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Preseason Magazines

May 27th

Athlon Sports: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for CU this fall

From Athlon Sports … Expectations can be the most dangerous thing in college football, especially when they are created by the coach or team themselves.

While programs such as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Michigan are expected to contend for all the marbles, the expectations for Deion Sanders and Colorado in year one are one of the biggest uncertainties in recent memory. A program that has been struggling for a decade, including a horrendous 1-11 season in 2022 now is led by one of football’s most polarizing figures.

The entire offseason, Deion Sanders expressed that he felt it was best to bring in as many transfers as possible to help turn this ship around. His great work in the portal and confidence he can win right away has also led to people beginning to expect the Buffs to be good right away. While he has landed some great portal additions such as two-way star Travis Hunter, his son and quarterback Shedeur Sanders, EDGE Jordan Domineck, running back Alton McCaskill, and receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. a bulk of the new players are inexperienced or haven’t played Power 5 football. Obviously when you bring in nearly 50 transfers there are some projected depth pieces in there, but the worst case scenario for the Buffs is that the transfers don’t pan out.

Realistically, over half of the additions need to be quality starters or key contributors right away. However, what many aren’t considering is that even taking it a step further a lot of these transfers will need to step into prominent if not team leading roles that they may not be familiar with. Again, this is the worst case scenario, not saying this will happen, but it could. If the transfers don’t meet expectations right away, this team could easily stay towards the bottom of the Pac-12 and finish well below .500 thanks to their unforgiving schedule.

Despite all of the off the field issues the Pac-12 is having with realignment and media rights deals, in 2023 the conference very well could be home to the deepest lineup in the country. There are six teams with a chance to win the conference title, and five teams that have a realistic chance at making the College Football Playoff. Colorado plays four of the five teams that can make the playoff, and they also have a tough non-conference slate.

However, a best case scenario for the Buffs would mean that Sean Lewis’ offense is clicking on all cylinders thanks to a stellar showing by Shedeur Sanders. On defense, Charles Kelly’s unit is able to limit the damage that these talented quarterbacks can cause. If everything goes absolutely right for the Buffs, there is a real possibility they string together six or seven wins and appear in a bowl game. This would mean that contrary to the other scenario, the Buffs’ transfers step up to the occasion and prove that Sanders’ way of thinking through the portal was correct.

Read full story here


May 25th

Sporting News ranks the FBS coaches (Coach Prime in at No. 59; 8th in the Pac-12)

From The Sporting News … Should Georgia’s Kirby Smart be ranked No. 1 on Sporting News’ annual 1-133 Coach Rankings?

It became a legitimate debate with Alabama’s Nick Saban for the first time. Smart has two straight national titles, but Saban is arguably (and in our opinion is) the greatest college football coach of all time. It’s a close call, but Saban is No. 1 in our rankings for the eighth consecutive season.

The rest of our rankings turned up a few movers. Michigan State’s Mel Tucker dropped 27 spots, and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Miami’s Mario Cristobal dropped 23 spots each. Washington’s Kalen DeBoer moved up 38 spots, the biggest jump up for a Power 5 coach. Duke’s Mike Elko moved up 35 spots, and Florida State’s Mike Norvell moved up 34 spots.

Among first-year coaches, Nebraska’s Matt Rhule (No. 46), Arizona State’s Kenny Dillingham (No. 56) and Colorado’s Deion Sanders (No. 59) have the highest rankings.

SN looks at a coach’s overall record, record at the current school and a three-year record to gauge that ranking. Of course, career accomplishments, program expectations and the old “this guy or this guy” arguments come into play, too. It’s not a perfect science, but it’s our science and we’ve been doing it longer than Saban’s reign at the top.

From the Pac-12 … 

7. Lincoln Riley – USC

9. Kyle Whittingham – Utah

25. Dan Lanning – Oregon

26. Chip Kelly – UCLA (up from #38 last year)

40. Jonathan Smith – Oregon State (up from #54 last year)

46. Matt Rhule – Nebraska

49. Mel Tucker – Michigan State (down from #22 last year)

51. Jake Dickert – Washington State

54. Kenny Dillingham – Arizona State

59. Deion Sanders – Colorado 

60. Justin Wilcox – California

69. Troy Taylor – Stanford

70. Ryan Walters – Purdue (former CU safety)

74. Jedd Fisch – Arizona

96. Jay Norvell – Colorado State (down from #74 last year)

113. Mike MacIntyre – Florida International

Read full story here

Bill Connelly: “Colorado Conundrum” messes with SP+ rankings

From ESPN … The transfer portal is slowing down, media days are around the corner and with all due respect to Week 0 — I love it dearly, just as much as all the other weeks — we’re officially 100 days from Sept. 2, the first real Saturday of the 2023 college football season.

It seems like a pretty good time, then, to get up to date on the numbers. Since February’s initial 2023 SP+ release, we’ve seen a number of transfers and big moves, and I’ve been able to better update returning production figures to account for teams’ official roster releases. (Not many had released full rosters in early February.) We haven’t seen much movement at the very top of the rankings, but there’s plenty to talk about.

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 7 … USC
  • No. 11 … Oregon
  • No. 14 … Utah
  • No. 17 … Washington
  • No. 20 … TCU 
  • No. 24 … UCLA
  • No. 30 …Oregon State
  • No. 49 … Nebraska
  • No. 54 … California
  • No. 58 … Washington State
  • No. 63 … Arizona State
  • No. 70 … Arizona
  • No. 95 … Stanford
  • No. 103 … Colorado (down from No. 94 in February??) 
  • No. 118 … Colorado State

The Colorado Conundrum … 

When I posted my May SP+ update last year, I noted how completely and totally unprojectable teams like USC and LSU, with first-year coaches and blue-chip transfers, were going to be in 2022. Both the quantity and quality of the transfers they had pulled in were something I didn’t really have a way of accounting for in the projections. I assumed they would both overachieve projections, and they did exactly that.

With a year of transfer-heavy movement in the books, I’ve got something to work with, and I think I can better account for the player movement we continue to see. At least, I did think so until Deion Sanders took the Colorado job, booted most of last year’s roster to the curb and brought in 45 transfers (and counting).

Suddenly bringing in 20 transfers almost seems quaint.

The volume of Colorado’s player movement has made the Buffaloes this year’s “unprojectables.” SP+ currently projects them 103rd. It should be noted that this would be pretty significant improvement over 2022, when they went a dismal 1-11, with a No. 124 ranking. I’m fiddling with ways to account for the potentially wide variance of transfer-heavy teams — ways to make them more likely to see extreme results (good or bad) — but for now, this is what we’ve got. I would be surprised if the Buffs ended 2023 ranked lower than the 60s or 70s (or much higher than the 40s or 50s), but there’s really no way the math can account for the current levels of turnover.

Read full story here


May 24th

Wilner: Take the Over on CU win total

From the San Jose Mercury News …  If the oddsmakers are correct, the Pac-12 will produce a stellar season in the final year of its current existence.

Six teams carry win totals of at least 8.5, according to projections released this spring by DraftKings.

USC leads the group with a baseline outlook of 10 wins, followed by Oregon (9.5), Washington (9), then Oregon State, Utah and UCLA (8.5).

We think the outlook is a tad too rosy for a few teams given the schedules, which are provided below.

Then again, several teams with bleak outlooks are well positioned to exceed the totals published by DraftKings.

Here we go …


O/U total: 5 wins
Home games (six): NAU, UTEP, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah
Road games (six): Mississippi State, Stanford, USC, WSU, Colorado, ASU
Our pick: Over 5
Comment: Six wins would be a major step forward for the program, and that bar is well within reach given the array of winnable road assignments. But the key games are at home: Oregon State and UCLA. The Wildcats must win at least one.

Arizona State

O/U total: 5 wins
Home games (eight): Southern Utah, Oklahoma State, Fresno State, USC, Colorado, WSU, Oregon, Arizona
Road games (four): Cal, Washington, Utah, UCLA
Our pick: Under 5
Comment: The schedule is seemingly built to exceed the total with eight home games, but take a closer look: The Sun Devils play all the Pac-12 heavyweights and have two difficult non-conference dates at home (OSU and FSU).


O/U total: 5 wins
Home games (six): Auburn, Idaho, ASU, Oregon State, WSU, USC
Road games (six): North Texas, Washington, Utah, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford
Our pick: Under 5
Comment: The Bears have a brutal road schedule — North Texas won seven games last season — and that leaves little margin for error. And the lineup of home dates isn’t easy, especially with a new quarterback and Auburn paying a visit.


O/U total: 3 wins
Home games (six): Nebraska, Colorado State, USC, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona
Road games (six): TCU, Oregon, ASU, UCLA, WSU, Utah
Our pick: Over 3
Comment: We expected the total to be at least 3.5 given all the hype accompanying the Deion Sanders era, but the oddsmakers are fixated on the schedule. Without wins over Stanford and Colorado State, the Buffs have little chance to hit the Over.

Continue reading story here


May 23rd

Athlon’s Preseason All-Pac-12 Teams include Eight Buffs

… Note: In addition to being named to first-team All-Pac-12 (at two positions), Travis Hunter has also been named a First-Team All-American by Athlon (as an All-Purpose player) … 

From Athlon Sports … The 2023 All-Pac-12 Team is led by 19 selections from USC, followed by Oregon (15), Washington (14), Utah (13), and Oregon State (12). Those teams are the only programs to reach double-digit picks, but UCLA (nine) and California (nine) aren’t far from the first tier.

With the release of the Athlon Sports 2023 College Football Preview Magazine, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for ’23.

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2023. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2023 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year. Also, team strength does not play a role in selections. These are the best individual players at each position in the league for ’23.

Pac-12 Football 2023 All-Conference Team

First-Team Offense

QB Caleb Williams, USC
RB Damien Martinez, Oregon State
RB Bucky Irving, Oregon
All-Purpose Travis Hunter, Colorado
WR Rome Odunze, Washington
WR Dorian Singer, USC
WR Jalen McMillan, Washington
TE Brant Kuithe, Utah
C Jake Levengood, Oregon State
OL Sataoa Laumea, Utah
OL Troy Fautanu, Washington
OL Joshua Gray, Oregon State
OL Tailese Fuaga, Oregon State

First-Team Defense

DL Brandon Dorlus, Oregon
DL Bralen Trice, Washington
DL Brennan Jackson, Washington State
DL Junior Tafuna, Utah
LB Laiatu Latu, UCLA
LB Jackson Sirmon, California
LB Karene Reid, Utah
LB Mason Cobb, USC
CB Travis Hunter, Colorado
CB Chau Smith-Wade, Washington State
S Calen Bullock, USC
S Cole Bishop, Utah

First-Team Specialists

Joshua Karty, Stanford
P Eddie Czaplicki, USC
KR Jimmy Horn, Colorado
PR Anthony Gould, Oregon State

Second Team All-Pac-12 Buffs


Third Team All-Pac-12 Buffs

RB Alton McCaskill, Colorado

P Mark Vassett, Colorado

Fourth Team All-Pac-12 Buffs

WR Jimmy Horn Jr., Colorado

DL Sav’ell Smalls, Colorado

DL Derrick McLendon II, Colorado

S Trevor Woods, Colorado

Read full story here


May 22nd 

Ranking the 24 new coaching hires (Coach Prime in at No. 3)

From …Every coaching cycle has its share of splashy hires, some questionable moves, and ones that are simply stunning. We certainly have all of that this offseason, though nothing on the level of the high-level movement we had in 2021-2022. There seems to be an interesting narrative forming this time around — giving coaches their first big job. Sure, Matt Rhule and Hugh Freeze get back on the big stage again, but Deion Sanders moves from Jackson State to a Power 5 job in Colorado, and Trent Dilfer jumps from a prep high school to UAB. Brand new coaches were hired at Purdue, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, South Florida, Western Michigan, and Charlotte. One thing nearly all these coaches have in common: they aren’t walking into a ready-made situation.

We also know that not all of them will turn out to be great hires.  I mean, nobody intentionally hires a bad head coach, but eventually, some get let go…which is why new ones need to be found. So let’s rank this season’s new head coaching hires.

  1. Matt Rhule – Nebraska

This is a great hire for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers program has been teetering for two decades and has been nearly irrelevant since joining the Big Ten in 2011. They are coming off their 6th straight losing season (7th in 8 years) and are light years away from their heyday of the 1990s. Rhule has resurrected programs at Temple and Baylor, so the hope is he can do the same in Lincoln. He is an enthusiastic guy who is willing to sell his program — but remember that his first season at both places were rebuilding years (2-10 at Temple; 1-11 at Baylor) before the program took off. Also, he’s not known to stick around for long … but that may not be an issue at Nebraska, where he could build the Huskers back to a last job kind of program, and his shine from the NFL may be gone after his poor showing with the Carolina Panthers.

2. Luke Fickell – Wisconsin

3. Deion Sanders  – Colorado … Coach Prime is undoubtedly the splashiest hire of this cycle, and the one most people will keep a close eye on. Sure, Sanders brings the flash and confidence that he exhibited during his college career at Florida State and during his Hall of Fame NFL career. That is much needed at a Colorado program that has struggled to find an identity since the 1990s and especially since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12. Coach Prime gives them that identity. He also brings success, which is what he had at Jackson State. He went 27-5 over three seasons with the Tigers and won two SWAC championships.

13. Kenny Dillingham – Arizona State … Dillingham is a local guy who was born in Phoenix, went to high school in Scottsdale, and attended Arizona State University. He’s been around the block — offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Memphis, Auburn, Florida State, and Oregon before being hired by the Sun Devils. At only 32 years old, there are some concerns about if he’s able to helm a program at this level, though others like the fact that he runs a modern, dynamic offense and understands how NIL can help build a program via recruiting and the transfer portal. This clearly is a departure from their last coaching hires like Dennis Erickson and Herm Edwards.

20. Troy Taylor – Stanford … Taylor has only been a college head coach for three seasons before taking the Stanford job, but he’s been around the block and knows the area. He’s been a high school head coach in Orangevale, Sacramento and Folsom, was an assistant coach at Cal-Berkeley, and just led Sacramento State to an undefeated regular season before losing in the FCS playoffs. His specialty is offense, where his teams have typically led their leagues in yards and scoring (Sac State’s playoff loss was 66-63 to Incarnate Word). Stanford has run a pro-style offense for years so Taylor will be tasked with overhauling the Cardinal offense without the ability to navigate the transfer portal as other schools can.

Read full story here


May 21st 

College Football News: CU heading for another 1-11 season? 

… Excerpts from previews for Colorado State and Arizona. The CU preview has yet to be published, but if they see the Buffs potentially losing to Arizona and Colorado State, what could their prediction for CU be? … 

From College Football News

Colorado State Rams Season Prediction, Win Total, What Will Happen

Set The Win Total At: 5
The team has to be better. The offense has to be better, the line has to be better, the running game has to be better, the defense has to be better – everything has to be better. And for the most part, it will be.

The Rams, though, didn’t really improve enough personnel-wise to make a massive leap. For the changes to come, they’re going to have to catch lightning in a bottle from the transfer portal, and the young players who got their butts kicked throughout last season need to rise up and rock.

The schedule, though, won’t be too much of a boost. Several winnable games – Colorado, Middle Tennessee, UNLV, Wyoming, Hawaii – are on the road, and while getting Air Force, Boise State and San Diego State at home is nice, none of them are sure-thing wins.

The O will do just a bit more to come up with an upset or three, but Utah Tech is the only game the Rams can consider an almost-certain win – even if they did get obliterated by Sacramento State in last year’s FCS game. Everything else is 50/50 at best.

With all of that, though, don’t count out the idea that this could be a breakthrough season when everything starts to click. If you really believe that five wins are possible, then six is a decent goal. The call is that Norvell does enough to be on the right side of two close games this time around to at least be in range of six wins and a bowl.

And if not, finishing the season at Hawaii isn’t a bad way to close.

Arizona Wildcats Season Prediction, Win Total, What Will Happen

Set The Win Total At: 6
Just how much can the defense improve? It’ll get a few games to get all the pieces in place before the Pac-12 season kicks in.

There are two big problems with the schedule. First, three of the first four Pac-12 games are on the road, and Washington is the home date oasis. Second, too many of the winnable games are away from Tucson. Arizona can beat Stanford, Colorado, and Arizona State, but those are all on the road along with the dates against USC and Washington State.

On the plus side, there’s no Oregon. But there’s no Cal, either. Basically, the schedule doesn’t provide a whole lot of breaks.

The team should be better, though. The D can’t help but be stronger, and the offense has enough experience and playmakers to keep up the pace in most weeks.

Be prepared for just about every game being a wild and crazy offensive firefight, and for the Wildcats to be on the right side of just enough of them to go bowling for the first time since 2017.


May 19th

On3Sports Pac-12 Power Rankings: CU near the bottom

From On3Sports … With spring football in the rearview mirror, the transfer portal activity slowly — albeit not totally — starting to slow down, and coaches on the road out recruiting their next wave of future signees, now is a great time to assess where teams stand entering the summer before the 2023 season.

Today, we conclude the series with a look at the Pac-12, a conference featuring four legitimate schools that have championship hopes in 2023.

Can USC win the league for the first time since 2017? Will Utah three-peat? The 2023 Pac-12 Power Rankings are deep.

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Washington
  • 3. Oregon
  • 4. Utah
  • 5. Oregon State
  • 6. UCLA
  • 7. Washington State
  • 8. Arizona
  • 9. Arizona State
  • 10. California
  • 11. Colorado …Deion Sanders has spearheaded the most dramatic roster flip in college football history this offseason, with Colorado bringing in some 60+ newcomers to the team this fall. The Buffs have certainly landed some notable impact transfers, but even sniffing a bowl game with this group would be a major boon for Sanders in Year 1.We don’t know quite what to expect from quarterback Shedeur Sanders in the jump from FCS to Power 5, and even with all the portal additions, Colorado’s offensive and defensive lines still rank toward the bottom of all Power 5 teams.Colorado has a brutal schedule in 2023 (nine-game Pac-12 slate, plus non-conference games against TCU and Nebraska), so it’s best to temper expectations despite the buzz Sanders has generated this spring.
  • 12. Stanford

Read full story here


May 17th

ESPN ranks every FBS quarterback: Shedeur Sanders in “Tier 5A” 

From ESPN … After back-to-back national championships with Stetson Bennett at the helm, Georgia will have a new starting quarterback in 2023.

After two seasons of Heisman-caliber play from Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, both Alabama and Ohio State are looking for replacements at QB, too.

At Clemson, sophomore Cade Klubnik steps into the QB1 job after two rollercoaster years with DJ Uiagalelei at the helm. He’ll be paired with a new offensive coordinator and fresh optimism that the Tigers can return to greatness.

Those four teams — Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson — have combined for 21 playoff appearances, 23 playoff wins and seven national championships since the College Football Playoff began in 2014, which, coincidentally, was also the last time all four schools replaced their starting QB in the same offseason.

That makes for a strange year in which the QB power rankings are missing some familiar names, and several of the top programs in the sport are still in a state of flux at the most prominent position on the field.

So, does that mean we’re primed (or Coach Primed, as it were) for a topsy-turvy season in which the blue bloods of the playoff era take a step back in favor of some rising powers with big-time QBs like USC, Florida State and Washington?


Or perhaps the 2023 season will prove once again that, for all the great talent that’s come through places like Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson, there’s always a supply of future stars waiting in the wings.

Let’s break down the QB situations for all 133 FBS programs by tiers.

From the Pac-12 … 

TIER 1a: The guys we’ll be dissecting with every throw between now and next April (two players)

USC’s Caleb Williams

TIER 1b: The most prolific QBs not named Williams or Maye (four players)

Oregon’s Bo Nix
Utah’s Cam Rising
Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

TIER 2: You may not have noticed, but these guys are really good (four players)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 3: Never question the system (12 players, six jobs)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 4a: Consistently very good (seven players)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 4b: Very good inconsistently (eight players, six jobs)

Arizona’s Jayden de Laura

TIER 5a: High ceiling, low floor (16 players, nine jobs)

Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders
TCU’s Chandler Morris or Chance Nolan
UCLA’s Dante Moore, Collin Schlee or Ethan Garbers
Washington State’s Cameron Ward

In “Bart Star,” a season nine episode of “The Simpsons,” Homer is tasked with coaching the town’s peewee football team. He immediately cuts 80% of his roster and installs his son as the quarterback. Interestingly, that is also the plot of this season at Colorado. We suspect Sanders will have a better season than Bart did, but sometimes life in the Pac-12 is just one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead.

TIER 5b: Low ceiling, high floor (six players)

Arizona State’s Drew Pyne
Oregon State’s DJ Uiagalelei

TIER 6: A second act after ACC struggles (five players)

Nebraska’s Jeff Sims

TIER 7: A fresh start offers cause for optimism (10 players, six jobs)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 8: Top of the Group of 5, even if that term makes Mike Aresco roll his eyes (12 players, 11 jobs)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 9: A year of experience offers cause for hope (nine players, five jobs)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 10: Third — or fourth! — time is the charm (eight players, five jobs)

— Pac-12 … none

TIER 11: Incomplete grades (four players)

Cal’s Sam Jackson

TIER 12: The rest of the Power 5 QBs (17 players, seven jobs)

Stanford’s Ari Patu, Ashton Daniels or Myles Jackson

TIER 13: So you’re saying there’s a chance? (13 players, nine jobs)

Colorado State’s Clay Millen

Read full story here


May 16th

CBS Sports ranks Power Five coaches: Guess where Coach Prime landed

From CBS Sports … College football is a uniquely American sport. At the FBS level, 133 teams will compete during the 2023 season, up from 131 last year. It feels as if the number grows every season even though, at the end of the year, only one of those 133 teams will claim a national title — and only four receive an invite to the College Football Playoff for a chance to claim it.

Perhaps that’s why rankings are so important in this sport. When roughly 75% of the schools competing know they have no shot at winning it all before the season begins, you look for other landmarks to cling to.

“Sure, we didn’t win the conference, but did you see the AP Top 25?”

“Yeah, no big deal, but a group of people who might’ve seen us play twice this year consider us the 21st-best team in the country. Jealous?”

Some will be! People need to know where they stand. It’s a natural reaction related to our insecurity. Sure, your neighbor might make more money than you, and their kids are more intelligent than yours, but his college football team sucks. Yours is ranked in the top-15. Your neighbor wishes he was you.

We know you need rankings, so we’ve been ranking Power Five coaches at CBS Sports since the 2016 season. Every year our voters submit ballots ranking the coaches of the Power Five. There are no rules. You vote how you feel, from the best to the worst. No right answers; no wrong answers. In the end, we count the ballots, and we learn where each coach stands.

This year, these are the Power Five coaches who finished outside the top 25. The “Also Receiving Votes” coaches, if you will. While these are the rankings created by our team, I was tasked with explaining the positioning. In other words: Don’t blame the messenger.

From the Pac-12 … 

No. 69 (last)Troy Taylor (Stanford): I can’t speak for every voter, but I know I have a simple method for the bottom of my ballot. You’re going at the bottom if it’s your first season as a head coach. It works because it makes sense and keeps me from having to actually rank somebody as the worst coach. Taylor has head coaching experience, so he wasn’t 69th on my ballot, but I guess my colleagues aren’t as impressed by three straight conference titles at Sacramento State. 2022 rank: n/a

No. 65 … Kenny Dillingham (Arizona State): Capping a successful career as an offensive coordinator, Dillingham helped Bo Nix take a significant step forward with the Oregon Ducks last season. Now, he gets to lead his alma mater as the 33-year-old replaces Herm Edwards at Arizona State. 2022 rank: n/a

No. 61 … Jedd Fisch (Arizona): I’m a little surprised Fisch didn’t get a boost. He took over an Arizona team that had gone 1-16 over two seasons and immediately went 5-7 in his debut campaign. I guess our voting panel didn’t stay up late enough on Saturdays to see it. 2022 rank: 61 (+0)

No. 58 … Justin Wilcox (Cal): There may not be a harder place to coach in the Power Five right now than Cal. Not only are you trying to recruit to a school with higher academic standards in the transfer portal era, but you’re doing so at a place with members of the administration who believe the program shouldn’t even exist! That can’t be fun. Wilcox had gone 20-18 in his first three seasons at Cal but is only 10-18 since the COVID-19 season of 2020. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 2022 rank: 44 (-14)

No. 57 … Jake Dickert (Washington State): After going 3-3 as the interim coach in 2021, Dickert seemed like a logical hire for Washington State and his first full season supported that idea. The Cougars went 7-6 last year and reached a bowl game, enough to bump Dickert up a few spots here. 2022 rank: 63 (+6)

No. 55 … Deion Sanders (Colorado): I figured Deion’s name recognition would give him a boost, and I was right. I had him in the bottom five of my ballot due to his lack of Power Five and FBS coaching experience, but I also think he has a much higher ceiling than the other first-year coaches in the class. Whatever happens in Boulder, it’ll be interesting to follow. 2022 rank: n/a

No. 47 … Mel Tucker (Michigan State): Tuck fallin’. Tucker finished last season at No. 24 in our rankings as the Spartans were coming off an 11-2 season that saw them reach the Peach Bowl. Last year, Sparty didn’t have nearly the same level of success in the transfer portal and didn’t reach a bowl at all, finishing 5-7. As a result, Tuck dropped significantly. 2022 rank: 24 (-23)

No. 36 … Dan Lanning (Oregon): There’s plenty to be optimistic about following Lanning’s first season as coach. Not only did the Ducks win 10 games, but they rebounded from a 49-3 beatdown from Georgia to open the season by picking up wins over ranked UCLA and the Utah team that won the conference. They’re likely to start 2023 around the top 10, and Lanning begins the season creeping a lot closer to the top 25 himself. 2022 rank: 54 (+18)

No. 32 … Jonathan Smith (Oregon State): The former Oregon State QB has things headed in the right direction in Corvallis. After going 9-22 in his first three seasons, Smith’s Beavers are 17-9 the last two years and just won 10 games for the first time since 2006. I can’t wait to see how far he falls if he only wins eight games next year. 2022 rank: 37 (+5)

No. 31 … Kalen DeBoer (Washington): It was a wonderful introduction for DeBoer at Washington. He was hired away from Fresno State after going 12-6 in two years with the Bulldogs, and he nearly matched that win total in his first year with the Huskies. Washington won 11 games last year. It’s the most in a season since Chris Petersen led the program to the College Football Playoff in 2016. 2022 rank: 51 (+20)

No. 27 … Matt Rhule (Nebraska): We’ve got a run on Baylor coaches! Rhule returns to the college game after not faring well with the Carolina Panthers, but our voters still respect him for what he did in college. He took over programs at Temple and Baylor that were in rough situations and quickly turned things around. If he has Nebraska winning 10 games by his third season the way he did at his previous stops, he will be in the top 15 at a minimum. 2022 rank: n/a

… Not listed (so in the top 25, which will be released Wednesday) … Chip Kelly, UCLA; Kyle Whittingham, Utah; and Lincoln Riley, USC …

Read full story here


May 15th

Most optimistic ranking yet (?): Wilner has CU as No. 8 team in the Pac-12

From the San Jose Mercury News … Spring practice has ended, the transfer portal is closed, staff changes are complete, and the most anticipated Pac-12 season in recent memory is four short months away.

As was the case in January, the conference looks loaded at the top, with at least four teams — and as many as six — expected to appear in the AP preseason poll.

The bottom should be more competitive, as well, thanks to coaching changes at Colorado, Stanford and Arizona State.

How do we see the conference race at this point?

Welcome to our post-spring projections.

  • 1. Washington
  • 2. Utah
  • 3. USC
  • 4. Oregon
  • 5. Oregon State
  • 6. UCLA
  • 7. Washington State
  • 8. Colorado … The massive, unprecedented roster turnover in Boulder has been the talk of college football this spring and is the basis for our assessment of CU’s prospects under coach Deion Sanders. Yes, many of the departed players were second-tier talents. Yes, the Buffaloes have acquired several elite playmakers. And yes, Sanders hired quality coordinators. Improvement is inevitable. But it’s extremely difficult to lose 60-something scholarship players and backfill with the depth needed to support a winning product. Once injuries mount in the second half of the season, where will CU turn for help? Previous: 9
  • 9. Arizona
  • 10. Arizona State
  • 11. Cal
  • 12. Stanford

Read full story here

Sporting News ranks Pac-12’s talented quarterback rooms

From The Sporting News … The Pac-12 can claim it has the best collection of quarterbacks in the FBS for the 2023 season.

There are six quarterbacks who started in the majority of their teams’ games last season, and they all passed for at least 3,000 yards. USC’s Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy. Cam Rising made a second straight Rose Bowl appearance. Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, Cameron Ward and Jacob de Laura were impact transfer quarterbacks. It led to some fantastic football.

Now, the conference is bringing in more playmakers at the most-important position. Oregon State grabbed Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei out of the transfer portal. Colorado hired Deion Sanders, who is bringing son Shedeur Sanders with him. UCLA signed five-star freshman Dante Moore.

That’s going to lead to some fantastic games in the final season with USC and UCLA in the conference. Sporting News breaks down the quarterback situations at all 12 Pac-12 schools heading into the summer:

The Pac-12 … 

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Washington
  • 3. Oregon
  • 4. Utah
  • 5. Oregon State
  • 6. Washington State
  • 7. UCLA
  • 8. Arizona
  • 9. ColoradoSituation heading into the fall: First-year coach Deion Sanders brought his son Shedeur with him to Colorado, and the fascination factor is high. Shedeur Sanders was a force at Jackson State the last two seasons with 6,983 yards, 70 TDs and 14 interceptions. He’s a talented passer with an NFL future, but there will be an adjustment to the level up in competition similar to what Ward experienced at Washington State last season. The Buffaloes had six quarterbacks leave via the transfer portal since Deion Sanders was hired. That lack of depth is a major concern. Staub – a three-star recruit – is the best backup option among three freshman quarterbacks. Sanders is a star, but he’s going to have to stay healthy.
  • 10. Arizona State
  • 11. Stanford
  • 12. California

Read full story here


May 9th

Pac-12 Bowl Projections: Eight teams going bowling

From …You know college football bowl projections are big here, and it’s that time of year — after spring practice — to examine potential 2023 postseason matchups. Of course, it’s impossible to be completely accurate at this point, but it is prediction time for the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six, all the way down to the Bahamas Bowl before Christmas.

It is important to keep in mind that, outside of the New Year’s Six and certain contract bowl games, ESPN and bowl organizers have a lot of control over who goes where in the smaller-tier games. Factors such as travel considerations and ratings based on matchups play a big role in determining which teams go to which bowls. These projections are all subject to change, especially with the Big 12 still figuring out its affiliations after expansion, and other conferences having more bowl-eligible teams than spots available.

But don’t worry, the powers that be behind the scenes will sort it all out, and it’s rare that a bowl-eligible team doesn’t get a chance to play in the postseason.

Pac-12 bowl projections: 

  • Cotton—USC vs LSU
  • Fiesta—Washington vs Notre Dame
  • Alamo—Oregon vs Oklahoma
  • Holiday—Utah vs NC State
  • Vegas—UCLA vs Kentucky
  • Sun—Oregon State vs North Carolina
  • LA—Arizona vs San Diego State
  • Independence—Washington State vs BYU


May 8th

In the Power Five, only Stanford (3.0) has a lower projected win total than CU (3.5)

From SportsBetting … Pac-12 over-under win projections … Only Stanford (3.0) has a lower win projection than CU’s 3.5 wins (Indiana, Northwestern, Virginia and Vanderbilt also are at 3.5 wins)

  • Arizona – 5.5 wins
  • Arizona State – 5.0 wins
  • California – 4.5 wins
  • Colorado – 3.5 wins
  • Oregon – 9.5 wins
  • Oregon State – 8.0 wins
  • Stanford – 3.0 wins
  • UCLA – 8.5 wins
  • USC – 9.5 wins
  • Utah – 8.5 wins
  • Washington – 9.0 wins
  • Washington State – 6.5 wins

See full list here

… And yet … CU is the sixth-most bet-on team to win the College Football Playoff

From … Colorado has a ton of hype heading into the 2023 season, and apparently, the betting market is buying into head coach Deion Sanders. John Ewing of BetMGM revealed the Buffaloes are the sixth-most bet-on team to win the College Football Playoff. Just over 8% of bets have been placed on them as things stand in early May.

However, due to the amount of money being bet, there would not be a more disastrous national champion than Colorado. Ewing also said they are Bet MGM’s “biggest liability” in college football — more so than programs such as Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, or Ohio State.

Colorado is currently being offered at +25000 to win the College Football Playoff. Far from being the favorites, betters are still buying into the work Sanders has done this offseason. Going from 1-11 to a national championship winner would be one of the most remarkable turnarounds the sport has ever seen, if not the best.

Colorado was always going to need a rebuild, no matter who they hired to be the head coach. Sanders is bringing a unique strategy to the Power Five level — one we have never seen from anyone. His use of the NCAA transfer portal has been the heaviest of anyone this offseason.

Yes, last season was a historically bad one for Colorado. Even so, Sanders has not been afraid of turnover and from the beginning, made his intentions clear. If he did not think a player was worthy, they were sent packing and replaced. Likely by somebody with Power Five experience.


May 7th

Sporting News post-spring Top 25 has six Pac-12 teams

From The Sporting News … Talkin’ season is here again.

The 2023 college football season talk starts with Georgia. Will the Bulldogs be the first team to win three straight national championships since Minnesota pulled off a three-peat from 1934-36? Georgia will start at No. 1 in most preseason publications, and the rest of the top 10 features the usual suspects.

Alabama and LSU – the other two schools to win national championships in the last four years – are in the top five. Big Ten rivals Michigan and Ohio State are in the mix. USC and Penn State are sleepers looking to get to the College Football Playoff for the first time

6. USC

What changed: Lincoln Riley kept defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who took some heat after the 46-45 loss to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl pushed USC down to No. 93 in scoring defense for the year. Riley also hired former Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsburgy as a senior analyst and quarterbacks coach. USC added Georgia defensive tackle Bear Alexander via the transfer portal.

Lowdown: The Trojans finished 11-3 last season, and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams is back. Mario Williams, Brenden Rice and Arizona transfer Dorian Singer, who had 1,105 yards and six TDs, form a fantastic group of receivers. The defense allowed 29.2 points per game last season, and there could be as many five transfer starters. Linebacker Mason Cobb had 96 tackles and 13 TFLs at Oklahoma State last season. Purdue transfer Jack Sullivan will be part of a revamped defensive front. Will the Trojans make the College Football Playoff in their final Pac-12 season? That is the expectation now.

8. Washington

What changed: Not much. The Huskies have had 11 players leave via the transfer portal since January, and they have not brought any players in.

Lowdown: Second-year coach Kalen DeBoer enjoyed a 11-win season in Year 1. It starts with quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who led the FBS in total offense with 364.1 total yards per game last season. He has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers returning in Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan. Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui combined for 13.5 sacks and are back on defense. Washington has road trips to Michigan State in non-confernece play and Oregon State and USC in the Pac-12 play. The Huskies are a sleeper playoff pick as a result, and with good reason.

12. Oregon

What changed: Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham took the Arizona State job, and UTSA co-offensive coordinator Will Stein made the jump to Oregon. Dan Lanning had a successful first year, and Lanning used his SEC ties to land a few intriguing transfers in Alabama receiver Traeshon Holden and defensive back Khyree Jackson along with Ole Miss safety Kasheem Johnson.

Lowdown:  Bo Nix – who totaled 44 TDs last season – is back at quarterback. Bucky Irving and Troy Franklin should have breakout seasons, and the defense is experienced. The non-conference schedule is friendly, and USC comes to Autzen Stadium on Nov. 11. The road trips to Washington (Oct. 14) and Utah (Oct. 28) will be telling.

15. Utah

What changed: Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig visited Notre Dame but ultimately stayed on Utah’s staff. Kyle Whittingham has built a program on consistency, and that comes from keeping the talent at home. The Utes lost seven players to the transfer portal.

Lowdown: The two-time defending Pac-12 champions will be undersold again in the Pac-12, and that under-the-radar treatment suits the program fine. Quarterback Cam Rising returned, and the tag team of Micah Bernard and Ja’Quinden Jackson will keep the running game rolling. Safety Cole Bishop is a first-round talent in the secondary. Utah’s non-conference schedule features the home opener against Florida and a road test at Baylor.

16. TCU

What changed: Riley leaving to take the offensive coordinator job at Clemson was a huge loss, and the Horned Frogs sent eight players to the 2023 NFL Draft from last year’s College Football Playoff championship runner-up. Now, the challenge for Sonny Dykes is to do that all over again with new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.

Lowdown: Can the Horned Frogs reload and win the Big 12 again? Chandler Morris beat out Max Duggan in fall camp last year, and the additions of Alabama transfers Trey Sanders and JoJo Earle at running back and receiver, respectively, should help. The 3-3-5 defense was a hit last year, and senior linebackers Johnny Hodges and JaMoi Hodge return. The opener against Deion Sanders-led Colorado will be highly visible, but it’s the November farewell matchups against Texas (Nov. 11) and Oklahoma (Nov. 25) that matter most.

19. Oregon State

What changed: Nobody entered  the transfer portal after spring practice. The big addition came in December when Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State. The Beavers also added JUCO transfer Tyrice Ivy Jr., who could be a sleeper in the secondary.

Lowdown: Jonathan Smith has led a gradual turnaround at Oregon State, and Uiagalelei’s arrival is a huge addition. Damien Martinez returns after rushing for 982 yards and seven TDs. The defense should click more with second-year coordinator Trent Bray, and freshman linebackers Oluwaseyi Omotosho and Nikko Taylor will get their chances to make plays. A brutal schedule closes with back-to-back games against Washington and Oregon.

24. UCLA

What changed: UCLA hasn’t lost anybody in the transfer portal since the spring. Coach Chip Kelly signed an extension that runs through the 2027 season. Kelly also hired a new defensive coordinator in D’Anton Lynn, who was the Ravens’ safeties coach the last two seasons.

Lowdown: The Bruins are the sixth Pac-12 team on this list. This speaks to the expected breakout of quarterback Dante Moore, a five-star freshman who flipped from Oregon to UCLA and adds to an incredible cast of quarterbacks in the Pac-12. Cal transfer receiver Michael Sturdivant, who had 65 catches for 755 yards and seven TDs last season, is a nice addition. A tricky home opener against Coastal Carolina and road trips to Utah and USC are the flex points in the schedule.

Continue reading story here


May 3rd

CBS Sports post-spring Top 25 includes seven CU opponents 

From CBS Sports … Meet the new Dawgs, same as the old Dawgs. No surprise, but the Georgia program that has run away and hidden from the field remains the favorite to win it all for the third consecutive season coming out of spring football practice. Why not? Kirby Smart has the best talent, the biggest recruiting budget and the sport’s best program.

Even better, there is no Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M on the schedule from the SEC West in 2023. The upset might be if the Bulldogs don’t win it all this year.

In the final season of the four-team College Football Playoff, there are three Big Ten teams in heavy contention. Michigan and Ohio State make sense, but watch for Penn State as well. The Nittany Lions may be peaking under James Franklin after a resounding Rose Bowl win. Alabama may have the biggest post-spring concerns of all the contenders. Nick Saban doesn’t have an obvious starter at quarterback after losing the No. 1 player in the draft.

This will also be the last year for the current configuration of the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and American as realignment starts to take hold. Best under-the-radar story: The much-maligned Pac-12 looks really good coming out of spring with six teams on this list (tied with the SEC).

  • No. 5 … Washington … It’s a shame that the ongoing TV rights kerfuffle has overshadowed what should be a strong Pac-12 season on the field. Pencil in the Huskies as the league champions for now. Michael Penix Jr. is going to be a lot of folks’ Heisman favorite (myself included0. He has a stout defense to play behind in Kalen DeBoer’s second season. Edge rushers Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Feti combined for 13.5 sacks. Way-too-early ranking: 5
  • No. 11 … Oregon … As Bo Nix goes, so go the Ducks. Oregon’s QB found his game under Dan Lanning and former offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham (now at Arizona State). Four starters depart on the offensive line. But watch transfer WRs Traeshon Holden (Alabama) and Tez Johnson (Troy). Lanning is just beginning to establish himself as a head coach. It will be a battle with Washington and USC for the Pac-12 title. Way-too-early ranking: 11
  • No. 13 … USC … Caleb Williams could win back-to-back Heismans. He could throw for 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. But until the defense gets fixed, it’s hard to consider the Trojans legitimate playoff contenders. It’s the lack of that D at key points (136 points combined given up in two losses to Utah and Tulane) that kept them out of the Football Four. The D might be fixed with the addition of Georgia NT Bear Alexander. Way-too-early ranking: 13
  • No. 14 … Utah … Utah football has never been better. Back-to-back Rose Bowls. Two consecutive Pac-12 titles. Even though the Rose Bowls were losses, Kyle Whittingham is on the brink of building a national program. At the moment, Cameron Rising expects to be back in the fall after a torn ACL suffered in the Rose. Tight end Dalton Kincaid is gone to the NFL. Don’t look for a Pac-12 threepeat. The league is deep this year. A nine-win season could mean third place. Way-too-early ranking: 18
  • No. 15 … Oregon State … D.J. Uiagalelei gets a career reboot after transferring from Clemson. He joins a budding powerhouse. Coach Jonathan Smith has taken the Beavers from 2-10 to 10 wins in five years. The double-digit wins were the program’s first in 16 years. Uiagalelei has to win the job first, but whoever gets it will play behind four returning starters in the offensive line. Way-too-early ranking: 15
  • No. 21 … UCLA … Chip Kelly has the Bruins on a roll despite the loss of QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and thumper RB Zach Charbonnet. We’ll see if five-star QB Dante Moore can make an impact as a freshman in a three-way battle at the position. The addition NFL position coach D’Anton Lynn, 33, as defensive coordinator will be interesting. Lynn is the son of former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn. The Bruins will take a step back this season, but Kelly has the program turned around as it now prepares for entry into the Big Ten. Way-too-early ranking: 23
  • No. 22 … TCU … The Horned Frogs lost a lot. Eight players were drafted, the fourth-highest number in the country. That included Heisman finalist Max Duggan and his best receiver, Quentin Johnston. Chandler Morris should be a capable replacement for Duggan having won the job before getting injured. Sonny Dykes moved quickly to replace Riley with Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator. Way-too-early ranking: 6

Read full story here


May 2nd 

ESPN: Pumping the brakes on expectations for CU

From ESPN … Clemson’s offense is in trouble! Arch Manning is all hype! There’s no way Georgia can three-peat!

Not so fast.

Spring football is prime time for overreactions. So with spring games wrapped up and the latest transfer portal window closed, let’s go through some of the season’s hottest takes while also providing a reality check for each one.

Colorado will compete in the Pac-12

The Deion Sanders experiment has been a phenomenon in Boulder. Everything about it. An overnight transformation from a program fading toward irrelevancy to one of the most talked-about in college football is nearly impossible in the sport. Yet, here the Buffs are. The hype matters, too. Without talent, there is no winning. And the most important thing Sanders has accomplished is that he’s made CU a place where sought-after players want to compete. With every player who enters the portal to leave, there is seemingly several more — mostly better — players ready to step into that scholarship spot. By the time the roster movement stabilizes prior to next season, the Buffs will have a roster capable of competing in the Pac-12. Now, let’s be clear: Having the ability to compete does not mean Colorado is suddenly a betting favorite to win the conference. But a betting slip for that to actually happen might not turn to trash until the middle of the season.

Reality check: Taking away the 2020 season for obvious reason, Colorado’s second-best record in the Pac-12 since joining the conference was a 3-6 record (twice). Let’s pump the brakes and watch an actual game before expecting someone who has never coached at the FBS level try to win games against several proven commodities.


April 28th

USA Today post-spring Pac-12 Power Rankings (CU No. 12)

From USA Today … Whether the Pac-12 Conference is as healthy as ever, in the midst of its death throes, or most likely somewhere between, one thing is undeniable. The upcoming 2023 football season will be the last year we’ll see the league as it is currently configured.

UCLA and Southern California will be off to the Big Ten next summer. More schools could follow if the league doesn’t get its television contract in order. The undercurrent to all the pending realignment, of course, is the league’s football futility in the playoff era. Like it or not, the conference’s best chance to end its playoff drought likely rests with one of the schools with a foot out the door.

Here’s how we rank the programs, with the most important question each will face with spring drills concluded.

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Washington
  • 3. Utah
  • 4. Oregon
  • 5. UCLA
  • 6. Oregon State
  • 7. Washington State
  • 8. Arizona
  • 9. California
  • 10. Arizona State
  • 11. Stanford
  • 12. Colorado …

    How much different will the Buffs’ roster look like when fall camp opens?

    There’s no doubt that Deion Sanders’ arrival in Boulder has generated more interest in the Buffaloes’ program than any other team coming off a last-place conference finish. But it’s impossible to make any predictions about what the on-field product might look like until the massive roster turnover is completed over the summer. About all we know for sure is Shedeur Sanders, who came to Colorado with his father from Jackson State, will be the starting quarterback and joining him from the Tigers is heralded recruit Travis Hunter. But with this much upheaval on a team that won one game last year, it’s hard to sort out where this year’s victories come from.

Read full story here


April 20th

“Coach Prime: Should you Believe the Hype?” 

From TVSportsMagazine … It should be noted that Deion’s hiring is very different from Lincoln Riley’s hiring in 2022. USC went 4-8 in 2021 and the roster was filled with talent. Riley went 11-3 this past season and had the benefit of having the Heisman-winning quarterback, Caleb Williams.

2022 was a historically bad season for the Colorado Buffaloes after a mediocre 2021 season. Colorado finished the 2022 season at a dismal 1-11 with their sole win being an overtime win over Cal. Former head coach Karl Dorrell was fired after starting 0-5 and the Buffs could only muster one win after that. Issues ranged from poor play calling, being overmatched on the field, and a general lack of a drive to win.

Coach Prime inherits a team and a roster that consistently looked overmatched and outplayed nearly every week. While Sanders has brought in some talent of his own, both from Jackson State and the transfer portal, it will be a monumental task to turn this team around in just one offseason. With a completely new staff, an almost new roster, and new schemes to be learned and mastered; don’t be surprised to see Colorado struggle out of the gate.

Colorado’s 2023 schedule gives Sanders no time for a honeymoon with its schedule being one of the more brutal amongst the college ranks. The Buffs open their season at TCU, then come home to play Nebraska and Colorado State to finish their non-conference schedule. An early-season trip to Eugene, Oregon to play the Ducks is followed by a late September home game against Caleb Williams and USC, rounding out a brutal first five weeks of the season.

The Verdict

If all else, Sanders brings major national attention to a Colorado program that had fallen into college football purgatory. A program that was at the very bottom of the college football world just a season ago finds itself in the spotlight. A lot will be said about Sanders’ lack of Power 5 coaching and the massive roster turnover but the hype is very much real.

A 1-11 season in 2022 means any type of success in 2023 will be a massive win for Coach Prime and Colorado. This much can be said: Sanders is going to have his Colorado Buffaloes ready to compete on September 2nd when the Buffs travel to Texas to take on the Horned Frogs. They will be must-watch TV this upcoming season and I’m all aboard the Sanders hype train!

Read full story here


April 18th

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) “not buying Colorado just yet”

From ESPN … Ohio State’s 2022 ended in dramatic heartbreak in the College Football Playoff, but immediate redemption could be on the horizon. The Buckeyes are the best team in the nation and the favorites to win the national championship, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index and the Allstate Playoff Predictor.

The Buckeyes have a 37% chance to win the title — well ahead of Alabama at 20% and defending champion Georgia at 19% — according to the models.

Before we dive too far into the Buckeyes, other title contenders and the rest of the forecasted college football landscape, a quick refresher: What is FPI, and how do we project the season and College Football Playoff race?

FPI is our season-long ratings and projections system. In the preseason it relies on past performance on offense and defense, returning and transfer production and past recruiting data for players on the roster to form a rating. We then use those ratings to simulate the season 20,000 times, resulting in our projections.

Full FPI ratings and projections can be found here.

USC leads a Pac-12 with a chance

A year ago at this time, FPI gave the Pac-12 a mere 8% chance to put a team into the playoff. We were artificially low on USC — the Lincoln Riley effect wasn’t fully accounted for — but the point remained: The Pac-12 was a long shot. That ended up panning out, as the conference did not put a team in the playoff.

But the conference boasts the seventh-best team in the nation in USC, according to FPI. The Trojans alone have a 25% shot at the playoff, and the conference has a 34% chance overall at putting at least one team in the playoff thanks mostly to Oregon (5%) and Utah (4%). (This might be bittersweet for the conference, knowing it will soon lose USC to the Big Ten, but that’s a next-year problem for the Pac-12).

With Williams — who finished fifth in QBR last season and is a potential No. 1 overall pick in 2024 — leading the way, USC enters the season with clearly the best quarterback room in the nation, according to FPI. That they have Williams back after he led the Trojans to a No. 3 rank in offensive efficiency only bolsters the model’s confidence, and is part of why it considers USC to be the second-best offense entering the year only behind Ohio State.

The difference between USC and the top contenders mentioned earlier: The Trojans are elite only on one side of the ball. FPI sees them as the 36th-best defense, which is actually a huge forecasted improvement. The defensive unit ranked 82nd in defensive efficiency last season.

All of this gives USC a strong chance — 50%, a true coin flip — to win the Pac-12. And with an easier but not too easy schedule, a 1-in-4 shot at the playoff.

FPI not buying Colorado just yet

Considering the hype around Colorado with Deion Sanders now the Buffaloes’ head coach, as well as a slew of transfers in to play for him, it’s a bit of a shock to see Colorado all the way down at … 95th in FPI’s rankings — the lowest-ranked Power 5 team.

The model has somewhat of a handle on the transfers. They’re recognized in Colorado’s “talent” and returning production portions of the calculation, and the Buffaloes do have higher talent scores on both offense and defense than virtually all of the teams around them in the overall rankings. From the model’s perspective, though, that isn’t enough to overcome the recent poor play. The Buffaloes ranked fourth worst and 11th worst in offensive and defensive efficiency last season. So FPI actually is predicting a decent step up this year.

That being said, 95th is still rough. It’s probably reasonable to think this is an unusual circumstance of roster turnover — one-win teams don’t usually transfer in high-end players — that FPI might not be able to perfectly capture.

Read full story here


April 6th

College Football News Pac-12 Spring Predictions: 3-9, 2-7

From College Football News … Just as spring football gets going – and before all the transfer portal dust settles and knowing how good these teams probably are – here’s our first best guess on every Pac-12 team’s record. Again, this is the spring version – this will all be redone at the end of the summer.

  • USC – 10-2, 8-1
  • Washington – 10-2, 8-1
  • Oregon – 10-2, 7-2
  • Utah – 9-3, 6-3
  • UCLA – 8-4, 5-4
  • Washington State – 7-5, 4-5
  • Oregon State – 7-5, 4-5
  • Arizona – 6-6, 4-5
  • Arizona State – 5-7, 3-6
  • Cal – 5-7, 3-6
  • Colorado Spring Prediction: 3-9
    Pac-12 Prediction: 2-7
    Sept 2 at TCU L
    Sept 9 Nebraska L
    Sept 16 Colorado State W
    Sept 23 at Oregon L
    Sept 30 USC L
    Oct 7 at Arizona State L
    Oct 13 Stanford W
    Oct 21 OPEN DATE
    Oct 28 at UCLA L
    Nov 4 Oregon State L
    Nov 11 Arizona W
    Nov 17 at Washington State L
    Nov 25 at Utah L
  • Stanford – 2-10, 0-9

Read full story here


April 3rd

CBS Sports: One Question Each Pac-12 Team Must Answer This Spring

From CBS Sports … As USC and UCLA prepare to play their final years in the Pac-12, the 2023 season marks the beginning of a season of change. The league in its current format is going out with a bang, however, with half the league pushing for national acclaim in a highly competitive upcoming season.

For the first time since Matt Leinart in 2005, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner will play in the Pac-12 as USC.quarterback Caleb Williams returns for one more season with coach Lincoln Riley. Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nox also opted to turn down NFL opportunities to push for a College Football Playoff berth. This might be the best version of the Pac-12 we have seen in years.

Five teams — nearly half the league — boast +650 or better odds to win the Pac-12 in 2023, meaning every practice and every development in March and April matters. Here is one question every team in the Pac-12 must answer in spring camp.


Where is the roster exactly? Frankly, everything about Colorado is a question. Forty-four new players are coming to Boulder in 2023, and chances are even more could be on the way during the next transfer window. Shedeur Sanders will play quarterback and Travis Hunter will start at corner. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Coaches have attempted to flip rosters before, but never like this. The Buffaloes have just two bowl appearances in the past 15 years and are tearing the roster to the studs right from the start. Sanders handled the transition at Jackson State, but succeeding in the Pac-12 takes another level. By the time spring practice ends, Sanders should have a strong idea of the true state of the roster. That still gives him another opportunity in the second transfer window to fill holes.

Continue reading story here


March 31st 

USC writer: Will Coach Prime take CU to a bowl game in Year One?

By Jacob Hare for USC Annenberg Media

The last season in the Pac-12 was one that no one expected. Between USC shattering expectations in year one of the Lincoln Riley era and barely missing the college football playoffs, Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix’s out-of-nowhere career resurrections and many other crazy events, the Pac-12 season was one for the ages. It took a lot of work to predict any top storylines in the Pac-12 last season, but despite that, I will do my best to give my bold takes for next season. I would love to see these receipts in my Twitter mentions next season, but hopefully, I can handle myself. So here are my three bold takes for next season.

Deion Sanders and Colorado finish with a winning record and play in a bowl game.

When you go 1-11, you can only go up from that point. Deion Sanders will shatter expectations in his first year at Colorado. The team will be better than .500 and will make an appearance in a bowl game. Sanders was at Jackson State the previous three seasons and won his conference the past two years. He had a record of 27-6 and was also the Southwestern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year the previous two years. Coach Prime knows how to win at every level, and he will excel as a coach at Colorado. It also helps that his son Shedur Sanders is coming over from Jackson State to play quarterback and has already generated some Heisman buzz. Yes, his presence on social media, as he has a million followers on Instagram, makes him create more buzz than he probably should. However, he is an absolute stud with enough talent to succeed at Colorado.

In addition to his son, Coach Prime is also getting the 2022 No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter to follow him from Jackson State. Hunter is a rare talent as he plays both wide receiver and cornerback. Sanders turned him into one of the best players in the FCS as a freshman, and he should soar in year two. Despite being a sophomore, Hunter may be the best cornerback in the Pac-12 next season, and a shutdown corner at the college level is a rare yet treasured piece to a winning formula. It also helps that they have the number one cornerback in the 2023 class, Cormani McClain, playing alongside Hunter this season. Colorado still has a lot of work to do, but I believe that Sanders will find a way to win and put Colorado back on the map in 2023.

Continue reading story here


March 28th

On3 Pac-12 Coaching Rankings: Coach Prime in at No. 7

From … It’s that time of the year again. Offseason coaching rankings!

Over the next six weeks, I’ll release rankings for each Power 5 conference and the Top 10 Group of 5 coaches before a final Top 25 coaches in all of football.

Remember, this is a fun exercise and even if your favorite coach is ranked near the bottom of his conference’s list: A) He’s still considered a damn good football coach to have said job and B) That doesn’t mean I hate your team!

With that, this list is totally subjective. It’s my rankings. Some might weigh the overall body of work for a head coach. I take that into account, but college football has become the ultimate what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-business with the carousel constantly spinning.

The job of a head coach has changed in recent years, too. So for my rankings, I take into account recent performance, recruiting chops, hiring quality assistants, sending players to the NFL, working the transfer portal, etc.

The Pac-12 has a strong set of coaches, including a trio of second-year coaches who all won big in their first season at new schools. The league has three Year 1 coaches again in 2023, headlined by Deion Sanders.

  • No. 1 – Lincoln Riley, USC
  • No. 2 – Kyle Whittingham, Utah
  • No 3 – Kalen DeBoer, Washington
  • No. 4 – Jonathan Smith, Oregon State
  • No. 5 – Dan Lanning, Oregon
  • No. 6 – Chip Kelly, UCLA
  • No. 7 – Deion Sanders, Colorado  Where to slot Deion Sanders? Is seven too high? Too low? We’ll see how the next 12 months play out.Sanders still hasn’t coached a game at Colorado, but he’s already delivered on his promise to overhaul the roster and shine a spotlight on a program that no one was talking about. Some 47 new faces will be on the roster in 2023 — and more additions are expected in the second transfer window in May. He flipped 5-star corner Cormani McClain from Miami and added transfers from 11 different Power 5 programs. The Buffs are off to a hot start in the 2024 cycle as well with the nation’s current No. 16 class.Sanders was 27-6 at Jackson State, going 23-3 the last two seasons. He hired a quality staff at CU, including poaching former Kent State head coach Sean Lewis as his OC and Alabama secondary coach Charles Kelly to lead the defense.Sanders faces a daunting rebuild with a Buffs program that went 1-11 last season, losing its last four games by an average of six touchdowns. The program has made a bowl game just once in 15 years and they play 11 Power 5 teams in the fall (non-con games vs. TCU and Nebraska), so even sniffing the postseason would be considered a tremendous success for Sanders in Year 1.
  • No. 8 – Jake Dickert, Washington State
  • No. 9 – Justin Wilcox, Cal
  • No. 10 – Jedd Fisch, Arizona
  • No. 11 – Troy Taylor, Stanford
  • No. 12 – Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State

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March 26th

ESPN Preview: It Just Feels Like Colorado State Should be Good at Football

From ESPN … Wyoming finished with its worst SP+ ranking since 2015, San Diego State had its worst since 2013. At 59th, Boise State had its worst ranking since 1998. At 126th and 128th, Colorado State and Hawaii had their worst since 1981 and 1976, respectively. Nevada hadn’t ranked worse than 125th since 1933. New Mexico had never ranked as low as 130th. Only two Mountain West teams saw their rankings improve in 2022 (San Jose State and UNLV … which fired its coach?), and five teams fell by at least 30 spots. (Nevada fell by 74.)

It wasn’t a great year for the Group of Five conference out west, in other words. In its 18-year existence, the MWC had never finished with an average SP+ ranking worse than 87.7, and it was 97.7 in 2022. The conference had four new head coaches (all of whom oversaw regression) and the worst returning production averages in the country by far, and while its two division champions (Fresno State and Boise State) both flashed upside, they also both battled quarterback injuries and overall inconsistency.

A rebound isn’t guaranteed in 2023, but there are reasons for hope. In the Mountain Division, Boise State has its QB situation figured out and boasts one of the conference’s higher returning production averages. Wyoming went from near the bottom of the returning production list to near the top. Air Force returns the bones of an outstanding defense, the injury bug has almost no choice but to be kinder to Utah State, and both Colorado State and New Mexico have enough potential at quarterback to make them candidates for overachieving projections.

Last year was a nadir. Let’s talk about what we might see this fall.

Who digs out of this rut first, Colorado State or New Mexico? It just feels like Colorado State should be good at football. The Rams took a massive step forward during the Sonny Lubick era in the 1990s and 2000s (they were ranked for part of every season from 1997 to 2003 and bowled 15 times between 1994 and 2017), their new stadium (Canvas Stadium) is gorgeous, they’ve been vaguely associated with Big 12 and Pac-12 expansion rumors through the years, and we’ve watched them beat power-conference rival Colorado early in the season plenty of times — seven times from 1999 to 2014, in fact.

Anything positive you can say about the Rams program, however, has an expiration date attached. CSU has been downright bad for half a decade now. Since 2018, it has gone 14-36 with an average SP+ ranking of 110.8. That’s better than border rival New Mexico (12-43 with an average ranking of 118.2), but not by much. That beautiful new stadium in Fort Collins? The Rams are 12-21 in it. That includes a 2-3 record against FCS teams, the last two of which have beaten them by a combined 83-33. At least New Mexico has the excuse of a lower budget and a state with far fewer FBS recruits!

Last year, Colorado State replaced Steve Addazio (4-12 in two seasons) with Nevada’s Jay Norvell. He loaded up on transfers — including many from Nevada — in an attempt to hit the ground running. Instead, CSU’s offense disintegrated, and the Rams began the season with four losses by an average of 41-11. The defense was mostly solid in conference play, and CSU somehow managed to go 3-5 in the MWC despite never scoring more than 17 points.

With the defense returning eight starters, the Rams could be set up to solidify last year’s gains. Sophomore quarterback Clay Millen returns as well after completing 72% of his passes last season. Unfortunately, if he wasn’t completing a deep ball to Tory Horton, the offense was accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Horton needs more skill corps support, and Millen has to hope that a completely turned-over offensive line — seven of last year’s top nine are gone, replaced by three small-school transfers and three JUCOs — somehow solidifies. It doesn’t usually work that way, but at least last year’s line was really bad, so the bar isn’t very high.

The only FBS offense that graded out worse than CSU’s? New Mexico’s.

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March 23rd

Another front page ESPN CU story: “How Deion Sanders is changing the direction of Colorado”

From ESPN … On a sunny February morning, Deion Sanders walked into Colorado’s recruiting lounge, overlooking snow-covered Folsom Field, and sat in a tan leather recliner. He wore a shirt that read: “Ain’t Hard 2 Find.”

A spotlight has followed Sanders his entire adult life, beginning at Florida State before moving on to the NFL, Major League Baseball and, in 2011, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A distinct blend of athletic skill and an outsized personality has magnified his words and actions.

Sanders, who goes by Coach Prime, stepped off a jet at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport near Boulder on the night of Dec. 4 to take over the Colorado program, and he has been easy to spot in the months since. His life is constantly documented, cameras following at all hours, from the Super Bowl to Boulder restaurants.

He can’t hide, but he never really wanted to, either. ​​

The attention is nothing new for Sanders. He went 27-6 in three years as the head coach of Jackson State, winning two conference championships at a school that had gone 18-37 in the five years before his arrival. That success combined with his persona led to his final season being chronicled in a four-part docuseries, “Coach Prime.”

The buzz is decidedly new for the Buffaloes.

“All you see is him in Colorado, Colorado on TV, Colorado on social media, all eyes on Colorado,” said Darian Hagan, the quarterback for Colorado’s national championship team in 1990 and a member of the school’s football staff since 2005. “That’s what [I remember] this place being, under the microscope, top of the mountain, everybody’s wanting to knock us off. In the last 10 years, it’s been easy to knock us off. We’ve been bad.”

Colorado’s struggles led the school to Sanders this offseason. Through his first four months on the job, Sanders has shown what made his hire both unconventional and rewarding.

He made headlines for his fiery introductory team meeting, where he invited players to “jump in that [transfer] portal,” and for comments last month about what he looks for in recruits that some interpreted as playing into racist stereotypes.

Colorado also has renewed energy, as evidenced by surging ticket demand, booming merch sales and a skyrocketing social media presence. After blue-chip players largely ignored Colorado for decades, Sanders quickly made Boulder a destination for elite talent, bringing in sought-after transfers and a top-25 recruiting class.

The surge has followed a 1-11 campaign and a prolonged stretch that includes only two winning seasons and a 69-134 overall record since 2006.

Colorado’s bottoming out, though, helped create an unlikely union.

“I’m a need-to-be-needed type person,” Sanders told ESPN. “If you show me a need, then I’m there, but if there’s no need, I don’t really have a place. That’s what I do, that’s what I’ve done, I’ve always been that type of guy. There’s a tremendous need [at Colorado], and I don’t just think it’s all about football. It far surpasses football on the field.”

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College Football News rankings: CU in at No. 69 (No. 10 in the Pac-12)

From College Football News … This is what we call a jumping off point.

No, we don’t know where all the transfers are settling, and no, we don’t have a firm grip on all 133 starting quarterback situations – and yes, it’s 133 this year with the addition of Sam Houston and Jacksonville State.

As it all looks before spring football gets going in a few weeks, here’s our ranking of how good all the teams appear to be going into next season. It’s only a few months away – there’s time to change all of this.

Two things to remember. 1) BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF are off to the Big 12. That waters down the Group of Five that much more, and 2) if it seems like we’re overrating the Power Five programs and underrating the Group of Fivers, yeah. The Power Five programs have more resources, more talent, more … more. We expect more, so we’re setting the bar higher.

Don’t get into a twist over any or all of this. We’ll reconfigure it all during the spring, and then a few more times before the official CFN Preseason Rankings in August.

111 Colorado State

2022: 125 2021: 117 2020: 100 2019: 109 2018: 120

College Football Rankings First Look: (3-9) There needed to be a reboot. Fine, but now Jay Norvell needs to find some points – CSU averaged 13.2 per game.

78 Stanford

2022: 73 2021: 85 2020: 31 2019: 98 2018: 32

College Football Rankings First Look: (3-9) Troy Taylor knows how to make an offense fly, and wow does Stanford need that … fast. It’s going to take a while to get there.

70 Cal

2022: 67 2021: 57 2020: 72 2019: 61 2018: 81

College Football Rankings First Look: (4-8) Cal has GOT to find something on offense, and it has GOT to find some sort of a pass rush. The team desperately needs playmakers.

69 Colorado

2022: 103 2021: 76 2020: 30 2019: 81 2018: 99

College Football Rankings First Look: (1-11) There’s no instant fix – the schedule is BRUTAL – but it’ll be an entertaining ride under Coach Prime. The O will go at warp speed.

65 Arizona State

2022: 76 2021: 72 2020: 35 2019: 33 2018: 63

College Football Rankings First Look: (3-9) This will take a while, starting on the O line. It’s a gut job for Kenny Dillingham with SO many transfers gone and parts missing.

60 Nebraska

2022: 68 2021: 60 2020: 55 2019: 93 2018: 88

College Football Rankings First Look: (4-8) Matt Rhule won’t rebuild this in a day, but enough is there to start winning again. Getting Georgia Tech QB Jeff Sims is a huge start.

51 Arizona

2022: 54 2021: 86 2020: 90 2019: 105 2018: 92

College Football Rankings First Look: (5-7) There are just enough transfer portal losses to matter, but this will be a more dangerous team if the defense can get behind the line.

43 Washington State

2022: 33 2021: 71 2020: 76 2019: 76 2018: 16

College Football Rankings First Look: (7-6) Really? Wazzu needs more out of the offense? The D will still be good, but the O line has to give Cameron Ward more time to work.


2022: 21 2021: 42 2020: 32 2019: 97 2018: 100

College Football Rankings First Look: (9-4) Chip Kelly loaded up in the transfer portal – two words: Carson Steele – but the spotlight is on the QB battle. UCLA is good again.

23 TCU

2022: 2 2021: 73 2020: 44 2019: 82 2018: 52

College Football Rankings First Look: (13-1) The Big 12 is better, but TCU should be fine with good parts back. However, the top skill guys are done. There’s a lot of magic gone.

18 Oregon State

2022: 18 2021: 61 2020: 51 2019: 77 2018: 116

College Football Rankings First Look: (10-3) OSU is for real. DJ Uiagalelei comes in to help an already strong offense. As long as the pass D holds up, the defense will be terrific.

16 Utah

2022: 9 2021: 13 2020: 27 2019: 18 2018: 29

College Football Rankings First Look: (10-4) You know what’s coming. Great defense, bruising ground game, great lines. Cameron Rising is back, but a few huge stars are done.

13 Oregon

2022: 19 2021: 31 2020: 28 2019: 7 2018: 31

College Football Rankings First Look: (10-3) The return of QB Bo Nix is huge, but the Ducks lose a ton from both sides, especially up front. The talent is there, but it’s young.

9 Washington

2022: 8 2021: 75 2020: 26 2019: 27 2018: 14

College Football Rankings First Look: (11-2) 2022 top passer Michael Penix Jr. is back along with most of the skill parts. The D is good enough to do more than hold serve.


2022: 17 2021: 74 2020: 24 2019: 38 2018: 87

College Football Rankings First Look: (11-3) Caleb Williams will be Caleb Williams in another great year for the offense, and now the horrific defense gets the transfer portal help.

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March 22nd

Athlon Sports: CU Spring Storylines to Watch

From Athlon Sports … It’s time. Time for Prime.

Colorado football has won more than five games in a season just once in the last 15 years, and the 10-4 finish in 2016 looks more and more like an outlier with each passing year. Beyond the numbers, the Buffaloes have been incredibly boring. There has been very little excitement and virtually no reason to follow Colorado football over the past decade and a half.

But those days are over. Deion Sanders has ridden into town and the whole world has changed. Whether the Buffs become a winning program immediately — or at all — under Coach Prime’s guidance remains to be seen. But they will most assuredly not be boring.

2. Can they/will they run the ball?

It will be interesting to see how the offense develops. The Buffaloes couldn’t run the ball at all last year, but seeing that this is an entirely new system with new personnel virtually everywhere, that is irrelevant. Coach Prime’s teams at Jackson State featured an offense built around Shedeur’s throwing ability. But Lewis’s Kent State teams topped the MAC in rushing yardage in each of the past two seasons. If Colorado leans heavily on the run, Kentucky transfer Kavosiey Smoke and returnee Deion Smith should get the bulk of the carries.

Continue reading story here


March 15th

247 Sports: “Colorado is little more than a paper tiger at this point”

… It’s worthy of note that the author of the article listed 11-2 Tennessee as “underhyped”. And, oh, by the way, he lives in Knoxville … Quite sure he did minutes of research before writing about the Buffs … 

From Will Backus at 247 Sports … The college football offseason is a really interesting time. More accurately referred to as “talking season,” the months between actual games are often filled with projections. With that comes teams receiving hype as College Football Playoff contenders, or potential breakouts on a national stage.

But are those teams properly hyped, or is it just a byproduct of recency bias, created by strong closes to the 2022 season and decent work in the transfer portal thus far? And on the other side of that coin, there are plenty of teams that are not receiving the hype they deserve.

Spring practice provides a little bit of clarity, and reset the temperature around certain programs, but it is worth taking stock of where things stand before teams can really get things going.


Let’s pump the brakes a little bit here. Deion Sanders was a fantastic hire, and he is already getting the attention of some elite talent. But he is also inheriting a complete mess. Discounting the COVID-19 year, Colorado has just one winning season since joining the Pac-12 over a decade ago. While Sanders’ 25-prospect transfer class could plug some holes immediately, Colorado still has probably the worst roster in the whole conference. Yet there are some major pundits that have included the Buffaloes in their way-too-early top-25 predictions. As things stand, Colorado is little more than a paper tiger at this point. With his charisma and ability to recruit, Sanders has all the tools to rebuild Colorado, but making a bowl in Year 1 would be overachieving.

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March 13th

Fox Sports has seven Pac-12 schools in its Preseason Top 25 (including Colorado)

From RJ Young at Fox Sports … With spring football launching into full swing this month, let’s take a look at my top 25, with a nod to staff changes, transfer portal additions, 2023 recruit signings and what programs need to shore up in their 15 practices before the summer.

From the Pac-12 … 

4. USC

Caleb Williams is Lincoln Riley’s third Heisman winner in six years and is poised to become his third No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft if he continues to play at the level he has displayed in his first two years. With Jordan Addison off to the NFL, Zachariah Branch might emerge as a great option out wide alongside Mario Williams.

But like Michigan, the hole in USC seeking its first national title since 2004 is Alex Grinch’s defense. Adding transfers Kyon Barrs (Arizona) and Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M) should fortify a defense that loses former All-America defensive end Tuli Tuipulotu, but they still need former No. 1 overall recruit Korey Foreman to emerge as a force from spring practice.

9. Utah 

The Utes managed to knock off USC twice in the same season — like it did Oregon in 2021 — to defend its Pac-12 crown despite holding one of the worst passing attacks in the league, just 50th-best in the nation.

And that was with Dalton Kincaid amassing a measly 890 yards. If Andy Ludwig can find Cam Rising just two great threats at pass-catching positions this spring, the Utes might dream of playing in a national semifinal.

Maybe Indiana transfer Emery Simmons can fill one of those spots after putting together a decent year in 2022 that included a game with six catches and 99 receiving yards against Maryland and four catches for 64 yards against Big Ten West champ Purdue.

11. Washington

Michael Penix, Jr. returns to a team that not only won 11 games in 2022 but returns all three top wideouts: Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk.

Odunze and McMillan combined for 154 catches, over 2,200 receiving yards and 16 TD catches in 2022.

Expect the Huskies to use this spring to maintain their aerial advantage and ask the defense to catch up.

14. TCU

Arguably no team lost more playmakers and talent off its 2022 iteration than Texas Christian. And that math doesn’t even include losing Garrett Riley to Clemson.

Max Duggan, Quentin Johnston, Taye Barber and Kendre Miller are all gone, meaning the offense is in the hands of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, quarterback Chandler Morris, tight end Jack Bech and wideouts Savion Williams, JoJo Earle and Jordan Hudson.

However, Horned Frogs headman Sonny Dykes might think the most talented QB on the 2022 team was on the bench and that Briles’ offense can provide the shock to the Big 12 that defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie’s did last season.

15. Oregon

The Ducks don’t just return Bo Nix, who enjoyed a brilliant first season in Eugene, but they also bring back tailbacks Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington, who combined for 1,837 yards rushing in 2022.

As long as offensive coordinator Will Stein doesn’t fix what ain’t broken, the Ducks should use the spring to begin a march on the conference title game. After all, there’s no Georgia in the way to muddy the picture of an otherwise sound Ducks program.

17. UCLA

Chip Kelly recently re-signed with the Bruins through 2027, after UCLA finished in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2014.

In UCLA’s last season of Pac-12 play, he’s going into a QB derby that features Kent State transfer Colin Schlee, Ethan Garbers and five-star freshman Dante Moore. If he picks the right playcaller, the Bruins can expect to equal or surpass their nine-win season a year ago. Spring will be crucial to making that decision.

19. Oregon State 

The Beavers enjoyed the best scoring defense in the Pac-12 last year, giving up just 20 points per game. OSU returns four all-conference Pac-12 performers to their secondary in Alex Austin, Jaydon Grant, Ryan Cooper Jr., and Kitan Oladapo.

Now they’ve added former five-star recruit DJ Uiagalelei, who looks like the presumptive starter in Corvallis and could help them make the leap from feel-good Pac-12 story to a Pac-12 championship contender.

20. Colorado

Along with five-star cornerback Cormani McClain, four-star running back Dylan Edwards might prove to be an important piece to the Coach Prime experience in Boulder this season.

However, with talent at the skill positions, spring will be most important for the Buffalo offensive and defensive lines as quarterback Shedeur Sanders gets comfortable playing Power 5 football.

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March 7th

ESPN Pac-12 Spring Preview: “How will Deion Sanders begin to reshape a Division I program that needs not just help but a complete overhaul?”

From ESPN … While the conference deals with its impending search for a new media deal and potential expansion in the wake of USC’s and UCLA’s 2024 departure to the Big Ten, this spring will be the first time we get to see glimpses of some of the Pac-12’s new additions as well as returning stars as it solidifies itself as the conference of quarterbacks.

USC’s Caleb Williams leads the charge after winning the Heisman last season as a sophomore while Oregon’s Bo Nix, Utah’s Cam Rising and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. all opted to return to school for one more year. All four of those teams should enter and emerge from spring ball as the favorites.

But don’t overlook teams like Oregon State and Washington State. The former added Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei in the transfer portal while the latter has Cameron Ward coming back for another season. Rounding out the lineup is Kent State transfer Collin Schlee at UCLA (who will have to keep an eye on freshman Dante Moore), Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne (who landed at Arizona State under new coach Kenny Dillingham) as well as returning starters Jayden de Laura (Arizona) and of course, Deion Sanders’ son Shedeur Sanders, who will be kickstarting a new era of Colorado football.

In what is already a transition year for the Pac-12, it may be staring at its best chance to get a team back into the College Football Playoff since Washington’s lone appearance in 2016.

Colorado … 

Top storyline: Unlike in previous seasons, there are plenty of storylines and questions in and around the program at Boulder heading into this spring, but all of those more or less come back to the same overarching storyline: How will Deion Sanders begin to reshape a Division I program that needs not just help but a complete overhaul? That overhaul has already begun in myriad ways, but spring camp should be the first look at what Sanders (as well as the seven Jackson State players who followed him to Colorado) will bring to the table.

Newcomer to watch: Travis Hunter. After shocking the sport by getting Hunter (the No. 1 overall recruit last season) to pick Jackson State over Florida State, Sanders’ move west meant the Buffs were getting Hunter as well. Colorado isn’t in a place where one elite player could completely elevate their defense, but Hunter’s talent will inevitably raise their floor.

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March 6th

CBS CU Spring Preview: Coach Prime Looking for Quick Turnaround

From CBS Sports … After nearly two decades of mediocrity, Colorado decided to swing big and brought on Deion Sanders to lead its football program. Sanders emerged as one of the biggest coaching names in the sport after guiding Jackson State to a 23-3 record over the past two seasons, but now the NFL legend faces his most intriguing coaching challenge yet at a moribund program in Boulder.

The Buffaloes went 1-11 in Karl Dorrell’s final season with the only win coming in the first game after Dorrell was fired. The losses came by an average of more than 30 points per game. This was not only one of the worst programs in the Power Five, but arguably the worst overall program in FBS football — even becoming the first Power Five team to win Tom Fornelli’s Bottom 25 championship upon the conclusion of the 2022 regular season.

Sanders has no interest in being back near the bottom of the sport in 2023. He was aggressive, putting together a dynamic staff with plenty of upside. The roster will look completely different with 46 additions signed to the 85-man roster and more potentially on the way.

Offseason changes

There might not be a team in college football that changed its identity more than the Colorado Buffaloes. After three lackluster years behind Dorrell, the Buffs hitched their wagon to the Deion Sanders train and have quickly become the talk of college football.

Though the spotlight has largely shone on Sanders since his hiring, it’s easy to overlook that he’s also built an impressive staff. Offensive coordinator Sean Lewis excelled as coach at Kent State and was on the shortlist for several Power Five jobs this offseason. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly served in a similar role at Alabama. Tight ends coach Tim Brewster is regarded as one of the best recruiters in football.

“Coach Prime” was clear from the start that he planned to flip the roster, telling players during their first meeting that he was “bringing his own luggage.” He backed it up with 45 new additions in the 2023 cycle, including the No. 1 transfer class in the nation. Seven of his transfers came with him from Jackson State, former No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter chief among them.

Spring outlook

Few programs need to have a strong spring slate more than Colorado. More than half the roster was not on campus in 2022, and more could change soon. Bringing seven transfers from Jackson State will help set a baseline, but the holes are deep.

Offensively, Shedeur Sanders should fit nicely into the Lewis offense. Lewis coached under Dino Babers at all three of his stops, and led lowly Kent State to the No. 2 total offense in the MAC. After Lewis’ departure, his quarterback, Collin Schlee, transferred to UCLA. Sanders should be able to accomplish even more in this offense if Lewis can find the pieces to match. South Florida’s two leading receivers — Xavier Weaver and Jimmy Horn Jr. — will help set the tone.

Defensively, Kelly has his work cut out. The Buffaloes fielded the worst Power Five defense in the nation, giving up more than 509 yards per game. The only impact defender on the roster, Josh Chandler-Semedo, is lost to graduation. Hunter and five-star recruit Cormani McClain should help close the gap, but there’s little pathway for the line play to be passable in the Pac-12.

The ceiling for Sanders’ squad, however, will come in the trenches. Nine of Colorado’s 26 transfers were offensive or defensive linemen, along with two others from junior college. All eyes will be on offensive line coach Bill O’Boyle as he tries to pull a passable unit together.

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March 5th

Athlon: CU Spring Storylines to Watch 

From Athlon Sports … While positions like quarterback and one of the corner spots are locked down, there are a handful of key position battles that Buffs fans need to look out for this spring.

Position battles typically last until fall camp, and can even go as long as a week or so before the season opener, but spring ball can give someone the advantage to build their stock up.

Here is a look at the top position battles to watch this spring.

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March 4th

Athlon Pac-12 Spring Power Rankings: CU in at No. 11

From Athlon Sports … Spring practice has already started or will soon for all 12 teams in the Pac-12 for the 2023 college football season. Although it’s tough to get an accurate read on teams from practices in the spring, this is the first set of official workouts and provides some insight into rosters, coaching outlooks, transfers or impact freshmen for the upcoming year.

With USC, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State and UCLA clustered in the top tier for ’23, this spring is crucial for each team to begin finding the right answers to push for the conference title. The Trojans are Athlon’s way-too-early favorite, but any of those teams in the top tier could make a case for a trip to Las Vegas for the conference title game. Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Colorado’s improvement under new coach Deion Sanders is worth monitoring, and there’s plenty of intrigue at places like Arizona, Washington State and Arizona State.

What are the early storylines to watch and how do the teams stack up in the Pac-12 going into ’23? Here are Athlon’s top things to watch on both sides of the ball for the conference going into spring practice:

  1. USC
  2. Washington
  3. Oregon
  4. Utah
  5. Oregon State
  6. UCLA
  7. Washington State
  8. Arizona
  9. California
  10. Arizona State
  11. Colorado …. What to Watch on Offense: With so many new faces and a new scheme arriving in Boulder, the spring is the first chance for new coach Deion Sanders and coordinator Sean Lewis to put the pieces in place for ’23. A handful of transfers – including quarterback Shedeur Sanders – should help the offense take a significant step forward. The development of the line is worth monitoring this spring …What to Watch on Defense: Similar to the offense, the Buffaloes have a handful of impact transfers arriving this offseason on defense. After giving up 45.1 points a game in Pac-12 contests last year, the climb to improvement won’t be easy. This spring should provide insight into just how far this group will improve in ’23.
  12. Stanford

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February 28th

247 Sports picks the Pac-12 standings: CU in at 4-8, 3-6

From 247 Sports … College football is many months away but as the summer months approach, we predicted the Pac-12’s order of finish. We also predicted each team’s final record ahead of a highly anticipated season on the West Coast.

Five teams — Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Utah and Washington — are the preseason top contenders to win the Pac-12 championship. Of those teams, USC will likely be crowned the preseason favorite, and rightfully so, as it returns Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

The Trojans quarterback has a shot at repeating as the winner of the award but Washington looks to have a player take home the award for the first time in history with Michael Penix Jr. back in Seattle for another season. Those two quarterbacks will dominate headlines throughout the summer and collide in the regular season.

Below is our way-too-early order of finish predictions for the Pac-12 in 2023 along with every team’s projected final record.

  1. USC … 10-2, 8-1
  2. Oregon … 10-2, 7-2
  3. Washington … 10-2, 7-2
  4. Oregon State … 10-2, 7-2
  5. Utah … 8-4, 6-3
  6. UCLA … 7-5, 4-5
  7. Arizona State … 7-5, 4-5
  8. Washington State … 6-6, 4-5
  9. Arizona … 5-7, 3-6
  10. Colorado … 4-8, 3-6  Wins: Colorado State, Arizona State, Stanford, Arizona … Losses: TCU, Nebraska, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, Utah …. Colorado will be drastically better than it was in 2023, but we know that already. The question everyone is asking is how much better it will be. Our answer is that the Buffaloes will be a contender in the Pac-12, just not in Deion Sanders’ first year at the helm. The roster has no shortage of high-level players, with Travis Hunter being the headliner but the schedule is what we view as the toughest in the conference. Opening the season against TCU will be a challenge, but the Week 2 clash against Nebraska could tell us a lot about what the Buffs’ will accomplish in 2023. We expect the strength of schedule and a lack of depth to keep Colorado out of a bowl game, but it should be a highly competitive team.
  11. California … 3-9, 1-8
  12. Stanford … 2-10, 0-9

Read full story here



February 21st

ESPN’s Bill Connelly: Stats show FCS transfers are being better scouted and faring better

… Good news for CU and its large transfer Class, which includes nine FCS transfers … 

From ESPN … The 2022 college football season was plenty of things. It was the year of the burgeoning Georgia dynasty. It was the year of great playoff semifinals.

Most of all, though, it was the year of the transfer. Thanks to the NCAA’s long-time-coming decision to allow first-time transfers to change schools without sitting for a year, and thanks to the general proliferation of the transfer portal as a means for roster building, FBS coaches made full use of transient talent.

A decade ago, it was a pretty big deal if a school took five or six transfers in one class; in 2022, FBS teams averaged more than seven. It was a dizzying experience.

… In 2021, 68% of all transfers to FBS teams came from schools at the power conference level. Last year transfers from Power 5 schools made up 65% of the pool, a slight decrease, as coaches proved slightly more willing to take on transfers from FCS schools. Considering the successes of these moves, they were also more capable of scouting these small schools properly.

In terms of pure volume and success, transfers between Power 5 schools remain the gold standard. Like transfers between Group of 5 schools, those players can be scouted in a pretty clear like-for-like way — what’s on film is coming against a similar level of competition — and the success rates for both types of moves are high. The most interesting shift in this season’s data came from the small-schoolers.

FCS-to-FBS guys made up a disproportionately high percentage of transfers on the offensive line (28% of players, compared to the overall average of 16%) and in the secondary (25%, compared to the overall average of 20%). A potential reason is that the positions most directly dependent on pure size or speed might be the easiest to scout. Regardless, an emphasis on these positions resulted in a number of high-level successes. On the line, Penn State’s Hunter Nourzad (Cornell) and Texas State’s Richard West (Texas A&M-Commerce) stand out.

What this might mean for 2023: We talked about potential O-line stars Cornelius and Ayedze above, but Colorado coach Deion Sanders is leaning heavily on the transfer portal to make desperately needed upgrades to the Buffaloes’ overall talent level.

Among the multitude of transfers are quite a few small-schoolers. Sanders brought in a trio of former Jackson State defensive backs, including Travis Hunter; offensive lineman Landon Bebee (Missouri State) will have a chance to make a quick impact as well. Deion didn’t stop there, bringing in JSU quarterback Shedeur Sanders and Dartmouth defensive tackle Shane Cokes, among loads of others from all levels.

Continue reading story here


February 20th 

Phil Steele: CU to face the 29th-most difficult schedule (4th in the Pac-12) 

From Phil Steele … It’s the middle of February. So far only the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12 and CUSA have announced their schedules with dates for 2023. Last year I waited until April when all the conferences had their official schedules updated. The good news is that for the remaining 4 conference’s they have announced their opponents for 2023 just not what dates the games are on.

There are many ways to calculate schedule strength.  The most commonly used method is to combine opponents’ records from the previous season. Using this metric the toughest 2023 schedule belongs to South Carolina, whose opponents won 66.0% of their games in 2022. Michigan State (62.7%) comes in at #2 and West Virginia (62.4%) is number three. You can see by using this measurement Ohio (39.5%), New Mexico St (39.7%) and Temple (41.3%) have the easiest schedules for 2023 based on using 2022’s final records for opponent strength.

… Another way to look at schedule strength would be how many opponents that finished in the Top 25 the previous year does a team face?  In 2021 Florida St, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Purdue, Kansas, and Baylor all led the way with five games vs teams that finished in the Top 25 in 2020 and only ONE of the six teams managed to have a winning record in 2021 (Baylor)! Last year six teams faced five teams that finished 2021 ranked. Those six teams were Mississippi State, Texas Tech, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, BYU, and Louisville. Those six, fared better with 5 making it to a bowl. This year there are six teams who face SIX teams that that finished ranked in 2022. Those six teams with rugged schedules are Arizona, Arizona St, California, Colorado (welcome to the FBS Deion Sanders), Florida and Stanford.

Pac-12 … based on last year’s winning percentage …

  • No. 12 … California
  • No. 15 … Stanford
  • No. 20 … Arizona State
  • No. 29 … Colorado … Opponents’ combined record: 88-67 (56.8%) … 6 ranked opponents … 7 teams with winning records and bowl appearances
  • No. 37 … Utah
  • No. 55 … Washington
  • No. 61 … Arizona
  • No. 63 … Oregon State
  • No. 71 … UCLA
  • No. 97 …Oregon
  • No. 98 … USC
  • No. 113 … Washington State

Read full story here


February 19th

Athlon Sports: Shedeur Sanders may be the biggest wildcard in college football

From Keith Borba at Athlon Sports … The Pac-12 arguably has the best group of quarterbacks in the country ahead of the 2023 season with four of the top-15 passers from this past season returning.

From top to bottom the arm talent is unmatched when you compare it to the rest of the country, but there is one name that is only right to declare the wildcard. Colorado quarterback, Shedeur Sanders, followed his dad from Jackson State and is looking to help turn around a dormant program.

Standing in his way are Heisman hopefuls Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), Bo Nix (Oregon), Cam Rising (Utah) and of course this past year’s Heisman winner Caleb Williams (USC). Not to mention D.J. Uiagalelei has found a home in the Pac-12 at Oregon State.

With all of this talent on the West coast, it has only made the next season that much more fascinating when you add Sanders to the mix. The former four-star shredded the FCS defenses, throwing for nearly 7,000 yards and 70 touchdowns in his two seasons in Mississippi. With all of the elite quarterbacks out west, it has become increasingly difficult to decipher who is among the best in the country and who is in that tier below.

Here are my rankings of the Pac-12 quarterbacks ahead of the 2023 season sorted into tiers.

1. Sam Jackson, Cal

2. Ari Patu/Ashton Daniels/ Myles Jackson, Stanford

1. Drew Pyne, ASU

2. Collin Schlee, UCLA

1. Caleb Williams, USC

2. Michael Penix Jr., Washington

3. Bo Nix, Oregon

4. Cam Rising, Utah

Read full story here


February 14th

ESPN SP+ Preseason Rankings: CU climbs out of the 100s

From ESPN … The offseason is over! SP+ is here! With the 2023 recruiting class — both traditional signings and transfers — in the books for now, and with a reasonable feel for who’s returning and who isn’t, we can take our first step toward the 2023 college football season with the initial SP+ projections.

When last we saw college football, Georgia was finishing the season as an easy No. 1. What’s changed since then?

I base SP+ projections on three primary factors, weighted by their predictiveness:

1. Returning production. The returning production numbers are based on rosters I have updated as much as possible to account for transfers and attrition. The combination of last year’s SP+ ratings and adjustments based on returning production make up about half of the projections formula.

2. Recent recruiting. This piece informs us of the caliber of a team’s potential replacements (and/or new stars) in the lineup. It is determined by the past few years of recruiting rankings in diminishing order (meaning the most recent class carries the most weight). Beginning this season, I am also incorporating transfers — both the quality and the volume — in a different way. After last season’s transfer-heavy recruiting shift, I’ve got a bit more data for how to handle that. This piece makes up about one-third of the projections formula.

3. Recent history. Using a sliver of information from previous seasons (two to four years ago) gives us a good measure of overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right? This is a minor piece of the puzzle — only about 15% — but the projections are better with it than without.

From the Pac-12 …

  • No. 8 … Oregon
  • No. 10 … USC
  • No. 13 … Utah
  • No. 16 … Washington
  • No. 19 … TCU 
  • No. 21 … UCLA
  • No. 31 … Oregon State
  • No. 48 … Nebraska
  • No. 53 … Washington State
  • No. 58 … California
  • No. 63 … Arizona State
  • No. 78 … Arizona
  • No. 94 … Colorado 
  • No. 102 … Stanford
  • No. 119 … Colorado State 

Read full story here


February 8th

Pac-12 Quarterback Rankings: Where does Shedeur Sanders fit?

From the San Jose Mercury News … No conference will feature a better array of starting quarterbacks in 2023 than the Pac-12, which claims the reigning Heisman Trophy winner (USC’s Caleb Williams), two contenders for the ’23 Heisman (Washington’s Michael Penix and Oregon’s Bo Nix), plus a slew of gifted newcomers and experienced veterans.

But there’s more to quarterback play than the quality of the starter. The Quarterback Comfort Quotient (QBCQ) takes the backups into account, as well. Teams with solid options (if the starter is injured) are best equipped to navigate the season.

The first QBCQ of 2023 examines the quarterback depth across the conference in its current form. We’ll publish a revised version after spring practice and a third edition at the close of training camp.

(Note: Previous school is listed for transfers; hometown is noted for high school signees.)

1. Washington – Projected starter: Michael Penix, Jr.

2. USC – Projected starter: Caleb Williams

3. Oregon – Projected starter: Bo Nix

4. UCLA – Projected starter: Dante Moore (Detroit)

5. Oregon State – Projected starter: DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson)

6. Arizona State – Projected starter: Jaden Rashada (Pittsburgh, California)

7. Arizona – Projected starter: Jayden de Laura

8. Utah – Projected starter: Cam Rising

9. Colorado –  Projected starter: Shedeur Sanders (Jackson State)
Top backup: Drew Carter
Comment: The Buffaloes had five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster last season — a metaphor for the debacle if ever there was one — and only Carter has remained through the coaching transition. Everything depends on Sanders, who played at an elite level against second-tier opponents at Jackson State. Our view: Even in a best-case scenario, his transition to Power Five competition will be uneven.

10. Washington State – Projected starter: Cam Ward

11. Cal – Projected starter: Sam Jackson (TCU)

12. Stanford – Projected starter: Ari Patu

Read full story here


February 6th

Athlon Sports: Five New Players for Buff Fans to Watch For This Fall

From Athlon Sports … Colorado fans are likely still recovering from having to watch their favorite team win just one game this past season, and four the year before.

However, there are now reasons for optimism in Boulder ahead of the 2023 season. Deion Sanders is at the helm, and there is a newly found energy surrounding the program that likely hasn’t been felt since the Sefo Liufau days. Not only did the Hall-of-Fame defensive back take the head coaching job with hopes to turn the program around, but he has already brought in an influx of talent via the transfer portal and the high school ranks.

In total, there will be 43 new faces on the roster this next season which means there will be a ton of new Buffs that fans need to get acquainted with. Let’s take a look at the five that you need to watch out for come 2023! Note, neither Travis Hunter nor Shedeur Sanders will be included, because we all know what they are bringing to the table next season.

One of the craziest storylines of the offseason ended with five-star corner Cormani McClain ending up in Boulder. Now that all of the madness of his recruitment is over, Colorado fans are hopeful that he will be locking down one side of the field while Travis Hunter mans the other. The Buffs ranked No. 113 in passing yards allowed giving up 264 a game and nearly 13 yards per completion. He is viewed as a future first round pick, and while he is just a freshman, Colorado needs him to step in immediately. It will help that Sanders and company brought in two talented safety transfers in Myles Slusher and Cam’Ron Silmon who can help provide support.


January 25th

CBS: CU among “teams that can crack the top 25 and make some noise in 2023”

From CBS Sports … We already gave you the Way Too Early Top 25, so now let’s focus on the group of schools just outside that list. They have a lot in common: rebounds. Rather, potential rebound seasons.

Thanks to the transfer portal and the one-time transfer rule, teams have been able to remake themselves quicker than plastic surgery. Just look at 2022 with USC, Tulane and TCU, the latter of which became the first to go from losing program to College Football Playoff National Championship appearance.

Get used to it. Those coaches who have mastered the portal the quickest seem to have prospered the most. Among the list of 12 schools below that could creep into the top 25, three had sub-.500 records in 2022. Another two finished 7-6. Five improved by at least two games from 2021, proving the point that turnarounds can happen in a hurry.

Be reminded, this is one of the most volatile sports on the planet. As they say in financial management, past performance does not guarantee future results.

Colorado … Tulane just set the one-year turnaround record going from 2-10 to 12-2. USC played for the Pac-12 and went to the Cotton Bowl a year after going 4-8. So, no, this isn’t outrageous as it seems. Deion Sanders has brought his “Louie” in the form of 19 transfers (so far). His son, Shedeur Sanders, will have a lot of pressure on him at quarterback. The schedule is tough, but so is life. It’s time for Coach Prime to walk the walk right away. A bowl is almost expected considering what Sanders has said and done in recruiting so far. Anything beyond 6-6 would be amazing gravy.

Read full story here


January 20th

Wilner: CU has moved past three teams in Pac-12 Power Rankings

From the San Jose Mercury News … We are seven months from the most anticipated Pac-12 football season in ages, with a lineup of quarterbacks, coaches, top-25 teams, playoff contenders and Heisman Trophy candidates — not to mention two departing schools — that will generate unlimited storylines on the field and off.

With the recruiting largely complete, the NFL Draft deadline having come and gone and the transfer portal finally closed (until May), rosters are taking shape.

The Hotline presents our initial projections for the conference race, which will be updated following spring practice.

  1. Washington
  2. Utah
  3. Oregon
  4. USC
  5. Oregon State
  6. UCLA
  7. Washington State
  8. Arizona
  9. Colorado … Peer through the massive hype accompanying Deion Sanders’ arrival — granted, that’s not an easy task — and it’s clear the Buffaloes will be exponentially better than they were in 2022. But better doesn’t equal good, not when CU was the worst Power Five team in the land last season and not when the schedule features five teams that won 10 or more games (including TCU). If the Buffaloes finish 4-8 and are competitive in the majority of the losses, count the season as a success.
  10. Cal
  11. Arizona State
  12. Stanford

Read full story here


January 16th

USA Today projections: CU 8th in Pac-12 (5-7, 3-6)

From … The 2022 college football season officially came to a close, and the 2023 offseason is now upon us. While you would think that means we are done talking about football for a bit until spring ball rolls around, you’re wrong.

It simply means that now when we talk about football, we are looking to the future, rather than evaluating the past.

We are going to dive deep into the future today, taking a look at the Pac-12 conference as a whole in 2023. It is going to be among the most anticipated seasons we’ve had in a long time out west, with some high-profile quarterbacks like Heisman winner Caleb Williams leading a group of passers that includes Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr., Cameron Rising, and D.J. Uiagalelei, among many others.

There’s a chance that the Pac-12 could be as competitive and ruthless as we’ve ever seen it, with a real possibility that 5 or 6 teams will end up being ranked inside the top 25 to start the season.

So who will be at the top of the food chain in 2023, and what will everyone’s records look like when all is said and done? Let’s make some predictions. Here is how I see the Pac-12 shaking out when it comes to final record predictions and bowl game projections.

The Pac-12 …

  1. USC
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington
  4. Oregon State
  5. Utah
  6. UCLA
  7. Washington State
  8. Colorado… How quickly can Deion Sanders turn around the Colorado Buffaloes? I think we will see improvements in 2023 for sure, but to project a team that went 1-11 in 2022 will make a bowl game seems ambitious. The Buffs have played the transfer portal better than almost any team in the nation, and some of the players now in Boulder are among the most talented in all of college football, but I don’t think that will instantly translate into a massive turnaround. Regardless, the Buffs are going to be fun to watch in 2023 no matter what happens. In the conference, I see Colorado beating ASU, Arizona, and Stanford, but losing to everyone else. Projected 2023 Record: 5-7 (3-6)
  9. Arizona
  10. Arizona State
  11. Cal
  12. Stanford

Read full story here


January 14th

Athlon Sports Pac-12 Predictions: CU out of the basement (but just barely)

From Athlon Sports … Strength at the top of the league should be a theme for the Pac-12 in the 2023 college football season. A couple of teams have a strong case for the No. 1 spot in the early predictions and power rankings, but for now, USC gets the nod at the top, followed by Washington, Oregon, Utah and Oregon State. All five teams rank in the top 25 of Athlon’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 for next season. The intrigue also extends to the middle of the conference where UCLA looks to build off coach Chip Kelly’s best season, Washington State returns quarterback Cameron Ward, and Arizona aims to make a bowl under third-year coach Jedd Fisch. Colorado is intriguing under new coach Deion Sanders, with California and Arizona State looking to rebound after missing out on the postseason in ’22. New coach Troy Taylor has a significant rebuilding effort ahead at Stanford.

It’s never too early to think about predictions or rankings for the 2023 college football season. With that in mind, Athlon provides its very early power rankings for the Pac-12 for 2023:

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Washington
  • 3. Oregon
  • 4. Utah
  • 5. Oregon State
  • 6. UCLA
  • 7. Washington State
  • 8. Arizona
  • 9. California
  • 10. Arizona State
  • 11. Colorado … Not only will Coach Prime in Boulder be must-see television each week, but the Buffaloes are also likely to be significantly improved. Colorado is bringing in one of the nation’s top transfer classes, which includes Deion’s son Shedeur Sanders and former five-star prospect Travis Hunter. In addition to Sanders’ work on the recruiting trail, he also assembled a quality staff, which includes former Kent State coach Sean Lewis as the offensive play-caller. Although Colorado should show improvement, Coach Prime will need time to rebuild here. The Buffaloes were outscored 406-155 in Pac-12 play and just one of the team’s 11 losses was decided by one score.
  • 12. Stanford

Pac-12’s Toughest Non-conference schedule? CU again (of course)

From the San Jose Mercury News

The dates of the 2023 conference games haven’t been finalized, but the opponents for each team are known. Do you agree that Utah has the toughest out-of-conference schedule and Oregon has the toughest in-conference schedule? — Jon Joseph

Sure, you could make the case for Utah, which plays Florida at home, Baylor on the road and Weber State. Anytime two of the three opponents are Power Five programs, the challenge is substantial.

But Colorado typically plays one of the toughest non-conference lineups, and 2023 is no exception. The Buffaloes open on the road against TCU, then host Nebraska and also play Colorado State.

Granted, Weber State is a quality FCS program. But the Hotline would prefer to face Utah’s trio of opponents.

And let’s not discount Washington’s schedule. The Huskies visit Michigan State, and they host Boise State, which should have a top-25 team, and Tulsa.

When the weakest opponent (purportedly) is a five-win team from the American, there are no cupcakes.

And yes, the conference schedule rotation for 2023 is set. In fact, the Hotline published all the schedules (in cross-division format) a few years ago.

Oregon plays everyone in the old North division, plus USC (home) and Utah (road).

But I’d argue the toughest intra-conference lineup belongs to Cal, which is set to face not only the Northwest schools but also USC, Utah and UCLA, plus Colorado.

Oh, and the Bears play Auburn, as well.

Read full story here

ESPN’s First Preseason Top 25 includes five Pac-12 teams 

From ESPN … The team that couldn’t win a national championship for more than four decades can’t stop winning them.

After winning its first national title since 1980 last season, Georgia crushed TCU 65-7 on Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T. The Bulldogs became the first team in the CFP era to win consecutive national titles.

And it seems like Georgia coach Kirby Smart is just getting started. With a plethora of young defensive stars, a deep receiver corps and a cupboard full of former five-star recruits coming back, the Bulldogs are the No. 1 team in the 2023 Way-Too-Early Top 25.

The Bulldogs are followed by Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State and Alabama.

CFP participants Ohio State, Georgia and Michigan were all ranked in the top five of last year’s Way-Too-Early Top 25. TCU wasn’t ranked at all.

Among the teams that were ranked too high: Texas A&M (No. 4!), NC State, Oklahoma State and Michigan State. In addition to TCU, teams ranked too low (or unranked) included Tennessee, Kansas State, Washington and Tulane.

From the Pac-12 … 

7. USC Trojans

2022 record: 11-3, 8-1 Pac-12

Expected returning starters: 5 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams

Outlook: The Trojans just missed out on winning a Pac-12 championship and reaching the CFP in coach Lincoln Riley’s first season. Then they collapsed late against Tulane and lost 46-45 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. This past season looked all too familiar for a Riley-coached team: a Heisman Trophy winner leading an explosive offense and a defense that couldn’t stop anyone. The Trojans will have plenty of firepower coming back on offense in 2023, including Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and receivers Mario Williams, Tahj Washington and Brenden Rice. Singer, who led the Pac-12 with 1,105 receiving yards at Arizona this past season, was a nice addition from the transfer portal. So was Cobb, who had 96 tackles at Oklahoma State, and Roland-Wallace, who started 29 games at Arizona the past three seasons. Tarquin was an important addition with three starters leaving the offensive line. The Trojans will play Notre Dame and Oregon on the road next season, and they’ll get UCLA, Utah and Washington at home.

9. Oregon Ducks

2022 record: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-12

Expected returning starters: 6 offense, 5 defense, 2 special teams

Outlook: Dan Lanning’s first season as a head coach started with a thud, as the Ducks fell to Georgia 49-3 in their opener. But Lanning and his staff did a remarkable job keeping the team together, finishing 10-3 and defeating North Carolina 28-27 in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. The good news for 2023: Quarterback Bo Nix announced he’s coming back after throwing for 3,594 yards with 44 total touchdowns. The bad news: Four starters from a very experienced offensive line are expected to depart. Lanning worked the transfer portal hard to pick up Angilau, who was a multi-year starter at Texas before missing 2022 with an injury, and Cornelius, who was one of the top transfers from Rhode Island. Lanning helped build a defense that led Georgia to a national title in 2021, but his first unit at Oregon wasn’t very good. Losing Sewell, Gonzalez and Johnson won’t make things easier. Lanning proved his recruiting chops by signing the No. 8 class in the FBS, according to ESPN Recruiting.

11. Washington Huskies

2022 record: 11-2, 7-2 Pac-12

Expected returning starters: 7 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams

Outlook: Kalen DeBoer, who won three NAIA national championships at the University of Sioux Falls, didn’t need long to completely transform Washington’s program. After going 4-8 in 2021, the Huskies finished 11-2 this past season. They beat rivals Oregon and Washington State and four ranked opponents. With quarterback Michael Penix Jr. deciding to come back, along with a handful of other underclassmen who were eligible for the NFL draft, Washington might be a CFP sleeper in 2023. Penix Jr. flourished in DeBoer’s offense, throwing for 4,641 yards with 31 touchdowns. The Huskies will have to rebuild their interior offensive line, but most of its skill players are expected back. Leading tackler Cook and Bright are key losses on defense.

12. TCU Horned Frogs

2022 record: 13-2, 9-0 Big 12

Expected returning starters: 5 offense, 7 defense, 0 special teams

Outlook: The Horned Frogs struck paydirt in hiring former SMU coach Sonny Dykes, as he led them to a 12-0 record in the regular season and an unexpected trip to the CFP after starting the season unranked. Maintaining that success isn’t going to be easy. With some key additions through the transfer portal, however, TCU should remain a Big 12 title contender. Duggan is gone after a storybook senior season. Chandler Morris, who opened the 2022 season as the starter, is in line to replace him, although Dykes said he might add another passer from the transfer portal. Miller, the leading rusher, and Johnson, the top receiver, are also probably entering the NFL draft. TCU’s nonconference schedule in 2023 includes home games against Colorado, FCS program Nicholls and SMU.

13. Utah Utes

2022 record: 10-4, 7-2 Pac-12

Expected returning starters: 7 offense, 8 defense, 2 special teams

Outlook: The Utes have reached unprecedented heights by winning back-to-back Pac-12 championships and making consecutive trips to the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, both of those games ended in losses after starting quarterback Cam Rising was hurt. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Rising’s leg injury wasn’t good and his recovery would take a while. It’s unclear how much that affected his decision to return to Utah for one more season. Rising announced on Monday that he’s coming back, and if he’s healthy, the Utes could be very good again in 2023. Kincaid is leaving, along with leading rushers Thomas and Bernard, who entered the transfer portal. Phillips was one of the best cornerbacks in the country and is also departing. Damuni, a team captain at Stanford last season, might be able to replace Diabate at middle linebacker.

17. Oregon State Beavers

2022 record: 10-3, 6-3 Pac-12

Expected returning starters: 8 offense, 6 defense, 1 special teams

Outlook: Jonathan Smith has quietly done remarkable work at his alma mater, guiding the Beavers to only their third 10-win campaign in school history this past season. The Beavers closed the season with four straight victories, including a 30-3 rout of Florida in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl. Oregon State ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in passing in 2022, and Smith hopes Uiagalelei, a former starter at Clemson, can once again find his confidence. Four starting offensive linemen are expected back; Starck, a 12-game starter at Nevada in 2022, might fill the lone hole. Omotosho had 6½ sacks and 46 tackles at Wyoming last season. The Beavers will have to replace three starters in the secondary. Oregon State’s nonconference schedule in 2023 isn’t overwhelming, and it will play Pac-12 opponents UCLA, Utah and Washington at home.

Just missed the Top 25: South Carolina, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, UCLA, Troy, Maryland and Boise State


52 Replies to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. Over the years, I have found Athlon to be the least credible of the preseason magazines. This recent commentary supports that view. If the Buffs can’t pull this massive transformation together in the first year, then it’s a failure? Ridiculous. From my several decades of change management experience, yes, you can sometimes have quick success but what is more probable is that meaningful change will take over a year. Why? Clearly tangible factors are required but IMO it’s the intangible, less visible factors that will produce sustainable and meaningful results. I agree that bowl game would be on the high end of results but I see no “failure”. Athlon usually relies on what has happened in the past to predict the future and has short sighted views. No surprise here. As for Narduzzi, he is displaying that the game will soon pass him by if it hasn’t already done so. The college football environment has changed radically and he is talking about past operating modes which, if he sticks to rigidly, will doom him to failure in the not too distant future. Then he can rock in his rocking chair and “talk about dem good ole days”. Per an earlier post, all the critics will emerge this Fall. Pay them no heed. Patience to 2024 will win out. Go Buffs!!

  2. Pee on the preseason poo. How many of you saw Derek White extend the Celtic’s season with 1/10th of a second left?

    1. That was an incredible finish. History making conference and upcoming overall NBA finals. Fun to have something like this to watch before football season starts.

  3. How does a new head coach like Dillingham, who has never had a head position at any level, get rated higher than a head coach who has already had successful head coaching experience elsewhere? Just goes to show that these idiots can talk all they want about their rating criteria, but in matter of fact they are making it up as they go along.

  4. Here’s a thought: let’s say The 2023 Buffs get six or seven wins, (or more). Does coach prime get voted coach of the year? Or does the “industry” shun him?

    Talk amongst yourselves.

    Go Buffs!

  5. I would think Prime would be above 59 on recruiting prowess alone. Much less his success in FCS. I saw the snippet of him meeting with some group and he is nothing but confident he is going to do well from tje get go. The schedule does him no favors though. But I am not sure he would have it any other way. Imagine what happens if we beat TCU? I will be happy if we hang with then and lose by less than 7. I want to beat Nebraska. Beat CSU. And be at least 2-1 going into the PAC 12. But if we go 3-0. I couldn’t imagine the hype.

    1. Eric,
      Where was your “CU at .. ” photo submission taken?
      (I like to keep track of the states/countries with submissions)

  6. Sheesh, Vegas (and they always are correct Eh??) and the whole world of sports writers and sports prognosticators and sports experts expect Prime and his methodology will fail and fail miserable.
    The Prime Buffs will not win now as Coach Prime keeps repeating
    The Prime Buffs will not win in the future as well, as Coach Prime keeps saying.

    I believe
    I hopeful
    I scared

    (the above is the usual mix of Stuarts poll questions)

    I am going with hopeful edging toward belief

    Prime is a praying man.
    Me too

    Dogs be Dogs and Prime wants em

  7. Wilner…..just another dropping on the floor of the chiken coop. I wasnt expecting anything else.
    I’m talking 5 wins and if 5 why not 6? Going to a bowl might come down to the last game of the season at Utah….and they aint anything certain right now either. Gonna need a couple of road wins to accomplish that.
    Kills me how there isn’t anyone of those chiken droppings willing to acknowledge:
    The fact its a completely different team AND staff
    The galactic difference between Prime and the rip van winkle before him not to mention Lewis and Sanford.
    These media morons would rather bet on a passed around carousel rider with callouses on his butt
    The fresh start attitude for almost the entire team.
    Even using the earache factor the apparent talent on D has to be at least 100 percent better.

  8. “An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2023. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2023 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year. Also, team strength does not play a role in selections. These are the best individual players at each position in the league for ’23.”
    Its all based on the past.
    These sports writers must have huge figurative shoulders for all the manure they shovel.
    no wonder Mark Pizzla gets awards from his peers

  9. Tempered because of the actual talent compared to the top of the conference… OK! There is a lot of good talent in the conference and about half will be rated higher than the Buff’s final roster. I’m hoping the difference is that some of the talent from the lower division have more development/playing time than someone playing behind someone on a USC or Oregon, or UW or… But not all of them will field a team that’s as good as the top three or four. Then the matter of opinion/rating will be closer together. Utah has put together good teams from developed players, the Buffs are finally getting developed players, many of the starters will be highly ranked and recruited.

    In the case of rated players that played lower, how much production and experience did they get? Some of the others from FSU or other good teams are coming for a chance to improve their NFL stock, have experience and playing time on good teams, they’ve seen the work ethics the coaches are expecting and are saying “Hell Yea! I’ll sign on for that!”

    So, here’s hoping the hard work, great coaching and motivation results in a few of those six ranked teams to fall to the Buffs. With so many QBs and skilled staying another year, the conference is loaded with talent; more than recent years.

    What would be considered a Cinderella season? Beating TCU & Neb and being 3-0 going into conference with five or more conference wins?

  10. “Colorado is currently being offered at +25000 to win the College Football Playoff.”

    I don’t bet on the Buffs, my universe would just mucked it up for the Buffs… haha, I’m not that powerful, but it just seems to work that way… Maybe I just don’t know how to choose.

    But, I don’t expect a total Cinderella story where CU goes from last to first with a chance to even play in the FC game. If I were to bet and the bet were available with a good payout, I’d bet on CU to make the conference championship game… If I was someone who bet on games. Those odds are big enough to over come with all the talent and established teams in the PAC12. Winning the conference would be “gravy on the top.”

  11. This is why, if a writer references anything from the past, players, coaches or record as the reason for their ranking I don’t bother to read any farther. But if they are talking about the talent rich QBs and/or top talent on teams, you know, they actually researched or follow, then I’ll read.

    Most of the latter still comment some on the past, but their real reason for placing the Buffs below the top 6 in the PAC is the talent and the record of those 6 schools, not because CU sucked last year.

  12. I’m certainly not expecting a conference winning season but these pundolts never cease to get a chuckle (or a head shake) out of me.
    ESPN trying to separate themselves from hype is funny
    and of course we all know that coaching at the FBS level like being on another planet….right? /s

  13. With so much changing I am not sure it is possible to predict. I like Kelly calling the defense. I like Lewis calling the offense. I like Prime as the CEO marketing, holding standards, recruiting and closing. I like Shedeur throwing the ball. Other than that I think we have to see what the on the field product looks like.

  14. Sounds to me that ESPN is slightly worried that Prime’s shine may divert a little advertising attention (read money) away from the holy SEC. Advertising is a load of manure anyway. Kinda sad that most screen endeavors and entertainment are lorded over by a load of manure.
    Not to worry ESPN. I dont watch any SEC games anyway.
    Hopefully Prime will fulfill all the highest expectations helping float the PAC boat back to national prominence giving the SEC ….er….ESPN something to worry about.
    and Yormark?

  15. “Buffaloes do have higher talent scores on both offense and defense than virtually all of the teams around them in the overall rankings. From the model’s perspective, though, that isn’t enough to overcome the recent poor play.”

    So, with more than half the players replaced and more new talent expected to be coming the “program” can’t see past the poor play of last year’s team? A team that had different coaches, different offensive scheme, different QB and a bunch of new talent…

    In fact “THE Program” says “the Buffaloes do have higher talent scores on both offense and defense than virtually all of the teams around them in the overall rankings.” And, with a new offensive play caller from one of last year’s top scoring program, and fastest operating offense, but all of that doesn’t compute either.

    Too bad I just don’t bet one way or the other on my Buffs, I’d make a killing just betting they do better than 95th! If that bet was available in one way or another.

    Win or lose I’m looking for the Buffs to surprise TCU and maybe scare them a bit, and who knows? But, then next week, neb is going down.

  16. So “the news” says the Buffs will only win two PAC12 games and one of those wins will be against UofA who will then win 4 other PAC12 games????

    How do they come up with that crap?

      1. YUM…………..HELP I’m trapped on a desert island with a Big Red Fan. Very tired of corn, gimme some a that prune juice and mushrooms as long as VK hasn’t already used them.

  17. No. 1 – Lincoln Riley, USC
    No. 2 – Kyle Whittingham, Utah

    I’d switch these two, Whittingham took a G5 team to where it is with less than Riley who took over two major programs with talent; he’s good, but Whittingham has 20 years of doing great at building Utah to where it is today.

    No 3 – Kalen DeBoer, Washington

    He is a really solid and good coach who took over a program that the B1G wants, much easier to get and keep talent, but #3 because of program and ability… Do the same at OSU! Before Smith built it.

    No. 4 – Jonathan Smith, Oregon State

    Speak of the devil, deserves his praises. Based on his team’s ranking v when he arrived and he deserves #3 too.

    No. 5 – Dan Lanning, Oregon

    Program and getting the job deserves a good ranking, but really with all of Knight’s money if Oregon was where they should be in rankings he’d be #1 too… Or #2, or #3, but #5 is a let down for Oregon and it’s “We’re B1G material too” attitude.

    No. 6 – Chip Kelly, UCLA
    Middle of the PAC12 is fair, because of he built UCLA up to that with less scholarships in the beginning, but it’s only #6 with the guy that was at Oregon when they were playing for a NC, so there’s that.

    Prime hasn’t won a game in a power conference, so #7 is safe and if he finished at #7 he beat out WSU, Cal (don’t play), Stanford, UofA & ASU. That’s 4 wins plus hopefully Neb and surely CSU plus I think the Buffs can take another win, so could be 7 wins for #7… They hope.

    I’m/We’re hoping for more from the coach that next year will be ranked higher than #7, go Buffs!

  18. “It just feels like Colorado State should be good at football. ”
    might be wild to know what else “just feels like” in this guy’s mind

    1. I do hope CSU gets better in Football, but they should remain little brother up North. The CSU administration and boosters made huge improvements with facilities and their on-campus stadium. That should pay off and Colorado deserves to have 2-3 good football teams each year. They should at least finish most seasons in the top 1/2 of the Mountain West.

      Like CU, they have faced many difficulties losing good coaches, a coach that got sick, and a scandal. They don’t deserve this anymore than the Buffs deserve it. I have NO love for CSU, but I hope that they can improve. IMO, they are trying.

  19. Got no job skills? Be a college sports writer. Gets easier every year now that money is the biggest factor for college teams. The rich get richer. Just look at last year and predict close to the same next year with maybe some minor shuffling at the top. And if you can get a gig pandering to the obsessed fans in the SEC its even easier.
    Spend some time away from the bar and buffet table to do some real investigation? Predict the next TCU? Are you serious? You might have to pay your own travel and expenses what your getting paid for is directly proportional to what you are worth.
    I wonder if guys like Howell, who are closest to their teams, charge dweebs like Backus who take their work and run with it but in this case I dont think Backus even did that. Instead Backus kept his head well within his turtle shell by using “hyped” instead of providing real time predictions of who will win and detailed reasons why.
    No doubt there is an abundance of hype around Coach Prime’s arrival. Duh. Backus was a real wizard to discover that. But of course we have to make our homers feel that Sanders recent success as a coach and his roster makeover means nothing compared to our teams that have been bought and paid for.

  20. Not sure if paper tiger is accurate, but no doubt with a record of 0-0 the buffs are all potential at this point. Really interested to see how these guys deal with adversity in the fall.

  21. If I was Tredore I would be concerned about Lewis offense….. man 10 balls? I think we threw at the tight end more last year and we were god aweful. This would be a shame as he does look legit. I watched the well off media of the 1:1 practices. Horn looked great. Reed held his own as a db but was the only db who did (I think it was reed). Woods got smoked, bad and is not full go for some reason. I think his injury issues are going to get him passed up by guys who are going to be full go. I wonder if Reed can beat out Cormani for the #1 slot or if he is fighting for the slot corner and reps when Hunter needs a breather. I am really interested in how inside linebackers come out. Can Sami keep his starting job or will our best d lineman from last year become a depth piece? On O line you see Wiley a lot in the well off videos. He is putting in the work. I think it will be a fight between him and “Tank” for the other tackle position as the kid from Kent State seems to have the other side locked up. At running back I want to see if Hankerson can crack the line up. I love how he runs….. Smoke is a legit talent but Hankerson impressed me as a true freshman, I wouldn’t mind him getting a year off to get bigger and faster. Edwards out of the backfield looks awesome on the well off videos. So fast!

    1. We did try and throw to the TE last year and it was not good. IMO, Brady Russell was very limited skills wise–speed, size, strength, and making a clean break and getting to the 1st down stick. How many times did we need 8, and he got us 6. I thought that it was sort of a joke when they moved him wide into the slot–he never had a mismatch. Eric Olsen played a some, but I just just think he was too small to get off blocks, and unable to get open no matter if it was a LB, S, or DE dropping into coverage. I saw this in last year’s spring game when they sort of tried to feature him in plays.

      The other guys have just not worked out for whatever reason–injuries, not filling out, etc… I can’t say this for the red-shirt guys, who did not really see the field you. IMO, this position needs vast improvement for the TE’s to be an impact.

      Tredore should be a huge upgrade. IMO, they may need another player or two to make a huge impact expanding the position. A big true slot receiver type guy, may improve things if they are are TE or situational WR setup. Let’s not forget, the improved WR’s and their playmaking/speed should help open up the field + an improved Oline will always help, as would a running game.

      Even with Tredore, IMO featuring pass-catching TE’s might occur later offensive install, so we could be a year or two still away from an active TE game. This year, #1 is protecting the QB. If the Oline cannot block, and the QB is running for his life, sending a TE out into patterns is a luxury. The need could be keeping them home to help double-team a pass rusher. With CU’s talent at WR (presuming it develops) running 3 wide with a blacking back can be enough early on. They can more to 4 wide (one of the inside guys being big) with a good blocking back. If they wind by fall camp that they have enough talent, a 2 TE set could work out.

  22. Whenever I see “way too early” in an article I interpret that as “read no further .” The author is saying that anything I write or say at this point in time is meaningless. So why should I as the reader pay any attention?

  23. Cornholers 48? Based on what? Bleeping hilarious and insipid. I’m glad you read all this blather Stuart and condense it for us. Not sure how you do it and maintain your sanity.

    1. based on clicks and ratings. If one holer asked another of what he thought of this and the second holer said he didnt read it there would be friction. ESPN along with almost every other player from high 3 star up are in it for the money pretty much eliminating what objectivity they might have had

  24. Buffs at 94 next year. Now thats bold prediction….eh? How many of you are taking that to the bank….er….vegas?

    These guys are desperate to stay relevant during the offseason. I googled what they get paid. the average is 45 to 50 thousand a year. You get what you pay for. The only ones taking anything to the bank are the publications and broadcasting companies.

    Masterbate on fellas.

    1. The formula he uses, doesn’t say anything or take into account a coaching change. In CU’s case that’s the a major key to CU’s future progress. CP and his staff are heads and shoulder to shoulder above any staff at CU in the last 20 years… Or many other schools too.

      This staff has how many 10+ wins seasons combined?

      Motivation and building team unity is going to be the difference between a competitive team being good or great and CP and staff seem to have that down.

      A whole new staff and 80-90% of the players on the field (2 deep) are new, and highly rated, so past performance & returning players #1 & #3 can be completely thrown out of the equation.

      Those numbers don’t mean squat!

      Note: A solid back up QB is needed insurance, we’ll see when the next round of transfers happen after spring camp what the actual roster will look like.

        1. Correct! And, before the portal all of that mattered more because transfers were few and it would take a coach a few recruiting classes to rebuild. But the portal changes everything when a coach can rebuild and entire team in just one year.

          USC kind of did it with 22 transfers, CU already has 25 (I think) and CP is not done yet!

          He may bring in 10 more, we don’t know, but that a lot of new talent, an almost completely new starting line up.

  25. “Our view”
    You got a mouse in your pocket Wilner ?
    Let me rank my least favorite pundolts:

    1. Kizla
    The GOAT. His combo of ignorance and jerk makes it a lock he will be at the top of the list until……until what? make that forever.
    His weekly attempt to tell every GM and AD how to run their shop is so embarrassing for him its a delight for me. After this he will probably break into my house and rummage through my laundry hamper.

    2. Wilner
    Yes yes yes the king of arrogance and oblivious. In spite of his awful prediction success rate he keeps churning them out. The west coast is supposed to be the home of diversity but wilner writes like Cal is an island in the middle of the ocean that gets a mail ship once a month.

    3. Keith Jackson
    This will raise some eyebrows. Yeah supposedly he grew up in the south but tor me his “folksyness” came off from where I sit as phony as a hog in a tuxedo. Maybe thats because everytime I watched a game he did he always played over the top for the favorite. (best single one is Collingsworth. The GOAT is the trio of Dandy Don, the mouth Cosell and straight man Gifford)

    4. Rooney
    OK so Rooney seems to have backed off since everyone got on his case for being the opposite of a homer. He is still just as late with a story and redundant as the best of em.

    Yeah the list is about as provincial as a west coast writer but I dont waste time reading all the national paid for nothing know it alls.

    1. just so its clear I never read pissantpizla. I go on the D post occasionally mainly for the headlines on the Avs where I notice pizzla’s delusional headline rambling. No way I will subscribe and put a dime in that paper’s pocket until whoever is at the Post that is protecting him disappears too.

  26. Whoa.
    There are gonna be some “chip on the shoulders” in the Prime Family.

    Go Big Prime Buffs.

    Note: Why does that Wilbur-guy from sandouzy Kali, always seem to just backhand the Buffs. I seem to dislike him intensely and glad stu pays to read him and provide us some free krappola from kali via wilbur

  27. Still pulling for some of the kids still on the team from last year to be contributors. If I mention any that arent I’m sure I will hear about it. Kinda hard to remember everyone who has left or shown the door.
    Van Wells has already proven himself as a rare freshman on the O . Like to see Travis Gray emerge as well. Earache should agree as he has family and Buff genes.
    Hankerson, another freshman, who has also proven he can play.
    We have the new TE hotshot coming in from Ark St but isnt there just one more in the room who might be of value? Maybe this year they will get the chance.
    Maybe a linebacker or 2 and Reed and Woods.
    Amd anyone else, of course,who can hit the field on a regular basis will applauded.
    Chime in if you have other observations in mind

    1. I think Hank will definitely play. Some other RB’s (Venn, Deion) may get some spot carries, but if Edwards comes in as advertised, it will be spot. The will need to find a 3rd down back, who can block. Tyson Jordan and MLC will play. A couple of the Oline guys could make it into the 2 deep (10 players). Toren Pittman was great on ST, he is a tweener, and they may find a Nickle/Dime or some other role for him. You mentioned, Nikko Reed and he is sort of forgotten with all the new DB/S talent, but they could play 5-6 DB’s in some formations, so he could be inserted. If injuries, he could play into a bigger role. I love Comantie McClain but it is tough for a Fresh to plug in and play the whole season. Dion Figures comes to mind playing as a true Frosh, but he was much bigger. Also, Reed is great on special teams. Woods has a good shot to make the 4 deep at S, and would probably play special teams again.

      I’m not expecting much out of the TE’s on the roster. That position has been plagued by injuries and some of the guys have not filled out as expected. Some may see the field if they run a 2 TE set.

      Last week there was news that Guy Thomas may come back. That guy that started at OU. Not sure if he can come back as a WO or a schollie will be available. I think they had him tagged as an ILB, but as I recall he played OLB. That could be an option if they want a Vet at that position. OLB is very detailed oriented and that could be an option.

  28. Buffs get 6 wins as follows: Cornholers, Little Bros. in FoCo, Stanford, ASU, Arizona and WSU. More are possible, those 6 are reasonable to count as wins given the obvious roster upgrades. If things come together by mid to end of the, maybe some upsets are possible like Beavers at home or UCLA on the road. UCLA will be starting a true freshman QB.

    1. Ya know……………………that game with the Kornholer kommunity kollege in stinkn linkn knebraska
      is just kinda bothersome for me………………..weird

      But in case you didn’t know the

      kornholers have not beaten the Mighty Buffs since


      so there is that.

      go buffs kornhole the kornholers

  29. Anyone who follows the sport could have easily predicted these pundolt’s predictions this time of year. Every bit of it based on last year with the exception of giving the Biffs a one spot improvement citing that Prime will need more time to build. I guess replacing half the team the entire coaching staff doesnt register with them. One thing that stands out to me is that I haven’t seen any of the new coaching hires that have recently been fired somewhere else. Both coordinators were very successful at their last positions.

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