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Monday, August 10, 2020

NCAA releases Preseason Top 25 for 2020-21 football season

College Football may still be more than five months away, but the NCAA has already released its Preseason Top 25 for the 2020-21 season and as you can see below, there are quite a few familiar faces at the top of the poll.

Here is a look at the full Preseason Top 25, via NCAA.com.

1. Clemson (14-1 in 2019)

2. Ohio State (13-1)

The Buckeyes won’t have J.K. Dobbins anymore, but OSU will continue to have a potent ground game (Master Teague) and a dynamic QB in Justin Fields (51 total touchdowns in 2019). The defense will lose star Chase Young and others, but CB Shaun Wade is among those returning. Circle Sept. 12: Ohio State goes to Oregon.

3. Alabama (11-2)

4. LSU (15-0)

Yes, Heisman winner Joe Burrow is headed to the NFL after a historic senior season, with Myles Brennan possibly taking over for head coach Ed Orgeron. Plus Biletnikoff winner Ja’Marr Chase will be back in Death Valley. However, LSU will lose DC Dave Aranda, who’s left to become the Baylor head coach.

5. Georgia (12-2)

6. Oregon (12-2)

7. Oklahoma (12-2)

8. Penn State (11-2)

The Nittany Lions might have the best linebacker in the country in Micah Parsons, who had 14 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in the Cotton Bowl win. Offensively, QB Sean Clifford goes into his second year as a starter and has TE Pat Freiermuth and a group of dangerous running backs with new OC Kirk Ciarrocca (from Minnesota). The schedule isn’t easy, though: at Virginia Tech, at Michigan, vs. Iowa and vs. Ohio State by the end of October.

9. Florida (11-2)

10. Auburn (9-4)

11. Notre Dame (11-2)

After a blowout loss to rival Michigan, the Irish quietly won out to go 11-2 one season after making the College Football Playoff. With QB Ian Book’s return, Notre Dame should be potent on offense. And the defense should be strong, though the secondary is the biggest question mark there. The schedule is also tough: vs. Navy in Dublin, vs. Wisconsin at Green Bay, home against Clemson, home against Louisville and at Southern California to end the season.

12. Oklahoma State (8-5)

13. Texas A&M (8-5)

14. Texas (8-5)

15. Michigan (9-4)

The Wolverines are still way behind rival Ohio State. If 2019 wasn’t the year, when can Jim Harbaugh and Michigan do it? The quarterback battle is something to watch (Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton). LB Cameron McGrone should be a leader on defense. There are also road games against Washington, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State.

16. Wisconsin (10-4)

The Badgers and Paul Chryst get the benefit of the doubt here, as RB Jonathan Taylor is going to the NFL and LBs Chris Orr and Zack Baun have finished their college careers. However, save for a rare off year in 2018, Wisconsin has proven to be the Big Ten West’s best. QB Jack Coan (should he hold his job over Graham Mertz) might be asked to do more. The schedule won’t be easy, either. The Badgers play Appalachian State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Minnesota in four consecutive weeks.

17. North Carolina (7-6)

18. Minnesota (11-2)

It’s difficult to climb into the top-10 and become a championship contender. It’s perhaps harder to stay there consistently. That’s the task ahead for P.J. Fleck, who led the Gophers to an 11-2 season and another statement win against Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Minnesota loses a ton on defense (All-America pick Antoine Winfield Jr.) and top running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks and WR Tyler Johnson — and OC Ciarrocca is now at Penn State. But QB Tanner Morgan (3,253 passing yards, 30 TDs) will still get to throw to Rashod Bateman (1,219 yards, 11 TDs).

19. Southern California (8-5)

20. UCF (10-3)

21. Cincinnati (11-3)

22. Utah (11-3)

23. Iowa State (7-6)

24. Iowa (10-3)

Three-year starter Nate Stanley has to be replaced, but the Hawkeyes should again field another typically strong offensive line for its group of leading returning rushers (Tyler Goodson first with 638 yards) and will again be stout defensively, no matter the departures. But Iowa does have road games against Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State. Losing star DE A.J. Epenesa to the NFL stings, as expected as it might have been.

25. Arizona State (8-5)

 

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