Apr 29, 2014 03:04 PM EDT
College Football Rankings 2014: 5 Bold Predictions; Penn State, USC and Texas Will Be Resurgent
The new college football season is still months away, but with National Signing Day and spring practices are over, it is time to look ahead to late Aug.
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The Associated Press has not released its preseason top 25, but several media outlets have their own ready to go. Florida State is a consensus choice to take the top overall spot followed closely by teams like Auburn, Michigan State, Alabama and Oregon.
Here are 5 bold predictions for the AP top 25 rankings this year.
1. UCLA will finish in the top four and be selected to play in the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Bruins are returning head coach Jim Mora and quarterback Brett Hundley. They should be favored to Pac-12 South since both Stanford and Oregon play for the North division of the conference. Hundley improved his adjusted QBR from 68.3 to 84.8 in his sophomore season, so he could be due for a major breakout as a junior.
2. Penn State finished 10-2 with a top 25 ranking at the end of the season. CBS Sports analyst Brian Jones recently stated new head coach "James Franklin is taking Happy Valley by storm," according to PennLive.com. Bill O'Brien laid the groundwork last year and Franklin seems plenty capable of finishing the rebuilding job. Christian Hackenberg will build on a strong freshman campaign and lead the Nittany Lions to at least one upset against Michigan, Ohio State or Michigan State en route to a 10-win season.
3. Auburn will play for the National Championship game again. The field will be UCLA, Florida State, Alabama and then Auburn. The Tigers will be without running back Tre Mason and offensive lineman Greg Robinson, but their impressive recruiting class is deep enough to make another run. If Nick Marshall can further improve as a passer, he could potentially transform the team's lethal rushing attack into a multi-faceted force.
4. USC will finish in the top 10 and play in the Rose Bowl Game. The Trojans have their starting QB, offensive weapons and long-awaited certainty at head coach. While many wanted to see Ed Orgeron stick around, Steve Sarkisian can definitely lead this team to a second-place finish in the Pac-12 South. USC finished their season strong and ended up with only one less conference loss than Oregon and Stanford.
5. Texas will finish the year in the top 25. Normally this would not be a lofty goal to set, but for the Longhorns, it could well be. New coach Charlie Strong does not know who his quarterback is, but this team still finished 7-2 in the conference, tied for second behind Baylor. Strong may have guaranteed Texas' absence from the National Championship game, but he said nothing about the Big 12 title.