread over anyone right now? Their offense is atrocious. Shoot, Washington has scored 17 points the entire season… Arkansas State covers.

FIU (+20.5) at Texas Tech – 6:00pm

I like Texas Tech this year, but for a team that only beat Stephen F. Austin by 6 points… three touchdowns is way too big of a spread. FIU covers.

Auburn at Penn State UNDER 53 – 6:30pm

I think the actual game is a coin flip. But between Sean Clifford and Bo Nix, I can’t trust either of these quarterbacks. Under hits.

Virginia (+9) at North Carolina – 6:30pm

North Carolina could not stop Virginia Tech…. meanwhile Virginia ranks 10th in the nation in offensive yards per play. Virginia keeps it close and covers.

Tulane at Ole Miss (-14) UNDER 76.5 – 7:00pm

I think Ole Miss is criminally underrated as one of the top 15 teams in the nation. The defense has improved and will keep Tulane from scoring too much. Meanwhile, no way Tulane keeps Lane Kiffin’s offense from scoring . 45-21 Ole Miss wins and the under.

Arizona State (-3.5) at BYU – 9:15pm

I’m not overly impressed by BYU beating Arizona and Utah. Meanwhile, the public has not caught on to Jayden Daniels and Arizona State being a really good football team. The Sun Devils win by over a touchdown.

Fresno State (+11.5) at BYU – 9:15pm

Fresno State played Oregon to a one score ball game. They can keep the spread against UCLA to single digits as well… Fresno State covers.

Week 2 College Football Preview

OVERALL RECORD: 92-61-1 (60.1%)

2021 SEASON RECORD: 13-5-0 (72.2%)

TGIS continues to be HOT! Last weekend brought TGIS over the 60% threshold on the overall record. We are going to continue the hot streak going into a tough Week 2. … HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

Week 2 Game of the Week (All Times CST)

Iowa (+4.5) at Iowa State– Saturday 3:30pm

In week 1 Iowa suffocated Indiana’s offense and blew them out by 28 points. Iowa State? Won 16-10 against Northern Iowa. This will be a lower scoring game and I don’t trust Brock Purdy to move the ball on Iowa. Iowa covers and might even mess around and win. (moneyline sprinkle).

Pick: Iowa 24-20

Top Picks of the Week

Illinois (+10) at Virginia – 10:00am

What has Virginia done to be a double digit favorite over Illinois? Illinois could have quarterback Brandon Peters back this week, but Art Sitkowski hasn’t played bad. Illinois will keep this close enough to cover.

Western Kentucky at Army OVER 52– 10:30am

Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe threw for 7 touchdowns last week and put up 59 points. Army scored 43 points against Georgia State. The over will hit.

Pittsburgh (-2) at Tennessee – 11:00am

Tennessee’s QB Joe Milton couldn’t play well against Bowling Green… he will not play well against Pittsburgh. Hopping on the Vols are bad train early.

South Carolina (-1.5) at East Carolina – 11:00am

If Luke Doty ends up starting at quarterback I love the play. If Zeb Noland starts I still like the play. South Carolina has too much talent on defense to lose. South Carolina by a touchdown.

Air Force at Navy UNDER 41.5 – 2:30pm

A CBS Sports Tom Fornelli special. Service Academy unders are 38-9-1. Principal under play.

Cal at TCU UNDER 48.5 – 2:30pm

Both teams have a very good running game and good defenses. Expect a low scoring game.

NC State (-1) at Mississippi State – 6:00pm

I didn’t like Mississippi State going into the year and I definitely do not like them now after barely slipping by Louisiana Tech. NC State wins by more than a touchdown.

Appalachian State at Miami (-7.5) – 6:00pm

I trust Miami to bounce back and show they are still a top 20 team. Appalachian State is just an OK football team with a quarterback I do not trust… D’Eriq King covers with ease.

Missouri (+6) at Kentucky – 6:30pm

In my mind these teams are even. Kentucky’s defense looked a little shaky against Louisiana-Monroe (one of the worst D1 teams). Six points is way too big of a spread. (Moneyline sprinkle also).

Washington (+7) at Michigan UNDER 48.5 – 7:00pm

A huge week 1 overreaction. Washington was without their four leading receivers last week when they lost to FCS powerhouse Montana. I also really like this Washington defense against Michigan’s offense. Both teams play at a very slow pace… the under hits and Washington covers.

Week 1 College Football Preview

OVERALL RECORD: 82-56-1 (59.4%)

2021 SEASON RECORD: 3-0-0 (100%)

We have started the 2021 season hot at 3-0! Now the real test starts with an absolutely loaded slate for Week 1. … HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

Week 1 Game of the Week (All Times CST)

Georgia (+3.5) vs Clemson – Saturday 6:30pm

The biggest game of the year happens in Week 1. Both Georgia and Clemson’s defensive lines are loaded and ready to attack. Therefore, this game comes down to which offensive line is better able to protect. I’m giving that edge to Georgia. I also believe Georgia is the more talented team. Add in the fact they are getting points? Georgia not only covers… they win the football game.

Pick: Georgia 27-24

Top Picks of the Week

THURSDAY

Western Kentucky (-13.5) at UT Martin OVER 38.5 – 6:00pm ESPN+

Western Kentucky inherited their new offensive coordinator, quarterback, and three wide receivers from Houston Baptist. While the regular college football fan might skim over this fact, Houston Baptist’s offense was electric last year averaging 34 points per game against North Texas, Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech. The electricity will come to the Hilltoppers as the 13.5 point line and over 38.5 points should hit easily. Shoot… Western Kentucky might put over 38.5 points themselves.

Ohio State (-13.5) at Minnesota – 7:00pm FOX

The line is too low. Ohio State is by far the most talented team in the Big Ten. Take the Buckeyes in any Big Ten game where the line is under two touchdowns.

FRIDAY

North Carolina (-5.5) at Virginia Tech – 5:00pm ESPN

If the Tar Heels think they’re a top ten team, then this line should be way higher than 5.5. Especially considering the starters Virginia Tech lost off of last year’s squad. I’m riding with North Carolina and Sam Howell as the much better team.

Michigan State (+3.5) at Northwestern – 8:00pm ESPN

In early season Big Ten matchups take the points. I think this Michigan State team is a sleeper as they brought in some talented transfers and are solid at the skill positions. Meanwhile, Northwestern returns only seven starters in a year where everyone has talent returning. Take the Spartans.

SATURDAY

Tulane at Oklahoma (-31.5) – 11:00am ABC

Sure technically Tulane is the home team… but the game is played in Norman due to the hurricane. Plus, Tulane has been practicing at Alabama all week. Oklahoma usually covers at home as Lincoln Riley likes to show off his offense for the home crowd. Oklahoma covers.

Penn State at Wisconsin UNDER 50 – 11:00am FOX

Penn State returns almost all their linebackers and secondary from last year. Wisconsin returns eight starters to their defense which finished 5th in the country. Expect a low scoring game.

Alabama (-18.5) vs. Miami UNDER 61.5 – 2:30pm ABC

Always take Alabama in season openers. Further, the 2021 Alabama defense is the most talented defense Saban has had in years. Miami won’t score much, Alabama will score a lot. 38-17 is your final.

Louisiana (+9) at Texas – 3:30pm FOX

I liked this line way more when it was in the double digits. But Louisiana is a talented football team that brings back everyone. There is a reason head coach Billy Napier turned down other jobs. The Cajuns know how to run the ball and they’re facing a Texas team where I question the front seven. Louisiana covers… maybe even a little money line sprinkle.

Texas Tech (-1) at Houston – 6:00pm ESPN

Texas Tech is not a bad team this year with new QB Tyler Shough, an experienced offensive line and playmakers WR Erik Ezukanma and RB Sarodorick Thompson. Texas Tech outscores Houston.

LSU (-3) at UCLA – 7:30pm FOX

There has been way too much of an overreaction after UCLA’s blowout win against Hawaii. It will not be nearly as easy to run on LSU. Add in the fact UCLA’s QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was not very impressive against Hawaii, and I find it severely doubtful UCLA is able to pull the upset. Especially with the talented LSU cornerbacks. This line is way too small… LSU by double digits as the much more talented team.

SUNDAY

Notre Dame (-7.5) at Florida State – 6:30pm ESPN

Notre Dame still has a good team despite losing quite a few starters from last year. This game is pretty simple to me: Florida State’s defense won’t be able to stop RB Kyren Williams. Notre Dame by double digits. Notre Dame covers.

MONDAY

Louisville vs. Ole Miss (-10) – 7:00pm ESPN

Ole Miss will try to score 60 points on Labor Day and I don’t think Louisville has a chance of stopping them with their leaky secondary. Ole Miss wins big.

Week 0 College Football Preview

2020 SEASON RECORD: 79-56-1 (58.1%)

2021 SEASON RECORD: 0-0-0

Recap of the 2020 season: TGIS was HOTTT finishing with a nice 58% record. This year? We are going to be better. We will not miss a pick. We will not lose. We will not quit. Discipline! Discipline Discipline!

Discipline is especially important in Week 0 with only a five game slate. Good value exists on the board, but it is important to not get suckered into playing every game. Now I’ve made y’all wait long enough… after a whole offseason of studying up… HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S PICKS:

Week 0 Game of the Week (All Times CST)

Nebraska at Illinois (+7.5) – Saturday 1:00pm

Here are the facts: Illinois beat Nebraska last year in Lincoln 41-23. Illinois returns 22 super seniors. Illinois returns their starting quarterback, Brandon Peters. Nebraska’s best player transferred to Kentucky. Therefore, Illinois as a seven point home underdog is way too many points. This may even be a nice money line sprinkle because this game will be close

Pick: Nebraska 24-21

Top Pick(s) of the Week

Hawaii at UCLA (-17.5) UNDER 68.5 – Saturday 2:30pm

This game is kicking off at 9:30am local Hawaii time. Which means Hawaii will be sleepy and UCLA is going to come out fast. UCLA is excellent at running the ball and are poised to have a very good year. Hawaii’s run defense? Struggles.

This will be a short game and a UCLA blowout win. I also would expect UCLA to take the foot off the pedal with their game against LSU next week. So BOOK IT. UCLA and the under.

2021 College Football Pre-Season Rankings

Top 25

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Projected Record: 13-0

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The 2020 National Champions return with quite a few pieces to replace on offense including Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, and Mac Jones. However, don’t expect too much of a drop off with QB Bryce Young taking over and young talent at the skill positions . This year the defense should be much improved with a loaded defensive line, great linebackers and edge rushers, and a secondary that returns everyone except Patrick Surtain II. Alabama is loaded again and should be National Champion favorites.

2. Georgia Bulldogs

Projected Record: 12-1

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The offense is absolutely loaded with QB JT Daniels, RBs Zamir White and James Cook, and receivers Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson. When you also add in one of the best Tight End combinations in the country with Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert this offense has a chance to be special. This doesn’t even include if George Pickens returns near the end of the year from a torn ACL. As for the offensive line, don’t worry. It will also be strong after returning three starters and high rated recruits waiting to take over.

The defense is also loaded. The defensive line has Jordan Davis and Travon Walker clogging the middle with Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith rushing on the edge. Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean are really solid linebackers as well. Secondary is the one area of concern as they replace a few key starters. Transfers Derrion Kendrick (Clemson) and Tykee Smith (West Virginia) should calm down the concern. Overall, this is one of the most talented teams in the country and a lock to win the SEC East.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Projected Record: 13-0

The Buckeyes are ridiculously loaded on offense with a great offensive line, two talented running backs, and an embarrassing amount of receiving talent featuring two of the best receivers in the nation (Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson). Freshman QB C.J. Stroud is the most likely to take over the starting role. Defense is a different issue. The top four linebackers are all gone and the secondary finished last in the Big Ten in passing yards given up last year. Their defensive line is solid, but they will need an improvement in the back end if they want to be true National Championship contenders.

4. Oklahoma Sooners

Projected Record: 13-0

The offense is going to be one of the top offenses in the nation as it checks nearly all the boxes: countless playmaker receivers (Marvin Mims, Theo Wease, Jaden Haselwood, Mike Woods), great 1-2 punch at running back (Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray), do-it-all FB/TE (Jeremiah Hall), big body TE (Austin Stogner), and a gunslinging QB (Spencer Rattler). The only real question is the offensive line has to replace two starters.

Every year the biggest question is Oklahoma’s defense… this year the defense should be solid. Edge rusher Nik Bonitto is one of the best players in the nation. Combine that with experience at defensive line and linebacker and they look set to run through the Big 12. A main question worth monitoring are the cornerbacks with two new starters. Overall, Big 12 championship should be the minimum expectation. Playing in the national championship should be the goal.

5. Clemson Tigers

Projected Record: 11-2

DJ Uiagalelei takes over for Trevor Lawrence with a very talented Clemson team. However, a few key questions surround this Tiger team, particularly on the offensive line and secondary after last year’s blowout loss to Ohio State. On offense WR Justyn Ross returns from injury and there is a boatload of young receivers surrounding him. The question will be who steps up (EJ Williams? Joseph Ngata? Ajou Ajou?). The defensive front seven is stacked with almost everyone returning. The issues are in the secondary as it is yet to be seen if a corner opposite of Andrew Booth Jr. can emerge. Overall, Clemson has a huge home opener against Georgia… and then it is smooth sailing for the rest of the regular season. If the issues aren’t fixed on the offensive line and secondary, then this team will again not be able to compete with the elites.

6. Texas A&M Aggies

Projected Record: 10-2

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The Aggies are absolutely loaded with impact players. On offense RB Isaiah Spiller, TE Jalen Wydermyer, WR Ainias Smith, and OT Kenyon Green are all future NFL players. The main concern will be who takes over for QB Kellen Mond (Haynes King or Zach Calzada) and replacing four offensive line starters. The quarterback and offensive line are keys to a good offense and shouldn’t be ignored.

Defensively, this is a top ten defense that returns nine starters. So, expect the Aggies to be  one of the best defenses in the nation. The defense is led by Demarvin Leal who should be a first round pick. Overall, the Aggies are talented… but the unknown at quarterback and offensive line makes me hesitant.

7. North Carolina Tar Heels

Projected Record: 10-2

Mack Brown keeps on building up North Carolina. After an 8-4 season, expectations are high. Offensively they lose some really talented guys including RB Michael Carter, RB, Javonte Williams, WR Dyami Brown, and WR Dazz Newsome. Everyone else on the offense returns though and they added Tennessee transfer RB Ty Chandler. The bowl game against Texas A&M gave a little sneak peek that quarterback Sam Howell has some players to work with including WR Josh Downs. On defense there are plenty of young playmakers looking to step up. They are extremely deep at defensive line and the trio of corners Storm Duck, Tony Grimes, and Kyler McMichael should take a step forward. Overall, this is a really talented team that will be the favorite in the ACC Coastal.

8. Oregon Ducks

Projected Record: 11-2

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Oregon had a rocky season, but still won the Pac-12 Championship despite not winning the Pac-12 North. The offense was decent last year and brings almost everyone back. A key will be who wins the QB competition between Anthony Brown and freshman Jay Butterfield. The defense is led by DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, a definite top ten 2021 NFL Draft pick. Mario Cristobal has done an excellent job recruiting and there is a serious talent on the roster… they just aren’t there yet as an elite team. But expect them to be Pac-12 champions when the season is over.

9. Wisconsin Badgers

Projected Record: 10-2

By far my favorite to win the Big Ten West… this is your classic Wisconsin team. They are fantastic along the offensive line and will only get better with back-to-back five star recruits in the last two years. The question is can QB Graham Mertz perform like he did in the season opener last year against Illinois where he threw five touchdowns. TE Jake Ferguson will also be a key contributor. Defensively, they are going to be fantastic with eight returning starters to a defense that finished fifth in the country. Look for the Badgers to have double digit wins and face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

10. Iowa State Cyclones

Projected Record: 9-3

19 RETURNING STARTERS!!! Iowa State made the Big 12 championship game and returns all of their major pieces. But what is their ceiling? Brock Purdy will need to take another step if they want to knock of Oklahoma as Big 12 champions. Regardless, the offense will continue to rely on 1500 yard rusher Breece Hall.

Defensively, expect the Cyclones defense to be solid again. The defense will be led by LB Mike Rose and there aren’t really any glaring holes. Expect a very good Cyclones team to be at the top of the Big 12 along with Oklahoma, but a playoff spot doesn’t seem realistic.

11. Miami Hurricanes

Projected Record: 10-2

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Quarterback D’Eriq King led Miami to a great 8-3 comeback season. Now King will have to make his own comeback returning from a torn ACL prior to the 2021 season (reports from Miami have him ahead of schedule). The offense was explosive with King and this offense returns almost everyone and added WR Charleston Rambo (Oklahoma transfer). The offensive line is strong and the running back room has two outstanding players with Cam’Ron Harris and Don Chaney Jr. Defensively, the Hurricanes will have to replace DE Jaelen Phillips and have a linebacker issue after allowing 175 rushing yards per game last year. The secondary may be the strength with S Bubba Bolden and corners DJ Ivey, Al Blades Jr., and Tyrique Stevenson (Georgia transfer). Overall, this could be a top ten team… but don’t expect them to beat Alabama.

12. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Projected Record: 9-3

The offense lost four offensive linemen, their quarterback, and two starting wide receivers. Luckily they have 1100 yard rusher Kyren Williams returning and one of the best tight ends in football with Michael Myer. Look for Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan to most likely take over at quarterback who will provide similar production to Ian Book. Expect the Irish to be led by their defense in 2021, particularly no doubt first round pick safety Kyle Hamilton. I wouldn’t expect the 2021 team to be as good as 2020, but still think they put together a really nice season.

13. LSU Tigers

Projected Record: 9-3

After Myles Brennan’s injury, Max Johnson will be the starter for LSU at quarterback. As for the rest of the offense, look for WR Kayshon Boutte to follow up a breakout freshman season. One area that needs to improve is the running game after LSU finished 109thin rushing yards behind Tyrion Davis-Prince and John Emery Jr. 

Defensively, this is a talented bunch. It starts on the defensive line where Ali Gaye and Andre Anthony lead at edge rusher. Mike Jones Jr. was a big transfer pickup from Clemson who will play a roaming linebacker role. The strength is at corner where Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks  make up a fantastic duo. Expect a major improvement after finishing 124th in total defense last year.

Overall, it’s this is an experienced, talented team with a lot of upside. But, questions remain whether Coach Orgeron can get that talent to translate onto the field.

14. Cincinnati Bearcats

Projected Record: 12-1

The schedule sets up well for the Bearcats to potentially make a run as the first Group of Five team in the Playoff with non-conference matchups against Indiana and Notre Dame. This Cincinnati team has the talent to compete as well with QB Desmond Ridder coming back for a final season. However, the offensive line still remains a question mark. A unit that absolutely is not a question mark is the Bearcat defense, led by DE Myjai Sanders and corners Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant. Overall, expect the Bearcats to win the American and make a New Years six bowl.

15. Washington Huskies

Projected Record: 10-2

The Huskies finished 3-1 in 2020 despite average QB play. This year, QB Dylan Morris will have a five star freshman right behind him with Sam Huard. This team is built to run the ball after returning their entire offensive line, including potential first round pick Jaxson Kirkland, and two good running backs (Sean McGrew and Richard Newton). At receiver, there is a bunch of questions on who will step up. Maybe it will be Texas Tech transfer Ja’Lynn Polk? Washington does have one of the best tight ends in America with Cade Otton though. Defensively, expect this team to be one of the best in the Pac-12 under Jimmy Lake as they added to the group with nickel back Brendan Radley-Hiles (Oklahoma transfer) and DE Jeremiah Martin (Texas A&M transfer). This team has the talent to compete with Oregon for the Pac-12 North.

16. Ole Miss Rebels

Projected Record: 9-3

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Lane Kiffin had an explosive offense in his first year in Oxford. Year two’s offense will be even better and could be special. Losing wide receiver Elijah Moore hurts, but the offense has many other weapons including RB Jerrion Ealy. Also, the offense is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, Matt Corral.   

Decent defense is going to be the key to a successful season. The linebackers are experienced with Lakia Henry, JacQuez Jones, and MoMo Sanogo. Sam Williams also provides the Rebels with a solid edge rusher. However, the question remains whether they are good enough on the defensive line and in the secondary. The Rebels need some improvement after finishing 126th in total defense last year. The Rebels top ten offense can only take them so far… for the Rebels to make the next step in the SEC West there has to be defensive improvement. Expect a solid team and a solid year for Ole Miss.

17. USC Trojans

Projected Record: 10-3

There is some serious talent on this USC team coming off a 5-1 season. QB Kedon Slovis is one of the best in the Pac-12 and the receivers are crazy talented (Drake London, KD Nixon, Jake Smith and Bru McCoy). A key for the offense will be to improve the offensive line play. The defense also brings back six starters to a top 40 defense. One of those starters is LB Drake Jackson who is highly disruptive. The secondary is experienced and the defensive line includes five-star freshman Korey Foreman… this will be a very good football team in 2021. Overall, expect USC to finish at the top of the Pac-12 South.

18. Florida Gators

Projected Record: 9-3

Dan Mullen finally has what he wants for the offense… a mobile quarterback. Expect Mullen to utilize Emery Jones in the RPO game now that Kyle Trask graduated. An issue also arises when you consider the Florida offense lost their top weapons (Kadarius Toney, Kyle Pitts, and Trevon Grimes). Add in an inconsistent offensive line and this offense will take a step back.

There are also questions on the defensive side of the ball. The best players on the defense are CB Kaiir Elam and edge rushers Zachary Carter and Brenton Cox. Outside of those players there are concerns. Expect the defense to still be OK and finish in the top half of the conference. The team as a whole will take a small step back after a fantastic 2020 season.

19. Texas Longhorns

Projected Record: 9-3

Steve Sarkisian takes over a pretty talented Texas team. Honestly, although Sam Ehlinger was a solid college quarterback, Casey Thompson or Hudson Card may give this team more upside. Combine that with a solid offensive line, one of the best running backs in the nation (Bijan Robinson), and a deep wide receiving group… this offense has potential.

Defensively, Texas is led by DT Alfred Collins and LB DeMarvion Overshown. There is a hole at linebacker next to Overshown and there isn’t a clear viable option. The secondary will also need an improvement after finishing 108th in passing defense. Overall, the Longhorns have the talent for Coach Sarkisian to compete for a Big 12 championship spot right away.

20. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Projected Record: 12-1

There is a reason head coach Billy Napier wanted to comeback to this team. The Ragin Cajuns are extremely experienced evidenced by their 20 returning starters off a 10-1 season. They will be tested right away with a season opener at Texas. Overall, this is a talented team who should win the Sun Belt and compete for a spot in a New Years six bowl.

21. Penn State Nittany Lions

Projected Record: 9-3

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The Nittany Lions 2020 season can be thrown to the side after starting 0-5 and finishing with four straight wins. The offense was decent last year, but lacked explosive plays. It isn’t like they don’t have weapons with wide receivers Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington returning, but can QB Sean Clifford take the next step? Penn State also returns RB Noah Cain after he missed last year with an injury. Defensively, Penn State was solid last year, but return only one starting defensive lineman. Instead the strength of this team will be in the secondary and at linebacker as they return just about everyone. Look for a bounce back year for Penn State.

22. Arizona State Sun Devils

Projected Record: 9-3

It is unknown if the Sun Devils will even be eligible for post season play following the school’s disregard to recruiting rules during COVID. However, this is a talented team that should be the favorite to win the Pac-12 South. It starts with talented QB Jayden Daniels entering his third season. Combine that with RB Rachaad White who averaged 10 yards per carry and an experienced offensive line… they are going to be good. The development of the wide receivers will be critical on their potential. On defense last year they gave up the least amount of points, but a whole lot of yards. Expect an improvement especially with corners Jack Jones and Chase Lucas.

23. NC State Wolfpack

Projected Record: 8-4

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This is an intriguing Wolfpack team coming off a 8-4 season. They have weapons with RB Bam Knight, WR Emeka Emezie, and WR Thayer Thomas. Add in a very good offensive line and QB Devin Leary coming back from injury… the offense should be pretty good. Defensively, LB Payton Wilson is one of the best players in the country and LB Isaiah Moore is a pretty dang good player himself. With the defense returning most of their starters from last year, expect an improved defense. Overall, this should be the favorite to finish second to Clemson in the Atlantic.

24. TCU Horned Frogs

Projected Record: 8-4

The main question for this offense is whether QB Max Duggan can take the next step. The offense finished in the middle of the conference last year, but the talent across the board is intriguing. WR Quentin Johnson is ready for a breakout year and there are plenty of complementary pieces including Taye Barber, Derius Davis, JD Spielman, and Shadrach Banks (Texas A&M transfer). Also, look for former five star recruit RB Zach Evans to have a majority of the carries and be an instrumental part of the offense. The offensive line is also solid including OT Obinna Eze (Memphis transfer).

The defense finished top 30 last year and will be one of the best in the Big 12 this year. Sure they lose some key pieces including LB Garret Wallow and safeties Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington, but this defense still has solid pieces. At cornerback, Noah Daniels and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson are both studs. The defensive line is also experienced and led by DE Ochaun Mathis (9 sacks in 2020).

Overall, this team is intriguing and a trip to the Big 12 championship game isn’t out of the question. How Max Duggan develops will have a major impact on the team’s success.

25. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Projected Record: 11-2

The Chanticleers bring 19 starters back after finishing 11-1 last year and they should finish in the top 25 again. Especially with QB Grayson McCall coming off an impressive freshman season. The defense is also impressive after finishing top 30 nationally last year. Overall, expect this solid Coastal Carolina team to face of with Louisiana to see who will be the Sun Belt champions.

2021 SEC Football Preview

SEC Championship: Alabama over Georgia

SEC East

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Projected Record: 12-1

Wins: Clemson, UAB, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Losses: Alabama (SEC Championship)

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The offense is absolutely loaded with QB JT Daniels, RBs Zamir White and James Cook, and receivers Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson. When you also add in one of the best Tight End combinations in the country with Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert this offense has a chance to be special. This doesn’t even include if George Pickens returns near the end of the year from a torn ACL. As for the offensive line, don’t worry. It will also be strong after returning three starters and high rated recruits waiting to take over.

The defense is also loaded. The defensive line has Jordan Davis and Travon Walker clogging the middle with Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith rushing on the edge. Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean are really solid linebackers as well. Secondary is the one area of concern as they replace a few key starters. Transfers Derrion Kendrick (Clemson) and Tykee Smith (West Virginia) should calm down the concern. Overall, this is one of the most talented teams in the country and a lock to win the SEC East.

2. Florida Gators

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Florida Atlantic, USF, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Samford, Missouri, Florida State

Losses: Alabama, LSU, Georgia

Dan Mullen finally has what he wants for the offense… a mobile quarterback. Expect Mullen to utilize Emery Jones in the RPO game now that Kyle Trask graduated. Florida’s main issue is at the skill positions after they lost their top weapons (Kadarius Toney, Kyle Pitts, and Trevon Grimes). Add in an inconsistent offensive line and this offense will take a step back.

There are also questions on the defensive side of the ball. The best players on the defense are CB Kaiir Elam and edge rushers Zachary Carter and Brenton Cox. Outside of those players there are concerns. Expect the defense to still be OK and finish in the top half of the conference. The team as a whole will take a small step back after a fantastic 2020 season.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Louisiana Monroe, Missouri, UT-Chattanooga, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, Louisville

Losses: South Carolina, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State

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Kentucky’s biggest question going into the season is who will start at quarterback? New QB Will Levis is intriguing, but he will have to win the job from Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen. Wan’Dale Robinson, a transfer from Nebraska, is a key addition who along with WR Josh Ali will give Kentucky at least a few weapons. This will be a classic Kentucky offense where it is led by the running game which features a strong offensive line and RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Averaged 6.6 YPC and 785 rushing yards).

The defense returns just four starters and are replacing two early round picks in Jamin Davis and Kelvin Joseph. Expect, the defense to not be as strong. Overall, Kentucky will be an average, tough SEC team.

4. Missouri Tigers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Central Michigan, SE Missouri State, Boston College, Tennessee, North Texas, Vanderbilt, South Carolina

Losses: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas

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QB Connor Bazelak showed some promise in his freshman year, the offense will evolve if he takes another step forward. As for the rest of the offense, it will be led by their line who returns four starters. However, Mizzou will need some skill players to step up as they lacked playmakers from last year. Returning WR Keke Chism and Ohio State transfer WR Mookie Cooper might be the guys to do it.

Defensively, Mizzou struggled in the last three games. Now, after having to replace some key players, I can’t see the Tigers defense making a huge jump in play. Edge rusher Trajan Jeffcoat and secondary players Ennis Rakestraw, Akayleb Evans (Tulsa transfer), and Martez Manuel are solid players and will keep the defense adequate. Expect Missouri to be a decent SEC team.

5. Tennessee Volunteers

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, Tennessee Tech, South Carolina, South Alabama, Vanderbilt

Losses: Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia

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New coach Josh Heupel brings his up-tempo offense to the SEC. The problem? The offense returns only two starters and they lost their two most explosive weapons in Eric Gray (transfer to Oklahoma) and Josh Palmer. QB Hedon Hooker (Virginia Tech transfer) looks like a lone bright spot in this offense.

Defensively, the Vols were hit equally as hard by exiting players. This defense is full of unproven talent. Texas transfer LB Juwan Mitchell will help a little, but expect this defense to look ugly at the start of the rebuild. Overall, it won’t look pretty in Knoxville this upcoming year.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Eastern Illinois, East Carolina, Kentucky, Troy, Vanderbilt

Losses: Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida, Missouri, Auburn, Clemson

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The Gamecocks will rely on the run game with 1,000 yard rusher Kevin Harris and redshirt freshman Marshawn Lloyd (top rated recruit who missed last year due to injury). The offensive line also returns four starters. The problem is this roster does not have an established QB or any standout receivers. At least TE Nick Muse decided to return after a solid season

Defensively, South Carolina is loaded up front, but is heavily inexperienced in the secondary. The strength are edge rushers Aaron Sterling and Kingsley Enagbare. It will be interesting to see how Shane Beamer does in the first season with this team. Overall, a bowl game will be a solid finish for them.

7. Vanderbilt Commodores

Projected Record: 3-9

Wins: East Tennessee State, Colorado State, UConn

Losses: Stanford, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee

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It is the start of another rebuild at Vanderbilt. Offensively, the team returns eight starters including QB Ken Seals after a decent freshman season. The best offensive weapon will be WR Cam Johnson. On defense there is a clear lack of talent. Overall, don’t expect too much from this team.

SEC West

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Projected Record: 13-0

Wins: Miami, Mercer, Florida, Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Tennessee, LSU, New Mexico State, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia (SEC Championship)

Losses: None

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The 2020 National Champions return with quite a few pieces to replace on offense including Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, and Mac Jones. However, don’t expect too much of a drop off with QB Bryce Young taking over and young talent at the skill positions . This year the defense should be much improved with a loaded defensive line, great linebackers and edge rushers, and a secondary that returns everyone except Patrick Surtain II. Alabama is loaded again and should be National Champion favorites.

2. Texas A&M Aggies

Projected Record: 10-2

Wins: Kent State, Colorado, New Mexico, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Auburn, Ole Miss, Prairie View A&M, LSU

Losses: Arkansas, Alabama

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The Aggies are absolutely loaded with impact players. On offense RB Isaiah Spiller, TE Jalen Wydermyer, WR Ainias Smith, and OT Kenyon Green are all future NFL players. The main concern will be who takes over for QB Kellen Mond (Haynes King or Zach Calzada) and replacing four offensive line starters. The quarterback and offensive line are keys to a good offense and shouldn’t be ignored.

Defensively, this is a top ten defense that returns nine starters. So, expect the Aggies to be  one of the best defenses in the nation. The defense is led by Demarvin Leal who should be a first round pick. Overall, the Aggies are talented… but the unknown at quarterback and offensive line makes me hesitant.

3. Ole Miss Rebels

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Louisville, Austin Peay, Tulane, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Liberty, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State

Losses: Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M

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Lane Kiffin had an explosive offense in his first year in Oxford. Year two’s offense will be even better and could be special. Losing wide receiver Elijah Moore hurts, but the offense has many other weapons including RB Jerrion Ealy. Also, the offense is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, Matt Corral.   

Decent defense is going to be the key to a successful season. The linebackers are experienced with Lakia Henry, JacQuez Jones, and MoMo Sanogo. Sam Williams also provides the Rebels with a solid edge rusher. However, the question remains whether they are good enough on the defensive line and in the secondary. The Rebels need some improvement after finishing 126th in total defense last year. The Rebels top ten offense can only take them so far… for the Rebels to make the next step in the SEC West there has to be defensive improvement. Expect a solid team and a solid year for Ole Miss.

4. LSU Tigers

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: UCLA, McNeese State, Central Michigan, Mississippi State, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana Monroe

Losses: Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M

After Myles Brennan’s injury, Max Johnson will be the starter for LSU at quarterback. As for the rest of the offense, look for WR Kayshon Boutte to follow up a breakout freshman season. One area that needs to improve is the running game after LSU finished 109thin rushing yards behind Tyrion Davis-Prince and John Emery Jr. 

Defensively, this is a talented bunch. It starts on the defensive line where Ali Gaye and Andre Anthony lead at edge rusher. Mike Jones Jr. was a big transfer pickup from Clemson who will play a roaming linebacker role. The strength is at corner where Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks  make up a fantastic duo. Expect a major improvement after finishing 124th in total defense last year.

Overall, it’s this is an experienced, talented team with a lot of upside. But, questions remain whether Coach Orgeron can get that talent to translate onto the field.

5. Arkansas Razorbacks

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Rice, Georgia Southern, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Mississippi State, Missouri

Losses: Texas, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama

Coach Sam Pittman brings an Arkansas team that returns a ton on both sides of the ball. Offensively the question is KJ Jefferson ready to take over? He will have an established offense with WR Treylon Burks, RB Trelon Smith, and the entire offensive line returning. 

The defense will also see improvement after finishing 106th in total defense. An area Arkansas will focus on improving is pressuring the quarterback. The defense features a few key pieces including linebackers Grant Morgan and Bumper Pool, and safety Jalen Catalon. This will be a tough football team to play in 2021.

6. Auburn Tigers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Akron, Alabama State, Penn State, Georgia State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina

Losses: LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Alabama

Coach Bryan Harsin enters his first season with a decent football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, the question remains can you trust Bo Nix? Further, this offense lost a lot of weapons, including their top three receivers. With unproven receivers and inconsistent offensive line, don’t expect a high powered offense. Instead, the offense will revolve around sophomore RB Tank Bigsby.

On defense, inside linebackers Zacoby McClain and Owen Pappoe make a great duo and play behind a good defensive line. The secondary should be a strength this year with Smoke Monday at safety and corners Roger McCreary, Nehemiah Pritchett and Ladarius Tennison. As mentioned, this team will be led by their defense. Expect Auburn to finish in the middle of the pack in the SEC West. 

7. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Louisiana Tech, NC State, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee State

Losses: LSU, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss

Other than their game against LSU, the offense was awful last year finishing 104th in total yardage. While the offense does return mostly everyone, the SEC defensive coordinators may have figured out Mike Leach’s scheme. The offense does have QB Will Rogers coming off an OK freshman season and a very good left tackle in Charles Cross. 

The 2020 team was actually led by their defense. However, this year the defensive front seven has depth concerns. What remains a strength is at cornerback with both Emmanuel Forbes and Martin Emerson returning. Look for Mississippi State to be solid defensively, but I’m not sure if there will be much of an offensive improvement. Expect a tough year for Mississippi State.

2021 Big Ten Football Preview

Big Ten Championship: Ohio State over Wisconsin

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Projected Record: 13-0

Wins: Minnesota, Oregon, Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan

Losses: None

The Buckeyes are ridiculously loaded on offense with a great offensive line, two talented running backs, and an embarrassing amount of receiving talent featuring two of the best receivers in the nation (Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson). Freshman QB C.J. Stroud is the most likely to take over the starting role. Defense is a different issue. The top four linebackers are all gone and the secondary finished last in the Big Ten in passing yards given up last year. Their defensive line is solid, but they will need an improvement in the back end if they want to be true National Championship contenders.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Ball State, Villanova, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Michigan State

Losses: Wisconsin, Auburn, Ohio State

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The Nittany Lions 2020 season can be thrown to the side after starting 0-5 and finishing with four straight wins. The offense was decent last year, but lacked explosive plays. It isn’t like they don’t have weapons with wide receivers Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington returning, but can QB Sean Clifford take the next step? Penn State also returns RB Noah Cain after he missed last year with an injury. Defensively, Penn State was solid last year, but return only one starting defensive lineman. Instead the strength of this team will be in the secondary and at linebacker as they return just about everyone. Look for a bounce back year for Penn State.

3. Michigan Wolverines

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, Nebraska, Northwestern, Indiana, Maryland

Losses: Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State

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The Wolverines are a major question going into 2021 after a 2-4 season. The offense was flat and average. Other than WR Ronnie Bell, I don’t see anything to change that. Maybe it could be WR Daylen Baldwin, a Jackson State transfer who lit up the FCS level in the spring. Defensively, I believe they will be much improved with nine returning starters including two premier players (DE Aidan Hutchinson and S Dax Hill). Overall, I’m not blown away by the roster, but they should still be solid and compete at a decent level in the Big Ten East.

4. Indiana Hoosiers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Iowa, Idaho, Western Kentucky, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue

Losses: Cincinnati, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota

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Coming off a great 6-2 season, Indiana returns 17 starters including QB Michael Penix. The offense will need to be more explosive and the four offensive line starters will have to improve to match last season. WR Ty Fryfogle will lead the offensive weapons with Camron Buckley (transfer from Texas A&M) as a potential wildcard. On defense, they finished last year 43rd in the country. However, the defense added a few SEC defensive line transfers and have nine returning starters. Overall, the Hoosiers are an experienced team who will be a tough matchup for just about anyone in the Big Ten.

5. Michigan State Spartans

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Northwestern, Youngstown State, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland

Losses: Miami, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State

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This has the potential to be a sneaky OK team in the Big Ten. The strength of the team is in the receiving core which features Jayden Reed, Jalen Nailor and Ricky White. The backfield has two talented transfers Kenneth Walker III (Wake Forest) and Harold Joiner (Auburn) running behind an experienced offensive line who returned all of their starters. The biggest question will be what transfer QB Anthony Russo (Temple) will give you. Defense is Mel Tucker’s specialty and with seven returning starters and a boat load of transfers, Coach Tucker might be putting something together. I don’t think a bowl game should be out of the question for the Spartans.

6. Maryland Terrapins

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Howard, Illinois, Kent State, Iowa, Rutgers

Losses: West Virginia, Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan

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Mike Locksley has been stocking up on talent… but will it translate? The offense should be in good hands with Taulia Tagovailoa leading with talented receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett. Defense will be the issue as five-star LB Terrence Lewis tore his ACL. There is young talent, but it has not come together yet. In the tough Big Ten East, they’ll be an average team.

7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Temple, Syracuse, Delaware, Northwestern, Illinois

Losses: Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Penn State, Maryland

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Coach Greg Schiano has something cooking at Rutgers. He is bringing in some actual talent and they are no longer an easy out. The Scarlet Knights play tough, hard-nosed football. On offense, they bring back everyone to an offense that needs to improve. WR Bo Melton is one of the best in the conference and they will rely heavy on him. On defense they have an experienced linebacker and secondary led by LB Olakunle Fatukasi. Look for an improvement on both sides of the ball and in a few years Rutgers will be competing at the top half of the Big Ten East. As for this year? Making a bowl game would be a great achievement.

Big Ten West

1. Wisconsin Badgers

Projected Record: 10-2

Wins: Penn State, Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan, Illinois, Army, Purdue, Iowa, Rutgers, Nebraska

Losses: Northwestern, Minnesota

By far my favorite to win the Big Ten West… this is your classic Wisconsin team. They are fantastic along the offensive line and will only get better with back-to-back five star recruits in the last two years. The question is can QB Graham Mertz perform like he did in the season opener last year against Illinois where he threw five touchdowns. TE Jake Ferguson will also be a key contributor. Defensively, they are going to be fantastic with eight returning starters to a defense that finished fifth in the country. Look for the Badgers to have double digit wins and face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

2. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Projected Record: 8-4

Wins: Miami (Ohio), Colorado, Bowling Green, Nebraska, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin

Losses: Ohio State, Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa

Minnesota’s down season last year was puzzling given the weapons and returning QB Tanner Morgan. After the down year, expect Minnesota to be closer to contenders this season especially with talented weapons WR Chris Autman-Bell and RB Mohamed Ibrahim. The defense is what really disappointed last year, but with the secondary returning important pieces like Coney Durr, expect an improvement. A key piece will be DT Nyles Pinckney (Clemson transfer). Overall, Minnesota is a wildcard to win the Big Ten West.

3. Iowa Hawkeyes

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Kent State, Colorado State, Maryland, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota

Losses: Indiana, Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska

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The Hawkeyes were impressive last season finishing with 6 straight wins after starting 0-2. However, it will be tough to repeat with many of the team’s top players departing for the NFL. The offense does return RB Tyler Goodson after a 762 yard season. What is yet to be seen if the receivers and QB Spencer Petras can progress into a more dangerous unit. Defensively, the secondary returns almost everyone while the key will be replacing three defensive linemen. DE Zach VanValkenburg will lead the group. Expect Iowa to be serious contenders in the Big Ten West again.

4. Purdue Boilermakers

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Oregon State, UCONN, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State, Northwestern

Losses: Notre Dame, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, Indiana

Five of Purdue’s six games last year were one score games. Although they finished 2-4, this team still has some potential. The Purdue offense will feature one of the best receivers in the country in David Bell. Either quarterback Jack Plummer or Aidan O’Connell will take over and be a capable starter. Defensively they have one of the best edge rushers in the country with George Karlaftis and a solid cornerback in Cory Trice. I expect this team to do have a solid season in Coach Jeff Brohm’s fifth year.

5. Northwestern Wildcats

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Indiana State, Duke, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Losses: Michigan State, Rutgers, Michigan, Iowa, Purdue, Illinois

The Wildcats came out of nowhere last year to finish 7-2 and win the Big Ten West. This year, I can’t see it happening. The roster returns just seven starters in a year where everyone is returning at least double digit starters. Offensively, expect QB Ryan Hilinski (South Carolina transfer) to step in, but this team will be led by their defense. The defensive line and secondary will be the strength including All-American safety Brandon Joseph. Expect the great coaching staff at Northwestern to get the Wildcats to a bowl game, but not much more than that.

6. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Illinois, Buffalo, Purdue, Southeast Louisiana, Iowa

Losses: Oklahoma, Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin

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You would think Scott Frost would have this team competing in the Big Ten in his fourth season. But looking at this roster… he still has a long way to go. Nebraska lost their top playmaker Wan’Dale Robinson to the transfer portal and there isn’t another guy on the roster that can fill those shoes. We are also still waiting to see if QB Adrian Martinez ever develops. On defense it is more promising with nine returning starters and one of the best corners in the Big Ten in Cam Taylor-Britt. After three straight losing seasons, getting to a bowl game will be a nice small step towards progress.

7. Illinois Fighting Illini

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Projected Record: 4-8

Wins: UTSA, Charlotte, Iowa, Northwestern

Losses: Nebraska, Virginia, Maryland, Purdue, Wisconsin, Penn State, Rutgers, Minnesota

The Fighting Illini return both quarterbacks (Brandon Peters and Isaiah Williams) in coach Brett Bielema’s first season. Illinois returns an experienced roster that will be led by a good offensive line and rushing attack. However, the team needs playmakers at receiver to step up. On defense, it is a veteran group led by linebacker Jake Hansen. Overall, this football team is an experienced group, but are lacking playmakers to be Big Ten contenders.

2021 Big 12 Football Preview

Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Projected Record: 13-0

Wins: Tulane, Western Carolina, Nebraska, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, TCU, Kansas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State (Big 12 Championship)

Losses: None

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The offense is going to be one of the top offenses in the nation as it checks nearly all the boxes: countless playmaker receivers (Marvin Mims, Theo Wease, Jaden Haselwood, Mike Woods), great 1-2 punch at running back (Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray), do-it-all FB/TE (Jeremiah Hall), big body TE (Austin Stogner), and a gunslinging QB (Spencer Rattler). The only real question is the offensive line has to replace two starters.

Every year the biggest question is Oklahoma’s defense… this year the defense should be solid. Edge rusher Nik Bonitto is one of the best players in the nation. Combine that with experience at defensive line and linebacker and they look set to run through the Big 12. A main question worth monitoring are the cornerbacks with two new starters. Overall, Big 12 championship should be the minimum expectation. Playing in the national championship should be the goal.

2. Iowa State Cyclones

Projected Record: 10-2

Wins: Northern Iowa, Iowa, UNLV, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU

Losses: West Virginia, Oklahoma

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19 RETURNING STARTERS!!! Iowa State made the Big 12 championship game and returns all of their major pieces. But what is their ceiling? Brock Purdy will need to take another step if they want to knock of Oklahoma as Big 12 champions. Regardless, the offense will continue to rely on 1500 yard rusher Breece Hall.

Defensively, expect the Cyclones to be solid again. The defense will be led by LB Mike Rose and there aren’t really any glaring holes. Expect a very good Cyclones team to be at the top of the Big 12 along with Oklahoma, but a playoff spot doesn’t seem realistic.

3. Texas Longhorns

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Arkansas, Rice, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Kansas State

Losses: Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa State

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Steve Sarkisian takes over a pretty talented Texas team. Honestly, although Sam Ehlinger was a solid college quarterback, Casey Thompson or Hudson Card may give this team more upside. Combine that with a solid offensive line, one of the best running backs in the nation (Bijan Robinson), and a deep wide receiving group… this offense has potential.

Defensively, Texas is led by DT Alfred Collins and LB DeMarvion Overshown. There is a hole at linebacker next to Overshown and there isn’t a clear viable option. The secondary will also need an improvement after finishing 108th in passing defense. Overall, the Longhorns have the talent for Coach Sarkisian to compete for a Big 12 championship spot right away.

4. TCU Horned Frogs

Projected Record: 8-4

Wins: Duquense, Cal, SMU, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas

Losses: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State

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The main question for this offense is whether QB Max Duggan can take the next step. The offense finished in the middle of the conference last year, but the talent across the board is intriguing. WR Quentin Johnson is ready for a breakout year and there are plenty of complementary pieces including Taye Barber, Derius Davis, JD Spielman, and Shadrach Banks (Texas A&M transfer). Also, look for former five star recruit RB Zach Evans to have a majority of the carries and be an instrumental part of the offense. The offensive line is also solid including OT Obinna Eze (Memphis transfer).

The defense finished top 30 last year and will be one of the best in the Big 12 this year. Sure they lose some key pieces including LB Garret Wallow and safeties Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington, but this defense still has solid pieces. At cornerback, Noah Daniels and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson are both studs. The defensive line is also experienced and led by DE Ochaun Mathis (9 sacks in 2020).

Overall, this team is intriguing and a trip to the Big 12 championship game isn’t out of the question. How Max Duggan develops will have a major impact on the team’s success.

5. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Houston, SFA, FIU, West Virginia, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

Losses: Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor

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The Red Raiders will have the offense… defense might continue to be an issue. The offensive line is extremely experienced and they have one of the best receivers in the Big 12 with Erik Ezukanma. In the backfield Oregon QB Tyler Shough was a great pickup and will most likely lead the offense along with RB SaRodorick Thompson.

Defense continues to be the issue as Coach Matt Wells has patched this unit together with a ton of transfers. The defense has eight returning starters so expect some improvement from last year’s defense. Overall, this team will be a tough out in the Big 12 and should finish somewhere in the middle.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Missouri State, Tulsa, Boise State, Kansas State, Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia

Losses: Texas, Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma

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Can Spencer Sanders actually evolve into a solid, reliable Big 12 QB? The Pokes will go as far as he takes them. Oklahoma State is tasked with replacing wide receiver Tylan Wallace and RB Chuba Hubbard. WR Tay Martin and RBs Dezmon Jackson/LD Brown should be solid, but currently a true difference maker doesn’t jump off the page. Also, the offensive line remains a question mark even though it is a veteran unit.

The defense brings back a ton of experience with eight returning starters including edge rusher Trace Ford. Overall, this looks like another solid Oklahoma State team… but nothing special.

7. Kansas State Wildcats

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Southern Illinois, Nevada, TCU, Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor

Losses: Stanford, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Texas

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The Wildcats weren’t bad until they lost Skylar Thompson for the year. They went on to lose their last five games. The offense returns basically everyone including sensational running back Deuce Vaughn.

Defensively, there are some issues. The defense finished 97th and returns only five starters. Safety Jahron McPherson will lead the defense, but it’s tough to see where the massive improvement is going to come from. Overall, expect another competitive Wildcats team who will finish near the middle of the Big 12.

8. West Virginia Mountaineers

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Maryland, LIU, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas

Losses: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas

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Coach Neal Brown has this team moving in the right direction after a 6-4 season. Offensively, they have a good QB with Jarret Doege and a 1,000 yard rusher in Leddie Brown. The offense also returns their top five receivers from last year and a strong offensive line. The Mountaineers will have a decent offense, but I can’t see them making the leap to one of the conference’s elites.

The Mountaineers had the top defense in the Big 12 last year, but are faced with replacing a a ton of talent due to transfers and players going on to the next level. DT Dante Stills is a really great player who will keep this defense from going too far downhill. Overall, I see this team as an average Big 12 team with a decent offense and regressing defense.

9. Baylor Bears

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Texas State, Texas Southern, Kansas, BYU, Texas Tech

Losses: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State

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The defense will be one of the top defenses in the Big 12. On the other hand, the offense is a major projection. The biggest question for Baylor is who wins the QB competition between Gerry Bohanon and Jacob Zeno. They’ll have plenty of experience at receiver after returning everyone including R.J. Sneed.

Defensively, the biggest addition is 350 pound NT Siaki Ika (transfer from LSU). Other than Ika, the defense returns almost everyone. One of the areas they need to improve is their pass rush. Overall, expect an improvement and an average Big 12 team.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Projected Record: 0-9

Wins: South Dakota

Losses: Coastal Carolina, Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas TCU, West Virginia

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It is year one in the rebuild for Lance Leipold, one of the most underrated coaches in college football. Leipold is basically combining this Kansas roster with key transfers from Buffalo, including 6 players who would have been in Buffalo’s two deep depth chart.

The offense is going to be a major project. I’ll say one good thing about Kansas… they have some talent in the secondary. Still, this roster is a few years out from being even competitive in the Big 12. Don’t expect much in the first year.

2021 ACC Football Preview

ACC Championship: Clemson over North Carolina

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1. Clemson Tigers

Projected Record: 11-2

Wins: South Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Louisville, UCONN, Wake Forest, South Carolina, North Carolina(ACC Championship)

Losses: Georgia, NC State

DJ Uiagalelei takes over for Trevor Lawrence with a very talented Clemson team. However, a few key questions surround this Tiger team, particularly on the offensive line and secondary after last year’s blowout loss to Ohio State. On offense WR Justyn Ross returns from injury and there is a boatload of young receivers surrounding him. The question will be who steps up (EJ Williams? Joseph Ngata? Ajou Ajou?). The defensive front seven is stacked with almost everyone returning. The issues are in the secondary as it is yet to be seen if a corner opposite of Andrew Booth Jr. can emerge. Overall, Clemson has a huge home opener against Georgia… and then it is smooth sailing for the rest of the regular season. If the issues aren’t fixed on the offensive line and secondary, then this team will again not be able to compete with the elites.

2. NC State Wolfpack

Projected Record: 8-4

Wins: South Florida, Clemson, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Florida State, Syracuse, North Carolina

Losses: Mississippi State, Boston College, Miami, Wake Forest

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This is an intriguing Wolfpack team coming off a 8-4 season. They have weapons with RB Bam Knight, WR Emeka Emezie, and WR Thayer Thomas. Add in a very good offensive line and QB Devin Leary coming back from injury… the offense should be pretty good. Defensively, LB Payton Wilson is one of the best players in the country and LB Isaiah Moore is a pretty dang good player himself. With the defense returning most of their starters from last year, expect an improved defense. Overall, this should be the favorite to finish second to Clemson in the Atlantic.

3. Boston College Eagles

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Colgate, UMass, Temple, NC State, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Losses: Missouri, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest

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Coach Jeff Hafley has a good thing going on over at Boston College. Coach Hafley will look to follow up his winning season with an experienced team. The offense returns almost everyone and is led by QB Phil Jurkovec, WR Zay Flowers, and one of the best offensive lines in the ACC. The problem last year was the running game and they will need someone to step up this year. Defensively, this team is moving in the right direction improving from 125th to 73rd in total defense. The Eagles will have to overcome losing two key linebackers to the NFL, but I wouldn’t overrule another slight improvement. Overall, this is a quality ACC team who will compete for second place in the Coastal behind Clemson.

4. Florida State Seminoles

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Jacksonville State, Wake Forest, Louisville, Syracuse, UMass, Boston College

Losses: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Clemson, NC State, Miami, Florida

The Seminoles are still in rebuild mode, but they are moving in the right direction. Offensively, QB McKenzie Milton (UCF transfer) could add a little, much needed, fire-power to this team as he looked very good in the spring game. QB Jordan Travis will most likely also see action as a running option. A huge concern is whether any of the wide receivers will emerge as key, impact players. Defensively, they are still building and trying to bridge the talent gap. A huge addition is DE Jermaine Johnson (Georgia transfer) who is already one of the best players on the defense. Linebackers Emmett Rice and Amari Gainer will also help. Overall, with a tough non-conference schedule, if Florida State makes a bowl game it will have been a good year.

5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Old Dominion, Norfolk State, Louisville, Syracuse, Army, Duke, NC State

Losses: Florida State, Virginia, North Carolina, Clemson, Boston College

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The Demon Deacons could be a sneaky good team in the ACC. Their offense was efficient last year and they return every single starter including stud WR Jaquarii Roberson. Defense is going to be the issue after finishing 90th last year. Wake Forest returns most of their starters, but it is hard to identify any standouts. Overall, Wake Forest will be a team led by their offense, but dragged down by their defense in 2021.

6. Louisville Cardinals

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: Eastern Kentucky, UCF, NC State, Syracuse, Duke

Losses: Ole Miss, Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia, Boston College, Clemson, Kentucky

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The Cardinals lost most of their playmakers on the offensive side including Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Javian Hawkins. QB Malik Cunningham must be better than he was last year for this team to avoid another losing season. On defense, the secondary is a huge concern but the Cardinals should be solid upfront led by LB CJ Avery. Overall, I trust Coach Satterfield to get the offense going, but I wouldn’t expect more than just an average bowl game.

7. Syracuse Orange

Projected Record: 3-9

Wins: Ohio, Albany, Pittsburgh

Losses: Rutgers, Liberty, Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Louisville, NC State

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Syracuse sure has fell off after their 10-3 season in 2018. The offense finished last in the ACC and it doesn’t look much better this season with one of the worst offensive lines in the conference. The battle at quarterback is intriguing with returning starter Tommy DeVito attempting to not be replaced by Garrett Shrader (Mississippi State transfer). At least they have WR Taj Harris who has displayed NFL talent. Defensively, they weren’t much better last season. However, the Orange do return 10 starters and should make an improvement. Especially with young, talented starters CB Garrett Williams and LB Mikel Jones. Overall, expect a rough year with a bowl game being the optimal result.

ACC Coastal

1. North Carolina Tar Heels

Projected Record: 10-2

Wins: Virginia Tech, Georgia State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Duke, Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Wofford

Losses: Notre Dame, NC State

Mack Brown keeps on building up North Carolina. After an 8-4 season, expectations are high. Offensively they lose some really talented guys including RB Michael Carter, RB, Javonte Williams, WR Dyami Brown, and WR Dazz Newsome. Everyone else on the offense returns though and they added Tennessee transfer RB Ty Chandler. The bowl game against Texas A&M gave a little sneak peek that quarterback Sam Howell has some players to work with including WR Josh Downs. On defense there are plenty of young playmakers looking to step up. They are extremely deep at defensive line and the trio of corners Storm Duck, Tony Grimes, and Kyler McMichael should take a step forward. Overall, this is a really talented team that will be the favorite in the ACC Coastal.

2. Miami Hurricanes

Projected Record: 10-2

Wins: Appalachian State, Michigan State, Central Connecticut, Virginia, NC State, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Duke

Losses: Alabama, North Carolina

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Quarterback D’Eriq King led Miami to a great 8-3 comeback season. Now King will have to make his own comeback returning from a torn ACL prior to the 2021 season (reports from Miami have him ahead of schedule). The offense was explosive with King and this offense returns almost everyone and added WR Charleston Rambo (Oklahoma transfer). The offensive line is strong and the running back room has two outstanding players with Cam’Ron Harris and Don Chaney Jr. Defensively, the Hurricanes will have to replace DE Jaelen Phillips and have a linebacker issue after allowing 175 rushing yards per game last year. The secondary may be the strength with S Bubba Bolden and corners DJ Ivey, Al Blades Jr., and Tyrique Stevenson (Georgia transfer). Overall, this could be a top ten team… but don’t expect them to beat Alabama.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Middle Tennessee, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Duke

Losses: North Carolina, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia

This may be the last season of Justin Fuente if it does not go well. The Hokies have their challenges replacing QB Hendon Hooker, RB Khalil Herbert, and first round pick OT Christian Darrisaw. The offense does return most of its receiving weapons and QB Braxton Burmeister has experience. Look for the offense to be alright. Defensively, they were terrible last season and now lost one of their best players Divine Deablo. DE Amare Barno and corners Chamarri Conner and Jermaine Waller will try to change the course of this defense. Overall, I think this could be Coach Fuente’s last season as I don’t see them as serious contenders in the ACC Coastal.

4. Virginia Cavaliers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: William & Mary, Illinois, Wake Forest, Louisville, Duke, BYU, Virginia Tech

Losses: North Carolina, Miami, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

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The Cavaliers finished on a roll last year winning four out of their last five games… to finish 5-5. Virginia brings most of those same starters back. The offense was decent last year and QB Brennan Armstrong returns. The defense was a little underwhelming and must find an edge rusher to replace Charles Snowden. Expect a slight improvement though with LB Nick Jackson leading this defense. Overall, Virginia will be a tough out, but not one of the elite ACC teams.

5. Pittsburgh Panthers

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: UMass, Western Michigan, New Hampshire, Georgia Tech, Duke, Virginia

Losses: Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, Syracuse

QB Kenny Picket returns for his fifth year after just an average 13 TD and 9 INT season. The offensive star is WR Jordan Addison coming off a phenomenal freshman season. Outside of Addison, there really isn’t much including a below average offensive line. On defense, the Panthers lose some key defensive lineman and the secondary is a little concerning. The strength will be the linebackers led by Cam Bright. Overall, expect just an average Pittsburgh season.

6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Projected Record: 4-8

Wins: Northern Illinois, Kennesaw State, Duke, Virginia

Losses: Clemson, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College, Notre Dame, Georgia

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The Yellow Jackets are still in a multi-year process from transitioning from the triple-option. Unfortunately, it will most likely take another year. Coach Geoff Collins is doing a good job on the recruiting trail, but his best classes are still young. However, a few players have already stood out including RB Jahmyr Gibbs and QB Jeff Sims. Sims will have to improve off his 13 touchdowns and 13 interception season. Defensively, this team is still figuring it out. However, the talent is improving evidenced by adding Alabama transfer and former four-star DE Kevin Harris. Overall, expect a slightly below average season from Georgia Tech especially with their tough schedule. But in a few years, this could be a team that is competing for ACC Coastal championships.

7. Duke Blue Devils

Projected Record: 3-9

Wins: Charlotte, North Carolina A&T, Kansas

Losses: Northwestern, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami

The Blue Devils were flat out bad last year finishing 2-9. Things don’t look much better this year after losing two talented edge rushers and returning just 10 starters on both side of the ball. Coach David Cutcliffe has his work cut out for him, but Duke does have a talented running back in Mateo Durant. Overall, this team will be lucky to get a few ACC wins and a bowl game seems out of reach.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Florida State, Toledo, Purdue, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Navy, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Stanford

Losses: Wisconsin, Cincinnati, USC

The offense lost four offensive linemen, their quarterback, and two starting wide receivers. Luckily they have 1100 yard rusher Kyren Williams returning and one of the best tight ends in football with Michael Myer. Look for Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan to most likely take over at quarterback who will provide similar production to Ian Book. Expect the Irish to be led by their defense in 2021, particularly no doubt first round pick safety Kyle Hamilton. I wouldn’t expect the 2021 team to be as good as 2020, but still think they put together a really nice season.