American Football from a fans perspective
College

Clemson are the team to beat in 2018

The college season is barely over. Some of the Alabama players are probably still celebrating, and Georgia’s are definitely not over it. That doesn’t stop us as fans looking ahead. A new season full of hope and optimism that this is our year.

To support with that, ESPN has a College Football Power Index (FPI) which aims to help predict which teams have the strongest profile for success in the coming year. It breaks out an offense, defense and special teams’ rankings and in the last 4 years has proven to be 77% accurate.

Spoiler alert. There are no surprises. You might move around teams a few places here and there, but generally its all the same faces. The College game doesn’t have salaries and drafting to maintain parity the way its professional older brother does. It’s actually the opposite. Recruiting the best players is easier if you had performed well the year before and is therefore self-fulfilling. You see this with the same 4 teams making 11 of the possible 16 spaces in the College Football playoff era – Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Clemson.   

In the latest release, FPI ranks Clemson as the team atop the College football landscape. They are bringing back 15 starters from a line-up that only narrowly missed out on the Championship game in 2017.

With the top 25 as follows;

Preseason FPI 1.0 Rankings, FBS Teams

RANK

TEAM

FPI

OFFENSE RANK

DEFENSE RANK

SPECIAL TEAMS RANK

1

Clemson

25.5

7

1

27

2

Alabama

23.2

4

8

8

3

Georgia

23.1

2

9

9

4

Ohio State

22.4

6

7

3

5

Notre Dame

22.3

11

3

10

6

Washington

22.3

8

6

5

7

Auburn

20.1

18

4

13

8

Penn State

19.9

3

18

14

9

Oklahoma

19.0

1

30

35

10

Michigan State

18.8

15

10

6

11

Michigan

18.8

32

2

1

12

Wisconsin

17.4

10

17

16

13

Stanford

16.4

5

34

7

14

Miami (FL)

16.2

23

11

20

15

USC

15.0

28

13

4

16

Mississippi State

14.8

19

15

56

17

Texas

14.2

58

5

2

18

Florida State

13.1

16

27

52

19

Oregon

12.5

20

24

40

20

Texas A&M

12.5

25

23

23

21

Oklahoma State

12.4

13

35

43

22

Florida

12.2

31

16

36

23

Virginia Tech

11.5

46

14

17

24

Georgia Tech

10.8

9

50

67

25

Iowa

10.6

38

21

18

In a world where recruitment plays a heavy role in the success it’s interesting to compare the FPIs forecast to the intake of talent. Granted, most of these players won’t play right away and so there’s probably a time lag on it being realised on the field. However, it does show us the results of current image of programs, and Georgia is riding this wave.

For those that haven’t seen the recruitment process before, this is how College football teams go about filling their teams each off season. A small percentage of ‘walk ons’ are regular students who happen to be studying at the College and try out, and make, the team. Most of the players are recruited. This can be from as little as a written offer of scholarship all the way to the Head Coach coming to dance with your mother to persuade you they really want you – like Nick Saban did here.

Various entities will rank the talent (3 to 5 Star, 5 being the best) out there at High School level and it’s all a big race to get the 5 Star talent to sign your offer of scholarship and not your rivals. There are many things that go into in making the decision – location, weather, prospect of starting, friends, level of scholarship – and it’s the recruiters jobs to persuade the talent they will get the best fit at their program.

The current picture of recruitment according to 247 Sports currently has Georgia leading the way with 7 top talent players committed to joining. Ohio State is a regular attendee towards the top of these lists, excelling in recruiting 5 and 4 Star talent.

RANK

TEAM

Total

5 STar Recruits

4 STar Recruits

3 STar Recruits

1

Georgia

26

7

15

4

2

Ohio State

26

3

20

3

3

Texas

27

2

17

8

4

USC

18

4

13

1

5

Penn State

23

3

12

8

6

Clemson

17

5

7

5

7

Alabama

19

2

12

5

8

Miami

23

1

14

8

9

Oklahoma

22

1

12

9

10

Notre Dame

27

0

14

13

It’s worth noting recruiting isn’t done with, players do change their mind – they are still kids after all. But wouldn’t it be nice to see a new team do well?

 

Tom is an Atlanta Falcons, Ohio State Buckeyes and Madden fanboy since 2004. You can follow Tom on Twitter at@TO_Ldn_Mcr

Article written by:

Kadeem joined the NFLGirlUK.com team in 2016 and is currently the AFC Conference Editor, covering the AFC West division, as well as writing about Madden for the Gaming section. Though quite new to the NFL, after becoming acquainted with it through Madden, Kadeem has written features and articles on the sport for the Morning Star newspaper, where he is the current sports editor. He can be followed on Twitter @KadeemSimmonds.

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