It's game week, and to get you ready for the start of the college football season, Aaron Torres and his staff here at AT Online are whipping through some of the biggest storylines in college football entering the season.
On Tuesday, the guys discussed playoff dark horses.
Today, it's something completely different all together - who is the single most overrated team in college football?
Aaron and the guys share their thoughts:
Jake Faigus - LSU Tigers
The LSU Tigers come into this season with a ton of hype this season after last season, when they beat Alabama, won the SEC West and finished with 10 wins.
Coming into 2023, we can see why there's so much excitement. The team has a lot of talent back led by Jayden Daniels at quarterback, who led the team in both passing yards at 2,913 passing yards and rushing yards at 885. The issue is that Daniels has had a whole career of being inconsistent at the quarterback position going back to Arizona State. He also has an injury history too, which could complicate things even more. That also becomes even more of a factor if he’s asked to run more this season. There’s no distinct favorite to be the starting running back, but it could be an issue again if they rely on Daniels more than they should again. That’s the biggest concern with the offense.
On defense, the front seven should be loaded for the Tigers, but the secondary is questionable just because of how heavy they leaned on the transfer portal. There’s also just not a lot of depth behind the starting offense and defense yet, so if they get hit with the injury bug a lot is unproven.
Schedule-wise, it’s not easy. They play Florida State to open the year in Orlando. They also have road games against Ole Miss and Alabama in the conference play. The hardest home game will be against Texas A&M to end the season.
There are land mines for this team to not completely live up to their high expectations. When you combine the concerns on the roster with the schedule, it’s easy to predict that the Tigers aren’t ready to completely have staying power under Brian Kelly just yet.
This is team is good. But the national title contender some are predicting? I don't see it.
For our full LSU preview - click here
Garrett Carr - USC Trojans
Last year, I declared on this website that USC was the most underrated team in the country. And, I feel great about that in retrospect. The Trojans went into the PAC 12 title game against Utah controlling their destiny to make the College Football Playoff, before being hurt by injuries and losing to Utah. Still, they didn’t even receive any votes in last year’s AP Preseason Top 25 Poll and ended up as the 12th-ranked team in the country.
This year, the USC Trojans are actually the nation’s most overrated team. The reason for this is due to one man, and that is defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
I have very few concerns about the USC offense. It’s still not the best offensive line group in the country, but it’s good enough to help returning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and a great group of skill guys move the ball. Head Coach Lincoln Riley will continue to call plays, and the offense will be one of the nation’s best units this year.
But, back to Alex Grinch and the USC defense. The Trojans ranked a pathetic 106th last year in total defense. That is downright terrible, and only with an offense as good as theirs was can a team be good with a defense that bad. Full stop, he should’ve been fired. Lincoln Riley wasting the likely final year of Caleb Williams by keeping Alex Grinch at defensive coordinator is ridiculous. I simply don’t think his defense is good enough to not lose some games in shootouts. Former top overall recruit Korey Foreman seems to be a bust, and I doubt Grinch will get anything out of the defensive end. And, if you watched USC last year, you’d know they were an atrocious tackling team. That’s been a trademark of Alex Grinch defenses, and I don’t think it will improve this year.
The schedule does not set up well for a suspect defense, either. USC plays four of the best quarterbacks in the country in a five-week stretch. Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman, Utah Cam Rising, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and Oregon’s Bo Nix all must be licking their chops to face this defense, and I think USC loses at least two of these games. They could lose all four, as I think this team will get pretty disinterested pretty quickly if they’re knocked out of the playoff hunt.
USC is ranked directly ahead of two far more complete teams in Florida State and Penn State, and ahead of other teams I think are better than them such as Texas, Notre Dame, Clemson, Utah, and Washington. This team will be out of the playoff picture mid-November, and Grinch will be fired after the season. Unfortunately for Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams will also be moving on.
For our full USC preview - click here
Follow Garrett on Twitter - @RealGarrettCarr
Aaron Torres - Ohio State Buckeyes
To be clear, I think Texas is *actually* the most overrated team in college football. I don't see a playoff contender. Nor am I not sold they're the best team in the Big 12.
Bu, I still believe that by default Texas could stumble into a 10-2 season, simply because there are no great teams in the Big 12.
At Ohio State though, this year - like all others - are championship or bust. And bluntly, I don't see a championship team. In a worst-case scenario, I could see a disastrous - by Ohio State standards - 9-3 type year, and third place finish in the final iteration of the Big Ten.
The reasons why are two-fold, and not necessarily what you think.
First off, no, I'm not concerned about quarterback. I can criticize Ryan Day all I want - and I have plenty - but regardless of whether the QB is Devin Brown or Kyle McCord this season, Ryan Day will have him ready to go, and put him in the best position possible to succeed.
My problem is multi-fold: One, with a patchwork offensive line that (per fall reports) has struggled, will they be able to run the ball well enough to take pressure off the quarterback's shoulders?
If not, it could be a long year, especially against this specific schedule.
Just look at it. I think it goes without saying that of Ohio State's four toughest games, three of them are on the road - at Notre Dame, at Wisconsin and at Michigan. The first two have already been announced as night games, with the latter falling on Halloween weekend. I know it will be late October by then, but sending a guy with five or six starts into Madison, at night, on Halloween weekend feels like a disaster waiting to happen.
Beyond that, look at the quarterbacks they'll face in those road games: Sam Hartman a sixth-year senior at Notre Dame. Tanner Mordecai, a sixth-year senior at Wisconsin. JJ McCarthy, a potential first round NFL Draft pick in Ann Arbor. Oh, and Drew Allar, who might have more upside than any of them walks into the Horseshoe in October with Penn State.
Even with Day's mastery at developing quarterbacks, he won't have the better guy in at least some of those matchups. It's possible he won't have the better guy in any of them.
Speaking of which, have you seen Penn State's schedule in the lead-up to that game? A bye week, followed by a home game against UMass precedes a trip to Columbus. Meaning the Nittany Lions will basically have three weeks to prepare for the Buckeyes.
Add it up, and it could get dicey. Plus, as Garrett said about USC above, if the Buckeyes take a loss or two early, is it possible they just pack in the season, knowing their title hopes are done?
Again, this isn't an anti-Ryan Day or even anti-Ohio State thing.
It's this specific team, against this specific schedule looks like bad news waiting to happen.
To read about our playoff dark horses click here