Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking

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USA Today Sports

Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking

Clemson knocked off Alabama 35-31 in Tampa, Fla. to win the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship in one of the most thrilling and exciting championship games of all time.

But now that the confetti has been swept up and the players return back to campus, it's time to look ahead to the 2017 season.

Preseason rankings are far from an exact science, but do these way too early polls provide a good snapshot at the general consesus well in advance.

Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking:

25. West Virginia: Former Florida QB Will Grier gets to man the helm for the Mountaineers. Not a great team, but they should be able to score by the bushel. 

24. Tennessee: The Volunteers are hit hard by matriculation, but Butch Jones has stockpiled enough talent. Will the pressure finally get to him, though?

23. Washington State: QB Luke Falk returns for his senior season and although the Cougars lose prolific receiver Gabe Marks, they return All-American guard Cody O'Connell. Defense should improve with nine starters returning.

22. South Florida: Head coach Charlie Taggart left for Oregon, but the Bulls got Charlie Strong in return. Some would say that's an upgrade. Remember the name Quinton Flowers. The QB has a great back story and should be in and around the Heisman talk.

21. Colorado: Mike MacIntrye was national coach of the year for a reason. The loss of QB Sefo Liufau hurts, but most of the offense returns.

20. Boise State: The Broncos are once again expected to be at or near the top of the Group of 5 with QB Brett Rypien back at the helm.

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19. Miami: The 2016 Miami defense was young and injured, but oh so talented. Even with QB Brad Kayaa headed to the NFL, the Hurricanes are going to put a hurting on folks. 

18. Georgia: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel return. Jacob Easson is in his second full season. This one shouldn't been too terribly difficult for Kirby Smart.

17. Texas: Charlie Strong did most of the heavy lifting and now Tom Herman gets to reap the benefits. The Longhorns should have a ton of experience on both sides of the ball. 

16. Louisville: The Cardinals ended the season with three consecutive losses, and on top of that, the will need to replace a bevy of top stars. The silver lining in all of this? Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is back for his junior year.

15. Kansas State: Wildcats have a favorable home Big XII schedule and should go 3-0 in non-conference play. 77-year-old wizard Bill Snyder gets a bevy of experience back on both sides. 

14. LSU: RB Derrius Guice showed that life after Leonard Fournette might not be all that bad. LSU hired offensive coordinator Matt Canada away from Pitt. Tigers will be interesting to track.

13. Auburn: The Tigers return 17 starters from the up-and-down 2016 campaign, including tailbacks Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham will face the fire early with a road game at Clemson.

12. Wisconsin: 16 returning starters and an easy schedule should help the Badgers once again be in position to contend for the Big Ten title. Can QB Alex Hornibrook take the next step?

11. Stanford: All David Shaw does is win 10 games a season. The Cardinal won 10 games in 2016 despite a litany of injuries. The names are important, because Stanford will once again be in the thick of things.

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10. Oklahoma State: Like David Shaw, Mike Gundy only knows how to win 10 games a year. He's won at least 10 games in five of the last seven seasons. Cowboys have enough firepower coming back to do damage.

9. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh is 1-3 against Ohio State and Michigan State and must replace 18 starters. But if there is anyone crazy enough to respond with resounding success, it's "Coach Khaki Pants." Rashan Gary and Wilton Speight will help lead the way.

8. Oklahoma: Dede Westbrook, Semaje Perine and Joe Mixon are all gone, but Baker Mayfield returns. Oklahoma seems to do better when they're not a Top 3 team to start the season.

7. Clemson: Too high? Too low? The national champs lose a majority oif their top players, including Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams and Ben Boulware. But Dabo Swinney can recruit and boy can he coach.

6. Washington: A trip to the CFB Playoff was nice, but the Huskies don't want to be a one-time thing. Chris Peterson has to replace a bunch of starters on defense, but with QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin returning, a foundation of excellence is there.

5. Southern Cal: Another "Too High, too low?" pick here. Sam Darnold looks to be the real deal, but the losses of JuJu Smith-Shuster and Adoree Jackson are going to hurt. Has the depth finally returned to USC? This is a top 10 team for sure, it's just had to figure out where exactly they fall. 

4. Penn State: 2016 was a springboard season for Penn State and with James Franklin getting back a good number of starters, the sky is the limit in 2017. Also: The Nittany Lions have Saquon Barkley. He is the best running back in the country. 

3. Florida State: Although the loss of Dalvin Cook hurts, a majority of the Seminoles' defensive starters return. With Clemson taking a slight dip due to matriculation, the ACC should be FSU's to reclaim.

2. Ohio State: A new offensive coordinator, a new running back and a lot of new faces on defense. But the talent is there, and so is both JT Barrett and some guy named Urban Meyer.

1. Alabama: Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams depart from the defense, but the Crimson Tide reload better than a Fast & Furious movie cast. Jalen Hurts returns for his true sophomore season. 

Maryland women's lacrosse beats Boston College in championship

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Maryland women's lacrosse beats Boston College in championship

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After a sporadic first half, top-seeded Maryland did what it normally does.

A 5-5 halftime tie was a 10-5 Maryland lead just 4:26 into the second half, and the Terrapins held on to beat Boston College 16-13 on Sunday in the NCAA women's lacrosse championship game.

"We struggled shooting in the first half," coach Cathy Reese said. "We came out in the second half on fire. Give these guys all the credit. They played hard. They played their hearts out."

Caroline Steele had six goals and an assist, Taylor Hensh scored three times, and the Terps capped an unbeaten season with their 13th NCAA title. Jen Giles, Megan Whittle and Kali Hartshorn each had two goals and an assist for the Terrapins (23-0).

Maryland played in its fifth straight final and won its third title in four years. The only NCAA tournament loss during that span came in last year's championship game, when North Carolina knocked off the two-time defending champ Terrapins 13-7.

"Three for four isn't too shabby. Finishing up your senior season undefeated is pretty awesome," said Zoe Stukenberg, who had three assists in her final game with the Terps.

The heavily favored Terps scored 10 seconds into the game, They racked up those five quick goals in the second half, but Boston College kept it from becoming a runaway.

"We were a little shook up again in the first half," Boston College coach Acacia Walker said. "They're just so smart. They just tuned in and did what they needed to do. Every person did their job and we just sort of plugged away."

Kenzie Kent had five goals and five assists for Boston College, which reached the championship game for the first time. Sam Apuzzo scored four goals for the Eagles, giving her 80 for the season.

Although Maryland never trailed, the Terps were pushed by the Eagles, who battled back from an early 5-2 deficit.

After being shut out for the last 16:11 of the first half, the Terps stormed out of halftime to regain command. Whittle started it with a goal 19 seconds in, then Steele struck for two 1:18 apart to get the Terps comfortably on top again.

"Caroline played great. She was on fire," Stukenberg said. "We needed her. Nobody else was and she stepped up when we needed her. It was unbelievable."

Kent kept Boston College close with three straight goals to cut the margin to 11-9, then assisted on Dempsey Aresenault's goal with 14 minutes left to get the Eagles back within a goal.

"I think it gives negative mojo to your team if you think of how many goals you're down," Kent said. "Instead, we take it play by play and I think that's what got us out of that hole."

Caroline Wannen scored for Maryland with 12:04 left to start the Terps on another scoring surge. Hensh put Maryland up 13-10, then, after Kent's fifth goal of the game, the Terps picked up three more goals by Kali Hartshorn, Steele and Hensh with 4:07 left to all but seal another title for Maryland.

Apuzzo added a pair of late goals for the Eagles.

Hartshorn put Maryland up 1-0 10 seconds in. Hensh made it 2-0 1:42 later when she plucked her rebound out of the air and swept it in behind BC goalie Zoe Ochoa. Apuzzo answered with two goals for BC to set the back-and-forth tone that would last until the final few minutes.

Maryland holds on to beat Denver, advance to national title game

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Maryland holds on to beat Denver, advance to national title game

The Maryland men’s lacrosse team is returning to the national championship game for a third straight year.

The Terrapins held on to beat Denver, 9-8, in the national semifinals Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Maryland’s Connor Kelly scored the go-ahead goal with 8:41 to go and the Terps defense held tight to preserve the victory.

Kelly scored three goals to pace Maryland on offense. The Terps led 4-1 in the first half and 5-3 at halftime before Denver tied it up at 8-8 with 10 minutes remaining ahead of what proved to be the game winner.

In the final two minutes, both teams had goals waved off because of crease violations – one from Maryland's Colin Heacock with 1:28 remaining and a second from Denver's Connor Donahue with 9.2 seconds left.

Maryland will now play Ohio State in the national championship game at 1 p.m. ET Monday. The Buckeyes beat Towson, 11-10, in the earlier semifinal Saturday.

For the Terps, the game will mark their 14th national title game appearance, though they haven’t won it since 1975. Since then, Maryland has finished as runner-ups nine straight times (1976, 1979, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016), including four times in the past six years.

The Terps fell 10-5 to Denver (2015) and 14-13 in overtime to North Carolina (2016) in the last two national title games.

In addition to the 1975 title, Maryland also won it in 1973. They also finished as runner-ups in 1971 and 1974.

The Maryland women’s lacrosse team will be playing in their own national championship game Sunday, against Boston College. The Terps beat Penn State, 20-10, Friday night, and Boston College rallied to beat Navy, 16-15.

The Maryland women’s team has won 12 national championships, most recently in both 2014 and 2015.