Sluggo co-host Casey Cregan loves preseason polls and rankings. So much so that he asked John Chancey and I to put our heads together and come up with our top 5.
But we did it anyway. Here’s our top 5 and reasoning.
|1||Oklahoma||Returning talent and experience, with an absence of a significant area of liability. The only question mark might be at cornerback, where two new starters will be joining veteran safeties.||Alabama||It’s Alabama and while the Tide isn’t invincible, they’re the closest thing to it. I’d rather swing and miss betting on Saban and Co. vs. wondering why I picked someone else and look like a fool. Lot to replace? Sure. But it’s Bama.|
|2||Clemson||Difficult to separate Clemson and Georgia. Both teams have the same question marks coming into 2021: offensive line & defensive backfield. Ultimately, I think DJU will outperform JT Daniels, and that will be the difference in Charlotte and over the course of the season. Of the Big Three, Clemson easily brings back the most experience on the defensive side, with a deep defensive line unit that is expected to be a difference maker for the Tigers.||Ohio State||Maybe it’s a hangover from the way last season ended for Clemson, but I’m a believer. Inexperienced at quarterback gives me a second of pause, but that’s about it, because everywhere else is ready to go. Have you seen their WRs? One guy transferred and will start. At Alabama! That’s loaded! And they just got the commitment of a top 3 player for 2021! Yes, 2021.|
|3||Georgia||The Bulldogs did bring in transfer help at cornerback, which was important. After one year finishing behind Florida, Georgia looks to be back on top of the SEC East, and will have their best chance ever to get Kirby a win over his former boss. If the patchwork defensive backfield gels, they will have the most complete team in the SEC.||Clemson||There’s two types, right? Those that overlook the flaws and those that make mountains of molehills. I welcome your pushback. Yes, the defense returns a ton and should be extremely good. But there’s a hole where Etienne used to be, questions at wide out and don’t get me started on the offensive line. Did I mention the defensive backfield is thinner than the hair on my head? DJU Played great in half-empty stadiums and I think he’ll be great, but I’m a gotta see it first guy and I’ve only seen 2 (really good) games in less than full stadiums.|
|4||Ohio State||There is plenty to replace, but some key pieces do return. The Buckeyes new quarterback (presumably CJ Stroud) will have Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson to target, and Haskell Garrett returns to anchor the defensive line. All three could have been in the NFL, but instead returned to Columbus. The concern for Ohio State will be the defensive backfield (see a theme here?).||Georgia||Talented. Stacked. Finally has a quarterback and presumably on a mission. That opener vs. Clemson isn’t a do or don’t make the playoff for Clemson, but it might be for the Dogs. I mentioned above that I’m a gotta see it kinda guy and UGA last won a title in 1980. Kirby’s got to prove he isn’t the problem on game day and this is the year to prove it. But so was last year and the year before and…|
|5||Alabama||The talent is there, but the experience is razor thin on the offensive side. The Tide will have a new starting quarterback in Bryce Young, coupled with a new offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien. While they do return some defensive talent, and can expect some improvement on that side, all eyes will be focused on an offense that most agree will take a step back, but the question is how far? Young would have probably looked fantastic in a Steve Sarkisian offense. Is O’Brien the guy to bring out the best in Young?||Oklahoma||Georgia has won a playoff game while OU is 0-4 and given up almost 50 points per playoff game. I bet on Rattler to win the Heisman, so he’s my guy (inside joke), but he’s got to improve and I don’t mean against Iowa State. Again, I need to see it before I expect it, and what I see is an uber talented team that may not show up some Saturday in Dallas or Waco or Stillwater. Can they win the whole thing? Sure, but first the Sooners need to prove they can stop a playoff worthy offense and harken back to the days of “Big Game Bob”.|