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Chipper’s College Football Way-Too-Early Top 25

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Chipper’s College Football Way-Too-Early Top 25

Thomas Smith and Ryan McCrary

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The 2018 college football season came to an abrupt end, with Clemson clobbering Alabama 44-16 in the national championship. We at the Chipper are already looking forward to the 2019 season, so with that being said, here’s our 2019 Way-Too-Early College Football Top 25.

 

#1 Clemson Tigers

Last Season: 15-0

It’s scary to think that the Tigers will have quarterback Trevor Lawrence for at least two more years. They return eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense. A top ten recruiting class and lots of depth should put the Tigers in good shape for another national championship run, even with the loss of all four starters on the defensive line. Watch out for a potential new dynasty.

 

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Last Season: 14-1

The Tide got embarrassed in the national championship, losing 44-16 to Clemson, but another number one recruiting class and seventeen returning starters should put the Tide back in it. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (last season’s Heisman runner-up) returns for his junior season along with Biletnikoff award winner Jerry Jeudy. The combination of Tagovailoa and three electric receivers makes the Crimson Tide offense just as dangerous, if not more, than last year. Clemson-Alabama Part 5? I think so.

 

#3 Ohio State Buckeyes

Last Season: 13-1

The Buckeyes lose record-setting QB Dwayne Haskins to the NFL and, maybe more importantly, lose head coach Urban Meyer who posted an 83-9 record at Ohio State including a national championship in 2014. Don’t sleep on new head coach Ryan Day though. Day spent a couple of years as a QB coach in the NFL before taking the job as the OSU offensive coordinator. He should have a quarterback battle on his hands if everything goes his way. Assuming that Justin Fields is eligible to play next season and Tate Martell doesn’t transfer, the Buckeyes will have two phenomenal quarterbacks to choose from. Urban Meyer’s departure won’t affect the Buckeyes as much as some might think.

 

#4 Georgia Bulldogs

Last Season: 11-3

Georgia loses a lot over the offseason. In addition to losing offensive and defensive coordinators, they lose multiple key seniors and juniors declaring for the NFL. Running back Elijah Holyfield, tight end Isaac Nauta, and receivers Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman all made the decision to forgo their senior seasons and enter into the NFL draft. They also lose two transfers in freshman QB Justin Fields to Ohio State and freshman tight end Luke Ford to Illinois. While it doesn’t look great for the Bulldogs, they do boast the second ranked recruiting class in the nation and have enough talent to make a run in the SEC East.

 

#5 Oklahoma Sooners

Last Season: 12-2

The Sooners lose Heisman winning quarterback Kyler Murray and number one receiver Marquise Brown. Surprisingly, they might be able to replace both of them in one recruiting class. Oklahoma has the sixth ranked recruiting class that includes number one overall quarterback Spencer Rattler and number one overall wideout Jadon Haselwood. If the young defense can continue to improve, the Sooners should make the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.

 

#6 Florida Gators

Last Season: 10-3

The Gators were a season ahead of where everyone thought they would be. They went 10-3 under new head coach Dan Mullen with impressive wins over LSU, Mississippi State, and a signature 41-15 rout of Michigan. Florida returns quarterback Feleipe Franks and top rusher Lamical Perine along with a stout eleventh ranked recruiting class. The Gators also land transfer defensive end Jon Greenard from Louisville. The pass rusher from Hiram, Georgia had a seven sack season in 2017 before tearing a ligament in his wrist that kept him sidelined in 2018. That addition bolsters a defense that will already be a top unit in the country.

 

#7 Texas Longhorns

Last Season: 10-4

Is Texas back? It seems so, as they finished a 10-4 campaign with a regular season win over Oklahoma and a win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger returns for his junior season and will make the Longhorns dangerous through the air and especially on his feet. They lose a lot on defense, but have a top ten recruiting class to make up for it. It’s looking up for Tom Herman’s Longhorns, but can they keep up with the high-powered Sooners to win the Big 12?

 

#8 Texas A&M Aggies

Last Season: 9-4

Jimbo Fisher’s first year at A&M was a success. The most important part of the campaign? He won the recruiting battle over Texas. Fisher compiled the third ranked recruiting class and looks to build on an impressive 2018. The Aggies return quarterback Kellen Mond, but lose elite running back Trayveon Williams. With a hefty recruiting class and a great head coach, we’ll see if the Aggies can make some noise in the SEC.

 

#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Last Season: 12-1

Notre Dame loses a lot of defensive star power, but has a top ten recruiting class and gets QB Ian Book back. Irish fans should be excited about four star safety Kyle Hamilton. We saw him with our own eyes when Cartersville defeated Marist and the 6’4” safety is a BEAST. After Brian Kelly’s Coach of the Year season, I can’t see the Irish having another undefeated regular season due to games against Georgia, Michigan, and Stanford.

 

#10 LSU Tigers

Last Season: 10-3

The Tigers shattered expectations this season in Ed Orgeron’s second full year as head coach. LSU gets Ohio State transfer QB Joe Burrow back, but loses starting running back Nick Brossette. The Tigers also lose multiple talented members of the secondary and the best linebacker in the country Devin White. A top ten recruiting class highlighted by number one running back John Emery and number two cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. has LSU poised for another stellar season. It will be difficult for them to win the SEC West due to powerhouses Texas A&M and Alabama, but if anyone can give those two a run for their money it’s the Tigers.

 

#11 Oregon Ducks

Last Season: 9-5

The Ducks were blessed with star quarterback Justin Herbert announcing his return for his senior season. This came as a surprise, with many thinking Herbert would be the number one quarterback in this upcoming draft. The Ducks return ten starters on offense and head coach Mario Cristobal has done a masterful recruiting job. Oregon has the fifth ranked recruiting class that features defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (the number one overall player in the ESPN 300), number one cornerback Mykael Wright, and four-star linebacker Mase Funa. The Ducks play Auburn to start the 2019 season. If they can defeat Auburn and take care of business in the PAC-12, then they should be able to make a push for the playoffs.

 

#12 Michigan Wolverines

Last Season: 10-3

Jim Harbaugh might be on the hot seat. Harbaugh has gone 5-7 against top 25 opponents, 1-3 in bowl games, and most importantly hasn’t beaten Ohio State yet. The Wolverines will likely lose again to the Buckeyes due to several key players leaving. Linebacker Devin Bush, running back Karan Higdon, cornerback David Long, and defensive linemen Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich will all be gone next season. Luckily for Michigan, they will still have the duo of quarterback Shea Patterson and wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones next season. While they do have the fourth ranked recruiting class, I can’t see that being enough to overcome the Buckeyes.

 

#13 UCF Knights

Last Season: 12-1

The Knights should be able to keep their hold over the American Athletic Conference next season. Star quarterback McKenzie Milton suffered a gruesome leg injury late last season, but has made huge strides in rehab and might see the field next season. Even if Milton is not able to play, UCF has a very good replacement in Darriel Mack Jr. The freshman quarterback accounted for 633 total yards and 7 touchdowns in relief of Milton. With the best recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference and multiple starters returning, the Knights are in position to throttle the AAC again

 

#14 Penn State Nittany Lions

Last Season: 9-4

The bad news for Penn State is that they lose three year starting quarterback Trace McSorley. The good news is that his replacement is 6’5” and runs like Cam Newton. Tommy Stevens should be McSorley’s replacement and it doesn’t seem that there will be much drop off in production. The Nittany Lions used Stevens all over the field last season and he proved his worth as an excellent runner and has a cannon for an arm as well. While it will be difficult for Penn State to surpass Michigan and Ohio State in the Big 10, they should be able to have a solid nine or ten win season.

 

#15 Washington Huskies

Last Season: 10-4

The Huskies lose lots from a senior heavy class. They lose quarterback Jake Browning, running back Myles Gaskin, linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, cornerback Byron Murphy, and safety Taylor Rapp. Georgia transfer quarterback Jacob Eason has been learning the offense for a year now and is the favorite to win the starting position.While they lose all but two starters on defense, I still believe in head coach Chris Petersen to make a run in the PAC-12.

 

#16 Utah Utes

Last Season: 9-5

Utah gets a majority of last season’s starters back, including dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley. The Utes were the PAC-12 runner-ups last season off of their incredible defense. Unfortunately, they lose their top four tacklers from last year and have a recruiting class that isn’t even ranked in the top fifty. Utah does have a fairly easy schedule with non-conference games against BYU, Northern Illinois, and Idaho State, so they should be able to win at least eight games.

 

#17 Northwestern Wolfpack

Last Season: 9-5

Northwestern loses four year starting quarterback Clayton Thorson, but gets a very talented transfer. Former five star QB Hunter Johnson transferred from Clemson after starting the season third on the depth chart. He’s the favorite to win the job and will command a Wolfpack offense that only returns six starters. Even with multiple new starters on offense, Northwestern still returns their four leading tacklers from last season. The Wildcats look to win the Big 10 West for the second year in a row.

 

#18 Auburn Tigers

Last Season: 8-5

Auburn was very disappointing last season, going 7-5 on the regular season and 3-5 in the SEC. Their offense was lethargic and predictable all season under offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. That was until they dropped 63 points on Purdue in the first time Gus Malzahn called plays in two years. Expect Malzahn to be much more involved in the offensive play calling next season. The Tigers lose quarterback Jarrett Stidham, two talented receivers in Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton, linebacker Deshaun Davis, and cornerback Jamel Dean. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown surprised everyone by deciding to return for his senior season. Auburn racked up the sixteenth ranked recruiting class that includes number one linebacker Owen Pappoe and four star quarterback Bo Nix. As long as Malzahn calls offensive plays, the Tigers can contend in the SEC West.

 

#19 Missouri Tigers

Last Season: 8-5

Mizzou received what might of been the hottest transfer of the offseason. Kelly Bryant went 12-2 as the starting quarterback for Clemson in 2017. He lost his job to phenom freshman Trevor Lawrence after week four of last season. The Tigers lose top receiver Emanuel Hall, but return top rusher Larry Roundtree III and highly rated tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. The offense should click in head coach Barry Odom’s fourth season.

 

#20 Virginia Tech Hokies

Last Season: 6-7

Last season was a big disappointment for the Hokies as they lost star quarterback Josh Jackson early in the season. They look to bounce back next season and may even have a quarterback competition. Ryan Willis filled in for the injured Jackson and threw for 2,497 yards, 24 touchdowns, and added 354 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Virginia Tech returns top wideout Damon Hazelton, but loses top rusher Steven Peoples. With the thirtieth ranked recruiting class, the Hokies will likely be the favorite to win the ACC Coastal.

 

#21 Stanford Cardinal

Last Season: 9-4

Stanford loses a lot of offensive stars including running back Bryce Love, wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and tight end Kaden Smith. Quarterback KJ Costello returns along with the twenty first ranked recruiting class featuring center Branson Bragg, wideout Elijah Higgins, and running back Austin Jones. Costello can carry them with his arm through a competitive PAC-12, but it won’t be easy.

 

#22 Wisconsin Badgers

Last Season: 8-5

The most important thing for the Badgers is that running back Jonathan Taylor will return for at least one more season. Taylor led the country with 307 rushes for 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns. Wisconsin will have to replace three members of one of the top offensive lines in the nation last year. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook will return next season and will hopefully be cleared from a concussion before the season begins. If not, the Badgers bring in second ranked pocket passer Graham Mertz. Wisconsin should be the favorite to win the Big 10 West, but will have to go through Northwestern to do it.

 

#23 Houston Cougars

Last Season: 8-5

Houston loses one of the best players in college football in defensive tackle Ed Oliver, but made a big coaching change in the offseason. After Major Applewhite was let go, the Cougars hired former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen will have the pleasure to work with phenom quarterback D’Eriq King plus leading rusher Patrick Carr and leading receiver Marquez Stevenson. Holgorsen should be able to bring Houston to the forefront of the AAC and possibly challenge UCF for the crown.

 

#24 Army Black Knights

Last Season: 11-2

Army clinched their first eleven win season in school history after a 70-14 annihilation of Houston. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. led the unique triple-option offense better than head coach Jeff Monken could’ve dreamed. Luckily for Army, they get Hopkins back for a shot at another spectacular season. If the Black Knights have another stellar season, I can’t see them not in a New Year’s Six bowl.

 

#25 Boston College Eagles

Last Season: 7-5

Boston College loses a lot from a senior-led defense, but the offense should be fine. The Eagles return quarterback Anthony Brown, top receiver Kobay White, and bruising running back AJ Dillon. BC is blessed with and easy non-conference schedule with games against Ohio, Kansas, Purdue, and Holy Cross. As long as the Eagles can piece together a solid defense, they should be just fine.

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