We are 3 weeks away from the beginning of the College Football season. Alabama is the reigning National Champion and is on top of the power rankings. Clemson and Ohio State are right there behind the Crimson Tide despite losing their extraordinary quarterbacks. We all know these three are the usual suspects in the Top 10, but who will fill out the rest of the spots.
1)Alabama(2020: 13-0 National Champions)
The Crimson tide doesn’t rebuild, they reload. They lose some of their biggest playmakers, but it seems the pieces are there to replace them. All eyes will be on former 5-star recruit Bryce Young as he looks to take over the starting quarterback role, after Mac Jones’s departure to the NFL. John Metchie III will be the stand-out receiver and be complemented by a stable of running backs. This may be the best defense Alabama has seen in a few years, they are lightning-fast and have bulk where it matters. You can expect this tenacious group to be near the top for takeaways at the end of the season.
2)Oklahoma(2020: 9-2 Big 12 Champions)
The Sooners may have their best team under Lincoln Riley. Everyone knows the Oklahoma offense will be ready to start the year led by Spencer Rattler at quarterback, but the defense is always a mystery. This year the defense will be on par with their offense, making them more well-balanced. This will give Coach Riley’s high-powered offense better field position and more opportunities to score. Look for the Sooners to get back into the National Championship.
3)Clemson(2020: 10-2 ACC Champions)
There is no doubt the Clemson Tigers will miss Trevor Lawrence but they will be in good hands. QB D.J. Uiagalelei will take over the reins at quarterback, and he looked promising in his two starts while Lawrence was out due to covid protocol. Justyn Ross at receiver will be the big air threat, and most of the defense returns as well. The biggest question going into the 2021 season for the Tigers is, who will replace Travis Etienne?
4)Ohio State(2020: 7-1 Big Ten Champions)
The Buckeyes are no doubt the favorite to win the Big Ten. That doesn’t mean there are some question marks going into this season. C.J. Stroud is currently the projected starter, but hasn’t had much experience of meaningful playing time. The Good news for Stroud is that he will have one of the best receiver/tight end combos in the country with Chris Olave and Jeremy Ruckert. The secondary will look to improve after finishing 122nd in passing yards allowed. Even with some questions, Ohio State will be back in the thick of the College Football Playoff race again this season.
Can Georgia get over the Alabama hump? The Bulldogs are the favorite to win their division, and will most likely square off against the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship. JT Daniels returns along 7 other starters from last year’s offense. The defense also returns most of its production. Pair that with a favorable schedule and the Dawgs have a chance to make some noise especially if they knock off the Clemson Tigers in Week 1.
6)Texas A&M(2020: 8-1)
Texas A&M is an interesting team. They lose their long-time quarterback Kellen Mond, and major pieces on the offensive line. They do however have key skill positions such as Isiah Spiller, Devon Achane, and Ainias Smith. Jimbo Fisher has done well changing the entire brand of Texas A&M, and he will look to push them even further this year.
7)Iowa State(2020: 9-3)
Matt Cambell has transformed Iowa State into a respectable football program that competes for a conference championship every year. Can the Cyclones take the next step in 2021? They return All-American running back Breece Hall, quarterback Brock Purdy, and tight end Charlie Kolar. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is gearing up for its best year in 20 years. Iowa State will most likely drop the game in Norman against the Sooners, losing the chances to win the Big 12 crown and make College Football Playoff in the process. Even though they will miss the Playoff, they will still make an NY6 bowl and have a memorable year.
8)Oregon(2020: 4-2 Pac-12 Champions)
Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux may be the best player in College Football that not enough people are talking about. The Ducks defense should vastly improve thanks to the recruiting done by Mario Cristobal. The starting quarterback job is still undecided, but with Joe Moorehead calling the offense, and a decent defense the Ducks are looking to make a splash in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Had a rough start last year but won six straight before their bowl game was canceled. Tyler Linderbaum will anchor the offensive line at center and is a frontrunner for the Rimington Trophy. QB Spencer Petras and RB Tyler Goodson also return to take the offense to the next level. In the last six games, the Hawkeyes looked like a “well oil machine,” and will be taking another step forward this year. Don’t be surprised if they are representing the Big Ten West in the Big Ten Championship game.
10)Notre Dame(2020: 10-2)
The Fighting Irish will have new faces all over the ball. They will be without Ian Book for the first time in four years and have almost an entirely new offensive line. Tight End Michael Mayer is a big target that can win a lot of “1 on 1” matchups that should help the new Quarterback whether it be Wisconsin Transfer Jack Coan or Drew Pyne. Kyle Hamilton is the man to watch on defense and will be a high draft pick in 2022. The Irish should be favored in almost every game, and benefit from having USC, UNC, and Cincinnati in South Bend.