College Football is officially underway and we’ve finally gotten a glimpse of the top teams in the nation. How do all these teams stack up against each other? Who is the best in the country? PFN’s own Matt Valdovinos gives you his rankings for the college football top 25.[sv slug=mocksim]
Matt Valdovinos’ Top 25 Rankings
1. Clemson Tigers
The Tigers are led by expected number one pick Trevor Lawrence, as they aim to appear in their third national championship in three years and return home as champions for the second time in Lawrence’s career. The Tigers have an elite offensive unit with senior running back Travis Etienne being a strong candidate to lead the nation in rushing. The defense lost a lot of talent over the past two seasons, but with big-time recruits Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy joining the defensive front, the talent is still tremendous.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is the only team in the nation that could have two receivers selected in the first fifteen selections in the NFL Draft and still have one of the top receiving corps. Explosive skill position players like Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and Najee Harris will continue to improve despite some uncertainty at the quarterback position. Nick Saban will always have the Alabama defensive unit being a disruptive one, and with guys like Dylan Moses, Patrick Surtain Jr., and Christian Barmore, there are elite NFL prospects at every level of the defense.
3. Oklahoma Sooners
Top 2019 recruit Spencer Rattler sat the majority of his freshman season but started his sophomore season very strongly. In his first career start, Rattler threw more touchdowns than he did incompletions. Expect Oklahoma to remain one of the nation’s elite offenses, and for that offense to carry them to yet another postseason berth. The big question is, can their defense hold it together well enough for them to finally win their first playoff game since the inception of the College Football Playoffs?
4. LSU Tigers
The Tigers lost nine of their 11 starters this past off-season, with WR Terrace Marshall Jr. and RT Austin Deculus being the only returners. However, dismissing the defending national champions before they set foot on the field this season would be foolish. Expect new QB Myles Brennan to come in with a strong command of the offense, and CB Derek Stingley Jr. to establish himself as the best cornerback college football has had in the past decade.
5. Florida Gators
The SEC will be a battle to watch this season. Interestingly enough, some draft analysts believe the top draft-eligible quarterback in the conference is none other than Florida’s Kyle Trask. Surrounded by a number of strong weapons like Kyle Pitts and Trevon Grimes, Florida can put points on the board. The defense has a number of consistently good players like Tedarrell Slaton and Marco Wilson. If Florida wants to compete for a national championship though, they will depend almost completely on the growth of Trask this season.
6. Georgia Bulldogs
Is it any surprise that four of the first six schools on this list hail from the SEC? Georgia will once again boast a dominant defensive front, that was arguably the top run defending unit in the nation last year. Players like Jordan Davis and Monty Rice led a menacing front seven. Meanwhile, the trio of Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, and Richard LeCounte is one of the best in college football. On offense, Georgia will need their transfer QB J.T. Daniels to take advantage of his opportunity and develop into a true QB1. His go-to target will be George Pickens, who could very well be the top receiver in the country.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The first real surprise of this list, there’s a good chance OK State finishes as the second-best team in the Big-12. They’ve got lite offensive weapons in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard and a very under-appreciated quarterback in Spender Sanders. The defense is full of questions but linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez is a tackling machine, and safety Kolby Harvell-Peel has some real fans among scouts.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Ian Book has not become the elite college quarterback some thought he would be. However, an elite offensive line and always stout defense will win them a majority of their games. Linebacker/safety hybrid Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the best defensive player you haven’t heard of. Legitimate first-round talent.
9. Texas Longhorns
Texas abused UTEP in its first game of the season and in other news, water is wet. Texas is a big and tough offensive unit led by QB Sam Ehlinger, RB Keaontay Ingram, and WR Brennan Eagles. They’ll come out and punch teams in the mouth. On defense, they lack their usual big-name talent, but Joseph Ossai is expected to feast in a new role, and safety Caden Sterns is one of the top safeties in the nation.
10. Auburn Tigers
Bo Nix wasn’t as good last year as some thought, and he definitely wasn’t the best freshman in the SEC (It was Derek Stingley Jr. and it wasn’t close). However, Auburn has two elite receivers in Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz, and a defense that loves to bring the pain. They’ll win ugly games and can put points on the board in bunches.
11. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies were a better team last year than their record indicates. They had arguably the worst schedule in the country and played three of the four College Football Playoff contenders. This season the schedule is far more palpable. Led by senior QB Kellen Mond, the Aggies offense has the firepower to score with any team. The defense can also get after the passer and effect his rhythm.
12. North Carolina Tarheels
Sophomore QB Sam Howell is expected to be one of the best passers in the nation, but he struggled against a stingy Syracuse defense this past weekend. The offense is as explosive as they come, but Howell must find the success he had last year. The defense has holes throughout all three levels, but linebacker Chazz Surratt is one of the nation’s top tackling machines.