We’re officially two weeks out from the beginning of what will be the last normal college football season. Playoff expansion looms and realignment is entering our lives against our will, but we forge on to the beat of the college football drum. With the season only being mere weeks away, it’s time for everyone’s favorite hobby: preseason top 25 lists! Rankings of the 25 best teams in the sport before the season kicks off, with some teams being higher or lower than expected on the list.
Of course, the reigning champion Georgia Bulldogs take the top spot. Despite losing QB Stetson Bennett (finally) and major lynchpins of both the offense and defense, the Bulldogs reload with Carson Beck at QB, and a young defense that played very well last year will only get better. Oh yeah, they also have Brock Bowers, one of the best non-QBs in the entire sport, as a game-breaking weapon at tight end.
Coming up behind them is the Michigan Wolverines, who might have the deepest group of talent since coach Jim Harbaugh took over the maize and blue. QB JJ McCarthy is a wild card, but with backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards returning, they’ll continue to be a wagon on offense. Bringing up the back half of the top five are Alabama and Ohio State, two supremely talented teams facing major question marks at QB, and LSU, a team who finished the season well and has many high impact players such as sophomore phenom Harold Perkins Jr.
But enough talk, here’s our preseason top 25.
Preseason College Football Top 25
G5 Teams get their shine
There are four Group of Five teams on this ranking, and for good reason. Tulane is riding high after upsetting USC in the Cotton Bowl last year, and comes in at number 12 on the list. Yes, they lost RB Ty’Jae Spears and plenty of defensive starters, but bringing back QB Michael Pratt as well as WRs Jha’Quan Jackson and Lawrence Keys keeps the offense running at a high level. They also return four starters on the offensive line.
The UTSA Roadrunners come in at number 20 on this list, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they make major leaps when we come back around midseason. This team returns a lot of talent (although losing Zakhari Franklin hurts), including QB Frank Harris, and the defense is going to be very good this year. Meep meep, folks. The Roadrunners are on their way.
Troy and South Alabama round out the top 25. Both are phenomenal teams who will face each other in the Sun Belt this year. Anchored by stingy defense, the Troy Trojans are very well coached and will turn every game into a rock fight. South Alabama probably has the higher offensive ceiling with RB La’Damian Webb returning, and head coach Kane Wommack is one of the more underrated coaches in the sport. Both teams face daunting schedules this year, but keep an eye out for these two.
Wild Card teams
No, I don’t mean NFL Wild Card. I mean teams who have a high ceiling, but their floor might be a bit lower than expected. The first team on that list is Notre Dame. Bringing in QB Sam Hartman from Wake Forest, the offensive transition might be a steep one, especially because former OC Tommy Rees is now at Alabama. However, that defense is very talented, and played a lot better in the latter parts of the season. They get an early test in Ohio State at home, so be on the lookout for that.
Another wild card team is the Oklahoma Sooners. Last season was underwhelming at every point, but with Brent Venables going into year two as head coach, things should be better. The offensive line loses two starters at tackle, but I have more faith in their development of talent there than anything else. The biggest question mark is if the defense can turn it around. They messed with different fronts last year and got gashed, so Venables might have to simplify things to get his guys to play fast. The Sooners are very talented, though, and should push Texas for Big 12 supremacy.
“This is the year” teams
We all know ‘em, might not all like ‘em. These are teams who believe that they have the talent now, and this has to be the year to make a serious CFP run. Lets start with our 6th ranked team, the Florida State Seminoles. Head coach Mike Norvell has done wonders in the transfer portal and recruiting trail, and he has the Noles in a fantastic spot to be a real contender this year. QB Jordan Travis is a Heisman sleeper, and throwing to massive targets Johnny Wilson (6’7) and Keon Coleman (6’4) will make his life easier. Plus, offensive coordinator Alex Atkins has made this offense very fun and developed the offensive line into a strength, and RB Trey Benson should be a beneficiary. An early test vs LSU should give us a proper indication of what this team will be.
Heading up north, Penn State has a team that is truly loaded on both sides of the ball. RBs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen had phenomenal freshmen seasons, and both are back. OT Olu Fashanu could’ve been the first tackle drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft but chose to come back, which all benefits new starting QB Drew Allar, who is a former five-star himself. If Allar is everything people say he is, the offensive ceiling should be super high. Defensively, they’re rock solid up front with Chop Robinson on the edge, and LB Abdul Carter is another star in the making. With Ohio State going through QB upheaval, the door is potentially open for the Nittany Lions to make a run at winning the Big Ten now.