The AP Top 25 Poll comes out this weekend, but who wants to wait? I'm sure my top 25 will differ from the AP's, most notably I think they will rank Ohio State 2nd.
Like most all preseason polls it's a bunch of guessing; no one really knows how a team will perform before they take the field. Still though, based on talent, schedule, etc…this is how I see the top 25 teams in college football shaking out.
1. Alabama – They say the 2nd Championship is always more difficult than the 1st. If so, then how difficult will the 3rd be? Sure history and odds say that there is no way that Bama can win three in a row, but it's hard not to rank the Tide #1. Alabama returns with a lot of offensive weapons and they are reloading on defense. Also, besides Texas A&M and LSU, there really isn't a threat on their schedule.
2. Stanford – What would you have done 10 years ago if I told you that Stanford would be the top team in the west? Laughed in my face? The Cardinals are built like an SEC team, and will be in the BCS National Championship hunt this season.
3. Ohio State – Much like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer knows what he's doing. With Meyer's offensive schemes + a weak schedule + a Heisman caliber quarterback = an elite team. I've debated on ranking the Buckeyes second, but I think they will stump their toe somewhere along the way.
4A. Clemson – The Tigers have a huge game in week one versus Georgia if, and that's a big if, the Tigers get past the Bulldogs then watch out. Clemson gets Florida State at home, and then finishes off the season with a huge game versus South Carolina to end the season. If not for the two elite SEC teams that bookend their schedule I would like Clemson to run the table.
4B .Georgia – The Bulldogs were just 5 yards short of playing for a National Championship last season. With the return of Aaron Murray, plus tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, the Dawgs are once again a top team in the SEC East. The bad news for Georgia is the loss of Jarvis Jones along with Kwame Geathers and Alec Olgetree from their defense.
4C. South Carolina – Really this is just a bad love triangle between South Carolina/Georgia/Clemson. Whoever wins this round-robin will end up being a top 5 team. This is Spurrier's most talented team since arriving in Columbia.
7. Texas A&M – Two words: Johnny "Football". I know that's me giving him too much credit, but the turnaround for Texas A&M in year one of the SEC was just short of amazing. It's no "Joeckel" that Manziel lost his blindside blocker, but the line is still pretty deep. The season starts and ends on week 3 for the Aggies. An upset over the Tide will put them in the driver seat for a National Title. (Note this is assuming Johnny Manziel plays this season)
8. Oregon – I'm not buying the new coach yet, but still way too much talent and speed on this team for them not to battle Stanford for PAC12 supremacy.
9. Louisville - Teddy Bridgewater should lead this team through the American Conference without a blemish, but should and will are two different things. Last season the Cardinals started 9-0 before falling on their face, but they showed that they are legit after they hammered Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
10. Florida State – Last year was supposed to be the year of the Noles, but it wasn't. They have to replace a quarterback, but they play in a weak ACC, and have a lot of skill players. I think FSU will be a bubble top 10 team.
11. Oklahoma State – Mike Gundy's offensive system keep the Cowboys legit. They still have a lot of work to do on defense, but they win by outscoring people. We will know how good this team is week one when they face Mississippi State.
12. Florida - The Gators used a lot of smoke and mirrors last season, but still found away to win 11 games. Their defense will be stout once again, but there is a major lack of playmakers in the swamp.
13. LSU – "I could have been a contender." That's the case for LSU after a ton of their talent bolted for the NFL. Miles has recruited well, but I don't see the Tigers being a title contender this season.
14. Texas – The Longhorns return 19 starters, and David Ash should be settled into the starting role, but I don't think the Horns are title worthy. I could see them winning the Big12, but I'm not buying Texas as an elite team until I see it on the field.
15. Notre Dame – The Irish were exposed in the BCS Championship Game. Now Brain Kelly has a QB issues, defensive issues and a target on their back. I look for Notre Dame to take a step back.
16. Michigan – I like their head coach Brady Hoke, and I think Devin Gardner is an upgrade over Denard Robinson. I think the Wolverines make it to the Big10 Championship.
17. Oklahoma – The Sooners should be a contender in the Big12, but have to find a quarterback. I think the Sooners are a year away from title talks.
18. TCU – The Frogs are done with their transition into the Big12, and now it's time for them to compete. They open the season versus LSU, and have to go to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but it will be a better year in Fort Worth.
19. Boise State – Chris Peterson is 84-8 as a head coach! The Broncos will be a Top 25 team as long as Peterson is calling the shots.
20. Nebraska – You never know what you're going to get with this team. One week they look like a top 25 team, the next week they are allowing 25 points a quarter. When will the "Blackshirts" return to Lincoln?
21. Miami – This is Al Goldens deepest team since he arrived in South Beach. The Cains will be able to run it behind Heisman dark horse Duke Johnson. The Cains are not a BCS Title contender, but could earn a spot in the ACC Championship.
22. Baylor – I could see the Bears starting the season 7 or maybe even 9-0. It's not because they are that good, but rather their schedule is that weak.
23. Michigan State – Sparty will improve on last season's 7-6 record. They have to find a replacement for running back Le'Veon Bell, but their stiff defense will keep them in games.
24. Oregon State – Love the job Mike Riley has done with the Beavers. They will not win the PAC12, but are a solid top 25 team.
25A. Vanderbilt – This is simple; the winner of the Thursday, August 29th opener between Vandy and Ole Miss will be a top 25 team. James Franklin has done a solid job with the Dores.
25B. Ole Miss – No one saw the saw the Rebels going to a bowl game last year. Hugh Freeze's turnaround was remarkable. The Rebels return a lot of firepower on offense with the scrappy Bo Wallace and speedy Jeff Scott.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter @Patrickp13
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