Back in May, ESPN released a way-too-early Top 25 ranking that included Alabama (No. 1), LSU (No. 6), Tennessee (No. 11), Georgia (No. 13), Ole Miss (No. 14), and Texas A&M (No. 21).
Recently, five ESPN college football writers broke down which teams from the ranking that are least likely to live up to the preseason hype. There was bad news for the Bulldogs, Tigers and Aggies.
Edward Aschoff: Look, I think LSU is the most talented team in the SEC, but after last year’s late-season collapse and all that drama surrounding Les Miles, I just don’t know if I can trust this team to be mentally fit in 2016 if something goes wrong. The talent on both sides of the ball is there for the Tigers to make a championship run — or two — this fall, but what happens if they slip up at any point? I love LSU on paper, but I don’t know if I love it to be a top-10 team all year.
Two writers are not sold on Georgia:
David Ching: I’m skeptical about several SEC teams in Schlabach’s top 25, but Georgia jumps out as a reach at No. 13. (Nick) Chubb’s health is just one of the questions surrounding Georgia this season. If Chubb is not healthy enough to dominate again, does Georgia have the pass-catching weapons to pick up the slack? And who will be throwing those guys the passes? And what about the defense that has holes to fill up front? Oh yeah, and this group with all the questions to answer will be led by a first-time head coach.
Alex Scarborough: Sorry, Georgia, I’m just not buying you as a serious contender in the SEC this year. Maybe next year, but not 2016. It’s nothing personal. For one, who are the playmakers at receiver? It wasn’t a great situation last year and I don’t see it getting better. And secondly, who is going to throw them the ball? Am I to believe that either Greyson Lambert is in for a Hollywood-type turnaround? Or would you have me take a leap of faith on a freshman quarterback?
The remaining two writers aren’t buying a bounce-back season for Texas A&M and coach Kevin Sumlin:
Sam Khan Jr.: The main reason is it’s unclear what to expect from the Aggie offense. Hiring offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone made sense given his background and his relationship with Kevin Sumlin but is the guy pulling the trigger at quarterback (Trevor Knight) going to develop into a consistently good passer? There are numerous questions that won’t be answered until the Aggies hit the field and until we get some clarity, I hesitate to call this team a top-25 squad given how the last two seasons went.
Greg Ostendorf: I’m not surprised that the Aggies are ranked in the Top 25 — there’s plenty of talent on that roster — but that doesn’t mean I’m confident in them. There are a lot of unknowns. The schedule does them no favors either. They play UCLA, Auburn and Arkansas in the first month, and with Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU still on the schedule, there’s no margin for error. If the Aggies lose two games in that first month, they could be looking at 7-5 or 6-6 and another mediocre bowl game.
Fortunately, it’s still June and the teams will get to decide all of this on the field. Hurry up, September.