Preseason Magazines

June 22nd 

Travis Hunter compared to Hall of Famer Champ Bailey

From Athlon Sports … As the 2025 NFL Draft approaches, Colorado Football’s Travis Hunter is generating significant buzz, with comparisons to Pro Football Hall of Famer Champ Bailey highlighting his potential. ESPN’s Jordan Reid drew attention by showcasing similarities between Hunter and Bailey, particularly in their final college seasons.

During his last year at the University of Georgia, Bailey recorded three interceptions and also caught 47 passes for 744 yards and five touchdowns. Similarly, Hunter, in his true sophomore season with Colorado, notched three interceptions while making 57 catches for 721 yards and five touchdowns.

Both players share striking physical similarities as well. Bailey, at the 1999 NFL Scouting Combine, stood at 6-foot-1 and 184 pounds, running a blazing 4.28 40-yard dash. Hunter mirrors this at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, positioning himself to achieve comparable athletic feats at the Combine.

Many scouts believe Hunter, like Bailey, is best suited to focus on cornerback in the NFL. If he matches Bailey’s performance, Hunter could also earn a gold jacket, symbolizing a Hall of Fame career. Currently, Hunter is projected as a first-round pick in the upcoming draft, with high expectations for his professional future.

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June 19th

Eight Buffs make Athlon’s All-Big 12 teams

From Athlon Sports …

Notable … Five defensive starters – five! – were named to an All-Big 12 team … After a year of deficient play in the trenches, CU has one offensive lineman and two defensive lineman on a preseason All-Big 12 team …

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Arizona; Oklahoma State labeled “Boom or bust” teams in the Big 12

From The Sporting News … Who are the boom-or-bust teams in college football for 2024?

Most college football fans might argue Ohio State is the answer. The Buckeyes are looking to end a three-game losing streak to Michigan, and they responded in the portal with several key additions. Ohio State also added offensive coordinator Chip Kelly.

The Buckeyes, however, are ranked No. 2 in eight publications’ early Preseason Top 25 lists. Nobody is expecting Ohio State to miss the 12-team College Football Playoff no matter what happens against the Wolverines, and the Buckeyes have not lost more than two games in a single season since 2011. That is not a boom-or-bust.

There are seven other schools that fit that label heading into this season. They might win their conference. Or they could miss the College Football Playoff in its entirety.

Sporting News looked at the teams across Athlon, The Athletic, USA Today, CBS Sports, ESPN, SI, 247Sports, and, of course Sporting News, to find the teams with a high variance in their preseason ratings (11 spots or more). Those are the teams that have a boom-or-bust feel heading into the 2024 season.

From the Big 12 …

Arizona

Composite rank: No. 17. The Wildcats were ranked as high as No. 11 (Sports Illustrated) and were unranked (247Sports.com) in one poll. That is a variance of more than 14 spots.

Lowdown: On one hand, the Wildcats closed last season on a seven-game winning streak, Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan might be the best quarterback-receiver connection in the country and there is hype around a team that will be ranked in the Preseason AP Poll for the first time since 2015. Yet the move to the Big 12, the coaching switch from Jedd Fisch to Brent Brennan and a brutal Big 12 road schedule that includes September trips to Utah and Kansas State before an alphabet soup of BYU, UCF and TCU has tempered those expectations a little bit.

Oklahoma State

Composite rank: No. 20.  The Athletic has Oklahoma State at No. 11, but CBS Sports has the Cowboys at No. 25. That is a variance of 14 spots.

Lowdown: The Cowboys have a veteran team with quarterback Alan Bowman and running back Ollie Gordon, the reigning Doak Walker Award winner who rushed for 1,732 yards and 21 TDs last season. Oklahoma State’s offensive line features five seniors. The defense remains a question mark, however, and finding a true Big 12 favorite isn’t easy to do. A three-game stretch against Utah, Kansas State and West Virginia from Sept. 21 to Oct. 5 will either elevate or end the Oklahoma State playoff conversation.

Read full story here

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June 18th

College Football News – CU’s season of “toss-ups”: Ten of 12 opponents are “50/50” games

From College Football News … Good luck trying to figure this out in Year Two under Coach Prime.

It’s nearly impossible to base Colorado’s potential based on last year’s personnel and performances, given the high turnover with many players gone and new faces in. There are too many question marks.

Will the offensive line suddenly be better? Will the defense be more productive? What happens if the season crashes on the launching pad?

Talent-wise the starting 22 is fine. There’s a mix of good transfers to go along with the superstars, but is there any way this can be a cohesive team in all phases?

Like last year, there will be games when the offense goes off. There’s no Oregon on the slate, but there is a trip to Arizona. TCU is swapped for North Dakota State in the opener, but that’s not necessarily a positive, and improved Nebraska and Colorado State teams are better and on the road.

The Buffaloes should find their way to four wins again, possibly grabbing a fifth on a good day at home against a great team when everything goes right, but securing that sixth win might hinge on the regular-season finale against Oklahoma State.

Set The Colorado Win Total At … 5.5

Likely Wins: Cincinnati

50/50 Games: at Arizona, Baylor, at Colorado State, at Kansas, Kansas State, at Nebraska, North Dakota State, Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech, at UCF

Likely Losses: Utah

Read full story here

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June 17th

Draft Kings: CU at 35:1 to win the Big 12 (14:1 to make the College Football Playoff )

From Draft Kings

Odds on …

  • CU making the College Football Playoff … 14:1
  • CU winning the Big 12 Championship Game … 35:1
  • CU winning the National Championship Game … 250:1
  • Shedeur Sanders winning the Heisman trophy … 35:1
  • Travis Hunter winning the Heisman trophy … 60:1
  • CU as a favorite over North Dakota State … -8.5
  • CU as an underdog to Nebraska … +6.5
  • CU as a favorite over Colorado State … -8.0
  • CU as an underdog to Kansas State …, +6.0

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June 16th

College Football News: “Year One under Deion Sanders wasn’t all that bad”

From the College Football News … After all of the insanity, hype, and breathless coverage of the phenomenon that was the 2023 Colorado 4-8 football season, one key aspect has been completely ignored.

Year One under Deion Sanders wasn’t all that bad.

Well, sort of. Finishing dead last in the Pac-12 wasn’t a plus, but really … how much fun was THAT?

Yes, things are different under Coach Prime. There’s controversy, and hurt feelings, and player turnover in bunches, and telling tales out of school, and flipping conventional wisdom on its head, and lots of losses, but what if last season was the first year under Coach – pick a random guy name – Chad.

Colorado went 1-11 in 2022. If you told Buffalo fans that Coach Chad, or Coach Mark, or Coach Neal would make the program three wins better in a total gut job rebuild of a season, and with a fun style of play while doing it, the campaign would be considered a big step forward.

It won’t be easy to make another three-win improvement.

Moving from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 may offer a slightly easier schedule, but not by much. The bigger issue is patience- there isn’t much.

In an era dominated by the transfer portal, continually upgrading to better players isn’t a crazy idea, but under Sanders so far, Colorado has been all frosting and no cake – the infrastructure isn’t there.

There’s a reason Colorado only won one game two years ago; there wasn’t a good base to build off of. The transfer portal works best to find finishing pieces, not to make wholesale changes.

This season is about proving that it really is possible to take shortcuts. With no recruiting class to develop, everything revolves around the mercenary option – not a knock; it really could be the way everyone is supposed to run a college football program now – and the pressure will be intensified due to another big spotlight with all of the expectations and distractions.

This season will either elevate everything from 2023 to a new level, or be a hot mess of a reality show that fails spectacularly.

Either way, it’ll be entertaining.

Continue reading story here

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June 14th

Athlon: There was tangible progress in Boulder in 2023

From Athlon preseason magazine … Things to Watch in 2024: Coach Prime’s Second Year at Colorado …

As expected, nothing was conventional about Coach Prime’s first FBS season. Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes provided an interesting look behind the curtain with clips on social media, including a first meeting when Sanders indicated “Louis Luggage” was on its way from the portal to completely overturn a roster which featured more than 70 new players.

While Colorado’s early optimism faded with a 4-8 finish, there was tangible progress in Boulder. After a 1-11 record and being outscored 534 to 185 (-349) in ’23, the Buffaloes improved their win total by three games and lowered the scoring deficit to -80.

Although the Buffaloes are more nationally relevant, the ’24 season is critical to show that the program has actual staying power and can take another step forward as it moves to the Big 12. To his credit, Sanders didn’t sit pat this offseason. The bulk of the coaching staff was overturned, and there are new play-callers on both sides of the ball.

The roster is also set to look a lot different. More than 30 transfers are headed to Boulder, including reinforcements up front to boost a line that allowed 56 sacks last year. On paper, the talent level has improved. And with two of the nation’s top players – quarterback Shedeur Sanders and defensive back/receiver Travis Hunter – returning, Colorado will once again be under the spotlight as arguably the most interesting team in the nation. But this time, the Buffaloes could produce their first winning record in a full season since 2016.

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June 13th

Seven Buffs make Lindy’s All-Big 12 Teams (third-most in conference)

From Lindy’s …

  • Most Valuable Player … Ollie Gordon, RB, Oklahoma State
  • Offensive Player of the Year … Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
  • Defensive Player of the Year … Travis Hunter, CB, Colorado
  • Newcomer of the Year … KJ Jefferson, QB, UCF

All-Big 12 teams … Colorado … 7

  • First team … QB Shedeur Sanders … DL BJ Green … DB Travis Hunter
  • Second team … OL Tyler Johnson
  • Third team … DL Chidozie Nwankwo … DB Shilo Sanders … P Mark Vassett

Other Big 12 teams 

  • Oklahoma State … 8 … five first-team; two second-team; one third-team
  • Kansas State … 8 … one first-team; two second-team; five third-team
  • Utah … 7 … four first-team; two second-team; one third-team
  • Arizona … 6 … five first-team; one second-team; zero third-team
  • Kansas … 6 … two first-team; one second-team; three third-team
  • Iowa State … 6 … one first-team; one second-team; four third-team
  • Texas Tech … 6 … zero first-team; four second-team; two third-team
  • Cincinnati … 5 … two first-team; two second-team; one third-team
  • West Virginia … 4 … one first-team; two second-team; one third-team
  • Baylor … 3 … one first-team; one second-team; one third-team
  • UCF … 3 … zero first-team; three second-team; zero third-team
  • BYU … 2 … zero first-team; one second-team; one third-team
  • TCU … 3 … zero first-team; one second-team; two third-team
  • Houston … 0
  • Arizona State … 0

Compilation of Preseason Top 25 ranking: Five Big 12 teams listed, led by Utah at No. 12

From The Sporting News … It’s the first year of the 12-team College Football Playoff. Massive realignment has changed conferences. Yet the time-honored tradition of preseason top 25 lists remains unchanged.

Sporting News released its Preseason Top 25 on Wednesday. Our next move is to look around at other preseason publications to find a consensus Top 25. We achieved that by looking at seven more recent top 25 lists. That includes 247Sports.comThe AthleticAthlonCBS SportsESPNSports Illustrated and USA Today. We will update this as more preseason rankings come out this summer. It is a better indicator of what the preseason AP Top 25 might look like in August.

Georgia is a unanimous No. 1 across those sites. The Bulldogs are looking for a third national championship in four seasons under Kirby Smart.

Ohio State received seven second-place across those eight sites. The Buckeyes had a monumental offseason under coach Ryan Day in the transfer portal, and will be heavily favored to win the new 18-team Big Ten.

Texas – which made its first College Football Playoff appearance last season – is No. 3 The Longhorns have improved under fourth-year coach Steve Sarkisian and are now making the move to the SEC. Oregon and Ole Miss rounded out the top five.

What Michigan, Alabama and Washington, the CFP teams from last season that had coaching changes? The Crimson Tide are No. 6, the Wolverines are No. 9, and the Huskies, well, that is one of the surprises of this list.

We used an inverse scoring method (awarding 25 points to a No. 1 selection, 24 for a No. 2 selection, all the way down to one point for a No. 25 selection) to determine the score for each school.

A look at a composite Preseason Top 25 college football ranking across 11 major websites. Here is each school with the total points scored and their high and low ranking:

RANKTEAMPOINTSHIGHLOW
1Georgia20011
2Ohio State19123
3Texas18324
4Oregon17735
5Ole Miss16156
6Alabama16049
7Notre Dame150510
8Missouri137712
9Michigan132712
10Penn State115817
11Florida State112720
12Utah106818
13LSU9510NR
14Tennessee931217
15Clemson871022
16Oklahoma84819
17Arizona5511NR
18(t)Oklahoma State561125
18(t)Kansas State5615NR
20NC State471224
21Kansas421723
22Miami2114NR
23USC2021NR
24Louisville1818NR
25Texas A&M1319NR

Others receiving votes: Washington 13, Virginia Tech 11, Iowa 7, SMU 4, West Virginia 4, Boise State 2, Memphis 1

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June 12th

Draft analyst on Shedeur: “I’d like to see him work on climbing vertically in the pocket”

From ESPN … While it’ll be tough to top the 2024 NFL draft’s quarterback class — six passers went in the first 12 picks — there’s potential for the 2025 group to also be really, really good. Three names are already circulating as potential QB1 candidates: Georgia’s Carson Beck, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders and Texas’ Quinn Ewers. But there is a ton of depth, too.

Who are the top names to know in 2025? What are their strengths, and where do they need to improve? Let’s look at the 19 best passers who are draft-eligible next spring, including seven who could easily be top-100 picks. I’ll also answer a couple of big questions about NFL teams that might be taking a long look at these players.

Shedeur Sanders, Colorado

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 215 pounds
Class: Senior

Where he excels: A calm distributor when protected, Sanders’ game centers around accuracy and ball placement. He completed 69.3% of his passes last season, which ranked eighth in the FBS. He never lacks confidence and isn’t afraid to test his limits as a thrower. He has enough power in his arm to drive throws over the middle of the field and deliver the ball accurately to targets outside the hashes.

After dominating at Jackson State in the FCS in 2021 and 2022, Sanders moved up to the FBS level and had immediate success, finishing with 3,230 passing yards, 27 touchdown passes and three interceptions.

Where he needs work: Sanders took a lot of unnecessary sacks, going down an FBS-high 52 times in 2023. A poor offensive line wasn’t the only contributor, as he tended to drift backward in the pocket and ignore his internal clock. I’d like to see him work on climbing vertically in the pocket and making throws from it under pressure — instead of instantly tucking and running or throwing the ball out of bounds.

I also want to see new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur dial up more deep throws for Sanders, who averaged 7.5 yards per attempt last season, which ranked 58th in the country.

Read full story here

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June 11th

2024 Preseason All-Transfer Team includes Buff offensive lineman

From On3Sports.com … A record-number of players entered the transfer portal during the two windows in 2024, and thanks to unregulated movement, we saw a record number of athletes find new homes this offseason (some more than one), too.

With spring practice in the books, summer conditioning in full-swing and the majority of the rosters set for the fall, it’s the optimal time to release my 2024 Preseason All-Transfer Portal Team.

Just like last season, my offensive depth chart has 11 starters plus a backup tailback. My defensive depth chart starts as a 3-4 look with a fifth DB when we switch to a nickel-package. Lest we forget, I had to include a kicker, punter and one breakout candidate at ATH.

From the Big 12 … 

OG Tyler Johnson, Colorado 
The former Texas Longhorns signee found his home at Houston last season, earning third-team All-AAC honors. He made 12 starts, including 10 at right guard where he allowed just a single sack in 411 pass-blocking snaps — a much-needed skill-set for a Buffalos offensive line that couldn’t protect Shedeur Sanders all last season.

ATH Dylan Edwards, Kansas State
The Colorado speedster had a fantastic freshman debut (177 yards and four touchdowns in the upset over TCU), and while the rest of his season was a bit more muted, Edwards is still a dynamic weapon as a runner, receiver and returner. He had nearly 750 all-purpose yards and gives K-State a valuable weapon to reunite with former peewee teammate Avery Johnson.

P Max Fletcher, Cincinnati  
Fletcher rankled No. 3 in the SEC in punting last season, averaging 47 yards per boot at Arkansas — a nearly 10-yard improvement from his freshman season.

Read full story here

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June 9th

Lindy’s: The starters must stay healthy to give the Buffs a shot at a bowl game

From Lindy’s magazine …

The Big 12 … 

  • 1. Oklahoma State (No. 12 nationally)
  • 2. Utah (No. 16)
  • 3. Kansas (No. 20)
  • 4. Kansas State (No. 21)
  • 5. Arizona (No. 23)
  • 6. Iowa State (No. 24)
  • 7. West Virginia (No. 30)
  • 8. Texas Tech (No. 41)
  • 9. UCF (No. 43)
  • 10. TCU (No. 47)
  • 11. Colorado (No. 49)
  • 12. Baylor (No. 50)
  • 13. BYU (No. 62)
  • 14. Houston (No. 74)
  • 15. Arizona State (No. 77)
  • 16. Cincinnati (No. 79)

Colorado … 

Primary strengths … Travis Hunter is both the most exciting and most versatile player in the nation, able to change a game on both sides of the ball. On offense, he and the talented Sanders have an uncanny connection that produces explosive plays

Primary problems … Depth due to roster turnover became a glaring problem in 2023, and that carries over into 2024. Most notably, both lines dealt with considerable attrition and the starting units have little margin for error.

Overview … The 2023 offseason hype progressed into outright hysteria as Colorado opened the Sanders era at 3-0 and catapulted into the Top 25. The Buffs went 1-8 thereafter, all conference losses. With five of those defeats coming by one score, those could be chalked up to learning experiences – only very few Colorado players involved return due to another year of roster turnover.

The Buffs are not lacking for talent, but two straight years of wholesale changes make depth and cohesion a major concern in CU’s return to the Big 12. the starters, especially Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter, must stay healthy to give the Buffs a shot at a bowl game.

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June 5th

Sporting News Preseason Top 25 has no Big 12 team ranked higher than 15th 

From The Sporting News … Which schools are built to win a national championship in the first 12-team College Football Playoff?

That was the question we asked when formulating Sporting News Preseason Top 25. We had a Way-Too-Early Top 25 in January before Alabama coach Nick Saban retired and an Updated Way-Too-Early Top 25 before spring practice. The portal is closed. Fall camps will be here before you know it, and it will be an unprecedented season given the impact of realignment.

The SEC and Big Ten are at the heart of those changes. A total of 15 teams in our Preseason Top 25 are from those two conferences, including eight top-10 teams. How will tougher conference schedules impact those schools’ playoff chances? Will the wear-and-tear make it harder to make a playoff run? Do Big 12, ACC and Group of 5 schools stand a chance?

At least in the preseason, two schools are built for that run. Georgia is loaded under Kirby Smart, and the return of quarterback Carson Beck will help. Ohio State had a busy offseason in response to Michigan’s national championship run in 2023. Where does Alabama fit in without Saban? We will find out this season.

Here is a look at Sporting News’ Preseason Top 25.

From the Big 12 … 

15. Utah

2023 record: 8-5

Kyle Whittingham enters his 20th season at Utah with a tremendous opportunity in the Big 12. The Utes flirted with College Football Playoff contention in the four-team setup. Can Utah make that a reality now? Cam Rising returns after missing all of last season recovering from a knee injury. He averaged 2,763 passing yards and 482 rushing yards from 2021-22. The Utes added USC receiver Dorian Singer and Georgia Tech defensive back Kenan Johnson through the portal. The Utes get Arizona (Sept. 28) and TCU (Oct. 19) at home, and Oklahoma State (Sept. 21) will be a barometer to test that CFP viability. Utah went 8-5 in its first season in the Pac-12 back in 2011, and is coming off an 8-5 season. This is a better program now, and they are the steady pick to win a wide-open Big 12 in 2024.

16. Kansas State

2023 record: 9-4

Chris Kleiman is 19-8 the last two seasons at Kansas State, and that includes a 13-5 record in Big 12 play. Will the Wildcats be the team to beat in the new-order Big 12? That might depend on quarterback Avery Johnson – who offered a glimpse of that high-end talent with 178 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and three TDs in the Pop-Tarts Bowl victory against NC State. Johnson fills the void left by Will Howard, who transferred to Ohio State. He also will be working with new coordinator Matt Wells, who replaces Collin Klein. DJ Giddens rushed for 1,226 yards and 10 TDs last season and Colorado transfer Dylan Edwards adds depth. Linebacker Austin Moore – who has 11.5 tackles for loss – leads a defense that returns 11 upperclassmen. September is tough, with home matchups against Arizona (Sept. 14) and Oklahoma State (Sept. 28) and a road trip to BYU (Sept. 21). The Wildcats have won 15 straight against Kansas – and that matchup is home on Oct. 26. A Big 12 championship run is possible.

17. Arizona 

2023 record: 10-3

The Wildcats averaged 38.7 points per game through a seven-game winning streak to end last season. How much of that momentum will carry over with first-year coach Brent Brennan, who replaced Jedd Fisch?  Quarterback Noah Fifita – who was 5-2 against ranked teams last season – has one of the best big-play receivers in the FBS in Tetairoa McMillan. Quali Conley – who had 842 rushing yards and nine TDs last season – followed Brennan from San Jose State. Linebacker Jacob Manu – who had 116 tackles – also is back. This is the most preseason hype for Arizona since the “Desert Swarm” years in 1993-94. September road games at Kansas State (Sept. 13) – which is a Friday night game – and Utah (Sept. 28) are part of a tough Big 12 introduction. This is a Big 12 contender with upside.

19. Oklahoma State

2023 record: 10-4

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has led the Cowboys to 18 consecutive winning seasons, and now the chance to take over as the resident Big 12 power exists with Oklahoma and Texas off to the SEC. Will the Cowboys take advantage of that? Quarterback Alan Bowman returned for a seventh season, and Doak Walker Award winner Ollie Gordon – who rushed for 1,732 yards and 21 TDs – returned after briefly entering the transfer portal. Still, Oklahoma State needs to be better than a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 offense in order to make that move. Linebacker Nickolas Bowman – who had 140 tackles – also returned. Home games against Arkansas (Sept. 7), Utah (Sept. 21) and a road trip to Kansas State (Sept. 28) highlight a challenging first month of the season. The Cowboys have lost three of their last five trips to Manhattan.

23. Kansas 

2023 record: 9-4

Could the Jayhawks crack the 12-team College Football Playoff in the new-look Big 12 under Lance Leipold? Jalon Daniels has played in just 12 games the last two seasons, but he should thrive with new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. The return of running back Devin Neal (1,280 yards, 16 TDs) forms arguably the best backfield in the conference. Kansas ranked second in pass defense in the Big 12 last year, too. There is still reason to be cautious knowing the Jayhawks are 8-10 in Big 12 play the last two seasons and the front half of the schedule features road trips to Illinois, West Virginia and Arizona. Kansas also has four games at Arrowhead Stadium against TCU, Houston, Colorado and Iowa State. How will all that travel affect an up-and-coming program?

Read full story here

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June 4th

ESPN Ranking QB’s – Shedeur Sanders in Tier Two

From ESPN … This is a strange year for quarterbacks in college football.

In 2023, Caleb Williams and Drake Maye headlined our annual tiered rankings, which came as no surprise. One had a Heisman Trophy. The other projected as a top-five NFL draft pick. They were established stars with real cachet, even among casual college football fans.

Since 2012, there has been only one other season that didn’t open with at least two quarterbacks who finished in the top 10 in Heisman balloting or won a national championship the previous season — and that was the COVID year of 2020 (which was followed by a season of big-time recruits with serious name recognition such as Young and DJ Uiagalelei taking over as starting quarterbacks and, because of new NIL rules, doing national ad campaigns). In 2013, 2014, 2017, 2022 and 2023, the defending Heisman winner returned. In 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2022, the quarterback of the defending champ returned.

In 2024, we have Jalen Milroe. That’s it. He’s the only quarterback to finish in the top 10 in Heisman voting (sixth) and return for 2024, the most accomplished of a QB class the year after six quarterbacks were selected among the first 12 picks of the NFL draft.

That’s not to say there aren’t some big names. Quinn Ewers graces the cover of the new EA Sports College Football 25 game, but perhaps ironically, he garnered more attention during his recruitment and early struggles than when he finally moved into the upper echelon of quarterbacks last season. Shedeur Sanders is a genuine star, but in a unique twist, he may be more famous among people with only a casual appreciation of college football. He is as much a brand as he is a talent (though he has got plenty of both). Carson Beck is widely projected to be the top NFL prospect in this group, and yet, ask the average fan of a team not named Georgia what they most remember about Beck and odds are it’ll be the photo of him buying a Lamborghini with his NIL money.

Going through our rankings, you’ll find some genuine talent and a ton of potential. And yet, as the kids say, the vibes are all wrong. There’s steak, but is there sizzle?

Go back in time to 2012 when we last faced something akin to this quandary. From the ashes emerged Manziel, arguably the most famous — or infamous — quarterback of the social media era of college football.

This is our Tier 1 for now, but where a fame vacuum exists in college football, it stands to reason someone — perhaps someone entirely unexpected — will step up to fill it. Nonetheless, let’s break down all 134 FBS programs’ QB situations by tiers.

TIER 1: Cream of a questionable crop (nine players)

Alabama’s Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson
Georgia’s Carson Beck, Jaden Rashada, Gunner Stockton
Oregon’s Dillon Gabriel, Dante Moore
Texas’s Quinn Ewers, Arch Manning

You’re probably not alone if you’re looking at this group and asking yourself a simple question: Really? These guys?

TIER 2: It’s Tier 1 with an asterisk (six players)

Arizona’s Noah Fifita
Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders
Kansas’s Jalon Daniels
Miami’s Cam Ward
Utah’s Cam Rising, Sam Huard

Numbers-wise, you could make a compelling case for any of these starting quarterbacks to reside in our top tier. Frankly, you could flip this group with the one above, and it would only garner a few ugly looks. But if we’re jotting down our list of pros and cons, this group has perhaps one or two extra lines on the negative side of the ledger — items, it should be noted, almost entirely out of their control — that we can’t overlook.

Fifita and Ward have new head coaches. Daniels and Rising are coming off serious injuries. Sanders played behind an offensive line that more often resembled a subway turnstile than an effective pass-blocking unit.

And yet, the pros column is plenty long, too, so we won’t be at all surprised if someone from this tier is holding up a Heisman Trophy at season’s end. They’ll just need a few things to go their way in 2024 beyond what they do with the ball in their hand.

What you need to know:

  • Over his final eight games of the season, Fifita threw for 22 touchdowns, five INTs and completed 72% of his throws, averaging 8.6 yards-per-attempt. The only Power 5 QBs with more pass TDs in that span were Oregon’s Nix and LSU’s Daniels, who both finished top three in Heisman voting.
  • Sanders faced six teams that were ranked at game time last year and played spectacularly in those games: 68% completions, 14 touchdown passes and 1 interception. But Colorado was 1-5 in those games, and he was sacked 28 times.
  • As much was made of Sanders’ lack of protection up front — and it was bad — he was sacked less often, pressured about as often and blitzed far less often than Alabama’s Milroe. That said, when Sanders wasn’t pressured, he was borderline unstoppable: 76% completions, 16 TD, 0 INT and 25 completions of 20 yards or more.
  • A comparison:
    QB A: 14 starts, 84.0 Total QBR, 67.8% completions, 8.4 yards/attempt, 38 TDs and 9 turnovers
    QB B: 15 starts, 84.1 Total QBR, 65.4% completions, 8.8 yards/attempt, 39 TDs and 12 turnoversBoth QBs are clearly elite, and you might not be surprised to learn that QB B was Heisman finalist and top-10 NFL draft pick Michael Penix Jr. in 2023. QB A, though? That’d be Kansas’ Daniels, but because of injury issues, those stats reflect all his starts vs. FBS teams since 2021.
  • It’s pretty easy to quantify just how much Rising means to Utah statistically. Over the past three years with Rising at QB, the Utes averaged 6.6 yards per play, 7.6 yards per dropback, posted an 83.9 raw QBR and scored 39.1 points per game in his starts. With anyone else at QB, 5.3 yards per play, 5.7 yards per dropback, a 51.3 QBR and they averaged 24.2 points per game. How many other QBs in the country are worth 15 points per game to their teams?

Read full story here

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June 3rd

Travis Hunter named to Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List

From Lott Impact Trophy … The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation announced the 42 candidates for the 2024 Lott IMPACT Trophy at a luncheon today in Newport Beach, the 21st season of this award.

The 42-man Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List is comprised of 18 defensive backs, 13 defensive linemen and 11 linebackers. There are 13 players from SEC schools, the most of any conference, followed by the Big Ten with 12, while the ACC and Big 12 each have seven players on the watch list, to go with three from independents.

The Lott IMPACT Trophy is the only major college football award that considers character. Named after former NFL Hall of Fame star Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy annually goes to the Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year, a player who has had the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field.  IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity, all characteristics exhibited by Lott during his illustrious playing career.

Ronnie Lott addressed those in attendance, while USC defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Lynn was joined by Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.

The annual winner is selected by a national voter panel, consisting of former winners, members of the media, coaches, and members of the Board of Directors of The IMPACT Foundation.

The winner will be announced at a gala, black-tie event at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, CA on December 8.

From the Big 12 … 

Cobee Bryant, CB, Kansas, Senior, 6-0, 170. 2x All-Big 12 First team selection. Four interceptions (T-4 in Big 12) last season, Led Jayhawks to first Top 25 ranking in final AP poll since 2007.

Jeremiah Cooper, S, Iowa State. Junior. 6-0, 185. First team All-Big 12 selection last season, following Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 2022. Academic All-Big 12 Rookie team and Big 12 commissioners honor roll. Five interceptions were second most in the conference and sixth nationally to go with 10 passes broken up.

Dontay Corleone, DL, Cincinnati, 6-1, 320. Nickname is “The Godfather.” Was an All-Big 12 selection last season after being named an All-American as a freshman in 2022. Graded as #3 interior defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus. Had 6.5 tackles for a loss with three sacks.

Tacario Davis, DB, Arizona, Junior. 6-4, Led the Pac 12 in passes defended (16) and passes broken up (15). All-Pac 12 honors each of last two seasons. Led Wildcats to fourth 10 win season in program history. From Long Beach, CA.

Johnny Hodges, LB, TCU. Junior. 6-2, 240. 2023 Academic All-Big 12, limited to four games due to injury. 2022 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, 2nd Team All-Big 12, TCUs leading tackler (87, 9.5 for a loss).  Began collegiate career at Navy.

Travis Hunter, CB, Colorado. Junior. 6-1, 185. Lott Trophy Semifinalist. Consensus 1st Team All-American. 1st Team All-Pac 12 as a defensive back, 2nd team as an all-purpose offensive player. Made 30 tackles, and tied had a team best three interceptions.

Jacob Manu, LB, Arizona. Junior, 5-11. Was the Pac 12’s leading tackler (116, 45 solo) last season and was a 1st team All-Pac 12 selection. Declined Ivy League offers out of Servite HS in Anaheim, CA to attend University of Arizona.

Read full list here

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June 2nd

Anonymous Big 12 Coaches on CU: “If they’re halfway better (along the offensive line), they’ll have a winning season”

From Athlon Sports … It’s not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don’t want to give opposing teams bulletin board material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2024, Athlon asked coaches in the Big 12 to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Colorado … 

“It’s gonna be a circus just like last season, so expect the unexpected.”

“The known quantity is at quarterback, and when you look at the kid [Shedeur Sanders] away from the hype and his dad, he can make legit throws and has innate talent and great instincts.”

“Expect improvement at skill positions across the board — they’re aggressively portaling — but they need to put some studs opposite of [Travis] Hunter.”

“It doesn’t matter what noise Prime makes — they cannot have a winning season without a functional run game and a legit offensive line. That’s the one position group you can’t really portal in one cycle. If they’re halfway better there, they’ll have a winning season.”

Read full story here

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May 31st 

Bruce Feldman: Take CU and the over

From The Athletic … Many important things are obviously going on off the field in college athletics, but with spring football in the rearview mirror and many transfers set to report to their new programs in the coming weeks, this is a good time to peek in on the upcoming season. The sportsbooks have released their team win totals, an ideal barometer to get into expectations for each program. Here are the five most tempting picks I see to go over and the ones that will end up on the under.

Best bets to go over

Colorado — 5.5 wins: Deion Sanders took over a one-win team last year and got it to 4-8. I’m expecting another big jump or at least bowl eligibility. The Buffaloes have one of the best QBs in the country in Shedeur Sanders, a tough, accurate quarterback, and the team has good skill talent, led by Travis Hunter. The Buffs will miss Dylan Edwards, but Ohio State transfer Dallan Hayden, a speedster who ran for 553 yards and five TDs last year, should be a good fit. Better still, CU has upgraded its O-line, which was dreadful last year. The Buffaloes have also made big strides in revamping their defensive front, led by Pitt transfer Dayon Hayes (10.5 TFLs in 2023). CU has a tricky opener against FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, then has to go to Nebraska, but with the younger Sanders running the offense, this group should be improved enough to get to at least six wins.

Read full story here

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May 28th

The Sporting News: Shedeur No. 4 QB in the nation (but No. 1 NFL prospect)

From The Sporting News … Which quarterback will take advantage of the opportunity in 2024?

The top six quarterbacks on Sporting News’ Top 25 QBs in 2023 were the first six quarterbacks taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. That included the last two Heisman Trophy winners in Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels.

Who is No. 1 in 2024? Georgia’s Carson Beck, Texas’ Quinn Ewers and Oregon’s Dillon Gabriel are among the seven quarterbacks who return to this list from last season. Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders is our top-rated QB prospect for the 2025 NFL Draft. There are always a few surprise quarterbacks that make that jump, too, but the top is easy to spot most of the time.

Top 25 college QBs for 2024 

From the Big 12 …

23. Garrett Greene, West Virginia 

2023 stats: 2,406 yards, 52.9%, 16 TDs, 4 INTs

Greene also had 772 rushing yards – most among Power 4 quarterbacks on this list – and 13 TDs. That feature became prominent in the Mountaineers’ last three games — all victories – when he rushed for 321 yards on 9.4 yards per carry. That suggests Greene could be a breakout player in the Big 12 this season, especially if he improves in completion percentage. That was the issue in losses to ranked Oklahoma and Penn State teams in 2023.

16. Cam Rising, Utah 

2023 stats: DNP because of injury

Rising was ranked No. 8 on this list last season – the highest of any returning quarterback. There’s an obvious caveat for the seventh-year quarterback whose career began at Texas in 2018. He received a medical redshirt while recovering from a knee injury suffered during the 2023 Rose Bowl. Rising – who led the Utes to a pair of Pac-12 championships – gets one more opportunity in the new-look Big 12. He averaged 2,763 passing yards and 482 rushing yards in 2021-22. Can he replicate those numbers?

12. Avery Johnson, Kansas State 

2023 stats: 479 yards, 56.1%, 5 TDs, 0 INTs

Here is a high-upside dual-threat quarterback who should emerge in the Big 12 this season. Johnson had five rushing TDs against Texas Tech on Oct. 14, and he got his first start in the Pop-Tarts Bowl against NC State – where he showcased that talent with 178 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and three total TDs. Johnson has a live arm, but it will need to be refined in his first full year as a starter. He is a strong candidate to lead the FBS in total offense in 2024.

9. Noah Fifita, Arizona 

2023 stats: 2,869 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs

Fifita was arguably the hottest quarterback in the country at the end of last season. He led the Wildcats to seven straight victories. He averaged 349.3 passing yards per game with 14 TDs and three INTs in Arizona’s last five games. Leading receiver Tetairoa Millan returned this season, too, which means Fifita should maintain a solid down-field throwing presence with new coach Brent Brennan. Fifita was 5-2 as a starter against ranked teams in 2023.

5. Jalon Daniels, Kansas 

2023 stats: 705 yards, 74.7%, 5 TDs, 1 INT

Is this too high? Not if Daniels can stay healthy for a full season. Combine his totals from 12 games in the last two seasons, and you get 2,719 passing yards with 23 TDs and five interceptions with 499 rushing yards and seven TDs. That comes with a 68.2% completion percentage. Daniels is a playmaker poised to keep the Jayhawks in the Big 12 championship hunt with head coach Lance Leipold and new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. If Daniels puts it all together at once, then a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist is a realistic possibility.

4. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado 

2023 stats: 3,230 yards, 69.3%, 27 TDs, 3 INTs

Sanders’ 510-yard, four-TD debut with Colorado was a grand entrance to the Coach Prime era, and Shedeur was among the September favorites for the Heisman Trophy as a result. The talent is real, but he took 52 sacks and had the worst rushing attack in the FBS. If those two factors improve, then Sanders will continue to be in the discussion to be the No. 1 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft. Another reason to be high on Sanders – in the fourth quarter last season he had a 72.8% completion percentage and 207.1 efficiency rating with 11 TDs and no interceptions. Sanders has already proven he can perform with high visibility. Can he lead the Buffaloes to a bowl game in 2024?

3. Dillon Gabriel, Oregon 

2. Quinn Ewers, Texas 

1. Carson Beck, Georgia 

Continue reading story here

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May 27th

CBS Big 12 picks: “CU boast one of the highest hypothetical ceilings in the Big 12”

From CBS Sports … The Big 12 enters the 2024 season as the most wide open major conference in college football. Out of 16 teams in the expanded league, eight hold at least 12-1 odds to win the conference as founding members Texas and Oklahoma abdicate to join the SEC.

The Sunflower State makes its case as the center of the Big 12 world as Kansas State and Kansas both rank among the three programs with the best odds. However, the Pac-12 newcomers also give the conference some serious firepower in Year 1. Utah sits as a co-favorite with the ‘Cats, while Arizona is next in line at No. 4.

Last season, heavy preseason favorite Texas captured the crown after fielding +125 odds. However, Oklahoma State rose up from +2800 to reach the Big 12 title game. The year prior, Kansas State had +2500 odds, but shocked TCU in the title game to win its first Big 12 championship in a decade. Unquestionably, a team from well outside the pack has a chance to make its mark in 2024; but making that choice more complicated, only six total teams have worse than 20-1 odds.

Without further ado, here are the Big 12 title odds for 2024 according to SportsLine consensus and a few of the teams who could entice betters this offseason.

TEAM2024 ODDS
Kansas State+350
Utah+350
Kansas+650
Arizona+750
Texas Tech+1000
Iowa State+1000
Oklahoma State+1200
UCF+1200
TCU+1900
West Virginia+1900
Colorado+4000
Baylor+5500
Cincinnati+6500
Arizona State+10000
Houston+10000
BYU+12000

Best Bet — Utah (+350): On paper, Utah is the class of the Big 12. The Utes have won 39 games over the last four full seasons and won two of the three final Pac-12 titles. Utah’s offense was a liability last season, but get quarterback Cameron Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe back. USC transfer Dorian Singer headlines a trio of talented wide receivers who should immediately elevate what was the Pac-12’s worst passing offense. Under Kyle Whittingham, defense will never be an issue. Utah appears to be the most complete team in the conference and deserves top billing entering its first season in the Big 12.

Worst Wager — Kansas (+650): Frankly, there isn’t a truly bad bet on the board. Eight teams — half the conference — have 12-to-1 odds or better, and deservedly so. Kansas emerging as the best team in the Big 12 wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Ultimately, the reason we have them as the worst wager comes down to one factor: Jalon Daniels. The Kansas quarterback is arguably the best offensive player in the conference when healthy, but missed the entire Big 12 slate last season with a nagging back injury. Unlike last season, Kansas does not have a clear backup plan, with former walk-on Cole Ballard as the likely backup. With such a big question mark, Kansas is slightly overvalued as the No. 3 betting favorite in the Big 12, ahead of Oklahoma State and Arizona.

Long shot — Colorado (+4000): There are 10 teams with 20-1 or better odds, but for a true long shot, why not sprinkle a few dollars on Colorado? Granted, the Buffs’ path is incredibly difficult. There’s a chance things don’t click at all and CU is barely fighting for a bowl game. But if Colorado’s changes magically take hold, the Buffaloes boast one of the highest hypothetical ceilings in the Big 12. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders and cornerback Travis Hunter are future first rounders, the skill positions are strong and the trenches have been built from scratch (though we’ll see if this is a good thing). Essentially, this is a +4000 bet that five new offensive linemen can build chemistry in one offseason. It’s not a great bet, but certainly worth a shot at such long odds.

Read full story here

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May 23rd

ESPN “Newcomer” Class Rankings: CU only Big 12 team in Top 15

From ESPN … If there’s one commonality among annual College Football Playoff contenders, it’s that recruiting serves as the foundation for a healthy program and long-term success. Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State are recent examples proving the importance of identifying and developing elite high school talent from within.

But that’s not the only path anymore. Now there are other roads that lead to success on the field. Teams are racing to use all roster-building avenues to compete amid CFP expansion.

The transfer portal has changed how programs build rosters. Some schools, such as Colorado, have gone all-in looking to overhaul and infuse their roster with experienced talent via transfers. Others, such as Clemson, lean more heavily on traditional prep recruiting while using the portal sparingly.

Today, we rank the top 25 groups of newcomers — recruits and transfers combined — based on who could see the most impactful immediate returns for 2024.

From the Big 12 … 

8. Colorado

Recruits: OT Jordan Seaton, RB Micah Welch, WR Kamron Mikell

Colorado won a big battle on the high school recruiting trail by landing the five-star Seaton. The No. 1 offensive lineman will likely experience some growing pains but could be a plug-and-play addition, much like 2023 five-star Kadyn Proctor at Alabama last season. He’s had a strong spring starting at left tackle for the Buffs. Welch, a true freshman, arrived on campus as an early enrollee and has exceeded his three-star ranking with a strong downhill presence and great balance. Mikell didn’t enroll early but will be one of the faster players on the roster, having run a 10.5 100-meter dash and clocking at 22 mph in pads, one of the fastest times of any 2024 prospects.

Transfers: OL Ethan Boyd (Michigan State), OL Tyler Johnson (Houston), DL Dayon Hayes (Pittsburgh), DT Rayyan Buell (Ohio), RB Dallan Hayden (Ohio State), WR Will Sheppard (Vanderbilt)

Colorado mitigated a high number of transfer departures by successfully bringing in new faces in both transfer windows. The Buffs prioritized revamping the offensive line to keep QB Shedeur Sanders upright. That includes landing Boyd, an active contributor for Michigan State in 2023. Johnson, a Houston transfer, was an all-conference performer who allowed just one sack in 2022 and should immediately upgrade the interior line. The Buffaloes also added a pair of top-40 transfers to their defensive front in Hayes and Buell. Hayes, the No. 3 player in the portal, transferred from Pittsburgh and was one of the most explosive pass-rushers available in the recent transfer window. Colorado lost its four top rushers from 2023. Losing Dylan Edwards (to Kansas State) stings but Colorado added one of the top running backs available in Hayden. Hayden arrives from Ohio State, where he flashed as a freshman (2022) and gives Colorado a quick, elusive runner. The Buffaloes fielded some explosive playmakers in 2023 but are losing receiver Xavier Weaver. Sheppard, a Vanderbilt transfer, is a top option. He has more than 2,000 career yards and caught 47 passes for 684 yards and eight touchdowns in 2023.

17. UCF

Recruits: CB Chasen Johnson, WR Bredell Richardson

The Knights signed several ESPN 300 prospects. However, a name from further down the list is emerging as one to watch. In-state three-star Johnson is coming off a strong spring where he worked with the first-team defense and is ready to play a role this fall, if not lock down a starting job. He had good size and length as a prospect and was smooth in his movements. This spring he’s shown confidence and competitiveness to quickly step into a big role. Richardson, a three-star receiver, and ESPN 300 tight end Kylan Fox went through spring ball and should add quality depth at the very least in year one.

Transfers: RB Peny Boone (Toledo/Louisville), DL Nyjalik Kelly (Miami), QB KJ Jefferson (Arkansas), LB Ethan Barr (Vanderbilt), DB Deshawn Pace (Cincinnati), WR Ja’Varrius Johnson (Auburn)

Getting back leading rusher RJ Harvey was big. But the Knights added a second 1,400-yard rusher from 2023 in Boone. The pairing should help keep both backs fresh. Boone, a Toledo transfer, is a bigger, more downhill runner who should complement Harvey well. Johnson, a steady SEC veteran, should provide UCF with an immediate speedy weapon on the passing game. UCF was active during the spring portal period and also added Kelly to its defensive line. He is an explosive defender who flashed as a freshman at Miami. If healthy, he can help replace some of the production lost with the departure of Tre’Mon Morris-Brash. Pace is proving to be a valuable transfer add. He provides versatility to the UCF defense having played at all three levels with Cincinnati and could fill a void at linebacker. Quarterbacks John Rhys Plumlee (NFL) and Timmy McClain (transfer) are both gone, but they added Jefferson as a one-year fix with multiple years of starting experience at Arkansas.

Read full story here

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May 22nd

Bill Connelly’s SP+ Rankings: Still doesn’t know what to do with Colorado

From ESPN … And so we begin. My annual college football series typically starts in February, but the effects of the spring portal window — namely, that I didn’t want to write a preview that would be outdated within days — dictated that we wait a bit. But now it’s time. Starting in a few days, we’ll preview one conference per week.

First, however, we must update the numbers. I released initial 2024 SP+ projections in early February, as is customary, but now that almost every team has released official 2024 rosters (still waiting on you, Air Force and Coastal Carolina) and the spring portal dance has mostly slowed to a crawl, it’s time to do it again.

Below are updated SP+ projections for the coming season. A quick reminder: Preseason projections are based on three factors.

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 makes up more than 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). This is also impacted by the recruiting rankings of incoming transfers, an acknowledgment that the art of roster management is now heavily dictated by the transfer portal. This piece makes up about one-third of the projections formula.

3. Recent history. Using a sliver of information from the previous four seasons or so 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?

(One other reminder: SP+ is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. It is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a résumé ranking, and along those lines, these projections aren’t intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the season. These are simply early offseason power rankings based on the information we have been able to gather to date.)

From the Big 12 …

  • 17. Kansas State
  • 18. Utah
  • 20. Oklahoma State
  • 24. Arizona
  • 30. Iowa State
  • 34. West Virginia
  • 36. TCU
  • 37. Kansas
  • 40. Nebraska
  • 42. Texas Tech
  • 48. UCF
  • 61. Baylor
  • 67. BYU
  • 69. Colorado 
  • 70. Cincinnati
  • 79. Houston
  • 88. Arizona State
  • 98. Colorado State

Note … Bill Connelly has trouble with CU and its overhauled lineup. This was also true last spring, when Connelly had CU as his No. 103 team nationally, writing:

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.

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May 20th

ESPN post-spring Top 25: Utah the Big 12’s best chance at a playoff berth

From ESPN … There are fewer than 100 days until the start of the 2024 college football season — and just over 200 days until selection day for the first-ever 12-team College Football Playoff.

With spring practice in the rearview mirror and the spring transfer portal window closed, it’s a great time to update the 2024 Top 25. Georgia, Ohio State, Texas and Oregon remain in the top four, but there is plenty of movement behind them.

There are three new additions, including a couple of ACC teams trying to rekindle the magic from seasons past.

9. Utah Utes

Spring update: Quarterback Cam Rising is back to lead Utah’s offense, and the Utes’ hopes of challenging for a conference title are high once again — this time in their first season in the Big 12. Rising missed all of last season with a knee injury; he led the Utes to back-to-back Pac-12 championships and Rose Bowl appearances in 2021-22 before he was hurt. Rising completed 15 of 19 passes for 208 yards with two scores in the spring game. Transfer receiver Dorian Singer (USC) emerged as his favorite target, and Damien Alford (Syracuse) and Taeshaun Lyons (Washington) will upgrade a receiver room that already included Money Parks. Star tight end Brant Kuithe is also back from a knee injury. Three starters will have to be replaced on the offensive line, and the tailback order is still being settled. Eight starters are coming back from a defense that allowed 19.3 points per game last season. Cornerback Cameron Calhoun (Michigan) was a star in the spring. The defense suffered a blow when senior linebacker Levani Damuni, the team’s leading tackler in 2023, suffered a lower-leg injury that will sideline him long-term, according to coach Kyle Whittingham.

17. Kansas State Wildcats

Spring update: With Oklahoma and Texas moving to the SEC, Utah and Kansas State look like the teams to beat in the revamped Big 12. Coach Chris Klieman’s past three teams won at least eight games, and with Avery Johnson taking the reins at quarterback, the Wildcats’ ceiling might be higher than that. Tailback DJ Giddens is back after running for 1,226 yards in 2023; he’ll get some relief from transfer Dylan Edwards, who was Colorado’s leading rusher last season. Replacing three starters on the offensive line, including All-America center Cooper Beebe, was a priority in the spring. North Dakota transfer Easton Kilty was working at left tackle. The Wildcats added middle linebacker Alec Marenco, New Mexico’s leading tackler, and junior college nose tackle Malcolm Alcorn-Crowder recently to shore up the middle of the defense. The Wildcats don’t play the Utes during the regular season and get Oklahoma State and Kansas at home. Road trips to BYU, West Virginia and Iowa State might be tricky.

19. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Spring update: The Pokes are bringing 20 starters back, most of any team in the Big 12. The Cowboys should be able to score this season with quarterback Alan Bowman returning for his seventh season of college football — yes, you read that right — and FBS rushing leader Ollie Gordon II coming back as well. They signed Indiana’s leading rusher, Trent Howland, to help lessen the load on Gordon. The entire offensive line returns intact, and there’s a solid group of receivers with Brennan Presley, Rashod Owens and De’Zhaun Stribling. If OSU is going to compete for a Big 12 title, it’s going to have to do a better job of slowing opponents down. Defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo implemented four-man fronts in the spring to try to improve the pass rush and take pressure off the secondary. The Cowboys have two great linebackers in Nick Martin and Collin Oliver, but their pass defense ranked 126th (275 yards) in the FBS in 2023.

20. Arizona Wildcats

Spring update: The Wildcats had to do some reloading after last season’s 10-win campaign, after which coach Jedd Fisch jumped to Washington to replace DeBoer. The Wildcats hired San Jose State’s Brent Brennan, one of the more underrated head coaches in the FBS. Quarterback Noah Fifita and receiver Tetairoa McMillan decided to stay at Arizona, giving the offense a solid nucleus. McMillan, who had 1,402 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns in 2023, was hurt during the spring and had a procedure on his left leg, according to Brennan, but is expected to be ready for the start of preseason camp.

Brennan and his staff have worked tirelessly to upgrade the roster; receiver Kevin Green Jr. and running back Jordan Washington transferred to Washington earlier this month. A dozen Arizona players have followed Fisch to Seattle. The Wildcats have brought in more than a dozen players from the portal, including receiver Reymello Murphy (Old Dominion) and tight end Sam Olson (San Jose State). Cornerback Tacario Davis decided to stay, giving the Wildcats another veteran in the secondary.

22. Kansas Jayhawks

Spring update: For the first time since 2009, the Jayhawks went into spring practice coming off a bowl victory, after defeating UNLV 49-36 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. There’s even more reason for optimism with star quarterback Jalon Daniels returning from a back injury that caused him to miss most of the 2023 season. He was healthy in the spring and looked good throwing the ball. He’ll have plenty of help around him in tailback Devin Neal and the top three receivers from last season. New offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was looking for three new starting offensive linemen — Logan Brown was working at left tackle and Michael Ford Jr. and Shane Bumgardner were battling at center. Bumgardner won the Division II Rimington Trophy at Tiffin University last season. One of the priorities on defense was finding a pass-rusher. Michigan State edge rusher Bai Jobe joined the Jayhawks on May 7.

Read full story here

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May 17th

The Athletic Preseason Big 12 Power Rankings: CU in at No. 11

From The Athletic … The Big 12 is a new-look conference yet again thanks to the departures of Texas and Oklahoma and additions of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.

Sixteen teams — eight added in the past two years — four time zones, zero divisions and ample storylines. With the 12-team College Football Playoff format beginning this year and a league that, on paper, has the potential to be chock full of parity, it sets up what could be fascinating races for the conference title and Playoff spots.

With spring practices wrapped and the spring transfer window shut, let’s take stock of the Big 12 with a stab at too-early power rankings, key returning players and additions, staff changes and an assessment of each team heading into the summer.

  1. Kansas State
  2. Utah
  3. Kansas
  4. Arizona
  5. Iowa State
  6. Oklahoma State
  7. UCF
  8. West Virginia
  9. Texas Tech
  10. TCU
  11. Colorado …. Last season: 4-8 (1-8 Pac-12)
    Key returners: Shedeur Sanders (QB), Travis Hunter (CB/WR)
    Key additions: Samuel Okunlola (DE), Jordan Seaton (OL)Depending on how optimistic you are about Colorado and coach Deion Sanders, the Buffs are probably the last of these teams where one could rationalize conference title hopes. But it would require exponential strides from a season ago, when Colorado’s white-hot start fizzled into a 1-8 finish. The team does have arguably the best quarterback (Shedeur Sanders) and one of the top playmakers (Hunter) in the league, and it added a ton of portal talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage — areas that were major problems last season. But a wholesale turnaround will likely require Shedeur to perform like a top-five NFL Draft pick, and a much cleaner pocket. With all the noise, attention and roster turnover that accompanies Colorado, there’s also the possibility that it becomes too much and the bottom falls out. Either way, we’ll all be watching.
  12. Cincinnati
  13. BYU
  14. Baylor
  15. Arizona State
  16. Houston

Read full story here

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May 16th

Mock Draft: Shedeur Sanders the third quarterback taken in 2025 NFL Draft

From The Athletic … It was hardly a surprise Caleb Williams went No. 1 overall last month. A year ago at this time, the USC star seemed to be a pretty safe bet to go with the top pick.

But the player who immediately followed him, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, wasn’t someone many touted as a top-five pick — or even as a first-rounder. The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner kept blossoming in Baton Rouge and his stock shot up. His rise isn’t that uncommon. These days, it seems that every year there’s at least one quarterback who goes from being a mid-round prospect to a high first-rounder. In 2023, Florida’s Anthony Richardson went No. 4 overall. In 2021, BYU’s Zach Wilson went second overall. The year before that, LSU had another Heisman winner jump way up the board when Joe Burrow went first overall.

The 2024 quarterback crop, with Williams, Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy and Bo Nix (four of whom The Athletic’s NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler pegged as first-rounders a year out) is considered a much stronger class than the projected 2025 batch.

The Athletic interviewed more than a dozen college coaches to gauge how the 2025 class might unfold — and who has the potential to make a big jump in 2024. In Brugler’s first 2025 mock draft, he has three QBs going in the first round — Georgia’s Carson Beck, second; Texas’ Quinn Ewers, 14th; and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders, 22nd. Does that line up with what college coaches see? And who else could end up in the first round that you should keep an eye on? Here’s the intel we got over the past month from some experts.

Shedeur Sanders, Colorado

The Buffs were the talk of the sports world for the first month of the 2023 season. A team that won only one game in 2022 and got blown out in almost all of the other 11, opened 3-0 and cracked the top 20. Colorado, with its dreadful offensive line, fizzled over the final two months and went 4-8, but Deion Sanders’ son was an impressive front man, throwing 27 TDs and just three INTs in his first FBS season. His numbers in crunch time were even sharper — 18 TDs and just one pick in the second half and overtimes, completing 72 percent of his passes. He also had an 8-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio in road games. This fall, the Buffs O-line should be improved (it honestly can’t be much worse) and it doesn’t seem like a stretch that Colorado can become a bowl team in 2024.

“He’s an NFL guy,” said one former Pac-12 head coach who faced Colorado in 2023. “Is he the first pick of the draft? I don’t know, but I think he’s a real dude. I think he throws it well. He’s accurate. I think he’s a first-round draft pick. I think Deion’s going to try to win Shedeur the Heisman. I think they’ll be good. They have good wideouts. Their O-line will be better. I think they’ll be way better and they’ll have a good year.”

“I was more impressed with Shedeur than I thought I was gonna be,” said another former Pac-12 head coach. “But I didn’t think he was as good as some of the other (Pac-12) quarterbacks we saw, like (Michael) Penix and Caleb (Williams) and (Bo) Nix. But I will say, it was hard to tell with how much pressure he was under. He got pummeled. That was as hard as it gets, but if they can keep him upright, he can make plays and extend plays. I do think it’ll be a better evaluation this year of what he can really do.”

Continue reading story here

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May 15th

The Sporting News: Coach Prime the No. 12 Coach in the Big 12

From The Sporting News … Sporting News annual 1-134 Coach Rankings were subject to more interpretation before after the No. 1 spot.

That part was easy. When Alabama coach Nick Saban retired, it was a logical choice to put Georgia’s Kirby Smart at No. 1. Smart has two national championships and has built a program with the long-range success that Saban’s Alabama dynasty had.

After No. 1? The rest of the top 10 features six coaches who made at least one College Football Playoff appearance, including Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who also has two national championships. North Carolina’s Mack Brown is the only other national championship coach on the list – and he accomplished that with Texas in 2005. Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Alabama’s Kalen DeBoer made CFP championship games.

Three coaches on this list jumped more than 30 spots up, including Washington’s Jedd Fisch (No. 34), South Florida’s Alex Golesh (No. 92)  and Texas’ Steve Sarkisian (No. 6) – who vaulted into the top 10.

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.

Here are Sporting News’ 1-134 coach rankings ahead of 2023 (last year’s ranking is in parentheses):

From the Big 12 :

  • 95. Jay Norvell, Colorado State (96)
  • 70. Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State (54)
  • 69. Brent Brennan, Arizona (93)
  • 64. Scott Satterfield, Cincinnati (61)
  • 59. Deion Sanders, Colorado (59)
  • 53. Kalani Sitake, BYU (37)
  • 51. Willie Fritz, Houston (55)
  • 47. Neal Brown, West Virginia (52)
  • 44. Dave Aranda, Baylor (27)
  • 43. Matt Campbell, Iowa State (43)
  • 40. Matt Rhule, Nebraska (46)
  • 26. Gus Malzahn, UCF (29)

… Not listed (?) … Joey McGuire, Texas Tech …

(Top Five Big 12 coaches’ bios under May 14th heading, below)

Read full story here

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May 14th

The Sporting News: Five Big 12 coaches among nation’s Top 25

From The Sporting News … For the first time since 2015, Nick Saban is not ranked No. 1 on Sporting News’ annual Top 25 FBS coach rankings.

Of course, Saban – who held that top spot for eight consecutive years – retired this offseason. In fact, none of the coaches who were ranked in the top 10 of those rankings in 2015 are head coaches at the FBS level now. Jim Harbaugh – who was ranked No. 4 in 2023 before leading Michigan to a national championship and leaving for the NFL – also is gone.

So, who is No. 1 now? It was a fairly easy choice. Georgia’s Kirby Smart inherits the top spot after leading the Bulldogs to two national titles in the last three seasons. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney – who won national titles in 2016 and 2018 – and Mack Brown – whose national title was with Texas in 2005 – are the only other coaches with a ring on this list.

The rest is wide open to interpretation. Where do you put Kalen DeBoer – Saban’s successor at Alabama? What about Ohio State coach Ryan Day? How far did Texas coach Steve Sarkisian move up the rankings? Those were the debates we sorted out.

The SEC has the most coaches in our top 25 with eight. The Big Ten is second with six, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five apiece. There is one independent coach in the Top 25.

To determine rankings, Sporting News looks at a coach’s overall record, record at the current school and a three-year record to determine a loose baseline in the subjective process. Career accomplishments, program expectations and the old “this guy or this guy” arguments come into play.  It’s not a perfect science, but it’s our science, one we have stuck to since 2015.

From the Big 12 …

7. Kyle Whittingham, Utah 

Last year: 9

Record: 162-79

Lowdown: Meet the top-ranked coach in the newly-realigned Big 12. Whittingham has guided the Utes through the Mountain West Conference and Pac-12, and success has followed. Utah did not win a third straight Pac-12 championship last season, but Whittingham was still able to put together an eight-win season without starting quarterback Cam Rising. Is this the best program that didn’t make the four-team CFP? That is the power of Whittingham.

13. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State 

Last year: 15

Record: 168-79

Lowdown: Gundy hasn’t been in the top 10 on this list since 2017, but his longevity and track record have made him a fixture in the Top 25. The Cowboys have enjoyed 18 consecutive winning seasons, and they reached the Big 12 championship game for the second time in three years in 2023. With Texas and Oklahoma gone, this is a real chance for Oklahoma State to flex in the Big 12 for the next several seasons. A victory in the Big 12 championship game is the next elusive step.

16. Sonny Dykes, TCU 

Last year: 11

Record: 89-72 (18-9 at TCU)

Lowdown: Is this enough of a correction for Dykes? The Horned Frogs are one year removed from a run to the College Football Playoff championship game, but the sequel was a 5-7 season where some of that one-score luck ran out. Still, Dykes has four winning seasons the last five years between the stints at SMU and TCU and the new-look Big 12 offers a chance for the Horned Frogs to be a perennial conference championship contender. The program has thrived under that setup.

17. Chris Klieman, Kansas State 

Last year: 18

Record: 39-24

Lowdown: The Wildcats were 9-4 last season after winning the Big 12 championship in 2022, and the opportunity to be a playoff regular exists in realignment. Kansas State is 13-5 in Big 12 play the last two seasons, and three of those losses were to Oklahoma and Texas. The new look will be a favorable setup for Klieman, who was 69-6 at North Dakota State before moving up to the FBS with the Wildcats.

25. Lance Leipold, Kansas 

Last year: 36

Record: 54-54 (17-21 at Kansas)

Lowdown: Why would a coach with a .500 career record in the FBS be in our Top 25? Consider that it has been done in Buffalo and Kansas. The Jayhawks are 15-11 with back-to-back bowl appearances the last two seasons at a program that has never made three straight bowl appearances. Kansas is a real threat to win the Big 12 in Leipold’s fourth season. That is the reason why his name turns up any time a Power 5 opening pops up. The winning track record dating back to Wisconsin-Whitewater speaks for itself.

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May 11th

Joel Klatt: CU “Just outside my top 25” (Nebraska at No. 22)

From Joel Klatt at Fox Sports … Spring football is officially in the books, which means it’s time for my first post-spring top 25 rankings.

First off, let me say, I love doing these rankings, but this one was really tough. I began my process by grouping these teams into four blocks. So, while it looks like this is a cohesive 1-25 ranking, in reality, it’s really four different groups of teams.

The first block of teams was in the 19-25 range, and there were plenty of teams that just missed the cut. Those teams that landed just outside my top 25 were North Carolina State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

23. Kansas

I like Kansas. It’s also a bit of a wait-and-see because when they have their QB, Jalon Daniels, they are very good, but he can’t stay healthy. When he’s not healthy, then they won’t be ranked here. Devin Neal is back. He was a 1,200-yard rusher. They could miss their offensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki, who is now the OC at Penn State. We’ll see how that impacts Kansas.

22. Nebraska

I think Nebraska is going to be a pretty darn good football team. The Cornhuskers won five games in Matt Rhule’s first season, and yet, they should have been a lot better. Their defense was a top-20 defense in the country. They lost four games by exactly three points, and in those games, they had 15 turnovers. In fact, 13 of those 15 turnovers were by the quarterbacks. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if Dylan Raiola is just a little bit better at quarterback, which I think he can be, this is a team that can easily win eight or nine football games.

Nebraska is a good football program and I think Matt Rhule is a heck of a football coach. He has worked everywhere he’s been. They don’t have to play Oregon, Michigan or Penn State. To me, they could be 7-0 heading into that Ohio State game. We’ll see if they can beat Colorado. I think Nebraska is an interesting one. They could wind up a lot higher than this. Watch out for Nebraska.

21. Arizona

This is a belief in Noah Fifita and what they were able to do a year ago. They did a great job of holding onto Fifita. They also have Tetairoa McMillan, a standout wide receiver. They both stayed in Tucson after Jedd Fisch left for Washington. I do think Arizona may take a bit of a step back after Fisch left for Washington.

20. Kansas State

I really believe in Chris Klieman. I know Kansas State lost its quarterback, Will Howard, in the transfer portal, but that’s because of Avery Johnson, who they call “Sunshine” in Manhattan, is coming up. It was an amicable decision though, as Howard’s younger brother is going to be a part of the program.

Anyway, Klieman has won at least eight games in every non-COVID year he’s been at K-State, including a Big 12 title in 2022.

19. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State lost in the Big 12 title game last season, but quarterback Alan Bowman received a seventh year of eligibility. So, he’ll make his 1,059th career start.

Jokes aside, Bowman’s experienced and the Cowboys return last year’s Doak Walker winner, Ollie Gordon II. They’ll be a veteran team, similar to their 2021 team that made it to the Big 12 title game with Spencer Sanders and came close to possibly snagging a CFP bid.

This is a team that could be dangerous and win the Big 12. Oklahoma State gets Utah at home, which I think might be the conference’s best game in the regular season.

6. Utah

These next two placements will probably be the most controversial in my top 25.

Utah is the most overlooked program in America. That’s fine for Kyle Whittingham, who doesn’t care if anyone talks about him or his team. The Utes are just a tough and hard-nosed team.

Whittingham’s squad had a tough 2023 in terms of injuries. They couldn’t keep anyone healthy. Now, they get Cameron Rising back at quarterback for another season. They won the Pac-12 and went to the Rose Bowl in his last two healthy seasons. Brant Kuithe and the receiver group dealt with injuries as well, causing many guys to play out of position.

Utah is going to be an elite football team and will be the class of the new-look Big 12. Its schedule sets it up for success, with its toughest games being at Oklahoma State, home against Arizona, at Colorado and at UCF. That isn’t as tough compared to the other top teams here, and Utah should win the Big 12, likely giving it a top-four seed in the playoff.

Read full story here

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May 10th

Big 12 Quarterback rankings: Shedeur Sanders No. 1

From 247 Sports … The new-look Big 12 promises to deliver an entertaining 2024 college football season as the race for conference supremacy is wide open and some of the sport’s biggest stars reside on the rosters capable of winning the league. The quarterback position is a particular strength of this expanded conference, at least in the upper half of the pecking order, with standouts like Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders and Arizona’s Noah Fifita poised for monster campaigns.

Sanders has all the makings of a No. 1 overall draft pick, and many of the signal-callers gunning for his position as the Big 12’s premier quarterback have just as much firepower in their arsenal. Fifita was one of the nation’s most efficient passers last year, Cameron Rising is an ultra-experienced veteran, Avery Johnson is a dual-threat star in the making and many others will define the 2024 season.

Defenses must keep their heads on a swivel when these athletic quarterbacks line up under center as they present some of the top playmaking ability at their position.

Here are the Big 12’s projected starting quarterbacks, ranked:

16. GERRY BOHANON, BYU

15. SAM LEAVITT, ARIZONA STATE

14. BRENDAN SORSBY, CINCINNATI

13. JOSH HOOVER, TCU

12. BEHREN MORTON, TEXAS TECH

11. ALAN BOWMAN, OKLAHOMA STATE

10. DONOVAN SMITH, HOUSTON

9. DEQUAN FINN, BAYLOR

8. ROCCO BECHT, IOWA STATE

7. AVERY JOHNSON, KANSAS STATE

6. KJ JEFFERSON, UCF

5. GARRETT GREENE, WEST VIRGINIA

4. JALON DANIELS, KANSAS

3. CAMERON RISING, UTAH

2. NOAH FIFITA, ARIZONA

1. SHEDEUR SANDERS, COLORADO … While his outward response to Colorado’s transfer portal situation raised more than a few eyebrows this offseason, there is little to nitpick about Shedeur Sanders’ on-field production. He should instantly be the Big 12’s best quarterback when his team joins the league this season, and with an improved offensive line protecting him from the onslaught of pass rushers that wreaked havoc on his pocket last year, Sanders may be in for the best season of his college career. Even with the deficiencies across the Buffaloes’ roster, Sanders finished his debut FBS season as the nation’s No. 10 passer and boasted a sparkling 27-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Read full story here

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May 9th

CBS Sports Post-Spring Top 25 has Utah at No. 11

From CBS Sports … When it comes to ranking college football teams, there’s limited room to include Group of Five teams. That’s safe to say for every top-25 projection from here to … well, forever. You could chalk that up to the lingering after effects of realignment as the power conferences have gobbled up some of the best of the rest.

In the last two years alone, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF (Big 12) and SMU (ACC) have matriculated to the Power Four, while BYU enters its second season in the Big 12 after 12 years as an independent.

It’s called consolidation, folks, and it has diminished the Group of Five.

Below we present the CBS Sports post-spring top 25 where 24 of the 25 teams are members of what now has become the Power Four in the wake of the Pac-12 dissolving. Independent Notre Dame is the only exception. Not surprisingly, nine of the top 10 are from the dominant leagues of that consolidation: the Big Ten and SEC.

Thankfully for those Group of Five teams, the highest-ranked champion of those conferences (MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, AAC and Sun Belt) will be guaranteed a spot in the 12-team College Football Playoff as the field expands this season.

Georgia remains the way-too-early, pre-spring, post-spring and likely preseason No. 1 team in the country. As was the case with the pre-spring rankings, right behind the Bulldogs is Ohio State after the Buckeyes enjoyed a monstrous offseason. We do, however, have a new team occupying the No. 3 slot in the rankings.

The biggest risers included Miami and Clemson. Texas A&M made it in after being previously unranked.

From the Big 12 … 

No. 11 … Utah … The betting man’s favorite to win the Big 12 in the program’s first season as a member. Quarterback Cam Rising returns from a devastating knee injury. As usual, the defense will knock your socks off. Kyle Whittingham begins Year 21 at Utah with a chance to win three conference titles in two leagues in the last four years. Pre-spring ranking: 12

No. 15 … Arizona … Brent Brennan got his dream job after Jedd Fisch went to Washington, and his arrival helped maintain the core of a 10-win team. Quarterback Noah Fifita is Big 12 Player of the Year material. Tetairoa McMillan is the leading returning Power Four receiver (if you don’t count Louisville’s Caullin Lacy, who transferred to the Cardinals from South Alabama). Pre-spring ranking: 14

No. 19 … Kansas State … Chris Kleiman has built a rushing powerhouse for 2024. Quarterback Avery Johnson is as slick as they come as a runner entering his first full season as a starter. DJ Giddens rushed for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Colorado’s Dylan Edwards was one of the biggest acquisitions nationally in the portal. Pre-spring ranking: 18

No. 21 … Kansas … If quarterback Jalon Daniels stays healthy, and that’s a big if, the Jayhawks can dream of Big 12 contention. It will be a landmark season regardless. Because of stadium renovations, Kansas will not play any true home games at Memorial Stadium. Arrowhead Stadium, one of the alternate sites, has already been approved for a first-round CFP game should KU host. Pre-spring ranking: 21

No. 25 … Oklahoma State ... Mike Gundy has won at least 10 games in eight of his 19 seasons. There have been 29 wins in the last three years. Running back Ollie Gordon II will be a prime Heisman candidate. Quarterback Alan Bowman is back for his seventh season. As usual, the Cowboys will light it up offensively, but Oklahoma State always seems to falter defensively at key times, especially late. Pre-spring ranking: 24

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May 7th

The Athletic Preseason Top 25 includes five Big 12 teams

Figures … There are 15 teams not named Colorado playing in the Big 12 in 2024. Ten of those teams are unranked. Of those, CU plays only  four (40%). Meanwhile, five Big 12 teams are ranked in the below preseason Top 25, and CU plays all five, including three straight to finish out the season in November … But … Last season, CU played six ranked teams, including two Top Ten teams. This season, if the below rankings hold, CU won’t play a team ranked higher than 16th all season .. 

From Ari Wasserman of The Athletic … This was very difficult. And forgive me in advance if I made some of you angry, but here’s my honest — and best — attempt at ranking teams in this wild sport.

From the Big 12 … 

16. Kansas State

When Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12, some felt like that was the end of appointment television for the conference. Nope. If you haven’t watched quarterback Avery Johnson play, you’re in for a real treat this year. Add in Colorado transfer and Kansas native Dylan Edwards at running back, and that’s one heck of a 1-2 punch. This is going to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in 2024.

19. Arizona

Could you imagine this Arizona team if Jedd Fisch stayed another year in Tucson? Still, the Wildcats held onto quarterback Noah Fifita and receiver Tetairoa McMillan, which should form one of the best connections through the air in the sport. Arizona also held onto defensive back Tacario Davis despite his lengthy stay in the portal. This team, despite its personnel losses, could compete for a conference title in Year 1 in the Big 12 under new head coach Brent Brennan.

23. Kansas

What is most impressive about Lance Leipold’s build is that it isn’t a flash in the pan. Kansas is a well-coached football team that has increased the baseline talent level on the roster. Quarterback Jalon Daniels is back, and keeping him healthy has to be the prime objective. Add a (hopefully) healthy Daniels in the mix with running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr., and the Jayhawks should be competitive in every Big 12 game in 2024.

24. Oklahoma State

Say what you want about Oklahoma State, but head coach Mike Gundy has been a consistent winner. The Cowboys have one of the most explosive running backs in the country in Ollie Gordon II, and the offense also returns quarterback Alan Bowman (for his seventh season of college football!) and receivers Brennan Presley and Rashod Owens. In this new-look Big 12, the Cowboys could be in prime position to make some noise.

25. Utah

I was initially going to slide USC into the final slot, but it felt wrong. The Trojans have too many questions and haven’t shown the ability to stop anyone since Lincoln Riley took over. Utah is a far more appropriate selection, especially considering Cam Rising is back and the Utes have studs like running back Micah Bernard and tight end Brant Kuithe. Add in a playmaker such as wide receiver Dorian Singer, and veteran coach Kyle Whittingham has an opportunity to win 10-plus games in the program’s first season in the Big 12. Utah is the model of consistency and should once again be very good. Let’s hope Rising can stay healthy.

Read full story here

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May 6th 

DraftKings: CU a touchdown underdog to Nebraska

From DraftKings (lines which are currently available):

— Thursday, August 29th … North Dakota State at Colorado … CU – 7.0

— Saturday, September 7th … Colorado at Nebraska … CU +6.5

— Saturday, September 14th … Colorado at Colorado State … CU – 8.0

— Saturday, October 12th … Kansas State at Colorado … CU + 6.0

— Saturday, November 16th … Utah at Colorado … CU +8.0

Thoughts … Interesting that the Buffs are less of a favorite at home against North Dakota State than they are on the road against Colorado State. This speaks to the high regard the smart money has for FCS powers (Oklahoma State, one of the preseason favorites to win the Big 12, is only an 8.0-point favorite at home in its opener against South Dakota State … With Nebraska opening against UTEP to start the season, there should be little reason to see the line against the Cornhuskers move much in CU’s direction between now and September … 

Athlon Sports: CU the “least likely” of the four new Big 12 teams to succeed

From Athlon Sports … After two historic programs of the Big 12 opted to transition to the SEC, the Big 12 was in dire need of other teams to fill the void or were at risk of implosion.

They were able to find not just two but four teams to take their spots. The Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, Colorado Buffaloes, and Utah Utes will all join the Big 12 next season.

The question now is which of those teams is in the best spot for the future. All four teams have qualities that could make them the best of the group but is it enough to overcome their deficiencies? Let’s take a look from least likely to succeed to most likely to succeed.

4. Colorado Buffaloes … It was a tight race for the last spot, but it is hard to argue Colorado will experience the most growing pains next season in the Big 12. Despite the belief in head coach Deion Sanders, the Buffaloes’ recruiting strategy leaves much to be desired.

It is difficult to build a successful program through the transfer portal while ignoring high school recruiting. The Buffaloes have failed to impress on the recruiting trail and will be undergoing another massive roster overhaul, which leaves me concerned about Colorado’s success next season.

Continue reading story here

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May 3rd

247 Sports Post-Spring Big 12 Power Rankings – CU in at No. 11

From 247 Sports … The updated Big 12 power rankings after spring practice are here ahead of a highly anticipated 2024 college football season. The new-look league features four additional newcomers to fill the spots left by the departures of Oklahoma and Texas. The race for a conference title is expected to be as wide open as ever with a handful of top contenders followed by a pack of potential breakout teams.

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah all make the move from the collapsed Pac-12 looking to establish their footing early in the Big 12 — something the previous newcomers failed to do last season. The expanded Big 12 is filled with veteran quarterbacks and emerging college football stars that flashed during the 2023 campaign, setting up what should be an exciting league.

This is not a ranking indicative of how we are projecting teams will finish in 2024, but is more of a look at rosters coming out of spring and which programs would win head-to-head matchups with each other if games were played next week.

Below are the post-spring Big 12 football power rankings ahead of the new season:

1. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

2. UTAH UTES

3. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

4. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

5. ARIZONA WILDCATS

6. IOWA STATE CYCLONES

7. KANSAS JAYHAWKS

8. TCU HORNED FROGS

9. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

10. UCF KNIGHTS

11. COLORADO BUFFALOES – All eyes will be on Deion Sanders and Colorado again in 2024. However, the chances the Buffaloes are any sort of contender in a return to the Big 12 is unlikely. Sanders continues to try and increase the talent level on the roster with a heavy dose of transfer additions. Consensus All-American Travis Hunter is a two-way standout and Shedeur Sanders proved he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the country when given a clean pocket, although keeping him clean is another major concern Colorado needs to address. The trenches are where the Buffaloes are at a greatest disadvantage. If it can improve both the offensive and defensive line, Colorado might be able to at least get to a bowl game.

12. BAYLOR BEARS

13. BYU COUGARS

14. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

15. CINCINNATI BEARCATS

16. HOUSTON COUGARS

Read full story here

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May 1st

CU’s schedule ranked 13th-most difficult in the nation (4th in the Big 12)

From College Football News … And if you had the easiest schedule of them all – like Liberty did in last year’s rankings – it made it easier to go unbeaten in the regular season.

Now in an expanded College Football Playoff world there’s more leeway – you can lose two, maybe three games and still have a real shot of getting into the 12-team field. But there’s a new factor.

The schedules in the bigger conferences just became a whole lot harder.

The ACC and Big 12 made moves, but the two top leagues just got super-nasty. With Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington going from the Pac-12 – sky point – to the Big 12, and the SEC welcoming in Texas and Oklahoma, there are fewer days off than ever before.

We’ll do this in August after coming up with our final 2024 Preseason College Football Rankings, but for now we’ll use our 2024 Offseason First Look 1 to 134 Rankings.

Here’s our extremely basic way of doing this. The lower the overall number and score, the harder the schedule is.

Rutgers is ranked 50th in the spring rankings. Play the Scarlet Knights at home and that counts for 50 points. Play them on the road, and that counts half – the theory being that road games add up over time and, of course, are usually tougher to win – so it would be 25 points.

Any game against an FCS team counts as 135 points, and neutral site dates are treated like home games.

From the Big 12 (plus CU’s 2024 non-conference opponents) … 

101 Colorado State 880.5

Hardest Game: Aug 31 at Texas

Easiest Game: Sept 7 Northern Colorado

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 72

T62 Texas Tech 608.5

Hardest Game: Oct 5 at Arizona

Easiest Game: Aug 31 Abilene Christian

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 13

59 Arizona 588

Hardest Game: Sept 28 at Utah

Easiest Game: Sept 7 Northern Arizona

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 18

56 UCF 580.5

Hardest Game: Nov 29 Utah

Easiest Game: Aug 29 New Hampshire

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 62

53 Nebraska 553.5

Hardest Game: Oct 26 at Ohio State

Easiest Game: Sept 14 Northern Iowa

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 38

51 Iowa State 549.5

Hardest Game: Nov 23 at Utah

Easiest Game: Aug 31 North Dakota

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 11

49 Kansas 547.5

Hardest Game: Oct 26 at Kansas State

Easiest Game: Aug 29 Lindenwood

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 12

42 Cincinnati 522

Hardest Game: Nov 23 at Kansas State

Easiest Game: Aug 31 Towson

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 66

37 Utah 513

Hardest Game: Sept 21 at Oklahoma State

Easiest Game: Aug 29 Southern Utah

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 20

28 Oklahoma State 492.5

Hardest Game: Sept 28 at Kansas State

Easiest Game: Aug 31 South Dakota State

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 55

26 Kansas State 487.5

Hardest Game: Oct 19 at West Virginia

Easiest Game: Aug 31 UT Martin

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 32

23 Baylor 484

Hardest Game: Sept 7 Utah

Easiest Game: Aug 31 Tarleton State

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 54

20 TCU 477.5

Hardest Game: Oct 19 at Utah

Easiest Game: Sept 7 LIU

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 52

15 BYU 449.5

Hardest Game: Nov 9 at Utah

Easiest Game: Aug 31 Southern Illinois

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 34

13 Colorado 439.5

Hardest Game: Nov 16 Utah

Easiest Game: Aug 31 North Dakota State

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 2

8 West Virginia 422.5

Hardest Game: Aug 31 Penn State

Easiest Game: Sept 7 Albany

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 4

7 Houston 421.5

Hardest Game: Sept 7 at Oklahoma

Easiest Game: Aug 31 UNLV

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 25

6 Arizona State 414

Hardest Game: Nov 30 at Arizona

Easiest Game: Aug 31 Wyoming

2023 Schedule Difficulty Ranking: 19

Read full story here

—–

April 15th 

CBS Sports Top 100 Best Players List Includes Three Buffs (Travis Hunter No. 1)

From CBS Sports … We are in the thick of it on the college football calendar. Spring football is finished for some teams and will wrap up in the next couple of weeks for others. The transfer portal opens April 16. The NFL Draft, our final goodbye to the college football stars of the last few seasons, looms.

There’s a sense of change in the air (and angst, for a lot of coaches and NIL collectives). It was in that spirit that we decided it was time to do some spring cleaning of the final 2023 rankings of the top 101 players in college football. A majority of those players, including nine of the top 10, are off to the NFL.

It’s time for a new era. Here’s our spring version of the top 100 college football players for the 2024 season. For the preseason lists, I keep things to a tidy top 100. Somebody will earn that 101st spot by midseason.

Top 100 college football players entering 2024 season

From the Big 12 … 

1. Colorado CB Travis Hunter

Former No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter leads my list as the top overall player in the country entering the 2024 season. He is a generational player and, if he took fewer snaps offensively at wide receiver, would be even more effective for Colorado’s defense. Hunter missed a handful of games after taking a cheap shot in the Colorado State game and still notched 1,044 snaps. He had seven games with more than 100 snaps, doing so as a two-way player. That is more than two seasons worth of reps for the typical defender.

A silky-smooth corner, Hunter is excellent in press coverage. In a Cover 2 scheme, he has the ability to undercut routes and make plays on the ball. Hunter has excellent hands and will sacrifice his body to make plays. He has fluid hips that allow him to trail his primary receiver, adjust to a ball thrown in his area and get involved for a PBU. Hunter shows an excellent ability to understand and match offensive patterns, as well as the make-up speed to catch up and make plays on a ball where he is slightly beaten. How will his two-way timeshare look this fall? And could it possibly continue in the NFL?

4. Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders

Sanders is my current pick to go first overall in the 2025 NFL Draft. He’s also, in my opinion, the best quarterback in college football entering the 2024 season. Sanders has an excellent arm to make all the throws necessary and is an extremely accurate passer both in the pocket and on the move. Sanders does a great job keeping his eyes downfield to go through his progressions and make the high percentage completion despite the constant pressure he was under all season. Sanders threw for almost 300 yards a game and only had three interceptions in 430 attempts completing 69% of his passes while suffering 21 drops by his receivers. Sanders is an excellent post-snap processor as well and extends the plays to give his guys an extra second or two to find green grass.

9. Oklahoma State RB Ollie Gordon II

Gordon gets my nod as the top returning back after an incredible 2023 season where he almost single-handedly carried the Cowboys to a Big 12 Championship Game appearance. Gordon is a complete back with power, speed, and vision. Gordon had 46 explosive runs last year and averaged 3.8 yards per carry after contact.

13. Arizona WR Tetairoa McMillan

The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder was a nightmare matchup out West as McMillian torched defenders for 93 catches for over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. McMillian excelled in contested catches and had 63 grabs go for a first down or longer and only two drops. McMillian has the ability to win vs. press and the speed to separate and box out with his huge catch radius. He should expect a ton of attention this season as he should be one of the first receivers off the board in the 2025 NFL Draft.

36. Arizona QB Noah Fifita

The 5-11 Fifita burst onto the national scene in a big way in 2023. Thrust into action because of an injury to established starter Jayden de laura, Fifita made the job his. Fiftia throws his receivers open on the short/intermediate game as well as anyone. He throws the ball on the move well and can use his feet to scramble when needed, but he is generally not looking to run. Will that feature come in time?

49. Utah QB Cam Rising

Rising is entering his 10th 7th season of college football. After taking 2023 off to rehab his knee, I hope you didn’t forget about Rising, who will be 25-years-old when the season starts. The Utes might be my preseason pick to win the Big 12 and make the playoff and that’s thanks to Rising’s winning pedigree and playmaking ability. Rising excels on the intermediate routes and places the ball with precision both in the pocket and on the move. He’s a wizard with his feet.

52. Kansas RB Devin Neal

Neal is a silky-smooth back who excels in Kansas’s wide variety of ways to create space. Neal is the total package of speed, quickness, and power and has excellent vision. When he sticks his foot in the ground, he’ll make you look silly. A future NFL stud.

53. TCU WR Savion Williams

Williams is criminally underrated. It may be because he’s underused. The jumbo receiver has a ton of talent but only caught 41 passes last season. way under the radar receiver that is vastly underused for his ability despite hauling in 41 balls. I think Williams is a first-round talent: He has the speed, great length and is not scared to make contested catches in the middle of the field.

55. Texas Tech RB Tahj Brooks

Brooks is on track to break the all-time rushing record at Texas Tech this season. He’s been a workhorse for the Red Raiders, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Over 1,000 of those yards came after contact. Brooks is a poised runner that lets his blocks set up and then makes an enormous amount of tacklers bounce off his powerful lower half. He’s pretty explosive, too. Brooks will be a force at the next level as a cold-weather back.

66. Kansas QB Jalon Daniels

Daniels has been a part of KU’s climb to respectability under coach Lance Leipold. A breakout season in 2022 earned him preseason all-conference honors, but most of 2023 was ruined by a back injury. The dual-threat playmaker rebuffed portal poachers and is ready to remind everybody he’s among the best in the business.

68. UCF QB KJ Jefferson

I’m still high on Jefferson. He’s a nightmare to tackle as a runner and is an underrated passer, steadily improving his passing mechanics over the last few years. When given time, he throws dots. Jefferson had very little time to throw last year (Arkansas gave up 42 sacks) and his numbers were down, but he’s still a player. UCF and coach Gus Malzahn will be a great fit for Jefferson.

77. Colorado EDGE BJ Green II

The No. 7-ranked defensive lineman in 247Sports’ transfer portal rankings, Green played on the edge at Arizona State but built more like a hybrid defensive tackle at 6-1, 270 pounds. Green plays with a relentless motor and is twitchy with some natural pass-rush ability. Colorado’s defense needs him to be a force in 2024.

93. Oklahoma State EDGE Collin Oliver

Oliver hasn’t put up the numbers like he did as a freshman all-american but is still a productive and disruptive force off the edge. His six sacks in 2023 don’t tell the whole story as he generated 40 pressures. Oliver is undersized but is sudden and can beat you with speed from the edge.

96. Colorado State WR Tory Horton

Horton has great length, speed, production and excels as a punt returner, too. Horton caught 98 balls for over 1,100 yards and had eight touchdowns for the season. Horton had 18 explosive catches for the year but is almost exclusively used in the short-to-intermediate quick game, where he moves the chains as well as anyone. Don’t see the game-breaking speed here but he’s a nice security blanket.

97. Iowa State RB Abu Sama III

Another star back for the Cyclones. Sama made the 247Sports True Freshman All-American Team after finishing the season on a heater including 276 yards in his first career start against Kansas State — a fun, memorable game in the snow. Sama averaged 7.3 yards a carry and scored six touchdowns on the ground for the Cyclones. Sama is also a receiving threat and showed some willingness to be a solid blocker in pass protection.

100. West Virginia OT Wyatt Milum

Milum was a dependable blind side blocker for the Mountaineers in 2023, yielding nine pressures and zero sacks. He’s a solid run blocker as well. Another good season could be his last in Morgantown.

Read full story here

—–

April 14th

Rating Recruiting potential: CU 5th in the Big 12 

From The Athletic … We know what the recruiting rankings say. We know which programs sign the best — and worst — classes. But which programs have the highest potential with what they currently have in place? Which ones are set up to recruit the best moving forward?

Ten members of The Athletic’s college football staff — Sam Khan Jr., Mitch Light, Antonio Morales, Manny Navarro, Max Olson, Grace Raynor, Kennington Smith III, David Ubben, Ari Wasserman and Justin Williams — submitted their own rankings of the power-conference programs, Nos. 1 through 70, based on recruiting potential.

The current head coach factored heavily into the rankings, but this was about the entire program as well: location, history, facilities, etc. We didn’t ignore NIL, either. It wasn’t the only reason we ranked a school where we did, but it was definitely part of the equation.

We opted to include Oregon State and Washington State even though they aren’t really power-conference programs anymore.

We’ve included the highest and lowest vote each program received, as well. Here are last year’s rankings. And we added one new wrinkle this year: Each voter was allowed to pick out one ranking by another voter to ridicule. This can be found at the bottom of the story.

From the Big 12 (none in the Top 25 nationally) … 

28. TCU: After a surprising slide from 13-2 and the CFP national title game to 5-7 in 2023, TCU must get back to building what worked: veteran teams full of studs acquired by out-evaluating other programs. The Playoff run did raise the Horned Frogs’ national profile and get them in the mix with more blue-chip talent, and this program has all the necessary ingredients to be an annual contender in the new Big 12. — MO
Highest vote: 21 • Lowest vote: 42 • Last year: 20

29. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders jumped 12 spots from last year after Joey McGuire and his staff signed a second consecutive top-30 class — the second time that’s been done at Texas Tech in the modern recruiting era. Lubbock is a bit remote, but the state of Texas is obviously very fertile, and the school has its NIL act together. — ML
Highest vote: 24 • Lowest vote: 43 • Last year: 41

33. UCF: The Knights are a wild card, but their stock continues to rise. What is possible at UCF? That’s a question with no definitive answer. Gus Malzahn is a proven recruiter and UCF has more to sell than ever, along with a renewed emphasis on building up its NIL budget as the program adjusts to life in the Big 12. If UCF can ever sell a Playoff bid on the trail, don’t rule out the possibility of the program out-recruiting some of the more tradition-heavy programs in the state. UCF was one of the biggest risers from last year to this year. — DU
Highest vote: 25 • Lowest vote: 44 • Last year: 43

34. Utah: The Utes found a natural landing spot in the Big 12 after the Pac-12 fell apart, and Kyle Whittingham is one of the most respected coaches in college football. Utah won’t be a perennial top-20 finisher in the recruiting rankings, but the Utes know who they are behind an established identity and can give any team a run for its money on any given Saturday. — GR
Highest vote: 20 • Lowest vote: 56 • Last year: 31

37. Colorado: Yes, I’m the genius who believed the Deion Sanders hype a little too much and ranked Colorado fourth in last year’s poll. The reality here is Sanders can make a few splash signings, but he’s not interested in investing loads of energy on entire classes. He’d rather rely on the portal. I believe a return to the Big 12 helps Colorado in the long run, but I think we have a good read now on what this program is under Sanders. — MN
Highest vote: 25 • Lowest vote: 55 • Last year: 21

40. Arizona State: The Sun Devils have had stretches of consistent top-30 recruiting before; from 2012 through 2020, Arizona State averaged a class rank of 29th. The end of the Herm Edwards trended far from that; can Kenny Dillingham get the Sun Devils back in that range? His staff has talented recruiters, and ASU’s move to the Big 12 provides real intrigue. — SK
Highest vote: 26 • Lowest vote: 48 • Last year: 35

41. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys jumped a spot in this year’s rankings but have had back-to-back recruiting classes that finished in the 50s. Mike Gundy tends to outperform his rankings, though, and even if the recruiting results aren’t overly impressive, Oklahoma State should be operating from a position of strength in the new-look Big 12 without Oklahoma and Texas. — AM
Highest vote: 32 • Lowest vote: 57 • Last year: 42

42. Houston: Houston is polarizing. On the surface, it seems like a Big 12 program located in the heart of one of the most densely populated cities for high school talent in the country should have all the advantages in the world. The problem is the Cougars have done rather poorly in accessing that nearby talent. Maybe that was on Dana Holgorsen, who doesn’t have a reputation as a ruthless recruiter. Maybe that’s why Houston jumped up a few spots now that Willie Fritz is in the fold. — AW
Highest vote: 29 • Lowest vote: 62 • Last year: 45

45. Baylor: The Bears are in need of a reset. After two straight top-40 finishes, Baylor was 67th in the 2024 cycle on the heels of a disappointing 3-9 season in 2023. Staff changes have been made — head coach Dave Aranda was retained, but he is taking over defensive play calling and replaced Jeff Grimes with Jake Spavital at offensive coordinator. Will it be enough to spark improvement? Baylor is obviously in a talent-rich state, and a new $90 million football development center is on track to open this summer, which should help. — JW
Highest vote: 30 • Lowest vote: 65 • Last year: 33

48. Arizona: Arizona might’ve ranked higher this year if it had secured continuity coming off a breakthrough 10-win season. But Jedd Fisch and his staff leaving for Washington (and taking a bunch of signees with them) means another program reset. The stellar play of their 2022 class continues to prove that recruiting at a top-25 level in Tucson is possible and gives the Wildcats an opportunity to be an immediate contender in the Big 12. — MO
Highest vote: 40 • Lowest vote: 60 • Last year: 49

51. Cincinnati: During his best years, Luke Fickell had the Bearcats somewhere between 40 and 45 in the national rankings. Cincinnati is in a power conference now but checked in at 51st in the 2024 cycle after winning just three games and posting the program’s first losing record since 2017. Scott Satterfield has a lot to work to do on the field and the recruiting trail. — AM
Highest vote: 39 • Lowest vote: 64 • Last year: 48

52. Kansas: No program moved up more spots on this list in one year than Kansas. Isn’t it incredible what a little bit of winning and a competent head coach can do for a place? The state of Kansas doesn’t have high school talent, but it’s close enough to Texas to get by. A spot in the low 50s is a nice little improvement for a program that was left for dead a few years ago. — AW
Highest vote: 37 • Lowest vote: 60 • Last year: 68

54. West Virginia: West Virginia typically hangs out in the 30s and 40s of the rankings, which isn’t bad for a program that doesn’t have a strong local recruiting base. There have been only two blue-chip prospects in West Virginia in the last six cycles (2020 through 2025). There were three in the Class of 2019, but none signed with the Mountaineers. Neal Brown’s breakthrough 9-4 record in 2024 is a good sign things are trending in the right direction. — GR
Highest vote: 36 • Lowest vote: 63 • Last year: 54

56. Kansas State: Signing four-star quarterback Avery Johnson in the 2023 class was a massive win, and it helped lead to the No. 33 overall class. But historically, this is a developmental program that’s built on turning diamonds in the rough into productive college players. And it has worked tremendously well under Bill Snyder and current coach Chris Klieman. — KS
Highest vote: 43 • Lowest vote: 63 • Last year: 50

60. Iowa State: The nine classes before Matt Campbell’s first full recruiting haul averaged a national ranking of 62.9. The eight classes since have an average ranking of 49. Campbell has clearly raised the floor on Iowa State’s recruiting, but can he raise the ceiling closer to the top 40 as the Cyclones enter the new Big 12 era? — SK
Highest vote: 49 • Lowest vote: 61 • Last year: 56

61. BYU: The Cougars received a nice recruiting bump in their first recruiting cycle as a full-fledged member of the Big 12, checking in at 44th in 2024, their first top-50 finish since 2016. It’s still to be determined whether that was a one-year boost or whether BYU can sustain that sort of recruiting in its new conference home. — AM
Highest vote: 45 • Lowest vote: 68 • Last year: 55

Notes

  • Seven programs had a gap of at least 30 spots from their highest to lowest vote: Colorado (30: 25 to 55), Georgia Tech (32: 28 to 60), Houston (33: 29 to 62), SMU (34: 33 to 67), Stanford (34: 32 to 66), Baylor (35: 30 to 65) and Utah (36: 20 to 36).
  • Six programs jumped up 10 spots or more from last year’s ranking: Ole Miss (10), UCF (10), Texas Tech (12), Missouri (14), Syracuse (14) and Kansas (16).
  • Three programs fell by 10 spots or more: Oregon State (12), Baylor (12) and Colorado (16).

Read full story here

—–

April 10th

ESPN: 30 Coaches who will define the next decade (No. 14 – Coach Prime)

From ESPN … Nick Saban, likely the greatest coach in college football history, retired. Jim Harbaugh, the reigning national champion, left for the NFL again. All we needed was for one of those “Atlanta Falcons to offer Kirby Smart a jillion dollars a year!” rumors — or Lane Kiffin’s pleas on the topic — to turn out true, and we’d have gotten a complete restart in the balance of power in college football coaching.

Smart is still at Georgia, but 2024 will still see a pretty big reset. And college coaching is quickly becoming a younger man’s game. Only one of the projected top 15 teams in the winter SP+ rankings has a coach older than 53 years old (LSU’s Brian Kelly is 62), while three are led by someone 40 or younger. Considering Saban was 52 when he won his first of seven national titles, this all says something pretty clear: The coaches who rule the sport in the coming years might do so for a while.

Who is potentially poised to take over college football? Some names are pretty obvious, but others aren’t as easy to spot. So let’s break things into categories and talk about 30 coaches who could rule college football through the 2020s and beyond.

Coaches named Deion Sanders

If we’re talking about coaches who will define the sport in the coming years, it’s hard to leave off the guy who turned a four-win season into a nonstop, headline-grabbing escapade in his first season as an FBS head coach.

14. Deion Sanders, Colorado Buffaloes. Whatever happens for the 56-year-old Sanders moving forward, good or bad, it will be news. Sanders attempted an almost total roster flip in 2023, signing more than 50 transfers in the process. But after a bright, 3-0 start, the Buffaloes crashed and burned, losing eight of their last nine. Still, (A) going 4-8 and ranking 81st in SP+ still qualified as significant improvement, and (B) Sanders also has massive success at Jackson State (23-3 in 2021-22) on his résumé. And hey, does The Rock come to your team’s home games?

Read full story here

—–

April 7th

College Football News: CU going bowling (along with 14 of 16 schools in the Big 12) 

From College Football News … Spring football is rolling, everyone will soon start to think about the actual game instead of all the outside stuff, and we’re diving in with our early calls on every game – to go along with the schedules for all 134 college football teams.

We’ll certainly change up the picks and predictions several times through the offseason, but for now, here’s where we start with what might happen once it all gets going in late August.

From the Big 12 … 

  • Arizona … 8-4
  • Arizona State … 6-6
  • Baylor … 6-6
  • BYU … 6-6
  • Cincinnati … 5-7
  • Colorado … 6-6 … Aug 31 North Dakota State W FCS
    Sept 7 at Nebraska L P4
    Sept 14 at Colorado State W Gof5
    Sept 21 Baylor W Big 12
    Sept 28 at UCF L Big 12
    Oct 5 OPEN DATE
    Oct 12 Kansas State L Big 12
    Oct 19 at Arizona L Big 12
    Oct 26 Cincinnati W Big 12
    Nov 2 OPEN DATE
    Nov 9 at Texas Tech L Big 12
    Nov 16 Utah L Big 12
    Nov 23 at Kansas W Big 12
    Nov 29 Oklahoma State W Big 12
  • Houston … 4-8
  • Iowa State … 7-5
  • Kansas … 8-4
  • Kansas State … 9-3
  • Oklahoma State … 9-3
  • TCU … 6-6
  • Texas Tech … 7-5
  • UCF … 6-6
  • Utah … 10-2
  • West Virginia … 6-6

Read full story here

—-

April 6th 

ESPN: Two Big 12 coaches among Top Ten in College Football

From ESPN … When we asked our college football reporters to rank the sport’s top 10 coaches, we figured there wouldn’t be much debate about who is No. 1 — and there wasn’t. Georgia’s Kirby Smart, whose Bulldogs are 42-2 over the past three seasons, was the unanimous pick among our 10 voters.

But after that, there was very little consensus.

The only other coach to appear on all 10 ballots was new Alabama head man Kalen DeBoer, but his rankings ranged from second to 10th.

Two coaches appeared on nine ballots: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, whose rankings ranged from three second-place votes to two ninth places, and Florida State’s Mike Norvell, whose votes included two second places and two 10ths.

Then there’s Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who received four second-place votes and was left off four ballots altogether.

With points assigned based on our reporters’ votes (10 points for first place, nine for second place and down to one point for 10th place), here are the complete rankings.

Also see: Surprises and snubs — top 10 coaches reaction

From the Big 12 … 

3. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

2023 record: 8-5 (.615)
Career record: 162-79 (.672)
Points: 56

Utah is the only home Whittingham has known since arriving at the school as the defensive line coach in 1994. He was elevated to defensive coordinator the next year and to head coach upon the departure of Urban Meyer just before the end of the 2004 season.

Since then, Whittingham has been a hallmark of consistency, finishing with just two losing seasons in 19 years (right after Utah made the jump from the Mountain West to the Pac-12). He guided the Utes to an undefeated season in 2008, two Pac-12 titles and eight top-25 finishes in the AP poll, including six in the past 10 years. All at a school without the resources of the other coaches’ programs on this list.

9. Lance Leipold, Kansas

2023 record: 9-4 (.692)
Career record: 54-54 (.500)
Points: 28

In the six seasons before Lance Leipold arrived at Kansas, the Jayhawks went 9-60. In 2023, they went 9-4. You can almost rest your case right there. Hired after spring practice had already concluded in 2021, Leipold inherited a team that had gone 0-9 in 2020 and won two, then six, then nine games. While it’s unfair to compare anyone to Bill Snyder, he has done one hell of a Snyder impression over his first three seasons in Lawrence, and with his track record, there’s reason to believe he could keep it up.

This is, after all, a guy with six national titles on his résumé. Once a Division III dynasty builder at Wisconsin-Whitewater, Leipold has since taken his masterful culture building to Buffalo and KU, and damned if it’s not working wherever he goes. He’ll face a new challenge in 2024, coaching without ace offensive coordinator and right-hand man Andy Kotelnicki for the first time since 2012. (Kotelnicki moved on to the Penn State OC job.) But if anyone in college football gets the benefit of the doubt, it’s Leipold.

Kansas won nine games last year! Kansas! It boggles the mind.

Read full story here

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April 2nd

Ari Wasserman – Coach Prime’s lack of recruiting a “waste”: “His potential is off the charts, and he isn’t going to reach that potential because he isn’t putting in the work”

From Ari Wasserman at The Athletic … Deion Sanders became Prime Time because he’s a showman. The way he danced into end zones and dominated on the field, the man was born to be a star. When he was hired, we knew Colorado was going to be “different.” That’s the beauty of the hire.

But being different isn’t what scares me. Being different is what you embrace.

It’s not putting in the work that scares me. It’s not embracing what it takes to be a college football coach and disguising that with misleading statements about being different.

Getting back to the showman comment, it’s very easy to lose track of what’s going on in Boulder. Sanders is engaging, entertaining, personable and funny. When people criticize him or he has something to say, the showman in him comes out and he has an answer for everything. He was very clever in saying he doesn’t travel for recruiting because he wants to save his university money. He was clever when saying people would get mad if he’s in a certain area of the country and visits only a few high schools, though that’s an issue every big-time coach faces. You want to buy what he is saying because he’s so damn charismatic.

But it’s all fluff. There’s no substance.

That’s why Sanders is disappointing me. Doing things “differently” was supposed to be him recruiting unconventionally and weaponizing his fame. He was supposed to show up at five-star prospects high schools and dazzle everyone with that big smile and unmatched swagger. He was supposed to make Colorado a factor because of his persona and he was supposed to sign really, really good recruiting classes.

Instead, he’s leaned almost solely on the transfer portal — which he has said publicly is his plan to flip the roster faster — and hasn’t been on the road for recruits … at all. He has plenty of time to go on book tours and appear on late-night television, but the man didn’t make one off-campus recruiting contact last year. Think about that. A celebrity as big as Deion didn’t go on the road to try to sign top-level high school players. What’s the point of being famous if you aren’t going to use it in all aspects of the job?

What a waste. His potential is off the charts, and he isn’t going to reach that potential because he isn’t putting in the work.

You can excuse it as “doing things differently.” I’ll categorize it as mismanagement of his qualifications.

Some may be quick to point out that Colorado was much better last year than we thought. They’ll point to the work he has done in the portal, and the fact he brought in Travis Hunter, Cormani McClain and Jordan Seaton. That’s all true.

To me, that makes it worse. Look at what Sanders has been able to accomplish without fully embracing what it takes to be a college football coach. Could you imagine if Sanders — er, Prime Time — embraced the less desirable parts of being a college football coach and got on the road and talked to teenagers? What if he lost himself in the art of recruiting and did everything in his power to sign as many elite-level high schoolers as possible? With relentless effort, could you imagine what the future of this Colorado program could look like?

But no, Sanders isn’t interested in that. He wants to win quickly, and doing so has come at the expense of loading his roster with higher-caliber athletes who’ll be on the team in three years. There is no future. There is only a now. He’ll distract us with funny comments at a podium or by pulling one five-star prospect a year at the end of the recruiting cycle, but he won’t put in the heavy lifting to build for now and the future.

Continue reading story here

—–

March 12th

247 Sports 2024 Quarterback rankings: Seven in Top 25 from the Big 12; Shedeur Sanders No. 2

From 247 Sports … Ranking college football’s top 25 quarterbacks ahead is a challenge. With as many as five quarterbacks projected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the sport replaces several superstars. As with all quarterback power rankings, this one is subjective with projected 2024 numbers, potential 2025 NFL Draft placement and career production all impacting placement in this top 25.

Here are college football’s top 25 quarterbacks, a ranking that’s sure to change as the season nears …

From the Big 12 … 

23. Avery Johnson, Kansas State

Career statistics: 37-of-66 (56.1%), 479 yards, 5 TD; 296 yards rushing, 7 TD

Outlook: Rarely are two programs okay with a player leaving, but the Wildcats didn’t panic after multi-year starter Will Howard entered the portal (and signed with Ohio State). Avery Johnson, a freshman, showed enough in a limited role to give Kansas State’s coaching staff and those around him considerable confidence that he’ll be a difference-maker this fall, especially after his bowl performance against NC State.

22. K.J. Jefferson, UCF 

Career statistics: 626-of-962 (65.1%), 7,911 yards, 67 TD, 18 INT; 1,876 yards rushing, 21 TD

Outlook: A three-year starter in the SEC at Arkansas, Jefferson played for several different coordinators and rather than stay put under new OC Bobby Petrino, he left for the portal and will team up with Gus Malzahn at UCF within a scheme that’s ideal for his skill set.

15. Garrett Greene, West Virginia

Career statistics: 209-of-385 (54.4%), 3,070 yards, 21 TD, 7 INT; 1,385 rushing yards, 13 TD

Outlook: The advanced analytics suggest Garrett Greene is college football’s most underrated returning quarterback in 2024 after he exploded onto the scene for the Mountaineers last season. He led the FBS ranks in big-time throws (10.2%) last fall per PFF and is rarely sacked when pressured given his mobility. It’s a dangerous comp, sure, but Greene is the closet quarterback we’ve seen to Johnny Manziel in the Power conference ranks in several years. He’s lethal on the move and can move the chains with his feet or finding guys at the second level when the secondary begins to close in.

12. Jalon Daniels, Kansas

Career statistics: 365-of-574 (63.6%), 4,297 yards, 31 TD, 12 INT; 602 rushing yards, 13 TD

Outlook: Can Jalon Daniels stay healthy? That’s the major question most everyone has for the veteran Big 12 quarterback who played in only three games last season after having a statistically-efficient 2022 campaign for the Jayhawks. At full strength, there are few better in big-time situations than Daniels on the move, but he’s yet to play in 10 games during any season. Losing his OC to Penn State is something to watch, too.

10. Cameron Rising, Utah

Career statistics: 456-of-711 (64.1%), 5,572 yards, 46 TD, 14 INT; 953 rushing yards, 12 TD

Outlook: Rarely does a quarterback with a pair of conference championships to his credit return for a seventh season. But Cameron Rising gave it another go after missing the 2023 season with a knee injury. The Utes enter the Big 12, and according to most projections, are a playoff contender as one of the league’s new frontrunners. Rising made big plays in crucial moments during his career and has seen just about everything as a starting quarterback.

5. Noah Fifita, Arizona

Career statistics: 250-of-352 (71%), 2,997 yards, 26 TD, 6 INT

Outlook: After a standout sophomore season, Noah Fifita stayed put at Arizona despite watching his head coach, Jedd Fisch, bolt for Washington at season’s end. According to PFF, Fifita was at his best under pressure last season with one of the highest passer ratings in the country under duress. And on money downs, Fifita’s grade of 90.3 was No. 3 nationally. The young signal caller can play as one of the top sub 6-feet passers in college football.

Career statistics: 911-of-1,326 (68.7%), 10,193 yards, 97 TD, 17 INT (includes two seasons at Jackson State)

2. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado

Outlook: Behind one of the country’s most porous offensive lines last season, Shedeur Sanders proved his worth within the Power Five after throwing 27 touchdown passes in essentially 10 games. He officially had 11 starts, but only played a couple series against Washington State in November before leaving the Buffaloes’ penultimate contest with an injury. He’ll have a chance this fall to ascend to top quarterback billing ahead of the 2025 NFL Draft if there’s better play up front and Colorado gets to bowl eligibility thanks to his arm and accuracy.

Read full story here

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March 9th

FanSided: Five Teams Which Will be Better than you Think (No. 3: CU)

From John Buhler at FanSided … It is the dawn of a new era in major college football. Long gone are the days of antiquated divisions and the flaws of a four-team College Football Playoff. While the four-team format accomplished what it set out to do, which was to give us the four best teams in a given season, that is not what the general public really wanted. What it wanted was an opportunity for everyone to have a shot at a title.

So with that in mind, we have to look at the playoff picture quite differently than before. It is no longer about being one of the top four teams in college football, but rather one of the five highest-ranked conference champions or one of the seven next-best teams who didn’t win their league. The expanded playoff is going to be more inclusive than ever. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds this fall.

But for every team that is a lock to make the 12-team field like a Georgia, an Ohio State, an Oregon or a Texas, there is always somebody hiding in the tall grass, waiting to pounce. Yes, there will be other contenders like Missouri, Ole Miss and Penn State probably making the field, but what about the guys nobody is thinking about? Who could some of those teams be? Let’s find out now with this deep dive.

Here are five college football teams I fully expect will be better than most of the casual fans expect.

  • 5.  Texas A&M (7-6 in 2023) …
  • 4. Miami (7-6 in 2023) …
  • 3. Colorado … (4-8 in 2023) … This could come back to haunt me, but I am bullish on all things Colorado Buffaloes for next season. It will be year two under Deion Sanders. While he has made a killing picking up players in the transfer portal, this is also year two of him being able to recruit high schoolers to Boulder, as well as year two of Pat Shurmur calling plays, to some extent. More importantly, Colorado is going back to the Big 12.

    This has been a talking point my FanSided.com colleague and False Start co-host Cody Williams has been talking about all offseason: How huge it is for Colorado to be back in the Big 12. This is a league, as well as its predecessor of the old Big Eight, that CU saw its most gridiron success, whether that was under Bill McCartney during the Buffs’ heyday or a little later under Gary Barnett in the 2000s.

    Colorado retains regional rivals, as well as being better equipped to recruit talent-rich states now in the new/old conference of Florida (UCF), Ohio (Cincinnati) and Texas (Baylor, Houston, TCU, Texas Tech). Factor in Shedeur Sanders being a Heisman Trophy hopeful, and it would not shock me if the Buffs went something like 8-4 in its first year back in the Big 12. This team is so close to being great.

    With the Big 12 wide open after the Oklahoma and Texas exoduses, upwards of 12 teams can win it.

  • 2. North Carolina State (9-4 in 2023) …
  • 1. Notre  Dame (10-3 in 2023) …

Read full story here

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March 8th

CBS Sports QB Power Rankings: Shedeur in at No. 5

From CBS Sports … The focus in the football world right now is on former star college quarterbacks ready to be taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some believe that as many as five could go in the first round with some theorizing the first four picks could all be signal callers. That would be a surprise but not a huge one because QB is the most powerful position in sports.

The right QB can change an entire team or program’s fortunes.

There is another reason why so many NFL talent evaluators believe we’ll see a run on QBs in the NFL Draft this season: Scouts aren’t as high on the potential prospects in the 2025 class. There’s a long time between now and the 2025 draft and plenty of opinions will change (nobody thought Jayden Daniels or Bo Nix would be potential first-rounders at this time last year), but I bring this up for one simple reason.

These QB Power Rankings are not a ranking of NFL potential, talent or statistics. They are power rankings. They take everything into account — where you are, who you are, what you have done, what you could do and your overall vibe. At this point of the offseason, there’s far more art than science. These rankings are a reflection of the March vibes with spring practices beginning for many teams around the country. A lot can change between now and the first snaps of the fall.

No. 3 … Noah Fifita … Arizona … Fifita pulled a power move this offseason. Many expected him to follow Jedd Fisch to Washington, but Fifita opted to stick with Arizona and his top receiver Tetairoa McMillan. Fifita exploded onto the scene last season after replacing an injured Jayden de Laura and never gave the job back. Now, he and the Wildcats are looking to make noise in a wide-open Big 12.

No. 5 … Shedeur Sanders … Colorado … The hypebeast’s college QB, Sanders had plenty of ups and downs at Colorado last season. Nobody drew more angry messages when left out of these rankings last year than Sanders, but it’s not my fault. I just make the rules and follow them! I don’t rank QBs after losses (no power in defeat), and Sanders and the Buffaloes lost too much. Sanders has plenty of talent, but I’d like to see him do a better job of getting rid of the football and avoiding sacks. He was sacked 49 times last season, and those weren’t all on the offensive line.

Read full story here

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March 5th

Stewart Mandel’s Ranking of Top 25 coaches: Six from the Big 12 (three in top ten)

From The Athletic … This year’s coach rankings exercise presented a challenge unlike any before it. Between Nick Saban’s retirement, Jim Harbaugh’s NFL exit, Dabo Swinney and Lincoln Riley’s backslides and Ryan Day’s Michigan problem, I’m left with an obvious No. 1 (Kirby Smart), followed by a gaping void. And as always, there’s the difficulty of comparing coaches from schools with vastly different expectations.

The result is an unprecedented level of upheaval a year earlier, including eight new entrants.

Finally, I can’t emphasize this enough: These are not career achievement rankings. These are my Top 25 coaches right now. A coach’s career resume is important, but recent performance carries more weight in my evaluations.

2. Lance Leipold, Kansas (2023: No. 11)

Kansas was the nation’s worst Power 5 program for more than a decade. Then Leipold arrived. He got the Jayhawks to a bowl by Year 2 and to nine wins and a Top 25 finish by Year 3. It’s one of the sport’s all-time great rebuilding jobs, by a man who previously led Buffalo to the only 10-win season in school history. He won six Division III national titles before that.

5. Kyle Whittingham, Utah (2023: No. 8)

I give last year’s disappointing 8-5 campaign an asterisk due to the Utes’ staggering number of injuries. Whittingham has achieved remarkable consistency at a non-obvious school. Utah won back-to-back Pac-12 Championships in 2021 and ’22 and has fielded six Top 25 teams in the last decade. The Utes are well-positioned to win in the Big 12.

9. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State (2023: No. 14)

Gundy’s program was showing cracks early last season. A year after going 7-6, the Cowboys started 2-2, with a bizarre blowout loss to South Alabama. But by year’s end, they’d secured Gundy’s eighth double-digit win season since 2010, reached their second Big 12 title game in three years and finished in the Top 25 for the third time in four years.

16. Chris Klieman, Kansas State (2023: 15)

Like Leipold and DeBoer, Kliemam’s lower-level success (four FCS championships at North Dakota State) has translated at the highest level, where K-State followed up its 2022 Big 12 title with a 9-4 campaign and another top-20 finish. The Wildcats have won at least eight games in four of his five seasons.

19. Willie Fritz, Houston (2023: NR)

Fritz has won big in Juco (Blinn), Division II (Central Missouri), FCS (Sam Houston State), the Sun Belt (Georgia Southern) and most recently the AAC, where his Tulane teams went 23-4 in his last two seasons, upsetting USC in the 2022 Cotton Bowl. He reached as many bowls in a six-year span — five — as Tulane had earned in the nearly three decades prior.

21. Matt Campbell, Iowa State (2023: No. 25)

Iowa State rebounded from a 4-8 mark in 2022 to go 7-6, including 6-3 record in Big 12 play, despite losing several key players prior to the season due to a gambling investigation. It moved Campbell’s conference record to 38-34, making him the first Iowa State coach above .500 since…1925!

Read full story here

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March 3rd

ESPN Ranking the Top 2024 Quarterbacks – Big 12 has four of Top Ten

From ESPN … With spring practices about to kick off, we’re taking stock of college football’s top returning players at several positions. First off is the most important position on the field: quarterback.

We polled our college football reporters, asking them to rank their top 10 QBs entering the 2024 season. Points were assigned based on their votes: 10 points for first place, 9 for second place, down to 1 for 10th place.

Our picks include four quarterbacks from the SEC and two who are returning from injury after missing most or all of the 2023 season. And while QBs have been frequent visitors to the transfer portal in recent years, only two transfers from this offseason made our list. So maybe there’s something to be said for continuity behind center.

Here are our picks for the top 10 quarterbacks in college football.

5. Noah Fifita, Arizona

2023 stats: 2,869 yards passing, 25 TD passes, 6 INTs, -33 yards rushing, 0 TD rushes, 83.8 QBR

Points: 42

Fifita was a 5-foot-11, 175-pound prospect out of Anaheim, California, and he had an unassuming set of offers from schools in his region (Arizona, Cal, Fresno State, Hawai’i, Utah State). Even if he were to eventually turn into a solid player, he wasn’t the type of prospect a coach would lean on for an overnight program turnaround. And yet … after an 8-8 start to Jedd Fisch’s tenure in Tucson — which was a solid improvement in itself considering the Wildcats had lost 23 of 24 games before he arrived — the Wildcats ignited the moment Fifita entered the lineup for an injured Jayden de Laura. He nearly led upsets of both Washington (he threw for 232 yards and three TDs in a 31-24 loss) and USC (303 yards and five scores in a 43-41 loss), and from mid-October on, he didn’t lose again.

A relative unknown before the season, Fifita finished with 2,869 yards and 25 touchdowns despite starting only nine games, and he finished eighth in Total QBR, ahead of such notables as USC’s Caleb Williams, Alabama’s Jalen Milroe and Florida State’s Jordan Travis. Fisch left for Washington, but both Fifita and 1,400-yard receiver Tetairoa McMillan remained with UA, and they could lead the Wildcats to a lovely start to life in the Big 12.

7. Jalon Daniels, Kansas

2023 stats: 705 yards passing, 5 TD passes, 1 INT, 74 yards rushing, 0 TD rushes, 82.7 QBR

Points: 34

All he’s got to do is stay on the field. In his past 14 complete games, Daniels has thrown for 3,336 yards, 29 touchdowns and only eight interceptions while rushing for 691 yards (not including sacks). He scrambles beautifully, avoiding both sacks and picks, and over the 2022-23 seasons, he produced the highest combined Total QBR of any returning quarterback. But finding that “14 complete games” sample requires you to look through Kansas’ past 29 games. He missed a month in 2022 and saw snaps in only three games last season because of back issues. He was a huge reason for the Jayhawks’ fast starts in both 2022 and 2023, but he hasn’t played since Sept. 23 of last season.

Is this the year it all comes together for the player from Lawndale, California? He’s got a dynamite running back corps, with 1,200-yard rusher Devin Neal and big Daniel Hishaw Jr., at his disposal, and his receiving group is loaded with seniors. Kansas went 9-4 with backup Jason Bean starting most of last season, and the offense has truckloads of experience for new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. Yep, all Daniels has to do is stay on the field. Hopefully this is the year.

8. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado

2023 stats: 3,230 yards passing, 27 TD passes, 3 INTs, -77 yards rushing, 4 TD rushes, 63.1 QBR

Points: 33

Colorado’s start to the season ended up being a mirage on several levels, but not regarding Sanders, who transitioned well from the FCS to the FBS. He finished ninth nationally in completion percentage (69.3%), 10th in passing yards average (293.6 ypg) and fourth in interception percentage (0.7%) despite the team’s late-season challenges and an incessant pummeling that left him with a broken back.

Sanders set Colorado’s single-game passing record in his Buffs debut, piling up 510 yards at TCU. He had 348 passing yards or more in five games and had multiple touchdown passes seven times, while throwing just one interception in his final six contests. Sanders generated NFL draft buzz, especially during the first half of the season, and finished with a team-record 3,230 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes (second most in CU history).

He will enter his first full season with coordinator Pat Shurmur, who took over play calling in November. Sanders ultimately must do his part to limit sacks and hits after taking 52 sacks and being pressured on 39.9% of his dropbacks. If he stays healthy and keeps progressing in the Buffs’ new league, he should be one of the top quarterbacks on NFL draft boards for 2025.

9. Cameron Rising, Utah

2023 stats: DNP

Points: 24

Rising wasn’t supposed to be Utah’s savior back in September 2021. The Utes opened that season with Charlie Brewer as their starter after the Baylor transfer beat out Rising for the job. The early results were poor, however, and Utah lost its first two games against FBS foes before coach Kyle Whittingham made a change. And once Utah was Rising’s team, the Utes never looked back.

Rising and the Utes went 9-1 and won a Pac-12 championship before losing in a shootout against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl — a game in which Rising accounted for three TDs and completed 77% of his throws. It was more of the same in 2022, with Rising leading the Utes to a 10-3 record and another Pac-12 title before falling to Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Over the course of those two seasons, Rising was 18-6 as a starter with 46 touchdown passes, 13 picks and an 83.6 Total QBR.

But for a true appreciation of Rising’s value, just look what happened to Utah’s offense when he missed the 2023 campaign with a knee injury. The Utes went from averaging nearly 39 points in 2022 to just 23 last year, and saw a decline of 85 passing yards per game, while their pass TD total was cut in half.

Continue reading story here

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March 1st

Updated Preseason Top 25 has five Big 12 teams (all CU opponents)

From CBS Sports … The college football landscape has changed drastically since Jan. 9. That day, we gave you the annual way-too-early top 25 rankings looking ahead to the 2024 season just as Michigan had won the College Football Playoff National Championship. It wasn’t long, however, for those rankings to quickly be proven outdated.

Not only was there a plethora of movement in the transfer portal, but we also took a ride on one of the wildest coaching carousels in recent memory. At least 10 of the 25 teams you see below have changed head coaches — a list that, of course, includes the reigning national champions — and/or at least one coordinator since the second week of January.

That’s why this refresh is necessary with spring practices getting underway across the country. This pre-spring top 25 takes all the movements into consideration as some new teams even enter the fold. As an indicator of just how much has changed, we’re including the teams’ ranking from the way-too-early top 25 in January.

From the Big 12 … 

No. 12 Utah … The Utes are one answer to a pivotal question entering the 2024 season: With the loss of Oklahoma and Texas, who are the dominant programs in the new Big 12? Kyle Whittingham begins Year 21 at Utah with a good chance to win his third conference title in the last four years. Oft-injured quarterback Cam Rising returns. That might be enough in the Big 12 considering Utah’s typically physical style. Way-too-early ranking: 13

No. 14 Arizona … Since our last rankings, Jedd Fisch left for Washington, Brent Brennan took over the Wildcats and athletic director Dave Heeke was fired. The staff did a great job of holding the roster together in the interim between Fisch’s departure and Brennan’s arrival. The Wildcats will have a chance to win the Big 12 in their first season as a member with the return of quarterback Noah Fifita and receiver Tetairoa McMillan. Way-too-early ranking: 10 

No. 18 Kansas State … The Avery Johnson era begins in earnest after an impressive bowl game performance. The five-star freshman QB had that hair-on-fire look to him, accounting for three touchdowns against NC State in the Pop Tarts Bowl. The offensive line must be rebuilt from a nine-win season. Way-too-early ranking: 17

No. 21 Kansas … Kansas is doing everything it can to take the next step after last year marked the Jayhawks’ first nine-win season since 2007. There is a monster $300 million stadium renovation underway that will make the football footprint look Big Ten-ish. Lance Leipold is arguably the most desired coach in the country — yet he stays loyal to Kansas — with a new $7 million contract. Star quarterback Jalen Daniels also returns. Way-too-early ranking: 20

No. 24 Oklahoma State … Mike Gundy is now an elder statesman beginning his 20th season in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Star running back Ollie Gordon returns after winning the Doak Walker Award. Quarterback Alan Bowman was granted a waiver for a seventh year of eligibility. Coming off a 10-win season, the Cowboys have to be considered a contender in the reconfigured Big 12 because, really, who isn’t? Way-too-early ranking: 23

Read full story here

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February 28th

CBS Sports: Coach Prime building on initial hype; eyeing a bowl game in 2024

From CBS Sports … Big expectations follow Deion Sanders like a shadow. Few are more adept than the Colorado coach at building hype and energy around his program, no matter what the circumstances may be. His first season in Boulder certainly gave fans a glimpse of what could be on the horizon.

Colorado started the 2023 season scorching hot; a debut win over TCU kick-started a 3-0 run that culminated in an appearance in the AP Top 25. Then the wheels fell off against eventual Pac-12 runner-up Oregon, and Colorado only won one of its last nine games to drop to 4-8.

That’s not necessarily a disappointment. Colorado hasn’t won more than four games since 2019. Its streak without a winning record extends far beyond that back to 2016. Given the program’s context, Sanders’ first year was a success.

Now he’s gearing up for more. Sanders spent the offseason reworking his coaching staff with shuffles at both offensive and defensive coordinator. Once again, he hit the transfer portal in an effort to revamp his roster, supplementing returning stars like quarterback Shedeur Sanders and two-way unicorn Travis Hunter. In total, 24 transfers will suit up for the Buffaloes in 2024.

… What does improvement even look like for Sanders’ Colorado? He inherited a complete mess and put an admirable four-win effort on the board in his first year. He doesn’t necessarily need to make a bowl to show signs of progress, especially as the program embarks on a new journey in the Big 12.

Get to at least five wins while staying competitive in most conference games and folks will surely be satisfied. But, without letting the hype train get too far off the rails, the 2024 schedule does set up well for Colorado to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2020.

Continue reading story here

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February 27th

Fan Duel: Utah betting favorite to win Big 12; CU at 40-1

From Fan Duel

Odds to win the 2024 Big 12 Championship (2023 record) … 

  • Utah (8-5, 5-4) … +340
  • Kansas State (9-4, 6-3) … +360
  • Kansas (9-4, 5-4) … +650
  • Arizona (10-3, 7-2) … +750
  • Texas Tech (7-6, 5-4) … +850
  • UCF (6-7, 3-6) … +1150
  • Iowa State (7-6, 6-3) … +1200
  • Oklahoma State (10-4, 7-2) … +1600
  • TCU (5-7, 3-6) … +1600
  • West Virginia (9-4, 6-3) … +1900
  • Colorado (4-8, 1-8) … +4000
  • Baylor (3-9, 2-7) … +5500
  • Cincinnati (3-9, 1-8) … +6500
  • Arizona State (3-9, 2-7) … +10000
  • BYU (5-7, 2-7) … +13000
  • Houston (4-8, 2-7) … +13000

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February 25th

Preseason Top 25 has CU playing a Top Ten team Thanksgiving Weekend

From YardBarker.com … Yes, we’re early into 2024, and a lot has happened in the college football world that can shape the upcoming season. So, it’s actually never too early to offer up our initial Top 25 for the 2024 campaign.

From the Big 12 … 

No. 22 … Kansas … The Jayhawks continue to get better under coach Lance Leipold, who in his third season of 2023 guided the squad to a 9-4 mark. With Texas and Oklahoma out of the Big 12, the Jayhawks might have a shot at winning the conference and earning one of the 12 College Football Playoff spots. Key to any success of that magnitude is the health of quarterback Jalon Daniels (4,297 career passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 13 rushing TDs), who was limited to three games last season because of a back injury. However, running back Devin Neal (1,280 yards, 16 TDs) and Kansas’ top three receivers, Lawrence Arnold, Quentin Skinner and Luke Grimm, are all back.

No. 21 … Arizona … Another team with a shot at the Big 12 title in 2024, or so we think. The Wildcats won their final seven games — including a 38-24 victory over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl — to finish 10-3. Coach Judd Fisch, however, is headed to Washington. At the moment, as many as four offensive linemen could return for the Wildcats. Quarterback Noah Fifita (71.0 completion percentage, 2,869 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, six interceptions) was exceptional in his first full season and returns with hopes of being even better in 2024. Arizona will have a tough road slate, playing at Kansas State, BYU, TCU and Utah.

No. 19 … Kansas State … The Wildcats have won 27 games over the last three seasons, and coach Chris Klieman’s stock continues to rise. In 2023, K-State’s four defeats came by a total of 21 points with three-point losses at both Missouri and Texas. It needs to retool the offensive line, but quarterback Avery Johnson has garnered plenty of excitement after he threw for two touchdowns and ran for another during a victory over North Carolina State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl. The Wildcats get Arizona, Oklahoma State and rival Kansas all at home within the Big 12.

No. 13 … Utah … Injuries hindered Utah’s 2023 season, especially late in losing three of their final four to finish 8-3. A big problem was offensive inconsistency, as the Utes were held under 20 five times. However, Cameron Rising (5,527 passing yards, 46 touchdowns, 15 interceptions; 12 rushing TDs over the 2021, ’22 season) is expected back after missing all of last season with injury. His veteran presence and overall leadership could prove invaluable for a team that should still be stout in the trenches on both sides of the ball while a possible favorite in its initial Big 12 campaign.

No. 10 … Oklahoma State … As the Big 12 gets a makeover, look for these Cowboys to be serious players for the league title in 2024, and their chances still begin and end with the production of an offense that is loaded with talent and experience. Ageless quarterback Alan Bowman (3,460 passing yards), running back Ollie Gordon II (1,732 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) and receiver Brennan Presley (101 receptions, 991 yards, six touchdowns) all return as Oklahoma State looks to win at least 10 games for the third time in four years.

Read full story here

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February 16th

FanDuel sets CU over/under win total at 5.5

Several ways to look at this … CU’s projected win total is two wins higher than last year, so if the Buffs again exceed expectations, CU is going bowling … The first time in years in which CU is not predicted to be near the bottom of its conference … The Big 12 will probably the only conference in the nation which does not have a team projected to win ten games, which means it will be a wide open race in 2024 …

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February 15th

ESPN updated Preseason Top 25: Five CU opponents make the list

From ESPN … It was just more than a month ago that Michigan ended its 26-year title drought by defeating Washington 34-13 in the CFP National Championship game.

In the 36 days since then, Alabama coach Nick Saban retired, Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL and Ohio State hired two offensive coordinators, the second one a sitting power conference coach.

Saban’s surprising announcement Jan. 10 precipitated eight coaching moves that led to five FBS schools — Washington, Arizona, South Alabama, Buffalo and San Jose State — hiring new head coaches.

After so much chaos, it’s the perfect time to update the 2024 Way-Too-Early Top 25.

10. Utah Utes

Previous ranking: 13

2023 record: 8-5, 5-4 Pac-12

Winter update: The Utes lost four games or more in each of the past three seasons, as they were undone by injuries and lost four of their last six games in 2023. With quarterback Cameron Rising returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss all of last season, the Utes could be much better in their first season in the Big 12. Tight end Brant Kuithe is also coming back from a knee injury, along with tailback Micah Bernard. The Utes started four sophomores and a freshman on the offensive line last season, so that unit should grow up. After losing three starters in the secondary, Utah added safety Alaka’i Gilman (Stanford) and cornerbacks Cameron Calhoun (Michigan) and Kenan Johnson (Georgia Tech).

11. Arizona Wildcats

Previous ranking: 9

2023 record: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-12

Winter update: The Wildcats’ momentum from last season’s 10-win campaign hit the skids when Washington plucked coach Jedd Fisch to replace DeBoer. San Jose State’s Brent Brennan takes over after guiding the Spartans to a 26-19 record and three bowl appearances in the past four seasons. He did a good job getting quarterback Noah Fifita and receiver Tetairoa McMillan to stay in Tucson. There was quite a bit of turnover on Arizona’s roster after Fisch left; six players, including top rusher Jonah Coleman, cornerback Ephesians Prysock and defensive end Russell Davis II, followed him to Seattle. A trio of Spartans — offensive tackle Ryan Stewart, edge rusher Tre Smith and tailback Quali Conley — are following Brennan to Arizona. Conley ran for 842 yards with nine scores in 2023; Smith had 6.5 sacks and 67 tackles.

17. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Previous ranking: 18

2023 record: 10-4, 7-2 Big 12

Winter update: With Oklahoma and Texas moving on to the SEC, Oklahoma State has a chance to stake its claim to the newly shaped Big 12. There’s reason for optimism with the return of tailback Ollie Gordon II, the FBS’ leading rusher with 1,732 yards in 2023. Also back are all five starting offensive linemen, leading receiver Brennan Presley and quarterback Alan Bowman, who was given an NCAA waiver to play a seventh season. OSU picked up veteran UTEP cornerback Kobe Hylton and Obi Ezeigbo, a pass-rusher from Division II Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Pokes play Big 12 road games at Baylor, BYU, Colorado, Kansas State and TCU in 2024.

20. Kansas State Wildcats

Previous ranking: 21

2023 record: 9-4, 6-3 Big 12

Winter update: The Wildcats are going to have a new look on offense after Howard transferred to Ohio State and offensive coordinator Klein departed for the same position at Texas A&M. Kansas State coach Chris Klieman replaced Klein with co-coordinators Conor Riley (his offensive line coach) and Matt Wells (a former head coach at Utah State and Texas Tech). Avery Johnson is a dual-threat quarterback with a ton of talent. The Wildcats will have to rebuild up front after losing Cooper Beebe and three others who combined to make 144 career starts. Tight end Ben Sinnott is another big loss. Kansas State added receiver Dante Cephas, who was very good at Kent State but didn’t do as much at Penn State.

22. Kansas Jayhawks

Previous ranking: 23

2023 record: 9-4, 5-4 Big 12

Winter update: The Jayhawks would probably be ranked higher if quarterback Jalon Daniels wasn’t coming off a back injury that sidelined him for most of the 2023 season. When healthy, Daniels is among the most explosive players in the FBS. So is tailback Devin Neal, who ran for 1,280 yards with 16 touchdowns in 2023. The Jayhawks will also bring back their top three receivers, while three starting offensive linemen will have to be replaced. The Jayhawks picked up Tiffin University’s Shane Bumgardner, who won the Rimington Award as the top center in Division II, and guard Darrell Simmons, who started 38 games at Iowa State. Former Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes takes over playcalling duties.

Read full story here

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February 13th

Projecting the Top 15 College Football Quarterbacks of 2024 – Shedeur Sanders in at No. 5

From SportsGrid.com

1. Carson Beck – Georgia
2. Jaxson Dart – Ole Miss
3. Quinn Ewers – Texas
4. Dillon Gabriel – Oregon
5. Shedeur Sanders – Colorado
6. Noah Fifita – Arizona
7. Jalen Milroe – Alabama
8. Cam Ward – Miami
9. Nico Iamaleava – Tennessee
10. Garrett Nussmeier – LSU
11. Cam Rising – Utah
12. Riley Leonard – Notre Dame
13. Brady Cook – Missouri
14. Drew Allar – Penn State
15. Jalon Daniels – Kansas

Shedeur Sanders – Colorado
No. 5 might be controversial, but Shedeur Sanders showed he could play at a high level despite the circus. Despite a weak offensive line and teams pressuring him, Sanders threw for 3,230 yards with 27 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The offensive line should be somewhat improved, and Colorado has playmakers for him to throw to. Sanders stepped up in competition and continued to produce.

Read full story here

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February 5th

ESPN SP+ Projections: CU moves up 115 spots to No. 15 nationally

… Last season, with virtually no returning production on either side of the ball, CU was ranked last in the nation in the ESPN SP+ projections … 

From ESPN … College football’s roster carousel never ends, but as we approach February’s national signing day and the official end of the 2024 recruiting cycle, things have at least slowed down a bit on the personnel front. Coaching changes have assured that some schools could still see transfer portal entries, but now’s as good a time as any to take stock.

Around this time of year, I typically spit out the first SP+ projections of the new season, based on a forever-changing combination of returning production, recruiting and recent history. As always, those projections stem from three primary questions: How good has your team been recently? How well has it recruited? And who returns from last year’s roster? SP+ projections come next week, but let’s go ahead and deal with that last question. Who returns a majority of last year’s production (or has done the best job of importing production from another team)? Who is starting from scratch?

For a few years now, I’ve been attempting to expand how we measure returning production. The formula I have created shifts with each new year of data and has had to shift a ton with the rising number of transfers. But the gist remains the same: High or low returning production percentages correlate well with improvement and regression. They might not guarantee a good or bad team, but they can still tell us a lot.

With that in mind, here are the returning production percentages and rankings for all 134 FBS teams for 2024. (Yes, we’re up to 134 teams. Hello, Kennesaw State!)

From the Big 12 … (* – CU opponent in 2024)

  • No. 2 … Iowa State
  • No. 3 … Nebraska*
  • No. 4 … Oklahoma State*
  • No. 15 … Colorado … Returning production … 72% overall … Offense: 69% (41st nationally) … Defense: 76% (13th nationally) 
  • No. 16 … Utah*
  • No. 21 … TCU
  • No. 24 … West Virginia
  • No. 35 … Arizona State
  • No. 41 … Baylor*
  • No. 39 … Colorado State*
  • No. 43 … Arizona*(interesting, considering those who are touting Arizona as Big 12 favorites cite returning production as one of the reasons for choosing the Wildcats)
  • No. 49 … BYU
  • No. 62 … Cincinnati*
  • No. 72 … Houston
  • No. 78 … Kansas*
  • No. 82 … Kansas State*
  • No. 93 … Texas Tech*
  • No. 101 … Central Florida*

Read full story here

—–

February 4th

ESPN Playoff projections: No consensus for Big 12 champion 

From ESPNLast week, ESPN’s college football reporters made their cases for the players, teams and games that they are most excited to see in the fall. This week, they’re talking about the 12-team playoff — what the issues with the format might be and which teams will be able to make the most of the new system. They’ll also give their way-too-early predictions for the 12 teams that will compete for the national title.

What is your way-too-early prediction for the 12-team playoff field?

Note: The four highest-ranked conference champions will receive the top four seeds AND a first-round bye. This means each writer’s top four teams below are also predictions of conference champions — but that might not necessarily reflect where the writer would rank those teams in his or her top 25. For example, Dinich has Utah as the No. 3 seed and projected Big 12 champion, but would rank the Utes No. 7 overall.

Hale
First-round byes: 1. Georgia, 2. Ohio State, 3. Clemson, 4. Kansas
First-round matchups: 5. Oregon vs. 12. Memphis; 6. Texas vs. 11. USC; 7. Notre Dame vs. 10. Florida State; 8. Alabama vs. 9. Ole Miss

Low
First-round byes:
 1. Georgia, 2. Ohio State, 3. Utah, 4. Clemson
First-round matchups: 5. Texas vs. 12. Liberty; 6. Oregon vs. 11. Michigan; 7. Alabama vs. 10. Penn State; 8. Ole Miss vs. 9. Notre Dame

Connelly
First-round byes:
 1. Georgia, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4. Kansas State
First-round matchups: 5. Texas vs. 12 Memphis; 6. Ohio State vs. 11. Utah; 7. Penn State vs. 10. Alabama; 8. Ole Miss vs. 9. Michigan

Adelson:
First-round byes:
 1. Georgia, 2. Ohio State, 3. Clemson, 4. Arizona
First-round matchups: 5. Oregon vs. 12. Boise State; 6. Ole Miss vs. 11. Florida State; 7. Texas vs. 10. Kansas State; 8. Notre Dame vs. 9. Missouri

Lyles:
First-round byes:
 1. Georgia, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4. Utah
First-round matchups: 5. Texas vs. 12. Memphis; 6. Ohio State vs. 11. Penn State; 7. Ole Miss vs. 10. Alabama; 8. Notre Dame vs. 9. Michigan

Dinich
First-round byes:
 1. Georgia, 2. Ohio State, 3. Utah, 4. Louisville
First-round matchups: 5. Texas vs. 12. Boise State; 6. Ole Miss vs. 11 USC; 7. Oregon vs. 10. Missouri; 8. Notre Dame vs. 9. Alabama

—–

January 30th 

Sports Illustrated Top 25: Five Big 12 teams ranked (and CU plays all five in 2024)

From Pat Forde at Sports Illustrated … When we say these look-ahead Top 25s for the next college football season are “way too early,” we mean it. And that has never been more true than this year, when a second wave of coaching changes and player transfers turned January upside down. So this is the Way-Too-Early Top 25, Part II.

We already knew next season was going to be wild—a 12-team Playoff and massive conference realignment moves have completely changed the landscape—but now four Top 25 teams have changed coaches since the season ended Jan. 8. Of the programs that made the last four-team College Football Playoff, three will be under new leadership. And the post-realignment schedules—especially in the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference—are ridiculous.

So here’s a second guess at the Sports Illustrated 2024 Top 25. (The first guess can be found here.)

From the Big 12 … 

11. Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats were the hottest nonplayoff team in the country at season’s end, reeling off seven straight victories to set hopes soaring for 2024 … and then Washington pirated coach Jedd Fisch. Brent Brennan arrived from San Jose State and scored two big early victories by retaining quarterback Noah Fifita and his 6’5″ receiving colleague, Tetairoa McMillan. The nucleus of a vastly improved defense is back, as well. The move to the Big 12 will bring some new challenges, but theoretically an easier playoff path than competing in the Pac-12 against Oregon and Washington.

14. Utah Utes

The Utes went 8–5 without star quarterback Cam Rising playing a down, so expectations are for a return to double-digit wins as he returns to health. Utah will have to improve offensively around Rising, particularly on the line, but that can be accomplished. The Utah defense, always stout, has plenty of returning talent but loses two standout safeties.

18. Kansas Jayhawks

The Lance Leipold miracle makeover continues, having gone from two wins to six to nine the past three seasons. Leipold lost his offensive coordinator to Penn State but retained his two best offensive players, QB Jalon Daniels and RB Devin Neal. The line will need some rebuilding. The Kansas defense has made strides every season and returns enough key parts to be better yet again in 2024.

19. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The mercurial Mike Gundy pulled out a 10-win season in 2023 and got a boost for ’24 when star RB Ollie Gordon announced he’s staying in school and QB Alan Bowman got another season of eligibility. The Cowboys have not been good defensively since coordinator Jim Knowles left for Ohio State two years ago, but a lot of young players got reps on that side of the ball and should be improved. The revamped Big 12 schedule is user-friendly, offering the Pokes a chance to compile a great record.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats have become recession-proof under Chris Klieman, winning 27 games over the past three seasons. But there is work to do in 2024 after losing quarterback Will Howard to Ohio State and a lot of transfers. Avery Johnson is an intriguing young QB talent who will be a greater dual-threat player, and DJ Giddens is a centerpiece back. A young defense that had 23 takeaways in ’23 should be a salty unit.

Read full story here

—–

January 23rd

ESPN: Preseason All-American team – Travis Hunter 1st team (and 2nd team)

From ESPN … With ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 for the 2024 season unveiled following Michigan’s 34-13 defeat of Washington in the national championship game earlier this month, it’s time to move on to the Way-Too-Early All-America team.

Some of the names shouldn’t come as a surprise, such as Ollie Gordon II, Luther Burden III, Travis Hunter and Malaki Starks. But with these early All-America teams, it’s always refreshing to see some new names — and a few players who have changed schools.

Selecting our early All-America team is always difficult, especially in the transfer portal era, but we talked to NFL scouts, college coaches and other media members to select the players projected to be the best at their respective positions in 2024. We’ll have to wait to see if they go out and do it.

Ohio State leads the way with four first-team selections. Georgia and Michigan each have three.

From the Big 12 … 

RB: Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State

The Doak Walker Award winner last season as college football’s top running back, Gordon is no longer an unknown quantity. He went from having 308 rushing yards as a freshman to an FBS-leading 1,732 yards this past season and scored 22 touchdowns. The 6-1, 211-pound Gordon combines strength, power and acceleration. He led all players with 14 rushes of 30 yards or longer and tied for second with 1,056 yards after contact.

WR: Tetairoa McMillan, Arizona

McMillan was one of the nation’s top breakout players in 2023 in an Arizona passing game that ranked eighth nationally (308.3 yards per game). Coach Jedd Fisch has moved on to Washington, but McMillan will be back with the Wildcats and will again be catching passes from Noah Fifita. The 6-5, 210-pound McMillan is a difficult matchup for anybody and generated great numbers as a true sophomore (90 catches, 1,402 yards and 10 touchdowns).

Wide receiver … Second teamTory Horton, Colorado State …

Tight end … Second team … Brant Kuithe, Utah

All-purpose … Second team … Travis Hunter, Colorado

CB: Travis Hunter, Colorado

Colorado coach Deion Sanders called Hunter a “generational player” last year, and Sanders should know. A two-way player for the Buffaloes, Hunter played more snaps from scrimmage (566 on defense and 436 on offense) than anybody in college football. Despite missing three games with an injury, Hunter had three interceptions and has the skills to lock down any receiver in the country.

Read full story here

Travis Hunter also named first-team All-Academic All-American

Image

The Athletic: Reason for Optimism/Cause for Concern for Pac-12 teams joining the Big 12

From The Athletic … It’s already been a wild 2024 for teams on the West Coast. Washington represented the Pac-12 in the national championship game just a few weeks ago. Since then, there have been significant coaching developments that have directly impacted the Huskies and the Arizona Wildcats and their respective rosters.

The year figures to become only more interesting as it progresses. The Pac-12 as we know it is gone. There will still be plenty of Power 5 (or Power 4?) football played on the West Coast in 2024 — it’ll just be scattered across a bunch of different conferences.

As we embark upon a new year, let’s evaluate reasons for optimism and concern for each of the West Coast programs.

Arizona (10-3, Big 12)

Reason for optimism: Brent Brennan has a track record of maximizing the most out of what he has on hand. San Jose State is one of the least-resourced programs in the FBS, and Brennan took the Spartans to three bowl games in the past four seasons. His teams often punched above their weight, and now he’ll have more resources behind him.

Cause for concern: Can Brennan keep the roster together? Arizona announced Brennan’s hire on Tuesday and as of Wednesday, the Class of 2022 Anaheim (Calif.) Servite signees — wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, quarterback Noah Fifita and linebacker Jacob Manu — are still on the roster. Re-recruiting them and keeping a majority of the team together will be the most important early task for Brennan.

Utah (8-5, Big 12)

Reason for optimism: The Utes offense was a mess in 2023, primarily because of injuries and instability at quarterback. But Utah was still competitive in a loaded Pac-12. Well, quarterback Cam Rising will be back under center in 2024, which will provide the offense with a massive boost, and standout tight end Brant Kuithe announced his return as well after missing most of the past two years with an injury.

Cause for concern: While Rising and Kuithe are back, Utah has lost some pretty significant contributors this offseason. Jonah Elliss notched 12 sacks in 2023 and declared for the NFL Draft. Same for Sione Vaki, who made plays at safety and running back. Receiver Mikey Matthews surprisingly entered the transfer portal as did starting running back Ja’Quinden Jackson. There are holes to fill.

Arizona State (3-9, Big 12)

Reason for optimism: Whether it was injuries or a bowl ban, Arizona State faced a lot of adversity last season and often exceeded expectations. There will be no bowl ban this season, promising young quarterback Jaden Rashada should be healthy and defensive coordinator Brian Ward can build off an encouraging season.

Cause for concern: Can Arizona State surround Rashada, or whoever starts at quarterback, with enough skill talent? There have been some intriguing additions in the backfield — USC transfer Raleek Brown and four-star signee Jason Brown — but the Sun Devils will need to add more.

Colorado (4-8, Big 12)

Reason for optimism: The offensive line can’t be any worse, can it? Colorado surrendered 56 sacks in 2023, which was the second-most nationally. Deion Sanders has made a concerted effort to correct it, adding five-star offensive lineman Jordan Seaton and five offensive line transfers to help protect his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, in the pocket.

Cause for concern: The offensive line was far from Colorado’s only problem in 2023. The defense was a major issue as well and hasn’t really added any difference-makers through the portal. Depth was also a problem, and Colorado signed only six high school players during the early signing period.

Read full story here

—–

January 12th

Stewart Mandel: Big 12 in 2024 “a compellingly wide-open conference”

From The Athletic

Looking forward to the “New Big 12,” do you expect it to be wide open? Which schools seem most likely to step up? The New Big 12 was 6-3 in bowl games, including Arizona’s win over Oklahoma of the Old Big 12. — Rick W., Chesapeake, Va.

When I do the research for my way-too-early Top 25 (which this year began right after the semifinals), I get my first sense of how the conferences might shape up next season, and my initial take on the Big 12 is it could be quite competitive.

I included seven Big 12 schools in the Top 25, and I could have grouped the top three — No. 11 Utah, No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 13 Arizona — in any order. But you could also talk me into Kansas, Kansas State or even Iowa State winning the Big 12. There’s a common theme: All these programs have their QBs returning (in Kansas’ case, Jalon Daniels, the Jayhawks’ 2022 star), and nearly all have distinguished coaches whose programs are either well-established (Kyle Whittingham, Mike Gundy) or on the up (Jedd Fisch, Lance Leipold, Chris Klieman, Matt Campbell).

And who knows, maybe TCU gets back in the mix. Or Texas Tech gets it together. Or … well, Deion.

It all makes for a compellingly wide-open conference. The only downside: I don’t see any of these schools winning a national championship anytime soon. Texas Tech (No. 22) was the only “New Big 12” school to finish among the top 30 in recruiting this year. But continuing with the basketball analogy from earlier, the 12-team format gives an opportunity for one or more of these schools to become Big 12 football’s Gonzaga — a school that regularly gets into the Dance and pulls upsets, over time significantly boosting its recruiting profile.

—–

January 10th 

Athlon Ranks the 2024 16-team Big 12: Where did CU land?

From Athlon Sports … The Big 12 is all about change going into the 2024 college football season. The league will expand to 16 teams with Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona State joining with Oklahoma and Texas departing the SEC. In addition to the membership changes, this conference should be one of the most competitive in the nation.

Utah tops the way-too-early power rankings and predictions in the Big 12, but Arizona, Kansas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State all have a case to be ranked No. 1. West Virginia headlines the next tier of teams, with Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU, and UCF up next. Colorado should be much-improved in coach Deion Sanders’ second year in ’24.

It’s never too early to think about predictions or rankings for the 2024 college football season. With that in mind, Athlon provides its very early power rankings for the Big 12 for 2024:

  1.  Utah
  2. Arizona
  3. Kansas State
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Kansas
  6. West Virginia
  7. Iowa State
  8. Texas Tech
  9. TCU
  10. UCF
  11. Colorado … The Buffaloes took a step forward in coach Deion Sanders’ debut with a 4-8 mark and more improvement should be coming in ’24. Shedeur Sanders is back as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and a shaky offensive line should be much-improved thanks to a few portal additions. Cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter also returns after a dynamic first season in Boulder. The defense has room to improve after giving up 34.8 points a game last year.
  12. Arizona State
  13. BYU
  14. Baylor
  15. Cincinnati
  16. Houston

Read full story here

—–

January 9th 

ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 posted: Another Top Ten nod for Arizona

From ESPN … The curtain fell on the four-team College Football Playoff in Houston on Monday night, and it more than delivered in its last season with two nail-biting semifinals that weren’t decided until the final play and enough controversy to make even Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh raise an eyebrow.

The 2024 season will arrive with a seismic shift that includes even more conference realignment and a bigger (and supposedly better) 12-team CFP format. That will surely make everyone in Florida happy, right?

As we bid adieu to college football’s familiar landscape and embark on an even more uncertain future, let’s take a sneak peek at the inaugural edition of the 2024 Way-Too-Early Top 25:

 From the Big 12 … 

9. Arizona Wildcats

2023 record: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-12

2024 outlook: It has been quite a turnaround for the Wildcats under coach Jedd Fisch. After going 1-11 in 2021, Arizona won 10 games by defeating Oklahoma 38-24 in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Wildcats will take a seven-game winning streak into 2024, when they jump from the Pac-12 to the Big 12. They’ll be among the favorites in their first season in their new league. The bulk of Arizona’s starters this past season were underclassmen, so there’s plenty of talent returning. Noah Fifita was one of the top freshman quarterbacks in the FBS, and one of his favorite targets, receiver Tetairoa McMillan, is also coming back. Four starters could also return on the offensive line, although left tackle Morgan will be missed. Upshaw had 8.5 sacks in 2023 and left a big hole on the edge. Arizona’s 2024 schedule is manageable with Big 12 road games at BYU, Utah, TCU and UCF.

13. Utah Utes

2023 record: 8-5, 5-4 Pac-12

2024 outlook: Injuries derailed the Utes this past season, as quarterback Cameron Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe missed the entire campaign while recovering from knee injuries and tailback Micah Bernard missed all but two games with an injury. The Utes struggled with consistency on offense and lost four of their last six games, including a 14-7 defeat against Northwestern in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl. There’s hope that Kuithe and Bernard might return with Rising in 2024, when Utah jumps to the Big 12. Four sophomores and one freshman started on the offensive line in the bowl game. Jackson, the team’s leading rusher with 797 yards, entered the transfer portal, as did backup quarterbacks Barnes and Johnson. Three starters will have to be replaced in the secondary.

18. Oklahoma State Cowboys

2023 record: 10-4, 7-2 Big 12

2024 outlook: The Cowboys got the last laugh on rival Oklahoma in the Sooners’ final season in the Big 12. The Pokes won the last Bedlam game for the foreseeable future, reached the Big 12 championship game and defeated Texas A&M 31-23 in the TaxAct Texas Bowl. With Oklahoma and Texas moving on, Oklahoma State could challenge Arizona and Utah for supremacy in the revamped league. Tailback Ollie Gordon II, FBS’ leading rusher with 1,732 yards in 2023, is coming back. So are all five starting offensive linemen, leading receiver Brennan Presley and quarterback Alan Bowman, who was given an NCAA waiver to play a seventh season. The Pokes play Big 12 road games at Baylor, BYU, Colorado, Kansas State and TCU in 2024.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

2023 record: 9-4, 6-3 Big 12

2024 outlook: The Wildcats came painfully close to putting together another magical run under coach Chris Klieman. They lost four games by a total of 21 points, including a 30-27 loss at Missouri and 33-30 defeat in overtime at Texas. Now, Kansas State will have to move forward without Howard, who left for Ohio State, and former offensive coordinator Collin Klein, who left for Texas A&M. Klieman promoted offensive line coach Conor Riley to co-offensive coordinator and hired former Texas Tech coach Matt Wells to work with him. The offense seems to be in good hands with quarterback Avery Johnson, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another one in a 28-19 victory over NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl. Four starting offensive linemen will have to be replaced, including Beebe, an All-American.

23. Kansas Jayhawks

2023 record: 9-4, 5-4 Big 12

2024 outlook: Lance Leipold has done tremendous work at Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to consecutive bowl games and their first postseason victory since 2008, a 49-36 win against UNLV in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. Now, Kansas could be on the verge of even bigger things in 2024 — if quarterback Jalon Daniels can recover from a back injury. The Jayhawks will have to do some work in the trenches, with three starting offensive linemen departing, along with Booker, the top pass-rusher. However, leading rusher Devin Neal, top receivers Lawrence Arnold, Quentin Skinner and Luke Grimm are all returning. Former BYU and Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was hired to replace Kotelnicki.

Read full story here

Athlon Sports Way-Too-Early Top 25 has five Big 12 teams, but none higher than No. 15

From Athlon Sports … The 2024 college football season doesn’t officially start until August, but it’s never too early to look ahead and project the Top 25 rankings for next year. Georgia takes the top spot in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for ’24 by Athlon Sports, as coach Kirby Smart’s team looks to return to No. 1 after stumbling in the SEC Championship against Alabama. The Crimson Tide check in at No. 2, with SEC newcomer Texas at No. 3.

The Big Ten and SEC take the next chunk of teams in the rankings, as Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Ole Miss, and Missouri headline the next tier. The Wolverines are a tough team to rank this early with the Jim Harbaugh to NFL rumors, as well as quarterback J.J. McCarthy also a candidate to jump to the next level. With the new 12- team playoff format in place, teams like Ole Miss, Missouri, Oklahoma, Clemson, Arizona, and Kansas State have a chance to make some noise in ’24 for the expanded format.

With the transfer portal, recruiting, coaching changes, and more moves to come this offseason, this list could look a lot different by April and then by August. But with some clarity about rosters for next fall, here is Athlon Sports’ Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2024:

From the Big 12 … 

15. Utah
The return of quarterback Cam Rising after missing all of the ’23 season due to injury puts Utah at (or near) the top of the list of favorites in the new Big 12 next fall. Rising wasn’t the only player that missed significant time for the Utes last year and those ailments certainly played a role in coach Kyle Whittingham’s team dipping to 8-5 after beginning ’23 with Pac-12 title aspirations. Some improvement should be anticipated from an offensive line that returns mostly intact, and the defense is always a strength in Salt Lake City.

16. Arizona
The Wildcats were one of college football’s biggest surprises in ’23. After winning just six games in coach Jedd Fisch’s first two years, Arizona jumped to 10-3 and nearly earned an appearance in the Pac-12 title game with a 7-2 mark in league play. The emergence of quarterback Noah Fifita (2,869 yards and 25 TDs) and the passing game with Tetairoa McMillan and Jacob Cowing on the other end was a big reason for the breakout year. Also, the Wildcats improved significantly on defense. After giving up 36.5 points a game in ’22, this unit allowed only 21.1 last year. With the bulk of the defense slated to return, another step forward is within reach.

19. Kansas State
Coach Chris Klieman must replace a couple of members (including star guard Cooper Beebe) from K-State’s outstanding offensive line – next fall. However, the excitement level about the Wildcats’ offense next year is running high, as rising star quarterback Avery Johnson takes over and promising weapons in running back DJ Giddens and receiver Jayce Brown return. A defense that held opponents to 21 points a game in ’23 has some retooling to do. However, K-State’s schedule is very favorable with Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma State all coming to Manhattan.

21. Kansas
The Jayhawks took another step forward under coach Lance Leipold with a 9-4 record in ’23. That mark is even more impressive when you consider starting quarterback Jalon Daniels missed nearly all of the season due to injury. Daniels is back for ’24 and is among the nation’s top returning quarterbacks. New play-caller Jim Zebrowski has some retooling to do in the trenches, but running back Devin Neal (1,280 yards) and the top contributors at receiver are back. Kansas is making steady progress in fixing a porous defense in recent years. The good news for Leipold: The bulk of the two-deep is returning and another step forward should be expected in ’24.

22. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys rallied from a 2-2 start to a trip to the Big 12 title game in 2023. Coach Mike Gundy’s squad is arguably in better shape for ’24, as quarterback Alan Bowman will return after he was granted an additional year of eligibility, and standout running back Ollie Gordon II (1,732 rushing yards) is also back. The offensive line is slated to return intact, and No. 1 receiver Brennan Presley (101 catches) passed on the NFL for another season in Stillwater. The Cowboys have room to improve on defense (28.6 points a game allowed in ’23), but the bulk of the lineup is slated to suit up again in ’24.

30. West Virginia
Neal Brown entered ’23 on one of the hottest seats in the nation but proceeded to direct the Mountaineers to a solid 9-4 season. Quarterback Garrett Greene and running backs Jahiem White and CJ Donaldson lead an intriguing West Virginia team for ’24.

The Next Tier

Iowa State
The Cyclones return most of their roster in ’24, including quarterback Rocco Becht, receiver Jayden Higgins, and running back Abu Sama.

Texas Tech/TCU
Don’t be surprised if the Red Raiders or Horned Frogs emerges as a contender in the Big 12.

Read full story here

Action Sports Way Too Early Top 25 has Arizona at No. 8

From Action Sports … Atop the rankings are the usual suspects: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Ohio State. Rounding out the top 10 are No. 6 Texas, No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 8 Arizona, No. 9 Ole Miss and No. 10 Missouri.

These rankings are expected to change — and will change — when transfer portal additions are finalized and pending any future coaching moves (Jim Harbaugh, you’re on the clock).

The SEC has half of its 16 teams in Action Network’s Way-Too-Early Top 25. The Big Ten and Big 12 have six teams each, while the ACC four teams plus independent Notre Dame.

These rankings currently do not factor in all player transfers or players that may leave for the NFL. My Top 25 rankings should change drastically when rosters and/or coaching staffs are finalized in the coming weeks.

No. 8 Arizona Wildcats

  • 2023 Record: 10-3
  • Last Season: Defeated Oklahoma in Alamo Bowl

2024 Schedule Highlights

  • Sept. 14 at Kansas State
  • TBA vs. West Virginia
  • TBA vs. Colorado

No. 12 Kansas State Wildcats

  • 2023 Record: 9-4
  • Last Season: Defeated NC State in Pop-Tarts Bowl

2024 Schedule Highlights

  • Sept. 14 vs. Arizona
  • TBA vs. Oklahoma State
  • TBA vs. Kansas
  • TBA at Colorado
  • TBA at West Virginia

No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys

  • 2023 Record: 10-4
  • Last Season: Defeated Texas A&M in Texas Bowl
2024 Schedule Highlights
  • Aug. 31 vs. South Dakota State
  • Sept. 7 vs. Arkansas
  • TBA at Kansas State
  • TBA vs. Utah
  • TBA vs. West Virginia

No. 19 Utah Utes

  • 2023 Record: 8-5
  • Last Season: Lost to Northwestern in Las Vegas Bowl

2024 Schedule Highlights

  • TBA vs. Arizona
  • TBA vs. BYU
  • TBA at Colorado
  • TBA at Oklahoma State

No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks

  • 2023 Record: 9-4
  • Last Season: Defeated UNLV in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

2024 Schedule Highlights

  • TBA at Kansas State
  • TBA at West Virginia
  • TBA vs. Colorado

No. 25 West Virginia Mountaineers

  • 2023 Record: 9-4
  • Last Season: Defeated North Carolina in Duke’s Mayo Bowl

2024 Schedule Highlights

  • Aug. 31 vs. Penn State
  • Sept. 14 at Pitt
  • TBA at Arizona
  • TBA at Oklahoma State
  • TBA vs. Kansas
  • TBA vs. Kansas State

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52 Replies to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. All you Buff fans within reasonable driving distance of Boulder should stop in the sink and sample the JuJu’s precision pass burger, created in honor of Julian Lewis’ visit.
    I can imagine the attempt at damage control USC is throwing at him.

    Keep those fingers crossed.

  2. The hype around Arizona baffles me… they’ve brought in a coach (Brent Brennan) who has never won more than 7 games in a season as a head coach, but prognosticators have them possibly making the playoff? Last coach I remember coming out of San Jose State (Monsieur McIntyre) turned out to be a dud at the power level. Noah Fifita is a really good quarterback, but then again so is Shedeur…

  3. Regarding the poll of the day, remembering its ESPN’s ranking, 3 out of the 4 are in the SEC, all 4 are teams with the largest amount of readership/clicks as well as the QB’s enjoying mostly 4 and 5 star talent around them on the rest of the offense.

  4. It looks to me like its QB’s that play for Tier 1 teams, then Tier 1 QB’s. It will be interesting to see how they go in the draft.

    1. Agree. While I believe and have posted that the line should make a positive difference in the sack total and QB play, we won’t know until we see them play. Expecting a vast improvement from last year’s line, so QB play AND run game should improve.

  5. “That’s the one position group you can’t really portal in one cycle. If they’re halfway better there, they’ll have a winning season.”

    This quote is relevant to last season AND this, as a 1-11 team the Buffs couldn’t portal in a solid offensive line to win more than 4, and yet in year two it looks to be a better class. So, yea the couldn’t in one portal season but they did improve again through the portal the 2nd time around. Hopefully well enough for more than just for a winning season.

  6. Well I took CU on the over at 5.5 games. Seems like a no brainer to me. Albeit I took CU and the over last year at 3.5 games and while it was a winner, it was a lot closer then I thought it would be.🤔

    1. Over 3.5 wins last year was not really close at all as far as a winning bet, because they had the 4th win after the 6th week.

  7. I’ve seen in a few different articles that there is a rift in Shedeur and Travis’s relationship. Has anyone heard that or is it just Colorado hatred and rumor spreading?

  8. “Another reason to be high on Sanders – in the fourth quarter last season he had a 72.8% completion percentage and 207.1 efficiency rating with 11 TDs and no interceptions.”

    That’s on a team that lost 8 games!

    Get that rushing game going and some protection and those numbers for all four quarters and…

    I can’t wait for the games… But I can, too much fun to do to have the summer fly by… But still, looking forward to seeing the Buffs turn things around and what they say then. Hope, thanks Prime.

  9. CU seems to have gone from a complete no hoper in the preseason rags to a longshot with upside. I Guess that’s progress?

  10. So just to clarify, that +4,000 is on a $100, so 40-1?

    I really wouldn’t expect anything different, the Buffs may improve and are in the spotlight so to speak, so Las Vegas has to give good enough odds to attract bets, but it’s not like last year’s +3,000 or something for just the Neb game. That’s the one, and the TCU game, I wanted to and should have bet on.

    Me and my “I don’t bet on the Buffs”. Here we go again. What are the odds on the corn game? 😉

    1. Nebraska is currently a 6.5-point favorite at home against CU on September 7th (5:30 p.m., MT, NBC).
      Of course, Nebraska has been the favorite for the last three games against CU, including last year.

  11. IMO, all preseason polls are useless, as it is one (or just a few) person(s) opinion. No one really knows anything until any team including us take the field in August.

  12. So Connelly, if Colorado doesnt fit any of your parameters, and you dont know what to do with them (I dont either) why bother inserting them in your rankings at all? Just sit back and see what happens.
    If the Buffs beat the cobbs in the second game of the season are you going to switch their 69 and 40 places? Somehow I doubt it
    The Buffs new lines (not the vegas type) certainly have more historical cred but how they do remains to be seen as well. Coaching could and it should, of course, have a lot to do with it. Loadholt and Livingston will have to keep everyone on the same page and Livingston needs to anticipate well what is being thrown at us. Shurmur? rather than bitching about him again I will just sit back and see what happens. At least he has better than average skill players.

    1. For the last 20 plus years we’ve read about the Buffs needing just one more score to win 2 to 4 games more, but then for every new class of recruits, the Buffs would lose a key player or two… OR three to the likes of USC or Oregon and/or…

      AND, the Buffs didn’t have an NFL caliber QB with a two way playing Heisman candidate along with hopefully a few other NFL caliber players like Shilo and Horn Jr; hopefully some of the new guys too. Hopefully, this team plays well enough to send five, six or more to the NFL next year, which will also help recruiting.

      Point being, the Buffs now have a number of NFL caliber players which they could never accumulate and keep before Prime, the best transferred to bigger programs before moving onto the NFL and CU couldn’t close the one score gap to win those games.

      Now the Buffs have a possible 1st round QB and possibly early in the 1st too. A 1st round two way Heisman hopefully, with his QB a possible Heisman candidate too! Add in the new lines on both sides of the ball and the Buffs should close that one score gap and surpass it.

      When did a Buff team last have 4 or more drafted in one year?

      If a few transfers with one year to play can play their way into the draft, especially linemen, and the expected players stay healthy and go to the NFL the Buffs win ten games…. If the Buffs win ten games they get at least 5 or 6 and maybe more drafted.

      2024 is the season of hope. And that’s hard to measure until we see the product on the field.

  13. “But it would require exponential strides from a season ago, when Colorado’s white-hot start fizzled into a 1-8 finish.”

    Really? Exponential strides??? 6 of the losses were one score losses.

    “The team does have arguably the best quarterback (Shedeur Sanders) and one of the top playmakers (Hunter) in the league, and it added a ton of portal talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage”

    Shedeur had only three interceptions last season and has a “ton of portal talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage”, but the improvement needs to be exponentially greater than that for him to win?

    “But a wholesale turnaround will likely require Shedeur to perform like a top-five NFL Draft pick, and a much cleaner pocket.”

    Shedeur is going to be operating in a new simpler system with quicker reads and behind an improved line with “a ton of portal talent”, their words! Yet they doubt his ability to play better than his past stats which are pretty damn good; even with only 4 wins last year.

    [insert your rant here!]

    Damn, I can’t wait to see the Buffs prove them wrong.

  14. All these pundits and all the haters keep bringing up 4 and 8!

    Ha
    One game was lost by the DC
    One game was lost by the OC

    Those “C’s” are history.

    Go Buffs. Better players, Better coaches, BETTER RESULTS

    Note: 6 and 6 in the bag until stupidity happened.

  15. The Athletic just eliminated any cred in their QB draft article in the first paragraph hedge. Except for the extreme examples of Williams and Burrow it has been a tossup….and for guys like Wilson its been a crash. Bless the Bronco’s little hearts.
    I know, I know you guys have to fill up the pages with some kind of poo. Why cant they pay you enough to hit the links or the beach at Costa Rica from the draft until the first game of the season?
    You must be ranking things in your sleep…….in vain

  16. Well the majority of coaches ahead of him have either DC or OC experience. He has neither!
    He has to have the very best OC and DC to succeed.

    Fact??

    The Prime Zone

    Note: The Prime Zone
    “You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound
    but of mind. A journey into a wonderous land of imagination. Next stop–The Prime Zone

  17. So CU has less chance at success in the Big 12 than ASU? Umm, OK. The only thing that’s going to wake these people up is us winning, which I think we will. What’s really perplexing, though, is the constant media drumbeat that you have no hope if you don’t recruit high school. That model is all but dead for all but the top 10 (maybe 6) blue blood schools. It’s just that most everybody not named Prime can’t see it yet.

  18. These are opening lines at draft king indicate they are kind of chicken to get the betting started. Every one of them is a point on either side of a touchdown. zzzzzzz
    I will give them credit for giving the Dakota teams credit. They are almost always fundamentally sound which means even more in an opening game.

  19. (an old saying with a “small” alteration) 7 bucks and all this ranking frenzy will get you a cup if coffee down at Starbucks.

  20. wow
    This time of year smacks of pundolt desperation. I have seen a couple of articles on the Alabama and maybe a couple of other big shot spring games, none of which I bothered to read. Aside from that its all “rate this, rate that.” How much longer before they rate the best locker room laundry facilities, the best training table dinner ware….and one that might hit home with the culture these days….the best football players on playing video games.

    one other thing
    Hundreds of mock drafts, with the exception of a wild eyed trade rumor, are all exactly the same. I dont know if Kiper’s golden goose has been cooked but its being drowned by the rest.
    Dont these guys ever take a vacation? are they paid that poorly? I’m not sure they work that hard anyway

  21. That April 6 ESPN article about Top 10 coaches in the Nation placed Willingham (3#) which sounds right and then Lance Leipold (#9) which is a complete joke. Mike Gundy has taken OSU to consecutive bowl games since 2006–not one losing season. Since, 2008 TEN 9+ win seasons. Two B-12 championship games in past 3 years. I have nothing against Lance Leipold, Kansas is a tough football program, he did get a 9 win season last year, but is 9-18 in conference and never finished higher than 7th. Matt Campbell has done much more. Chris Klienman has done much more, won the conference once and his previous resume is much stronger. Instead of Leipold, they could have just put in Jedd Frisch! FWIW, Gundy got three votes, Prime got 2.

    I did not have many other problems with the list, except I’m not sure DeBoar has shown enough to be the #2 coach, yet. You could say the same about Dan Lanning, annoying as hell, but he is killing it recruiting.

    1. I think all these rankings are worthless and I certainly dont do any of my own but I think you are coming down a little hard on Liepold. I’m sure he had nothing to with them as well. Kansas was a program at the bottom of an outhouse probably longer than the Buffs. The way he turned them around was a freaking miracle. I’m sure had less quality recruits than the others you praised that are at established programs.
      once again I’m not saying he is any better than others ranked behind him but calling him a joke is a bit harsh

  22. So College Football News has 14 of 16 Big 12 teams eligible for bowls (88%)… they see a lot of parity except for the Utes – time will tell

  23. As far as magazines prognosticators go, I’ll stick with the pros, they live in Las Vegas. I picked the over on CU last year (it was 3.5) and barely won, although I won early in the season. They have it at 5.5 right now. I’ll bet the over as I think they will get a couple of upsets, but I’d bet more that it will either be 5 or 6 wins this year, no more, no less.

  24. That poll about Prime’s comments on marijuana, first that isn’t the first time he has said something similar, second CU has always had the reputation as a party school, third he’s not wrong-that pungent odor drifts all the way up to section 215 row 62 where my season tickets are, fourth bleep em if they can’t take a joke.

  25. If one of your poll options about this Ari clown was “This guy is blowing smoke out of his rear end and is completely clueless” I would have participated.

  26. I can’t answer today’s poll about ari’s dumb ass writing, none of the choices is: he’s an asshat… Ari, not Prime. Eric’s correct that the talent in Boulder is up compared to before Prime.

    So suck it ari!

  27. Seems to me ari is like a lot of people. Doesn’t like prime.

    But his non recruiting recruiting is still elevating the talent level beyond anything we’ve seen in Boulder in 25 years or so. I’ll take it.

    Go Buffs

  28. Shedeur’s career stats: 911 out of 1,326. 68.7% 10,193 yards. 97 TDs, 17 intercept. (totaled up from espn)

    His freshmen year he had 8 interceptions to 30 TDs, would have been ok not great on the list above, but his soph he got it down to 6 interceptions to 40 TDs; that’s pretty great on same list.

    Last year running for his life with 52 sacks he only threw 3 picks v. 27 TDs, that’s an improvement each year from 26.6% interceptions freshmen year down to 15% soph to 11% last year. What are his numbers going to be this year?

    His second year at JSU his stats were:
    341 out of 483, 70.6% 3,732 yards, 40 TDs 6 int 160.4QBR

    What kind of season would the Buffs have if he matched his year two stats at JSU during his second year at CU? Come on front five, give him the time and protection to do more.

  29. Almost all of the QBs (who played a full season) had six interceptions with one with five, Shedeur only had three while undoubtedly having the worst protection of the group. So the question remains, did Prime upgrade the O-line? YES.

    Is the upgrade enough to compete in the Big12? TBD, but looks better… At least on paper.

    Shedeur says he likes the new offense better than Lewis’ offense last year, so if he’s more comfortable in the offense and can make decisions quicker that’s a plus. Add in better protection and then the question becomes, what is Shedeur’s ceiling when he has the time and knows where he wants to go with the ball?

    It will be exciting, especially the first three games. The first against a giant killer FCS champion, a true test of being mentally ready, but the Buffs should out talent them. The second against a hated rival which will be a tough game in the lion’s den, but the Buffs handled the corn better than any other team last season… And Lincoln sucking is why the winds blow east from Boulder. 😉

    I’m sorry, I had to. No not sorry!

    And, the third against the second most hated rival… And scrappy little brother CSU. Regardless of how Hunter humbly forgave the CSU player for the injury, the cheap shots and bad mouthing by their head coach will give the Buffs plenty of motivation. Let’s hope the Buffs are firing on all cylinders and give us the game against the lambs that we were looking forward to last season.

  30. YardBarker says OSU is a top 10 with 10 wins per year and FanDuel says 7.5 wins for OSU’s win over/under while showing 6 Big12 teams with 8.5/9.5 wins?

    Meanwhile, YardBarker says top 13 for Utah, 3 spots below OSU and FanDuel shows 9.5 wins for Utah’s over/under 2 more than OSU?

    And they both give 5 maybe 6 teams a chance to win the Big12, so it’s wide open with talent! And, some good coaches that have three years of winning seasons, while OU and UT were part of the conference, who have their starters and key players including QBs coming back.

    So it’s wide open with competition and good coaching, did the Buffs improve their lines enough to compete against the top of the Big12?

    With 9 teams in the 7.5 to 9.5 wins prediction and five of those ranked in the top 10 – 22, upsets are gonna a plenty with spreads maybe depending on who’s the home team.

    I can’t help but hope that improved protection and a simplified offense will help a QB who only threw 3 interceptions while being sacked more than any other QB last year all while running for his life the majority of the season, will help Shedeur to improve his production above the record setting year he already had… While running for his life most of the time.

    It will be exciting for sure, here’s hoping that Prime’s second season is a winner.

  31. They didn’t list the TD/I ratio for the players ranked above Shedeur, but for him to only throw 3 interceptions while being sacked and harassed as much as he was just makes me wonder how good can he be with a little more time and simpler routes with quicker decision making ability?

    It’s crazy, but it seems like the lower you go in football the more creative the offenses can be, but in the NFL and the top college programs it’s about executing quickly, but in lower divisions you get the triple option or more complex offense like Lewis’ that takes advantage of the other teams weaknesses. But top level teams operate differently and it appears Prime is moving away from a more complex offense to one that Shedeur can react more quickly to.

    Shedeur says in the new offense, there are simpler routes and reads and he can make quicker decisions and he should be able to know more often where he’s going with the ball quicker. Add better protection and what is Shedeur’s limit?

    I don’t know where he will end up against the other QBs listed, but a QB with great stats on a great team has a major advantage over a player with pretty great stats and only 3 Interceptions, on a lessor team with only 4 wins. Can the Buffs pull out a winning season with improved QB play?

    And then where Shedeur end up?

      1. does that mean we cant get him to come home and put Shurmur back on the screen? an ex RB would be a leg up on reviving the running game

  32. The Buffs should have the top QB in the Big12 and with a new and improved O-line things will be much different then last season. Shedeur’s TD to TO ratio is as good as anyone else, while running for his life, what will he be able to do with some better protection? If just a little more production ends up in a few more scores and keeps the defense off the field for a few more minutes, that right there will improve the defense’s stats.

    Add the improved players coming in on the D-line and those close losses can become wins. We’ll see after the dust settles from the transfer portal and after spring camps on how the depths charts will look.

  33. EYES GETTING BAD…ALL CAPS SO I CAN PROOF…..I JUST SLID INTO 85….CAN’T TELL IF I’M IN BED WITH MY GIRL FRIEND OR MY WIFE.

    FOLKS….IT’S WAY, WAY TOO EARLY TO KNOW WHICH ROOSTER WILL HAVE THE MOST FEATHERS

    WE PROBABLY WON’T KNOW ANYTHING UNTIL OUR BUFFS HAVE PLAYED A SEVERAL GAMES. REMEMBER LAST YEAR….AFTER 3 GAMES WE WERE WONDERING WHICH BOWL GAME WE WOULD PLAY IN…….BUT, I HAVE “HIGH HOPES” FOR THIS YEAR.

    EVERYTHING HINGES ON OUR OFFENSIVE LINE AND SHEDEUR STAYING HEALTHY….WHICH-TO-ME MEANS “DON’T OPEN THE BETTING.”

    GO HERD !!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I hope I’m getting in bed with any woman when I am 85. Like it will make any difference. My eyes are as bad as yours most likely. I proof but as everyone who has read anything I write in here knows it isnt proof enough

    2. Yo Trax,

      I got the big magnifiers so i can actually see the screen. Behind you a bit 78 in April. Have had 7 eye operations for lid issues etc etc. Go one more coming up in a couple of months. Sheesh

      Glad to see you up and running.

      Keep the faith. Bowl game oh please a bowl game. And if it works out, meaning a lot of wins then off to the 12 playing for the national championship.

      As I have said before
      “Hoping and thinking and wishing and praying”

      Buffalo Up

      1. VK, TALK TO YOUR OPHTHALMIC SURGEON AND SEE IF HE/SHE CAN IMPLANT A LENS THAT WILL MAKE THE GIRLS WITH 52″ HIPS LOOK LIKE 36″. IF IT WORKS, COULD YOU GIVE ME THE SURGEON’S NAME ?

        SECONDLY – IF IT WORKS – PERHAPS YOU WILL GET TO SEE THE BALL ON YUR HOLE-IN-ONE…. GO IN THE HOLE ! – – -MINE WAS UP A HILL AND I COULDN’T SEE THE BASE OF THE FLAG STICK….’THOT I HIT IT OVER THE GREEN….UNTIL I LOOKED IN THE HOLE.

        HERD….GET’ER DONE

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