By SAM HATCHER
Prognosticators for the 2018 season generally agree that the top ten teams will be spread all over the map this year. That should please most who gather at the 5 p.m. cocktail hour to pitch their case as to why one team is superior over the other or which league has the most talent.
Here’s a look at how the nation’s 2018 season is shaping-up, although the
season is still in diapers at this time.
Alabama is virtually a consensus pick to win the national championship, but ranking those teams behind the Red Elephants may require considerable due diligence.
Behind Alabama, ESPN likes Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Sporting News likes the same first five, ranking Alabama on top, then
Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
While disagreeing only a tad, several preseason polls have Wisconsin,
Washington, Auburn, Notre Dame, and either Penn State or Miami rounding
out their sweetheart top ten.
Most agree that plucking out the best of the bunch this early is an exercise
in futility because key players get hurt, unranked teams beat an undefeated
rival, and some teams just have a bad week. Seemingly overnight, a top-ranked
team can fall from grace.
Admittedly, Alabama’s schedule looks promising as far as winning another
national championship. Only two home games – Mississippi State and Auburn
–could potentially upset the Tide’s apple cart.
Clemson may coast through its season until November when the Tigers
play Duke and South Carolina. Don’t ever count out Duke’s head coach, David
Cutcliffe. He may be college football’s best. Clemson’s other November hurdle
will be their rising arch rival, South Carolina.
Georgia must contend with Florida, Auburn and South Carolina. If
successful in the SEC East, they’ll likely face Alabama in the conference
Ohio State will have a number of challenges beginning with Penn State
in September and Nebraska and Michigan in November. The Buckeyes should also be vigilant when playing Minnesota and Michigan State.
Oklahoma’s schedule is almost delightful except for a test against Texas and, at the end of the season, a match-up against what’s predicted to be a good West Virginia team.
Besides those previously named as top contenders, others being mentioned as
top 25 candidates include Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, USC, West Virginia, UCF, LSU, TCU, Florida State, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi State,
Virginia Tech and Boise State.
Sam Hatcher, a former newspaper editor and publisher, heads
First Light Communications, a Tennessee-based public affairs
and media company. He recently authored Heisman’s First Trophy,
a book about the lopsided football game played between
Cumberland University and Georgia Tech in which Tech won 222-0.