Ben Lytle ’17
This past LSU football season was a true rollercoaster ride. With low lows and high highs many people questioned the future of LSU’s program. This began with the firing of longtime coach Les Miles and the hiring of Ed Orgeron. Under Orgeron’s command, the Tigers obtained a 6-2 record with its defense leading the charge. Even though LSU has lost two starting defensive backs, the Tigers have a pair of 4 stars and a 5 star to fill the gap. The future to this young Tiger team is looking really bright.
With the return of Jake Browning and halfback Myles Gaskin’s Huskies look to bounce back from a very disappointing loss to Alabama. Washington won’t have the defense that they had last year due to the departure of 5 starters. This season really helped Washington in recruiting, from their recent success the Huskies have gained commitments from six defensive 4 star recruits to help reload its defense. With a young rebuilding defense and fast paced offense the Huskies should have a very good 2017 campaign.
Wisconsin will be coming into the 2017 season with their heads high. After a very surprising and unexpected successful season they have a lot to look forward to. During their final game they played a good Western Michigan team in the Cotton Bowl and made a great defensive statement, holding WMU to only 16 points. Wisconsin is returning a majority of their starters on defense, which are almost all seniors. Along with the returning starters on defense they are returning their quarterback. You can bet that Wisconsin will dominate the Big Ten west.
#7 Ohio State
Ohio State is coming off one of the most interesting seasons of college football in the past couple of years. After the departure of 12 starters to the NFL the future of the Buckeyes remained in question. Once the buckeyes lost to Penn State there was doubt everywhere. But, the buckeyes young team bounced back and continued dominance all the way up to the College Football Playoff. Ohio State’s performance in the peach bowl showed just how young this team was and that they were not ready for this stage. With the number two recruiting in the country and a bitter taste left in Urban Meyer’s mouth, expect the Buckeyes to have a very good season.
#6 Penn State
During James Franklin’s third year as the head at Penn State he finally seemed to put all of the pieces in puzzle. After going 7-6 in his first two years doubts surrounded Nittany Lion fans everywhere, but after a very good 2016 season that has changed for the better. This season Penn State went 11-3, winning the B1G championship game and losing in the last second of the Rose Bowl against a very talented USC team. Right now Penn State has the number 12 recruiting class in the country and that will really help them add on to their already incredible offense. This season Penn State averaged 37.6 points per game, with the return of junior quarterback Trace McSorely expect the Nittany Lions to keep that number rising.
After a big sugar bowl victory over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl the Sooners ended the year on a good note. But, one of the high points of their season was getting the news that Baker Mayfield would return. Mayfield has been a Heisman candidate for the past couple of years and is the cornerstone of Oklahoma’s recent success. With the departure of wide receiver Dede Westbrook and running back Joe Mixon, Mayfield has to pull a lot more of the weight, which will be quite interesting considering the impact that both Mixon and Westbrook had
The reigning national champions are going to come back and do well but not as well as the 2016 season. This is because of the loss of one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football, DeShaun Watson. Watson will probably be replaced by freshman superstar Hunter Johnson. Johnson was the number two quarterback in the country and has 5 stars to his name. He has already enrolled and is currently studying the tigers offensive scheme.
USC is one of the most promising programs in college football. They have a quarterback with an incredible arm in Sam Darnold, who finished the season with over 3,000 yards in only 10 games. Not only are those stats very good for only ten games, he was a redshirt freshman this season, which is even more promising. The Trojans will take a hit defensively and on special teams with Adoree’ Jackson leaving for the NFL draft but USC has momentum on their side, a lot of it, so expect USC to have one of the best teams in college football next year.
#2 Florida State
Florida State showed a lot of fight this season from beginning to end. They started off their season with a twenty-point comeback against Ole Miss and ended it with a last-minute win against Michigan in the Orange Bowl. They managed to have this great season with a true freshman at quarterback. Deondre Francois is poised to have a tremendous 2017, coming into the season as one of the best young quarterbacks in the country. Even though the Seminoles are losing a crucial part of its offense in running back Dalvin Cook, they will reload their running attack with the number one running back recruit in the country, 5 star Cam Akers out of Clinton, Mississippi. Along with Akers, Florida State is bringing in another 5 star and 11 four stars. This great recruiting class is what will push the Seminoles to the next level in 2017.
#1 You guessed it……. Alabama
This year Alabama had arguably one of the best college football teams of all time last season. Alabama seems to act like a broken record every season, they graduate a big handful of their best players and then they replace with the best recruits in the country. This is no different for this next season, Alabama has the number one recruiting class in the country, again. Bama’s numbers don’t lie they have commits from 5 five stars and 14 four stars. Alabama will be one of the most fun teams to watch next season. The Crimson Tide play Florida State in the first game of the season next year, this game has a pretty good chance of happening twice next year if both teams were to make it to the College Football Playoffs. Nick Saban and company are going to come out next season with a fiery rage after losing the national championship, and that will be a scary sight for anyone in Alabama’s way next year.