With Clemson’s surprise national championship, the 2016 season has finally drawn to a close. We may spend another few days trying to unpack what happened in 2016, but the real focus now is on next season.
The Buckeyes should be in position to contend again next year, as they’ll return J.T. Barrett for another year, along with most playmakers from this year’s offense (Curtis Samuel the notable exception), along with studs all along the defensive line. One of the nation’s youngest teams will be another year older.
But there are questions as well. With Ohio State’s secondary wracked by early departures to the NFL, which young players will step in those roles? Who will begin to produce at wideout? How will Ohio State integrate their new offensive coaches? Can their offensive line bounce back?
We took another stab at projecting our Way Too Dang Early Preseason Top 25, and we like the Buckeyes at 5th for next season, behind Alabama, Florida State, Clemson and Penn State. The Nittany Lions deserve some benefit of the doubt, now that they are projected to return almost all of a very good offense from 2016, including the best running back in the Big Ten, Saquon Barkley. The Bucks will get Penn State at home next season.
Here’s our best guess at a preseason Top 25 for 2017. We’re making these guesses without knowing everybody that is leaving for the NFL, which coaches are sticking around, and more, so hey, they’ll probably look different come say, June.
- Florida State
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- South Florida
- Virginia Tech
- Kansas State
Also considered in no particular order: App State, TAMU, Michigan State, Notre Dame, NC State, Boise State, Toledo, Pitt, BYU, Notre Dame, TCU, Colorado, West Virginia.