College football’s 2019 season won't get underway until late August, but it's never too early to look ahead and predict which teams are poised for a significant leap in the rankings or win column next year.
It’s never too early to think about next season, so with college football’s 2018 season officially in the books after Clemson's 44-16 win over Alabama, Athlon Sports is here with its way-too-early top 25 rankings for 2019. Alabama and Clemson have played four consecutive times in the CFB Playoff, and there's a good chance it happens again next season. The Tigers and Crimson Tide should begin 2019 as the favorites to win it all in New Orleans next January.
The 2018 college football season featured 21 new coaches at FBS programs, and with the year completed, it's time to grade and rank the hires. The 21 coaching changes were down slightly from the 2017 season, as 23 different programs had a change in the full-time role. It’s no secret coaching changes can have an instant impact on a program, but some hires need a couple of years to rebuild a mess inherited from the previous staff.
The Pac-12 looks like an early winner of the NFL draft early entrant pool, with fewer than a dozen underclassmen declaring. The retention of several talented, draft-eligible players offers hope that the conference will bounce back from a pedestrian 2018.
College football’s 2019 season officially kicks off on Saturday, Aug. 24, with Arizona meeting Hawaii in a Week 0 matchup. The full Week 1 college football schedule of matchups is slated to begin on Thursday, Aug. 29. The opening Thursday of action features Utah at BYU, along with defending champion Clemson taking on Georgia Tech. The opening week of games continues on Friday with Oklahoma State at Oregon State and Colorado State meeting Colorado in Denver.
USC Football: 3 Reasons for Optimism about the Trojans in 2019
USC endured a painful year in 2018, going 5-7 and missing out on a bowl game for the first time in six seasons, but the Trojans were relying upon a true freshman quarterback and an offensive coordinator that didn’t last the entire season at his job. Though the man they hired to replace him, Kliff Kingsbury, was poached by the Arizona Cardinals before he could ever coach a game, the Trojans prove with his hire that Los Angeles is a premier destination for the nation’s best and brightest minds.
The Pac-12 probably embraced the start of a new year. The 2018 season was not especially kind to the conference, which got pummelled on the PR front before it even started for its 1-8 bowl record to conclude the '17 campaign. An officiating controversy marred a great USC-Washington State game (that just missed the cut for this countdown), and a second straight season with the conference's championship excluded from the College Football Playoff gives fodder to naysayers.
The definition of a breakout player in college football varies from each analyst or fanbase, but one thing is certain when looking ahead at the 2019 season and the players returning: regardless of the position, breakout players will have a huge role in shaping the national championship and playoff picture.
The NFL's early entry deadline for the 2019 draft officially passed on Monday evening and more than 120 players declared for the next level. All four of the playoff teams from the 2018 season lost a key player early. Alabama has to replace two All-Americans in the trenches with Jonah Williams (LT) and Quinnen Williams (DT) headed to the NFL. Clemson is losing a couple of defensive standouts, including end Clelin Ferrell and tackle Dexter Lawrence. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray declared for the draft but is still deciding between baseball and the NFL.