With the 2019 season in the books and attention being turned toward spring practice ahead of the 2020 college football campaign, you have seen plenty way-too-early top 25 lists aimed at setting the stage for the forthcoming talking season.
What follows below are six teams consider on the cusp of that top 25. One is a Group of Five challenger. One is a fast-rising Pac-12 squad. Three are from the Big 12.
All of them return their starting quarterbacks. That's sort of the starting point in considering talented returning teams.
Don't think of them as wannabes. Think of them as almost-theres. In alphabetical order, here are six teams that should be on the cusp of the top 25 once the 2020 season begins eight months from now.
|Fourteen starters return from the best team in the program's brief FBS history (13-1). Sure, Eli Drinkwitz won with Scott Satterfield's players. Now, Shawn Clark will win with Satterfield's and Drinkwitz's players. Quarterback Zac Thomas (23-3 as a starter) returns as the Mountaineers make a legit run at a New Year's Six Bowl. |
|The Golden Bears are the underground buzz of the West Coast. Justin Wilcox gets back just about every difference-making player on offense. That includes quarterback Chase Garbers, who threw four touchdowns in the bowl game. The eight wins tie for the most since 2008. Cal gets TCU, Stanford, Oregon, Utah and Washington at home.|
|Fourteen starters are back from a 7-6 team that lost four games by a touchdown or less. In the Big 12, if you've got a quarterback, you've got a chance. Brock Purdy returns for Year 3. While 2019 was a bit of a downturn, Matt Campbell is still considered a hot coaching commodity.|
|Considering the fragile nature of Kansas State at all times, coach Chris Klieman had an impressive debut. Eight wins -- including an upset of Oklahoma -- proved Klieman has the chops to succeed in the Big 12. He gets back veteran quarterback Skylar Thompson and six of his top seven returning receivers. The offensive line must be rebuilt.|
|The Wildcats are a well-kept secret within their own conference. Seventeen starters return from an eight-win team. Mark Stoops pulled off one of his best coaching jobs in succeeding with wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. at quarterback. The guy he replaced, Terry Wilson, returns from injury. Watch the Cats. The last time they won 18 games in two seasons was 1976-77. |
|The Cowboys became a factor when Chuba Hubbard announced Monday was returning. The 2,000-yard rusher returns with quarterback Spencer Sanders and WR Tylan Wallace to a form a typical Big 12 team. An offensive juggernaut that will have trouble stopping people.|