Rant Sports Way Too Early College Football Top 25 Rankings: Preseason 2014
College Football Way Too Early Top 25 Rankings
Yes, we know. The 2013 college football season has just concluded, so why are we coming out with rankings for the 2014 preseason? Well, because we can, of course. The season was as crazy and unpredictable as everyone thought it would be in 2013 and there is no reason it should be any different in 2014.
With the season ending the way it did with the Florida State Seminoles leading a final drive for a score in dramatic fashion, the momentum heading into the 2014 is immeasurable.
While the Seminoles will likely be atop the college football rankings with many key players returning from the national title squad, there will be a handful of solid teams right on their heels. Sure, the Alabama Crimson Tide are losing AJ McCarron and a couple of key defensive pieces, but it is Alabama and that is what makes it such a successful program.
The SEC will be very interesting conference with many departing quarterbacks such as Johnny Manziel, McCarron and Zach Mettenberger. It may seem as if the conference will get weaker in that aspect, but the backups for those QBs have proven to be as solid as they come.
With the SEC searching for an identity, other conferences will be looking to step up to the plate to try and steal some thunder from the "mini-NFL" that is the SEC. The Pac-12 has at least five teams that could easily contend for a conference title and make a run at one of the four playoff spots for the new college football playoff that will be implemented in 2014.
Yes, the BCS is no more, so let's hope college football is on the upward trend and never looks back. Let's take a look at the way too early preseason 2014 college football rankings brought to you by the experts of Rant Sports.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
25. Iowa Hawkeyes
Losing to the LSU Tigers in the Outback Bowl definitely hurt, but an eight-win season with a young quarterback and young running backs leading the way is a sign of things to come. The Iowa Hawkeyes are trending upward.
24. Florida Gators
Florida had an extremely rough 2013 season after a BCS-run in 2012. However, they will be bringing back some key players on both sides of the ball and it will hopefully make them forget their 4-8 record from 2013 -- they are far too talented for a repeat of that.
23. North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina had one of the best turnarounds in the 2013 season. Starting the year with a 1-5 record and finishing with a 7-6 mark. With Marquise Williams coming back at quarterback, the program is looking up for 2014.
22. Clemson Tigers
The Clemson Tigers won a BCS bowl and are looking toward a rebuilding season after losing Tajh Boyd and their top two receivers. However, Dabo Swinney is a magician with that program and they will be back in title talks before the 2014 season is over.
21. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame always has the distinction of a top-25 team when the season begins, but they may just be underrated this season. With Everett Golson coming back, the quarterback and offensive situation is in much better hands than when Tommy Rees led the way.
20. USC Trojans
It looks like USC will be much more under control with Steve Sarkisian as the head coach and a solid quarterback under center. The Trojans are in much better hands than they were with Lane Kiffin as the lead man.
19. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Although they are losing Baker Mayfield, the Red Raiders have another young, talented quarterback by the name of Davis Webb who will start for the next couple of years. There is a bright future in Lubbock with Kliff Kingsbury as the head coach.
18. Washington Huskies
Washington may have to rely more on defense than offense in 2014, but the young talent at the skill positions on offense will pay off in the long-run. Cyler Myles and Dwayne Washington could be a dynamic running back-quarterback duo for the next couple of years.
17. Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State's Taylor Kelly has the opportunity to take the Pac-12 by storm next season with his rocket arm, but it will have to be a group effort in order to get back to the success the Sun Devils had in 2013.
16. Texas A&M Aggies
Losing Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans will definitely hurt, but with solid quarterbacks to battle for his replacement position, the Aggies may have a surprise season in 2014.
15. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin seems to always have a top-two or three Big Ten squad and 2014 will be no different. The Badgers will likely be challenging for a spot in the Big Ten title game once again and it wouldn't be surprising if they beat out Ohio State for that spot.
14. Georgia Bulldogs
Aaron Murray is gone, but Todd Gurley is coming back and that's bittersweet for all Bulldogs fans. With the solid QB now graduated, the offense will be a bit different, but the defense will need to be much better than it was in 2013.
13. LSU Tigers
Like Georgia, LSU is losing some key offensive pieces, but the defense seems to always reload instead of rebuild. It looks like the Tigers will be relying more on defense in 2014 than in most seasons, but if anyone can coach up an average team, it's Les Miles.
12. South Carolina Gamecocks
Although South Carolina is losing Connor Shaw and Mike Davis, they bring back senior quarterback Dylan Thompson and eight starters on offense that will pave the way and take some pressure off of Thompson -- who already has some experience.
11. Missouri Tigers
With Maty Mauk at quarterback and receivers like Dorial Green-Beckham coming back to help the young QB out, the Missouri Tigers are ready to prove that 2013 was no fluke. There should be no surprise if they contend for an SEC again.
10. UCLA Bruins
Brett Hundley is coming back and that's enough to put UCLA in talks for a Pac-12 title. Although the Pac-12 will be loaded in 2014, the Bruins have some solid pieces in place -- as well as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation -- to make a deep run at a conference crown.
9. Oklahoma Sooners
What better momentum shift can you have going into 2014 than the Oklahoma Sooners have? They beat in-state rival Oklahoma State on the road to win the conference title and took down the Alabama Crimson Tide in a BCS bowl with a freshman quarterback behind center. Bright future.
8. Baylor Bears
Baylor has a quarterback in Bryce Petty who could contend for a Heisman next season and an offense that will be scary once again. If Baylor's defense keeps improving, the Bears could be the team to beat in the Big 12.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State saw its streak of 24 consecutive wins snapped by Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and the Buckeyes have now gone on a two game losing streak -- their first losses since the 2011 season. However, Braxton Miller and a solid offense returning, the Buckeyes will be just as solid in 2014 as in previous seasons.
6. Stanford Cardinal
Losing many key players on offense and defense usually kills a team, but Stanford is reloading and bringing back one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 for 2014. With David Shaw as the head coach, this team will be in good hands.
5. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State won its final 10 games of the season to take home a Big Ten title crown and a Rose Bowl victory. It looks like Mark Dantonio has the Spartans cooking up something special and they could be the Big Ten team to beat for a while. Connor Cook is still young as well as Jeremy Langford and a majority of the receivers are coming back.
4. Oregon Ducks
Oregon always has a wealth of talent on the roster and 2014 will be no different. With Marcus Mariota choosing to come back as well as one of the scariest offenses in the nation in place, the Ducks will be a prominent program once again.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama had won two consecutive titles before 2013 and the Crimson Tide will be hungry for a comeback season in 2014. However, no AJ McCarron might hurt the team a bit on offense.
2. Auburn Tigers
Auburn could easily be the biggest surprise of the 2013 season and the biggest college football surprise in recent memory. Tre Mason is leaving, but Nick Marshall is coming back and could lead them to the first four-team playoff in the history of the sport.
1. Florida State Seminoles
Florida State is a no-brainer choice for the top spot in the nation after winning the national title with a freshman quarterback who also won the Heisman. It looks like the Seminoles will be the college football team to beat in 2014.