Way too early top 25 for college football in 2017: Alabama on top, Florida State high

The story remains the same.

In these way-too-early college football rankings, Alabama Crimson Tide opens at No. 1. Why not? There is more than enough talent left to chase another national championship.

It seems like Nick Saban has only scratched the surface as he enters Year 11 at Alabama. The only team to participate in the first three College Football Playoffs looks like it will also be in No. 4.

The view from this far before 2017's kickoff sees it as Alabama vs. Oklahoma Sooners and Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Florida State Seminoles in the semifinals.

Stay tuned for changes. After all, as we said, it's way too early.

1. Alabama: Nick Saban gets back All-SEC quarterback Jalen Hurts and perhaps his three top rushers. You know the defense will be solid despite the losses of Jonathan Allen , Eddie Jackson and Tim Williams . Bottom line: The Tide should win the SEC for a fourth consecutive time, make the playoff and contend for another national championship.

2. Ohio State: The memory of one of Urban Meyer's worst losses will serve as offseason motivation. J.T. Barrett is back -- and that's a good thing. Even after that skunk job by Clemson Tigers , Barrett will return for his final season as an elite talent.

3. Florida State: There's no Dalvin Cook and no DeMarcus Walker , but there is enough to push the Noles to another CFP appearance. Quarterback Deondre Francois and a deep receiving corps are good places to start.

4. Oklahoma: OU enters 2017 with the longest active winning streak (10 games). Bob Stoops enters the season having won 10 Big 12 titles in his 18 seasons. Baker Mayfield returns for his last season as a Heisman finalist.

5. Southern California Trojans : Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is headed to the NFL Draft. Corner Adoree' Jackson has yet to decide, but the Trojans are still loaded -- probably loaded enough to win the Pac-12. Sam Darnold is coming off a Rose Bowl for the ages. Thousand-yard rusher Ronald Jones adds grit. Both offensive tackles leave. But eight years after the crippling Reggie Bush penalties, the Trojans are finally, fully back.

6. Penn State Nittany Lions : What does James Franklin do for a Big Ten encore? Perhaps win the league again. Once again, the Nits will battle Ohio State in the Big Ten East. Trace McSorley is a gunslinger. Saquon Barkley is simply one of the best tailbacks in the country.

7. Washington Huskies : It's going to be hard to duplicate the 2016 CFP run. The Huskies lose three core defenders -- corner Sidney Jones , safety Budda Baker and lineman Elijah Qualls . U-Dub isn't going away, though. Quarterback Jake Browning and tailback Myles Gaskin return.

8. Michigan Wolverines : Jim Harbaugh opens Year 3 with a 1-3 record against Ohio State and Michigan State Spartans . That has to change. The offensive line and receiving corps took the biggest hits. Ah, but the Spartans and Buckeyes both come to Ann Arbor.

9. LSU Tigers : After Les Miles was fired, the Tigers played pretty much the same way -- a plodding offensive team with an elite defense. Miles' influence remains as Ed Orgeron will use the same formula in his first full season in Baton Rouge. The emergence of tailback Derrius Guice made injuries to Leonard Fournette easier to take in 2016.

10. South Florida Bulls : Charlie Strong walks into a loaded locker room. Quarterback Quinton Flowers should contend for the Heisman Trophy. Despite the loss of three-time 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack , the Bulls should the favorites in the American.

11. Stanford Cardinal : In a "down" year the Cardinal won 10. Stanford should be a Pac-12 contender. Uncertainty surrounds the knee injury to quarterback Keller Chryst . Elsewhere, the Cardinal are solid with Bryce Love replacing Christian McCaffrey . Oregon Ducks , UCLA Bruins and Washington each come to Palo Alto.

12. Wisconsin Badgers : Twenty-seven years, four coaches. Except for a two-year hiccup with Gary Andersen, the philosophy has remained the same under Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema and Paul Chryst: Wisconsin runs the ball with a bulldozing offensive line. The beat goes on this year with Bradrick Shaw replacing Corey Clement .

13. Clemson: The losses are heavy, but the Tigers won't drop off much. The three best offensive players will -- or are expected to -- leave with Deshaun Watson already declaring for the NFL Draft and Wayne Gallman and Mike Williams likely to join him. The strength remains in the defensive line despite the loss of tackle Carlos Watkins .

14. Oklahoma State Cowboys : Bet you didn't know Mike Gundy has won at least 10 games five of the past seven years. He'll have enough offensive weapons again to win the Big 12. The question is whether the Cowboys will have even an average defense to slow down those other Big 12 spreads. Oklahoma comes to Stillwater, so there's that.

15. Georgia Bulldogs : Kirby Smart shouldn't overthink this. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are back. Quarterback Jacob Eason should blossom in his first full season.

16. Louisville Cardinals : Any team with Lamar Jackson is worth ranking in the top 20. Three top pass catchers are gone along with three offensive line starters.

17. Kansas State Wildcats : Bill Snyder, 77, will open the season predicted no lower than third in the Big 12. Jesse Ertz has Collin Klein production. Four starters return on the offensive line to help spring Ertz, a 1,000-yard rusher. Snyder has won at least nine games 13 times.

18. Auburn Tigers : The addition of Baylor Bears transfer Jarrett Stidham makes Gus Malzahn's spread power run attack lethal. If holes can be filled on the defensive line, the Tigers could be back to contending in the SEC West.

19. Boise State Broncos : Coach Bryan Harsin has carried the torch nicely after Chris Petersen. In three seasons, he has averaged more than 10 wins, gone to a New Year's Six bowl and won the Mountain West. With quarterback Brett Rypien , the Broncos should be favored again and be a New Year's Six favorite.

20. Texas Longhorns : Strong left plenty of talent behind. In Tom Herman's first year, the entire culture has been changed. This looks like the beginning of a next gen Big 12 title in Austin.

21. Oregon: "Get On The Bus" replaces "Win The Day" as Willie Taggart takes over. There's a new energy after a 4-8 season. Royce Freeman returns as does a home-grown quarterback (Justin Herbert). The Ducks get back to being a Pac-12 factor.

22. Tennessee Volunteers : There have been massive losses, but the SEC East continues to be in flux. That means the Vols will continue to be a factor after back-to-back nine-win seasons. There will be a new quarterback (either Quinten Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano ) and a new play caller (still undetermined after the loss of Mike Debord).

23. West Virginia Mountaineers : The long, circuitous journey of Will Grier continues at West Virginia. Florida Gators 's former quarterback (suspended for a positive PED test) transferred to a team and conference where he can thrive.

24. Miami: Isn't everyone always in contention in the ACC Coastal? That certainly seems to be the case for the Canes in Year 2 under Mark Richt. The strength of the team is in the front seven with the loss of Brad Kaaya .

25. Colorado Buffaloes : National coach of the year Mike MacIntrye loses quarterback Sefo Liufau , but essentially the rest of the offense is back. The Buffs aren't going anywhere in the Pac-12.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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