Preseason Magazines

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

—–

14 Replies to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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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