National Signing Day has come and gone, spring games are starting across the nation, and college football coaches, players, and fans are already looking ahead with excitement to the 2017 season. Some fans have more reason to be excited than others, though, with strong returning cores and top recruiting classes setting several squads up for potential runs at the national championship early in 2018.
Here are five teams who stand a pretty good chance at making the College Football Playoff and possibly winning the whole thing next season.
5) USC Trojans
After about five years in what was, at least for them, the college football wilderness, the USC Trojans are back and barreling toward elite status under Clay Helton. Quarterback Sam Darnold will be a Heisman candidate after throwing for 3,086 and 31 touchdowns as a freshman. They’ll lose some talent on the offensive line, but they recruited well by bringing in highly-rated recruits Austin Jackson and Jalen McKenzie.
The reality is this team will go as far as Darnold can take them.
Once he seized control of the quarterback position, the Trojans reeled off nine consecutive victories, including a rather convincing 26-13 win at eventual College Football Playoff participant Washington. It all culminated in an epic comeback to beat Penn State in the Rose Bowl, which should give this team a really good feeling heading into a 2017 season, where a playoff berth is a very real possibility.
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t thrilled with how his teammates — and himself — have conducted themselves off the field.
After freshman quarterback Chris Robison was arrested on a public intoxication charge on Sunday, Mayfield was critical of player conduct and absolved the coaches from blame.
“I think people have let it slip a little bit and gotten a little lackadaisical about all the off-the-field stuff,” Mayfield said, via Jake Trotter of ESPN. “I think it can be said that I might have set a bad example first, but we all know there’s a higher standard here — not just being quarterbacks, but at the University of Oklahoma. There’s a tradition here at Oklahoma that compares to no other.
“We’ve got to realize that expectation and those standards and rise up to it and be the ones that everybody looks at in every single situation. We’ve got to be accountable and let everybody know that we have the responsibility and they can look up to us no matter what.”
According to Mayfield, coach Bob Stoops shouldn’t be blamed for the issues.
“They’re not letting anything slip,” Mayfield said of the coaching staff. “That’s not something Coach Stoops or anyone on his staff would ever let anybody let that slip. He’s always done his job well, and we have to do ours. They bring us here for a reason, and we have to rise up to the occasion and do that.”
Oklahoma and West Virginia met Saturday night in an important Big 12 game, one that was not short on intensity.
Prior to the game, the visiting Sooners made their way to midfield and began jumping around on the Mountaineers logo. That, not surprisingly, did not sit well with members of the West Virginia team. The result was the two teams meeting at midfield. Here are a few videos of the scuffle.
Stakes and tensions are high in Miami on Thursday as Oklahoma and Clemson square off for a shot at the National Championship.
These two teams met in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, where Clemson won by 34 points, much to Oklahoma’s embarrassment. It’s been a testy week, and things are only getting more chippy as the game gets closer, as evidenced by some on-field exchanges. Here’s Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson jawing at Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper, who incidentally have been jawing at each other via Twitter:
Clemson and Oklahoma are getting set for what is sure to be a spirited game as the College Football Playoff kicks off Thursday afternoon, and Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson has done his part to crank up the intensity level.
According to Oklahoma radio analyst Dusty Dvoracek, Lawson boarded the Oklahoma team bus on Wednesday to talk trash to his opponents.
Dusty Dvoracek just tells us on @MorningAnimals that Shaq Lawson jumped on #Sooners bus and talked trash to entire team yesterday.
There are a lot of players on either side who have history with each other, as Clemson put a 40-6 whooping on Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season. Tigers players have reminded the Sooners about that game throughout the week, and there have been some exchanges on social media.
There have been some Shaq Lawson/Charles Tapper exchanges on Twitter since they've been in South Florida. pic.twitter.com/izfBd12vEy
Former Texas A&M quarterback Kyler Murray will transfer to Oklahoma, the school announced Thursday.
Oklahoma’s official athletics website confirmed in a statement that Murray has signed a financial aid agreement with the school. He will be eligible for the 2017 season.
It’s a coup for Bob Stoops’s Sooners. Oklahoma had recruited Murray out of high school, and this actually aligns perfectly. Baker Mayfield will be a senior next season, assuming he elects to return to school, and Murray would be able to step right in to the position upon Mayfield’s graduation.
“Firstly want to say thank you for giving me a opportunity to get my education and play football at OU, but I have Officialy de-committed from Oklahoma University. Nothing to do with the staff or team, I’ll be reopening my recruitment due to personal reasons,” Delance said in a message.
We cannot say for certain whether it was solely the video that led Delance to decommit, but with him writing that his choice had “nothing to do with the staff or team,” it’s very possible that the video played a big role in him no longer wanting to attend the school.
Scout reporter Bob Przybylo says the video is what led Delance to decommit:
Delance was dedicated to Oklahoma, too, which makes this even more surprising. He committed to the program in November, becoming the school’s first class of 2016 commit (he committed during his junior season). It’s not like he didn’t have choices back then, either. He also had offers from top programs like Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, Arizona State, Ohio State and Mississippi State.
Delance even attended Junior Day at Oklahoma over the weekend and seemed to be happy:
In the past several weeks, Delance has been offered by LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee, Nebraska, Oregon State and Missouri. A few hours after he announced his de-commitment from Oklahoma, he said he had been offered from opportunistic Alabama. We’ll see what his new decision brings.
Oklahoma is making big changes to its coaching staff following a disappointing year capped by an embarrassing bowl loss to Clemson.
The Sooners, which scored just six points in a 40-6 loss to the Tigers last week, fired co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman reports that at least two other significant changes are expected to come.
Legendary Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer can fully understand why an NFL team might try to cover up a crime that has been committed by a player. Why? Because Switzer admitted to doing the same thing during his 16 seasons as head coach of the Sooners.
“I’d have local county people call me and say, ‘One of your guys is drunk and got in a fight and is jail down here,'” Switzer explained. “And I’d go down and get him out. Or I’d send an assistant coach down to get his ass out. The sheriff was a friend of the program. He didn’t want the publicity. He himself knew this was something we didn’t need to deal with in the media or anything with publicity.”
In other words, Switzer was the real-life Bud Kilmer from “Varsity Blues.” Switzer said that “most colleges” ran things the same way his program did, noting that cover-ups are nearly impossible now with social media and the internet. But don’t worry, Switzer insisted he and his staff took the law into their own hands.
“I’d get his ass up at 5 o’clock in the morning for two weeks in a row and run his ass, up and down the stairs, the stadium steps,” he said, referring to players who were guilty of a crime. “And the (assistant) coaches would be so pissed off that they had to get up and do it that they wore their ass out because they had to be the ones that run them. And a couple of the guys that were star players, I ran their asses off. So I had to be there at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
Well, that makes it all better.
It should be noted that Switzer didn’t say anything about covering up domestic violence, which is what Angelo admitted to. We all know big-time football programs cover stuff up to protect their star players. A lot of that still goes on even with cell phone cameras and Twitter. Switzer’s just more candid about it than some others would be.