The tackling dummies -- motorized or not -- have been put away. Spring practice is over. Summer practice is a ways away.
That leaves us with no other choice than to measure the post-spring top 25 as we enter those fallow months between now and Aug. 27 in Sydney, Australia (where Cal and Hawaii kick off the season).
Clemson looks to be the preseason favorite, the SEC still rates (six teams ranked), Houston (!) is in the top 10, Alabama doesn't have a quarterback, and the Pac-12 may well be headed for its second straight College Football Playoff miss.
These are only projections 100-plus days before first kickoff. We'll update you in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, as always, your comments are welcome.
|Dennis Dodd's Power Rankings|
|1. Clemson Tigers: Nothing happened in the spring to push the Tigers out of the top spot. Let's recap: Nick Saban needed to execute a perfect onside kick in the fourth quarter to tilt the national title game his way. The Tigers still scored 40 and are right there in 2016. Despite the loss of Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson on defense, the backups got plenty of snaps. Oh yeah, there's this guy named Deshaun Watson. The Tigers will be a prohibitive favorite to win ACC -- they have the nation's longest Power Five conference winning streak (nine games). From there, a CFP redo is more than possible.|
|2. Alabama Crimson Tide: Amazingly, only two underclassmen left along with the Heisman Trophy winner and the quarterback. Yes, there are holes but Saban's track record should be based on more than faith. The coach has no problem going deep into the season without naming a quarterback starter. You got a problem with that?|
|3. LSU Tigers What a strange balance. Les Miles' job will be up for review again. His team might have the most NFL-ready talent in the nation. But just like at this time last year, the Tigers' success is predicated on quarterback Brandon Harris becoming a better thrower. We know that. He knows that. Leonard Fournette is a given in his final season. Eighteen other returning starters return and the Alabama is at home.|
|4. Oklahoma Sooners: While the Big 12 debates expansion, the football on the field is pretty good. OU should be a repeat CFP participant. In his final season, Baker Mayfield has both tailbacks and depth at receiver. In the wide-open Big 12, effective linebackers will have to be found.|
|5. Michigan Wolverines: Jim Harbaugh has talked the talk. Now he has to walk the walk. After one season in Ann Arbor, he is 0-2 against his two biggest rivals (Michigan State, Ohio State). Both those games are on the road this season. The Wolverines look like they can win in both places and challenge for the playoff.|
|6. Baylor Bears: It seems like everyone has forgotten Seth Russell returns at quarterback. Russell is expected to be cleared June 1 after neck surgery. With Jarrett Stidham and Chris Johnson, the Bears will have the best quarterback depth in the country. They'll also be near the top in scoring. Baylor's key is winning at Oklahoma on Nov. 12.|
|7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Brian Kelly doesn't get enough credit for what he's done at South Bend. He lost his quarterback last season and still sniffed the playoff. Have you checked? The Irish play only two teams that finished in the final AP Top 25 (Stanford, Michigan State). While that might hurt some teams, a 11-1 season with that schedule will get the Irish in.|
|8. Stanford Cardinal: The Cardinal seemingly carries the Pac-12 flag this season. They were the only Power Five conference champ to lose two regular-season games. For the league not to become the first to miss the CFP two years in a row, Stanford absolutely has to go at least 11-1.|
|9. Michigan State Spartans: Senior Tyler O'Connor has earned his shot at quarterback. The tailback position should be fine with L.J. Scott, who already has carved his way into Spartan history. If you don't believe in the Spartan Dawgs on defense, you haven't watched much football lately.|
|10. Houston Cougars: They're talking openly in H-Town about getting to the playoff. Why not? Tom Herman loves his front seven on defense. He has one of the best quarterbacks in the country (Greg Ward Jr.). Oh, and has the schedule to do it. If the Cougars beat Oklahoma in the opener, look out.|
|11. Oklahoma State Cowboys: Mike Gundy has a pitch-and-catch combo. That's a good place to start in the Big 12. Mason Rudolph will throw to James Washington -- a lot. The entire offensive line returns.|
|12. Tennessee Volunteers: Guess who has the nation's fourth-longest winning streak going into 2016 (six games)? The Vols should be favored to win the SEC East. Josh Dobbs is coming off a career-worst completion percentage. Seventeen other returning starters should make you forget.|
|13. Florida State Seminoles: The opener against Ole Miss couldn't be more interesting. Arguably, the second-best teams in two conferences in a elimination game. Winner gets loads of early-season hype.|
|14. USC Trojans: Hard to remember the Trojans won the Pac-12 South. They also finished 8-6. Big rebuild job ahead for Clay Helton, who promises less Hollywood, more physical.|
|15. Miami Hurricanes: Mark Richt looks like he has inherited the No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Brad Kaaya will be a junior after throwing for 6,400 in his first two seasons.|
|16. Iowa Hawkeyes: The Hawkeyes aren't going away after a school-record 12-win season. All-American corner Desmond King returns. Quarterback C.J. Beathard is ready for a monster final season.|
|17. Oregon Ducks: Plenty of talent surrounding free-agent FCS quarterback Dakota Prukop. Thing is, everyone is used to playing the hurry up. Is it possible to suggest the Ducks' offense isn't special anymore?|
|18. Ohio State Buckeyes: If this is what being down looks like, 99 percent of the teams in the country would take it. Still, Urban Meyer lost 12 players in the draft.|
|19. Georgia Bulldogs: If Nick Chubb gets back to 100 percent, it's got a chance to be a glorious first season for Kirby Smart. There's a quarterback battle ahead but Smart has options. The last who broke in as a first-time coach in the SEC was Vandy's Derek Mason in 2014. He finished 3-9.|
|20. Arkansas Razorbacks: Even without Brandon Allen and Alex Collins, it looks like the Hogs have turned the corner. Watch out for Brandon's brother, Austin, at quarterback and mega-talented Kody Walker at tailback.|
|21. Ole Miss Rebels: The spring started with the NCAA investigation "over." It ended with another investigation started. What could have been the most glorious draft day in Ole Miss history concluded with pay-for-play questions. If everything falls right, the Rebs could be second-best team in the SEC.|
|22. TCU Horned Frogs: Gary Patterson was able to hold on to co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie (wooed by Texas). That's good news for quarterbacks Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer.|
|23. Louisville Cardinals: An ACC darkhorse with a budding star in quarterback Lamar Jackson. A third of Bobby Petrino's 58 career victories (19) have come in his third season at a school.|
|24. San Diego State Aztecs: The Aztecs need a better publicist. Bet you didn't know San Diego State was one of only 13 teams to win at least 11 games last season (11-3). It won its last 10 games by an average of more than 23 points. It was the only team in the country to produce its conference's offensive, defensive and special teams players of the year. Plus, the Aztecs miss Boise State for the second straight season.|
|25. Washington State Cougars: The Cougars are looking at lot like Texas Tech under Mike Leach -- an offensive juggernaut that went to 10 straight bowls. Just to refresh, in Leach's fifth season in Lubbock the Red Raiders went 8-4. In Leach's fifth season in Pullman, don't be surprised if the Cougars win 10 games.|