Articles highlighting various ‘Bama units are already starting to fly off the press, with phrases like “scary good” being tossed around. And some of them may even be true: Alabama doesn’t have nearly as many questions as you’d think after sending 17 players to the NFL, including a school and SEC-record 12 draft picks
Ohio State ($600): Two years of heavy losses across both lines and at secondary make the Buckeyes an iffy proposition to even emerge unscathed from the B1G East. The offense should be better though with the addition of a competent passing game by a healthy quarterback. The Urban Meyer apathy game/inexplicable letdown is always at play too. You just never know when it’s coming.
Auburn ($2500): Gus never has two great years back-to-back. And, yes, the 4-loss iteration in 2017 was a great year on the Plains. Given the way Auburn’s recruiting and development cycles swing, they’re good for a 10-win season every three or four years. The front seven will keep them in games, but losses at OL and both RBs will sting. This team’s ceiling is 2005 Alabama; but it’s one Jarrett Stidham injury away from being the 2003 version. Yuck.
Notre Dame ($5000): Are you kidding me? You lose one of the best offensive lines in recent college football memory, the defensive woes are still there, and the last time I checked Brian Kelly is still the coach? Nope. (Checks schedule...opens with Michigan, closes with SC.) Double nope. Someone buy Mad Swinney a drink and look forward to 2019.
LSU ($3000): What talent was in Baton Rouge is gone...even borderline SEC starters like Will Clapp have moved on to the NFL. The recruiting has been disappointing; the development spotty; the schedule nasty; the quarterback situation makes Nick Saban breathe a sigh of relief; and there is yet another offensive coordinator to break in and yet another offensive system to learn. Oh, and Ed Orgeron is a doofus. Sell. Sell. Sell.
Michigan ($6000): I promise I’m not in the tank for Blue. The defense is going to be superb...again. The offensive line is slowly improving; the running game is stout; and, it looks like Harbaugh may finally have found a competent quarterback who can make plays downfield. The Big Ten will be loading the box at their own peril. Consistency is the issue here.
Miami ($2000): Mark Richt is quietly building a contender again in South Beach. Last year the ‘Canes came up just short in several games simply because the talent and depth and experience weren’t quite where they needed to be. Year Three should be his breakout. The LBs in particular may be some of the best in the nation. What Evil Richt is patiently assembling is an existential threat that Dabo should fear.
Florida ($7000): The Gators were down to just 51 scholarship players at times last year. It was already going to be a very young team on defense, but was made younger owing to suspensions and all those injuries. Those guys have emerged from the crucible though. A forgiving SEC East and a rebuilding Florida State await a system coach that can maximize even meager talent. And Florida does not have meager talent. Feleipe Franks was custom-built for Dan Mullen’s offense. This team can contend for the East crown.
Oklahoma ($2500): What to say about the best offensive mind in college football that also recruits at a ridiculous clip? Losing Baker Mayfield and Orlando Brown hurts, to be sure. But the thing about geniuses that attract talent is that they can scheme around it. The Dirt Burglars aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, even in a highly competitive Big 12.
Alabama ($250)/Clemson ($640): Not much value here, true. But I do love a safe pick. Clemson’s defense will end up being 1 or 1A with Alabama by season’s end -- it’s absolutely loaded. And that defensive monster should give the Tigers plenty of cushion in rejuvenating its passing game with new-starting QB Trevor Lawrence (sorry, Kelly Bryant — you’re not getting that job back.) I would not at all be surprised to see yet another CFP Championship game between these two.
So, who’s your stinker? Where’s some good value at?