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Preseason Magazines

April 13th 

ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) – CU 8th in the Pac-12; Buffs have toughest schedule

From ESPN … No DeVonta Smith, no Mac Jones … no problem.

Alabama lost plenty of talent to the NFL, but it’s still the best team in college football and the national championship favorite, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) and the Allstate Playoff Predictor.

The Crimson Tide have a 31% chance to defend their title as national champions, substantially up from the 17% our model gave them at this time last season. Alabama also has a 76% chance to reach the College Football Playoff — again, best of all teams — and is a slight odds-on favorite to win the SEC at 51%.

So without Jones or Smith … or Jaylen Waddle … or Christian Barmore … or Patrick Surtain II, what’s driving Alabama’s No. 1 ranking and stellar projections?

Roster talent. Remember, this is a statistical model: It’s not giving bonus points for Bear Bryant or Joe Namath. But it does know Alabama is probably the best positioned team to replace top departing players given its steadily elite recruiting and Nick Saban entrenched as head coach. The Tide have signed 77 ESPN 300 players in their past four recruiting classes, which is 11 more than any other team.

At the same time, there’s still a 69% chance that the national champion isn’t Alabama. There are some significant challengers, which we’ll get to in a moment.

If you’ve gotten to this point and are wondering: What’s FPI? The short answer is that it’s our statistical rating and projection system for every FBS team in college football. It powers the Allstate Playoff Predictor, which models the College Football Playoff selection committee based on its past behavior to determine the likelihood of teams reaching the CFP. You can read more about how FPI works here. And if you want the full list of FPI’s rankings and projections — today or any day — you can find those at

The Pac-12 is in trouble already

Even worse than usual, actually. I’m used to writing a gloom and doom paragraph about the Pac-12 in our annual preseason reveal, but not like this.

Last season, our model gave the Pac-12 a 28% chance to put a team in the playoff. This year: The entire conference has a cumulative 6% chance to reach the playoff, with Oregon making up five of those percentage points.

The Pac-12 has exactly one team (Oregon) in FPI’s top 25 — which is completely fine if that’s a dominant team. Instead, it is FPI’s No. 17-ranked squad. Don’t forget, the Ducks have a brutal nonconference game at Ohio State. USC, which sits at No. 26 and is the conference’s next-best hope, also has a tough nonconference game at Notre Dame. The lack of dominance and tough out-of-conference games hurt the chances of the Pac-12 champion having zero losses or one loss.

The Pac-12 FPI Rankings … 

  • No. 17 … Oregon
  • No. 26 … USC
  • No. 31 … Arizona State
  • No. 57 … Utah
  • No. 59 … Washington
  • No. 60 … Stanford
  • No. 62 … UCLA
  • No. 71 … Colorado 
  • No. 76 … California
  • No. 85 … Oregon State
  • No. 90 … Washington State
  • No. 102 … Arizona

Pac-12 Strength of Schedule ...

  • No. 49 … Colorado 
  • No. 56 … Oregon
  • No. 59 … Stanford
  • No. 60 … California
  • No. 63 … UCLA
  • No. 64 … Oregon State
  • No. 65 … Arizona
  • No. 66 … USC
  • No. 70 … Washington State
  • No. 76 … Utah
  • No. 78 … Washington
  • No. 83 … Arizona State


April 4th

College Football News: CU is Oregon’s Trap Game

From College Football News … Fans assume a win, the players see it as just another game, and coaches lose sleep over everyone not taking it seriously.

They’re overlooked by the general public, and then they lead SportsCenter when the upset happens.

They’re the letdown games, or maybe they’re the sandwiches – the games in between the two supposedly more important, bigger battles.

On each Power Five team’s slate, there’s at least one game that should be a mail-it-in moment, but a bad day could screw up the entire season.

These all should be easy wins, but …

You’ve been warned.

Oregon Ducks

Letdown/Sandwich Game: Colorado, Oct. 30
Game Before: at UCLA
Game After
: at Washington

If Oregon plays up to its talent level – not necessarily a given – it should be at worst 6-1 before hosting the Buffs. No matter what, the trip to Washington will have something to do with the Pac-12 North race. Going to UCLA before getting Colorado doesn’t help.

Colorado Buffaloes

Letdown/Sandwich Game: Oregon State, Nov. 6
Game Before: at Oregon
Game After
: at UCLA

The Buffs have a relatively tough first half of the season without a ton of sure-thing wins, and they close out at UCLA, Washington, at Utah. There can’t be a misfire against Oregon State, but they’re coming off road games at Cal and Oregon.

Continue reading story here

Composite of preseason Top 25’s has five Pac-12 teams ranked

From … Our SportsPac12 Preseason Composite Football Rankings aggregate 15 different media rankings (shown below) by assigning a No. 1 ranking the value of 25 points, a No. 2 ranking 24 points, and so on.

The rounded result is divided by 15 and subtracted from 25, yielding the composite rank. Scores of less than 25 points result in a composite non-ranking.

SportsPac12 Composite … 

  • No. 14 … Oregon … highest: No. 9 (College Football News) … lowest: No. 20 (Jon Wilner; The Sporting News)
  • No. 17 … USC … highest: No. 9 (ESPN) … lowest: No. 24 (
  • No. 19 … Washington … highest: No. 12 ( … lowest: unranked (CBS Sports; The Sporting News; USA Today; Yardbarker)
  • No. 20 … Arizona State … highest: No. 17 (Jon Wilner) … lowest: unranked (by six of the 15 rankings)
  • No. 24 … Utah … highest: No. 11 (Stadium) … lowest: unranked (by 13 of the 15 rankings)


April 2nd

College Football News – Best case scenario for CU: 7-5

From College Football News2021 College Football Predictions For All 130 Teams: Spring

Colorado Buffaloes

There’s hope after a strong first season under Karl Dorrell, but 2021 has one big issue – the schedule is a bear. The team should be fine – it’s a young group with a whole lot of promise – but the Buffs don’t catch too much of a break in conference play, and playing Minnesota and Texas A&M doesn’t help.

2018: 5-7 2019: 5-7 2020: 4-2
Realistic Best Case Record: 7-5
Realistic Worst Case Record: 3-9
2021 Prediction, Spring Football Version: 4-8

Sept. 3 Northern Colorado
Sept. 11 Texas A&M (in Denver)
Sept. 18 Minnesota
Sept. 25 at Arizona State
Oct. 2 USC
Oct. 16 Arizona
Oct. 23 at Cal
Oct. 30 at Oregon
Nov. 6 Oregon State
Nov. 13 at UCLA
Nov. 20 Washington
Nov. 26 at Utah
– Full Schedule Analysis (shows you how much College Football News cares about CU … this link leads you to an analysis … of CSU’s schedule) …

April 1st 

Pac-12 odds of winning the national championship (CU in at 200:1)


  • 50/1—Oregon
  • 50/1—USC
  • 66/1—Arizona State
  • 66/1—Washington
  • 100/1—Stanford
  • 150/1—California
  • 150/1—UCLA
  • 200/1—Oregon State
  • 200/1—Washington State
  • 200/1—Colorado
  • 200/1—Utah
  • 250/1—Arizona

Athlon: CU 2021 Spring Preview

When Karl Dorrell was selected as the head coach at Colorado following the 2019 season, it was not met with loads of excitement. But after one year of the Dorrell era in Boulder, everyone has to be pretty happy.

Colorado won its first four games of 2020 and was in the New Year’s Six chase before losing to Utah in their final regular-season game. Even with a decisive loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl, Dorrell’s first year had to be considered a huge success.

Now comes year two and a chance to build the program even further. Here are some things to watch as Colorado opens spring camp.

5 Storylines to Watch During Colorado’s Spring Practices

1. Plenty of reps for young quarterbacks

Starting quarterback Sam Noyer will miss all of the spring sessions following recent shoulder surgery. This will give some of the younger signal-callers a chance to show off their skills. Brandon Lewis subbed in for Noyer in the Alamo Bowl and performed pretty well, going 6-for-10 passing for 95 yards. With Noyer coming off that injury and playing his final season for Colorado, Lewis will be looking to prepare himself for 2021 while also making a case to be the quarterback of the future. He will be pushed by J.T. Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee with three years of eligibility remaining.

2. Finding help for Jarek Broussard

Perhaps because the Pac-12 played a shortened schedule or because of an east coast bias, Broussard was one of the most under-appreciated running backs of 2020. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder from Dallas finished third nationally with 149 rushing yards per game. He also was second with 26 carries per game. That worked fine over a short season, but with a full 12-game slate on the way, Broussard will need a break now and again. Someone has to step up in a reserve role and Ashaad Clayton could be that guy. Colorado’s top recruit from its 2020 class, Clayton had just seven carries last fall.

3. Ball security

The Buffaloes turned the ball over 11 times in six games with six of those coming in the final two games. Seven of the giveaways were Noyer interceptions and though he will not be in action in the coming weeks, protecting the football and making the right decisions have to be drilled into the younger quarterbacks. Colorado returns much of their offensive firepower, with a deep receiving corps ready to complement Broussard. The Buffs cannot continue to take away scoring opportunities by turning the ball over.

4. Adapting to the defensive coaching changes

Dorrell shook up the defensive staff, though many of the faces are familiar. The unit will now be run by Chris Wilson, who was the defensive line coach in 2020. Mark Smith will instruct the inside linebackers and comes to Boulder from Long Island University though he also spent time at Oklahoma, SMU, and Arkansas. And safeties coach Brett Maxie has added the title of passing game coordinator. The Buffaloes have much of their defense returning in 2021 and this spring will be a time for these coaches to figure out the best way to utilize their personnel.

5. Linebacker holes

Akil Jones entered the transfer portal and will not be returning in 2021. Also, leading tackler Nate Landman is recovering from an Achilles tear suffered in the Utah game and will obviously be unavailable this spring. While he is expected back in the fall, someone will need to be ready to go in case there is a setback. Landman’s injury along with Jones’ departure makes linebacker a position to watch for the Buffs this spring. While there is still some experience at the position, youngsters like Joshka Gustav and Mister Williams will see plenty of reps.

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.


6 Replies to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. Yep, not too thorough. No mention of our two transfers (from Oklahoma and Norte Dame) to add some depth at linebacker

    1. That’s why I include the author’s info … “covering the ACC and Notre Dame” … CU not exactly on his radar …

      1. so they get this guy to write the CU review. Thats even more insulting. He reads maybe half of Howell….puts it in a slightly different sentence structure and then backs in to get his check. I wish these bird brains would ignore us altogether and then have to act real real surprised when the Buffs do make some noise.

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