Next on my Top 25 preseason college football rankings

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Last week I started off my Top 25 college football teams of the 2019 season with Nos. 1-5. Today, I’m sharing the next five teams in my preseason rankings.

As was the case last week, this is in no way official. It is based on my basic knowledge of each program following the 2018 season and heading into the 2019 season. For reference, my Top 5 were No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Michigan.

6. Ohio State – Ah, the Buckeyes. Where do I even begin? Former coach Urban Meyer ended his coaching career (for now) with a big Rose Bowl win over Washington. In 2019, there are two fresh faces that will determine the year’s success: head coach Ryan Day and presumed starting quarterback Justin Fields. Day proved his worth at the beginning of last season when Meyer was suspended, coaching the Buckeyes to their first four wins of the season. How will he handle preparing the team for the bigger rivalry games and more hostile atmospheres? Also, Justin Fields is talented, much like the rest of Ohio State’s roster. But he has yet to start a game and a whole heap of pressure has already been dolloped on top of him. Much like Day, is he prepared for the tougher games ahead?

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7. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish did everything right during the regular season to make it into the 2018 College Football Playoffs. But an ugly showing against a vicious Clemson team knocked Notre Dame down a peg. Was Notre Dame deserving of the playoffs after all? Maybe Clemson was just that good? I say yes to both. It doesn’t get any easier for the Fighting Irish in 2019, though. Road game at Georgia, Michigan and Stanford will be tough tests. If the Irish pull off another 12-0 season, they will likely be the most deserving team in college football to get into the playoffs. Depending on how the season shakes out for other teams, they might be able to sneak in at 11-1.

8. Texas – Is Texas back? I can’t wait to have this question finally answered this season! That’s a joke, of course. But Texas will likely be pretty darn good. Sam Ehlinger has put up great numbers in his first two seasons and will be the most looked at player for the Longhorns this season. His top target, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, is gone, though. Collin Johnson will likely be the player that steps up and fills that void. I’m not too high on the Longhorns’ defense though, particularly the defensive line. But If coach Tom Herman can pull off more underdog magic like he did against Oklahoma and Georgia last season, he just might find himself in heavy contention for another NY6 bowl or possibly a playoff spot.

9. LSU – Coached by my second favorite coach in the SEC, the Tigers seem to be putting more and more of the pieces together. After capping off last season with a great Fiesta Bowl win over UCF, second-season starting quarterback Joe Burrow will command a pretty stout offense in 2019. The Tigers also look to be just as good on defense, too. Beating Alabama, Auburn and Florida will be the usual big challenges, but an out-of-conference matchup against Texas in Week 2 is looming for coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers. The 2019 season will be no cakewalk for LSU.

10. Florida – The Gators are eerily in a similar position as LSU, to me. Both went 10-3 last season with great bowl wins. Both have returning quarterbacks with big expectations. The fan bases are eager for wins over their biggest rivals. Florida coach Dan Mullen turned around a sinking ship last season in Gainesville, but the 2019 schedule is no slouch and leaves little room for error. Week 1 the Gators host Miami, then have away games against Kentucky, LSU and Missouri, not to mention the annual Jacksonville game against Georgia. The Gators have plenty of skill players to do damage in the SEC East, and I don’t think it’s too far off to say fans are expecting a trip to the SEC Championship.

Join me next issue, where I’ll review my Nos. 11-15. I’ll go ahead and tell you, most of these teams are virtually interchangeable at this time.

The programs that set themselves apart when the season kicks off will be a blast to watch shake out.