College Football Tailgate, Pt. 3

In my third and final college football parking lot tailgate celebration, I’m wondering: who is this year’s TCU?

These are my Sneaky Six teams to watch. While none may make the CFP, I think they will be outperform expectations and maybe shake things up even more than realignment is already doing…

  • Arkansas Razorbacks (SEC) The genius of Sam Pittman, the powerful, mobile, manicured  K.J. Jefferson at QB (bolstered by new OC Dan Enos) and RB Raheim Sanders make Arkansas a very scary opponent. A very tough road schedule (traveling to LSU, Ole Miss and Alabama) has most people picking them at around .500. I think we will be pleasantly surprised.
  • Wisconsin Badgers (Big-10) Not too “sneaky”, I know, but when I see some sportswriters picking Iowa and even Minnesota in the West, I think this Fickell-led team is underrated. Besides Luke’s debut, a new OC brings the “Air Raid” to Camp Randall and I’m high on Tanner Mordecai. Plus, they still have an elite run game when they need it, and talent and experience on defense. The “floor” is winning the division.
  • South Carolina Gamecocks (SEC) Head coach Shane Beamer is a fast-rising star, and if a new OC can un-rattle Spencer Rattler, he may play up to his potential again. There are a lot of question marks, at RB, and at defending against the run. But if they knock off North Carolina this coming Saturday, and keep it somewhat close with Georgia Sept. 16, it’s a winnable fall for the Gamecocks, and, I think, a turnaround year for this non-traditional program.
  • Tulane Green Wave (AAC) Again, not that “sneaky” as they’re picked to win the conference, but they are a New Orleans house of horrors for every opponent every week. They lost a force of nature in RB Tyjae Spears, but kept Heisman candidate QB Michael Pratt to lead the attack. Circle Tulane games on your schedule if you like highlight reels (and who doesn’t?).
  • San Jose State Spartans (MW) I’m being very sneaky here. QB Chevan Cordeiro is that dude, the tight ends are not shabby, and I happen to think Brent Brennan is one of football’s most underrated HCs. They lost a ton of experience, and yet, I think they’re going to win one or two games that they weren’t supposed to, and be bowl-eligible. And thanks to Brennan, bowls are now what San Jose fans should expect.
  • Pittsburgh Panthers (ACC) Before we get to the stellar coaching staff, Pitt now has former Notre Dame and Boston College product QB Phil Jurkovec, who is healthy and reunited with his BC OC, Frank Cignetti. The D looks nasty, Pat Narduzzi and Co. recruit surprisingly well, and Jurkovec might be this year’s Max Duggan, even if Pitt isn’t quite this year’s TCU.

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