The 2007 College Football season is upon us. A lot of the experts have put out their picks and predictions. We have our own unique take on who will be the top 25 teams this season. Be sure to get our college football picks and our our free college football picks via our newsletter.
The Wunderdog 2007 College Foobtall Top 25 countdown…
This team was 11-2 last year, dominating teams at home winning by an average of more than 4 TD’S per game. The gap may be closing this season, but it’s starting so wide that the end result should be another 10 win season and a top 25 finish. The key games will be at UCLA early, and at home against TCU late. A split in those games should assure them of a top 25 finish, providing they take care of business along the way.
This is a team that has lacked offense and depended upon a stiff defense to keep them in games. This year may be different as the offense returns mostly in tact, and the 23 points per game they managed last year may elevate them into the top 25 this season. The defense returns just five starters, but remember last year they returned just four and did not allow anyone to score more than 28 points all season. That runs the streak to holding opponents under 30 points to 34 straight in the regular season. So expect the defense to do its part. The schedule is tough, as always in the SEC, but Bama does catch most of the tough games at home and should at least flirt with the top 25.
This team is bringing back 20 of 22 starters, 10 each on offense and defense. Last year the defense was very good against the weak teams, but struggled vs. the good teams, other than a great performance in an upset over USC. The other four ranked opponents they faced scored over 30 points per game against them. The seven unranked opponents, just 10 points per game. It is obvious where the key to this season lies. If the defense steps up, this ranking may be too low. They must face BYU, Notre Dame, Oregon, California and USC, so the schedule will offer a stiff challenge. The offense topped 27 in the Pac-10 just one time, so they will also need to be able to get more consistent scoring to be a threat on both sides of the ball.
This team lost five games last season and four of them were to teams ranked in the top 10. They have a chance to be a bit better this year and alot of that and their fate in the Big-12 North will likely be determined when they travel to Missourri in early October. They also must face Texas on the road and have a big game against USC. An unlikely win against either of those teams will vault them into a much higher ranking. They do return almost 50 letterman and should be able to match last year’s win total of nine.
Two primary issues face this team. The defensive line, which has been a strength, is going to be very young, although talented. The ability of them to come together quickly will go a long way to determine the Bear’s fate. The other issue is a strong schedule. The Bear’s open with Tennessee and have to go to Oregon and UCLA, and will face USC at home. This is a team that will score points, but can they keep teams from scoring, and get big stops when needed?
Year after year Gary Patterson puts a quality football team on the field. Each year, he seems to manage to surprise one of the big boys. Last year they beat Texas Tech. Two years ago they went into Norman and stunned the Sooners. They posted wins vs. Louisville in 2002 and 2003. This year they will play Texas on September 8th, and the Horns better be ready for a football game. Nine teams scored 14 or less vs. this defense last year, and most of it returns in tact. The fact is, this team is in the polls almost every year – 5 of the last 7. They also face BYU on the road, but this team is likely to finish 9-2. If they spring the surprise against Texas, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, they may just run the table and be challenging for a BCS Bowl. It is more likely they land in the lower end of the top 20, but we will have the answer to just where on September 8th.
It’s been a long time since Georgia lost three games “Between the Hedges” in a season, but that’s what happened last year. Matt Stafford showed he could lead this offense. The Bulldogs were unsettled at QB last season and Stafford would enter games, and the offense moved. They finished with wins vs. Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, all with Stafford at the helm. The key game for this team comes early, in a match-up with SC at home. A loss in that game and this ranking is too high. A win, and this team could be on its way to contending for the SEC East title.
18.Â TEXAS A&M
This team flirted with 12-0 last year, losing just three games – all heartbreakers. They fell to Texas tech by 4, Oklahoma by 1 and Nebraska by 1. The A&M offense is loaded and returns almost everyone. But, the schedule is difficult as the Aggies must face Miami-Fla, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri all on the road. Those four games will go a long way towards deciding where this team finishes this season. If they can manage to win two of the four then this is the right place for them.
17.Â BOISE STATE
College football fans will be hard pressed to forget what Chris Peterson did at the Fiesta Bowl last year, virtually stealing a game from Oklahoma. He won’t have the horses he did last year, but still has enough parts to out-class his WAC rivals. This team finds a way to put up 30-40 points up per game no matter who is coming back, and who has left. It is a solid program, that plays above the league they are in year in and year out. We don’t believe they are the 17th best team in the country, but when the dust settles, they will have the win total and reputation to be here once again.
16. S. CAROLINA
This is a team that plays tough defense. Last year their defense was stripped, yet they came back and held opponents in the teens, and now they have 10 players from that defense back. Their schedule featured six ranked teams last year including three in the top 10. They did not lose by more than a TD to any of those top 10 teams. The schedule is not favorable, as they will again be facing top teams, but if they turn a few of those close games around, an 8-5 season becomes 9-4 or perhaps even 10-3. Steve Spurrier can coach, and he has led inferior teams to Bowl games, and now he has the talent to compete at the top of the league. This team could be the SEC’s biggest surprise this season.
This team started off great and finished poorly, closing the season 1-4. It does look like they have a very favorable schedule this season and with virtually every key player back on offense, they will stay in a lot of games. It is likely they will be 4-0 facing Nebraska at home on October 6th, and that will be the pivital game that either vaults them to a highly successful season or just another mid-ranged Bowl game. They need only face Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas State on the road in BIG-12 games. And, they will face Kansas at a neutral site in Kansas City. This may be a bit optimistic for the Tigers, but the offense and schedule indicate they could very well be in the mix.
14.Â OHIO STATE
Graduation has cause for concern after a disappointing loss to Florida in the BCS Championship game. That humiliating loss blemished an otherwise perfect season. Last year the offense was their meal ticket, but this year the defense will be their calling card. Boeckman, Scoenhoft, or Henton will have to step up for the Buckeyes to find their way into a meaningful BCS game to close the season. The talent is there, but it lacks meaningful experience. This team should have time to mature and come together before the big games. All of their first eight games should slate them as a favorite and if they avoid the upset could stand at 8-0 before their first big test at Penn State. They also will have to play Wisconsin at home and travel to Ann Arbor to close the season. If one of the three guys mentioned above emerge as a reliable QB, this team could rise with their defense, and find their way into a big game to conclude the season.
13.Â FLORIDA STATE
Last year was one of the worst at Florida State for Bobby Bowden who took his lumps with less than 10 seniors. That opened the door to develop some experience with a lot ofÂ freshmen as Bowden used 18. The biggest addition may be that of Jimbo Fisher. Fisher, who had great success at LSU, will take over the offense. The Seminoles have a ton of QB talent, and would not be surprised if either Christian Potter (redshirt frosh) or D’Vantrey Richardson win the job. This team has a lot of speed and is loaded in the secondary on defense. The schedule is not easy with trips to Clemson, Virginia Tech and Florida, but if this team stays injury free, they could surprise.
12.Â VIRGINIA TECH
Defense is always the calling card for beamer’s Hokies. Last year they brought back just five starters and managed to lead the nation in yards-allowed per game. This year they will bring eight back and the offense, which was down some, also brings back eight. The last time they brought back this many on offense they averaged over 40 points per game. This is a top 10 team, but the schedule is going to make it difficult to end up there. They will find out early, as they have to play LSU on the road on Sept. 8th. They also must face Clemson and Georgia Tech on the road and BC, Florida State, and Miami-Fla at home. The game against LSU may go a long way in deciding just where the Hokies stack up. A win would certainly vault them into National Championship consideration, and a loss will make it improbable. Be careful betting on or against this team after a big win. They are 12-5 ATS the past two seasons off a win by 17+ points. But, they are 5-16 ATS coming off two straight double-digit conference wins.
Many have Florida ranked near the top of their lists but we are more skeptical about their 2007 chances. This team lost a lot of talent to the NFL. But the Gators don’t rebuild – they restock, and there is still plenty of talent around. But they will be a lot less experienced. Experience helped them win a lot of close games last year and a couple of them may turn this year. They face LSU, S. Carolina and Georgia on the road, and have to face Tennessee, Auburn, and Florida State at home. Tim Tebow will have to mature quickly for the Gators to make a good run. The biggest hole to fill will be linebacker. The Gators lost almost all their experience here, and it may be the biggest difference between last year and this year. The Gators will likely lose a few, but still remain a threat if they mature quickly. Bettors should look to a couple of betting angles that worked to perfection in the 2006 National Championship game and hold promise again this year. Consider backing the Gators early on against-the-spread as Urban Meyer-led teams are now an amazing 21-3 ATS vs. non-conference foes. And, while you won’t find this often in 2007, but back them as an underdog as Meyer is also 15-3 ATS as an underdog.
Yes, that’s right Hawaii. Like Tennessee, we don’t believe this is one of the best 10 teams in the country. But when all is said and done, they are going to be here. Colt Brennan is breaking records and June Jones has built an offense that is difficult to deal with. This could be the year Hawaii breaks through on Boise State. They almost beat them in Hawaii last time, but Boise had three TD’s on returns. The result was a 3 point loss. Hawaii should be 9-0 by the time the two meet this year at home on Nov. 23rd. This team has such a huge built-in home field advantage and very weak competition in their road games this year that it is likely Hawaii finishes 12-0. They could very easily find themselves in a BCS Bowl, and you can bet no one is going to want to face them!
Steve Kragthorpe is stepping into a load of talent in his first year at the helm in Louisville. It starts with Brian Brohm. The Cards have a bonafide potential #1 pick leading their team. The only blemish last year was a game they had in hand, but coughed up at Rutgers. This team has a lot of talent but will be filling in some holes. The good news is, they have no games where they have any reason to lose before heading to W. Virginia on Nov. 8th. And, they will have 11 days to prepare for that big game. This team should be coming together by then. It doesn’t get any easier after that though as they will face S. Florida on the road the following week, before concluding the season with Rutgers at home. Louisville should be 9-0 before the final three games, and how they fare in those games will determine if they are challenging for a National title or settling for something less.
This is a talented offensive team that should put up some points. We don’t believe this is a top-10 team talent-wise, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance to be here. Two things come into play to allow this to happen: 1. staying free of key injuries and 2. a relatively easy schedule. Tennessee does not play LSU or Auburn this season. They will be tested early going to play California on September first. The defense is strong up-front but may be lacking in quality and depth in the secondary. They likely lose on the road to Florida but if they get by Cal, all other games on the schedule are winnable.
7.Â W. VIRGINIA
Any time you have two players as explosive on offense as Slayton and White, your going to cause lots of problems for any defense. This team has eight defensive players back and that is the most they have brought back in a long time (although defense ranked just 62nd last season). While many folks have this team in their top five, there is one big problem. The Mountaineers face a very difficult schedule. That schedule includes seven teams that went to Bowl games last year, and the bulk of those are on the road. They will have to take on S. Florida and Rutgers on the road. The big game of course will be a showdown with Louisville, and they will be home for that one. If Slayton and White stay injury free, and the defense improves as expected, the Mountaineers have to be considered a contender for the National Title. Bettors looking to fade the Mountaineers should consider games vs. good defensive opponents. W. Virginia is on a 3-14 ATS run on the road vs. teams that allow 4.5 or fewer yards per play.
Sam Bradford could have the biggest impact of all this season, for any team. He will take over a team that probably is the most all around talented in the Big-12, with some top recruits filling veteran shoes. The good news for the Sooners is all of their tough games on the schedule are at home. With a 47-2 home record under Stoops, that bodes well for the Sooners. They will play Miami-Fla. and Texas A&M at home and of course, they meet Texas in Dallas on what is simply known on campus as Texas weekend. The Sooners lost fewer letterman than anyone in the Big-12 (10), and that is from a team that went 11-3. One of those losses (to Oregon) was bogus and who knows what this team may have done last year if not for the mistakes of Rhett Bomar and J.D. Quinn. They still went 9-4 ATs last season. If they get by Texas in Dallas then these teams flip-flop in the rankings. Either way, both of these teams have National Championship caliber teams.
A loss to Texas A&M at the end of the season, their third loss, turned a very good 2006 season into something much less special. However, hopes are high this season. The offense is loaded. Colt mcCoy was supposed to have a tougher first year than he actually did. He threw more TD passes than Vince Young! He threw 29 TDs to just 7 picks. He suffered from a shoulder injury that may have been the primary reason for the Horns’ ugly finish. They have beaten Oklahoma two straight now and if they manage a win this season, could be looking at a perfect season going to play A&M in the last game – which won’t be easy. Trap game alert: They better be ready early at home vs. TCU. TCU is a very solid team as Oklahoma can atteState Two years ago the Frogs walked out of Norman with a 17-10 win. The Horns’ have the talent to be in the National Championship picture this season. Look to back them against-the-spread in games folowing a sloppy performance. Head coach Mack Brown really cracks the whip after these types of games as the Horns are 15-5 ATS their last twenty following a game in which they were -2 or worse in the turnover column.
Last year the Wolverines had everything going until they met Ohio State and then crashed and burned in the Rose Bowl vs. USC. This team is always good. They have 39 straight winning campaigns and 32 consecutive Bowl appearances – both the longest in the country. Both of these streaks will be extended this season. It starts with Chad Henne, who shunned the NFL draft. This team has churned out plenty of NFL QBs and Henne will soon be the next. Henne (62% with 28 TDs and only 8 INT last year) will likely eclipse most Michigan records by season’s end. This team has a lot of depth and an abundance of talent, everywhere on the field. One of the biggest assets they have is their schedule. They start the year with four straight home games and will likely be 10-0 heading to a conference showdown at Wisconsin. If they can win that one, they will have a much-desired redemption opportunity vs. Ohio State. The season will once again come down to the last couple of games. While they should win a lot of games this year straight up, be careful backing them against-the-spread after a good game. Under Llyod Carr, the Wolverines are just 11-23 ATS on the road following an ATS win.
Wisconsin quietly went 12-1 last year but because Michigan and Ohio State were meeting in the most meaningful game at the end, the Badgers went somewhat unnoticed. This is likely Wisconsin’s best team in the last few years and since they had previously won 12 and 10 games, that’s quite a statement. QB John Stocco is gone, but the Badgers didn’t skip a beat when he missed a few games with injury. Tyler Donovan threw for almost 300 yards per game in the two Stocco missed and completed almost 64%. The offense loses just one other starter, so the Badgers will be in great shape. The defense allowed just 12 points per game last year and with most of the unit back, they will again be solid. The non-conference schedule is very soft. They are home vs. Washington State, The Citadel and N. Illinois and on the road at UNLV. The Badgers should be 9-0 heading to a showdown with Ohio State at Columbus. If they get by that game, everything may be on the line for a National Championship opportunity when they host Michigan on November 10th.
The Bayou bengals have gone 44-8 the past four years and with so many of those games played in the tough SEC, that’s quite a run. They are 33-3 at home since 2002! Jamarcus Russell will be missed, but don’t feel sorry for LSU. Matt Flynn was the MVP in their ’05 Peach Bowl win vs. Miami 40-3. The defense brings back most of a unit that allowed 13 points per game, and should again be the calling card. The offensive line is going to be very good and they are talented in the skill positions, and deep. They have a favorable schedule and the toughest road game will be at Alabama – not bad. They have Florida and Auburn at home. A big early test, which will validate or destroy this ranking is at home against Virginia Tech. And of course a must-watch game will take place on November 3rd when LSU takes on Alabama who is now led by former LSU head coach Nick Saban. Looking to back this team against the spread this season? Think early as they are a perfect 8-0 ATS vs. non-conference foes the past two seasons.
and our #1 team for 2007….
1.Â Â USC
It looks like things have changed at USC but in the end, they have stayed the same. What was once known as “tailback-U”, has become an NFL QB factory. Carson Palmer, Matt Leinhart and now John David Booty. Booty threw for 3,310 yards, 29 touchdowns and just 9 picks season. He has to be considered a Heisman candidate off his Rose Bowl performance, where he tortured a great Michigan defense to the tune of almost 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. This team is 59-6 over the last five years and has become the “Miami” of the 2000s. This team isn’t just about offense either as they have one of the quickest and deepest defenses in the country that will return 10 starters. They held seven opponents to 14 points or less last season and they only lost one senior starter! If this team keeps its focus they will run the table, take home another National Championship, and a Hesiman Trophy for good measure. As bettors, we should take note that this team can get on a roll. USC is 13-5 ATS following 3+ ATS covers as a favorite. If they get on a roll this season, it could be profitable to ride them.
Mid Majors Under the Radar
Above we have included four “mid-majors” including Hawaii at #10. Although we don’t believe the Rainbows to be one of the best 10 teams in the country, the polls often don’t work that way. Hawaii has a chance to run the table and secure a BCS Bowl bid, and with that will come a top ten ranking. We also included Boise State at #17. This team may not be as good as last year, but they are still better than almost every team on their schedule. A showdown with Hawaii on the road should be a classic and meaningful game. TCU comes in at #20, and has taken down some heavyweights on many occasion. They once again will get that chance at Texas early. BYU rounded out our top 25. Below are a handful of teams that don’t get the ink, but have talented teams. With a few breaks these teams could make a run at the top 25. Here’s a look at the mid majors under the radar…
Last year nothing went right for this team and they melted on way to a 2-10 record. But, they lost to Mississippi by 3, UAB by 6, Arkansas State by 3, Central Florida by 2 and Houston by 3 in OT. Not really blowout losses, eh? Prior to last season they were Bowl bound for three straight years. The injury list was long last year, as they saw 20 players miss time due to injuries. That gave this team a chance to develop some depth which will help them in 2007. If the injury count is kept to a minimum, this team could be a very big surprise. Last year the injuries cost them experience and experience cost them 5 games. This season they bring back 16 starters and 49 letterman and a schedule that has the tough games at home. Memphis should at the very least be a Bowl team this season and if things really go well could knock on the door to a 10 win season.
S. Miss has been in a Bowl each of the last five years, having won their last three. Last year’s team managed nine wins, and this year’s team looks to be similar to the ’03 version that allowed just under 15 points per game. That is the last time they returned as many as eight starters on defense, which is what they have this year. They will end up with more first team All-Confrence selections than any other C-USA team, and on both sides of the ball. Their chance to make some real noise will come early on September 8th when they travel to Tennessee. A win in that game would legitimize this team immediately. A good game will get them noticed. They will have a second opportunity when they play on the road at Boise State. If they prove good enough to win there, then they will definitely be replacing the Broncos in the polls.
The offense that put 30+ on the board last season seven times and 40+ three times is back almost completely intact as the Utes return 10 starters. This will be a potent offense that will put up the most points since their 2004 team. They may lack some guns on defense to do real damage, but if the defense can step up, it will quickly become an interesting year on the turf in Utah. There could be some real track meets. The schedule may be prohibitive to allow this team to sneak into the Top 25 as they must travel to both BYU and TCU, as well as Oregon State and play a home game vs. UCLA. If things go right it will be an exciting season, especially if they can pull a couple out of the fire.
Was this team Kevin Kolb last year and nothing else? Hardly! Yes, Kolb will be missed but dont feel sorry for Houston as this team has some players. This year it will be defense getting the attention. The Cougars defense has improved every year for the last three, and this looks to be the best yet. The offensive line will be the best in conference and that should help with an inexperienced QB. If Anthony Aldridge can become a durable back, he may be in for a lot of yards. If games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage, Houston is going to be able to line up with anyone, as that is their strength on both sides of the ball. They will travel to both Oregon and Alabama, but all other games are winnable and a Bowl bid is very likely with a conference championship not out of the question.
Toledo has been a fixture in the Bowls since the arrival of Tom Amstutz. Last season was a nightmare with over 30 starts lost due to injury. They had less depth and experience than we have seen at Toledo in quite some time. But this team has gone 36-4 at home the last five years. With seven games slated on the home turf, it spells Bowl Game! They lose just 14 letterman, return three experienced QBs, and eight starters on both offense and defense. Despite of the injury woes, they still managed a +4 in yards per game in conference. If one of the QB’s can take over and stay injury free, this team is destined to return to the 30+ points a game we are used to seeing, and another 8-to-10 win season.