How much does the pre-season AP Top 25 really mean for college football? There are no awards given out here, but it helps hype up early season TV ratings and provides an educated baseline for some of the top teams – let’s take a look at the preseason list.
1. Clemson – Going for fifth straight playoff appearance, the defending champ and preseason number 1 team returns three preseason first team All Americans: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, and LB Isaiah Simmons.
2. Alabama –Conference schedule that kept them out of SEC title game back in 2017 with road games at Auburn and Texas A&M, but with 2018 Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa back at QB they look to avenge last year’s title game loss.
3. Georgia – With Jake Fromm returning, the top 3 teams all return a Heisman candidate at quarterback. The schedule aligns favorably with only 3 true road games in conference. Likely to see them back in the SEC title game 3 wins away from National Championship.
4. Oklahoma – Alabama transfer QB Jalen Hurts will now start for the Sooners. Oklahoma known to score, but new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch from Ohio State will try to add some balance.
5. Ohio State – Two straight seasons of both winning the Big Ten and being left out of the playoffs. New head coach Ryan Day, new QB Georgia transfer Justin Fields, and hopefully new results.
6. LSU – Beat Bama. From 2000 to 2011, they won all but 3 matchups with Bama but have since lost 8 in a row while averaging less than 10 points per game in that stretch.
7. Michigan – Beat Ohio State. Like LSU, they have not beaten their rival since 2011 and the offense has struggled in general over past seasons -new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis from Bama staff looks to improve.
8. Florida- Early season game with Miami highlights kickoff weekend for college football on August 24th. Bounced back from 4 win season in 2017 to win 10 games last year – strong momentum going into this season.
9. Notre Dame – A second straight undefeated regular season would require wins at Georgia, Michigan, and #25 Stanford.
10. Texas – The age old question, “Is Texas back?” If they win the conference for first time since 2009 I’ll say so.
11. Oregon – Top ranked team in the PAC 12. Beat Auburn in Jerry World to open season then win out and I’d bet the committee won’t leave them out of the playoffs.
12 Texas A&M – The impossible schedule: road games at Clemson, LSU and Georgia plus they have Auburn and Bama at home. Many teams would lose all five, and only two or three losses would be an impressive season, but they may have to do even better to make the playoffs.
13. Washington – Made it to one of the New Years’ Six bowl games past 3 years including one playoff appearance. Lose QB Jake Browning - 4 quarterbacks started camp battling to take his place.
14. Utah – PAC 12 media voted Utah the favorite to win their conference by 1 vote over the next closest team, Oregon. Senior RB Zack Moss is on the Maxwell Award watch list as Utah seeks their 1st Pac 12 football title since joining the conference in 2011.
15. Penn State – Quarterback competition ongoing to replace Trace McSorley and three road games against preseason top 25 teams present a challenge this season.
16. Auburn – Another team with a quarterback competition which may be tough early, but if they can get into form come November they could take down Georgia and Bama at home.
17. UCF - Two undefeated regular seasons in a row reaching top 10 in polls at some point too. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush likely to be quarterback heading into the year.
18. Michigan State – Reworked offensive coaching staff targets improvement after finishing 98th, 92nd, and 122nd in points per game last three years.
19. Wisconsin – The question is true freshman Graham Mertz or junior Jack Coan at quarterback, but both would get to play with preseason first team All American Jonathan Taylor at RB.
20. Iowa – Tough schedule going to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska in conference in addition to an early trip to Iowa State. Goal for a third straight bowl win would be solid for the program.
21. Iowa State – They haven’t won any conference title since 1912. Oklahoma is the favorite and they play them on the road, but could still manage a loss and make it to conference title game.
22. Syracuse - Building off first bowl game and win since 2013 – could they defend home field against Clemson and beat them out to represent division in conference title game?
23. Washington State – Head coach Mike Leach loves to pass and he has a QB competition to decide on between Anthony Gordon and Gage Gubrud.
24. Nebraska – Even though they won 4 total games last year, popular pick to represent their division in Big Ten title game with a favorable conference schedule and a 2nd year for QB Adrian Martinez and head coach Scott Frost.
25. Stanford – Last of the Pac 12 in the preseason top 25, but with only top 25 conference game on the road being at Washington State, they could find their way to the Pac 12 title game.