College football’s Top 25 rankings are in place and the same four old teams dominate.
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
The preseason tradition in this space is to predict the final Top 25, which is not decided until after the college football qualifiers.
Injury, covid, and a number of other things are at play.
UCLA, which bring back 20 starters, were a really intriguing team to be considered in the Top 25. This is likely a decisive season for coach Chip Kelly, who is 10-21 with the Bruins. .
Maybe it’s a risk, maybe not, but the choice here won’t be Alabama to win the SEC or the national championship.
While it’s hard to go against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, who have together won six national championships in 14 seasons in Alabama. Even if they don’t win this season, the Tide and Saban do win a two-over-five title, which is an incredible achievement.
Yet Saban has never won two consecutive championships.
In this context, here are the choices for this year:
1 Oklahoma: There’s no question the eight programs left behind in the Big 12 would want to bleed the Sooners’ noses, but they’re not good enough. Oklahoma’s schedule is about the 35th toughest, so he’s expected to be undefeated. In the CFP Championship game, the Sooners will rally for four second-half touchdowns, all in the air, and beat Texas A&M 42-38 in a classic.
2 Texas A&M: The Aggies will win the SEC Championship – they will get the Crimson Tide at home – and make the playoffs as co-favorites with the Sooners to win it all.
3 Clemson: Tigers to lead Oklahoma at halftime 24-18, but Sooners will change three of their passing routes at halftime and catch the Tigers looking at their shoes for a 35-31 win .
4 Alabama: In an almost unprecedented scenario, the Tide will lose to the same opponent twice in a season, A&M, but finish an almost respectable 11-2.
5 State of Iowa: only losses will be suffered by Oklahoma and Texas.
6 Ohio State: With a new quarterback and defensive coordinator, the Buckeyes suffer losses against Michigan and Penn State.
7 Georgia: Georgia fans don’t have Kirby Smart in the hot seat, but they’re hungry for the national championship.
8 Washington: easy schedule and good line O.
9 Penn State: Tough schedule, but 16 starters behind.
10 Wisconsin: Badgers will keep it running until they can’t do it anymore.
11 Southern Cal: easy schedule, and 16 return entries.
12 North Carolina: How do you shoot Mack Brown in North Carolina? You don’t.
13 Notre Dame: Fighting Irish is struggling to grow with only nine holders back.
14 Cincinnati: The Bearcats continue to prove the program belongs to the Big Ten.
15 Utah: Experienced and rich transfer portal.
16 LSU: The Tigers are better than last season, but are now chasing two SEC West teams.
17 Miami (Florida): Opens with Alabama, then the Appalachian State is in difficulty to open the year.
18 Louisiane-Lafayette: Ragin Cajuns wins the first game against the Big 12 team for the second year in a row.
19 Coastal Carolina: The Sun Belt won’t get the credit it deserves.
20 Oregon: Will be higher if the Ducks can beat Ohio State in Game 2.
21 Indiana: With 17 returning starters, including quarterback Michael Penix, the Hoosiers are in every game.
22 Iowa: Difficult schedule, but 14 starters behind.
23 Florida: Will improve every week.
24 Ole Miss: The Rebels’ defense improves just enough for a 9-3 record.
Oklahoma State 25: The last half of the Cowboys calendar is a nightmare.