When College Football 24/7 put together its preaseason Power Rankings, which I was a part of, Florida State was a unanimous No. 1. And with good reason. The Seminoles are the reigning champs, have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and have re-loaded a roster that lost seven players to the first five rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft and 10 starters overall.
I texted five NFL executives, all with intimate knowledge of college football players and teams, and asked them who they thought would win the national title this season. Surprisingly, the vote was not unanimous. Here are the answers they texted back:
Executive No. 1: Florida State
"Florida State is loaded. They have the most talent in the country and it's not close. Plus, they have a quality quarterback."
Executive No. 2: Florida State
"Returning Heisman winner, experienced offensive line, and they are stocked with position players. Soft schedule helps."
Executive No. 3: Florida State
"Whole offensive line returns and they have young talent at the skill positions to go along with an experienced QB. Defense lost a lot of players, but the returning starters are really good, and they have talent in the pipeline to replace the guys that left."
Executive No. 4: Florida State
"Best roster and depth by far. They are building a dynasty down there."
Executive No. 5: Baylor
"Too much offense and Oklahoma is the only real challenge they'll face. Only bad weather could slow down that offense."
Verdict: Four exectives predicted Florida State would win the national title, one voted for Baylor.
Conclusion: Despite losing impact players at every level of their defense, the Seminoles are still loaded with talent on that side of the ball. The offense possesses everything needed to be an elite unit -- experience in the trenches, explosive playmakers and a top-tier signal-caller. The Baylor pick was a major surprise. The Bears were upset by Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl last season, but they do return a veteran quarterback and one of the top receiver groups in the country.