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Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking

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USA Today Sports

Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking

Clemson knocked off Alabama 35-31 in Tampa, Fla. to win the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship in one of the most thrilling and exciting championship games of all time.

But now that the confetti has been swept up and the players return back to campus, it's time to look ahead to the 2017 season.

Preseason rankings are far from an exact science, but do these way too early polls provide a good snapshot at the general consesus well in advance.

Way Too Early 2017 College Football Top 25 Ranking:

25. West Virginia: Former Florida QB Will Grier gets to man the helm for the Mountaineers. Not a great team, but they should be able to score by the bushel. 

24. Tennessee: The Volunteers are hit hard by matriculation, but Butch Jones has stockpiled enough talent. Will the pressure finally get to him, though?

23. Washington State: QB Luke Falk returns for his senior season and although the Cougars lose prolific receiver Gabe Marks, they return All-American guard Cody O'Connell. Defense should improve with nine starters returning.

22. South Florida: Head coach Charlie Taggart left for Oregon, but the Bulls got Charlie Strong in return. Some would say that's an upgrade. Remember the name Quinton Flowers. The QB has a great back story and should be in and around the Heisman talk.

21. Colorado: Mike MacIntrye was national coach of the year for a reason. The loss of QB Sefo Liufau hurts, but most of the offense returns.

20. Boise State: The Broncos are once again expected to be at or near the top of the Group of 5 with QB Brett Rypien back at the helm.

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19. Miami: The 2016 Miami defense was young and injured, but oh so talented. Even with QB Brad Kayaa headed to the NFL, the Hurricanes are going to put a hurting on folks. 

18. Georgia: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel return. Jacob Easson is in his second full season. This one shouldn't been too terribly difficult for Kirby Smart.

17. Texas: Charlie Strong did most of the heavy lifting and now Tom Herman gets to reap the benefits. The Longhorns should have a ton of experience on both sides of the ball. 

16. Louisville: The Cardinals ended the season with three consecutive losses, and on top of that, the will need to replace a bevy of top stars. The silver lining in all of this? Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is back for his junior year.

15. Kansas State: Wildcats have a favorable home Big XII schedule and should go 3-0 in non-conference play. 77-year-old wizard Bill Snyder gets a bevy of experience back on both sides. 

14. LSU: RB Derrius Guice showed that life after Leonard Fournette might not be all that bad. LSU hired offensive coordinator Matt Canada away from Pitt. Tigers will be interesting to track.

13. Auburn: The Tigers return 17 starters from the up-and-down 2016 campaign, including tailbacks Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham will face the fire early with a road game at Clemson.

12. Wisconsin: 16 returning starters and an easy schedule should help the Badgers once again be in position to contend for the Big Ten title. Can QB Alex Hornibrook take the next step?

11. Stanford: All David Shaw does is win 10 games a season. The Cardinal won 10 games in 2016 despite a litany of injuries. The names are important, because Stanford will once again be in the thick of things.

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10. Oklahoma State: Like David Shaw, Mike Gundy only knows how to win 10 games a year. He's won at least 10 games in five of the last seven seasons. Cowboys have enough firepower coming back to do damage.

9. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh is 1-3 against Ohio State and Michigan State and must replace 18 starters. But if there is anyone crazy enough to respond with resounding success, it's "Coach Khaki Pants." Rashan Gary and Wilton Speight will help lead the way.

8. Oklahoma: Dede Westbrook, Semaje Perine and Joe Mixon are all gone, but Baker Mayfield returns. Oklahoma seems to do better when they're not a Top 3 team to start the season.

7. Clemson: Too high? Too low? The national champs lose a majority oif their top players, including Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams and Ben Boulware. But Dabo Swinney can recruit and boy can he coach.

6. Washington: A trip to the CFB Playoff was nice, but the Huskies don't want to be a one-time thing. Chris Peterson has to replace a bunch of starters on defense, but with QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin returning, a foundation of excellence is there.

5. Southern Cal: Another "Too High, too low?" pick here. Sam Darnold looks to be the real deal, but the losses of JuJu Smith-Shuster and Adoree Jackson are going to hurt. Has the depth finally returned to USC? This is a top 10 team for sure, it's just had to figure out where exactly they fall. 

4. Penn State: 2016 was a springboard season for Penn State and with James Franklin getting back a good number of starters, the sky is the limit in 2017. Also: The Nittany Lions have Saquon Barkley. He is the best running back in the country. 

3. Florida State: Although the loss of Dalvin Cook hurts, a majority of the Seminoles' defensive starters return. With Clemson taking a slight dip due to matriculation, the ACC should be FSU's to reclaim.

2. Ohio State: A new offensive coordinator, a new running back and a lot of new faces on defense. But the talent is there, and so is both JT Barrett and some guy named Urban Meyer.

1. Alabama: Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams depart from the defense, but the Crimson Tide reload better than a Fast & Furious movie cast. Jalen Hurts returns for his true sophomore season. 

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

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Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points apiece as defending national champion Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak with a 63-58 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally regained their winning touch after dropping out of The Associated Press ranking for the first time since November 2017.

Georgia Tech (8-10, 3-5) lost its fourth straight home game. The Yellow Jackets haven't won at McCamish Pavilion since a Dec. 4 victory over Nebraska. 

Diakite's dunk with 14:47 remaining gave Virginia its biggest lead, 43-29.

The Cavaliers were still up 48-37 with just over 10 minutes to go when Georgia Tech suddenly came to life offensively.

The Yellow Jackets scored on four of five possessions, stringing together a 9-0 run that cut Virginia's edge to 48-46.

That was as close as Georgia Tech would get.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 center, knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to thwart Georgia Tech's momentum. A few minutes later, he swished another open jumper to make it 55-48. 

Georgia Tech got a basket and a defensive stop, but Braxton Key swooped on for an offensive rebound to give the Cavaliers a second chance. With just over 2 minutes to go, Diakite was left open on the wing for a jumper that made it 57-50, effectively finishing off the Yellow Jackets.

Jose Alvarado paced Georgia Tech with 20 points.

Virginia led 33-25 at halftime, taking advantage of the home team's sloppy play. The Yellow Jackets hit 11 of 18 shots (61.1%) but turned it over 13 times, wasting far too many possessions against the defensive-minded Cavaliers.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a desperately needed victory to avoid their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 12-20, 2017. While still a far cry from their national championship squad, Virginia showed some offensive efficiency to go along with its always-tenacious defense. Key chipped in with 10 points. 

Georgia Tech: This is shaping up to be another disappointing season, raising more doubts about whether coach Josh Pastner can turn around a program that is approaching a decade since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Yellow Jackets continue to show flashes of promise, but Pastner has been unable to develop any sort of consistency in his fourth season. 

UP NEXT

Virginia: Returns home to play North Carolina State on Monday night. 

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for the first of two meetings against No. 11 Louisville. The teams will meet again in Atlanta on March 7, the final game of the regular season. 

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Hyland scores 21 to lead VCU past St. Bonaventure

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Hyland scores 21 to lead VCU past St. Bonaventure

Nah'Shon Hyland had a season-high 21 points as VCU easily beat Saint Bonaventure 91-63 on Saturday.

Hyland hit 5 of 6 3-pointers. He added eight rebounds.

Marcus Santos-Silva had 17 points and 11 rebounds for VCU (13-5, 3-2 Atlantic 10 Conference). Issac Vann added 10 points. Corey Douglas had seven rebounds.

VCU dominated the first half and led 52-24 at the break. The Rams' 52 first-half points marked a season best for the team.

Justin Winston had 17 points for the Bonnies (12-6, 4-1), whose four-game win streak was broken. Jaren English added 15 points. Dominick Welch had seven rebounds.

VCU takes on Saint Joseph's on the road on Tuesday. Saint Bonaventure plays Dayton on the road on Wednesday.

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