This is the most meaningless column you’ll read all year but it feels good to have college football back.
As the Gators and Canes tangle in Orlando, I am giving you the top 25 teams in college football before the season starts–which means absolutely nothing and you should take it as such. This column is for discussion, arguing, debate and having the worst of us come out on Facebook.
Here’s what I have done. I looked at how the teams finished last year, how many starters they have coming back, what their schedule looks like, recruiting classes and coaching changes. After all of that, I inject my opinion into the matter. I watch a lot–and I mean a lot–of college football (just ask my poor wife). I know this stuff backwards and forwards. Will that make my top 25 correct? Who knows? We will see.
Once the season starts though, you have this promise from me: the rankings you see in this column just won’t matter and that is where I differ most from major pollsters. I have no desire to prove myself right. What happens on the field is all that matters. On a week to week basis, I will rank these teams with simple criteria: who have you beaten and who did you lose to. I do not move a team up a spot because the team above them lost. Doing so is simple, lazy and adds to the college football debates. Each week, I will input all games played and use only that information–not how good I thought a team was going to be before the season.
At the start of my rankings, you’ll be jarred by this approach. For example, the winner of the Miami versus Florida game will likely have a very high ranking in week 1 because the winner will have one of the best wins in the nation. LSU, a team I think highly of, will have to have an extremely big win against Georgia Southern to even make the Top 25. C’mon, Mike, clearly you must know that LSU is better than Miami, right? Actually, I don’t. Anything can happen when two teams take the field (for example, Oklahoma having to go to overtime to beat Army last year or Purdue waxing Ohio State). If you don’t see your team where you want them, don’t panic. LSU and Texas play in Week 2, and the winner of that game should be in the top 5.
Here’s what we should do with the preseason Top 25. Let’s debate. Have fun. Promote your team and tell me why that team is better than the others. Just don t do what the regular pollsters do and use the preseason to justify the rankings when something different is clear on the field of play.
Top 25 for the Preseason.
1. Clemson. Have to replace a defensive line but all of that offense is back from the butt whipping they put on Alabama.
2. Alabama. They’re really good and they have to be angry right? Would you bet against them?
3. Georgia. I’m buying the hype with a veteran QB and a lot of top three recruiting classes.
4. Michigan. I think this is their year with Shea Patterson ready to lead them to glory.
5. LSU. If they only lose to Bama, can they make the playoffs as 3 or 4 seed?
6. Oklahoma. I don’t think Jalen Hurts is as good as the past two Heisman winning QBs, and I have questions about the offensive line.
7. Oregon. Week 1 test against Auburn should tell all but this could be a playoff team.
8. Ohio State. Another team that could lose just only one game (namely Michigan) and still make the playoffs.
9. Notre Dame. Sure, it’s a tough schedule but Ian Book and most of the defense is back.
10. Texas. I’m a huge believer in Tom Herman and QB Sam Ehlinger is very good.
11. Penn State. The recruiting and coaching is too good for me to believe they’ll fall off.
12. Florida. I am not a believer in either of their lines but QB Franks appears better.
13. Utah. I believe in their lines–but can they win the big ones? They did make the Pac 12 championship game last year.
14. Texas A&M . The Aggies have top 10 talent–but that schedule will wreck them.
15. Washington. I’m excited to see UGA transfer Jacob Eason take over at QB.
16. TCU. They’re bound to bounce back if they can get better QB play.
17. Syracuse. The new QB got valuable experience last year and Dino Babers is a good coach.
18. Wisconsin. I’m picking them to win B1G West–but it’s not a sure thing by any means. Who you got?
19. UCF. The fact that Brandon Wimbush has not yet been named the starter tells me all.
20. Iowa. This team is full of future NFL players on the offensive line.
21. Southern Cal. I find it hard to believe a team with this much talent is falling off the map.
22. Nebraska. OK, I’ll buy the hype. Why? Scott Frost and Adrian Martinez.
23. Virginia Tech. They’re here because I think my predicted ACC Coastal winner has to be ranked–not because I believe in them.
24. Auburn. The schedule just too tough to have them higher.
25. Boise State. We will learn all we need to know in Week 1 versus Florida State.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.