We looked ahead to the 2013 college football season after the title game in January. With spring football and the NFL draft behind us, we decided to take another crack. Here are our Top 25 teams heading into the season as of May. We did not take into account schedules, so think of this more as a power ranking.
1. Alabama: Three titles in four years. All the top recruiting classes. Roll Tide until proven otherwise.
2. Stanford: Looking for a team that can match up with them along both lines outside the SEC. Not seeing one. They have proven themselves against spread offenses. Like this Stanford team, a lot.
3. Oregon: If Manziel was the best freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota was only a hair behind him. Chip Kelly’s system will stay. The question is who calls the plays?
4. Texas A&M: Johnny Football comes back after an offseason of doing…exactly what a 20-year-old Heisman winner with means should be doing. Will the defense rebuild enough to replicate what the team accomplished last season?
5. Ohio State: The defensive front is young (albeit with great recruits). Braxton Miller needs more help on offense. That said, Urban is in his second year and almost nothing in their way before Michigan.
6. South Carolina: Jadeveon Clowney masks some question marks at linebacker. Will they be left prone in a game or two by quarterback shuffling and brain farts?
7. Notre Dame: Everett Golson returns for his second year. The Irish hould have one of the nation’s best defensive lines with Nix and Tuitt.
8. Oklahoma State: Had an unfortunate W-L record in a transition year in 2012. In 2013, they may reclaim their spot at the top in a weaker Big 12.
9. Georgia: The Dawgs entered 2013 loaded on offense, but they unloaded from last year on defense. Their season depends on how quickly the new defense can gel and how quickly the team can recover from this devastating blow.
10. LSU: The Tigers lost a staggering amount of NFL-quality defensive talent. They also have one of the staffs best equipped to deal with it. Benefit of the doubt pick.
11. Boise State: Joe Southwick finished last season strong. Depth coming back on the line and at receiver. Look for a bounce back year.
12. Florida State: The Jameis Winston era begins. The have a veteran offensive line. They have future NFL players on defense. As in most years, the only question is the coaching. Still enough to out-talent most of the ACC.
13. Oklahoma: There’s enough returning for the offense to be fine. They need to mount some form of run defense besides “getting so far ahead running is no longer viable for the opponent.” Bob Stoops should pipe down.
15. Clemson: Senior quarterback. Offensive firepower. Coming off big bowl win. Classic hype scenario. They have enough to compete for an ACC title. Still need to see them play some defense.
16. Michigan: Losing experience. Gaining talent, depth and personnel that better fits the system. Will have a better record with an easier schedule. May be a year away depending on how fast Devin Gardner progresses.
17. TCU: Gary Patterson with basically his entire defense coming back. Look out Big 12.
18. Baylor: Lache Seastrunk thinks he will win the Heisman. If Baylor plays the way they did to close last season, he will have an excellent shot.
19. Louisville: The regular season is more indicative than the bowl win. Teddy Bridgewater will tear it up. The Cardinals will finish in the Top 10-15, but play no one that proves they belong there. Toughest game…at Cincinnati?
20. Wisconsin: Gary Andersen will bring some transition, but they have starters back on both sides of the ball. They were better than their record last year. Should roll over the soft Big Ten leaders division.
22. Nebraska: A lot to like on offense. Won’t smash through the Pelini plateau in the Big Ten until they can man up against power running. Two of their front seven starters coming back.
23. Michigan State: In both 2010 and 2011, the Spartans were a nine-win caliber team that got lucky. In 2012, they were a nine-win caliber team that lost five conference games by a combined 12 points. Their defense should be solid. A healthier offensive-line and receivers coming back that have played should help Andrew Maxwell.
24. USC: Last year, they were overrated. Kiffinfreude will see them underrated in 2013. Depth is a concern. So is quarterback. But a lot of talent and a lot coming back up front on defense. Not predicting miracles, but they may eclipse last season’s debacle.
25. Kansas State: They lose Collin Klein and almost every defensive starter. Nonetheless, Bill Snyder is a wizard.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]
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