The scariest stat for every Way-Too-Early Top 25 team

Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire

Every team in Mark Schlabach's 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 is projected to win, and win big. But every team also has one number that could derail the best laid plans and biggest dreams. Here is the scariest stat for every top 25 team.

1. Alabama

Alabama's defense lived in opponents' backfields last season, disrupting quarterbacks while finishing second nationally in stops at or behind the line of scrimmage. The problem? The team's top four leaders in sacks and top five leaders in QB hurries are all gone from last season. -- Alex Scarborough

2. Florida State

Through the first five weeks, no Power 5 defense was on the field less than the Seminoles, yet they give up 42.3 points per game or 1.9 points per minute, which was dead last among the 65 Power 5 teams when playing FBS opponents. One of the biggest issues was the defense's inability to stop dual-threat quarterbacks. The defense drastically improved in the second half, but the quarterbacks weren't nearly as mobile or talented during that stretch. The 2017 opens with Alabama's Jalen Hurts. -- Jared Shanker

3. USC

Offensive linemen Damien Mama (30), Chad Wheeler (38) and Zach Banner (45) combined for 113 starts during their USC careers. The Trojans have a lot of size and experience to replace on the offensive line, and that's not great news for quarterback Sam Darnold, who enters the 2017 season as a Heisman frontrunner. -- Chantel Jennings

4. Ohio State

The vaunted deep ball that made Urban Meyer's attack so difficult to defend on the way to the national title in 2014 had all but disappeared a year ago, which is one major reason Kevin Wilson is Ohio State's new offensive coordinator. There was plenty of blame to go around, but no matter where the finger points, averaging 6.4 yards per pass -- ranked just 85th in the nation -- isn't going to cut it again for a national-title contender. -- Austin Ward

5. Penn State

The Nittany Lions won the Big Ten despite struggling most of the year on third downs. Penn State converted just 32.6 percent of their third-down attempts in 2016, which was 118th nationally. The Nittany Lions went a combined 7-of-20 on third downs in the Big Ten title game win over Wisconsin and the Rose Bowl loss to USC. That's an area that needs to improve for the team to repeat as champions. -- Brian Bennett

6. Clemson

The Tigers averaged just 2.84 yards per rush before contact last year, good for 49th in the Power 5. Those were numbers produced with Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman in the backfield. This year, the Clemson offense will go into battle with an inexperienced tandem at QB and running back, and without center Jay Guillermo. If Dabo Swinney's crew can find more running room, it's going to be awfully tough for those new faces in the backfield to get acclimated. -- David M. Hale

7. Washington

The Huskies lose 123 career starts with the departures of safety Budda Baker, and cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Kevin King (Jones and Baker over the past three years, King over the last four). Now the most experienced unit on Washington's team becomes its most youthful. -- Chantel Jennings

8. Oklahoma

Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon comprised 79 percent of Oklahoma's rushing yards and 52 percent of its receiving yards last season; all three players are now gone. -- Jake Trotter

9. LSU

When Phil Steele put out his list of returning starters for each FBS team, LSU's total (11) tied for last in the SEC. That includes names like Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Tre'Davious White, Kendell Beckwith, Duke Riley and Ethan Pocic. The cupboard is far from bare, but this team will not hold a candle to the 2016 squad in terms of game experience. -- David Ching

10. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys' most indispensable player, QB Mason Rudolph, may not be safe in the pocket as a senior. Since the start of 2014, OSU has surrendered 103 sacks. That's more than all but one Big 12 team -- Iowa State has allowed 104 -- and ranks 113th out of 125 teams nationally. -- Mitch Sherman

11. Auburn

Auburn's record against top rivals Alabama and Georgia is 0-6 over the past three seasons. Nobody will forget Auburn's wins over the Tide and Bulldogs in 2013 -- Gus Malzahn's first season -- but he has gone winless in all six games since. There's still some talk that Malzahn might be on the hot seat heading into the 2017 season. If he loses to both Alabama and Georgia this November, that seat will only get hotter. -- Greg Ostendorf

12. Wisconsin

For years, Wisconsin's bread and butter has been its rushing attack. And although the Badgers don't possess any glaring weakness, one area they could stand to improve is their passing game. Wisconsin did not pass for more than 191 yards in each of its final seven games last season. This year, redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook will take over on a full-time basis after splitting time with Bart Houston last season. Only once in the past five seasons has Wisconsin averaged 200 yards passing per game. -- Jesse Temple

13. Georgia

Quarterback Jacob Eason completed just 26.9 percent of his passes (14 of 52) last year when he was under duress. He threw just one touchdown and three interceptions, fumbled three times, and was sacked 21 times when under duress. Nine times he completed less than 40 percent of his passes under duress in a game, including going 0-for-8 in the Bulldogs' loss to Ole Miss. Eason ranked 12th in the SEC in completion percentage when under duress. -- Edward Aschoff

14. Michigan

One -- as in the number of coaches in Michigan's history that have started their career with three straight losses to Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh has made great strides in his first two seasons back in Ann Arbor, but he's in jeopardy of joining Rich Rodriguez as the only other coach to lose to the Buckeyes in his first three tries. Rich Rod's third loss was his final game as a Michigan coach. No one is going to want to get rid of Harbaugh even with a loss in the season finale, but the natives will begin to get restless without a victory. -- Dan Murphy

15. Stanford

Christian McCaffrey averaged 211.5 all-purpose yards per game last season. Even with as impressive that is, it was a step down from the 276 all-purpose yards per game that he averaged in 2015. That's a lot of yardage to replace, even if coach David Shaw is turning toward multiple players to do so. -- Chantel Jennings

16. Miami

Miami has five quarterbacks competing for the starting job, but only one has started a collegiate game: Malik Rosier. The grand total in the career starts department? One. With the talent Miami returns on defense, expectations are surging. But what ends up happening at quarterback could determine whether the Hurricanes make it to their first ACC championship game. -- Andrea Adelson

17. Kansas State

Active linebackers traditionally power the K-State defense. Last year, Elijah Lee and Charmeachealle Moore combined to record 185 tackles. Both are gone, leaving a dearth of experience. Returning defenders at the position group combined to make 40 tackles in 2016, led by Trent Tanking's 19. -- Mitch Sherman

18. Louisville

Over the past three years, Louisville has allowed 131 sacks -- four more than any other team in the country. This has happened despite having one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the nation in Lamar Jackson. Last year's late-season collapse could largely be pinned on the brutal play of the offensive line, including the embarrassing performance against Houston in which the Cardinals surrendered 11 sacks. Last year, nearly one-third of Jackson's pass attempts came under pressure. That number needs to go way down if the Cardinals want to contend for a title in 2017. -- David M. Hale

19. Colorado

The Colorado defense was a senior-laden group on every level and loses eight starters. Up front, the Buffs need to replace all three defensive linemen. At linebacker, they lost Kenneth Olugbode and Jimmie Gilbert. And on the back end, Colorado loses three of its four starters. On top of that, the Buffs lost defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to Oregon. -- Chantel Jennings

20. South Florida

USF ranked as one of the worst pass defenses in the country a season ago, finishing No. 122 after allowing an average of 285.5 yards passing per game. Charlie Strong has made his name as a defensive coach, so you can bet one of the top priorities this spring is to make sure that number dips much lower. -- Andrea Adelson

21. Washington State

Wide receiver Gabe Marks' contributions to the passing game as the Cougs' leading receiver over the past two seasons -- 13 touchdowns, 89 receptions, 894 receiving yards -- has been impressive. But, most importantly -- and less measurable -- is the fact that he has been a go-to guy for QB Luke Falk over those two seasons. With Marks' departure, so goes Falk's security blanket. -- Chantel Jennings

22. West Virginia

Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, the Mountaineers have lost eight of 10 games against league frontrunners Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, allowing an average of 42 points per defeat. Last year, WVU outgained the Sooners and Cowboys by a total of 157 yards but still lost the two games by 45 points. -- Mitch Sherman

23. Texas

Only three players on the 2017 roster have been on a Texas team that had a winning record. After 6-7, 5-7 and 5-7 seasons and a ton of roster turnover, they're the only guys left from Mack Brown's final season in 2013. Tom Herman has to rebuild a winning culture and figure out how to get these Longhorns to sustain success. -- Max Olson

24. Boise State

Running back Jeremy McNichols accounted for 3,205 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns during his three seasons in Boise. The junior declared for the NFL draft, leaving coach Bryan Harsin some big shoes to fill both in terms of rushing production and pass protections for quarterback Brett Rypien. -- Chantel Jennings

25. Virginia Tech

Jerod Evans leaves Blacksburg with 97 percent of the Hokies' passing yards and one-third of their rushing yards from 2016. Isaiah Ford, the only player in school history with a 1,000-yard receiving season (he has two), left. Bucky Hodges takes his 691 yards to the NFL. Evans, Ford and Hodges departing for the NFL early means there are a lot of questions for coach Justin Fuente to answer. -- Jared Shanker