Part Two is here, so it’s time to see which teams the NCAA believes to have the best chances to be ranked within the top 5 to start the year. Like I mentioned in the last article, the season is still up in the air due to COVID-19, but I still feel rather confident that football season will be in full effect this fall.
The teams ranked in the potential Top 5 (official Top 25 lists drops in August), have all lost some talent, but the reason they’re ranked here is due to the fact that each of these programs absolutely crush it in the recruiting department. There’s a reason why teams like Alabama, and Clemson are at the top of the list every year, and recruiting is what keeps football programs competitive. Let’s take a dive into the possible Top 5 to start the 2020 season.
Potential Top Teams: 5-1
The Bulldogs had a ton of talent enter the NFL Draft this year. QB Jake Fromm, RB D’Andre Swift, and (nearly) the entire O-line will have to be replaced, which leaves Georgia’s offense in an unknown state. However that may be the case, Bulldogs fans should have plenty to cheer for in 2020. Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman transferred over to Georgia, and he’s the likely starter for next year. This kid is big, and Georgia’s coaching staff seems to think he has the pocket presence to give this team a legit threat through the air. In addition to the new QB, Georgia will have Zamir “Zeus” White taking over as the new RB. D’Andre Swift left some big shoes to fill, but Georgia almost ALWAYS has good RBs. I like Zamir White to be one of the top RBs in nation next year. Behind White in the depth chart, the Bulldogs have James Cook (brother to Dalvin Cook), and a 5 star recruit in Kendall Milton. Long story short, Georgia is going to be fine in the running game for years to come. Even though so much talent left this team, Georgia still has enough fire power to make a nice run next year.
Defensively, the Bulldogs could finish the year with the number one ranked unit in the nation. Unlike the offense, this defense didn’t really lose a whole bunch of players (only 4 new starters for this year), meaning this unit already has the team chemistry needed to be successful. The key aspect that will keep this defense at the top, will be the amount of depth the Bulldogs have across the board. With guys like, DT Jordan Davis, LB Azeez Ojulari, and S Richard LeCounte, this Georgia defense will be playing at an incredibly high level once again. It’s a shame only 4 teams can make it to the playoffs, however, the Georgia Bulldogs have a great chance to make it to the postseason this year.
The Tigers have a lot of moving parts this offseason, as there are changes in the coaching staff, and a good chunk of players from the National Championship team has left for the NFL. Despite that, Head Coach Ed Orgeron is one of the better coaches in college football, and it helps that LSU plays in the SEC as one of the top caliber football programs in the nation. It’s hard to gauge exactly how good this team will be with so many new faces, but LSU should still be able to play as one of the better teams this year.
Replacing Joe Burrow will be a daunting task, especially after he gave one of the best single-year performances we’ve ever seen. Right now, QB Myles Brennan will be the likely starter for this team. It’s likely Brennan won’t be able to capture the magic the way Burrow did, which means we probably won’t see a LSU team put up crazy numbers through the air. I also really like LSU’s Running Back situation, as Chris Curry and Tyrion Davis-Price are two big backs that can punish the opposing defense. Depending on how quickly Brennan can adjust into the new starting role, the LSU Tigers will likely be a run heavy offense to start the season.
The defense is going to look different this year, literally. The new Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini will be bringing a 4-3 scheme to Louisiana. LSU has been using the 3-4 scheme for over a decade now, so Tigers fans will be watching a defense they’re not used to seeing in the purple and yellow. Ed Orgeron has already made the claim that Pelini’s defensive scheme will allow for the Tigers to continue to play fast. So despite the new look, this defense should still be able to attack the opposing QBs at a high rate. At the end of the day, LSU’s chances of repeating and winning the National Championship again is rather low. They have a ton of new faces and schemes, and really, LSU is in a questionable spot for what this season holds. I think they’ll still be competitive, but playoffs potential? Not so much.
Alabama Crimson Tide
ROLL TIDE!! When aren’t the Crimson Tide in the top 3? This is the best recruiting school in the nation, and they’ll likely play at a high level without missing a beat. Tua Tagovailoa is gone, but ‘Bama has QB Mac Jones, who passed for over 320 yards and and 3 touchdowns during his bowl game against Michigan. Nick Saban also has 5 star QB recruit Bryce Young who has the potential to earn starting reps too. I’m expecting this offense to take off out of the gate and perform as a top 10 offense all season long.
Not only is the offense great, but ‘Bama is literally known across the nation as always having a top defense too. LB Dylan Moses comes back after sustaining a season ending ACL tear last year (really hoping he plays at full potential). The defense comes off a down year (20th defense overall, which would be fantastic for most programs), so the seat is a little hot under DC Pete Golding. Just like LSU, the Alabama defense took a hit after the NFL draft, but they should be fine as guys like CB Patrick Surtain, DT DJ Dale, and DE LaBryan Ray are more than talented enough to gear the Crimson Tide back in the right direction. Considering how good ‘Bama always is, especially since Nick Saban took over as the Head Coach, I’m expecting this team to find their way back into the College Football Playoffs again.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Buckeye fans are more than likely excited about the upcoming season, as Ohio State has a legitimate chance to win the National Championship this year. Sure, they lost Running Back JK Dobbins in the Draft, but Ohio State pumps out great RBs every year. QB Justin Fields returns, and I place him as the early favorite to win the Heisman next season. Fields also has a great WR group to throw to, as Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson are both capable of playing as a strong WR1. Watch out for the Buckeyes offense this year, as they’re going to be lighting up the score board all season long.
The defense took a hit this year after DE Chase Young, CB Jeff Okudah, LB Malik Harrison, CB Damon Arnette, DT DaVon Hamilton, and S Jordan Fuller have all left the team, and you would think Ohio State would be in dire need of help. There will be a drop in play, especially since this defense ranked within the top 3 in the nation last year. It’s really going to depend on how the new starters adapt and play. Ohio State’s defense won’t drop off the face of the earth, but it’ll be hard for them to play at the same level as last year. Despite that, they have potential to be a top 20 defensive unit, which would catapult them into playoff contention.
The Clemson Tigers have been on top of the College Football world for quite some time now, and are poised to be the best team next season. QB Trevor Lawrence is another Heisman winner favorite, and will be playing his 3rd year as the starting QB for the Tigers. The kid has experience, he’s a superstar talent, and dammit, he has the best hair in football! The Clemson offense should be one of the best next year, as Travis Etienne returns for his 3rd year as the starting RB. For whatever reason, Etienne has been vastly under rated throughout his college career, but he gives the Tigers a dominant run game that will wear out any defense. The WR group took a hit after Justyn Ross suffered a neck and spinal injury, which put him out for the entire 2020 season. However, not all hope is lost, as the Clemson Tigers WRs still have some great talent in that position. Frank Ladson, Amari Rodgers, and Joseph Ngata are three tremendous WRs who give the Tigers a trio that’s better than most other programs. This is yet another squad looking to beat up opposing defenses with prolific talent.
The defense has a fantastic leader to guide them, as Brent Venables is still the Defensive Coordinator for this football team. Stand out LB Isaiah Simmons left for the NFL, and he’s not someone you can just replace. But luckily for Clemson, they have a bunch of guys on the roster ready to step up. DT Tyler Davis is likely the best player on the defense, and he has a cast of guys around him like CB Derion Kendrick, and LB James Skalski. Clemson may be the most stacked team in College Football, and has the best chances at making a run for another National Championship run.