by Charlie Krausse
The college football season has not yet even kicked off and yet fans are already projecting which teams will be in the field. The CFB Playoff Committee has announced the dates of their rankings, with Tuesday, November 2, 2021 as their first Top 25 release date.
Taking out the schools that the odds makers have making the CFB playoffs, here are some schools who might not be but so much of a surprise if they reach the National Semi-Finals:
IOWA STATE CYCLONES: Coming off a Fiesta Bowl route over Oregon, Iowa State is loaded with talent. All-Americans on both sides of the ball will aid the Cyclones all season. Starting with the nation’s leading rusher, Breece Hall, Iowa State will be a run first offense. With that said, QB Brock Purdy threw for over 2,700 yards and 19 TDs last season and will be a threat. Defensively, Iowa State has tons of talent. 2020 Big XII Defensive Player of the Year, Mike Rose returns. Also returning is one of the best DLs in the country in Will McDonald IV. The Cyclones should feature not one, but two lock down corners as well, in Anthony Johnson, Jr. and Tayvonn Kyle. Throw in HC Matt Campbell and this team will compete heavily for the Big XII Championship. Don’t be surprised if the Cyclones are favored in every game this season minute one (Nov. 20 at Oklahoma).
USC TROJANS: Putting one of the favorites to win the PAC-12 as a ‘Dark Horse’ might not seem too far of a stretch, but USC has a real chance to showcase to the nation how good they could be. All-American QB Kedon Slovis returns and could experience a 4,000 yard + 40 TD season. The offense will be explosive with super talented receivers. While the backfield just got more competitive with transfers from TCU and Texas making their way to Los Angeles. Throw in the nation’s #1 overall recruit in Korey Foreman, who will battle just for playing time and the Trojan defense is just as loaded. Circle October 23rd as USC travels to Notre Dame in a game that will likely heavily impact the CFB Playoffs.
NORTH CAROLINA TARHEELS: The Tarheels might be the biggest dark horse of the four listed. The first opponent hurting the Tarheels chances this season is their opponent. Projectionly speaking (if that is a phrase), there are a maximum of three schools on their schedule that are Top 25 teams – Miami, at Notre Dame and at North Carolina State. The Tarheels will more than likely need to go undefeated and beat Clemson in the ACC Championships (they do not play each other in the regular season) to make it. Talent wise, they return Sam Howell, a Heisman hopefully; to which he has a plethora of talent surrounding him on the offensive side of the ball. North Carolina will have one of the best secondary’s in the country, as well, on the defensive side.
CINCINNATI BEARCATS: This is only a G-5 school by name. By talent, they will compete and hold their own with anyone. All-Americans Myjai Sanders and Ahman Gardner will be the primary names on defense, but this is a talented 11-man defensive squad. Desmond Ridder will be in contention for American Conference Offensive POY throughout the season. The QB has a great WR unit to compliment their QB. Even their schedule will help their chances earn a bid to the CFB Playoffs. With non-conference games at Notre Dame and Indiana, plus major conference matchups against UCF and SMU, Cincinnati is honestly more than a dark horse contender.
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To download a copy of my 2021 College Football Preview, click here.