We’re going third in the summer, which means college football kickoff is right around the corner, and that means one thing: the preseason rankings.
Getting high in the early top 25 is important when looking at how the college football playoffs are doing, but it doesn’t mean everything.
How did the CBS Sports pundits rank the top 25 teams this preseason?
25. Pittsburgh. Kedon Slovis and Jordan Addison are out, but Kedon Slovis is there as quarterback to keep the Panthers in the ACC title race.
24. Tennessee. A potential climber in the SEC with a top-10 attack a year ago but holes to patch first in secondary.
23. Kentucky. Will Levis is returning under the middle, but the availability of Chris Rodriguez is up in the air over a legal issue for SEC East hopefuls.
22. Houston. This could be the year the Cougars overtake Cincinnati in the AAC before both teams move to the Big 12 next year.
21. Wachwald. College football’s core 11th offense is back, including Sam Hartman, but the Deacs’ defense ranked 91st nationally last fall.
20. Michigan State. Kenneth Walker is moving to the NFL, but Sparty still has a solid 1-2 shot that moves the ball while fixing the 111th pass defense in college football.
19. Miami. Mario Cristobal brings an elite coaching staff and succeeds Tyler Van Dyke as quarterback, but still faces a difficult schedule in Year 1.
18. Penn State. Sean Clifford is back, this time with WKU’s transfer of Mitchell Tinsley as a very credible downfield threat.
17. Cincinnati. Nine of the playmakers that got Cincy into the college football playoffs are now pros, so we’ll see how well Luke Fickell can develop his skills.
16. Arkansas. Perhaps the surprise team in college football last year, the Hogs are returning quarterback KJ Jefferson and signing transferee Jadon Hazelwood to replace Treylon Burks. Now comes this brutal SEC West list.
15.Wisconsin. Best overall defense from a year ago needs to add some new elements, but Braelon Allen appears to be one of the best young defenders in the country to hold this team, while Graham Mertz finds himself at quarterback.
14.Oregon. Dan Lanning is coaching Georgia’s historic defense to bring that magic to a Ducks team that seemed poised to make the playoffs last season.
13. State of Oklahoma. Some new faces in college football’s 2021 third-ranked defense, but the Pokes retain their experience as Spencer Sanders returns to QB.
12.USC. The biggest question in esports after Lincoln Riley moved west and brought with him a transfer class for the ages.
11. NC state. That team beat Clemson last fall and was eight combined points from a perfect ACC record, and now they have Devin Leary back driving that offense for another run.
10. Baylor. Dave Aranda led the Bears to a Big 12 title in a year of 2 wins and brings back enough experience on both sides of the ball to do it again.
9.Texas A&M. This could be the year that Jimbo pulls it all together and makes a run at the SEC after signing the highest-rated recruiting class of all time. A midseason date with Alabama will tell the tale.
8.Michigan. The defending Big Ten champions lose a bunch of their key teammates but still have plenty of skill to move the ball offensively.
7. Oklahoma. Brent Venables is stepping in to steady the ship after Riley’s departure and brought quarterback Dillon Gabriel to a reunion with play-caller Jeff Lebby after the two orchestrated a top-10 offense at UCF.
6. Notre Dame. Another freshman coach in Marcus Freeman who has dominated the recruiting scene to date and may have the best offensive line in college football.
5. Klemson. Defensive injuries and underperforming quarterback play sent the Tigers to three losses a year ago, but this defense, now healthy, could have the most physical front-seven unit in the country.
4. Utah. Big off-season optimism for the Pac-12 champions, who are bringing back the duo of Cam Rising in QB and Tavion Thomas in the backfield, a tandem who combined for 41 touchdowns last season.
3. Georgia. The defending champions of college football have some holes to patch in that savage defense, but also return plenty of downfield threats and perimeter speed, and are playing a very winnable schedule.
2. State of Ohio. The core of college football’s No. 1 offense is returning, led by Heisman finalist quarterback CJ Stroud, but how well Jim Knowles can fix the Buckeyes’ defense will tell if this team belongs in the playoffs.
1. Alabama. Breaking News: The Crimson Tide are college football’s best team after signing a blue-chip transfer class to build their Heisman-winning quarterback and an experienced defense led by linebacker Will Anderson, arguably the nation’s greatest player any position.
(h/t CBS Sports)
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