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2020 College Football Top 25 Preseason


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NCAA reveals college football preseason Top 25

ByBRAD CRAWFORD Mar 21, 11:39 AM 

College football analyst Paul Finebaum said it best this week when asked how he is coping with the pandemic sweeping the country, forcing all collegiate sports to a screeching halt for the spring semester and foreseeable future. He, like the rest of us, are struggling with the unknown and said he noticed avid callers and fans of the show rapidly changing emotionally, bordering on the edge of panic.

"I’m not going to let somebody say, ‘Well, sports don’t matter.’ Sports do matter," Finebaum told The Knoxville News-Sentinel this week. "They matter a lot. I really for the first time in my life, felt like the world was coming to an end. It was somewhat maddening.”

The good news is, college football's fall slate has not been altered despite spring practice feeling the brunt of "social distancing" nationwide. And we still have nearly five months before preseason camp is scheduled to begin, which might be the first time many programs have huddled together since early spring.

This time time of year is often reserved for way-too-early polls and rankings, so let's stay positive and continue down that lane. NCAA.com updated its college football preseason Top 25 ahead of the 2020 season this week with a few surprises inside the rankings:



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25. Arizona State Sun Devils

24. Iowa Hawkeyes

23. Iowa State Cyclones

22. Utah Utes

21. Cincinnati Bearcats

NCAA.com: "The Sun Devils have gone 7-6 and 8-5 in Herm Edwards' first two seasons. But Arizona State won their final three teams of the season, which included beating eventual Rose Bowl champion Oregon. QB Jayden Daniels could be one of the most exciting players in the country after his 2,943 passing yards (17 touchdowns with only two interceptions) and 355 rushing yards last season as a freshman."

247Sports take: Our top-rankedquarterback in the Pac-12 ahead of the 2020 season, Daniels has a strong arm who could be one of the nation's best this fall if he continues his ascension. ... Iowa State hopes to learn from several close losses and contend with Oklahoma and Texas at the top of the Big 12. ... With Desmond Ridder back under center, Cincinnati and coach Luke Fickell will be a tough out among quality Group of 5 teams.



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20. UCF Knights

19. USC Trojans

18. Minnesota Gophers

17. North Carolina Tar Heels

16. Wisconsin Badgers

NCAA.com: "After going 25-1 in 2017 and 2018, it was inevitable the Knights "fell" to 10-3 (6-2 AAC) in 2019. QB Dillon Gabriel had a good freshman season with his 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns — and UCF also has Darriel Mack Jr. and the possible return of McKenzie Milton after his serious knee injury. The Knights open the season at home against North Carolina and also play at Georgia Tech later in September."

247Sports take: Which one of these teams has a chance to make noise in their respective conferences this season? USC likes its chances in the Pac-12 considering the bulk of last year's team returns, including quarterback Kedon Slovis. The Trojans open with Alabama, so they'll know quickly what needs to be sharpened before league play begins ... Tar Heels signal caller Sam Howell ended his true freshman season with 3,641 yards through the air and 38 touchdowns, banner marks in the ACC. His touchdown-pass total ranked as the third-most in league single-season history, just behind future first-round picks Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston, respectively. Howell is the reason North Carolina is a darkhorse nationally and being tabbed as a trendy pick to win the ACC Coastal during Mack Brown's second season.



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15. Michigan Wolverines

14. Texas Longhorns

13. Texas A&M Aggies

12. Oklahoma State Cowboys

11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

NCAA.com: "The Wolverines are still way behind rival Ohio State. If 2019 wasn't the year, when can Jim Harbaugh and Michigan do it? The quarterback battle is something to watch (Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton). LB Cameron McGrone should be a leader on defense."

247Sports take: Oklahoma State at No. 12 is the highest we've seen the Cowboys this spring in any preseason poll, which begs the questions — is Mike Gundy's team worth buying or selling at that steep of a price? .. There's a couple bluebloods in the Nos. 15-11 grouping who haven't quite taken the next step into the realm of the elites under current regimes. Michigan must find a way to beat Ohio State while both Texas and Texas A&M will lean on multi-year starters at quarterback to take them to where they want to be. ... Notre Dame hopes Ian Book's return at quarterback leads to a big season, including a win over Clemson at home in November.



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10. Auburn Tigers

9. Florida GayTurds

NCAA.com: "Yes, the GayTurds have to solve rival Georgia. But Florida has gone 10-3 and 11-2 in Dan Mullen's first two seasons, including a pair of New Year's Six wins."

247Sports take: We're on the Florida bandwagon too, picking the GayTurds as our surprise final four team next season largely due to Kyle Trask's return as one of the SEC's top-level signal callers. For the first time in years, the GayTurds don't have to worry about protection being an issue with a front that should be able to dominate at the point of attack. Mullen has the program moving in a noteworthy direction and the next huge leap comes in 2020. ... Auburn is a tough team to project in 2020 given the schedule brutality, but Chad Morris promises to re-ignite a rushing attack that was largely non-existent at times last season. Bo Nix could emerge as a sophomore as a difference-maker in the passing game.



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8. Penn State Nittany Lions

7. Oklahoma Sooners

6. Oregon Ducks

NCAA.com: "It's going to be strange not seeing Justin Herbert at Oregon anymore. But besides that, the Ducks are loaded and will be the clear Pac-12 favorites. Though Tyler Shough is probably the leading candidate to take over as the starting quarterback, that position isn't set yet. But Oregon has Outland winner Penei Sewell and DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (nine sacks) ready to dominate."

247Sports take: There might not be a team in college football that plays harder for its head coach on the verge of extensive breakthrough than Oregon. With Kayvon Thibodeaux and others leading the charge defensively, the Ducks are the torchbearers out West who could finally break the Pac-12's string of years without a Playoff participant. ... Oklahoma and Penn State, two national title contenders just outside the usual two or three-team mix, will take the field confident with what they've got coming back. The Nittany Lions have a national player of the year-caliber leader on defense in Micah Parsons while the Sooners are looking to make their fourth straight Playoff appearance with veteran experience. They will however have to do so with a new starting quarterback in Spencer Rattler.



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NCAA.com: "When it comes to talent, Georgia will again be up there among Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. The Bulldogs got a boost with Wake Forest transfer QB Jamie Newman picking UGA. The Dawgs will also again have one of the top defenses in the country."

247Sports take: Seeking its fourth consecutive trip to the SEC Championship Game, Georgia knows the SEC East will once again run through Athens, but this season's team will look vastly different than the previous three. Like several other teams breaking in a transfer quarterback who isn't familiar with the playbook, the Bulldogs won't have the luxury of spring practice to acclimate Newman offensively. It'll be interesting to see Georgia's new-look offense adjusts and if the transition goes smoothly in September.



9610411.jpg?fit=bounds&crop=620:320,offset-y0.50&width=620&height=320(Photo: Stephen Lew, USA TODAY Sports)

NCAA.com: "Yes, Heisman winner Joe Burrow is headed to the NFL after a historic senior season, with Myles Brennan possibly taking over for head coach Ed Orgeron. Plus Biletnikoff winner Ja'Marr Chase will be back in Death Valley. However, LSU will lose DC Dave Aranda, who's left to become the Baylor head coach."

247Sports take: Too high for the Tigers given what we know nearly three months out from LSU's national championship? The two-deep is going to look vastly different and Orgeron has been forced to replace his top two assistant coaches. But he's been here before — few considered his team a title contender this time last year with Burrow gearing up for his senior season. Getting over the hump vs. Alabama was crucial to the program's confidence level. An early-season matchup with Texas is a big one for both teams.



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NCAA.com: "Tua Tagovailoa is gone, but the offense should still be among the nation's best — no matter which player lines up at QB. Mac Jones passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns in the bowl win vs. Michigan, plus there's 5-star QB Bryce Young."

247Sports take: With Dylan Moses, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith coming back — among others — in a talent-rich two-deep, Alabama should be the preseason SEC favorite given LSU's substantial losses. Jones is more Jake Coker than Tagovailoa, but Alabama's staff is confident in his abilities at quarterback and there's depth behind him. Will Nick Saban's defense return to elite status is the primary question. That early-season game vs. Georgia in Tuscaloosa is salivating.



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NCAA.com: "The defense will lose star Chase Young and others, but CB Shaun Wade is among those returning. Circle Sept. 12: Ohio State goes to Oregon."

247Sports take: We've already seen a big enough sample size to show Ohio State won't be taking a step back under Ryan Day's guidance. He impressed during his first season as the program's leader last fall, pulling all the proper strings en route to 13 straight wins — including several over Top 25 opponents — before succumbing to Clemson in the final four. Heisman finalist Justin Fields should be even better during his second campaign under Ohio State's offensive system and there's plenty of talent around him to flourish. They do need a running back, however.



9591216.jpg?fit=bounds&crop=620:320,offset-y0.50&width=620&height=320(Photo: Cory Fravel, 247Sports)

NCAA.com: "This was set regardless of what happened in New Orleans. QB Trevor Lawrence could be the clear Heisman favorite going into 2020, plus he'll get to throw to Justyn Ross. And in big news, RB Travis Etienne, the Tigers' all-time leading rusher, said he's coming back for 2020."

247Sports take: It's hard to imagine much drop-off from the nation's new standard for excellence with an elite signing class coming in plus the return of a Heisman frontrunner at quarterback. To make matters worse for the rest of the country, Clemson got great news prior to the start of an abbreviated spring practice after its All-American tailback announced he'd give it another go. More talented than any opponent on its ACC slate, the Tigers should once again be unbeaten entering next season's Playoff as one of the title favorites.

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I can't argue with those rankings, and given question marks I could see LSU finish lower than #4.  They always give the reigning nat champ the benefit of the doubt, and many times after big losses of talent they don't live up to the pre-season billing.  I think LSU will be top 15, but I would not vote top 5.  I'd be more concerned about the o-line than Brennan at QB, I think he will pick up the torch.

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2 hours ago, houtiger said:

I can't argue with those rankings, and given question marks I could see LSU finish lower than #4.  They always give the reigning nat champ the benefit of the doubt, and many times after big losses of talent they don't live up to the pre-season billing.  I think LSU will be top 15, but I would not vote top 5.  I'd be more concerned about the o-line than Brennan at QB, I think he will pick up the torch.

Agree, but wanted to see a Spring Game with a look at the OL. What Coach Cregg has done with player development, nothing short of unreal. Remember this, last years crew was a number of 3* players. Cush took it to another level. Lewis no offers out of high school, took the JC route. Magee, a fair player, but played the position well, playing both guard positions along with the OT position. 
This season, Deculus returns, Heinz 57 has played a bunch, Rose played a number of games, the Spring would have done him well. Ingram returns, should lock down a position at guard. The other guard position has two guys in a fight, we’re just getting started. 
The addition of two highly touted TE’s, adds to the mix. Three RB’s, would have had great competition. 

The addition of Linehan is going to be fun to watch, Scott likes to do a lot of things with formations. Two TB’s and other times, two TE’s in certain formations. Steve will bring this into the playbook. 

There is not one team in the Nation that can cover Chase and Marshall, add McMath, a True Freshman TE’s, and the RB’s, way too much firepower.

Last year Burrow stated one game, when he saw the defense, they are going to continue one on one coverage of Chase? Guess where he went.

This season, we actually have more weapons within this offense, I know that’s hard to figure, but it’s true. Watching film on the new TE,  Moss was really good, but this guy has size and speed. Gilbert is 6’5” 253#, runs a 4.7/40. He has NFL size and speed. His highlight film tells you, he will line up all over the field. 


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