Football season is almost upon us, and fans of both the NCAA and NFL cannot wait for week one just months away. The focus here is on the college football rankings. The official top 25 has not been released yet, and fans are anxious to figure out where their team will rank after last season.
We took three writers from The Athletes Hub panel and had them come up with their own top 25 and discuss why teams are where they are. You may not agree with these rankings, and truly, you’re not supposed to.
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Example: Click “Brian’s Rankings” to be directed to his spreadsheet.
Let’s start with the obvious: The five teams in contention for the playoffs last season will likely be there again. Alabama and Clemson have met there the last three seasons, while Ohio State has been close. Georgia will be the favorite in a weaker SEC East, and Oklahoma is still the only team from the Big 12 to make it. They should be the conference favorite, even after Baker Mayfield advanced to the NFL.
Only three Group of Five teams are on this list, led by Boise State at #16. Bryan Harsin has led the Broncos to a 42-12 record over the last four seasons, including a Fiesta Bowl win. Last season’s Peach Bowl winners, the UCF Knights, dropped down a few spots to #20 due to coach Scott Frost heading to Nebraska. However, QB McKenzie Milton is back, which should keep the offense at a high level. USF at #25 was the favorite last season, and although they fell short, the team still finished at 11-2. They have a hole at QB after record setter Quinton Flowers graduated, but the defense should still be strong and Charlie Strong brought in a good recruiting class.
Overall, there’s a mix of teams from most of the Power 5 conferences, although only two from the Pac 12. One team outside the top 25 who could jump in the rankings soon is South Carolina. I like the play of Jake Bentley, and in a weaker division, they could end up challenging.
You’ll notice a few things on my list I feel the need to address. I have a lot of teams dealing with heavy losses ranked high, but I’m assuming they’ll be able to fill the holes and put forth a strong season. An example of this is Oklahoma at #6, despite losing Baker Mayfield. Kyler Murray seems a solid replacement, and the team is still led by promising head coach in Lincoln Riley.
I have a lot of Big 10 teams in my top 10, and that’s because the conference is loaded with talent. Wisconsin is a team I can see climbing, as they are led by a solid quarterback in Alex Hornibrook and star running back Johnathan Taylor.
I have Miami just outside of the top 10 with the expectations that they’ll rise, but on paper, this seemed to be a fair assessment. The Virginia Tech Hokies at #17 is an interesting window to me, because I can see this team either rising high or falling low. Justin Fuente has done a solid job with the Hokies so far, attracting strong recruits, and reaching a conference title in his first year, though the team lost to Clemson. Their season fringes on the ability to build around Josh Jackson and replace the Edmunds brothers on their defensive side, which has been consistently a top unit in the nation.
UCF at #13 will raise some eyebrows, but after an undefeated season, completed by a very impressive win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl, this team has me sold. They’re fun to watch and very talented, this combined with a likely easy schedule gives them room to climb high in the rankings once again.
I know I didn’t address everything that may be controversial, but I stand by my rankings on paper before the start of the season. The top five may be interchangeable, but everyone aside from Wisconsin seems like a shoe-in.
There are definetly a few things on my list that aren’t so popular, such as Oklahoma ranked #4 on my list ahead of Ohio State. Oklahoma, even with the loss Baker Mayfield, are still an extremely impressive team and finished top four last season for a good reason. With that, Lincoln Ridley should give the Sooners a great season, as Oklahoma should return back to playoff contention.
The Miami Hurricanes are ranked #6 on my list, as this defense was nothing short of phenomenal last season and were victim to a couple of late season losses. With the defense being held down by ILB Shaq Quarterman and DB Michael Jackson, the turnover chain will be on it’s return next season for “The U”.
The Pac 12 makes a good amount of appearances with a total of five representatives on my list. USC is my highest out of that conference, and even with the departure of QB Sam Darnold, this team looked competitive as ever. Matt Fink and Jack Sears will compete for the starting QB bid, while Clay Helton prepares for another season where the Trojans look to take another step towards improvement. Losing a great quarterback like Darnold is never easy, but I truly believe USC will be able to move on and further improve their roster.
UCF all the way down at #19 will surely spark some opposition, but as sold as I am on this team, they are in a transition year on arguably the two most important factors of a football team: Head coach and QB. Their head coach last season, Scott Frost, has taken a job in Nebraska and McKenzie Milton will start at QB for the Knights.
To end this list, I had Texas A&M coming in at #25 to close it out. Their seasons since Johnny Manziel have been less than ideal. They have had their moments in big games, but nothing has seemed to stick. There are plenty of teams you could put down at this slot, and my mind could be easily changed. In the end, newly hired HC Jimbo Fisher and QB Nick Starkel have had a strong first impression coming into the new year.
There you have it, The Athletes Hub take on the top 25 teams in the nation. Any dissagreements or even agreements you would like to shed light on? Let us know on Twitter @HubOfAthletes and/or in the comments below!
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