Pat Dooley’s Friday Fivesome July 16

The Friday Fivesome comes at you with one Media Day down and four to go including the Media Days on steroids that will be in Hoover, Ala., starting Monday.


Today, we are going to talk about “X Factors” in the Power Five Conferences. Now, everyone can have a different opinion on what an “X Factor” is, but mine is quite simple.

These are the teams that have high ceilings and low floors heading into the 2021 season and the truth is that I have no idea what will happen this season.

There are a lot of teams that could fall into this category, but I picked one from each of the Five Families.

ACC – Notre Dame

I know the Irish have gone back to being an independent, but I still consider Notre Dame to be in the ACC.

Brian Kelly has to replace nine starters on offense and defensive coordinator Clark Lea. On the other hand, the schedule will be much easier this year.

So, is this a playoff team again? Difficult to see it, but it’s also difficult to see many losses. If any.

 Big 10 – Penn State

There are several teams that you look at and wonder if the flaw of 2020 was just not handling the pandemic well. Penn State is one of those teams.

After a turnover-plagued 4-5 season, you have to figure that James Franklin will figure things out. Don’t forget that the Nittany Lions won their last four games, albeit against average teams.

If they can bring back the “White Out” enthusiasm and win that early game against Auburn (and also win the opener at Wisconsin), it could be a more normal year. If they start 1-2, it could get ugly.

Big 12 – Oklahoma State

I like the talent on this team, especially offensively. But there has to be more of a commitment to cut down on turnovers, especially by quarterback Spencer Sanders.

Mike Gundy cut his mullet and stayed out of the news and that could be a good thing. It’s tough when you have to deal with Oklahoma and Iowa State and Okie State always seems to lose one of those mystery games.

Should be interesting either way.

Pac-12 – Washington

The Huskies should have been in the Pac-12 title game, but COVID kept them out of it.

As a result, they only played four games. They won three of them, but that makes this a hard team to get a grip on.

If the conference is going to be relevant again, it could use things like Washington beating Michigan in the second week.


The Tigers won their last two games to finish .500 and there is no question the talent is there.

But two new coordinators and the Ed Orgeron factor makes it difficult to figure where this season will go. Oh, and there is Alabama.

LSU still has a young team but maybe Max Johnson is the answer at quarterback. Then again, maybe not.

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