With college football season finally here, let’s talk about what you really care about — those teams with the best shot to make it to the playoffs. So who will be the last four standing? Here are the 10 teams you need to watch:
1. Alabama (AP Rank 1)
Number one is no surprise. Nick Saban’s squad lost a ton of key players to the NFL last year, but, like always, the roster is stacked with elite prospects groomed to take their place. Watch for dangerous running QB Jalen Hurts to improve as a passer this year, junior wideout Calvin Ridley to contend for numerous awards, and for the Crimson Tide to hold on to the number one seed.
2. Ohio State (AP Rank 2)
Urban Meyer and co. have their own incredible recruiting class and they’ll be put to good use. The Buckeyes will be led by experienced senior J.T. Barrett on offense, but the real gem of the team is the defensive line. Linemen Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa, and Sam Hubbard should be wreaking havoc in opposing backfields all season long.
3. Florida State (AP Rank 3)
FSU was dealt a major blow in 2016 when safety Derwin James missed almost the entire year with a knee injury. The versatile, athletic playmaker may just be the best defensive player in college football, and the whole unit will improve drastically with him on the field in 2017. On the other side of the ball, QB Deondre Francois will look to build off of a solid freshman season without the help of do-everything RB Dalvin Cook, who is now a Minnesota Viking.
4. Clemson (AP Rank 5)
This may seem high for a team that seemingly lost key players at every position, but there’s still talent across the board. Junior QB Kelly Bryant has the biggest shoes to fill, but with great receiving options like Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow still around, the Tigers don’t need him to be Deshaun Watson 2.0. They host FSU on November 11 in a game that could have major playoff implications.
5. Penn State (AP Rank 6)
Remember the name Saquon Barkley come awards season. The electrifying Nittany Lion RB is primed for a huge year. QB Trace McSorley and TE Mike Gesicki are no slouches either. The date to pay attention to: October 28. If they want to head to the playoffs, they’ll have to get the W when they square off against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
6. USC (AP Rank 4)
QB Sam Darnold and RB Ronald Jones give the Trojans a formidable backfield and guarantee that this offense can keep score with anyone. The defense is led by junior LB Cameron Smith and is full of solid players, but USC’s schedule will be a beast. They’ll have plenty of difficult tests, including battles against Stanford, Texas, and Washington State.
7. Washington (AP Rank 8)
From WR John Ross to the formidable secondary trio of Kevin King, Sidney Jones, and Budda Baker, the Huskies lost a lot of talent to the NFL. But this year’s team still has a star signal caller in junior Jake Browning and plenty of young talent to pick up the pieces at corner and safety. Look for Chris Petersen’s team to be in the hunt all season long.
8. Wisconsin (AP Rank 9)
The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. Besides a Nov. 18 battle against Michigan, this unit will almost undoubtedly be favored in every game they play. If Coach Chryst can get a step up in performance from sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook to complement their always-formidable running attack, the offense should be solid. And ‘solid’ is all this team will need on that end if the Wisconsin defense can perform as well as they did in 2016.
9. Michigan (AP Rank 11)
Only one starter returns on the Wolverine defense. 11 Michigan alumni heard their name called during this April’s NFL Draft. Simply put, Jim Harbaugh lost a lot of quality players heading into 2017. But the cupboard is far from bare. QB Wilton Speight is back after a solid year one, sophomore RB Chris Evans leads a great running back group, and the roster, as a whole, is loaded with five-star talent.
10. Auburn (AP Rank 12)
Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham will be given the keys on offense and he’s got a lot to work with. Sophomore WR Nate Craig-Myers and RB Kamryn Pettway should keep the points and yards flowing. The defense returns a lot of big-time playmakers and should be stout once again. The Tigers have a crucial early match up on September 9 when they go on the road to face Clemson.
Did we miss someone? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Eastbay. No matter how things shake out, one thing is certain: it’s going to be an amazing season.
Let the madness begin. As college basketball enters tournament time, Jordan Brand is getting in on the fun by releasing new AJ XXXI Low PEs for some of college basketball’s biggest blue bloods.
Michigan, Georgetown, California, and Marquette will had AJ XXXI PEs drop on March 7 in team-inspired colorways. In addition to the team colors, the PEs will also feature team branding on the heel. For example, the Michigan PE says “Go Blue” on the heels. All pairs are available for $159.99.
What do you think of the PEs? Check out each colorway below and let us know which team has the best sneaker!
The Under Armour All-America Game features over 90 of the nation’s top recruits. One name to watch? Michigan commit Kwity Paye.
What do Julio Jones, Jameis Winston, and A.J. Green have in common? Well, besides being some of football’s biggest stars, they also all played in the Under Armour All-America Game. The yearly showcase is broadcast live on ESPN and features over 90 of the country’s top high school seniors.
When you watch the game, held this year on January 1 at 1 p.m. ET in Orlando, you are seeing the future of football. Now in its tenth year, the event has already featured 120+ NFL draft picks (30+ first rounders) and multiple Pro Bowlers. This year’s roster is the most stacked one yet and one of the names to watch is definitely Bishop Hendricken High School star Kwity Paye.
A world-class running back AND defensive end, Paye is the first Rhode Island player to ever attend the Under Armour All-America Game. He was recently named Gatorade Rhode Island Player of the Year and has committed to the University of Michigan where he will play along the defensive line. We had the chance to chat with Kwity about his bright future, big goals, and incredible journey.
Eastbay: Congratulations on being invited to the Under Armour All-America Game! That’s quite an honor. How excited are you to play in the game?
Kwity: It’s a great opportunity for me and Rhode Island. I’m the first person from this state to be invited, so I’m excited to go there and show the rest of the country what this state is all about. People overlook Rhode Island when it comes to football so hopefully I can go out there and show everyone how we do football.
Eastbay: The game will be on ESPN. What skills do you want to showcase to everyone watching?
Kwity: I’ll be playing d-end at Michigan, so I definitely want to make some plays. Hopefully I can grab a couple of sacks.
Eastbay: Let’s talk a little about Michigan for a second… The recruiting process can be so crazy and for top prospects like you, you heard from tons of different schools… What made Michigan the right fit?
Kwity: Over time, I started to notice that some recruiters were pushing me to commit. Michigan was very laid back. They said, ‘It’s your choice, your life, you can do what you want.’ They didn’t push me and that was a huge factor. They let me take it easy during the whole process and have fun with it.
Eastbay: Playing for Coach Harbaugh has to be fun too…
Kwity: Oh yeah, he’s a great coach. When he was on the 49ers, he brought them to a championship. And now, at Michigan, he’s helping that program rise. They were already really good and now they’re becoming great. So I have a lot of trust in him.
Eastbay: When it came to making your decision, whose advice did you really listen to?
Kwity: I would say my mom. She’s been there throughout my career and kind of let me decide what I wanted to do. She said, ‘This is your life. Really think and pray on it.’
Eastbay: During your time at Hendricken, you were a star running back and defensive end. What position did you like playing more?
Kwity: I started as an offensive player, but I’ve kind of fallen in love with the defensive side of the ball. My defensive coordinator helped form me into the defensive lineman I am right now. He spent a lot of time working with me and teaching me all of the new schemes.
Eastbay: What challenges did you have when you switched over to defense?
Kwity: Once my main position switched to defense, I had to focus more on reading tackles, pulls, and things like that. I had to watch a lot of film, pay attention, and work extra hard in practice every day.
Eastbay: OK, a young football player comes up to you and wants to be where you are now—a big-time recruit about to play for a major college program and with a really bright future. What advice do you give him?
Kwity: I would say, ‘Don’t choose your position right away.’ I thought I was going to be a running back, but sophomore year they moved me to LB. Then eventually I moved to d-line. I was kind of bummed out about it at first. But I learned that wherever your coach moves you, you should take pride in that and put 100% into it. That might be the one place where your team needs you.
Winners don’t know some secret formula that propels them to victory. There isn’t a shortcut to success. There is only hard work and preparation. Jim Harbaugh knows that to be true, and it has helped him win at every level. He found success as a player and a coach at both the college and professional level, because he has a keen understanding of the mindset a champion must have.
“A champion attacks every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind,” Harbaugh said. “A champion strives to be better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.”
Constant improvement is the driving force behind most accomplished people and organizations. Take a look at Jordan Brand, which has decades of sustained success in the sneaker game. Jordan Brand is continuing to push the envelope and reach even greater heights. It’s about building upon past victories, and getting put in the best position for success in the future.
Jordan Brand, Michigan, and Jim Harbaugh are all primed for success after agreeing to a groundbreaking deal making Michigan the first Jordan Brand program in college football. Jordan Brand is widely considered the gold standard of the athletic apparel and footwear industry, and Michigan is the winningest program in the history of college football. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, and Jordan Brand have all found success individually. Now, they’re joining forces, and it’s all about the team.
“Champions are surrounded by fellow winners who share a goal of winning as a team,” Harbaugh said. That perfectly sums up the marriage between Harbaugh’s Michigan program and Jordan Brand. The two champions will work toward winning together, with Jordan Brand using its excellence in athletic apparel and training gear to provide the Michigan Men with all the best tools to be successful, because champions aren’t made on game day. They are made in the weight room, on the practice field, and far away from the bright lights of The Big House.
“Preparing the team for a weekly game is a process,” Harbaugh said. “The process is a well-thought-out plan, devised over a long period of time and adjusted as circumstances dictate. Our goal is to allow no team or program to outwork us in our preparation for game day.”
Jordan Brand will be an integral part of that preparation, because for Michigan athletes to be the best, they need to work with the best. Jordan Brand and Michigan teaming up is about combining excellence, finding new opportunities, and seizing them.
“We concentrate on creating opportunities to make us better,” Harbaugh said. “Opportunities created by a love of competition, a love of hard work, a love of disciplining your mind and body to do right, a love for showing up every day with a positive attitude, and a love for treating all those with whom you associate as you would wish to be treated.”
Jordan Brand, Michigan, and Jim Harbaugh combine to form a winning team and one heck of an opportunity. An opportunity to build upon their individual successes by joining forces to create something truly revolutionary.
To celebrate their partnership, Jordan Brand and Michigan are collaborating on their next product. The Jordan Trainer 1 Low ‘Michigan’ will be available in a navy blue and yellow colorway to match Michigan’s school colors. It drops on August 8 at eastbay.com.
words // Brandon Richard
via Press Release
To celebrate the first ever night game played at Michigan Stadium and the first primetime meeting between the Wolverines and Notre Dame since 1990, adidas Football has unveiled a special set of retro-style uniforms that will be worn for the game by both teams. ESPN will broadcast the game nationally at 8 p.m. EST on September 10th.
“We wanted to celebrate the long-standing heritage between two of the most successful programs in college football history for this special Under the Lights game,” said Jon Yuska, director of sports licensing design, adidas. “Michigan and Notre Dame’s jerseys are two of the most iconic in all of sports and these new vintage-inspired uniforms highlight design cues from throughout the schools’ rich football traditions.”
The Michigan Wolverines’ uniform combines design elements from different eras of Michigan football into its look. Featured is a large block M on the chest, player numbers above the heart, repeated striped sleeves and a quilted stitch design on the letters and numbers. For the first time since the late 1960s, player numbers also appear on Michigan’s signature winged helmet. Celebrating the team’s decorated history, “132 Years of Championship Football” is stitched on the inside collar and Michigan’s National Championship years are displayed on the inside bottom hem of the jersey.
“We are excited about playing in this intense rivalry, and this historic night game provides an opportunity to wear a retro-looking uniform that pays homage to our rich history,” said Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke. “Our players like the throwback uniforms and it will be something that is exciting for the fans.”
To salute the rich history of Notre Dame’s football program, the “Under the Lights” Irish uniform includes a white-based jersey with Kelly Green lettering and shoulder stripes, old gold pants, green-striped socks and white shoes. The traditional gold helmets are adorned with a large shamrock for the first time since the early 1960s. Also on the bottom hem of Notre Dame’s jersey are the years of their National Championships.
“We are happy to partner with adidas to help commemorate the first night game at Michigan Stadium with new uniforms,” said Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly. “It seems fitting that the two schools with the two best winning percentages in college football play in this historic game. I know our players are looking forward to the contest and both teams’ new uniforms will only add to the excitement in the Big House on September 10.”
Fans can purchase the Michigan and Notre Dame retro jerseys starting August 1 for $80. Later this summer, adidas will launch an “Under the Lights” fan collection – including retro style t-shirts, hats, jackets and sweatshirts featuring a vintage feel and design inspired by Michigan and Notre Dame football history and their long-standing rivalry.
For more information, photos and videos of the “Under the Lights” uniforms, visit facebook.com/adidasfootballUS.