No matter what you think you know about the 2016 college football season, chances are you're a little skeptical about a few teams -- maybe a lot of teams. That's OK, because there are a plethora of questions swirling around the sport, even with some of the best teams in the country.
When it comes to the SEC, it's tough to get an exact read on the league right now. That's fine because this is the offseason, and it's the perfect time to hoist teams up while tearing down others.
So what teams are we on the fence about right now? What teams are currently ranked in Mark Schlabach's last edition of his Way-Too-Early Top 25 that we can't help but be unsure of? We asked our SEC writers to take a look.
Edward Aschoff: I really went back and forth on this one. Do I really trust LSU to be a top-10 team this year? Does Texas A&M even belong in the Top 25 right now? Will Tennessee get over the its inability to put a complete season together? While I'm not 100 percent sold on any of these teams, I had to go with LSU because of where the Tigers are ranked. Look, I think LSU is the most talented team in the SEC, but after last year's late-season collapse and all that drama surrounding Les Miles, I just don't know if I can trust this team to be mentally fit in 2016 if something goes wrong. The talent on both sides of the ball is there for the Tigers to make a championship run -- or two -- this fall, but what happens if they slip up at any point? Is Miles gone? Will the pressure be too great for the team to overcome? Oh, and will Brandon Harris be able to lead this team under center? Leonard Fournette can do a ton, but I'm not sure he can carry this entire team. I love LSU on paper, but I don't know if I love it to be a top-10 team all year.
David Ching: I’m skeptical about several SEC teams in Schlabach’s top 25, but Georgia jumps out as a reach at No. 13. The Bulldogs might get there. They’re coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, after all, and they’ll be tough to beat if the Nick Chubb-Sony Michel backfield combination is clicking like it was early last season. But Chubb’s health is just one of the questions surrounding Georgia this season. If Chubb is not healthy enough to dominate again, does Georgia have the pass-catching weapons to pick up the slack? And who will be throwing those guys the passes? And what about the defense that has holes to fill up front? Oh yeah, and this group with all the questions to answer will be led by a first-time head coach. The SEC East is ripe for a strong team to emerge, but I’m just not especially confident it will be Georgia. Not at No. 13, anyway.
Sam Khan Jr.: Texas A&M at No. 21 caused me to raise an eyebrow. The main reason is it's unclear what to expect from the Aggie offense. Hiring offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone made sense given his background and his relationship with Kevin Sumlin but is the guy pulling the trigger at quarterback (Trevor Knight) going to develop into a consistently good passer? Inconsistency and interceptions were issues for Knight at Oklahoma and things don't get easier in the SEC West. Also, what kind of play is reasonable to expect from the Aggies' offensive line, which isn't as talented as it was in 2012 or 2013 and has also been inconsistent? The defense, in its second year under John Chavis, could perform at a top-25 level this fall, but can the offense do the same? There are numerous questions that won't be answered until the Aggies hit the field and until we get some clarity, I hesitate to call this team a top-25 squad given how the last two seasons went.
Greg Ostendorf: I’m not surprised that the Aggies are ranked in the Top 25 -- there’s plenty of talent on that roster -- but that doesn’t mean I’m confident in them. There are a lot of unknowns. Will Knight be the answer at quarterback? There’s a reason he transferred from Oklahoma. How will the offensive line hold up without Mike Matthews and Germain Ifedi? And what about the defense? Can they take that next step under Chavis? The schedule does them no favors either. They play UCLA, Auburn and Arkansas in the first month, and with Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU still on the schedule, there’s no margin for error. If the Aggies lose two games in that first month, they could be looking at 7-5 or 6-6 and another mediocre bowl game. I’m not sure Sumlin can survive another one of those seasons.
Alex Scarborough: Sorry, Georgia, I'm just not buying you as a serious contender in the SEC this year. Maybe next year, but not 2016. It's nothing personal. I love what Chubb and Michel bring on offense and I expect improvement on defense, where there's no shortage of talent. But there are two problems and they're summed up in a simple game of pitch-and-catch. For one, who are the playmakers at receiver? It wasn't a great situation last year and I don't see it getting better. And secondly, who is going to throw them the ball? Am I to believe that either Greyson Lambert is in for a Hollywood-type turnaround? Or would you have me take a leap of faith on a freshman quarterback? Everyone says Jacob Eason is the real deal, but as a rule true freshmen don't play well in their rookie seasons. I'm sorry, but I just can't go that far with Georgia, let alone the fact that it's a first-time head coach at the wheel.