With March Madness coming to a conclusion I thought maybe we could take the favorite term of everybody during March Madness and apply it to the upcoming 2017 College Football season. That term, of course, would be Cinderella, so today let’s look at some “Cinderella” teams for the 2017 season.
1). South Florida Bulls
It is hard to use the term Cinderella if you saw the Bulls play last season. New head coach Charlie Strong has inherited a lot of talent, including quarterback Quinton Flowers, who passed for 2,807 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, and ran for 1,530 yards and 18 more scores. Strong is an excellent football coach who was never given much chance to succeed in Texas. He seems like a perfect match in South Florida. Strong in the past has been a strong (Pardon the Pun) recruiter and he should have a field day in a football hotspot like South Florida.
The defense will once again be very good and will have the veteran leadership of defensive linemen Deadrin Senat and Bruce Hector, and linebacker Auggie Sanchez.
The Bulls have a favorable schedule and could end up playing on New Years Day as an undefeated team.
2). Miami(Ohio) Redhawks
The Redhawks were an amazing story last year. They began the season losing six straight games and then recovered by winning their final six games and qualifying for a Bowl game.
Head coach, Chuck Martin’s Redhawks, return a ton of key players, including the established starter at quarterback Gus Ragland who will be entering his junior year. During the seven games he played last season, Gus Ragland passed for 1,537 yards and 17 touchdowns, with just one interception, and had a 6-1 record.
The Redhawks will be loaded at key skill positions including returning their top three rushers (Alonzo Smith, Kenny Young and Maurice Thomas), along with leading receivers James Gardner and Jared Murphy. Offensively the Redhawks will be explosive.
On defense, Miami gave up less that 20 points a game in eight conference games. If linebacker Junior McMullen continues to improve, they could be even better in 2017.
3). SMU Mustangs
SMU returns nine starters on offense, including star quarterback Ben Hicks, who threw for 2,930 yards as a freshman but had 15 passes intercepted. If Hicks can mature and take care of the ball, he will have plenty of weapons. Those weapons include standout running back Braeden West and receiver Courtland Sutton who individually accounted for over 1,000 yards last year.
The Mustangs just missed out on a bowl game last year, look for them to be in that mix in 2017.
4). Troy Trojans
The Trojans after last year will not be sneaking up on anybody this year. The Trojans won ten games last year and almost upset Clemson before falling by six points.
The Trojans will be led by a big time QB in Brandon Silvers, and he will have an explosive group returning with him that includes running backs Jordan Chunn and Josh Anderson and wide receivers Emanuel Thompson, Deondre Douglas and Tevaris McCormick.
5). Cincinnati Bearcats
Luke Fickell takes the reigns of the Bearcat program that was destroyed by the incompetent Tommy Tuberville. I expect Fickell will turn this team around quickly and have them in a bowl game this season. Hopefully, UC can keep him around, but with the success I expect him to have this will probably be a three-year stop on the way to a big time job for Fickell.