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11 college football teams we are already overrating for 2019

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Which teams do you plan to spend the entire offseason gassing up?

Minnesota v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

With the 2018 season wrapped up and Clemson on top, the race is on to figure out who’s going to be good in 2019.

Lots of teams will catch hype as the season approaches. There are already way-too-early top 25s, and you can already bet on the 2019 champ.

But seeing as we’re fully aware lots of teams will end up being wildly overrated by media and fans alike, let’s get in on that process right now and state which teams we’re (probably way too) high on.

Here are our (wildly differing) reasons for overly liking a few teams. Join in!

Alex Kirshner: Texas A&M

I wondered if Jimbo Fisher would get more millions of dollars than wins during the life of his TAMU contract. But A&M came closer to beating Clemson than anyone else did all year. A&M came closer to beating Bama than everyone except Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson. On top of that, the Aggies didn’t have a single bad loss, with the closest things being a blown lead at Auburn and a struggle against Mississippi State’s great defense.

A good bowl performance should juice the preseason hype train a little bit. The offense had exactly two seniors starting at the end of the year, and one was the 12th Man fullback. The defense will lose three quarters of its starting line but should return a lot at the second and third levels, and Fisher signed the best class in Texas this year.

It also appears the Aggies will return college football’s most beastly punter:

Mainly, this sport’s more fun when we’re acting like A&M’s going to bulldoze everyone. I will not be accepting any feedback at this time that points out that the Aggies have road games with Clemson, Georgia, and LSU. OK, cool. Gig ‘em.

Jason Kirk: Louisville

Well, Bobby Petrino was their head coach, but he is no longer their head coach (even if full post-Bobby cleanup tends to take most teams a while). The new coach built one of FBS’ best teams at a school that’d recently been in FCS and will surely restore the roar in the Big Pizza Slice.

Bud Elliott: South Carolina

The Gamecocks have a murderous SEC schedule, having to play Alabama and Texas A&M, plus North Carolina on a neutral site and games against Appalachian State and Clemson.

But most of the tough SEC games other than Alabama are on the road. Winnable league games against Kentucky, Florida, and Vanderbilt are at home.

In a year in which many will likely sell on South Carolina’s ability to make a bowl, I’ll buy. This team played a ton of freshmen down the 2018 stretch, especially in the secondary and on the offensive line. That experience could pay off when combined with a senior QB in Jake Bentley.

Alex Kirshner: Nebraska

It’s Scott Frost’s year two, which means an undefeated season is on the way, and then we get to yell about whether going unbeaten through a soggy Big Ten West makes a team worthy of a Playoff spot. Can’t imagine there will be any anger there!

The Huskers finished 4-2 after starting 0-6. Their two losses in that span — to Ohio State by 5 and Iowa by 3 — both could’ve been wins without much going differently. Adrian Martinez is a high-upside QB, JD Spielman should remain one of the best receivers in the Big Ten, and I’m totally prepared to just gloss over the fact that the country’s No. 65 defense by S&P+ will lose (at least) five of its top six tacklers.

The Huskers’ schedule is enticing. Non-conference is light, with South Alabama and NIU at home and Colorado on the road. CU beat Nebraska last year but needed absurd luck, then cratered and fired its coach. (And of course, there’s no way Nebraska could ever lose to NIU at home. Nope, none.) The league slate includes Northwestern, Iowa, and Wisconsin coming to Lincoln.

Nebraska should only be a big underdog in one game, but the Buckeyes are contractually obligated to lose one road Big Ten West game per season by at least four touchdowns, so I like Frost’s chances.

Jason Kirk: Texas

Certain members of the Shutdown Fullcast have predicted nine-win seasons for the Longhorns for the past four years in a row, making The World’s Only College Football Podcast also the world’s only college football media outlet to actually overrate Texas every year.

Do you think we’re going to stop aiming the Horns at the stars and landing on the moon, now that we were finally proven right for once? Here is footage of our editorial discussion on this matter:

Alex Kirshner: North Carolina

What worked with Vince Young in 2005 is absolutely going to work with whoever UNC puts at quarterback in 2019. Can you say (ACC Coastal) “Championship?”

Matt Brown: UConn

Sure, UConn went 1-11 in 2018. Sure, their defense was literally one of the worst in the long history of this stupid sport. Sure, they will need to replace their senior quarterback, who also led the team in rushing, and their top three receivers. Sure, their 2019 recruiting class is ranked 127th, behind Harvard, Eastern Michigan, and — gasp — Kansas.

But where you see problems, I see opportunity. Folks, this is time to buy low on an affordable gut rehab program in the expensive Northeast. Replacing all that offensive production? Well, it’s not like that offense won a lot of games last year. Horrific defense? Well, basically everybody on the two deep returns, and think of all the experience they got last year! Recruiting class ranked poorly? That’s just because Randy Edsall needs to find the right guys who WANT to be Huskies. Also, because he probably gets a contract bonus for signing a class ranked exactly 127th.

Look. UConn finished dead last in S&P+ this season. There’s nowhere to go but up. So if you want a team almost literally guaranteed to improve, hop on the UConn bandwagon. There’s plenty, plenty of room.

Jason Kirk: Alabama

With Tua Tagovailoa’s entire skill corps back, perhaps Nick Saban’s best incoming freshman class yet, and great reason for Saban to spend the next eight months screaming at everyone in sight, the Tide will win Super Bowl 54, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Academy Award for Best Screenplay along the way to setting up Bama-Clemson Round 6. Breezing past Round 5, yes.

Matt Brown: Pitt

We know how Pitt seasons typically go. They languish around .500, then clobber an amazing team once we least expect it. They didn’t do that in 2018, meaning the PITT SUPER WEAPON IS STILL CHARGING.

And if they have an entire extra offseason to charge? There’s no telling how high Pitt could go. Eight wins? NINE?!? It’s all on the table.

Pitt finished a pretty nice 69th in S&P+ in 2018. The ACC is perpetually up for grabs. PUT PITT IN.

Bud Elliott: Minnesota

There are reasons to hype almost every team in the West Division of the Big Ten. But where is the hype on Minnesota? Right here, actually.

By the final week of the regular season, seven of Minnesota’s 11 listed starters on offense were freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Receiver Rashod Batemen had a tremendous year as a true freshman and should only climb.

Meanwhile, the Gophers lose only three starters on defense to graduation.

But what really makes me like this team for 2019 and even 2020 is hearing player personnel directors and recruiting analyst types for other programs lament Minnesota finding talent quickly and actually keeping those talents committed into the Early Signing Period.

Morgan Moriarty: Florida

It’s not easy to take a 4-7 team from 2017 and go 10-3 the very next year, but Dan Mullen sure made it look that way. As Mullen heads into Year 2, he’ll get to retain his entire coaching staff, as well as likely a much stronger recruiting class than 2018’s.

The Gators will miss Vosean Joseph, Jordan Scarlett, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who declared for the NFL draft, but there’s plenty of depth there. The one big question mark is still at quarterback — Feleipe Franks didn’t quite look like the guy throughout last season. But if Mullen can develop sophomore Emory Jones to carry the offense consistently, Florida could be in for another big year. Not to mention Florida’s schedule, including a home game vs. Auburn as part of its SEC West portion, looks pretty favorable.

Your turn. Who are you already inflating for 2019?