College Football Power Rankings: The way-too-early top 25 teams ahead of 2018
Dennis Dodd takes a super-early look at how we should expect 2018 to kick off in college football
Thanks, 2017. You have a twin.
Next season looks a lot like this past season. Actually, it looks a lot like the past decade or so.
The Way-Too-Early 2018 Power Rankings have a familiar name at the top, as well as five other SEC teams in the top 25.
In fact, it's not too hard imaging a rematch of Monday night's title game in some form in next year's College Football Playoff semifinals.
Yup, it just means more.
|You know the defense is going to be stout. The only possible loss at tailback is Damien Harris. Year 3 of Jalen Hurts ... or Year 1.1 of Tua Tagovailoa? Yes, we're suggesting a CFP rematch with Georgia and/or Clemson for the defending champions.|
|Despite being a dud in the CFP this season, Clemson isn't going away. Brent Venables is back (forever?) with one of the nation's best defenses. Kelly Bryant can only get better at quarterback.|
|Quarterback? Check. Running backs? Check. You will become familiar with D'Andre Swift and incoming recruit Zamir White. Roquan Smith is the biggest loss on defense. Oh, and the SEC East remains soft. Pencil in the Dawgs for another trip to Atlanta -- at least.|
|I know J.T. Barrett is gone, but Urban Meyer has won at least 11 in each of his seasons in Columbus. There are worse bets than going with that trend. The Big Ten East is loaded. Until further notice, the defending conference champion is going to win it again.|
|Sparty is absolutely loaded with 21 returning starters. Brian Lewerke is a dual-threat weapon and should have four returning offensive line starters to protect him. The defense that allowed only 20 points per game returns mostly intact.|
|James Franklin has proved himself an elite coach winning 11 in back-to-back seasons. Yes, Saquon Barkley is gone, but there is another Heisman candidate in quarterback Trace McSorley. Watch linebacker Micah Parsons, the nation's No. 4 prospect, who enrolled at Penn State on Monday.|
|Leave it to Miami to make a star of Alex Hornibrook. Second worst in the Big Ten in interceptions (15), Hornibrook suggested in the Orange Bowl he's a maturing force in 2018. He'll be surrounded by the usual collection of hogs up front and Jonathan Taylor.|
|The Sooners once again will be prohibitive favorites to win the Big 12 and make a return to the CFP. Kyler Murray will be a different, but very effective, quarterback in replacing Baker Mayfield.|
|Never mind a three-game losing streak to finish the season. Mark Richt is just getting started. The core of an entertaining offense returns. Manny Diaz's defense might even be better. The Canes should be ACC and possibly playoff contenders again.|
|Questions, questions, questions. A 2-2 finish put a damper on a 10-3 rebound season for Brian Kelly. He loses the best left side of an offensive line in football (Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson). There seems to be a quarterback battle looming with Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush.|
|Justin Fuente is staying for at least a third season, meaning the Hokies continue to have something special going on. Josh Jackson should be one of the nation's best quarterbacks.|
|Pencil in the Cardinal for at least nine wins because that's what David Shaw does -- at least -- each season. Quarterback K.J. Costello will progress but we're still waiting on Bryce Love's draft decision.|
|It's never a good sign when your coach (Clay Helton) wins the Rose Bowl and Pac-12 in consecutive seasons and gets a vote of confidence from his athletic director (Lynn Swann). Depending on how Sam Darnold's replacement plays out, the Trojans will be favored again to win the Pac-12.|
|This ranking is based on Shea Patterson's availability. If -- as expected -- Patterson gets a transfer waiver, Jim Harbaugh will have the best quarterback of his Michigan reign. If not, another eight-win season looms.|
|Gus Malzahn has a new contract and gets his quarterback (Jarrett Stidham) back. Gus will have to find replacements for tailback foundations Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway.|
|With the return of Deondre Francois, the Noles could be right back in the top five. But the loss of Jimbo Fisher leaves a lot of questions. FSU must first find a way to get past Clemson.|
|The Huskies have posted back-to-back seasons of double-digit victories for the first time in 26 years. U-Dub should get back to that level again with the return of Jake Browning and a stout offensive line.|
|With the world's first (college) $2.5 million offensive coordinator, familiar pressure returns to Baton Rouge. Coach O did a nice job of rescuing the season after the Troy loss. He gets Alabama and Georgia at home. But let's get serious, for that money Steve Ensminger better develop a Heisman quarterback and score 45 a game.|
|The Broncos go into the season as the Group of Five New Year's Six favorite. A win over Oklahoma State in the non-con seems like a nice prelude to a Mountain West title. Colorado State, Fresno State and San Diego State come to Boise.|
|The Knights enter the season with the nation's longest winning streak. New coach Josh Heupel will have plenty of weapons, including quarterback McKenzie Milton. A key meeting with Lane Kiffin's Florida Atlantic will set the stage for a New Year's Six bowl battle.|
|Jeff Brohm remains one of the hottest coaches in the country. Don't be surprised if his second season in West Lafayette is his last season.|
|Deebo Samuel returns to a nine-win team that should be Georgia's biggest challenger in the SEC East. Will Muschamp is peaking as a coach.|
|Death, taxes and Mike Gundy winning at least 10. He has done it six of the past eight years. There are significant losses but tailback Justice Hill returns for his junior year. And you know Gundy will find a quarterback to light it up.|
|The Jimbo era begins with the Aggies projected to be fourth -- at best -- in the SEC West. The ultimate irony: An eight-win season should be considered a success after that is what Kevin Sumlin got fired for routinely achieving.|
|Pro Football Focus metrics showed David Montgomery was the best running back in the country. There's a lot to build around in Year 3 of Matt Campbell.|
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