These five teams aren't getting enough respect heading into the 2017 season.
Yesterday we counted down the top 5 most-overrated teams heading into the 2017 college football season, so it's only right we move to the other side of the spectrum and take a look at the most-underrated.
So without further ado, here are the five under-hyped teams to keep in eye on as we inch closer to the college football season. They'll be making more noise than you expect when the season rolls around.
I know, I know. Expectations are high for Auburn this year, but somehow the Tigers are still not getting enough love. This Auburn team is a title-contender, and with the Iron Bowl matchup at home, I think they're poised to take down the Crimson Tide this season and win the SEC—maybe even a national championship.
With the addition of former Baylor quarterback Jarret Stidham, the Tigers finally have a solid starter under center. Add in Kamryn Pettway in the backfield and an offensive line that returns three starters, and you've got a a stable, veteran offense that will only get better as the season progresses. On the other side of the ball, Auburn boasts one of the best DB units in the nation led by cornerback Carlton Davis. The Tigers will probably drop one to either Clemson or LSU this season, but I'm expecting Auburn be in the College Football Playoff mix.
4. NC State
NC State has been on the cusp of a breakthrough these last few seasons, and forgive cliché, but this is the year the Wolfpack will finally get over the hump. Last year the Wolfpack took a championship-caliber Clemson team into overtime and lost. That won't happen again this season. The Wolfpack have one of the best defensive units in the country and an efficient offense that will take everyone by surprise—think last year's Louisville squad, but less explosive. All the pieces are in place for a successful season.
Stanford has been a model of consistency, winning at least 10 games in five out of the last six seasons, and this season will be no different for the Cardinal, but this year in particular they have a chance to get in the College Football Playoff mix. According to ESPN's FPI, Stanford is the favorite in every game on its schedule except in week two versus USC—and that game is virtually a coin flip.
So what's stopping Stanford from going undefeated this season? The Cardinal will boast one of the best DB units in the country after returning CB Quenton Meeks and safety Justin Reid, and they return two veteran receivers and four starters on the offensive line. Losing Christian McCaffrey was a huge blow, but the backfield duo of Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett will be a handful for opposing defenses. With a potent offense and a stifling defense, I see no reason why Stanford can't sneak its way into the playoff.
Miami will exceed everyone's expectations this season for one reason: Defense. The Hurricanes return seven starters from last year's terror of a unit. The Canes' defense held opponents to just 18.5 ppg last year, and there's no reason to believe they won't be even better this year. On offense, the Canes have emerging stars at running back and wide receiver in Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards, respectively.
Quarterback will be a question mark after Brad Kaaya's departure, but Miami benefits from a relatively easy schedule so there's certainly time to figure out who should be under center. I wouldn't be shocked if they only lost one game this season, all of the talent is there.
1. Oklahoma State
First things first: Oklahoma State will win the Big 12. Is that crazy? It might be crazy, but I'm pretty confident in that prediction. For whatever reason, Oklahoma State isn't getting the love it deserves from preseason rankings, and it's outrageous and wrong. The Cowboys' offense will be nothing short of explosive with Mason Rudolph under center, and he's passing to the No. 1 receiving corps in the nation. Add in a defense that is pretty solid across the board, and you've got a team that can compete with Oklahoma in a shootout. The Big 12 will be a battle of potent offenses, and for that reason, Oklahoma State will reign supreme and shock a lot of people.