Way too early top 25 for college football in 2017: Alabama on top, Florida State high
It's only hours after the national championship, but let's look at some college football rankings for 2017
The story remains the same.
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.
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, 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: 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: 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: 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: Jim Harbaugh opens Year 3 with a 1-3 record against Ohio State and Michigan State. 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: 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: 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: 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, UCLA and Washington each come to Palo Alto.
12. Wisconsin: 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: 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.
17. Kansas State: 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: The addition of Baylor 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: 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: 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: 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: The long, circuitous journey of Will Grier continues at West Virginia. Florida'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.
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