It’s June, and typically college Football gets going in August. Due to COVID-19, we’re still on the fence on whether there will even be a season all together. Despite that, sports leagues are doing their best to make sure their sports are played safely. Men’s and women’s soccer are playing without fans in the US and across the world, NASCAR has been racing for the last month or so, the NBA is due to start up again on July 31st, and there is a ton of positive momentum building around the NFL. There is even great news for College Football, as every school in the SEC has their schools opening up for the fall term. So, fingers crossed, we get some damn football this year!
These breakdowns are focused on the potential Top 10 teams to start the 2020 season. This is not an official list, as the actual Pre-season Top 25 won’t be released until early August. This is also not my own list I came up with. You can find this potential Top 25 teams at https://www.ncaa.com/news/football/article/2020-03-20/college-football-rankings-preseason-top-25-2020-season. Part One will be focused on the teams ranked 10-6 according to this list.
Potential Top Teams: 10-6
The Tigers finished the 2019 season with a 9-4 record, but they showed tremendous heart throughout the season. In fact, they had a few games that should give Auburn fans some hope for this team in 2020. Throughout last year, Auburn beat the Oregon Ducks, upset Alabama’s title chances, and put up a solid fight against Georgia and the National Champion LSU Tigers. Just based on that alone, the Tigers have plenty to build upon to be even better this year.
QB Bo Nix should make huge improvements after playing rather well during his Freshman year. This kid has some serious talent, and I’m excited to see how he develops throughout his college career. He has the opportunity to throw to WR Seth Williams, who has the talent to be a dominant WR1 for this Auburn team. Additionally, the Tigers always seem to have a great RB group, which means this year, Auburn could have one of the more lethal offenses in College Football.
The defense is a different story, as DT Derrick Brown left the team for the NFL. He’s a superstar talent, and when a player like that leaves a program, there’s (almost) always going to be a decline. Luckily for the Tigers, they have a pretty spread out defense, and do have some solid veteran guys, and a good looking secondary. I don’t see the Tigers making the jump and winning a National Title this year, but I’m expecting them to make improvements, which could lead to becoming a dangerous team in 2021.
The Gators finished 2019 with an 11-2 record, and played better than most people anticipated. Especially after QB Feleipe Franks went down with an injury that brought backup Kyle Trask to take over as the starter. Trask balled out last season, to the point where he’s likely the starter for this year.
Head Coach Dan Mullen has been impressive so far in his young career for the Gators. They went 10-3 his first season, and backed that up by going 11-2. So obviously, Gators fans are expecting to be even better, and they should be! Trask is back, and he’s in the position to finish the year as one of the top QBs in College Football. He has an excellent cast around him, and the Florida offensive line could finish as the top O-line in the nation, as they have 4 of 5 returning starters on the roster. The Gators are one of the most highly recognized football programs, and the offense is ready to show they’re worthy of being the best.
As with any top college program, there is always going to be a bunch of moving parts every year due to the fact they have a ton of talent leave to go pro. Mullen has done a great job in recruiting though, which means the Gators defense should be able to play like an elite defense without skipping a beat. Florida is poised for a big year, and has the potential to return to former glory.
Penn State Nittany Lions
On the offensive side of the ball, QB Sean Clifford returns as the starter for the 2nd year of his college career. Penn State doesn’t necessarily have the most outstanding WR group, and hopefully for them, someone steps up big time to make Clifford’s life a little easier. I see the Nittany Lions being a run heavy squad, as RBs Journey Brown, Noah Cain, and Devyn Ford are all potential playmakers that can take over a game. Additionally, Penn State may have the most reliable TE target in the nation with Pat Freiermuth , who has the talent to be a potential top TE in the National Football League one day.
The Nittany Lions may have the best LB in the nation with Micah Parsons. This kid went bonkers in the Cotton Bowl last year, ending the game with 14 total tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles (DAMN). He’s a solid anchor for this defense to rely on, and could finish the year with the top front seven in College Football. However that may be the case, the secondary will be a weak spot on this defense (again), as they have one of the youngest secondary groups in the NCAA.
Considering the Nittany Lion’s weaknesses are the WR group and the Secondary unit, it’s hard to imaging this team making their way into the College Football Playoffs. However, they’ll be competitive like they were last season, and have the potential to play in one of the more prestigious Bowl games at the end of the year.
The Sooners are the favorites to win the Big 12 again, as they’ve been the best team in the conference for the last 7 of 8 years. They also lost great talent with QB Jalen Hurts and WR CeeDee Lamb who both left for the NFL. Even so, Head Coach Lincoln Riley has been a phenomenal HC, and seems to always find legit talent in the QB position. We’ve watched him coach Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts, and now it seems Riley will have the pleasure to coach former 5-star recruit Spencer Rattler. The Sooners also have a good group of their roster returning from last year too, which means this offense has potential to be one of the best next year.
In addition to this offense, the Oklahoma Sooners defense has the potential to finish the season with a top defense. 2nd year Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch has turned this unit around since taking over. In 2018 (his first year) the defense finished with the 114th ranked defense. Just one year later, Grinch helped this defense turn into the 2nd best defense in the Big 12, which also included an incredibly upgraded secondary. Based on Grinch’s history, the Sooners defense could position themselves as an elite defense in the NCAA, especially since they have veteran players with experience returning to the program. In fact, the Sooners have 12 of their top 15 tacklers returning, which is HUGE at the college level. I like Oklahoma’s chances to finish with a top 10 defense this year. If that’s the case, the Sooners have potential to find their way into the College Football Playoffs.
The Ducks are the early favorite to win the PAC-12, and they should be able to see that through. The only major changes on this team are the O-line (4 new starters) and the QB position, as Justin Herbert entered the NFL after being selected by the LA Chargers in the Draft. The offense has a plethora of WRs for whoever may be the new QB, which should be a battle between Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown. As usual, the Ducks offense is loaded with talented RBs, which will make the new starting QB’s transition that much easier. This Ducks team has a flock of talent too, which will be led by LT Penei Sewell, WR Johnny Johnson III, and RBs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. They also have a legit red zone threat with WR Devon Williams, who stands at 6’5″ (which isn’t the type of athlete Oregon fans are used to seeing). The Ducks have the leadership and the potential to finish as a top offense this year, but it will depend on how the new QB(s) develop at the college level.
Head Coach Mario Cristobal has been killing it with this program since taking over. He’s built this program to match his vision, which is related to teams that play in the SEC. When it comes to building a franchise, setting up the defense should always come first, and Cristobal has completed that job with his recruiting abilities. This defensive unit is STACKED! Oregon has a ton of returning players with solid experience, which gives Oregon an advantage over most other teams across the nation. DE Kayvon Thibodeaux was a monster last year with 9 sacks, and should improve his play. Thibodeaux could end 2020 as the one of the best defensive talents in the nation, and he’s not the only great player on this squad. ILB, MJ Cunningham is a legit threat that can do it all, and the Oregon Ducks have one of the better Secondaries too. Look for Oregon to be competitive all year long, and if the Ducks find a way to beat Ohio State in Autzen this year… The Ducks could be playing in the postseason.