There’s plenty of time between now and the start of the 2019 college football season.
The transfer and recruiting market remains open. There is the unfortunate truth that some programs will see significant players injured in spring ball or fall camp. And the coaching carousel isn’t exactly shut down with NFL teams looking more and more to the college ranks.
So it’s way early for a preseason poll, but that won’t stop us from providing one.
1. Clemson. The reigning champs will have an offense that’s scary good next season with QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne and WR Justyn Ross back.
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2. Alabama. Monday night didn’t go well, but it’s hard to bet against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, especially with Tua Tagovailoa back for his junior season.
3. Georgia. The Bulldogs had a disappointing showing in the Sugar Bowl, but Jake Fromm is the real deal.
4. Oklahoma. They could be replacing a Heisman Trophy winner for the second straight season. Or Kyler Murray could return. Either way, we like whoever is running Lincoln Riley’s system.
5. Ohio State. Dwayne Haskins could be the first QB taken in the NFL Draft. But, much like Oklahoma, Ohio State always seem to have high-end options.
6. LSU. The LSU defense seemingly reloads, not rebuilds, when it loses playmakers. And the offense should improve in Year 2 of Joe Burrow.
7. Texas. Sam Ehlinger said Texas is back. And the Longhorns are as long as he is behind center.
8. Notre Dame. The Irish reached the College Football Playoff. Even though it didn’t go as well as desired, they’ll be in the mix again behind Ian Book.
9. Michigan. Can Shea Patterson finally push the Wolverines over the hump and into the CFP next season? Michigan has the talent to do so.
10. Oregon. The Ducks have Justin Herbert back and the best NFL QB prospect should put them in position to win every week.
11. Texas A&M. Year 2 of Jimbo Fisher should bring heightened expectations. Kellen Mond should take more strides as a junior.
12. Florida. Year 2 of Dan Mullen should bring heightened expectations, although the QB battle between Feleipe Franks and Emory Jones will make national headlines.
13. Penn State. The Nittany Lions will have a new quarterback, but James Franklin is one of the top coaches in the country.
14. Washington. The Huskies lose a lot of talent. But it’s hard to bet against Chris Petersen in a down Pac-12.
15. Auburn. This has the makings of a make-or-break season for Gus Malzahn as 2013’s trip to the title game seems like an eternity ago.
16. UCF. The winning streak is over but the Knights are here to stay, especially if QB McKenzie Milton recovers fully.
17. Wisconsin. Jonathan Taylor is back at RB and should be a Heisman contender. He should also carry the Badgers as far as they can go.
18. Utah. Tyler Huntley is back at QB and the Utes should be contenders in a wide-open Pac-12.
19. Iowa. QB Nate Stanley returns, but the Hawkeyes’ best player is pass rusher A.J. Epenesa.
20. Washington State. Mike Leach always has his teams in contention, but it’ll be interesting to see how next season goes with Gardner Minshew gone.
21. Syracuse. QB Eric Dungey is gone, but several playmakers return to a team that averaged 40.2 points a game. The Orange are best positioned to knock off Clemson in the ACC.
22. Iowa State. There’s a reason Matt Campbell has been linked to NFL jobs. He’s a rising star in the coaching industry and will have the Cyclones in the Big 12 mix next season.
23. Missouri. Goodbye Drew Lock. Hello Kelly Bryant. The Tigers will be a dark horse next season.
24. Nebraska. The Huskers are going to take strides in returning to relevance in Scott Frost’s second season.
25. Army. The Black Knights won 11 games, including taking Oklahoma to overtime and whipping Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl in 2018.