College football top 25 rankings: Alabama on top post-spring, new coaches see rapid results

Spring has ended -- with a thud for some, a bang for others.

One look at my post-spring top 25 Power Rankings includes the usual suspects (seven SEC teams) and some surprises (Florida State? Texas?).

As of right now, Ohio State and the Big Ten look good to get back in the College Football Playoff. So do a couple of SEC teams with whom you might be familiar (Alabama, Georgia). That means the Pac-12 and Big 12 would be left out.

It's early, but it isn't coming out of the spring. We sort of know Jalen Hurts' intentions. Jim Harbaugh has himself a quarterback, while Florida continues spending the decade trying to find one. And there may even be some NFL teams that have a hard time moving the ball on Clemson.

1
High drama in T-Town as the supposed No. 1 quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) remains nicked with a broken throwing hand and the supposed back up (Hurts) has threatened to transfer the moment he is named the supposed backup. Whoever plays, Alabama is going to have a great chance to go back-to-back.
2
One of the greatest defensive lines in the sport's history returns intact. All four guys across the front are back -- Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence. Kelly Bryant has some work to do to keep his job behind center, but that's a good thing. How many teams have enough QB depth to unseat an incumbent starter who led a team to the playoff? (Not counting Alabama.)
3
In Year 3, Kirby Smart has things absolutely rolling. Pencil in the Dawgs for a second straight SEC East title -- at least. The backfield shouldn't miss much after the loss of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Jake Fromm faces a challenge from freshman Justin Fields. How many teams have enough QB depth to unseat an incumbent starter who led a team to the playoff? (Not counting Clemson and Alabama.)
4
It's going to go one of two ways in the game's toughest division this year (Big Ten East). They're all going to beat each other up or someone -- Ohio State at this point -- is going to leave no doubt about its place in the playoff. For now, we bet the latter.
5
If it's not Ohio State in the East, it's got to be the Spartans. Mark Dantonio gets back sneaky-good quarterback Brian Lewerke and tailback LJ Scott. Ohio State and Michigan have to come to East Lansing.
6
Paul Chryst can be exciting as burnt toast, but he's coaching another typically tough Badger squad. You already know both lines are big enough to crush Tokyo. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook squeezes every ounce of production out of his physical gifts.
7
James Franklin has established himself as one of the best coaches in the country. Despite the loss of Saquon Barkley, there is plenty of talent left. Watch Miles Sanders. He's a different kind of great in the backfield.
8
At last check, Oklahoma's next quarterback was starting at center field hitting .276 with six home runs and 32 RBIs. That's a glimpse at Kyler Murray, the A&M transfer, who takes over for Baker Mayfield.
9
Mark Richt has gotten the Canes back in a hurry. Despite a three-game losing streak to end 2017, there is plenty to look forward to. Quarterback Malik Rosier is a year older and wiser. Watch the buzz build if the Canes beat LSU in the opener.
10
In a program where the winds of change can shift daily, Gus Malzahn is riding a wave. New contract, experienced quarterback, capable replacements for Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway at running back. If the Tigers defend their SEC West title, they will have earned it. There are games at Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi State.
11
Joe Moorhead proved himself one of the best play callers in ball at Penn State. In his first head-coaching job, he inherits Heisman candidate Nick Fitzgerald. Dan Mullen always had the Bulldogs overachieving, it seemed. There is a lot in the tank for Moorhead to kick off his FBS head-coaching career.
12
At least here, the Huskies are the best program on the West Coast to start 2018. Consider them a playoff threat once again with the return of Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin (three straight 1,000-yard seasons!).
13
Might as well pencil in the Cardinal for nine wins (at least) because that's what David Shaw usually does. Throw in Heisman favorite Bryce Love and the Cardinal's physical style and it's going to be a battle with Washington for the top spot in the Pac-12 North.
14
The Hokies' best pick up in the offseason was Justin Fuente. The third-year head coach stayed after his name popped up for some fairly prestigious jobs (Florida, Florida State, Texas A&M). Quarterback Josh Jackson continues to blossom.
15
Last week, Jim Harbaugh got the best off-season news he could imagine. The NCAA ruled quarterback Shea Patterson eligible. That would seem to indicate Michigan is going to be competitive in the ultra-tough Big Ten East. Now the hard part -- playing Northwestern, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame on the road. Wisconsin is the West Division crossover.
16
The Trojans have quarterback issues. There's no one on the roster who has started the game. Incoming freshman J.T. Daniels could be the guy, but again, he's never played. No worries? In his first two seasons as head coach, all Clay Helton has done is win a Rose Bowl and the Pac-12.
17
Huge losses for the Irish following a bounce-back 10-win season: defensive coordinator Mike Elko, the best offensive linemen (Mike McGlinchey), Quenton Nelson, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and one-time Heisman candidate Josh Adams. This looks like a fall-back season.
18
Ask yourself: Who is the preseason All-American quarterback? It just might be Will Grier, the Florida transfer threw for 3,500 yards and 34 touchdowns in only 11 games. Dana Holgorsen won 10 two seasons ago. Double digits could return to Morgantown in 2018.
19
The Broncos should be the preseason Group of Five New Year's Six bowl favorite. Coming off an 11-win season, coach Bryan Harsin will count on quarterback Brett Rypien and 1,000-yard rusher Alexander Mattison.
20
Tom Herman has a culture established in Year 2. He still doesn't have a clear No. 1 quarterback. That will have to change for the Longhorns to get past a 7-6 debut for Herman. The coach is high on returners Sam Ehlinger, Shane Buechele and two early-enrollee freshmen.
21
If this wasn't Jimbo Fisher coming in to spark the Aggies, A&M might not be ranked. But with his typical energy, he has shifted the culture and started recruiting well. While real results are waiting Years 2 and 3, the Aggies could squeeze out an eight-win season.
22
Feleipe Franks meet Dan Mullen. Dan Mullen meet Feleipe Franks. The redshirt sophomore is the only quarterback on the roster with experience, but he still may not win the starting job with classmate Kyle Trask impressing during the spring. That the QB drought in Gainesville continues is a big reason Mullen is there.
23
It's hard to fathom the Ducks are going on their third coach in the last three years. Mario Cristobal got the gig to hold together the recruiting class. Justin Herbert should take a big step at quarterback.
24
Where would the Seminoles have finished with Deondre Francois? It would have been better than 7-6. Willie Taggart takes over a powerhouse that lost six draft picks, but there will be enough talent in Tally for a rebound in his first season.
25
Going out on a limb ranking the Tigers? Until Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan or Lowell Narcisse distinguish themselves, the Tigers still don't have a quarterback who makes a difference. They lost their best running back (Derrius Guice). Coach O was impressive in rebounding from the Troy loss to win nine.
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

Our Latest Stories