Way Too Early Top 25 College Football Rankings for 2019

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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It’s around that time, unfortunately, where the college football season wraps up.  Before the sadness of another season ended kicks in, let’s take a look at next year. Normally, sites will put together a Top 25, and it provides a list of 25 teams and who returns. I decided to do things a little differently. Here are 25 teams to watch for in 2019. They may not necessarily be the Top 25 (which I will provide later) but have been split into groups of 5 with similar traits.

5 Teams locked in for the Top 25

Alabama Crimson Tide

Serious question: does anyone not have Alabama in their top two going into next year? Finding ways to discredit the Tide’s talent is about as easy as Vanderbilt winning the SEC. Nick Saban created a factory, and the product is national championships. Tua Tagovailoa returns, and will be at the top of every player of the year award list in 2019. Everyone else on the Tide will probably be good, because….well….it’s Alabama.

Georgia Bulldogs

If Georgia can avoid faking punts in bad situations and focus on playing versus tweeting, they can play with anyone. If they can keep UGA from facing Bevo too, they should have a chance.

Like a good QB, Jake Fromm is there. Fromm returns for the Dawgs, as do other talented players. Which is kind of why they’re in this list. Unfinished business in 2019? Georgia could be dangerous.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Replace a coach that went 86-9 since 2012. That’s all Ryan Day has to do. Piece of cake. The talent on Ohio State’s roster makes it difficult to be bad in Columbus. J.K. Dobbins is coming off of a year in which he rushed for over 1,000 yards sharing a backfield. He’s set to explode in 2019 regardless of who his quarterback might be.

Clemson Tigers

Since 2011, Dabo Swinney’s record at Clemson is 96-15. If Alabama weren’t currently on one of the most dominant runs in college football history, we’d be talking about the Tigers more. Next year’s squad returns a ton of key talent, including Trevor Lawrence. Clemson’s defense needs to reload, but that won’t be difficult under defensive coordinator Brent Venables. 

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan is a lock every year to be in the Top 25. Even if they got the death penalty, you can bet they’d be in the Top 25 the next year. That’s what a brand will do. Fortunately, they aren’t being shut down and should be good next year. Shea Patterson returns to lead the offense, one that hopefully finds ways to utilize playmakers better. Jim Harbaugh needs to beat Ohio State too, and he’s lucky that Urban Meyer isn’t running the Buckeyes anymore.

5 preseason hype teams

Florida Gators

It seems like there hasn’t been a buzz surrounding The Swamp since a certain Tim Tebow was on campus (apparently he was good). This Gators team may very well be great, but we’ve learned the last few years to be skeptical about them. After all, Jim McElwain won 10 games in his first season, only won 12 in the next two seasons. Dan Mullen came in and has already raised expectations, but that also fuels the hype.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Hey, have you heard? Nebraska got Scott Frost. Getting back their lord and savior automatically means their back to national relevancy. If they lose? They’ll find an excuse I’m sure. Nebraska’s hype from one coaching hire was unreal, and the excitement only grows next year. Adrian Martinez gave the Huskers a special player, and JD Spielman is electric with the ball in his hands.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Those outside the program may not realize it, but media members are loving the Gophers. Minnesota played numerous underclassmen in 2018, and that is expected to translate into success in 2019. PJ Fleck’s team bought into his vision, he brought in great recruiting classes, and they’re ready to make some noise next year.

UCLA Bruins

Until Chip Kelly gets fired at the college level, his teams will always be in football discussions. It didn’t start great for him at UCLA, but he had the Bruins playing well towards the end of the year. Kelly has his Oregon days still working for him, as many assume UCLA is bound to reach those same heights, if not higher. The hype is real, but will the success follow?

Texas Longhorns

There’s a reason why “Texas is back” jokes continue to be relevant. However, the Longhorns appear to be actually back after their win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Similar to Michigan, Texas normally receives preseason hype, but this offsesaon feels different. Tom Herman’s program is heading int he right direction, and the next step might just be to the playoffs. Sam Ehlinger to Collin Johnson. Get used to hearing that combination.

5 good but not (yet) great teams

Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley knew replacements were needed in 2019. He might not have realized how many, however. Oklahoma’s offensive line too a big hit and, most importantly, the Sooners lost Hollywood Brown to the NFL Draft. Still, Riley’s recruited well, giving his team a loaded roster.

LSU Tigers

Those with a positive outlook on LSU’s season were few heading into this year, but that changed quickly. Ed Orgeron raised expectations in the first few weeks of the season and has his team thinking SEC Championship next year. The Tigers defense will be a big contributor to that goal. Safety Grant Delpit returns, and LSU gets a big boost from the return of K’Lavon Chaisson. A matchup with Texas looms early in the season next year and would be a big boost for their playoff aspirations.

Texas A&M Aggies

If you pay your coach as much as the Aggies did, you better be winning games. Texas A&M’s goals in 2019 are lofty, but not unreachable. Jimbo Fisher entered College Station with high expectations placed upon him, and next year they will be higher. Kellen Mond returns as potentially one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, though his consistency needs to get better. Receiver Kendrick Rogers is a player you have to watch next year. 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Watching Notre Dame play football is like going to a movie that you were really excited about only to find out that you saw all of the good parts in the trailers. Replacing much of the offensive line, as well as key players on defense remain the biggest issues. Ian Book runs the offense, and all parties are hoping that the Irish actually show up in their biggest game next year.

Oregon Ducks

Justin Herbert surprised everyone by deciding to return to Oregon for another year. That choice instantly made the Ducks a legitimate contender for the playoff. Mario Cristobal brought the Ducks back to their lightning fast ways and kept up the tradition of crazy uniforms. Look good, feel good, play good. That’s the Ducks way and the University of Nike will go strong next year again.

5 Dark Horse Teams

Washington Huskies

Chris Petersen knows how to build a team, so don’t be surprised if the Huskies make the Top 25 again (maybe even another run at a Pac 12 title too). The losses of Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin are tough, given that they were both four-year starters, but Georgia transfer Jacob Eason and backup Salvon Ahmed take the reins. Hunter Bryant proved to be a freakish athlete in the Rose Bowl too.

Wisconsin Badgers

Can you make a Top 25 list without the Badgers? Probably not. Though they took a step back in terms of consistency, Wisconsin possesses the talent to win the Big Ten. Jonathan Taylor returns, giving the Badgers the best running back in the country. Tyler Biadaz leads the offensive line, and Wisconsin’s success hinges on the quarterback once again.

Utah Utes

Utah enters unfamiliar territory: entering the new season as a favorite. Tyler Huntley struggled with injuries the last five games of the season, but returns in 2019. The Utes defense features one of the best lines in the country, and the backfield will also be a strength.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Don’t expect the Cowboys to crack the Top 10, or at least end there. Oklahoma State is notorious for hot starts and cold finishes, however they’re fun to watch at times. Whoever wins the quarterback job gets a plethora of receiver talent to throw to downfield.

Virginia Cavaliers

Bronco Mendenhall said his team only had 27 ACC caliber players on his roster this year. They went 8-5. Imagine how good they’ll be if more players are added to the roster. Bryce Perkins returns, giving Virginia a lethal weapon at quarterback.

5 Underdog Teams

UCF Knights

Their 25 game winning streak came to an end, but this team shouldn’t be mocked. UCF proved they can compete with the best in the country, and the Knights bring back plenty of talent. McKenzie Milton’s status may still be up in the air, but Darriel Mack proved he can be a formidable backup. The defense takes some hits, but Josh Heupel should find replacements.

Houston Cougars

If a Group of 5 team makes a playoff run next year, it might just be the Cougars. Mostly because their schedule provides matchups against Oklahoma, Washington State, and North Texas in non-conference play. D’Eriq King and the offense get to work with new coach Dana Holgorsen, giving Houston another potential Top 10 offense. It all comes down to a defense missing Ed Oliver.

Boise State Broncos

We know Boise State can rely on defense, but that will be even more true next year. Replacing Brett Rypien and Alexander Mattison create big questions on offense, so the Broncos need the defense to help out. 

UAB Blazers

A program that didn’t have a team just won the Conference USA. Bill Clark’s team should be the favorite in 2019, and are led by Tyler  Johnston III. Spencer Brown also returns after a 1,200 yard season. The Blazers must replace all four players on defense with double-digit tackles for loss.

North Texas Mean Green

Mason Fine returns to a lethal offense, one that gave Conference USA foes fits all year. Seth Littrell turned down Power 5 offers to lead the Mean Green in 2019. That already feels like a win for this team. The offense will be explosive but it comes down to how much the defense helps out.

So there you have it.  25 teams that you need to know heading into the 2019 season. That doesn’t mean they are in the Top 25, but they definitely could be at some point. Now, on to my Way Too Early Top 25.

My Top 25

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Texas
  5. Ohio State
  6. Oregon
  7. LSU
  8. Florida
  9. Michigan
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Penn State
  14. Utah
  15. Washington
  16. UCF
  17. Wisconsin
  18. Virginia Tech
  19. Auburn
  20. Iowa
  21. Michigan State
  22. Virginia
  23. Nebraska
  24. Oklahoma State
  25. Missouri

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