LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The 2021 college football magazines will leave the printer by the end of May.
Crowds were larger for spring football games than they were last fall (at many schools), and they’ll be larger in the fall than they were during the spring.
That makes today a perfect time to look ahead to the 2021 college season from a variety of sources:
Pro Football Focus touts Rodriguez, Penix, 2 others
Pro Football Focus, an analytics site that requires a subscription, ranked the Top 10 returning college players at six positions — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line and defensive back. (I cannot explain why they ignored linebacker, tight end and specialists.)
Four local players made the Top 10 cuts — a pair from Kentucky and Indiana.
PFF ranked UK offensive tackle Darrian Kinnard the nation’s third-best offensive lineman, behind Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and Ohio State tackle Thayer Munford.
Kinnard’s strength is his run blocking. PFF gave Kinnard its highest zone run blocking grades over the last two seasons. At 6 feet 5 inches and 345 pounds, Kinnard could play his way into the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
UK’s Chris Rodriguez ranked eighth at running back, a group led by Tank Bigsby of Auburn and Deuce Vaughn of Kansas State.
Rodriguez finished fifth in rushing in the Southeastern Conference last season with 785 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games. At 6.6, he was third in the SEC in yards per carry.
PFF said that in 2020 Rodriguez ranked second in the nation in runs that resulted in a first down. His conversion percentage was 41.
How important will the health of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. be to Indiana?
PFF ranked Penix the No. 5 quarterback, a group led by Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma. Penix threw five touchdowns passes against Ohio State and 14 in six games before he suffered a torn ACL.
PFF said that Penix played behind a sub-par offensive line. When he threw for 305 yards against Ohio State it was the best performance against pressure in college football over the last five seasons, ranking ahead of two games Patrick Mahomes had at Texas Tech.
Receiver Ty Fryfogle is IU’s second Top 10 performer. PFF ranked him No. 10 at his position, one spot behind David Bell of Purdue.
Fryfogle was voted the top receiver in the Big Ten last season. He averaged 19.5 yards per reception and scored seven touchdowns. PFF also said Fryfogle led the nation in contested receptions. He had nine for 15 yards or more, two more than anybody else.
IU only local team to crack Top 25s
Rankings have leaked out for 2021. Several have been revised since the conclusion of spring practice.
Although IU should return 16 starters, the Hoosiers are not scheduled for success.
They open at Iowa, ranked No. 18 at CBS. After hosting Paul Petrino and Idaho, the Hoosiers will welcome Cincinnati, ranked No. 10 by CBS, to Bloomington.
IU will play Western Kentucky in Bowling Green before visiting No. 19 Penn State.
By my calculation, that is three Top 20 teams in the first five weeks — with Ohio State (No. 3) and Michigan (No. 23) on the back end of the schedule.
The Hoosiers were the only local squad to crack those Top 25s.
ESPN’s Football Power Index ranked all 130 FBS division teams. Western Kentucky projected at No. 107, with 6.4 wins.
The computer formula credited Louisville with 6.5 wins at No. 42, with Kentucky three spots ahead at No. 39 with 7.1 victories. FPI ranked IU No. 25 with 7.6 victories.
College Football News also made predictions for all 130 teams.
Their forecasts: Louisville 6-6; Kentucky 7-5; Indiana 7-5; WKU 6-6.
Who are the four teams most likely to make the college football playoffs?
I will type these four schools — Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Clemson (in order) — before I check the 247Sports cumulative results.
Here is the answer: 1. Alabama; 2. Clemson; 3. Oklahoma: 4. Ohio State; 5. Georgia.
I’ll try to do better next time. College football is relentlessly unpredictable.
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