No. 3: Oklahoma

How good is Oklahoma? We’ll find out very quickly. Three of the Sooners’ first four opponents are solid top-25 candidates. The peril starts with an opener at the Houston Texans’ stadium against No. 15 Houston, which...

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No. 4: Michigan

Sometimes I wonder: What would Bo Schembechler think about Jim Harbaugh? His former quarterback has been rocking the boat since he arrived in Ann Arbor, same as he did at Stanford and with the 49ers. In a sense, Harbaugh is a...

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No. 5: Clemson

In 1984, a life-sized poster of William Perry adorned a Refrigerator-sized section of wall in the Chicago Sun-Times sports department. Sent out by the Clemson athletic department, it touted the 6-2, 350-pound Perry for...

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No. 6: LSU

I’ve always had a soft spot for LSU football. It has more of a warm and fuzzy side for me than its SEC counterparts. The Alabama of Bear Bryant and Nick Saban, and the Florida of Steve Spurrier, command respect and admiration...

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No. 8: Tennessee

There was a time when Tennessee-Florida was must-watch football. Understated Phillip Fulmer vs. outspoken Steve Spurrier. They usually played in mid-September, for basically all the SEC East marbles. It was kind of like the...

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No. 9: Stanford

If the Heisman Trophy voting had been conducted after the bowl games, Christian McCaffrey might be chasing after his second straight Heisman this fall. I know I would have voted for him. McCaffery piled up 368 all-purpose yards...

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No. 10: Notre Dame

When I was covering Notre Dame in the ‘80s, I arranged a photo in front of the Golden Dome with basketball coach Digger Phelps, football coach Lou Holtz and the school’s new president, Father Edward “Monk’’ Molloy. A...

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No. 11: Washington

Amidst all the usual Pac-12 suspects, it’s time to round up an unusual suspect. Washington. The projection here is that it’s the Huskies’ turn. A pair of six-loss seasons in Chris Petersen’s first two years might not suggest...

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No. 12: TCU

I remember the exact day when I made a resolution to never under-estimate Gary Patterson again. It was Jan. 1, 2011. My alma mater, Wisconsin, was playing Patterson’s TCU Horned Frogs in the Rose Bowl. No disrespect to unbeaten...

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No. 13: Iowa

Rascal that I am, when Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was presented with the Eddie Robinson coach of the year award at our Football Writers of America ceremony in Arizona last year, I congratulated him—and reminded him that Hawkeye...

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No. 14: Michigan State

Here’s the big question about Michigan State: If Ohio State and Michigan are going to be as good as advertised, where does that leave Sparty? The ceiling tends to be limted for teams that finish third in their division. There’s...

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