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2018 College Football Preseason Rankings and Analysis

Photo courtesy of Chris Hanewinckel - USA Today.

There are 229 days of college football off season. A lot can happen between Tua’s surprise emergence as the 2018 College Football National Championship MVP and the August 25th start of the 2019 season. Think about all the college football that could’ve been played in those 229 days, but wasn’t. Think about all the times Lane Kiffin could’ve yelled at his offense for not beating their opponents by 40 points instead of just 30. Think about Ed Orgeron thinking about food. If college football didn’t have an offseason, Jake Fromm wouldn’t have time to go fishing and get a fish hook stuck in his leg, leaving him hospitalized. The world is actually safer with college football. There’s so much discussion to be had about college football that I even intentionally selected a picture of Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts as the header just to force you to think about each players’ pros and cons as if you were Nick Saban!

Anyways, while we count down the days until August 25th and the vigorous matchup between Duquesne and UMass, let’s rank the teams before we see them actually play … and ruffle a few superfans’ feathers in the process. It’s going to be hard to top last year’s college football season though – there were TWO National Champions for crying out loud!


First And Fan’s Preseason Top 25:


25. Florida Atlantic University
24. Oklahoma State
23. LSU
22. Texas
21. UCF
20. Houston
19. Florida State
18. West Virginia
17. Mississippi State
16. Stanford
15. Michigan
14. USC
13. Miami
12. Notre Dame
11. TCU
10. Auburn
9. Penn State
8. Michigan State
7. Wisconsin
6. Oklahoma


5. Washington

Let’s get detailed with number five, because objectively, preseason rankings just measures teams hypothetically and on-paper, but, to quote Tom Brady, “they can’t measure heart.” (Did you know Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback of all time, was drafted 199th overall? Of course you did you’re reading a college football preseason rankings list…) So back to getting sentimental about Washington at #5. Last season they finished 10-3 behind junior quarterback Jake Browning, but lost to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. Browning is returning under center again, and the Huskies are easy favorites to win the Pac-12. They have the best defense in the Pac-12 for the last three seasons, and with three defensive players listed in the SI Top 100 college football players, this might be their best season defensively ever. The only thing hurting the Huskies is their lack of strong receivers for Browning to target.

4. Ohio State

This ranking is of course dependent on whether or not head coach Urban Meyer keeps his job for supposedly maybe or maybe not allegedly having predetermined knowledge that could have or could not have lead to the suspected or unsuspected firing of another coach on his staff. Whatever that means. Basically Urban Meyer can’t talk to his team, recruits, or be involved with football until Ohio State finishes their internal investigation, but “sources” are leaning towards his imminent return to the team. Looking at the actual team though, Dwayne Haskins is replacing the graduated JT Barrett at quarterback, and already getting some Heisman looks. There to supplement his already proven performance (see last year’s game against Michigan when he stepped in for Barrett) is running back JK Dobbins. Dobbins set the record for most rushing yards by a freshman in program history last season, and was also the Big Ten Championship MVP. Defensively, Nick Bosa (we are obligated to mention that his older brother is Joey Bosa, also a good football player) is getting Heisman looks as a defensive player…the only defensive player to win the Heisman was Charles Woodson in 1997.

3. Georgia

Two days after the National Championship last year, Jake Fromm was the favorite to win the 2019 Heisman. Seems a little anxious but hey, Tim Tebow won the Heisman as a sophomore and look how good he’s doing (he was just selected as an all star for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the Mets’ double-A minor league team)! That being said, Fromm led the Bulldogs to the National Championship last season and honestly the defense blew it, not him. They have eight returning starters on offense and look strong behind Fromm, running back D’Andre Swift, and wide receivers Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley, Jr. Kirby Smart is going to have to get creative on defense after losing not only six starters but also Roquan Smith, the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft. Smith won SEC defensive player of the year last season and was the driving force of the Bulldog’s defense. It’s going to be tough for anyone to fill his shoes at linebacker.

2. Alabama

Tua. Just gonna put it out there now, it’s gonna be Tua. It Hurts to see Jalen on the bench but Tua will be the opening day starter. I would’ve transferred during the offseason just knowing Saban is as sentimental as Bill Belichick when it comes to picking starters. The good news is, there’s no wrong choice for starting quarterback. Maybe Saban decides to confuse everyone and split playing time between each guy. Down the rest of the lineup, the team is five-star studded – Damien Harris is going for his third straight season with 1,000 rushing yards. The reason the defending champions aren’t #1 preseason is the unproven defense. They lost four starters, including linebacker Terrell Lewis. Realistically, it’s the Crimson Tide under Nick Saban. They could put their team manager behind center and still find a way into the college football playoffs.

1. Clemson

Have you heard how great Trevor Lawrence is? The five star recruit who threw for 41 touchdowns and only 1 interception as a senior in high school last year? The 6 foot 6 inch, 206 pound monster that poses a massive threat in the air and even throws in some impressive running game too? Cool well he’s currently backup to Kelly Bryant. That being said, while the job is Bryant’s (let’s not totally ignore the fact that he led them to a 12-2 record last season and a berth in the CFB playoff), there’s still going to be an opening down the line for Lawrence. While the media will be focused on forcing Dabo Swinney to answer when Trevor Lawrence will get a start, Clemson’s defense will be absolutely crushing opponents. Clemson has three defensive players in the top 10 of Sports Illustrated Top 100 players. 6 of Clemson’s 11 defensive starters are in the top 60 even. They could ride to the National Championship game on their defense alone, but that’d ignore the fact that they have Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins, and Hunter Renfrow adding to their powerful offense. Right now, I’d pick them to win the 2018 National Championship.

Honorable mentions: Boise State, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, Boston College, Northwestern, Texas A&M, NC State, Memphis, and Utah.

Connor Dolan
Connor is co-founder of First And Fan and head of all website operations. He's a die hard Boston sports fan with a passion for sports, media, and all things David Ortiz.