The college football season is just a couple of months away and rosters are taking shape. Here is the College Football 2020 Preseason Top 25.
25. Kentucky Wildcats
People are sleeping on the Wildcats who won eight games last season and return 15 of their starters. Terry Wilson returns from a knee injury to take over under center. The offensive line will be one of the best units in the country with stalwarts Landon Young and Drake Jackson returning. With seven returning starters on the defensive side of the ball, Mark Stoops will push for another eight-win season.
24. Arizona State Sun Devils
Jayden Daniels was a fantastic freshman quarterback last year. Only three starters return around him, but two of those are on the offensive line. With Herm Edwards coaching him up, Daniels should be able to take a step forward. The eight starters who are back on defense will have to help while the offense finds its rhythm.
23. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati has won 10 games in two straight seasons. Luke Fickell returns to the sidelines with a team that will be up for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game spot. Desmond Ridder has made plays at quarterback, but needs to be more consistent for the Bearcats to reach their goals. The seven starters who started last year will be key in keeping the defensive consistency up.
22. Iowa State Cyclones
Matt Campbell is still doing a great job in Ames with the Cyclones. The team won seven games last year and return quarterback Brock Purdy, who threw for nearly 4,000 yards last season. With talented running back Breece Hall in the backfield, the offense should produce. Their seven returning starters on defense will give them a complete team that can compete for the Big 12.
21. Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa loses a lot of players to the NFL and has had some turmoil this offseason, but they do have some talented returning players. Alaric Jackson returns at left tackle and he’ll have to protect whoever takes snaps for the Hawkeyes. Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and running back Tyler Goodson will give their skill positions some life. The defense will have the most to prove with just four starters back from last season.
20. North Carolina Tar Heels
Mack Brown has rejuvenated the North Carolina program and led them to a 7-6 record. A lot of the credit should go to Sam Howell, who was fantastic as a freshman quarterback last season with 3,641 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Nine other offensive starters are back with Howell. The defense only returns four starters, but that includes star linebacker Chazz Surratt, who is a former quarterback himself.
19. Memphis Tigers
Memphis was the New Year’s Six representatives from the Group of Five schools and they have the talent to do it again. Brady White is back at quarterback after passing for 4,014 yards, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’ll have great weapons in running back Kenneth Gainwell and wide receiver Damonte Coxie. The team will score a lot of points, but their defense should improve as well with seven returning starters on that side of the ball.
18. Minnesota Golden Gophers
P.J. Fleck has successfully turned around the Minnesota program. They won 11 games last season, which includes their Outback Bowl victory over Auburn. Tanner Morgan returns at quarterback after throwing for 30 touchdowns last year. He’ll have one of the best receivers in the country catching his passes in Rashod Bateman. With all of the offensive line back, the offense should produce. The defense will only have four returning starters and will have to step up.
17. USC Trojans
Quarterback Kedon Slovis was thrust into the starting lineup and succeeded last year with 3,502 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. He helped lead Clay Helton‘s team to an 8-5 record. He will be joined by talented receivers Amon Ra St. Brown, Drake London and Tyler Vaughns. The offense will spread the ball out and score. On the defensive side of the ball, nine starters are back and should be able to improve under new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.
16. Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines are going to have a small rebuilding year in 2020. They only bring three starters on offense and will need to be led by running back Zach Charbonnet and wide receivers Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell. Seven starters are back on defense, which ranked 25th last season. They’ll have to keep a lot of games low scoring.
15. Texas A&M Aggies
Jimbo Fisher has 17 returning starters coming back to a team that won eight games with a tough schedule last year. Kellen Mond will get a lot of preseason hype after throwing for 2,897 yards and rushing for 501 yards. With four offensive linemen returning, Mond will be able to make plays for the offense. The defense ranked 37th last season, but they have nine starters back.
14. Texas Longhorns
Sam Ehilinger returns for his senior season and will be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Six other starters are back on the offense, including left tackle Sam Cosmi, who could be a first-round pick. The defense was middle of the road last year, but they do have a lot of their secondary and defensive line back.
13. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Chuba Hubbard shocked the college football world when he decided to return for his redshirt junior season. He will team up with quarterback Spencer Sanders and wide receiver Tylan Wallace to provide one of the best three-headed monsters in football. They averaged 32.5 points per game last season for Mike Gunday and that should go up with Sanders’ being a sophomore this year. The defense ranked 61st, but returns every starter, but corner A.J. Green.
12. Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers lose star running back Jonathan Taylor, but have consistently been near the top of the Big Ten West over the last several seasons. Jack Coan will have to improve at quarterback for the offense to remain efficient, but new playmakers have to emerge to help him out. Eight starters being back on defense is a good thing for a team that ranked 10th in points allowed, sixth in rushing yards allowed and 12th in passing yards allowed.
11. Auburn Tigers
Auburn had one of the best defensive lines in college football last year and lost a lot of that to the NFL. They do return a few good players on the defensive side of the ball including, defensive lineman Big Kat Bryant and linebackers Owen Pappoe and K.J. Britt. Bo Nix has to play better as a sophomore at quarterback, but his dual-threat abilities should allow him to do so. Having Seth Williams, Eli Stove and Anthony Schwartz back should also help Guz Malzahn’s offense have a lot of success.
10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Ian Book is far from a great NFL Draft prospect, but he is a solid college quarterback who helped the Fighting Irish get to the College Football Playoff two seasons ago. With all of his offensive line back, he will be protected, but Notre Dame will have a lot of new faces at their skill positions. Defensive end Daelin Hayes, linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and cornerback Shaun Crawford will be the leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Only five starters return on defense, but they did rank 12th last season.
9. LSU Tigers
LSU just won the National Championship, but saw a mass exodus to the NFL. The biggest task is replacing Joe Burrow, but the Tigers seem confident in former touted recruit Myles Brennan. He’ll have a great wide receiver duo to work with in Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall, but only three total offensive players are back. The defense will have a little more to work with five players back. The player to watch on the defensive side of the ball is Derek Stingley who may be the best corner in the country and is only a sophomore.
8. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks may have the best edge rusher, KayvonThibodeaux, and the best left tackle, Penei Sewell, in college football. Oregon has recruited really well, so the only huge questions are how well Tyler Shough can replace Justin Herbert and how the rest of the offensive line will play. The defense returns six starters and only allowed 16.5 points per game last season. Safety Jevon Holland is also a star for the Ducks.
7. Florida Gators
Dan Mullen has the Gators back winning double-digit games, as they won 11 last season. Kyle Trask had a breakout season last year and has a chance to get to the next level after getting some experience under his belt. He’ll have one of the best tight ends in the country in Kyle Pitts, but they’ll need some other players to step into the fold on offense. The defense will only have four players back, but they ranked seventh in the country last season.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions
Sean Clifford is back at quarterback for the Nittany Lions after throwing for 2,654 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’ll have a great tight end in Pat Freiermuth and a solid running back in Journey Brown surrounding him. Four starters return on the offensive line as well, which should help them score even more than the 35.8 points per game they scored last season. They’ll have one of the best defensive players in college football on defense in Micah Parsons, but just four other returning starters.
5. Georgia Bulldogs
After Jake Fromm left for the pros, Georgia needed a quarterback and went to the transfer market to get Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman. He’ll have to help Georgia’s new starters on offense progress, but they will have two talented offensive linemen in Trey Hill and Ben Cleveland helping him out. The defense has seven returning starters from a unit that ranked first in points per game allowed and first in rushing yards allowed. Richard LeCounte will lead the defense from his safety position.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
After having three-straight great transfer quarterbacks, Spencer Rattler will take over the offense as a redshirt freshman. With eight returning starters back on offense, including wide receiver Charleston Rambo and the entire offensive line, Rattler will be able to showcase why he was a highly-ranked recruit. The defense was average last season, but returns eight starters. With experience back at every level of the defense, Oklahoma is set for another College Football Playoff run.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama isn’t going anywhere this season. Running back Najee Harris and wide receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle will help Alabama’s new quarterback, whether that be junior Mac Jones or incoming freshman Bryce Young. The four returning starters on the offensive line will also help. Between defensive end LaBryan Ray, linebacker Dylan Moses and cornerback Patrick Surtain, Alabama has great players at each level of the defense. It will be hard to rank 13th in scoring as a unit last year, but the Crimson Tide will be talented on defense.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
They battled Clemson very closely last season in the College Football Playoff, but came up short. Justin Fields returns at quarterback after throwing for 41 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’ll have running back Trey Sermon and wide receivers Chris Olave and Garret Wilson to help him make plays. Three offensive linemen are also back. Only four returning starters are back on defense, but they have plenty of talent to work with. Defensive end Jonathan Cooper, the entire linebacker core and Shaun Wade all have a chance to stand out this season for the Buckeyes.
1. Clemson Tigers
Trevor Lawrence has a chance to prove all the hype surrounding him is real with a National Championship and possibly a Heisman along the way. Travis Etienne decided to return to school at running back, which gives the Tigers a premier playmaker. It will be important after finding out wide receiver Justyn Ross will likely not play this season with a neck injury. Amari Rodgers will have to make a lot of plays at wide receiver. Only one offensive lineman is back, but Clemson recruits well enough to get the job done this season. Six returning starters are back on defense. Xavier Thomas will be a good edge rusher, but the backend of the defense needs to hold things together.
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