As of Monday, the 2018 season has finally ended with Clemson beating the absolute hell out of Alabama. So now as part of yearly sportswriting tradition, we have on Tuesday a way too early Top 25 for next season. We don’t even know who’s declaring for the draft, who’s transferring or which coach is getting fired for a weird scandal.
Clemson just won the National Championship with a true freshman QB dropping dimes to a true freshman receiver. They also have a still-freakish defense even after a half dozen players leave for the NFL.
There’s no way Tua Tagovailoa and those receivers should be less than #1, but here we are. Stay tuned for Clemson vs. Alabama 5.0.
3. Ohio State
OSU will be no lower than this if Dwayne Haskins returns, but should he leave, Georgia transfer Justin Fields should guide them to playoff contention under new head coach Ryan Day. Whichever QB they have, though, they’re still going to get blown out by Northwestern or something.
4. Notre Dame
The Irish play at Georgia and at Michigan next year, so if they do run the table, a playoff spot will be deserved. But they’re not going to run the table, because even though they have Ian Book and a loaded defense coming back, this team will always find a way to get blown out at the grandest of stages.
Georgia could (or should) be #3, but I’m going out on a limb to say losing Mel Tucker is going to hurt them. Besides, getting beaten up by Texas in the Sugar Bowl won’t look good to media voters.
LSU is bound to get overhyped for taking care of business against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. They’re also returning virtually everyone besides Greedy Williams, so I guess some of that hype will be earned.
Likewise, media members need any excuse whatsoever to boost Florida, because gassing up the SEC requires people to pretend the SEC East isn’t the Pac-12 South with better recruiting ground. Just don’t believe anyone who says Feleipe Franks is good.
Will this be the year Michigan beats Ohio State? No, but it’s a damn talented team who will disappoint just the same.
OU should probably be higher, but it’s too early to tell if their poor defense can hold up without a Heisman winner leading the offense. (They’re also losing as many as four offensive lineman and Marquise Brown, so I’m a little worried.)
Texas will surely be higher than #10 by virtue of dominating Georgia on New Year’s. But with the erratic Sam Ehlinger leading a frustrating offense, will we ever know if Texas is truly back?
11. Texas A&M
I don’t know anything about the Aggies but all these other rankings have them around here. So I’ll just put them at 11 and hope it’s okay.
Oregon is returning Justin Herbert and just secured the commitment of top-rated recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux. It doesn’t matter that Herbert isn’t really that good or that a freshman DE is enough to fix that defense.
If you thought the Huskies were good before, just wait. Jake Browning has finally graduated, and though losing a four-year starter at QB would be huge for most programs, UW fans have consistently blamed Browning for holding back their team. (They’re not wrong.) Washington loses a bunch of NFL talent on defense, per yearly tradition, but Jake Eason should be able to lift their offense.
The 2018 National Champs finally lost to LSU, but it was with their backup quarterback, Darriel Mack Jr., who looks capable of replacing McKenzie Milton if his knee injury forces him out.
15. Washington State
Wazzu loses Gardner Minshew to graduation (as well as star OT Andre Dillard), but I’m never again going to doubt the Cougars.
16. Penn State
Trace McSorley has finally graduated and Penn State has to figure out how to replace the school’s all-time leading passer. Considering their infrastructure, it seems they can’t fall out of the Top 25 no matter who starts under center.
Their supermegamassive offensive line couldn’t carry them to the Big Ten West, but despite the disappointment, I don’t know who else to put here. Just tune in to see if Jonathan Taylor can challenge Ron Dayne’s career records.
Is Auburn good? Probably not. Can they come out of nowhere and shock everyone, up to and including Alabama? Possibly. That’s just Auburn football, and it doesn’t matter who is replacing Jarrett Stidham at QB.
Iowa was one of the most underrated teams in college football this past year, but feel free to ignore them again next year. They operate best when no suspects them.
Northwestern is one of the most random division champs in recent memory (oh hey, CU fans) but they deserved to be there. They lose a bit on offense, so those Medill grads have to be hoping the defense is enough to sustain them.
The Wildcats are losing Benny Snell and Josh Allen to the NFL Draft, which is hella depressing. Still, that defense is special, which is kinda funny to think about considering how much it improved after D.J. Eliot left for CU.
They may be losing Eric Dungey, but the spirit of Troy Nunes runs through all Cuse QBs. Besides, keeping Dino Babers at head coach is enough to build a fun offense next to a strong D. It helps too that they have an easy schedule that could see them go 11-1 into the ACC Championship.
The Nubs finished the season strong, and with media members falling in love with Scott Frost, that’s enough for people to project them into the Top 25. Best case scenario is that the team is still trash and CU gets their first Top 25 win in years.
24. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs lose a ton of talent to the NFL, although that should be counteracted with improvement in Joe Moorhead’s offense led by QB Nick Fitzgerald.
If Utah is ever going to crack the preseason Top 25, it ought to be this year. They have too much returning talent and experience to not be considered one of the select few best teams in the sport.