#DearAndy: Which teams are poised to get a preseason rankings bump?
Ohio State answered all the questions in the first College Football Playoff national title game, so #DearAndy took the rest of last week off. Now, I’m back to answer your college football questions.
Here is what we cover in the video:
• Texas governor Greg Abbott served four tons of brisket at his inauguration party. How much would I serve if I won a gubernatorial seat?
Read on for more questions and answers …
From @wenbickert: With benefit of hindsight, how many FBS schools would any of the three Ohio State quarterbacks not have started at in 2014? A maximum of 10?
I’m not even sure it's 10. Let’s go back to the start of the 2014 season with the knowledge of how well J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones would fill in for Miller and count the schools that wouldn’t have at least considered a healthy version of any of those three as the starter.
Oregon (Mariota) and Florida State (Winston) would certainly be happy with their starters. Michigan State (Connor Cook) and Baylor (Bryce Petty) probably would, too. That’s four. Sean Mannion was a fourth-year starter at Oregon State, so it’s unlikely Mike Riley would have wanted to switch. UCLA would have been reluctant to transition from Brett Hundley. Christian Hackenberg likely doesn’t lose his job at Penn State. I might add Justin Thomas of Georgia Tech to that list because the offense is so specialized, but just imagine a healthy Miller or Barrett running the option. It would be devastating. In the SEC, only Auburn (Nick Marshall) and Mississippi State (Dak Prescott) might have considered keeping their starters because of their proven propensity for running those programs’ offenses, but one or more of the Ohio State trio could've been an upgrade at those schools as well. If we could have also used our magic hindsight to know how Trevone Boykin would blossom in his first year in TCU’s new offense, then he probably stays, too.
That’s about the only way I can get to 10, and I’m stretching a bit on a few of those. That’s how embarrassing the embarrassment of riches at quarterback in Columbus truly is.
From @jokastrength: Other than Tennessee, who is on “Holy s---, why are we ranked this high in the preseason” notice?
I had to do a way-too-early top 10 for the magazine shortly before the title game, and I found myself struggling to fill out the bottom of that list. There aren’t a lot of obvious choices for the top of the polls, so there will be some teams that get ranked high based on potential alone.
Tennessee won’t be ranked that high, but Karl is correct in pointing out that the Volunteers will be a trendy poll vote this preseason. They’ll also likely be a trendy pick to win the SEC East. This isn’t really a surprise. When Butch Jones signed his 2014 recruiting class, the thought was that if the Vols could get some seasoning on both lines of scrimmage and ascertain the identity of their quarterback of the future, they'd be competitive in the division, if not the conference, in ’15. The way they grew at the end of ’14 -- after ascertaining Josh Dobbs was the quarterback of the future -- suggests these prophecies were fairly accurate. But there is a big leap between beating a disinterested Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl and competing for the SEC title. The Vols must keep growing, and that’s not always easy.
Clemson will find itself in a lot of these polls -- I had the Tigers in my way-too-early top 10 -- but this is purely theoretical. I didn’t base my choice on Clemson’s rout of Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl, though I’m sure others will. Mine is based on the assumption that quarterback Deshaun Watson will return at 100 percent from ACL surgery. If Watson is at the peak of his powers, he is a Heisman Trophy contender and a complete game-changer. But he can’t do everything. The Tigers also have to replace the entirety of one of the better defensive lines in college football. How coordinator Brent Venables handles the loss of ends Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford and tackle Grady Jarrett will determine the Tigers’ ceiling in 2015. If Venables does manage to replace them and field a defense comparable to the one he fielded in ’14, he might finally get consideration for a quality head coaching job.
Meanwhile, USC will start the season ranked high because the Trojans bring back quarterback Cody Kessler, most of their offensive line and most of their defense. Leonard Williams, Buck Allen and Nelson Agholor are gone, but USC returns the core of a roster that won nine games in 2014 and will finally have a full complement of scholarships at its disposal as its NCAA sanctions expire. This pick could be totally wrong because the Pac-12 South seems like it will remain top-to-bottom good for a few years. Still, the Trojans feel like the safest bet of the three teams I mentioned here.
From @LakeRosenberg: What was the best meal you had during the season?
This is like picking a favorite child. Do I go with the pile of smoked prime rib from Lockhart Smokehouse followed by pecan pie from Emporium Pies in Dallas? Or do I choose the first pregame meal of the season -- two massive sandwiches from Southern Belly BBQ in Columbia, S.C.?
In the upset of the season, I’m going away from barbecue for my top-ranked meal. The winner is the November dinner in Portland that featured the Vietnamese fish sauce wings from Pok Pok -- the best wings on Earth -- followed by two giant scoops of Stumptown coffee and Burnside bourbon flavored ice cream from Salt and Straw. I’d like to thank all the restaurateurs for their participation in 2014. Whether you’re smoking, glazing or deep-frying, you’re all champions to me.