The college season is here…finally! How do you spell Fired Up?
The Cream of the Crop
The top teams of this list should come as no surprise, especially the #1 slot. With Alex Thorne and Tyler DeGirolamo returning for their fifth seasons along with a veteran heavy cast and a handful of standout sophomores, Pittsburgh is the favorite to take home another national title. Oregon and Carleton look strong on paper and have shown the ability to train their youth into playmakers come May.
While Wisconsin is certainly reeling from a tough roster turnover (not that you can tell from their solid fall results), Hector Valdivia is someone who is not afraid to experiment throughout the season until he finds what works. For the past two seasons, Wisconsin has improved throughout the year and peaked when necessary. After consecutive second place finishes and with a chance to improve upon their poor 2010 nationals performance in front of a home crowd, expect to see some fireworks from baby blue.
Fall Back, Spring Forward
Taking a look at the rest of the teams in the Top 20, it is definitely worth mentioning some lackluster and even poor fall seasons. We don’t stake a lot into these results, especially when it comes to established programs. Perennial qualifiers are looking to fill the gaps left by not only Callahan nominees, but role players as well. Taking this into consideration, we decided to go with the teams that have proven to be the best, season after season.
Don’t count out Central Florida as one of the top teams in the nation because they had a few surprising losses. With Best, Ogren, Freystaetter and Hickson returning, one would expect expect Roca’s crew to be pretty comfortable at the top of the Southeast. Alternatively, we’ll have to keep an eye out on Michigan and Iowa who are both sporting underclassmen heavy rosters in competitive regions.
Shout-outs and Snubs
Florida State storms into the Top 20 with an impressive fall season that culminated with the Classic City Classic title. With two wins over Dartmouth and one over Central Florida, DUF and Nick Fletcher are primed for a run at the College Championships. While #20 seems low, FSU will have to silence doubters in order to earn the weak Southeast a strength bid. Also squeezing into the list is California – Davis who had a relatively quiet fall season after qualifying for the show in 2012. With Eli Kerns (Polar Bears), Ben Hubbard (Polar Bears) and Nathan White (Boost Mobile) returning for the Dogs, we expect to see Davis fighting hard for a Southwest strength bid.
Finally, the following teams got knocked out of this list’s final cut (in no particular order):
Harvard – No Whitt Virgin-Downy or Jeremy Mudd, but Red Line finished the fall strong with a close win over Tufts. Misha Herscu and transfer Piers MacNaughton are ready to make the Northeast a much more exciting region to watch.
Georgia Tech – The Lance-less Tribe took down Central Florida and lost by one to Dartmouth, eventually taking third at CCC. With a summer of Chain Lightning offensive line experience, Jay Clark is a force to be reckoned with.
Michigan State – Another young team in the Great Lakes, we’ll have to see if Burning Couch can bounce back after a poor Missouri Loves Company.
California - After an 11th place finish in Boulder last May, UGMO has graduated virtually their entire offensive line. James Pollard, Andrew Hagen, Brendan Bulick-Sullivan, Dalga Surofgy and Sanjay Srivatsan have moved on, leaving a gutted California roster in their wake.
Las Positas - LPC came out of nowhere taking second at the Santa Clara Carmen Classic and first at the Sean Ryan Memorial Tournament. Pickups Kevin Cox (San Diego State circa 2011, Polar Bears), Simon Higgins (Polar Bears) and Sonny Zaccaro have helped Las Positas best top regional competition in the fall as well as winning last weekend’s Santa Barbara Qualifier. We’ll see how they fare in the spring, but keep your eyes locked on this potential sleeper.