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Division I Football Top 25 Preview

Our 2014 D1 Football Top 25 Season Preview highlights HeroSports’s top teams competing for the NCAA championship. We have included information about last year’s performance and reasons why each team is ranked where they are heading into the season. Don’t see your team? View the complete rankings to see where every squad stands.

HeroSports #1Alabama Crimson Tide

Last Season: 11-2 (7-1)
Bowl Result: 45-31 Loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl
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Alabama LogoOutlook: If this were any other team, the high turnover would be a big concern.  But this isn’t any other team.  This is Alabama – where (you’ve heard before) they don’t rebuild, they reload. The Crimson Tide signed 19 of ESPN’s top 300 recruits for 2014, including three from the top ten, and were named the best recruiting class in the nation – again. There’s little doubt Alabama will be excellent this season, and in the playoff hunt – but despite this influx of talent, they won’t roll through their schedule like they have in previous years. Clemson, Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Florida were all in ESPN’s Recruiting Class Rankings top 15 and the SEC West is as tough as any division in college football.  Even if the rest of the SEC is catching up, Tide fans have the right to expect nothing less than a National Title.  You know what they say in Tuscaloosa, “win or lose, you better not lose.” Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #2Florida State Seminoles

Last Season: 14-0 (8-0)
Bowl Result: 34-31 Win over Auburn in the BCS National Championship
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Florida State LogoOutlook: The Seminoles will be excellent again. The only thing that might derail the reigning champs would be an injury to a key player (like any team), or if the defense doesn’t gel as quickly as coach Fisher expects. Linebacker would be a likely spot for problems if there were any, since two of last season’s three starters didn’t return, but that’s pretty nit-picky. With veterans in every position-group and the reigning Heisman trophy winner at the helm, it’s hard to imagine Florida State missing the inaugural FBS playoffs. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #3Oregon Ducks

Last Season: 11-2 (7-2)
Bowl Result: 30-7 Win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl
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Oregon LogoOutlook: As great as the Ducks have been over the last five years – four BCS Bowl appearances (two wins), one National Title appearance (a 22-19 loss to Auburn in 2010), and three Pac-12 titles (2009, 2010, and 2011) – they’ve yet to win it all. This could be the year.  With so many players returning to the already-excellent offense, expect the Ducks to fly higher than ever on that side of the ball. Whether this team turns out to be legendary, or just run-of-the-mill great depends on the defense. They’ll have to figure out how to get opposing offenses off the field or Stanford will do what they did last year and dominate on the ground.

The Ducks face a favorable schedule, including thorn-in-their-side Stanford at home – it won’t take much from the defense for them to go undefeated. If they can keep the game within a score or two going into the final quarter, the offense should take care of the rest and give Ed Orgeron and Oregon a chance to do something that even Chip Kelly never did – take home a National Championship trophy. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #4Baylor Bears

Last Season: 11-2 (8-1)
Bowl Result: 52-42 Loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl
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Baylor LogoOutlook: As long as reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year Art Briles is around, the Bears will be a threat to perennial powers Oklahoma and Texas, both of whom Baylor will play on the road next season. There’s little question that the offense can put up the points necessary to be nationally relevant, even with the loss of running back Shock Linwood and Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year Cyril Richardson. Petty’s favorite target Antwan Goodley is back, and blue-chip prospect Robbie Rhodes has another year under his belt, so as long as Lache Seastrunk can provide even a serviceable Linwood impression, the offense should be set. The defensive backfield is a bit of a question mark, but if the offense scores points like they did last season it should hardly matter. Baylor is fully capable of taking the Big 12 title for the second year in a row. Their matchup with Oklahoma in Norman on November 8 could decide the conference, and possibly a playoff berth. Read Full Preview…

number-br-5Oklahoma Sooners

Last Season: 11-2 (7-2)
Bowl Result: 45-31 Win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl
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Oklahoma LogoOutlook: In recent years, a dominant defensive line filled with NFL prospects and an explosive running game seem to have been the ingredients necessary to win a National Championship. The Sooners will have at least one, possibly both. Since Jerry Montgomery started as Oklahoma defensive line coach in early 2013, he’s turned the front seven from a question mark to an exclamation point. They’ll bring every contributing member of last season’s d-line back this season, including All-Big 12 end Charles Tapper and tackle Jordan Phillips, who’s back from the injury that ended his sophomore season. In the run-game, the Sooners picked up the number six running back in the 2014 recruiting class, Joe Mixon. Fans were excited about the injection of young blood to the offense in the form of Mixon and top wide receiver recruit Miciah Quick, until Mixon allegedly assaulted a woman in an off campus cafe. He is currently suspended and his status for the season is up in the air.

TennesseeBaylorTexasOklahoma State, and Kansas State all have to come to Norman this season – this schedule is as good as it gets. The Big 12 is theirs if they can take it from Baylor, and should the Sooners take down the reigning conference champs, playoffs seem likely, and it’s not out of this realm to imagine Coach Bob Stoops parading around the streets of Norman with a shiny new trophy next spring. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #6Auburn Tigers

Last Season: 12-2 (8-1)
Bowl Result: 34-31 Loss to Florida State in the BCS National Championship
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Auburn LogoOutlook: Nick Marshall is the real deal, but he’ll start the season on the bench. Just days after he was named to the preseason Maxwell Award watch list, Marshall was cited by Georgia police for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. He was issued a citation, released, and won’t face jail time if he pays a $1,000 fine. Malzahn said his quarterback, “has been a model student, teammate, and citizen,” since transferring to Auburn from Georgia, but also that he, “made a mistake and he’ll have to deal with the consequences.” Marshall will serve a one-game suspension during the Tigers’ first game against Arkansas on August 30.

When he gets back, Marshall will have Sammie Coates, Marcus Davis, CJ Uzomah, Ricardo Louis, and the number one junior college transfer in the country, D’haquille Williams, to help him rule the air.  The senior quarterback will also contribute to the run-game when he sees the field, as he did last season, but the ground attack will focus on Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant – two backs who averaged over 6 yards per carry apiece last season.

The defense lost a lot of starters, but retained many more experienced players. Their biggest vulnerability will be in the passing game, where they lost starting DBs from an already weak unit. The rest of the SEC will be after Auburn, and they won’t be able to count on miracles like last season; it will be interesting to see if they can handle it.  In any case, expect the Iron Bowl with Alabama to be one of the top-five, marquee, most important, circle-on-your-calendar regular season matchups of the season, since both teams will be vying for a playoff spot. The winner of the SEC West will almost certainly make the playoffs, and the Iron Bowl might just decide who that will be. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #7Stanford Cardinal

Last Season: 11-3 (7-2)
Bowl Result: 24-20 Loss to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl
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Stanford LogoOutlook: They’ve got the QB, which is half the battle in the quarterback league that is the Pac 12, but beyond Kevin Hogan there are a lot of question marks that make predicting the 2014 Cardinal season very difficult. We’ll see what coach David Shaw is really about now that the team consists almost exclusively of players he recruited. The new expectation at Stanford is to compete for a National Title, and a top-four finish will put them in position this year.

All things considered though, it feels like Stanford will regress a bit. They just suffered too much roster turnover (especially in the trenches) and play in a very tough conference with teams like Oregon and Washington nipping at their heels. Don’t be surprised to see the Cardinal fail to reach double-digit wins for the first time since 2009. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #8South Carolina Gamecocks

Last Season: 11-2 (6-2)
Bowl Result: 34-21 Win over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl
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South Carolina LogoOutlook: Even with a slightly more experienced offense, the Gamecocks will have a tough time matching last season’s 11-2 record with so many key members of the defense gone. They have a young defensive core – they’ll only graduate three players from the unit next offseason, so they’ve got that going for them – and the schedulers were kind in 2014, which is also nice. If new starting QB Dylan Thompson turns out to be serviceable, their biggest hurdle will be their road game at Auburn on October 25th. If they can clear that, the Gamecocks look like they could match their win total from last season and maybe vie for a spot in the SEC title game as the champion of the weaker SEC East. South Carolina just has to avoid a derailing loss like Tennessee (2013)/LSU (2012)/Auburn (2011). Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #9UCLA Bruins

Last Season: 10-3 (6-3)
Bowl Result: 42-12 Win over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl
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UCLA LogoOutlook: When head coach Jim Mora stepped in to helm the Bruins after a 6-8 season in 2011, he found success immediately. UCLA won the Pac 12 South outright in his first season and fell only five points short in his second (38-33 loss to Arizona State). In 2014, his third year, we expect UCLA to represent the South in the conference title game. With Brett Hundley controlling the offense, and last season’s Pac 12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year Miles Jack focusing his efforts on the defensive end to compensate for the loss of outside linebacker Anthony Barr, the Bruins are as experienced and talented as any team in the conference.

They’ll play Oregon October 11 in what is sure to be one of the premier matchups of the Pac 12 season. One of these two quarterbacks – Hundley for UCLA and Marcus Mariota for Oregon – will likely come out of the game Heisman front-runner, and one of these two teams will likely emerge as the favorite to win the Pac 12. Read Full Preview…

Ohio State Buckeyesnumber-br-10

Last Season: 12-2 (8-1)
Bowl Result: 40-35 Loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl
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Ohio StateOutlook: After what must feel like an eternity of college football purgatory, 2014 looks to be the year for Ohio State. Quarterback Braxton Miller is a senior, coach Urban Meyer has proven himself exceptionally capable, and even though they suffered losses on both sides of the ball this offseason, they’ve got talented players waiting in the wings. Since Meyer came aboard, only Nick Saban and Alabama have recruited more ESPN top 300 prospects than Ohio State. After a 2012 season in which they were good enough to challenge for the National Title if not for NCAA sanctions and a 2013 campaign that fell just short, 2014 feels like a turning-point type year.

If the young offensive line comes together, and Miller recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, the Buckeyes are capable of staying in the top ten all season and winning the Big Ten title for the first time since 2009. Wins against Penn StateMichigan State, and Virginia Tech will put them in the playoff conversation, but they’ll probably need perfection to guarantee a spot with their relatively weak strength of schedule. OregonAlabamaFlorida State, and Oklahoma all have much tougher schedules and don’t lose often. So much depends on the youth, but since Urban came to town, the kids are alright.  Fans should hope the Buckeyes’ title window is still open. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #11LSU Tigers

Last Season: 10-3 (5-3)
Bowl Result: 21-14 Win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl
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LSU LogoOutlook: Anthony Jennings, a sophomore this year, is the favorite to start at QB for the Tigers this season.  They’ll also bring in a four-star freshman, Scout.com’s sixth best QB in the 2014 class – Brandon Harris. A QB with a strong arm and serious speed, Harris has a bit of work to do on his footwork and mechanics and would probably benefit from a redshirt year, but one of the two had better step up.  Since the departure of Stephen Rivers to Vanderbilt and Rob Bolden to parts unknown, Harris and Jennings are the only two scholarship QBs on the roster.

The Tigers are in good position to stay in the top 25 all season with the strength of their offensive line and defense as a whole, but their dearth of skill position players will hurt. They’ve lost a record 18 non-seniors to the NFL draft over the last two years. On one hand, fans must be wondering how good they could have been had these players stuck around, but on the other, their reputation as an NFL farm team is a big draw for top high school talent. It probably all comes out in a wash.

The Tigers’ success this season will hinge on their young playmakers, but with a tough schedule including road games against Auburn, Texas A&M, the ever-dangerous Alabama, and a season opener at Reliant Stadium against Wisconsin, LSU fans shouldn’t take anything for granted. The SEC is up in the air right now – over half of the conference’s 14 teams will start the season with a new starting quarterback. In this wide-open SEC, LSU has as good a shot as any team to take the title, but it seems more likely they use this year to build the defense for the future and break in a new starting quarterback. Hope for the SEC title this season, expect it next season.   Read Full Preview…

number-br-12Missouri Tigers

Last Season: 12-2 (7-2)
Bowl Result: 41-31 Win over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl
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Missouri LogoOutlook: Any other year and a team with this much upheaval wouldn’t stand a chance in the SEC – but this isn’t any other year. Only five SEC teams will start the season with the same QB under center they finished with last season. As things stand now, Missouri has a very talented young roster that should be able to win plenty enough to make a bowl, but the bowl they make depends hugely on how quickly they are able to come together as a team with so many new starters. Mizzou fans should be excited about their team’s future, but cautious about expecting the world of their young players this season. Read Full Preview…

number-br-13Texas A&M Aggies

Last Season: 9-4 (4-4)
Bowl Result: 52-48 Win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl
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Texas A&M LogoOutlook: The A&M offense was fantastic last season – first in the SEC in passing (353.3 ypg), scoring (44.2 ppg), and total offense (538.4 ypg), all by comfortable margins.  The defense though, was terrible.  They were last in the SEC in rushing defense, scoring defense, and total defense (by almost fifty yards per game).

This season, more experience and five top-300 recruits will make the defense somewhere between “slightly” and “quite a bit” better, and attrition will make the offense somewhere between “slightly” and “quite a bit” worse. Things should even out in College Station. Looks like another seven to nine win season for the Aggies in 2014 as they figure out the QB situation post-Johnny Football and (hopefully) put together a competitive defense for the future. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #14Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last Season: 10-3 (7-2)
Bowl Result: 41-31 Loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl
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Oklahoma State LogoOutlook: Coach Mike Gundy built the Cowboys into a contender, and this season we will see if he’s built the program to the point where it can reload instead of rebuild. The roster is stacked with young talent but like any young team, it’s likely there will be bumps in the road as roles are figured out and playing time is earned. Not working in their favor is a conference slate featuring away games at Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma – not to mention a season-0pener as hosts to defending National Champion Florida State. Though a nine-win season isn’t out of the question, the Cowboys are more likely to take their knocks and mature into a team capable of competing for a playoff berth in 2015. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #15Kansas State Wildcats

Last Season: 8-5 (5-4)
Bowl Result: 31-14 Win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
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Kansas State LogoOutlook: 2013 was the perfect rebuilding year for Kansas State – the defense gained some serious experience and the team still pulled out eight wins. Expectations are high as the Cats have been listed in multiple preseason Top 25s, but whether or not they can hang with the elite athletes of Oklahoma and Baylor remains to be seen. If menacing defensive end Ryan Mueller can lead the Wildcat defense back to their traditionally high standards and Jake Waters can get the ball to playmaker Tyler Lockett (81 receptions, 1,262 yards, and 11 TDs last season), Kansas State could be a real threat to the big boys of the Big 12 in 2014. Auburn will visit Manhattan on Thursday, September 18 in what could be KSU’s coming out party. If they lose, no big deal – it was expected. If they win? Playoffs should be on everyone’s mind, if not their lips. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #16Michigan State Spartans

Last Season: 13-1 (9-0)
Bowl Result: 24-20 Win over Stanford in the Rose Bowl
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Michigan State LogoOutlook: The Spartans set themselves up for success this season. Here at HeroSports, we’re big proponents of the maxim, “to be the best, you have to beat the best,” and it looks like that’s what Michigan State will have the opportunity to do. With games at Oregon, vs Ohio State, vs Michigan, and at Penn State, Michigan State will make the playoffs if they can simply survive and advance. Week 2 at Eugene will certainly be a challenge, but back-to-back home games against Michigan and Ohio State weeks eight and nine will be the toughest test of the season. 2014 will be an opportunity for the Spartans to show the Big Ten that last season was no fluke. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #17Georgia Bulldogs

Last Season: 8-5 (5-3)
Bowl Result: 24-19 Loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl
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Georgia LogoOutlook: If Hutson Mason used this offseason to cement his starting spot and become the quarterback his coaches think he could be (a second-coming of DJ Shockley perhaps?) – the Bulldogs could contend in the SEC East. It’s a cop-out to say expectations are up in the air on account of quarterback play, but opening the season with Clemson at home followed by a road trip to South Carolina is not an ideal debut for a new QB. If Mason crumbles and they open the season 0-2, Georgia will be lucky to finish over .500. It would be tough for a first-time starter to regain confidence after a start like that. If the former Georgia Gatorade High School Player of the Year has fixed perceived accuracy issues and leads the team like his predecessor, the Bulldogs have a shot to win the weaker of the two SEC divisions. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #18Wisconsin Badgers

Last Season: 9-4 (6-2)
Bowl Result: 34-24 Loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl
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Wisconsin LogoOutlook: The Badgers start their season with a baptism by fire against LSU. The August 30 game at the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium might be the toughest Wisconsin will play all season, especially when you consider they won’t play Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State during the regular season.

With their schedule, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Wisconsin win the brand new Big Ten West.  If they can upset LSU on opening day, look out for a Wisconsin-Ohio State or Wisconsin-Michigan State Big Ten title matchup. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #19Arizona State Sun Devils 

Last Season: 10-4 (8-1)
Bowl Result: 37-23 Loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl
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Arizona State LogoOutlook: This Arizona State roster is very much in flux. They’ll benefit from the return of some of their offensive stars, but those players could have trouble matching their production from last year behind a new offensive line. It’s hard to figure out what to expect from these Sun Devils since coach Graham has done such a great job so far, but this is the least-experienced roster he’s coached.

They might be young, but they are talented, and a return to the Pac 12 title game isn’t out of the question. The Sun Devils’ schedule is rough, but they get Stanford at home, which you know they’ve circled on their calendars. Their toughest road contests will be at Washington, USC, and Arizona, if they can take two of those three, as well as the rematch with Stanford October 18, they’ll return to the Pac 12 title game.  If not, USC and new coach Steve Sarkisian will be nipping at their heels. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #20Texas Longhorns

Last Season: 8-5 (7-2)
Bowl Result: 30-7 Loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl
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Texas LogoOutlook: A new day has dawned in Austin. Mack Brown is out, Charlie Strong is in.  Brown held the job for 15 years, during which time he coached Vince Young and the Longhorns to the 2005 BCS National Title. After Young left for the NFL, Brown and new signal caller Colt McCoy kept the team in the national spotlight for the rest of the 200os. They appeared in the National Championship game in 2010, but fell to Alabama in McCoy’s final game.

Since McCoy moved on the Longhorns have struggled to find consistency under center, and their rapid fall from BCS runners-up to 8-5 last season resulted in Brown’s termination. It doesn’t look like the quarterback situation will improve too much going into this year either. David Ash will be the starter, but after concussions derailed his 2013 season, he’s only one big hit away from the last play of his career. The only other options were sophomore Tyrone Swoopes (who struggled mightily in spring camp), and true freshman Jerrod Heard. Heard is likely the future, but Ash is the present.

New o-line coach Joe Wickline will have his hands full this fall, as Texas needs to replace three starters in the trenches. The offense is clearly a work in progress, but the defense – especially under Strong’s leadership – will be one of the best in the Big 12. Cedric Reed, Malcolm Brown, and Desmond Jackson are solid pieces, they’ll get a boost with the return of linebacker Jordan Hicks from injury, and they have to be excited cornerback Quandre Diggs decided to come back for one more season in Austin.

The Longhorns’ first real test will be week three against UCLA in what promises to be one of the best non-conference games of the season. Then, two weeks later, Texas hits the toughest two-game stretch on their schedule: Baylor at home, followed by the Red River Showdown in Dallas. Strong knows his team needs at least one of those two games if they have any shot at taking the Big 12 title. Fans should expect wins because this is Texas, and that’s what Texas does, but don’t be surprised if they come out of their first five games 3-2 (or even 2-3 with a sneaky-good BYU team on the schedule as well) before finally figuring it out. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #21Clemson Tigers

Last Season: 11-2 (7-1)
Bowl Result: 40-35 Win over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl
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Clemson LogoOutlook: The past three years under Dabo Swinney have been the best stretch of football in Clemson history. With the loss of their quarterback and several key defensive players, new faces will have a chance to shine, and stick around. Seven of the Tigers’ projected starters on defense will be sophomores or younger.

Clemson will start their season on the road at Georgia. It will be the first Georgia opener in four years without Aaron Murray, and as such, it’s the best shot anyone will get to go into Athens and take a win this season. Just like last season, Florida State and South Carolina are the two hardest games on Clemson’s schedule; if they can travel to Tallahassee week three and upset the reigning champs on their home field (a big if), they’ll likely go into their final regular season game undefeated with a shot at South Carolina at home. It doesn’t seem likely they’ll win both, but one and one in those two games would be huge. Fans should brace themselves for 9-3, hope for 11-1, and pray for 12-0. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #22Florida Gators

Last Season: 4-8 (3-5)
Bowl Result: N/A
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Florida LogoOutlook: Quarterback Jeff Driskel went down at almost exactly the worst possible time last season. He went through the whole offseason getting starters reps, played the first three games with the offense behind him, and then got injured. Enter Tyler Murphy. Murphy did okay – but he certainly wasn’t the player Driskel was before his injury. He’s back for 2014, and the success of Florida’s offense hinges on whether or not the Gators’ new interior linemen (whomever they end up being) and offensive line coach Tim Davis can keep Driskel comfortable when he drops back to pass. Back from a serious injury, it would be hard to blame the senior signal-caller for being skittish in the pocket.

Defensively, they’ll need to figure out their backfield quickly, especially as the SEC evolves into more of a wide-open, Pac 12-style offensive league. They’ve got all the talent they’ll need – it just has to come together.

Florida will play spoiler for a few teams this year, and will almost certainly go bowling, but they still don’t have to firepower to consistently compete with the top-tier SEC teams. Fans should expect a winning record for the Gators this season and a return to postseason play. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #23Washington Huskies

Last Season: 9-4 (5-4)
Bowl Result: 31-16 Win over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl
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Washington LogoOutlook: It was an offseason of change in Seattle. New faces on both sides of the ball (and the sidelines) could spell a rocky season of transition, but you’d never know it if you listened to the UW-faithful – some have even drawn comparisons between new coach Chris Peterson and Husky legend Don James.

With such lofty expectations, the new coaching staff should consider themselves lucky to get a few out of conference games to settle in (at Hawai’i, vs Eastern Washington, vs Illinois, and vs Georgia State) before they jump into the fire with their Pac 12 schedule. The Dawgs will play vs Stanford, at Cal, and at Oregon in the first three games of their conference schedule. Cal shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, but Stanford and Oregon will be two of the toughest opponents the Huskies will play all season. The Pac 12 North won’t be won in week seven, but it could be lost if they aren’t careful. If the Huskies finish the first seven weeks with one loss, they’ll be in fantastic shape, if they have two (or more), they’ll likely have to content themselves with a third place finish in the North. We’ll know a lot about this team and their new head coach by midseason. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #24Ole Miss Rebels

Last Season: 8-5 (3-5)
Bowl Result: 25-17 Win over Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl
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Ole Miss LogoOutlook: The Ole Miss defense was exceedingly average last season. They finished seventh in the 14-team SEC in total defense (370.5 ypg), seventh in scoring defense (23.7 ppg), and eleventh in red zone defense (40/47 drives resulted in points).  With so many returning starters – including the Nkemdiche brothers and first team All-American safety Cody Prewitt – it seems like they have to be at least marginally better.

On offense, it’s another story. Laquon Treadwell, the #1 wide receiver in the 2013 recruiting class, will be the top dog. The Rebels were second to last in the SEC in the red zone last year, where they scored touchdowns on less than half of their 46 possessions inside the 25 yard line. They allowed more sacks than any SEC team besides Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and they were in the bottom half of the SEC in scoring offense, despite the fact that they were fifth in total yards per game. This tells us they struggle to finish. These are problems you’d expect from a young team – problems you’d expect to go away as a team matures – it just never happened for the 2013 Rebel team. The offense will be young this year, and without a solid offensive line, it’s hard to imagine things will get better. It might be a long season for Rebels fans in 2014, possibly culminating in disappointment and a missed bowl. Read Full Preview…

HeroSports #25Michigan Wolverines

Last Season: 7-6 (3-5)
Bowl Result: 31-14 Loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
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Michigan LogoOutlook: The Wolverines turned heartbreak into an artform last season. Just look at these losses: 43-40 at Penn State, 17-13 to Nebraska, 24-21 at Iowa, and worst of all a 42-41 heartbreaker to rival Ohio State in the final regular season game. Four losses by an average of 2.75 points per – the law of regression to the mean says they should come out on the right side of a few of those close games this time around. They have all the pieces in place for a turnaround season.

The Woverines will be much more experienced on both sides of the ball, and talented in every position group.  Michigan isn’t getting a lot of chatter from national media to start the season, but expect that to change by the end. Read Full Preview…

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