2017 Power 5 Preview: 5-8

2017 Power 5 Preview: 5-8

Submitted by Alex Cook on August 30th, 2017 at 8:46 AM

For 2017, instead of previewing conferences division-by-division, I decided to preview the 64 Power Five teams individually, so I ranked them and counted down from the bottom.

I created a ranking system based heavily off of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings: half of the ranking comes from the S&P rankings from the past five seasons among Power Five teams (1/3 of that number is 2016’s ranking; 1/3 is the average from 2014-2016, 1/3 is the average from 2012-2016); half comes from two component parts of his 2017 S&P+ projections, weighed evenly – recruiting impact and returning production – and ranked 1 through 64. There is no subjectivity involved in these rankings and they skew towards emphasizing where the teams were according the 2016 S&P+. I think it serves as a decent way to sequence these previews.

Previously: #64 Purdue, #63 Rutgers, #62 Kansas, #61 Illinois, #60 Boston College, #59 Virginia, #58 Vanderbilt, #57 Syracuse. #56 Maryland, #55 Arizona, #54 Wake Forest, #53 Duke, #52 Iowa State, #51 Texas Tech, #50 Missouri, #49 Oregon State. #48 Arizona State, #47 Cal, #46 Indiana, #45 Kentucky, #44 West Virginia, #43 South Carolina, #42 Washington State, #41 Northwestern. #40 Minnesota, #39 Iowa, #38 Colorado, #37 Kansas State, #36 Utah, #35 Georgia Tech, #34 Nebraska, #33 Michigan State. #32 North Carolina, #31 NC State, #30 UCLA, #29 Mississippi State, #28 Oregon, #27 Arkansas, #26 Pittsburgh, #25 Baylor. #24 Oklahoma State, #23 Virginia Tech, #22 Georgia, #21 TCU, #20 Texas, #19 Tennessee. #18 Ole Miss, #17 Texas A&M, #16 Miami, #15 Wisconsin, #14 Louisville, #13 Washington. #12 Penn State, #11 Florida, #10 Stanford, #9 Auburn.

(I didn’t include Notre Dame)

[hit the JUMP for the previews]

2017 Power 5 Preview: 9-12

2017 Power 5 Preview: 9-12

Submitted by Alex Cook on August 29th, 2017 at 6:07 PM

-----------------EVENT REMINDER------------------

HEY it's Seth breaking in:

Don't forget to join us THIS THURSDAY at 6:00 PM at 327 East Hoover (the Purchase Radio Supply Building) for Football Eve, hosted by HomeSure Lending. The original post has the basic information but a few updates:

  • Yes it's free. Matt from HomeSure Lending is picking up the tab. If you're buying or refinancing a house go with him
  • The beer selection is Quickhatch by Wolverine State Brewing, Totally Roasted Cider from Vander Mill, Mango Dank Juice NE IPA from Odd Side Ales, and Labatt Blue Light just in case Indiana is within a score by the time you can't taste the difference. More info is at the link.
  • The food will be catered by Scratch BBQ and Catering. He's bringing brisket, pulled pork, mac&cheese, coleslaw, three-bean baked beans and a Texas peanut butter sheet cake.
  • We're doing the first MGoRadio Show live from there. Then hanging out until the game starts. We decided not to do trivia this year because I'd rather upload the podcast and watch football.

Now back to Alex's post

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For 2017, instead of previewing conferences division-by-division, I decided to preview the 64 Power Five teams individually, so I ranked them and counted down from the bottom.

I created a ranking system based heavily off of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings: half of the ranking comes from the S&P rankings from the past five seasons among Power Five teams (1/3 of that number is 2016’s ranking; 1/3 is the average from 2014-2016, 1/3 is the average from 2012-2016); half comes from two component parts of his 2017 S&P+ projections, weighed evenly – recruiting impact and returning production – and ranked 1 through 64. There is no subjectivity involved in these rankings and they skew towards emphasizing where the teams were according the 2016 S&P+. I think it serves as a decent way to sequence these previews.

Previously: #64 Purdue, #63 Rutgers, #62 Kansas, #61 Illinois, #60 Boston College, #59 Virginia, #58 Vanderbilt, #57 Syracuse. #56 Maryland, #55 Arizona, #54 Wake Forest, #53 Duke, #52 Iowa State, #51 Texas Tech, #50 Missouri, #49 Oregon State. #48 Arizona State, #47 Cal, #46 Indiana, #45 Kentucky, #44 West Virginia, #43 South Carolina, #42 Washington State, #41 Northwestern. #40 Minnesota, #39 Iowa, #38 Colorado, #37 Kansas State, #36 Utah, #35 Georgia Tech, #34 Nebraska, #33 Michigan State. #32 North Carolina, #31 NC State, #30 UCLA, #29 Mississippi State, #28 Oregon, #27 Arkansas, #26 Pittsburgh, #25 Baylor. #24 Oklahoma State, #23 Virginia Tech, #22 Georgia, #21 TCU, #20 Texas, #19 Tennessee. #18 Ole Miss, #17 Texas A&M, #16 Miami, #15 Wisconsin, #14 Louisville, #13 Washington.

(I didn’t include Notre Dame)

[hit the JUMP for the previews]

2017 Power Five Preview: 49-56

2017 Power Five Preview: 49-56

Submitted by Alex Cook on August 8th, 2017 at 10:34 AM

For 2017, instead of previewing conferences division-by-division, I decided to rank the 64 Power Five teams and count down from the bottom.

I created a ranking system based heavily off of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings: half of the ranking comes from the S&P rankings from the past five seasons among Power Five teams (1/3 of that number is 2016’s ranking; 1/3 is the average from 2014-2016, 1/3 is the average from 2012-2016); half comes from two component parts of his 2017 S&P+ projections, weighed evenly – recruiting impact and returning production – and ranked 1 through 64. The ranking itself skews towards emphasizing where the teams were according the 2016 S&P+. I think it serves as a decent way to sequence these previews.

(Note: I didn’t include Notre Dame)

Previously: #64 Purdue, #63 Rutgers, #62 Kansas, #61 Illinois, #60 Boston College, #59 Virginia, #58 Vanderbilt, #57 Syracuse.

56. MARYLANDmd17

#6 Big Ten East, #11 Big Ten

6-7 (3-6) in 2016

Not long after joining the Big Ten, Maryland fired Randy Edsall and brought in first-time head coach DJ Durkin – who’s coached under both Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer. Durkin reached a bowl game in his first season in College Park last season; Walt Bell made due as the offensive coordinator despite QB Perry Hillis’s injury issues and has an explosive group of RBs – Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison were impressive last year and they’re joined by the best recruit in Maryland’s class, Anthony McFarland, another small back with elite speed. Whether they can find a quarterback following Hillis’s departure is an open question, but their run game should overwhelm lesser opponents again in 2017.

Durkin’s background is on the defensive side of the ball, though the unit was mediocre a year ago – completely collapsing against Michigan and Ohio State (the Terps were outscored 121-6 in consecutive November weeks). They had a decent pass rush, but injuries devastated the secondary and the pass defense as a whole was poor. Maryland was even worse against the run, giving up 4.8 yards a carry over the course of the season and constantly dealing with second-and-short or third-and-short situations because of the line’s inability to hold up. The top two tacklers by far – LBs Jermaine Carter and Shane Cockerille – return, and they’ll need to make more of those tackles closer to the line of scrimmage.

Durkin’s recruited well since arriving in College Park, and so far, that’s where he’s been most valuable; even if they won’t come close to matching Ohio State or Michigan’s talent and are still a ways behind Penn State, their roster is trending up – and the Terps could have significantly better players than most of their opponents soon.

Winning the Big Ten East over those blue-bloods would be quite difficult, and Maryland still needs a year or two to get up to speed under Durkin, but they could carve out a space in the second tier in the conference if early returns wind up being predictive: they doubled their win total in year one and have been recruiting better than anyone in the Big Ten West. 2017 may be a slight step back, but things are trending up.

55. ARIZONA az17

#6 Pac-12 South, #12 Pac-12

3-9 (1-8) in 2016

In 2014, it seemed as if Arizona had broken through under third-year coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats finished 8-5 in each of his first two seasons, but the program took a leap to ten regular season wins, including an upset victory over playoff-bound Oregon on the road. The Wildcats won the Pac-12 South (and were obliterated by Oregon in the conference championship game rematch before losing to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl) and finished with double digit wins for just the third time since joining the then-Pac-10 back in 1978.

Rodriguez’s early success in Tucson makes the recent implosion all the more perplexing. Arizona followed up the 2014 season with a 7-6 mark in 2015 before falling to 3-9 last season; injuries played a role, particularly last season, but it’s rare to see programs fall off so quickly. In 2015, the defense tanked and DC Jeff Casteel was replaced; in 2016, the offense fell apart as well (partially because they had to play four different quarterbacks) and the defense didn’t recover. Arizona’s taken a hit in recruiting, key players have transferred, and there have been significant staff changes – all indicating that things will not be getting better. Since the athletic director who hired him has since moved on, Rodriguez’s job security seems very tenuous.

The offense should be much better than it was last season. Brandon Dawkins is more of a dual-threat than former starter (and current Baylor Bear) Anu Solomon – he ran for more touchdowns than he passed for in 2016. The entire offense was afflicted by injuries last season; both the RB corps and the OL should improve if the injury luck regresses and Arizona’s best players can stay on the field. Whether it’s enough to compensate for a defense that’s almost assuredly going to be terrible again is the big question: the entire secondary returns, but the Wildcats were awful against the pass last season; the two-deep in the front six (Arizona runs a 3-3-5) is in flux.

Programs don’t pull out of nosedives like this often. 2017 will feature some regression to the mean, but Rodriguez is now entering his sixth season at Arizona and if they don’t make a bowl game again, which seems likely, they may be making a coaching change after this season.

[49-54 after the JUMP]

2017 Power Five Preview: 57-64

2017 Power Five Preview: 57-64

Submitted by Alex Cook on August 1st, 2017 at 11:48 AM

For 2017, instead of previewing conferences division-by-division, I decided to rank the 64 Power Five teams and count down from the bottom.

I created a ranking system based heavily off of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings: half of the ranking comes from the S&P rankings from the past five seasons among Power Five teams (1/3 of that number is 2016’s ranking; 1/3 is the average from 2014-2016, 1/3 is the average from 2012-2016); half comes from two component parts of his 2017 S&P+ projections, weighed evenly – recruiting impact and returning production – and ranked 1 through 64. The ranking itself skews towards emphasizing where the teams were according the 2016 S&P+. I think it serves as a decent way to sequence these previews.

Here we go:

64. PURDUEpur17

#7B1G West, #14 B1G

3-9 (1-8) in 2016

After Joe Tiller retired following the 2008 season, Purdue gave Danny Hope and Darrell Hazell four years each as the head coach before firing them: Hope’s mediocre 22-28 record looks pretty decent in comparison to Hazell’s 9-33 mark in West Lafayette (he was let go following a loss to Iowa last October). The Boilermakers have finished last in all three seasons of the Big Ten West’s existence; they’ve beaten Illinois twice and upset 6-7 Nebraska for their only three wins in that span. Over the four-year Hazell era, only Kansas was comparably bad among Power Five programs.

Purdue lured Jeff Brohm from Western Kentucky this past offseason, and it was a great hire. Brohm has geographically proximate roots, won double digit games in his last two seasons with the Hilltoppers, and his WKU offenses lit up the scoreboard with fireworks in the passing game. From a stylistic standpoint, he’s far more Tiller than Hazell. Staid Big Ten cavemanball was an approach that failed miserably with the last regime, so the Boilermakers went back to their turn-of-the-century roots, in a sense, with Brohm.

The short-term future is bleak. WKU had a great foundation when he stepped in… Purdue does not. David Blough showed flashes of promise from the quarterback spot, but led the country in interceptions last season. The defense returns eight starters (including Glenn Robinson III’s younger brother, DT Gelen), but conceded 38.3 points per game last season and lost their best player, DT Jake Replogle.

Brohm was a great choice, but the degree of difficulty for his first Power Five gig is very high. Perhaps he’ll bring success to West Lafayette eventually – 2017 will be rough.

63. RUTGERSrut17

#7 B1G East, #13 B1G

2-10 (0-9) in 2016

It’s a minor upset that Rutgers didn’t finish last in these rankings, but the Scarlet Knights staked a credible claim as the worst Power Five team in the country last season (they were, according to S&P+). They went winless in Big Ten play and somehow managed to get shut out by Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State, tallying an aggregate 224-0 margin of defeat against those four teams. Of course, the 78-0 bloodletting at the hands of Michigan in Piscataway will endure as the definitive memory of the 2016 Rutgers football team.

It’s difficult to even mention Rutgers in the context of this preview without making mention of the Big Ten’s horrible decision to promote them to the Power Five in the first place; a scarlet and black ball-and-chain will remain on the ankle of the league long after the cable subscriber revenue stream (which was Rutgers’s main draw in the first place) dries up. They weren’t that bad of a program at the time they were added – mostly due to Greg Schiano – but the hilariously inept mismanagement of Kyle Flood dragged Rutgers back down to their historical norm.

Chris Ash, former Urban Meyer DC and branch of the Bret Bielema coaching tree, had an awful offense in his first season as head coach; he hired former Minnesota HC Jerry Kill as the offensive coordinator to right the ship. Kill – whose well-documented health issues forced him to leave Minnesota – will have to choose between a half-dozen uninspiring options at quarterback. At least electric scatback Janarion Grant returns from injury. Rutgers draws Illinois and Purdue from the West so they could improve on their 2-10 record, but will be one of the worst Power Five teams again.

[57-62 after the JUMP]