Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking

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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. 

Six DMV teams featured in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology

Six DMV teams featured in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology

BY TYLER BYRUM

Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Maryland are no brainers that if they keep up the pace that each team is on, they will be dancing in the NCAA tournament come March. In Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology (released on Jan. 19), he has also included three other DMV teams, two hailing from the Atlantic 10, Richmond and VCU, and Morgan State

All six are contenders for their respective conference championship, but according to Lunardi, only Richmond and Morgan State from the list of six would need to win the automatic berth to make the big dance. Every team has a different reason to be in the tournament and it is looking more likely than not that at least five of these teams will be able to maintain their standing. 

If all six can make it another month an a half, it will surpass last season's four teams (Maryland, VCU, Virginia, and Hampton) to make the tournament.

Virginia (#4 seed, ACC):

The Cavaliers (14-3, 4-2) not only have the benefit of being in the best conference in college basketball, but also have made quite a name for themselves the past handful of seasons. With no losses to sub-50 RPI teams, No. 16 Virginia is a near lock to be in the NCAA tournament, barring a huge end of season collapse. In the ACC, they sit at fourth in the conference standings, where it is anticipated that a total of 11 teams in that conference will be in the tournament.

Maryland (#7 seed, Big Ten): 

Quietly the No. 25 Terrapins are becoming one of the best team's in the country after there was some skepticism to start the season. Maryland (16-2, 4-1) has taken advantage of their moderate schedule and has seven top-100 RPI wins, but so far lack the signature win that solidly puts the team in the tournament. Next week the team will get into the heat of conference play where for the remainder of the season will have home and aways against Minnesota, Ohio State, and road games in Wisconsin and Northwestern. A key for the Terps going forward will to continue to win the games they are supposed to win and hopefully squeak one out against the aforementioned teams. 

Virginia Tech (#10 seed, ACC):

Another benefactor of the dominant ACC, Virginia Tech appears to be on track for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007 when they lost in the second round. Winning all the games the Hokies (14-4, 3-3) were supposed to win in the first half of the season, and then pulling out a shocker at home against then No. 5 Duke, Virginia Tech is looking solid at this point in the season. The team still has a loaded ACC schedule to get through, including two games against Virginia and a road trip to Chapel Hill, but if the team can finish at or above .500 in conference play they should remain in. Enough has been done early on to prove the team's worth. 

Richmond (#14 seed, Atlantic 10):

The Spiders (11-6, 5-0) do not have a strong at-large resume. Earlier in the year the team had a terrible loss to Oral Roberts, currently at 228 in the national RPI, and did not get a big win to combat the loss. In fact the program's best out-of-conference win this season was over Boston College, which stands at a 165 RPI. Since though, the team has gotten hot in Atlantic 10 play winning five straight and four of those wins being their best on the season. The team does not necessarily have to win the conference championship to make the tournament, but need to continue their stretch in conference and get a couple wins against the top teams, Dayton, Rhode Island, and VCU. 

VCU (#11 seed, Atlantic 10):

Listed as on of the 'last four in,' VCU (14-5, 4-2) took a big hit in their NCAA aspirations after a devastating buzzer-beater loss to Fordham on Wednesday. Their best win is at home against Middle Tennessee, but fell short against Baylor, Illinois, and Georgia Tech to gather another strong victory. Last week the team was looking like a near lock to the big dance, but back-to-back sub-100 RPI losses has the team's outlook for the rest of the season uncertain. If the Rams can avoid anymore upsets, they should remain on the good side of the bubble at the end of the year.

Morgan State (#16 seed, MEAC):

There is no possible way for the Bears (7-10, 4-0) to make it without winning the MEAC championship and even that will be a tall task for this team. From their undefeated conference record, none of the wins came against one of the conference's top five programs. It does not appear likely they will still be on this list a week from now, but a team to keep an eye one once the conference tournament comes around for an automatic berth.

Other possible tournament teams:

From an at-large bid perspective, no other team's in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C. are within striking range. With the strength of their respective conferences, George Washington, Georgetown, and George Mason have outside shots if they were to run the table, or come close to it, and get in the bubble conversation. For all teams though, that seems highly unlikely.

Two other schools have the best chance of making the list seven or eight teams with UMBC and Old Dominion possibly winning their conference championship, the America East, and Conference USA respectively.

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Fordham's buzzer beater shocks VCU in OT

Fordham's buzzer beater shocks VCU in OT

BY TYLER BYRUM

What just happened. That is the thought of many VCU fans following the program's 69-67 overtime loss against Fordham.

Hitting the game-winning shot was junior, Antwoine Anderson who scored 15 points in the contest. It was not just the buzzer that shocked the Virginia based Rams team, Fordham (8-11, 2-4 A10) led for the entirety of regulation and trailed for less than three minutes in the extra period. It was Fordham's first win ever over VCU, losing their previous six games since the Havoc joined the conference in 2012. 

Prior to the shot, VCU's Justin Tillman missed the front end of a one-an-one leaving the game tied with 15 seconds to go in the contest. The team's 22 turnovers proved to be too costly even for the team to hold off one of the bottom dwellers of the Atlantic 10.

VCU (14-5, 4-2) has lost their second straight conference game in a row after starting A10 play 4-0. For the VCU Rams, this game will prove to be costly in trying to secure an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament, as Fordham could not even beat the fourth worst team in the national RPI, Central Connecticut State earlier in the season. 

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