The college football season has come to an end. For diehard fans, it is time to look forward to next season. Who will be teams to watch next season? Here is the college football 2020 way-too-early top 25.
25. Kentucky Wildcats
Mark Stoops has been one of the best coaches in college football. Without a quarterback for the latter part of the season, a wide receiver led them to eight victories. With a great offensive line and a quarterback under center next season (presumably Terry Wilson), Kentucky could replicate their success.
24. Boise State Broncos
While they will lose a lot of talent to graduation and the NFL, Boise State has some young playmakers, who can do wonders in the Mountain West. If they can replace a lot of the offensive line at a decent level, Boise State should win the MWC.
23. Iowa State Cyclones
Keeping Matt Campbell in Ames this offseason was a huge win for Iowa State. With Brock Purdy returning at quarterback and a lot of other young members of the team back, the Cyclones can improve on their seven wins.
22. Iowa Hawkeyes
Offensive tackle Alaric Jackson has already said he is coming back to school. Tristan Wirfs, another offensive tackle, and edge rusher A.J. Epenesa may also return to school. If that happens, the Hawkeyes just need to replace Nate Stanley at quarterback to have another solid season under Kirk Ferentz.
21. Arizona State Sun Devils
Running back Eno Benjamin is going pro, but Jayden Daniels had a great freshman year at quarterback. If he can help Herm Edwards to keep growing the Sun Devil program, they should be able to take a step forward next year.
20. Utah Utes
Utah is losing a quarterback, running back and a lot of their defense for next season. They always seem to find a way to play more physically than other teams and put themselves in contention. Kyle Whittingham will have his team ready if no other teams in the Pac-12 South are up to par.
19. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati has had back to back 11-win seasons and they also managed to keep their head coach who helped them get to that point. Luke Fickell should have one of the best defenses in the country and if Desmond Ridder can play better at quarterback, they could make a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.
18. USC Trojans
With all of the injuries at the quarterback position, Clay Helton was still able to lead USC to an eight-win season. Whether Kedon Slovis or J.T. Daniels are at quarterback, the Trojans should be able to score. Their defense was a young unit, who should improve for next season.
17. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota is losing some impact players including running back Rodney Smith, edge rusher Carter Coughlin, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and wide receiver Tyler Johnson. Those were all key parts of their 11-win season. Tanner Morgan has a chance to improve and connect with Rashod Bateman a lot next season. P.J. Fleck’s recruits will start to take over the program and should lead the Golden Gophers to another solid season.
16. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Spencer Sanders had a good freshman season at quarterback. With star running back Chuba Hubbard opting to return to school, the offense should be high-powered. Wide receiver Tylan Wallace returning and Mike Gundy’s tutelage should be able to help Sanders take the next step.
15. Texas A&M Aggies
Kellen Mond has made huge strides as a quarterback under Jimbo Fisher and will be back next season. With a lot of young players on their roster this season, Texas A&M could improve on their seven regular-season wins this year.
14. Texas Longhorns
Things didn’t work out for Texas this season. Sam Ehlinger is returning for his senior season though, which should put them in contention for the Big 12. Pair that with a lot of returning starters on the defensive side of the ball and Texas could be back in a Big 12 Championship Game.
13. Michigan Wolverines
No matter what players enter or leave, Jim Harbaugh always seems to have them in about this range. They went 9-4 this season and will now have to find a new quarterback, even if Shea Patterson didn’t live up to all the hype he came in with. The defense will be fine, as always, so the next quarterback will need to get the most out of their very talented receivers.
12. Wisconsin Badgers
Jonathan Taylor is going to the NFL, but the Badgers have an identity of running the football well. They will reload at running back and on the offensive line. Their defense, which allowed 16.1 points per game, may actually improve next season because of how many impact players are returning.
11. Auburn Tigers
Auburn has one thing a lot of SEC teams don’t have this year: an experienced quarterback. Bo Nix wasn’t great as a freshman, but if he can improve, the Auburn offense will open up. They’ll have a lot of talent lost on defense, but Gus Malzahn will take the offense up a notch.
10. Florida Gators
Kyle Trask stepped in at quarterback for the injured Feleipe Franks and got the most out of the season with 11 wins. The defense seems to be consistent over the last few years, so if Trask, with a year of experience under his belt, can lead them to another successful season.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame will have Ian Book back at quarterback with an experienced offensive line. Other than that, they will have to improve on defense, but they are better off than a lot of other teams heading into 2020.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions
James Franklin has recruited with the best of them, which means that the players leaving for the NFL won’t hurt as much. As a sophomore, Sean Clifford showed flashes of being able to make incredible throws. If the running game can aid him, the offense can be great. The defense will have one of the best players in college football in linebacker Micah Parsons to give this team a real shot at the Big Ten.
7. Oregon Ducks
Another program that has recruited well is Oregon. They are coming off a Rose Bowl win, but will lose Justin Herbert. Figuring out the quarterback situation will be a priority, but the defense could be one of the very best with another year of development.
6. LSU Tigers
All of the LSU underclassmen have decisions to make. The Tigers will lose Joe Burrow though, who had one of the best seasons ever for a college quarterback. If their offense can keep producing at a decent level, their defense should be solid as well. Cornerback Derek Stingley was one of the best players in the country this season and should be so again in 2020.
5. Georgia Bulldogs
With Jake Fromm’s decision to leave for the NFL, Georgia had some problems at the quarterback position. Thankfully, Jamie Newman has decided to grad-transfer to Georgia. At Wake Forest, he was a star and now he’ll get a chance to prove himself in the SEC. With him and a talented defense, Georgia could win the SEC East again.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma has a lot of talent leaving, but they won’t have the most competition in the Big 12, much like the last few years. Spencer Rattler will take over the offense, as he was one of the highest-rated recruits in his class. Without Kenneth Murray and Neville Gallimore, the defense will likely take a step back, but the Sooners have been a top-four team without the best defenses before.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
There are a lot of players leaving for the pros, like every year for Alabama, but some key players decided to go back to Alabama. Linebacker Dylan Moses and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood will be leaders on the team. If they can find good quarterback play, they will be atop the SEC West again.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields had a great year for Ohio State and will have new players stepping up around him. On defense, Shaun Wade will be a leader from his spot at cornerback. There will need to be a lot of new players stepping up, but Ohio State has continually had that happen in the past.
1. Clemson Tigers
Yes, Clemson will be ranked number one in about every preseason poll. The main reason is that they have Dabo Swinney and Trevor Lawrence working together for one more year. Lawrence and Justyn Ross will be the best quarterback/wide receiver duo in the country. The defense was young this season and should be a more complete unit next year. The Tigers will be the odds-on-favorite to win it all in 2020.