The 2017 college football season is still a few months away but it is never too early to look ahead. Today, though, the teams involved in the conversation will not enjoy the inclusion, as we will be unearthing five of the most overrated teams for the upcoming campaign.
Teams can become overrated for a myriad of reasons and, in the end, it isn’t the team’s fault that the hype machine has careened out of control. Still, there are five teams that fit the bill and they’re headed your way in alphabetical order.
The Tigers, simply by the nature of acting as the reigning champs, will receive a ton of respect and that makes sense. With that said, the loss of Deshaun Watson should be felt in a massive way and Clemson returns only 12 starters from last year’s dominant squad. Should they be a top-10 squad in the preseason? Probably. But if this was not the team that claimed glory a year ago, it is very unlikely that they would be cracking top-5 lists anywhere based on the roster.
Jim Harbaugh is a genius and his staff should generate a ton of trust based on their results in Ann Arbor. Still, Michigan returns only five (!) starters from last year’s squad and is still receiving top-10 nods in preseason rankings. It helps to have the quarterback returning in Wilton Speight and a lot of Michigan’s “backups” on the defensive line were actually starter-quality players like former No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary and Mo Hurst. The Wolverines still need a lot of help at the skill positions and in the secondary, though, and not even Harbaugh can fix those issues in a way that would be becoming of a top-10 team right now.
The decisions made by quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington to avoid the NFL Draft basically ensured that the Pokes would be overrated. Having that kind of passing connection is a nice set-up for Mike Gundy but the defense is a question mark and outlets like ESPN have the Cowboys solidly within the top 10. That is a very lofty perch for a team that just hasn’t lived up to the billing when they’ve been given it in the past.
This is the toughest inclusion on the list because, well, Penn State might be awesome. The results were great in 2016 and the Nittany Lions return 16 starters from that club. With that said, it is easy to see why they are receiving top-five buzz. For me, though, Trace McSorley isn’t nearly the “sure thing” that some describe him as and it cannot be ignored that Penn State was (very) fortunate in compiling their record a season ago. James Franklin should be happy to be included here because his team doesn’t have much bulletin board material right now.
Will Grier’s presence is the only thing keeping West Virginia ranked within the top 20 and he might be quite good in year one for the Mountaineers. Even if the former Florida signal-caller is quite solid, though, this is a team that returns only seven combined starters from a 10-3 team a year ago. In order to justify their ranking, they would basically need to replicate that performance in 2017 and, with apologies to Grier, that is just too much respect for a team with this much uncertainty across the roster.