Numbers/ratings in this list are from Phil Steele’s college football magazine:
13) Top 3 quarterbacks in country:
Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon)
12) Top three offensive lines in country:
Oregon, Georgia, Clemson
11) Most experienced offensive lines in country:
Oregon, UL-Monroe, UL-Lafayette, Texas Tech
10) Teams who lose lot of close games one year tend to improve the next year; these teams had 4 net close losses last year:
Arkansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Western Kentucky (2 have new coaches this year)
9) Teams who win lot of close games one year tend to regress the next year; these teams had 4 net close wins last year:
Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas
8) Michigan State gained 18.3 yards per point LY, 2nd-worst in country, which means their defense/special teams provided very little help to the offense. As a result, Spartans regressed from a 10-3 record in 2017 to 7-6 LY.
Here is how Michigan State fared the last six years:
2013-15: 36-5 W-L, +46 turnover margin
2016-18: 20-18 W-L, -1 turnover margin
7) Then there is Utah State, which gained only 10.46 yards/point LY, best in country, as they jumped from 6-7 to 11-2, and their coach jumped to Texas Tech for more money.
Aggies were +14 in turnovers LY, after being -2 in turnovers from 2015-17.
6) These four teams had the best defensive yards/point in country LY:
Clemson, Fresno State, Kentucky, Mississippi State— Bulldogs have only 9 of 22 starters back this season; other three teams all have only four starters back on defense. Experienced teams tend to get the most out of what they have, then take a step back when new guys step n.
5) These three teams had the worst defensive yards/point in country LY:
Bowling Green, Louisville, Western Michigan
Louisville went 57-21 from 2012-17, then went 2-10 LY and fired the coach; Bowling Green also fired its coach, who was 9-27 the last three years (they were 28-14 from 2013-15).
4) Toughest schedules in country this fall:
South Carolina, Auburn, USC, Texas A&M
3) Since 1991, 353 teams went -10 or worse in turnovers; 67% of them improved the next year, only 23% got worse:
-17: UTEP, UConn
-14: East Carolina, Rutgers
-12: Louisville, UL-Monroe
2) Since 1991, 440 teams went +10 or better in turnovers; only 28% of them improved the next year, 64% got worse:
+22 Georgia Southern
+14: UCF, Utah State
+13: Syracuse, Ohio U.
1) Over the last seven seasons, 53 teams were +14 or better in turnovers; 45 of those 53 teams did worse the following season.
Kansas went 3-9 with a +16 turnover ratio, which isn’t easy; they fired the coach and brought in Les Miles, so the Jayhawks will be a fascinating study for the next couple years. Miles will improve their talent base.