Did the SEC get exposed this week, or did they showcase their top to bottom strength? Regardless, we now have 4 SEC teams in our Top 10, the most of any conference – but, only 1 other in the 25! Oklahoma rejoined us this week as well as new entrants BC, Tulsa and NC State. Will any of these newcomers stick around? Let us know in the replies, forums and on Twitter @Sidelines_SN!
Note: We are currently only ranking teams set to play the following weekend. Thus, we are not yet including the Big Ten, Pac 12, MWC or MAC.
Others Receiving Votes:
San Diego State
Be sure to let us know what you think in the Forums and on Twitter @Sidelines_SN!!!
After a wild first full week of college football, we have our Week 2 Top 25 poll ready. The Big 12 went winless against the Sun Belt, UNC woke up in the fourth quarter, and FSU got stung. Louisiana’s upset performance was enough to earn them a first place vote by one of our writers.
This poll is comprised of the votes of SidelinesSports.Net writers. Note: We are now only rankings teams that currently intend to play this season.
In a year where almost nothing has been normal, there is one thing that is: Notre Dame is going to be hard to beat.
With 5th year senior and Heisman candidate Ian Book leading the offense, and play makers like Kyle Hamilton and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah leading the defense, Notre Dame is primed for another big year. Here are final score predictions for every Fighting Irish game this year; let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter!
Notre Dame opens the season in South Bend against Duke. Last season, Notre Dame easily defeated the Blue Devils 38-7, and I don’t expect this year to be any different. Because this is the first game of the season, Notre Dame will probably come out a little rusty. I expect Duke to keep it close in the 1st half, but Notre Dame eventually pulls away in the 2nd half and wins convincingly.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Duke 14
vs. South Florida
This should be Notre Dame’s easiest win of the season. Barring another 3 hour rain delay, Notre Dame should cruise to an easy victory to move to 2-0.
Prediction: Notre Dame 42, South Florida 13
at Wake Forest
In Week 4, Notre Dame travels to Wake Forest for their first road game of the season. Notre Dame should have no problem winning this game, but I still expect Wake Forest to keep it closer than it should be. Notre Dame will lead the whole game, and Wake Forest will score late to make the game look closer than it actually was.
The ACC has often been ridiculed as a “basketball conference”, yet they have 3 national champions in the last decade as well as a pretty impressive bowl record in the last few years. Regardless, the ACC plans to take the field this season, and thus we’ll be watching as always. Will Clemson steamroll the conference again? Will a Coastal underdog make the championship game? Check out our preseason rankings here for our predictions (Note, we’re including Notre Dame given this season’s unusual circumstances):
15. Boston College
Oh, Boston College. We so badly want you to succeed to make the ACC look better, but you just haven’t figured it out. Maybe new Coach Jeff Hafley will be the secret ingredient that brings the Eagles out of the basement. One good thing is this roster is very experienced, with 17 starters returning and many being Juniors or Seniors. The Eagles have Oregon-transfer AB Phil Jurkovec who recently had his waiver approved to lead the team, and RB David Bailey has shown a lot of potential. We expect a pretty dismal season, but at least the coaching change marks a new era – and possibly a turning point.
14. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets had a horrible 3-9 campaign last season, but it was entirely expected as they were transitioning from their long used Triple Option offense. Will it all come together in Year 2? Extremely unlikely. Changing an offense like that takes a lot longer, but at least Geoff Collins now has “his guys”. Plus, there’s consistency at QB with James Graham returning. Georgia Tech will not be competing for the championship, but they could pull off a surprise upset as there’s very little on the scouting report of what this offense will look like. Being unexpected may be their best advantage.
QB Tommy DeVito was the most sacked QB among Power 5 teams last season. His offensive line will have 2 new starters, for better or for worse. On the defensive side of the ball, only 4 players are returning. WR Taj Harris could be one of the best in the ACC, but will DeVito even be able to throw to him with defenses running him over? Dino Baber’s coaching is the only thing keeping this roster from the bottom of the ACC, but it could be enough to get them to a bowl.
12. Wake Forest
Wake Forest’s defense is experienced; they return all but 2 starters on that side of the ball and those players did fairly well last season (76th in scoring). The question is the offense; Wake had a top-20 offense last season but lost almost everybody, including QB Jamie Newman who transferred to Georgia. One of the few bright spots, WR Sage Surrat, who led all P5 players in receiving yards through 9 games last season, has opted out of the season.
11. NC State
NC State had trouble finding an identity last season, starting 3 different QBs. However, once they find their guy this season (it looks to be Devin Leary), they have enough experience on both sides of the ball to form a cohesive, competitive team. The Wolfpack is returning all but 7 starters on both sides of the ball, but most are only Sophomores and Juniors. Most people are underrating this Wolfpack team, but if they don’t get a solid connection between a QB and their experienced receivers, experience won’t matter and they’ll fall to the bottom of the ACC.
The 2020 college football season is just around the corner, but Heisman talks are already starting to heat up. Players like Trevor Lawrence, Jamie Newman and Travis Etienne are at the top of the list of favorites, but one player that nobody seems to be talking about is Ian Book. Ian Book is without a doubt one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
He’s 20-3 as a starter at Notre Dame, and he’s led Notre Dame to consecutive 10 win seasons, including a playoff appearance. Ian Book is currently tied for 8th in the Heisman trophy odds with 20-1 odds. Out of the 7 players above him, Ian Book has the most experience. Ian Book is a 5th year senior who has been with the Irish since 2016. Add that to the fact that he’s had multiple 10 win seasons and a playoff appearance, Ian Book has experience under pressure and knows what it’s going to take to put together a Heisman caliber season.
Notre Dame also has a new offensive coordinator in Tommy Rees. In Tommy Rees’ first game as offensive coordinator, Ian Book completed 20 passes for almost 300 years in a 33-9 victory over a solid Iowa State team. If Book is able to play like that in 2020, he will be right in the mix of the Heisman race. Right now it seems like a long shot for Book to win the Heisman, but there’s been a trend of preseason underdogs winning the Heisman these past few seasons. In 2016, Lamar Jackson opened the season at +11000 odds to win the Heisman. In 2018, Kyler Murray opened the season at +2200 odds to win the Heisman. Joe Burrow opened the 2019 season at 200 to 1 odds to win the Heisman, and ended up having one of the best seasons in college football history. Right now Ian Book is at 20 to 1 odds to win the Heisman, but recent history shows that anything can happen.
Notre Dame opens the 2020 season against Duke, which will hopefully be a commanding win to set the tone. The last time Notre Dame played Duke, they won 38-7. Ian Book will need to lead Notre Dame to a perfect regular season in order to win the Heisman.
The 2 biggest teams standing in the way of a perfect season for Notre Dame are Clemson and UNC. The Irish take on Clemson on November 7th at Notre Dame Stadium. This game is extremely important for both Ian Book’s Heisman hopes and getting Notre Dame back in the playoffs. Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback in college football, and he’s currently 1st place at 2 to 1 odds to win the Heisman. Clemson also hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2017. If Ian Book can outperform Trevor Lawrence under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium, it would greatly increase his chances of winning the Heisman. Ian Book has another opportunity to make a statement in primetime when the Irish take on UNC on November 27th. Ian Book will need to go into Chapel Hill and win convincingly in order to stay in the Heisman race.
Many people are sleeping on Ian Book, and many people feel like he has no chance to win the Heisman, but those people will be surprised come December 12th.
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The College Football Playoff isn’t even a decade old and it already has to adjust for a global pandemic. To be fair, the model itself doesn’t appear to be changing much – four teams will still compete in a tournament, with seeding set by the College Football Playoff committee. The semifinals will be at great locations this year; the historic Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. As far as the rankings, the first will come out Tuesday, November 17. The Playoff Selection show itself will be Sunday, December 20. That leaves one question – who will be in?
We’re highly expecting yet another undefeated regular season for Clemson. Their shortened schedule (with the Citadel being their only true out of conference game) leaves very few threats. Notre Dame is the only opponent that really jumps out as a test for Clemson, and while this will be a talented Notre Dame squad behind Ian Book’s leadership, it simply won’t be enough to cut it. The usual suspects like Pitt and Syracuse could provide a scare, but Trevor Lawrence’s talent and a great supporting cast (eyes on Etienne for best Running Back in college) mean they will waltz to another College Football Playoff appearance, where they’ll beat Alabama in yet another matchup but lose the title game to our next team.
Of all four teams we have projected to make the playoff, Georgia returns the most overall production (65%) with 10 starters. Plus, Jamie Newman is not only a Heisman candidate but a proven baller with experience carrying a roster further than it should’ve gone. So, what happens when he is on an already good roster? We predict a national championship. Georgia has been criticized for an unimaginative offense, but we believe bringing in Todd Monken as OC will help them finally piece together both sides of the ball, as LSU did last year on their undefeated championship run. Georgia doesn’t exactly have an easy schedule, and we predict them dropping 1 in the regular season to Alabama, but we think they’ll win the SEC title game and every game afterward.
Seems like OU is always the fourth seed, doesn’t it? We don’t predict that changing this season. Spencer Rattler has all the makings of yet another elite OU QB, and he already has some experience in Lincoln Riley’s system. The loss of Kennedy Brooks (who announced he’s opting out) certainly hurts the diversity of OU’s offense, but Jeremiah Hall can help open up the offense. Oklahoma State is the biggest threat on OU’s schedule and we predict them or Iowa State gets a win over the Sooners this season, but we ultimately expect Riley’s coaching, an elite QB in Rattler and a top of the league passing game to bring the Sooners to another College Football Playoff appearance (but yet another semifinal loss).
This will be an interesting year for Alabama. We just hit the first 2 year title drought for the Crimson Tide since 2013-2014. They’re QB situation is interesting, with Mac Jones coming back as the projected starter but high school phenom Bryce Young waiting in the wing. The Tide’s defense looks airtight, so most questions are on the offensive side of the ball, and Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith are pretty powerful answers. We think the Crimson Tide will go undefeated in the regular season but lose the SEC title game to Georgia. This sets them up for a rematch with Clemson, and a strategic Dabo will exploit their few weaknesses (likely via Etienne) to scrape past them.
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While the basketball world is in the depths of March Madness, College Football fans are gearing up for spring games; the slight whiff of fall ball that gets us through the off season (besides of course, frequent and rampant speculation).
Here’s our list of must-watch spring games with details.
Thoughts on the games? Think we should have included others? Let us know in the comments below.