Monday, August 15, 2016

Most Overrated FBS and FCS College Football Teams 2016

With the season quickly approaching, and all of the Media Day events come and gone, we are getting a look at where everyone's expectations are across the nation and in every conference. Here is a look at, after careful consideration, schools that I believe to be seriously overrated heading into 2016:

American Athletic Conference
South Florida Bulls
Not by much, but I think that USF is getting just a bit too much hype right now. They made some serious strides last fall, but to place them as either pushing Temple, or moving past them in the East Division may be just a bit ahead of the curve. Of course, if Temple slides at all, and they could, USF could make a move based on how weak the East us overall. I'm just not ready to buy all in on them just yet.

Miami Hurricanes
Not that the Coastal is any good, at all, but Miami is not a team ready to compete for conference titles, and even in the Coastal, which again, is garbage, I see Miami as a program that is built on legend, not modern reality. Mark Richt was a solid hire, but Miami is not close to being in a very thin upper tier of the ACC, and may not be for some time.

Big 10
Wisconsin Badgers
If the Badgers were in the East, they'd probably be the fifth best team there this season. They get the fortunate luck of being in the West, which is a dumpster fire overall. Wisconsin has not had a dependable QB in years, and Paul Chryst won 10 games on Gary Anderson's talent last season. I am not sold on Chryst, and I am not sold on Wisconsin in 2016.

Big 12
Texas Longhorns
I understand it is hard to argue that being picked 4th by some publications is hardly the heights of grandeur, but I have seen the Horns picked ahead of TCU by some. That is not happening. Texas is likely playing a freshman at QB, and will be playing several sophomores and freshmen in 2016 as Charlie Strong continues to try to build this program up. 4th is too lofty, especially placing Texas ahead of TCU. Forget about it.

Conference USA
Florida Atlantic Owls
The media darling seems to be FAU this fall, who some believe will go bowling. My question is what exactly has anyone seems to make them believe that? Charloie Partridge is 6-18 heading into season number three, and while in season three a bowl should be expected, FAU is not even close to that realm. Coming off of a 3-9 season, I'd be happy to see the Owls win five. More is just over expectation.

Mid American Conference
Bowling Green Falcons
This is nothing against the Falcons, as I have openly pulled for them for years, but I was not overly impressed by the Mike Jinks hire, and I think there will be some adjustment time with the departure of Dino Babers for Syracuse. I think that Ohio is strong enough to push the Falcons out of the East, and overall, Bowling Green could be just the 5th or 6th best team in the MAC overall when everything sorts out for 2016.

Mountain West Conference
Colorado State Rams
Some publications have the Rams picked ahead of Air Force in the Mountain Division, the same Air Force team that won the division last season and returns 17 starters. Mike Bobo seems to have the Rams moving in the right direction, but are they better than Air Force in 2016? Not on paper, not overall. The Rams did handle Air Force last season, but on the whole, I don't think that Colorado State is a top two program in the Mountain this season.

PAC-12 Conference
Washington Huskies
I am still trying to decipher how the Huskies are getting the kind of national love they are getting. I am not at all impressed by much of anything that the Huskies have done under Chris Petersen, and yet SI has them ranked 7th heading into the season. That is just overkill on every single level. The Huskies are still probably the 4th best team in the North behind Stanford, Oregon, and even Washington State. This program is in for a reality check.

Southeastern Conference
Tennessee Volunteers
I guess it is hard to claim that anyone is overrated in the putrid East Division of the SEC, but I have been hearing how Tennessee is always about to turn that corner and join the elite class of the SEC, and that hasn't happened yet. I am not certain that this will be the year either, or if Butch Jones will even be employed in 2017 in Knoxville. Jones was always a reach of a hire at UT, and although he has recruited well (whatever that means in reality), he certainly hasn't turned that recruiting acumen into elite program status. Sometimes, recruiting stars can be overrated.

Sun Belt Conference
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
This was harder to pick than most, simply because I believe that the national prognosticators have it right about the Sun Belt in 2016. That said, Louisiana was the program that was supposed to turn into a dominant power in the Sun Belt, and Mark Hudspeth really should have been in a position to have moved on by now. Neither thing has happened, and now the Cajuns are slipping farther and farther in the standings. Last season snapped a bowl streak, and they may be starting a whole new streak this season when it comes to being done with football in November.

Big Sky Conference
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
While it is true that NAU will be potent on offense with QB Case Cookus, it will take more than offense to hold off Montana or even Portland State for second in the Big Sky in 2016. Northern Arizona could still very well be a playoff team, but I am not certain that they are the second best team in the conference heading into the season.

Big South Conference
Monmouth Hawks
Monmouth is largely looked at currently as the third best team in the incredible shrinking conference, but I think that is a tall order, especially with emerging new program Kennesaw State looking to make a move. Monmouth still does not have a full FCS scholarship allotment, and so could be rather thin overall. Monmouth is a strange fit in the Big South, and finished just 5-6 last season, but it could be depth that does them in.

Colonial Athletic Association
New Hampshire Wildcats
This was a difficult pick for me, but if I had to pick someone, it would be UNH in 2016. The Wildcats are at a crossroads on offense this season, as they are looking for a QB heading in, and while it would seem that most teams in the upper tier in the CAA made major improvements in 2016, UNH looks like the team that made the fewest in that group. It's hard to underestimate the Wildcats, but they look like the safest bet not to play to expectations in the Colonial in 2016.

The Ivy League
Yale Bulldogs
Yale was injury plagued in 2015, and yet is still picked ahead of Dartmouth in most preseason polls at 3rd for the coming year. I am not buying in. Dartmouth is an emerging program, and while Harvard is finally being challenged at the top of the conference, Dartmouth and Penn would seem to be in position to make the most noise. I simply don't see Yale ahead of that group.

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Norfolk State Spartans
I am trying to understand how a 4-7 football team suddenly vaults into the upper stratosphere of what has become a very competitive league in the upper echelons. While true that the bottom half of the league is still a train wreck, the upper half is as good as any conference in FCS football, and Norfolk State does not appear to be in that range just now. Finishing 5th, which is where they are tabbed, seems high to me.

Missouri Valley Conference
Northern Iowa Panthers
UNI is tabbed as high as second in the MVC for 2016. For a team having to replace their entire secondary in the most competitive conference in FCS football (arguably), that is terrible news. I don't see the Panthers being ahead of Illinois State, South Dakota State, or Western Illinois heading into the season, but because of a strong ground attack, others are willing to take a leap on them. I am not.

Northeast Conference
St. Francis Red Flash
Picked by some to win the NEC in 2016, I still see St. Francis as secondary to Duquesne in the league. We will know how that plays out, as Duquesne visits St. Francis on 10/22, but overall Duquesne is still someone I see as being the team to beat until someone does. The league is not deep overall, so finding anyone more overrated at this point would be moot.

Ohio Valley Conference
Eastern Kentucky Colonels
EKU is coming in at 3rd in most polls in the OVC for the season, but there are few teams in FCS football that have under performed in recent seasons than the Colonels have. I no longer see them as a top three program in the OVC with the emergence of Tennessee-Martin, so look for EKU to drop out of the top three as being a possibility.

Patriot League
Holy Cross Crusaders
This was another difficult pick for me, but I settled on Holy Cross as my final pick for most overrated in the Patriot League for 2016. Picked by many to finish 3rd, I see the Crusaders running into issues that could drop them as low as 5th when the dust settles. The major issue is on defense and in the run game, as Holy Cross is still trying to build an identity on defense, and may over rely on the pass this season. If they cannot balance out, finishing 3rd will be a miracle, not an expectation.

Pioneer Football League
Dayton Flyers
Picked 2nd on average, Dayton loses six all league performers from a ten win team last fall, and that may be enough to have them slip from second to maybe third or fourth as the season unfolds. The top four positions will be held by very strong programs this fall, and I am not certain that Dayton can hold off Jacksonville and Morehead State as they are forced to defend against that charge. There is still plenty of talent, just not as much as a year ago.

Southern Conference
Wofford Terriers
Nobody who has no horse in the race in the SoCon pulls more for the Terriers than me (shoutout to my friend Fred in Georgia!), but I am not seeing how the five win team of 2015 is suddenly going to race to the 2nd position in the conference over The Citadel and Samford in 2016. The Citadel lose coach Mike Houston, but have continuity in place, and Samford is looking to make a move this fall. Wofford is an interesting team, but not enough to push for 2nd place and what could be a solid bid for a playoff birth. Not saying that Wofford couldn't push for 7 wins and a top four finish, but 2nd is just tough to swallow.

Southland Conference
Central Arkansas Bears
Third place in the SLC is a borderline playoff spot, and UCA is picked there by many. They won 7 last fall, but got destroyed by graduation on both lines, including massive production from both defensive end spots. With two lines in rebuild mode, it is hard to see UCA being good enough in the trenches in a tough conference to survive long enough to land third this time around. 2017 could be more their year.

Southwestern Athletic Conference
Alcorn State Braves
The Braves were hammered by off season losses, including head coach Jay Hopson to Southern Mississippi. They lost play makers on both sides of the football. All of this happened, and yet the Braves, under new head coach (of Arena Football fame) Fred McNair, are picked by almost all, if not all, to win the SWAC East. The reasoning is that the division is just awful. If Alabama State can show any kind of pulse, Alcorn State may not be such an overwhelming favorite, but that is a tall order.

Coming up next...The most underrated teams in America!

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