Publish Date: 08/07/2016
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
1). Alabama- Who else? Saban is the best recruiter in college football and they don’t rebuild they reload. Defense will be one of Saban’s best, the only question will be at QB.
2). Oklahoma Sooners- Tough games @TCU and Texas Tech will prove difficult, but this is the best team in the Big 12. Expect Baker Mayfield to lead them back to the playoffs.
3).Clemson Tigers- The Tigers lost a lot on defense, but QB Deshaun Watson makes them a tough out still.
4), Florida.State Seminoles- Most of the roster returns intact, but the Seminoles have to find a QB and replace cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Dalvin Cook is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman.
5). LSU Tigers- LSU is loaded for a run at a CFP berth. As usual, the Tigers will lean on their ground attack and defense to carry the team. However, Brandon Harris and the passing game have to improve to win the SEC.
6). Ohio.State Buckeyes- Lets face it when you have Urban Meyer as your coach you have a chance. The Buckeyes have the fewest returning starters (six) of any Power 5 team. However, thanks to elite recruiting classes, Ohio State should be able to reload in a hurry. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Buckeyes can lean on J.T. Barrett until the rest of the pieces fall into place.
7). Stanford Cardinal- David Shaw’s team was hit hard by personnel departures. However, the Cardinal still has enough returning talent to challenge for the conference title — especially with running back Christian McCaffrey leading the way.
8). Tennessee Volunteers- Tennessee returns 18 starters, including quarterback Joshua Dobbs and end Derek Barnett.
9). Michigan Wolverines- One of the top defenses in college football and if they get solid QB play they could challenge for playoff berth.
10). Ole Miss Rebels- Hugh Freeze must replace three first-round picks, but the Rebels have recruited well enough to prevent a huge drop off. Chad Kelly is the SEC’s top signal-caller and there’s no shortage of options at receiver. Kelly will challenge for the heisman.
11). Michigan.State Spartans- The Spartans have won at least 11 games in five of the last six years. Despite the loss of quarterback Connor Cook, end Shilique Calhoun and standout lineman Jack Conklin and Jack Allen, coach Mark Dantonio won’t allow Michigan State to slip too far in the rankings.
12). Houston Cougars- After a 13-1 record in Tom Herman’s first season. The Cougars are the top Group of 5 team for 2016 and could climb into the playoff discussion with wins over Oklahoma and Louisville in non-conference games.
13). Notre Dame Fighting Irish- the Fighting Irish have a manageable schedule, two proven quarterbacks and enough of a foundation on both sides of the ball to push for 10 wins once again.
14). TCU Horned Frogs- Only one starter returns on offense, but there’s a good foundation in place at the skill positions. The Horned Frogs are loaded on defense and return four key players who missed all or most of last year due to injury.
15). UCLA Bruins- The Bruins return the Pac-12’s top quarterback in Josh Rosen, and the schedule is manageable. The defense returns eight starters, and standout end Eddie Vanderdoes is back from injury.
16). USC Trojans- Clay Helton’s first full season on the job features one of the nation’s toughest schedules, a quarterback battle and a completely revamped defensive line.
17). North Carolina Tar Heels- New quarterback Mitch Trubisky is a rising star, and the supporting cast is among the best in the ACC.
18). Washington Huskies- Talented sophomores Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin are two of the Pac-12’s top players on offense, while the defense returns eight starters from a unit that allowed only 18.8 points a game last year.
19). Louisville Cardinals- The Cardinals finished the 2015 season by winning six of their final seven games. Bobby Petrino’s team should build on that momentum in 2016 with 16 returning starters and the emergence of dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson.
20). Iowa Hawkeyes- Quarterback C.J. Beathard leads the way on offense, while the defense returns eight starters.
21). Oregon Ducks- There’s no shortage of skill talent on offense, but the line must replace three starters. Brady Hoke is tasked with improving a defense that surrendered 37.5 points a game.
22). Georgia Bulldogs- New coach Kirby Smart inherits a roster filled with promising talent and one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits in Jacob Eason. However, running back Nick Chubb is recovering from a serious knee injury, and the defense features a revamped front seven.
23). Oklahoma.State Cowboys- Mason Rudolph to James Washington should be one of the Big 12’s top quarterback-receiver combinations in 2016.
24). Florida Gators- The defense is still among the best in the SEC, but Florida has to find some answers on offense after averaging 12.6 points over the final six games of 2015.
25). Miami(Fla)- Coach Mark Richt will be looking to return the canes to the glory of old, with a top notch QB that is possible.