Oregon Leads PAC-12 In Savvygameline Top 50

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 13: Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks scrambles in the first half of the game at Autzen Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 30-27. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Editors’s Note: This article was originally published on SavvyGameLine.com by the same author. Some text has been re-used and tailored to the current discussion. 

In the two months since Savvygameline released its preseason rankings for all 130 college football teams, we’ve poured over team blogs, media days, sports news outlets, etc.  We’ve agonized and scratched our heads and assorted body parts (although not each other’s) and all of it to answer just one question:

Who are the starting quarterbacks?

With today’s grad-transfer rules, the answer to that question is more elusive than ever.  The good news is, that information abounds like never before and Savvy now has “solid confidence” who the starters will be for 91% of the teams compared to 87% a year ago.

For the fourth straight year, Alabama starts as the top team on the Savvy Index (shown below).  That doesn’t mean the Tide will stay on top because, as we saw last year, the Index had no problem defying its own top-ranked team to predict Clemson’s “upset” win in the national championship game.

Rather than squabble much about which of those twins is the most-beautiful, let’s move on to the PAC-12 and also look at some of the Savvy top 25 that don’t play well with others who produce national rankings.

  • PAC-12

The University of Oregon was named the top team in the PAC-12 in Savvygameline’s top 50.  The Ducks return the North’s best set of producers while Washington and Washington State have uncertainty at quarterback and Stanford is Savvy-projected to have rushing issues greater than last season.  

While Oregon is favored, it’s not by much and it comes with a caution that Washington State is not to be taken lightly.  The Cougars have everything they need to win the North except a quarterback who is already proven.         

Utah is the clear leader in the South.  The Ute’s closest rival is USC, a team that is ranked 20 positions lower and is in the midst of a baffling abnegation of its legendary offensive blueprint.  Arizona is a team to pay attention to because if Khalil Tate is healthy and given the reins, he could turn the PAC-12 South upside down.

  • Georgia

The Bulldogs are generally seen as a top-five team, but Savvy has them in the second five because our system analytics project that Georgia won’t bring any better pressure this season than it did in 2018 (100th ranked).  Also, Georgia won fewer games last season than the one before.

  • Ohio State

Many sources have OSU in the top five, but Savvy has the Buckeyes 13th, primarily because Savvy’s module for assessing new coaches doesn’t produce many optimistic marks for  Ryan Day.

  • Texas A&M

The Aggies are commonly shown as a top-ten team, but the Savvy Index puts them at 32nd.  Coincidentally, 32nd is exactly where TAMU’s defense finished in 2018, and based on Savvy’s projections of returning production, that defense is going to fall off in 2019.

  • Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish aren’t in the top ten of many analysts’ rankings, but Savvy has this team third with some of the highest defensive projections of any team in the country.  Savvy’s only hedge for Notre Dame is a lack of depth at receiver after three of the top four graduated and only 40% of its “effective production” returns.

  • UCF and Stanford

Savvy ranks Central Florida 25th, which is ten spots below the popular prophets of pigskin previews, and the Index ranks Stanford 18th, which is about ten spots above.  It won’t be long before we know more about both because they play each other in Florida on September 14th.

  •  Wisconsin

Until the Badgers prove otherwise, Savvy is convinced this is not a top ten team.  Instead, the Index is starting Wisconsin 33rd because projections at all levels of the defense are markedly lower than a year ago and because the Badgers lost their starting quarterback to graduate-transfer.

  • A note about Nebraska:

In my view, Savvygameline has snubbed Nebraska. Most pundits see the Cornhuskers as a top-25 team, but Savvy doesn’t list them in the top 50.  It’s hard to find sufficient justification for either of those rankings. Yes, it’s a NU day in Huskerville under Scott Frost, but this team has some significant talent deficits that didn’t change in one recruiting cycle. Those deficits will be noticeable and agonizing on defense (ranked 94th last year).  I personally would start this team somewhere in between, like perhaps 35th. On Savvy’s behalf, let me add that the Index has bumped this team up more than 25 spots from its final 2018 ranking.

Now that we are 91% certain of the starting quarterbacks, the ranking list below is likely to be the final preseason ranking publication before the start of the season.  If there is more shifting of personnel than expected, we will provide an update of these rankings probably in mid-August.


Savvy Index 2019
 preseason rankings
3Notre Dame
11Penn St.
13Ohio St.
14N Carolina St.
17Va Tech
19Michigan St.
23Washington St.
26W Virginia
27Iowa St.
28Boise St.
29Oklahoma St.
30S Carolina
32Texas A&M
34Florida St.
37Mississippi St.
39Fresno St.
40Boston Col
41Arizona St.
42Miami Fl
43App State
44Florida Intl.
45San Diego St.
46Wake Forest
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About Bobby Albrant 150 Articles
Bobby Albrant is a former journalism major at the University of Oregon, creator of Savvygameline.com for college football predictions and rankings, former analyst for Southern Mississippi football games, and twenty years coaching girls basketball for all ages through CIF high school. He has three grown children with his youngest daughter playing on the Ventura (Ca) High School basketball team that defeated Dom Lugo High School and was the last high school game ever played by Diana Taurasi. He can be reached at bobbywildcat@gmail.com.