God, writing that subtitle was depressing. 7 MONTHS BEFORE THE SEASON? I have to go through spring and summer before football is back? That’s awful. For the fourth year in a row, I’ll have to pretend to care about the Rockies again. Ugh.
Luckily, Bill Connelly offers a brief respite from the terrible sports. He released his 2019 preseason projections (for reference) on Monday, and I have spent a few hours running through the numbers. The first thing to mention - these are preseason projections that are purely formulaic. Connelly is presenting the numbers that his S+P formula are spitting out. A few of the main considerations, like five year recruiting ranking and five year W/L record, do not look favorably on the Buffs, so it’s understandable if they are lower than you thought.
Colorado - 68
68 sounds about right for a mediocre 2018 team with a brand new coach. The returning production and 5 year recruiting ranking are not favorable for CU, but the upcoming recruiting class bumps them up a tiny bit. The Buffs have a lot to prove to the excel spreadsheets and human projectors alike. The up and down nature of last year’s season combined with a brand new coaching staff will lead to a lot of question marks.
I looked through CU’s schedule to try and glean some early insights or predictions. Below are a few loosely organized thoughts on each.
Colorado State Rams - 109
Once again, this is close to where I would put CSU. Mike Bobo and the Rams had an awful 2018 and followed that up with a decent to poor recruiting class. They lose a lot of production, including Preston Williams, and lost their best staff member (Alvis Whitted).
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 45
TOO HIGH. They should be 130th or lower. In real terms, this may be underrating the Huskers a bit. Time will tell if Scott Frost is a total fraud or just a partial one, but he definitely recruited instant impact players for next year and Adrian Martinez is electric.
Air Force Falcons - 90
I know next to nothing about Air Force, so I’ll take this at face value. The Falcons almost always have deflated recruiting rankings due to their service academy status. Their option offense also doesn’t follow silly rankings, projections, or logic, so this number means nothing.
Herm Edwards is ranked higher than his age. The Sun Devils were great at home and awful on the road. They lose their starting QB, two starting WRs, and plenty more production on offense, through their defense is relatively young. Once again, this feel about right. A middle of the pack P5 team.
Arizona Wildcats - 52
This actually feels high for the Wildcats. Kevin Sumlin has a disgruntled star QB, almost no DL, and an undersized team. He keeps a lot of electric players on offense, but that defense is hurting for talent and depth and the offensive line is shaky.
Oregon Ducks - 20
Oregon is the third highest ranked Pac-12 teams and they are above USC. That hasn’t happened in preseason projections in a long time. Mario Cristobal has recruited his ass off the past two years, and the fruits of his labor should start ripening. The Ducks have Justin Herbert coming back, which is huge, but his receivers suck. Sounds about right.
TOO LOW. It’s hard for the stat models to accurately predict Mike Leach. Then again, it’s hard for his wife to predict Mike Leach. The man is a mystery.
USC Trojans - 29
It really is ridiculous that USC isn’t in the preseason Top 25 given the talent they have. Clay Helton is taking advantage of the worst leadership in higher education today. I think this is actually overrating them, which is crazier still. Their season hinges on JT Daniels’ improvement.
UCLA Bruins - 63
It’s interesting to see the Bruins higher up than the Buffs after their season last year. Then again, their recruiting rank is much more favorable than CU’s. Chip Kelly should have that offense humming day one, but the defense is in much bigger flux. Offseason defections and an already thin talent pool means that their defense is on shaky ground.
Stanford Cardinal - 32
TOO LOW. David Shaw continues to be overlooked. The guy will have a great QB in KJ Costello next year, the offensive line literally cannot be worse (I’m trying for the jinx here), and many of the weapons remain on offense. The defense, surprisingly shaky in 2018, has a lot of returning production. They will be a tough out, especially with their presumed similar style to the new look Buffs
Washington Huskies - 15
According to the numbers, this is the best team CU will face next year. I agree completely, but it’s interesting to see how close Utah is. Washington will have almost everyone back, minus Ben Burr-Kirven and the double-edged sword that is Jake Browning. The Huskies won’t beat themselves and they should benefit greatly from the talent influx coming on defense.
Utah Utes - 17
This is the first time in a long time that the numbers have overrated the Utes. They are buoyed by plenty of returning production and a great five year finishing rank, but I just don’t see this team hitting top 20. Like all Utah teams, they will hover around the Top 25, finish poorly, and then win their bowl game.