Breaking Down PFU’s Top 15 Teams
By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Southern Pigskin editor Matt Osborne offers a breakdown of the top 15 teams in Pigskin Fantasy U’s auto-draft rankings.
The launch of Pigskin Fantasy U presents college football fans nationwide with a unique twist to traditional fantasy football. Instead of drafting individual players, participants chose entire teams, with wins being the only statistic that matters.
With thousands of fans across the nation hurrying to join the phenomena at www.PigskinFantasyU.com, Southern Pigskin editor Matt Osborne offers a breakdown of the top 15 teams in PFU’s auto-draft rankings.
#1 – USC Trojans
USC was one of the hottest teams in the nation over the second half of 2011. Returning 16 starters from last year’s squad, including QB Matt Barkley, the Trojans find themselves with a surfeit of talent and experience. Playing in the weak Pac-12, the Trojans should have few obstacles this season outside of contests with Stanford, Oregon and Notre Dame.
# 2 – LSU Tigers
LSU boasted the second-best defense in the nation last season, and they very well may be even better on defense this fall. The ground game is extremely solid, and Zach Mettenberger will bring some much needed stability to the quarterback position. The schedule is tough, but the Tigers do get Alabama and South Carolina in Baton Rouge.
#3 – Florida State Seminoles
Set to return eight starters, Florida State can make a strong argument for being the best defensive team in the nation heading into the regular season. The Seminoles have an underrated passing attack, but the key to the season will be how much a young offensive line improves. The Seminoles will need to show up in contests against Clemson, Virginia Tech and Florida if they have national title aspirations.
#4 – Oregon Ducks
The Ducks return just 11 starters, but Chip Kelly has proven that his system can work in the Pac-12. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas will see an increased role in the Ducks’ high-tempo offense this fall. The schedule is very manageable, but an away contest at USC could be very influential in the national title hunt.
#5 – Georgia Bulldogs
On paper, it appears that the Bulldogs have a very realistic chance at running the table. Georgia draws Auburn and Ole Miss out of the SEC West, and plays a relatively easy non-conference schedule. The defense is stellar when at full strength, but the Bulldogs do have some legitimate concerns in the running game.
# 6 – Alabama Crimson Tide
The defending national champs lose a great deal of talent from last year’s team, but this will still easily be one of the most talented teams in the nation. The offensive line is absolutely dominant, and the defense should continue improve as the season progresses. The schedule, however, is extremely difficult, as the Crimson Tide must play conference games at Arkansas and at LSU.
#7 – Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma greatly underachieved in 2011, but this is an offense that could easily eclipse 40 points per game this fall. 15 starters return from last season’s 10-win team, including QB Landry Jones. The Sooners are one of the most talented teams in the country, but are staring down the barrel of a very difficult schedule. In addition to playing nine conference games, Oklahoma will also face Notre Dame in non-conference competition.
#8 – Boise State Broncos
The Broncos have undoubtedly been the most dominant “mid major” program in the nation over the past decade, but Boise State only returns seven starters from last season’s squad. The Broncos should still have little problem maneuvering through the MWC, but non-conference contests against Michigan State and BYU will present hefty challenges for Chris Peterson’s inexperienced team.
#9 – Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin returns just 11 starters, but will be able to rely on RB Montee Ball and a beefy offensive line in the running game. Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien will elevate the level of play at quarterback. The defense should be solid, led by linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor. The Badgers also have a nice schedule, with a trip to Nebraska looming as their only difficult road contest.
#10 – Arkansas Razorbacks
Despite a bevy of issues away from the gridiron, this is likely still the Razorbacks’ most talented team this decade. QB Tyler Wilson and RB Knile Davis are two of the best offensive players in college football. The defense has steadily improved each of the last three seasons, and that trend should continue. The schedule is harsh, but hosting Alabama and LSU at home will help.
#11 – Ohio State Buckeyes
Urban Meyer has proven time and time again that he is more than capable of turning programs into national title contenders. Inheriting a Buckeye team which returns 15 starters, things set up nicely in Columbus this fall. The schedule will be very formidable, however, and it is worth noting that the Buckeyes are ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
#12 – Ohio Bobcats
Remembers, Pigskin Fantasy U is all about winning games…not which teams are necessarily the best. The Bobcats were precariously close to winning the MAC championship last season, and return 14 starters from that squad. Ohio faces the two teams projected to finish at the bottom of the MAC West Division – Eastern Michigan and Ball State – in cross-divisional play. As an interesting note, the Bobcats open up the season on the road against a demoralized Penn State team.
#13 – Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies have won at least ten games in every season since joining the ACC. Although just three starters return on offense, QB Logan Thomas is one of the premiere signal callers in the country. Nine starters are back on defense, where the Hokies should be dominant. Virginia Tech must play Florida State and Clemson in cross-divisional play, and also opens the season with a tough contest against Georgia Tech on Labor Day.
#14 – Louisville Cardinals
Louisville is easily the most experienced team in the Big East, as the Cardinals return 77% of last season’s lettermen. Teddy Bridgewater is a star in the making at quarterback, while the defense has eight starters returning. The conference schedule sets up very nicely for Charlie Strong’s team, although the Cardinals will face tough non-conference games against Kentucky, UNC, Southern Miss and FIU.
#15 – Texas Longhorns
The last two years have been difficult for Texas, but this year should be a vindicating year for the Longhorns. David Ash provides some much needed stability at quarterback, and he will captain an offense which returns nine starters. The defense has remained productive through Texas’ down years, and should be excellent once again this fall. The nine-game conference schedule is tough, but the Longhorns do get the majority of their toughest games at home.