We need to talk about the upcoming college football season.
Has there ever been a year where things felt this unpredictable and wide open? At this point, preseason rankings are about as solid as USC and UCLA’s commitment to the Pac-12.
Let’s take ESPN’s Football Power Index rankings.
It’s no surprise that Alabama and Ohio State are ranked #1 and #2, but one thing we learned last year is that Superman can actually bleed. The Crimson Tide lost a conference game against Texas A&M, and Ohio State finally saw its dominant streak over Jim Harbaugh and Michigan come to a close.
Georgia sits at #3, and while Kirby Smart says they’re the hunters and not the hunted, he’s going hunting without last year’s defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, and FIFTEEN of last year’s players were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
At #4 you have Clemson, which hasn’t settled on a starting QB, lost their defensive coordinator to Oklahoma, and is attempting to exist in the transfer portal era without participating in it.
At #5, Notre Dame has itself a first time head coach in Marcus Freeman, who has replaced nearly the entire offensive staff, and is staring down a schedule that includes Ohio State and USC on the road, and an early November game hosting Clemson.
At #6, Michigan is coming off its best season under Jim Harbaugh, but they’ve got four coaches filling two coordinator roles, and three of them are in their first year on the job. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen.
At #7 you have a team that has finished the regular season .500 or lower FIVE TIMES IN THE LAST NINE YEARS, including last season. That’s right. Texas is in the top 7.
At #8 you have a team that has a brand new head coach, brand new offensive coordinator, and will be starting its third QB in the last two years- the Oklahoma Sooners.
#9 is the Miami Hurricanes and new Head Coach Mario Cristobal- and Mario’s my guy, but his offenses at Oregon didn;t exactly set the world on fire, and outside of the QB position, the Hurricane offense looks to be in rebuild mode.
And rounding out the top 10 ESPN FPI FAH-MAH-LAY is Brian Kelly and the LSU Tigers. 3-5 in SEC play last year, and questions at QB, on the offensive line, and in the defensive backfield.
I don’t see a sure thing anywhere in the bunch. All of these teams have warts, and before you try to argue that I’m just being negative, or trying to convince myself that Oregon has a path to the playoff (when I know we have Utah to worry about), believe me when I say that the fact that the sport seems more wide open than it has in recent years is actually a very good thing!
Hope drives this sport, and if you’re outside the top 10 of ESPN’s FPI, you might just have more hope than you’ve had in a long time.
Let that sink in.