By now, we have a pretty good idea about which teams will be in contention to compete for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. But college football is about more than positioning for the postseason. Each Saturday brings a new opportunity for delight or despair. Every team has its own personality, and it's college football's unpredictability and sheer madness that separates it from other sports.
With that in mind, which teams are going to be the most entertaining in 2017? Which teams are going to have you checking your smart phones at those early afternoon Pop Warner games and cheerleading competitions -- and then keep you awake until the early morning hours for #pac12afterdark?
The Watchability Rankings will answer that question and highlight the top 10 teams that are going to be most entertaining to watch in 2017. We ranked the teams on a scale of 1 to 5 in the following five categories:
1. Finebaum Factor: A rough estimate of where a team fits in the national discussion -- and we're not talking about only on Saturdays. Are Phyllis and Tammy talking about the team on The Paul Finebaum Show? Does it move the needle on Twitter? Good teams that are in championship contention from September through November measure high in this category.
Team that scored high in this category but didn't crack the top 10: Washington
The Huskies kind of play like Bama, look like Bama and sound like Bama. They just don't want to play Bama anymore.
2. Cage factor: Whether it's on the sideline or in the huddle, a team has to have a recognizable, exciting and capable leading man. Otherwise, it's as if you're watching yet another Nicolas Cage flick. Teams with All-Americans, likely first-round draft choices and colorful coaches get extra points here.
Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Arkansas
Being Bret Bielema sure looks like fun -- unless his teams keep losing five or six games every season.
3. Spurrier factor: Wide-open, fast-paced, no-huddle offenses are a lot more fun to watch than the plodding, conservative, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust teams. You know which teams I'm talking about -- the ones outside the SEC. But it has to be within reason; no one wants to watch a four-hour Texas Tech game in which no defense is being played.
Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Washington State
Following Mike Leach's Twitter account is almost as fun as watching his quarterback, Luke Falk, play.
4. Corso factor: This category encompasses everything that has to do with college football's pageantry, from the marching bands to the traditions, to whether or not your favorite team has a cool mascot head for Lee Corso to wear on Saturday mornings. Tradition is what makes college football so special. Without it, we're watching the NFL.
Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Auburn
The Tigers are considered a dark horse candidate to win the SEC West and play in the CFP. Yep, somebody's getting fired on the Plains.
5. Freeze factor: Along with tradition and pageantry, scandal and bitter rivalries are what make college football so great. Some schools have better reputations than others, and some coaches are known to skirt the rules more than others. The coaches who make you want to shower after watching their postgame news conferences earn bonus points.
Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Ole Miss
Lawsuits, NCAA investigations and telephone calls to escort services. What more could you possibly want from an institution of higher learning?
All ties are broken by personal preference or a coin toss. Here's the top 10:
10. Michigan (18 points)
Forget about calling Jim Harbaugh the best coach without a national championship. For now, we'll have to settle for the best coach who hasn't defeated Ohio State. Sure, it's fun to watch Harbaugh touting the benefits of whole milk, throwing out a first pitch, taking his team to Italy, and hanging with celebrities. But the Wolverines would be a lot more entertaining to watch if they could figure out a way to beat the Buckeyes. And that might not be so easy having to replace 10 starters on defense and a boatload of talent on offense as well. We won't even get to see how many positions Jabrill Peppers plays anymore.
9. LSU (18.5 points)
There are few coaches in the country who can take over for Les Miles and not let the fun factor drop as fast as Arizona State coach Todd Graham's approval ratings. From chugging energy drinks to practically needing an interpreter in postgame interviews, new LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings just as much color and character to the sideline as Miles. On top of that, the Tigers have a new mascot, the sport's highest paid coordinators (defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is making $1.8 million; offensive coordinator Matt Canada $1.5 million) and the best home-field advantage in America. Your TV will shake just from watching games in Baton Rouge on Saturday night.
8. Alabama (19 points)
"The Process" isn't designed to be entertaining -- it's methodical and brutally efficient at winning championships. The Crimson Tide will be aiming for their fifth national championship under coach Nick Saban since 2009, but it's not going to be nearly as entertaining without him screaming at former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on the sideline. Saban is still good for a news conference blowup or two (ask the bottle!), and few coaches dictate the news cycle with an utterance or two. There's a Death Star quality to Alabama that makes it easy to root against. But in the back of our minds, we know it's only envy.
7. Oklahoma (19.5 points)
Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield is quintessentially college -- he isn't blowing up Mel Kiper Jr.'s NFL draft board, but he's going to keep blowing up opposing defenses. New Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley sure looks as if he could still be in college. The former OU offensive coordinator replaces longtime coach Bob Stoops, who brought the Sooners back from mediocrity. Riley will get to test his skills against one of the big boys early; Oklahoma plays at Ohio State on Sept. 9 -- four days after he turns 34.
6. Ohio State (20 points)
While Michigan's Harbaugh has hogged the headlines and traveled the world, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer has quietly built another juggernaut in Columbus, Ohio. With former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson taking over the offense, the Buckeyes should be fun to watch again, especially if quarterback J.T. Barrett returns to being the player he once was. If Meyer beats Harbaugh a third straight time, will he continue to stay so quiet? I doubt it.
5. Florida State (20.5 points)
From the opening game to the regular-season finale, there might not be a better slate of games for fans to watch. The Seminoles open the season against Alabama in the first game played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and they also play a much-anticipated revenge rematch against Louisville (who remembers the Cards' 63-20 victory in 2016?). There are also season-defining games against Miami and Clemson. Another reason to watch: The Seminoles might boast the country's top freshman in tailback Cam Akers.
4. Penn State (21 points)
If you needed a reminder as to why the Nittany Lions are so fun to watch, dial up a replay of last season's Rose Bowl. Even though Penn State fell 52-49 to USC, quarterback Trace McSorley and tailback Saquon Barkley showed they might be the best one-two punch in the country, especially with future head coach Joe Moorhead calling plays. Plus, Penn State's defense is porous enough to turn just about every game into a shootout. PSU fans won't get much sleep in late October, when the Nittany Lions play back-to-back games against Michigan at home and at Ohio State. Who doesn't love a White Out in Happy Valley?
3. Clemson (21.5 points)
The defending national champions might not be as fun to watch without star quarterback Deshaun Watson, but this team is loaded with future NFL talent, especially on the defensive line. From the Tigers touching Howard's Rock and running down the hill to the final whistle, Clemson's games are more action-packed than most. In fact, eight of its games in 2016 were decided by a touchdown or less, including its 35-31 victory over Alabama in the CFP National Championship, in which the Tigers scored the winning touchdown with only one second left. No wonder coach Dabo Swinney is so excited in his postgame interviews.
2. USC (22.5 points)
Considering how they started 2016, who could have guessed the Trojans would now be the best team in L.A.? Yes, I'm including the Rams. The good news: If the Rams lose enough, USC quarterback Sam Darnold might be starting for them in 2018. Darnold enters the 2017 season as a Heisman Trophy favorite and a potential No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft. The Trojans will have to replace many of the key playmakers around him, but this team is going to be entertaining enough and talented enough to fill the Coliseum, which is something the Rams might struggle to do if they don't get better in a hurry.
1. Oklahoma State (23 points)
Yes, you're reading this right. With one of the country's best quarterbacks (Mason Rudolph) and best wide receivers (James Washington) leading a high-flying offense, and their mullet-wearing, rattlesnake-hunting head coach running the show, the Cowboys are the most entertaining team to watch in college football. And, if Mike Gundy screws it up, OSU billionaire booster T. Boone Pickens won't be afraid to tell us all about it.