Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Reaction to Yahoo's Way Too Early Top 25

May 30, 2017

Yahoo Sports came out with a Way Too Early College Football Top 25 last week, and with less than 100 days until kickoff, we can take it somewhat seriously.

25. North Carolina
24. West Virginia
23. TCU
22. Nebraska
21. Notre Dame
20. Texas
19. South Florida
18. Kansas State
17. Florida
16. Georgia
15. Stanford
14. Louisville
13. Wisconsin
12. Michigan
11. Auburn
10. LSU
9. Washington
8. Oklahoma State
7. Penn State
6. Clemson
5. Oklahoma
4. Ohio State
3. USC
2. Florida State
1. Alabama

I did find it a shock that Notre Dame was ranked, but despite the 4-8 season a year ago, the Irish do have some talent coming back. Notre Dame also wasn’t far away from having a winning record if the little things were done properly.

If Notre Dame is going to be ranked in a 2017 preseason poll, I do believe anywhere from 20-25 is about right. The Irish haven’t proved to be in the Top 20, and I would take the Brian Kelly’s squad against Texas, Nebraska, TCU, West Virginia, and North Carolina if they played week one.

Speaking of the Tar Heels, North Carolina is one of four teams Notre Dame will play in this edition of the Top 25. I think everyone is ranked about where they should be. I might put Georgia a few spots higher, but that’s more on my thoughts on quarterback Jacob Eason taking a step forward in his sophomore year and the two-headed monster at running back with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel healthy.

I believe Clemson will be pretty good. However, I also feel the quarterback situation is going to be a huge factor for the Tigers. It’s not easy to replace a National Championship quarterback, and it’s even tougher to replace DeShaun Watson. The heart and soul of Clemson were on Watson’s shoulders, and it will be tough for any quarterback to fill. I would have dropped them a few spots lower.

Auburn and Michigan are the two teams that stuck out to me as teams who could make a run at the College Football Playoff. Jarrett Stidham is the real deal, and a good quarterback can take teams far in the SEC. Combine Stidham with one of the best backfields in the country; the Tiger will have the offense to win the SEC and make things fascinating the last week of the season against Alabama….at home.

Michigan returns a good amount of talent, but as we all know, they had a lot of talent drafted to the NFL. This will be the measuring stick of where Jim Harbaugh has his program. According to recruiting rankings, the talent is there, but many feel his classes were somewhat top loaded. It's good to have defensive lineman Rashan Gary to build around, but as the Big Ten has seen in recent playoff games, you have to score the ball in the playoffs.

The top five is about right in my opinion. I might have Penn State at No. 6 or even No. 5 but it’s hard to go against ranking the Buckeyes there. Oklahoma travels to Columbus for a week two showdown, and the winner will take a significant step towards the playoffs.

Is USC back? They have the quarterback and running back in place, so it’s up to the receiver corps and defense to prove they belong. I am not sure they are on the level of Alabama (as we saw last fall), but I think that gap has closed, however, losing Adoree Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to hurt.

Alabama is Alabama. If they can get the quarterback situation figured out, then I am not sure how you can beat them. Jalen Hurts was up and down, which gives hopes to teams challenging them, but then you remember he was a true freshman. Tu’a Tagovailoa enrolled early and impressed but will Nick Saban go through growing pains with another true freshman?

Florida State has all the pieces for a big-time run, and that includes the return of Derwin James, who missed most of last season with an injury. James is a rare defensive talent that can impact the game on so many different levels and any team competing for a title needs a talent like the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder.

All in all, I was somewhat surprised with how much I agreed with the rankings at this point in the year, and it’s exciting to be less than 100 days away.
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