College football season is upon us. Last season, Georgia won the National Championship but it’s time to turn our attention to who’s next. Recently, the first Coaches Poll preseason rankings were released and shed some light on what we might expect. This season will be different but some familiar teams still remain at the top.
1 – Alabama
Alabama ranks #1 ahead of the season but finished second at the end of last season. They lost in the National Championship game to Georgia 33-18. The team has a great roster once again, which comes to no surprise. Heisman trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young returns. College football’s sack leader/linebacker Will Anderson is also back. They did lose some starters Evan Neal (offensive tackle) and Jameson Williams (wide receiver) in the first round of the NFL Draft. Alabama got some great transfer players in return. They include former Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton, Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs, and LSU cornerback Eli Ricks.
At 79%, Alabama has the second highest chances to make the College Football Playoffs. The team finished with a fantastic 13-2 overall record last season but after a disappointing championship loss, they look for redemption this season. Alabama starts their season on September 3rd against Utah State.
2 – Ohio State
Ohio State has most of their same players from last season. The #1 ranked offense will still be led by Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud. Running back TreVeyon Henderson will be back as well. Wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson were selected back-to-back in the NFL Draft. The defense was a liability for them last season. They are hoping that new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, previously with Oklahoma State, can have similar success. Knowles led Oklahoma State to be the #3 ranked defense last season. He looks to now improve the Ohio State defense.
They finished last season ranked #6 and with an 11-2 overall record. The team is ranked #2 in the preseason rankings.They didn’t make the College Football Playoff last season but have the highest chances of making it this season at 82%. Ohio State will face Notre Dame in their home opener on September 3rd.
3 – Georgia
Georgia won the National Championship last season, defeating Alabama as stated earlier. Georgia did lose five defensive starters in the first round of the NFL Draft. Among those players lost was #1 overall pick Travon Walker (defensive end). Other notable players drafted were defensive tackle Jordan Davis, safety Lewis Cine, linebacker Quay Walker, and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt. Only three defensive starters are returning. This team still remains talented even with these key player losses.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett is back, along with wide receivers Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington. Finishing with the best overall record of 14-1 and with the #1 ranking. Kirby Smart’s team looks to repeat the same success this season. Georgia has the third highest chances to make the College Football Playoff, they have a 75% chance. Georgia has their season opener on September 3rd against Oregon.
4 – Clemson
Clemson finished last season with an overall record of 10-3 and a #14 ranking. Clemson only had two players selected in the NFL Draft. Those players were cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. and linebacker Baylon Spector. Their offense struggled, being the second worst in the ACC. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei threw ten interceptions and only nine passing touchdowns but was able to add four rushing touchdowns. The team looks to become a better offense. They have some good talent on the defense, defensive tackle Bryan Breese and defensive end Myles Murphy.
Clemson did not make the College Football Playoff last season but has the fourth highest chances of making it this season with 57%. Dabo Swinney will try to get his team back to the National Championship game. The team won the National Championship in 2019 and now tries to get back to the top after having a couple of disappointing seasons. Clemson has their first game on September 5th against Georgia Tech.
5 – Notre Dame
Notre Dame finished with an overall record of 11-2 and the #8 ranking. Head coach Brian Kelly left and now is the head coach for LSU. Safety Kyle Hamilton was drafted midway through the first round of the NFL draft. Their only other player drafted was Kyren Williams, who was drafted in the fifth round. The team has sophomore Tyler Buchner at quarterback. The offense is also led by junior tight end Michael Mayer, who has had over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.
On the defensive side, the team is led by defensive end Isaiah Foskey. Foskey had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles last season. Notre Dame did not make the College Football Playoff last season but did in the 2020-21 season. They only have a 19% chance of making the College Football Playoff. New head coach Marcus Freeman has a tough task ahead of him. Notre Dame has their first game on September 3rd against Ohio State.
The NFL Draft in April made some college football teams look drastically different, while others remain mostly the same. Exciting times for college football is coming fast. The preseason rankings give a good idea of what teams might be great and who might not be, now we just wait for the season to play out.