Way-too-early College Football Top 25 Rankings: Where do BYU, Iowa, and others fall?

After ransacking the NCAA transfer portal and returning key players, one team sits atop our way-too-early Top 25 College Football Rankings.

Is May too early for a foray into the top 25 teams in the NCAA? If your answer is yes, then you’re wrong. College football never stops, and with the NFL Draft wrapped up, there isn’t a better time to start thinking about which teams might dominate our televisions on Saturday afternoons this fall. So, without further rambling, here is the first Pro Football Network College Football Top 25 of the 2022 season.

College Football Top 25

Several successful teams from the previous season find themselves plummeting down our first College Football Top 25 Rankings of the 2022 campaign. Meanwhile, there are reasons for hope and expectation for the college football teams that finished outside the upper echelons last year.

25) Iowa Hawkeyes

Last season, we left the Iowa Hawkeyes out of our initial College Football Top 25 Rankings, citing significant losses, particularly to the defense. The Hawkeyes then proceeded to start the season with a six-game unbeaten run, winning 10 games in total. So, we won’t make that mistake again. Returning CB Riley Moss, LB Jack Campbell, and TE Sam LaPorta is huge for a team that may have a summer camp quarterback battle on its hands.

24) Cincinnati Bearcats

The fairy-tale story of the 2021 college football season, Cincinnati broke new ground last fall, permeating the elite as the first non-Power Five program to reach the College Football Playoff. However, the sequel to the fairy tale doesn’t have such a happy ending. Losing almost your entire defense, star quarterback, and key offensive weapons should prove too much for Luke Fickell’s team to produce anything near resembling a repeat performance.

23) Texas Longhorns

Does Texas deserve to be in our College Football Top 25 Rankings based on last year’s performances? No. However, it’s impossible to believe that a team with so much talent doesn’t find a way to win a good chunk of games in a poor Big 12 conference this fall. Star power on offense (led by running back Bijan Robinson) and experience and quality on defense should ensure that Texas is competitive this season even while attempting to manage expectations.

22) Fresno State Bulldogs

While compiling a way-too-early College Football Top 25, it’s easy to get carried away with the programs from Power Five conferences. Yet, there WILL be a Group of Five team that puts together an astonishingly successful season and earn a spot in the top 25. This year, that could be Fresno State. Jake Haener figures to be one of the top quarterbacks in college football this fall, and the Bulldogs have a chance to go undefeated in the Mountain West.

21) Kentucky Wildcats

Losing the majority of their offensive line could be an issue for Kentucky as they look to build on an impressive 2021 campaign. However, Will Levis and Chris Rodriguez Jr. return to the backfield, and the offense is bolstered by the transfer of Virginia Tech WR Tayvion Robinson. Meanwhile, they return seven starters on defense. That should be enough to ensure Mark Stoops’ team remains competitive in the SEC East.

20) Miami Hurricanes

Miami’s hopes of success this season start with redshirt-sophomore slinger Tyler Van Dyke. The Hurricanes’ quarterback has earned early attention as one of the top passers in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Hurricanes also boast an impressive backfield trio, including former Ole Miss RB Henry Parrish Jr. Meanwhile, a slew of transfers led by West Virginia’s Akheem Mesidor should bolster the defense for new head coach Mario Cristobal.

19) Ole Miss Rebels

In Matt Corral and Chance Campbell, the Ole Miss Rebels lose their offensive and defensive leaders from 2021. However, Lane Kiffin has bolstered this roster in the transfer portal. Jaxson Dart supplanted Kedon Slovis at USC and makes his way to Oxford after a decent start to his college career. Despite this, the additions of Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley IV to the running back room should have Ole Miss fans excited this fall.

18) Oregon Ducks

Does Bo Nix move the needle for the Oregon offense? That presumes that he wins a three-way battle to be the starter. The Ducks have also lost substantial pieces at both WR and RB. However, the defense under new head coach Dan Lanning, led by Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe and bolstered by behemoth DT Sam Taimani, should ensure they win enough games to earn a place in the College Football Top 25 Rankings.

17) Wake Forest Demon Deacons

One of the surprise teams of last season, Wake Forest has the chance to compete in the ACC once again. They return eight starters on offense, including quarterback Sam Hartman and one of the top receivers in the nation in A.T. Perry. That offense carried them to success last season, and it may well have to do so again in 2022. The top players from a sometimes disastrous defense have departed for the NFL alongside star kicker Nick Sciba.

16) Michigan State Spartans

Returning nine defensive starters would usually be considered a good thing. However, when you’re defense was as dire as Michigan State’s was last season, it might not be. The hope is that experience and some key transfers, including Jacoby Windmon and Aaron Brule, can ensure an upgrade. While replacing Kenneth Walker III might be difficult, watch out for the Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed connection to be one of the most electric in the nation.

15) Clemson Tigers

The Clemson defensive front may challenge the famous “Power Rangers” line in terms of superiority this season. They’re ably assisted by linebacker Trenton Simpson who has game-wrecking potential. Yet, the Tigers’ ascent up the College Football Top 25 Rankings is halted by questions over their offense. There’s a genuine battle for QB1 brewing between DJ Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik, and the offensive line has to be better for any success this fall.

14) Oklahoma Sooners

Like rats fleeing a sinking ship, the Oklahoma Sooners’ roster is almost unrecognizable from last season. Brent Venables is a highly respected head coach who will no doubt have the Sooners playing a physical brand of defensive football. Meanwhile, Dillon Gabriel has the opportunity to prove himself as a top college football quarterback. However, it feels like Oklahoma is maybe a year away from returning to the top of their game.

13) Michigan Wolverines

Was last season a sign of successes to come for the Michigan Wolverines? I’d bet that it was more of an outlier than the start of a new dynasty in the Big Ten. While the offense returns a huge chunk of starters and arguably upgraded at the pivot with Olu Oluwatimi, the turnover of both defensive talent and coordinator may prove to be a significant stumbling block for the Wolverines to return to the final four of the College Football Top 25 Rankings.

12) BYU Cougars

BYU has an ultimate “boom or bust” schedule for the upcoming college football season. They face several teams ranked in our way-too-early College Football Top 25 Rankings. Winning those, however, should cement their place near the top of the college football table. Returning more talent than almost any other team in the nation, a stellar offensive line protecting exciting quarterback Jaren Hall should provide the offensive fireworks they need.

11) Houston Cougars

While a Group of Five team won’t replicate Cincinnati’s success last season, the Houston Cougars have the potential to be close to the top 10. Losing Alton McCaskill to injury might prove too much of a blow to overcome. However, in Nathaniel Dell and Clayton Tune, the Cougars have an explosive QB-WR duo. They may have lost some defensive pieces, but Derek Parish and Chidozie Nwankwo can be a dominant duo up front in the AAC.

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