July 14, 2024
Running down every team in the preseason AP Top 25 college football poll.

A look at the preseason AP Top 25 from Georgia to Iowa:

No. 1 Georgia

2022 finish: 15-0, No. 1 final ranking.

Key games: vs. South Carolina, Sept. 16; vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Oct. 28; vs. No. 22 Mississippi, Nov. 11; at No. 12 Tennessee, Nov. 18.

Potential All-Americans: TE Brock Bowers, C Sedrick Van Pran; LB Jamon Dumas-Johnson, DB Javon Bullard.

Outlook: The Bulldogs are favored to become the first team in The Associated Press poll era to win three straight national championships. While they must replace QB Stetson Bennett and three first-round NFL draft picks, Georgia is loaded on both sides of the line. The biggest question mark is who will start at quarterback, with Carson Beck appearing to have the inside track.

No. 2 Michigan

2022 finish: 13-1, No. 3.

Key games: at Michigan State, Oct. 21; at No. 7 Penn State, Nov. 11; No. 3 Ohio State.

Potential All-Americans: QB J.J. McCarthy; RB Blake Corum; OG Zak Zinter; CB Will Johnson.

Outlook: The Wolverines are seeking their first national title since 1997 after winning two Big Ten titles and losing in the CFP semifinals twice. McCarthy is in his second season as a starter and has plenty of help with an experienced OL, Corum and RB Donovan Edwards in the backfield. An influx of transfers, including C Drake Nugent (Stanford) and CB Josh Wallace (UMass), help Jim Harbaugh have perhaps his best team in nine years as the coach at his alma mater.

No. 3 Ohio State

2022 finish: 11-2, No. 4.

Key games: at Notre Dame, Sept. 23; vs. No. 7 Penn State, Oct. 23; at No. 2 Michigan, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: WR Marvin Harrison Jr.; WR Emeka Egbuka; DE J.T. Tuilmoloau.

Outlook: The Buckeyes are still stinging after losing to Michigan for the second straight year and then dropping a heartbreaker to eventual national champion Georgia in the College Football Playoff. With QB C.J. Stroud gone, coach Ryan Day must decide on a new starter between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. Either will have a bevy of weapons and the defense is experienced.

No. 4 Alabama

2022 finish: 11-2, No. 5.

Key games: vs. No. 11 Texas, Sept. 9; vs. No. 12 Tennessee, Oct. 21; vs. No. 5 LSU, Nov. 4; at Auburn, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: CB Kool-Aid McKinstry; LB Dallas Turner; OT JC Latham; PK Will Reichard.

Outlook: Alabama must replace the No. 1 and No. 3 NFL draft picks, QB Bryce Young and LB Will Anderson Jr., and other standouts from a team that failed to make the SEC Championship Game. Talent is still abundant but there remain question marks and room for members from the nation’s top recruiting class to step up. Notre Dame transfer QB Tyler Buchner enters a three-man race to replace Young.

No. 5 LSU

2022 finish: 10-4, No. 16.

Key games: vs. No. 8 Florida State in Orlando, Sept. 3; at No. 22 Mississippi, Sept. 30; at No. 4 Alabama, Nov. 4; vs. No. 23 Texas A&M, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: KLB Harold Perkins; WR Malik Nabers; TE Mason Taylor; DT Mekhi Wingo

Outlook: LSU exceeded expectations in coach Brian Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge and had a team with new starters across all units. Now the defending SEC West champions enter this season as a national title contender. Most of the prominent players from last season are back and there have been notable additions, including transfers Alabama WR Aaron Anderson and Notre Dame RB Logan Diggs along with DE Dashawn Womack.

No. 6 USC

2022 finish: 11-3, No. 12.

Key games: at No. 13 Notre Dame, Oct. 14; vs. No. 14 Utah, Oct. 21; at No. 15 Oregon, Nov. 11.

Potential All-Americans: QB Caleb Williams; S Calen Bullock; C Justin Dedich.

Outlook: Williams returns with his Heisman Trophy for a second year under Lincoln Riley after the duo returned the Trojans to national prominence in one season. Another fruitful offseason in recruiting and the transfer market has surrounded Williams with a wealth of talent, including new receivers Dorian Singer and Zachariah Branch and freshman TE Duce Robinson. Both lines also look stronger, but Riley needs coordinator Alex Grinch to make strides with the defense.

No. 7 Penn State

2022 finish: 11-2, No. 7.

Key games: vs. No. 25 Iowa, Sept. 23; at No. 3 Ohio State, Oct. 21; vs. No. 2 Michigan, Nov. 11.

Potential All-Americans: LT Olu Fashanu; DE Chop Robinson; DB Kalen King; RB Nick Singleton.

Outlook: The Nittany Lions have been one of the top, but not quite elite, programs in the nation under James Franklin. Playing in the same division as Ohio State and Michigan is a big part of it. The defense could be among the nation’s best. If Penn State wants to leapfrog the Buckeyes or Wolverines, second-year QB Drew Allar is going to have to be as good as advertised. He will need help from unproven receivers and transfer WR Dante Cephus.

No. 8 Florida State

2022 finish: 10-3, No. 11.

Key games: vs No. 5 LSU in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 3; at No. 9 Clemson, Sept. 23; vs. Miami, Nov. 11; at Florida, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: DE Jared Verse; QB Jordan Travis; WR Johnny Wilson; CB Fentrell Cypress II.

Outlook: After nearly a decade out of the national spotlight, Florida State is suddenly a championship contender again. The Seminoles had a number of key players return after winning their final six games last season, including Verse, Travis, Wilson and RB Trey Benson. Travis is a Heisman contender, but the defense needs to find one more level.

No. 9 Clemson

2022 finish: 11-3, No. 13.

Key games vs. No. 8 Florida State, Sept. 23; vs. No. 13 Notre Dame, Nov. 4; vs. No. 21 North Carolina, Nov. 18; at South Carolina, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: RB Will Shipley; LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr.; LB Barrett Carter; DT Tyler Davis.

Outlook: Clemson’s best offseason transfer was landing TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley to reboot the Tigers’ attack. It’s QB Cade Klubnik’s show now with DJ Uiagalelei off to Oregon State. The defense looks as strong again with DT Tyler Davis passing up the NFL for another season in college and Trotter and Carter perhaps the country’s best linebacking combo.

No. 10 Washington

2022 finish: 11-2, No. 8.

Key games: at Michigan State, Sept. 16; vs. No. 15 Oregon, Oct. 14; at No. 6 USC, Nov. 4; vs. No. 14 Utah, Nov. 11.

Potential All-Americans: QB Michael Penix, Jr.; WR Rome Odunze; DE Bralen Trice.

Outlook: Washington has a legit chance at winning the Pac-12 in its final season in the conference, but will have to navigate a brutal November schedule. Penix will be hard-pressed to top his numbers from last season, but has one of the best wide receiver groups in the country led by Odunze and Jalen McMillan. Trice leads a talented defensive front but the Huskies success will be largely determined by how much the rest of the defense improves.

No. 11 Texas

2022 finish: 8-5, No. 25

Key games: at No. 4 Alabama, Sept. 9; at Baylor, Sept. 25; vs No. 20 Oklahoma in Dallas, Oct. 7; at No. 17 TCU, Nov. 11.

Potential All-Americans: WR Xavier Worthy; LB Jaylan Ford; OT Kelvin Banks.

Outlook: Texas returns 10 starters and the entire offensive line for what should be an explosive offense led by QB Quinn Ewers. The Longhorns are favorites to win their first Big 12 title since 2009 in their last season in the league before heading to the SEC. The biggest question marks are how to replace star RB Bijan Robinson, and the performance of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has never won more than eight games in the regular season.

No. 12 Tennessee

2022 finish: 11-2, No. 6.

Key games: at Florida, Sept. 16; No. 23 Texas A&M, Oct. 14; at No. 4 Alabama, Oct. 21; No. 1 Georgia, Nov. 18.

Potential All-Americans: QB Joe Milton III; WR Ramel Keyton; OL Cooper Mays.

Outlook: The Vols come off their best season since 2001 with the NCAA investigation cloud gone. Coach Josh Heupel has Milton replacing Hendon Hooker, now in the NFL; Milton is going into his third season in the nation’s fastest-operating offense. He also has experienced WRs in Keyton and Bru McCoy and RB Jaylen Wright. The defense added a couple BYU transfers and will be led by senior DL Omari Thomas.

No. 13 Notre Dame

2022 finish: 9-4, No. 18.

Key games: vs. Navy in Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 26; No. 3 Ohio State, Sept. 25; No. 6 Southern California, Oct. 14; at No. 9 Clemson, Nov. 4.

Potential All-Americans: LT Joe Alt; CB Benjamin Morrison; QB Sam Hartman.

Outlook: Hartman’s arrival after a record-breaking career at Wake Forest gives coach Marcus Freeman a more stable quarterback room than he had in his first season in charge. Hartman also has a solid supporting cast with Alt anchoring the line. Seven starters, including Morrison (six interceptions), return on a defense that was ranked No. 22 in yards allowed per game.

No. 14 Utah

2021 finish: 10-4, No. 10.

Key games: vs. Florida, Aug. 31; at No. 6 USC, Oct. 21; vs. No. 15 Oregon, Oct. 28; at No. 10 Washington, Nov. 11.

Potential All-Americans: OL Keaton Bills; DT Junior Tafuna; S Cole Bishop.

Outlook: QB Cam Rising’s rehabbing injury knee will go a long way toward determining if the Utes will win the Pac-12 championship for the third year in a row. A critical piece behind both league titles, Rising tore an ACL in the Rose Bowl loss to Penn State. Utah returns 14 starters overall, and that veteran experience will be necessary facing a daunting schedule.

No. 15 Oregon

2022 finish: 10-3, No. 15.

Key games: at No. 10 Washington, Oct. 14; No. 14 Utah, Oct. 28; No. 6 USC, No. 11; vs. No. 18 Oregon State, Nov. 24.

Potential All-Americans: QB Bo Nix; RB Bucky Irving; DE Brandon Dorlus.

Outlook: The Ducks enter their final season in the Pac-12 looking for a final conference title before a new life in the Big Ten in the second season under Dan Lanning. Nix opted to return for a second season, but will be working with a new offensive coordinator in Will Stein. Irving and a stellar run game will help, but the Ducks need to see a jump defensively.

No. 16 Kansas State

2022 finish: 10-4, No. 14 (final ranking).

Key games: at Missouri, Sept. 16; vs No. 17. TCU, Oct. 24; at No. 11 Texas, Nov. 4.

Potential All-Americans: OG Cooper Beebe; KR Phillip Brooks; TE Ben Sinnott.

Outlook: The defending Big 12 champions must replace RB Deuce Vaughn, one of the best playmakers in school history. They return QB Will Howard and their entire offensive line, and Florida State transfer RB Treshaun Ward will join returning backup DJ Giddens in what should remain one of the league’s best backfields. On defense, the Wildcats must replace first-round pick DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah and two key defensive backs in Josh Hayes and Julius Brents.

No. 17 TCU

2022 finish: 13-2, No. 2.

Key games: vs. Colorado, Sept. 2; at No. 16 Kansas State, Oct. 21; vs. No. 11 Texas, Nov. 11; at No. 20 Oklahoma, Nov. 24.

Potential All-Americans: LB Johnny Hodges; CB Josh Newton.

Outlook: TCU could still be good on offense, even without Heisman Trophy runner-up QB Max Duggan, its top two RBs, top three WRs and coordinator (Garrett Riley) from last season’s national runner-up. Chandler Morris was the starting QB going into last season before getting hurt in the opener. Among transfers the Frogs added were WRs JoJo Earle from Alabama, JP Richardson from Oklahoma State and Jack Bech from LSU; and RB Trey Sanders from Alabama.

No. 18 Oregon State

2022 finish: 10-3, No. 17.

Key games: vs. No. 14 Utah, Sept. 29; vs. No. 10 Washington, Nov. 18; at No. 15 Oregon, Nov. 24.

Potential All-Americans: RB Damien Martinez; LT Joshua Gray; DB Kitan Oladapo.

Outlook: Coach Jonathan Smith inherited a program in shambles when he returned to his alma mater in 2018. It’s taken a few years, but Smith has rebuilt the foundation and the payoff could come this season with a favorable schedule, a high-profile quarterback and a renovated home stadium. Clemson transfer DJ Uiagealelei is likely to be the starting QB and the Beavers’ feisty defense allowed 10 points or fewer to five of their final seven opponents last season.

No. 19 Wisconsin

2022 finish: 7-6, unranked.

Key games: at Purdue, Sept. 22; vs. No. 25 Iowa, Oct. 14; vs. No. 3 Ohio State, Oct. 28; at Minnesota, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: RB Braelon Allen; OT Jack Nelson; LB Maema Njongmeta.

Outlook: Wisconsin enters this season with buzz even after going 7-6 last year due to the hire of former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell and the arrival of offensive coordinator Phil Longo. Longo has emphasized Wisconsin will continue to run the ball often, but the offense figures to be more balanced with less of the Badgers’ traditional smashmouth approach. Wisconsin added 17 transfers, including former SMU QB Tanner Mordecai and four wide receivers.

No. 20 Oklahoma

2022 finish: 6-7, unranked.

Key games: vs. SMU, Sept. 9; vs. No. 11 Texas in Dallas, Oct. 7; at Oklahoma State, Nov. 4; vs. No. 17 TCU, Nov. 24.

Potential All-Americans: QB Dillon Gabriel; DL Ethan Downs; LB Danny Stutsman.

Outlook: Oklahoma looks to bounce back after Brent Venables led the Sooners to their first losing season since 1998. The Sooners had no problem scoring last season and have plenty of firepower back on offense. The biggest questions are on defense, where coordinator Ted Roof will try to fix what was one of the nation’s worst units.

No. 21 North Carolina

2022 finish: 9-5, unranked.

Key games: vs South Carolina in Charlotte, Sept. 2; vs. Miami, Oct. 14; at No. 9 Clemson, Nov. 18; at North Carolina State, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: QB Drake Maye; LB Cedric Gray.

Outlook: Everything starts with Maye, last year’s Associated Press offensive player of the year for the Atlantic Coast Conference. The offense is expected to be a strength even with the arrival of new coordinator Chip Lindsey. But for UNC to take a step forward, it will need much more from a defense that was adequate at best for a team that reached the ACC title game.

No. 22 Mississippi

2022 finish: 8-5, unranked.

Key games: at No. 4 Alabama, Sept. 23; vs. No. 5 LSU, Sept. 30; at No. 1 Georgia, Nov. 11; at Mississippi State, Nov. 23.

Potential All-Americans: RB Quinshon Judkins; OL Jeremy James.

Outlook: The Rebels are trying to bounce back after losing their last four games and five of six. But Judkins returns to power a running game that ranked third nationally last season. Four-year Oklahoma State starter Spencer Sanders arrives to challenge incumbent Jaxson Dart. Coach Lane Kiffin also brought in defensive coordinator Pete Golding from Alabama.

No. 23 Texas A&M

2022 finish: 5-7, unranked.

Key games: vs. No. 4 Alabama, Oct. 7; at No. 22 Mississippi, Nov. 4; at No. 5 LSU, Nov. 25.

Potential All-Americans: WR Ainias Smith; OL Layden Robinson; DB Demani Richardson.

Outlook: The Aggies look to bounce back in coach Jimbo Fisher’s sixth season after they had their fewest wins since going 4-8 in 2008. Fisher brought in former Louisville and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino as his offensive coordinator. Quarterbacks Conner Weigman and Max Johnson are vying for the starting job. D.J. Durkin is back for his second years as defensive coordinator with Richardson expected to star for the group loaded with blue-chippers.

No. 24 Tulane

2022 finish: 12-2, No. 9.

Key games: vs. No. 22 Mississippi, Sept. 9; at Memphis, Oct 13; vs. UTSA, Nov. 24 or 25.

Potential All-Americans: QB Michael Pratt; CB Jarius Monroe.

Outlook: Coming off of a Cotton Bowl victory over Southern California, Tulane is the preseason favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. Pratt’s return was crucial for an offense that lost dynamic RB Tyjae Spears. Coach Willie Fritz is optimistic his defense will remain strong despite the departure of LBs Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson to the NFL. Fritz is entering his eighth season with the Green Wave, which has played in four bowl games in the past five years, winning three.

No. 25 Iowa

2022 finish: 8-5, unranked.

Key games: at No. 7 Penn State, Sept. 23; at No. 19 Wisconsin, Oct. 14; vs. Minnesota, Oct. 21; at Nebraska, Nov. 24.

Potential All-Americans: DB Cooper DeJean; P Tory Taylor.

Outlook: All eyes are on beleaguered offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, whose revised contract makes this a make-or-break season for him depending on whether the Hawkeyes can score 325 points. Michigan transfer QB Cade McNamara is an upgrade. Defense and special teams are among Big Ten’s best — again.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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