The Hotline’s (14th) annual ridiculously early top-25 for next season: Alabama’s No. 1, beware Penn State, no contenders from the Pac-12

Back for another swing …

The Hotline began producing the ridiculously early top-25 before many websites currently doing the same were even websites. Our first year, if memory serves, was 2007.

Alas, we have yet to get all 25 projections correct.

Note I: Teams slotted for the top third are expected to finish with zero, one or two losses; teams in the middle third are likely to lose two or three games; teams in the bottom third are headed for three or four (perhaps even five) losses. Because that’s generally how the math works, every year.

Note II: Please consider supporting the Hotline at zero cost to yourself, via a subscription to our free newsletter. It’s published each Monday-Wednesday-Friday during the college sports season and twice-a-week in the summer.

Also considered: Air Force, Army, Appalachian State, Baylor, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Navy, SMU, Tennessee, UCF, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Washington.

25. Memphis: One of the frontrunners in the Group of Five thanks to the return of quarterback Brady White (formerly of Arizona State) and the continuity that comes with promoting Ryan Silverfield following the departure (to Florida State) of Mike Norvell.

24. Arizona State: The team we saw in the Sun Bowl must find playmakers to replace Eno Benjamin and Brandon Aiyuk, but the combination of a veteran defense and quarterback Jayden Daniels should enable ASU to contend in the wide open Pac-12 South.

23. Boise State: The best thing the Broncos have going for them in 2020 is that Hawaii and San Diego State lost successful head coaches, clearing a path for BSU to another Mountain West title.

22. Iowa State: We were admittedly a bit overly optimistic regarding ISU’s prospects in 2019. This assessment is therefore tempered, although any team coached by Matt Campbell is a threat for a top-12/15 finish.

21. Cal: The defense should be stout despite the departure of Evan Weaver, and the offense should be productive enough under new coordinator Bill Musgrave — so long as oft-injured quarterback Chase Garbers is not oft-injured.

20. Michigan: Maybe 2020 will (finally) be the year for the Wolverines because nobody expects it. Or maybe Ohio State will carve them up once again. We’ll assume the latter until we see proof of the former.

19. Texas: The Longhorns are back … maybe. We’ve been waiting for the Tom Herman-led breakthrough that has yet to materialize. But quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s return and a veteran defense could be the combination UT needs to seriously challenge Oklahoma.

18. USC: The attrition (i.e., transfers) could be significant. But for now, the Trojans have the best roster in the Pac-12 South with 18 returning starters and the returnees from the days Clay Helton could recruit effectively. The defensive coordinator hire is key — in the right hands, the unit could be top-notch.

17. Auburn: The defense must be revamped, but the Tigers’ greatest obstacle is their schedule: Georgia and Alabama on the road, LSU and Texas A&M at home, and a neutral site date with improving North Carolina.

16. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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