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College Football Rankings: Top 25 for 2020

Athlon projects the top 25 teams for 2020 after Week 12

Weekly college football top 25 rankings are a big part of every season, and Athlon Sports will update its top 25 following the games each weekend. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of games and start of play for all 10 conferences is different. The MAC and Pac-12 began their 2020 seasons in November, which means all 10 conferences will be playing until the Dec. 19 weekend. Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Clemson head into Week 13 ranked as the top four teams, but Texas A&M, Florida and Cincinnati aren’t far behind. Cincinnati ranks as the top Group of 5 team going into Week 13, while Marshall, Coastal Carolina, Tulsa and Louisiana also appear in the top 25.

 

With Week 12 of the 2020 season in the books, here are the top 25 teams in college football:

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 12)

1. Alabama (7-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Kentucky

 

Crimson Tide use strong effort on both sides of the ball to crush Kentucky 63-3 in final tune-up before Iron Bowl.

 

2. Notre Dame (8-0)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

The Fighting Irish were off on Saturday and are slated to return to action on Friday, Nov. 27 against North Carolina.

 

3. Ohio State (4-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Indiana

 

Buckeyes can score with every team in the nation, but as Indiana showed on Saturday, the defense has a lot of work to do to help this team win a national title in 2020.

 

4. Clemson (7-1)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

Clemson’s Week 12 contest at Florida State was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

 

5. Texas A&M (5-1)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

The Aggies did not play in Week 12 and are slated to return to action next Saturday against LSU.

 

6. Florida (6-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Vanderbilt

 

Gators were a little sluggish in the win over Vanderbilt in Nashville, but coach Dan Mullen’s squad pulled away in the second half for a 38-17 victory.

 

7. Cincinnati (8-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated UCF

 

Desmond Ridder delivers another clutch performance, while Cincinnati’s defense gets just enough stops to score a tough victory at UCF.

 

8. Georgia (5-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Mississippi State

 

JT Daniels was impressive in his first start (401 passing yards and four touchdowns) en route to lifting Georgia to a 31-24 win over Mississippi State.

 

9. Miami (7-1)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

Due problems with COVID-19, the Hurricanes were off in Week 12 and are slated to return to action on Dec. 5 against Wake Forest.

 

10. Oregon (3-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated UCLA

 

Ducks struggled to establish the run (88 yards) and gave up 267 rushing yards to UCLA, but coach Mario Cristobal’s team held off the upset bid (38-35) to improve to 3-0.

 

11. BYU (9-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated North Alabama

 

As expected, the Cougars cruised to an easy 66-14 win over North Alabama.

 

12. Northwestern (5-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Wisconsin

 

Wildcats take control of Big Ten West Division thanks to 17-7 win of Wisconsin. Northwestern’s defense gave up just 4.5 yards per play and forced five takeaways to lead the way.

 

13. Indiana (4-1)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Ohio State

 

Hoosiers fell short at Ohio State but also impressed in defeat. Quarterback Michael Penix torched the Buckeyes for 491 yards and five scores through the air.

 

14. Iowa State (6-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Kansas State

 

Cyclones had just one win over Kansas State since 2008, but coach Matt Campbell’s team quickly put this game out of reach on Saturday. The Wildcats managed only 87 yards after their first drive, and Iowa State’s offense generated 539 total yards over 69 snaps to win 45-0.

 

15. Oklahoma (6-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Oklahoma State

 

Strong performances by quarterback Spencer Rattler and the defense helped the Sooners continue their dominance over Oklahoma State.

 

16. Coastal Carolina (8-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Appalachian State

 

The Chanticleers stepped up on both sides of the ball in the second half to beat Appalachian State and take control of the Sun Belt’s East Division.

 

17. Wisconsin (2-1)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Northwestern

 

The Badgers never got their offense on track, and the inability to finish drives or eliminate turnovers (five) loomed large in a 17-7 defeat to Northwestern.

 

18. Marshall (7-0)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

The Thundering Herd did not play in Week 12 and return to action on Dec. 5 versus Rice.

 

19. Oklahoma State (5-2)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Oklahoma

 

Loss to Oklahoma is a major setback for Oklahoma State’s hopes of reaching the Big 12 title game.

 

20. USC (3-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Utah

 

Trojans snapped a three-game losing streak in Salt Lake City on the strength of their defense (three sacks and five takeaways).

 

21. North Carolina (6-2)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

The Tar Heels were off in Week 12 and return to action next Friday against Notre Dame.

 

22. Auburn (5-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Tennessee

 

The Tigers fell behind 10-0 but finished on a 30-7 run to beat Tennessee on Saturday night.

 

23. Texas (5-2)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

The Longhorns’ Week 12 matchup against Kansas was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Texas returns to the gridiron next Friday against Iowa State.

 

24. Louisiana (7-1)

Week 12 Result: No Game

 

The Ragin’ Cajuns had to cancel their Week 12 game against Central Arkansas due to COVID-19 concerns.

 

25. Tulsa (5-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Tulane

 

As evidenced by their late comebacks, don’t count out the Golden Hurricane in any game this year. Thanks to the overtime victory over Tulane, Tulsa is in good shape to make the AAC title game.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 11)

1. Alabama (6-0)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

A COVID-19 outbreak at LSU prevented Alabama from playing the Tigers on Saturday. The Crimson Tide return to action on Nov. 21 against Kentucky.

 

2. Notre Dame (8-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Boston College

 

No repeat of 1993. The Fighting Irish take care of business in 45-31 win over Boston College to avoid letdown after last week’s win over Clemson.

 

3. Ohio State (3-0)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

Ohio State’s game against Maryland was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns with the Terrapins. The Buckeyes have a huge East Division showdown against Indiana next Saturday.

 

4. Clemson (7-1)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Tigers were off in Week 11 and are slated to return next Saturday at Florida State. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence should return to the starting lineup after missing the last two games due to COVID-19.

 

5. Texas A&M (5-1)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

COVID-19 concerns forced Texas A&M to postpone its game against Tennessee. If the Aggies can play next week, coach Jimbo Fisher’s team is slated to take on Ole Miss.

 

6. Florida (5-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Arkansas

 

For the second time this year, quarterback Kyle Trask tossed six touchdowns in a game. The win over Arkansas moves Florida one step closer to a SEC East title.

 

7. Cincinnati (7-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated East Carolina

 

Cincinnati’s defense dominated again, while quarterback Desmond Ridder posted a career-high 402 total yards in a 55-17 win over East Carolina on Friday night.

 

8. Georgia (4-2)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Bulldogs’ Week 11 game against Missouri was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns with the Tigers. Coach Kirby Smart’s team returns to action next Saturday against Mississippi State.

 

9. Miami (7-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech

 

Hurricanes pull out another close victory for the second week in a row. Quarterback D’Eriq King threw for 255 yards, while the Miami defense recorded six sacks and held Virginia Tech scoreless in the fourth quarter.

 

10. Oregon (2-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Washington State

 

Ducks stepped up after slow start to beat Washington State 43-29 on Saturday night. New quarterback Tyler Shough (21 of 30 for 312 yards and four scores) continues to impress.

 

11. BYU (8-0)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Cougars had an off date in Week 11 and return to action next Saturday against North Alabama.

 

12. Wisconsin (2-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Michigan

 

The offense posted 341 rushing yards, while the defense held Michigan to 11 points in a 49-11 beatdown on Saturday night.

 

13. Indiana (4-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Michigan State

 

Big days from quarterback Michael Penix and receiver Ty Fryfogle helped the Hoosiers improve to 4-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1987.

 

14. Oklahoma State

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Cowboys were off on Saturday and return to action next week for a huge matchup at Oklahoma.

 

15. Iowa State (5-2)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Cyclones were off in Week 11 and return to action next Saturday against Kansas State.

 

16. Oklahoma (5-2)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Sooners were off in Week 11 and return to action next week at home against Oklahoma State.

 

17. Coastal Carolina (7-0)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

Coastal Carolina’s Week 11 matchup against Troy was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The Chanticleers have a key contest against Appalachian State up next.

 

18. Marshall (7-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Middle Tennessee

 

Thundering Herd pounded Middle Tennessee 42-14 on the strength of quarterback Grant Wells (336 yards and five touchdowns) and a defense that limited the Blue Raiders to 4.5 yards per play.

 

19. USC (2-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Arizona

 

The Trojans lived on the edge in wins over Arizona State and Arizona. However, coach Clay Helton’s team is still 2-0.

 

20. North Carolina (6-2)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Wake Forest

 

Tar Heels trailed 45-24 in the third quarter but rallied for a 59-53 win over Wake Forest. Coach Mack Brown’s team has an off date next week, followed by games against Notre Dame and Miami.

 

21. Auburn (4-2)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

Auburn’s game against Mississippi State was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Coach Gus Malzahn’s team is slated to return to action this week against Tennessee.

 

22. Liberty (8-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Western Carolina

 

Flames remain unbeaten after easy win against Western Carolina (58-14). Coach Hugh Freeze’s team will get another shot at an ACC team next week against NC State.

 

23. Northwestern (4-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Purdue

 

Wildcats have held three of their first four opponents under 300 yards of total offense.

 

24. Texas (5-2)

Week 11 Result: No Game

 

The Longhorns were off in Week 11 and return to action next Saturday against Kansas.

 

25. Louisiana (7-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated South Alabama

 

The Ragin’ Cajuns clinched the Sun Belt West Division title for the third year in a row after beating South Alabama 38-10.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 10)

1. Alabama (6-0)

Week 10 Result: No Game

 

The Crimson Tide were off in Week 10 and return to action next Saturday at LSU.

 

2. Notre Dame (7-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Clemson

 

Fighting Irish use big-time performances from Ian Book (310 passing yards) and running back Kyren Williams on offense, while the defense made just enough timely stops to score the upset over Clemson.

 

3. Ohio State (3-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Rutgers

 

Rutgers tacked on a couple of scores in the fourth quarter, but the final outcome (49-27) didn’t reflect how one-sided this game was. Quarterback Justin Fields now has 11 passing touchdowns and 11 incompletions through three games.

 

4. Clemson (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Notre Dame

 

Tigers fall in South Bend but should get another shot at Notre Dame in the ACC Championship. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is on track to return for the Nov. 21 matchup against Florida State.

 

5. Texas A&M (5-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated South Carolina

 

Aggies seem to be getting better with every snap, as coach Jimbo Fisher’s team delivered a dominant 48-3 blowout over South Carolina on Saturday night.

 

6. Florida (4-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Georgia

 

Kyle Trask’s 474 passing yards helps Florida take commanding lead in SEC East and snap a three-game losing streak to Georgia.

 

7. Cincinnati (6-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Houston

 

Bearcats have pounded three of the AAC’s top teams (Houston, SMU and Memphis) by a combined score of 129-33.

 

8. Georgia (4-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Florida

 

Quarterback play loomed large in Georgia’s loss to Florida on Saturday. The Bulldogs had trouble containing Kyle Trask, while the combination of Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis completed just nine of 29 throws.

 

9. Miami (6-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated NC State

 

D’Eriq King’s huge performance (535 yards and five touchdowns) helps Miami rally for a 44-41 victory at NC State.

 

10. Oregon (1-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Stanford

 

Tyler Shough was solid in his first start (312 total yards) to help guide the Ducks to a 35-14 win over Stanford in the Pac-12’s opening weekend.

 

11. BYU (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Boise State

 

Cougars crushed Boise State 51-17 to pass their biggest test of the 2020 season.

 

12. Wisconsin (1-0)

Week 10 Result: No Game

 

Due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Badgers missed their second game in a row. Wisconsin hopes to return to the field for Saturday night’s game at Michigan.

 

13. Indiana (3-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Michigan

 

Indiana has now defeated Michigan and Penn State in the same season for the first time in school history.

 

14. Oklahoma State (5-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Kansas State

 

Cowboys were missing some key players due to injury but found a way to beat Kansas State despite being outgained 370 to 256.

 

15. Iowa State (5-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Baylor

 

Four turnovers gave Baylor’s upset bid life, but the Cyclones rallied in the second half to hold on for a 38-31 victory.

 

16. Oklahoma (5-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Kansas

 

Sooners didn’t have to sweat too much to beat Kansas (62-9) on Saturday. An off week is up next before the showdown against Oklahoma State on Nov. 21.

 

17. SMU (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Temple

 

Quarterback Shane Buechele has tossed just one interception over the last seven games, which includes a mistake-free performance in the win over Temple on Saturday.

 

18. Coastal Carolina (7-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated South Alabama

 

The offense gets most of the accolades, but Coastal Carolina’s defense has allowed just 20 points over the last three games.

 

19. Marshall (7-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated UMass

 

As expected, the Thundering Herd didn’t have much trouble dispatching UMass on Saturday (51-10).

 

20. USC (1-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Arizona State

 

Wild fourth-quarter comeback helps USC beat Arizona State to start 2020 season on a high note.

 

21. North Carolina (5-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Duke

 

The Tar Heels simply had too much firepower on offense for Duke to keep pace, as quarterback Sam Howell threw for 235 yards and three scores, while running back Javonte Williams ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns over just 12 carries.

 

22. Auburn (4-2)

Week 10 Result: No Game

 

The Tigers were off in Week 10 and return to the gridiron next week at Mississippi State.

 

23. Liberty (7-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech

 

The Flames join the top 25 after picking up their second win over an ACC team this season. Quarterback Malik Willis (325 total yards) delivered a clutch performance in the win at Virginia Tech.

 

24. Northwestern (3-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Nebraska

 

Northwestern’s defense has not allowed a second-half point in each of the team’s three games in 2020.

 

25. Texas (5-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated West Virginia

 

Longhorns have quietly won three in a row to get back into the Big 12 title race. However, games against Iowa State and Kansas State remain.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 9)

1. Clemson (7-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Boston College

 

Trevor Lawrence was missed, but D.J. Uiagalelei had a strong performance in his first career start. Clemson’s defense stepped up in the second half and did not allow a point after surrendering 28 in the first two quarters.

 

2. Alabama (6-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Mississippi State

 

Alabama’s defense pitched its first shutout since the 2018 season, while the Mac Jones to DeVonta Smith connection was firing on all cylinders in an easy 41-0 win over Mississippi State.

 

3. Ohio State (2-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Penn State

 

Penn State was supposed to be the toughest test for Ohio State in the regular season, but coach Ryan Day’s squad was in full control from the opening snap and left Happy Valley with a 38-25 win.

 

4. Georgia (4-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Kentucky

 

Bulldogs earned a hard-fought win at Kentucky, but injuries on defense and offensive questions remain going into showdown against Florida.

 

5. Notre Dame (6-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Georgia Tech

 

The Fighting Irish crossed their final hurdle – a win over Georgia Tech – before the huge showdown against Clemson next week.

 

6. Texas A&M (4-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Arkansas

 

Texas A&M’s offensive line dominated, while Kellen Mond (21 of 26 for 260 yards) was sharp in the win over Arkansas.

 

7. Florida (3-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Missouri

 

The Gators had some rust and were shorthanded on defense but handled Missouri 41-17 to set up huge matchup against Georgia next week.

 

8. Cincinnati (5-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Memphis

 

Memphis and SMU – two of the top Group of 5 offenses – were held to just two combined touchdowns against Cincinnati’s defense.  

 

9. Miami (5-1)

Week 9 Result: No Game

 

The Hurricanes were off in Week 9 and return to action next Friday at NC State.

 

10. Oregon (0-0)

Week 9 Result: No Game

 

The Ducks open their 2020 season against Stanford next Saturday.

 

11. Wisconsin (1-0)

Week 9 Result: No Game

 

Due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program, Wisconsin was unable to play Nebraska in Week 9. The Badgers matchup against Purdue next Saturday is in jeopardy as well.

 

12. BYU (7-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated WKU

 

Zach Wilson adds four more touchdowns to his prolific 2020 resume in 41-10 win over WKU. Up next: A massive showdown against Boise State on Friday night.

 

13. Oklahoma State (4-1)

Week 9 Result: Lost to Texas

 

Oklahoma State outgained Texas 530 to 287, but four turnovers allowed Texas to hang around and find a way to win in overtime.

 

14. Indiana (2-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Rutgers

 

No letdown for the Hoosiers after last week’s upset over Penn State, as coach Tom Allen’s team beat Rutgers 37-21.

 

15. Iowa State (4-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Kansas

 

Running back Breece Hall has rushed for at least 100 yards in all six of Iowa State’s games this season.

 

16. Oklahoma (4-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Texas Tech

 

Bad news for the rest of the Big 12: The Sooners are getting better every week.  

 

17. SMU (6-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Navy

 

Mustangs handle Navy 51-37 to rebound from last week’s loss against Cincinnati.

 

18. Coastal Carolina (6-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Georgia State

 

Total domination is the best way to sum up Coastal Carolina’s win over Georgia State. Quarterback Grayson McCall returned from injury to record 269 total yards and five scores.

 

19. Marshall (5-0)

Week 9 Result: No Game

 

The Thundering Herd’s game against FIU on Friday night was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Marshall will return to action on Nov. 7 against UMass. 

 

20. Boise State (2-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Air Force

 

Jack Sears (17 of 20 for 280 yards and three touchdowns) was sharp in relief of Hank Bachmeier in Saturday’s win at Air Force. The Broncos have a huge test up next against BYU.

 

21. USC (0-0)

Week 9 Result: No Game

 

The Trojans open their 2020 season against Arizona State next Saturday.

 

22. North Carolina (4-2)

Week 9 Result: Lost to Virginia

 

Tar Heels averaged 8.8 yards per play but it wasn’t enough to beat Virginia.

 

23. Auburn (4-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated LSU

 

Bo Nix delivered a big-time performance (381 total yards and four scores) in Auburn’s blowout win over LSU.

 

24. Michigan (1-1)

Week 9 Result: Lost to Michigan State

 

Rivalry games often bring out the best in both teams, but Saturday’s defeat to Michigan State might be the worst loss of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure.

 

25. Virginia Tech (4-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Louisville

 

Hendon Hooker was perfect (10 for 10 through the air), but the Hokies’ ground game pounded Louisville’s shorthanded defense for 283 yards in a 42-35 win.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 8)

1. Clemson (6-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Syracuse

 

Tigers were favored by over 40 points but were a little sluggish in a 47-21 victory over Syracuse.

 

2. Alabama (5-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Tennessee

 

Crimson Tide dominated Tennessee to earn 14th victory in a row in this series. However, losing Jaylen Waddle to a season-ending injury on the opening kickoff is a blow to Alabama’s national title hopes.

 

3. Ohio State (1-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Nebraska

 

Justin Fields was flawless in the 52-17 win over Nebraska. The junior completed 20 of 21 throws for 276 yards and two touchdowns and added 54 yards and a score on the ground.

 

4. Georgia (3-1)

Week 8 Result: No Game

 

The Bulldogs were off on Saturday and return to action next week at Kentucky.

 

5. Notre Dame (5-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Pitt

 

Notre Dame’s passing attack showed some signs of life in the easy 45-3 win over Pitt.

 

6. Texas A&M (3-1)

Week 8 Result: No Game

 

The Aggies were off in Week 8 and return to action next Saturday against Arkansas.

 

7. Florida (2-1)

Week 8 Result: No Game

 

A COVID-19 outbreak on the roster forced Florida to postpone two games. The Gators will return to action on Oct. 31 against Missouri. 

 

8. Oklahoma State (4-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Iowa State

 

Spencer Sanders accounted for 306 total yards in his return under center, but Oklahoma State’s defense also came up big by holding Iowa State to just 5.8 yards per play.

 

9. Cincinnati (4-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated SMU

 

Luke Fickell’s defense held SMU to just 290 total yards (3.4 yards per play) and 13 points in a dominant 42-13 win on Saturday night.

 

10. Miami (5-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Virginia

 

The Hurricanes were sluggish on offense for the second week in a row but still found a way to beat Virginia 19-14.

 

11. Oregon (0-0)

Week 8 Result: No Game

 

The Ducks open their 2020 season against Stanford on Nov. 7.

 

12. Wisconsin (1-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Illinois

 

Badgers need to get the running game going, but quarterback Graham Mertz was impressive in his first start.

 

13. North Carolina (4-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated NC State

 

Tar Heels have defeated rival NC State by a combined score of 89-31 over the last two matchups.

 

14. Michigan (1-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Minnesota

 

Joe Milton was impressive in his first start, and Michigan’s defense held Minnesota’s offense to just 4.5 yards per snap in Saturday night’s 49-24 victory.

 

15. BYU (6-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Texas State

 

As expected, quarterback Zach Wilson (287 passing yards and 4 TDs) helped BYU cruise to an easy win over Texas State.

 

16. Indiana (1-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Penn State

 

Hoosiers jump into top 25 after beating Penn State to earn the program’s first home victory over a top-10 team since 1967.

 

17. Penn State (0-1)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Ohio State

 

Missed opportunities cost Penn State a road win at Indiana. The slate won’t get any easier with Ohio State up next.

 

18. Kansas State (4-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Kansas

 

Three non-offensive touchdowns helped Wildcats rout in-state rival Kansas 55-14.

 

19. SMU (5-1)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Cincinnati

 

Mustangs lost the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball in a 42-13 defeat to Cincinnati.

 

20. Memphis (3-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Temple

 

Tigers convert four Temple turnovers into 24 points to win 41-29. Up next: A road matchup against Cincinnati.

 

21. Iowa State (3-2)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State

 

Loss to Oklahoma State shows Iowa State’s offense still has some work to do in order to book a trip to the conference title game.

 

22. Oklahoma (3-2)

Week 8 Result: Defeated TCU

 

Spencer Rattler averaged 25.5 yards per completion in Saturday’s 33-14 victory over TCU.

 

23. USC (0-0)

Week 8 Result: No Game

 

The Trojans are set to kick off their 2020 season on Nov. 7 against Arizona State.

 

24. Minnesota (0-1)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Michigan

 

Shorthanded special teams, issues in pass protection, turnovers and an inability to finish drives helped drop the Golden Gophers to a 49-24 loss to Michigan.

 

25. Coastal Carolina (5-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Georgia Southern

 

Grayson McCall was out due to injury, but Chanticleers got a solid outing from Fred Payton (252 passing yards) in 28-14 win over Georgia Southern.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 7)

1. Clemson (5-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Georgia Tech

 

Dominant. That’s the easiest way to sum up Clemson’s 73-7 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

 

2. Alabama (4-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Georgia

 

Mac Jones’ connection with DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle was too much for Georgia to handle. However, the Crimson Tide’s defense also stepped up in the second half to help secure a huge victory.

 

3. Ohio State (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Buckeyes return to action next week with a home matchup against Nebraska.

 

4. Georgia (3-1)

Week 7 Result: Lost to Alabama

 

The Bulldogs led at halftime of Saturday night’s battle in Tuscaloosa. However, the offense sputtered in the second half, and the defense had no answers to stop Alabama’s passing attack.

 

5. Notre Dame (4-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Louisville

 

It wasn’t pretty, but the Fighting Irish held off Louisville 12-7 to remain unbeaten on Saturday.

 

6. Penn State (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Nittany Lions open their 2020 season at Indiana next Saturday.

 

7. Texas A&M (3-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Mississippi State

 

Defense led the way in Texas A&M’s 28-14 win in Starkville. The Aggies dominated the line of scrimmage with six tackles and eight tackles for a loss and limited the Bulldogs to just 3.6 yards per play.

 

8. Florida (2-1)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

Due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Gators won’t play until Oct. 31 against Missouri.

 

9. Miami (3-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Pitt

 

D’Eriq King’s four touchdown passes help Canes rebound from Clemson loss in 31-19 victory over Pitt.

 

10. Oregon (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Ducks open their 2020 season against Stanford on Nov.7.

 

11. Wisconsin (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Badgers will be out for revenge in their 2020 opener against Illinois on Friday night.

 

12. Oklahoma State (3-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Cowboys are expected to get quarterback Spencer Sanders back for the showdown against Iowa State next Saturday.

 

13. Cincinnati (3-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

Cincinnati’s game against Tulsa was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests. If the Bearcats are able to play in Week 8, they are slated to travel to SMU in a key AAC matchup.

 

14. SMU (5-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Tulane

 

Mustangs have won back-to-back AAC games with a field goal on the final play.

 

15. North Carolina (3-1)

Week 7 Result: Lost to Florida State

 

Dropped passes on final drive kept North Carolina from finishing off a furious second-half comeback against Florida State.

 

16. Virginia Tech (3-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Boston College

 

The Hokies have posted at least 300 rushing yards in three out of the first four games this season.

 

17. Iowa State (3-1)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Cyclones were off in Week 7 and return to action next week at Oklahoma State.

 

18. BYU (5-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Houston

 

Zach Wilson throws for a career high 400 yards and four touchdowns in BYU’s 43-26 victory over Houston.

 

19. Michigan (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Wolverines open their 2020 season at Minnesota next Saturday.

 

20. Minnesota (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Golden Gophers begin their 2020 slate against Michigan next Saturday night.

 

21. USC (0-0)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Trojans open their 2020 season against Arizona State on Nov. 7.

 

22. Kansas State (3-1)

Week 7 Result: No Game

 

The Wildcats were off in Week 7 and return to action next Saturday against Kansas.

 

23. Memphis (2-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated UCF

 

Brady White throws for 486 yards and six touchdowns to rally Memphis to a 50-49 win over UCF.

 

24. NC State (4-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Duke

 

The Wolfpack have already matched last year’s win total (four). However, the schedule isn’t going to get any easier, as coach Dave Doeren’s team gets North Carolina and Miami up next.

 

25. Coastal Carolina (4-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Louisiana

 

Chanticleers join the top 25 after upset win over Louisiana on Wednesday night.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 6)

1. Clemson (4-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Miami

 

Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne deliver big performances, and Clemson’s defense holds Miami’s high-powered offense to just 3.9 yards per play in 42-17 victory.

 

2. Alabama (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Ole Miss

 

Crimson Tide have plenty of defensive issues to sort out, but the offense averaged 10 yards a play for the second week in a row to help avoid the upset in Oxford.

 

3. Ohio State (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

Next Saturday is the final off week for Ohio State in 2020. The Buckeyes are set to open with Nebraska in Columbus on Oct. 24.

 

4. Georgia (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Tennessee

 

Stetson Bennett (16 of 27 for 238 yards) delivered another solid start, while Georgia’s defense forced three takeaways in the second half to help seal a 44-21 win over Tennessee.

 

5. Notre Dame (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Florida State

 

Fighting Irish gash Florida State’s defense for 353 rushing yards in 42-26 win on Saturday night.

 

6. Penn State (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

Nittany Lions have one more off week before taking the field on Oct. 24 at Indiana.

 

7. North Carolina (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech

 

The Tar Heels’ high-powered offense finally connected on a few big plays, and the ground game posted 399 yards en route to a key 56-45 win over Virginia Tech.

 

8. Texas A&M (2-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Florida

 

Jimbo Fisher scores arguably the biggest win of his tenure at Texas A&M with last-second victory over Florida. Kellen Mond’s performance (338 passing yards) and a key takeaway in the fourth quarter helped the Aggies earn a huge victory in the SEC.

 

9. Florida (2-1)

Week 6 Result: Lost to Texas A&M

 

Gators have major defensive question marks to address if they want to rebound and win the SEC East.

 

10. Miami (3-1)

Week 6 Result: Lost to Clemson

 

The Hurricanes aren’t in the same class as Clemson, but coach Manny Diaz’s squad could still end 2020 as the No. 2 team in the ACC.

 

11. Oregon (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

The Ducks are off until Nov. 7 when they host Stanford.

 

12. Wisconsin (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

The Badgers open their 2020 season against Illinois on Oct. 24, but coach Paul Chryst is already dealing with a major switch to the offense. Quarterback Jack Coan is out indefinitely, leaving highly-touted redshirt freshman Graham Mertz to start under center.

 

13. Oklahoma State (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week

 

Quarterback Spencer Sanders has missed Oklahoma State’s last two games but is likely to return for the Week 7 matchup against Baylor.

 

14. Auburn (2-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Arkansas

 

The Tigers were fortunate to escape Saturday with a win over Arkansas.

 

15. Cincinnati (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week

 

The Bearcats were off in Week 6 and return to action next Saturday against Tulsa.

 

16. Louisiana (3-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week

 

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ game against Coastal Carolina was moved to from Saturday to Wednesday, Oct. 14.

 

17. Iowa State (3-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Texas Tech

 

Running back Breece Hall records his fourth consecutive 100-yard effort of 2020, and Iowa State’s defense holds Texas Tech to just 270 yards in a 31-15 victory.

 

18. SMU (4-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week

 

The Mustangs were off in Week 6 and return to action next Friday at Tulane.

 

19. Tennessee (2-1)

Week 6 Result: Lost to Georgia

 

Saturday’s loss in Athens shows the Volunteers still have a ways to go to catch Georgia and Florida in the SEC East.

 

20. Virginia Tech (2-1)

Week 6 Result: Lost to North Carolina

 

The Hokies were shorthanded on defense and it showed in Saturday’s 56-45 loss to North Carolina.

 

21. Michigan (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

The Wolverines open their 2020 season at Minnesota on Oct. 24.

 

22. Minnesota (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

The Golden Gophers host Michigan on Oct. 24 to open their 2020 schedule.

 

23. USC (0-0)

Week 6 Result: No Game

 

The Trojans received good news for 2020 when offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker opted back into the season.

 

24. BYU (4-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated UTSA

 

Zach Wilson delivers another clutch performance (22 of 30 for 292 yards and three overall scores) to hold off UTSA’s upset bid (27-20).

 

25. Kansas State (3-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated TCU

 

The Wildcats join the top 25 after pulling off a 21-14 upset at TCU. Kansas State was outgained 342 to 289, but the defense delivered an outstanding performance, which included an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 5)

1. Clemson (3-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Virginia

 

Tigers ready for showdown against Miami after beating Virginia 41-23 on Saturday night.

 

2. Alabama (2-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Texas A&M

 

Mac Jones throws for 435 yards and four touchdowns as Alabama cruises to a 52-24 win over Texas A&M.

 

3. Ohio State (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Buckeyes were off in Week 5 and return to action on Oct. 24 versus Nebraska.

 

4. Florida (2-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated South Carolina

 

Kyle Trask has passed for 684 yards and 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions through Florida’s first two games. The Gators still have a few things to clean up on defense going into next week’s game at Texas A&M.

 

5. Georgia (2-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Auburn

 

Improved offensive line and steady play from quarterback Stetson Bennett guided Bulldogs to dominant 27-6 victory over Auburn.

 

6. Notre Dame (2-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Fighting Irish were off in Week 5 and return to action in Week 6 at home versus Florida State.

 

7. Penn State (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Nittany Lions are set to begin their 2020 season at Indiana on Oct. 24.

 

8. Miami (3-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

Miami’s showdown at Clemson is the must-see matchup of Week 6.

 

9. Oregon (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Ducks are set to begin their 2020 season against Stanford on Nov. 7.

 

10. Wisconsin (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Badgers open their season against Illinois on Oct. 24.

 

11. Auburn (1-1)

Week 5 Result: Lost to Georgia

 

Tigers were dominated in the trenches and on the scoreboard (27-6) in loss to Georgia.

 

12. Cincinnati (3-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated USF

 

The Bearcats have allowed only one offensive touchdown over their last two games.

 

13. North Carolina (2-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Boston College

 

Tar Heels returned to gridiron after two weeks off and held off upset-minded Boston College 26-22. Coach Mack Brown’s team has a huge showdown against Virginia Tech next Saturday.

 

14. Oklahoma State (3-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Kansas

 

Huge efforts from receiver Tylan Wallace and running back Chuba Hubbard to go with a standout effort from the defense keep Oklahoma State unbeaten in easy win over Kansas.

 

15. LSU (1-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Vanderbilt

 

Tigers get back on track with easy 41-7 win at Vanderbilt.

 

16. Virginia Tech (2-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Duke

 

Hokies missing a good chunk of the roster (21 players and two full-time coaches) for the second week in a row, but coach Justin Fuente’s squad used 324 rushing yards to defeat Duke 38-31.

 

17. Louisiana (3-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

Ragin’ Cajuns game at Appalachian State for Oct. 7 was postponed due to COVID tests.

 

18. Iowa State (2-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Oklahoma

 

Cyclones jump back into the top 25 after beating Oklahoma in Ames for the first time since 1960.

 

19. Tennessee (2-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Missouri

 

The matchup of Tennessee’s offensive line against Georgia’s defense will be a must-see battle next Saturday.

 

20. SMU (3-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Memphis

 

Mustangs lose receiver Reggie Roberson and running back T.J. McDaniel to injury but pick up a huge win over Memphis to move to 3-0.

 

21. Texas A&M (1-1)

Week 5 Result: Lost to Alabama

 

Aggies need to quickly regroup from Saturday’s defeat at Alabama with Florida coming to College Station on Oct. 10.

 

22. Michigan (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Wolverines are set to open the 2020 season at Minnesota on Oct. 24.

 

23. Minnesota (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Golden Gophers open the 2020 season against Michigan on Oct. 24.

 

24. USC (0-0)

Week 5 Result: No Game

 

The Trojans open the 2020 season against Arizona State on Nov. 7.

 

25. Mississippi State (1-1)

Week 5 Result: Lost to Arkansas

 

Bulldogs unable to overcome turnovers or find a way to move the ball consistently against Arkansas’ defense in surprising 21-14 loss.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 4)

1. Clemson (2-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Tigers were off in Week 4 and return to action next Saturday against Virginia.

 

2. Alabama (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Missouri

 

Running back Najee Harris ran for three touchdowns to help the Crimson Tide roll to an easy 38-19 victory against Missouri.

 

3. Ohio State (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Buckeyes will return to the gridiron on Oct. 24 against Nebraska.

 

4. Florida (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Ole Miss

 

Kyle Trask to Kyle Pitts is going to be a popular connection for Florida in 2020. The Gators have some defensive issues to clean up, but coach Dan Mullen’s squad was impressive in a 51-35 victory on Saturday.

 

5. Georgia (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Arkansas

 

Bulldogs rallied for a 37-10 win, but concerns remain about the offense and the quarterback situation.

 

6. Notre Dame (2-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Fighting Irish were forced to postpone their game against Wake Forest due to positive COVID tests and contact tracing. Coach Brian Kelly’s team is not slated to play in Week 5.

 

7. Penn State (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Nittany Lions return to the gridiron on Oct. 24 against Indiana.

 

8. Miami (3-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Florida State

 

‘Canes continue to impress with a dominant 52-10 win over Florida State.

 

9. Auburn (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Kentucky

 

Bo Nix looks primed to take a step forward as a sophomore, but the Tigers have some work to do in the trenches after running for just 91 yards on 30 carries in Saturday’s win over Kentucky.

 

10. Oregon (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Ducks are set to return to action on November 7.

 

11. Wisconsin (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Badgers return to the gridiron on Oct. 24 against Illinois.

 

12. Texas (2-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Texas Tech

 

Sam Ehlinger’s five touchdown passes help Longhorns stage late comeback and avoid road defeat at Texas Tech.

 

13. Mississippi State (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated LSU

 

Mike Leach’s anticipated debut as a head coach in the SEC didn’t disappoint with an upset win in Baton Rouge. Led by quarterback K.J. Costello, the Bulldogs torched LSU for 44 points and 632 total yards, while the defense forced two takeaways and generated seven sacks.  

 

14. Oklahoma (1-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Kansas State

 

Sooners couldn’t overcome four turnovers or uneven play up front in the trenches in surprising 38-35 loss to Kansas State. 

 

15. Texas A&M (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Vanderbilt

 

A sluggish win over Vanderbilt shows the Aggies have a lot to address on both sides of the ball before next week’s game at Alabama.

 

16. UCF (2-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated East Carolina

 

Dillon Gabriel has passed for at least 400 yards and four touchdowns in back-to-back games to open the 2020 season.

 

17. Cincinnati (2-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Army

 

Bearcats held Army to only 182 rushing yards and did not allow an offensive touchdown in Saturday’s 24-10 victory.

 

18. LSU (0-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Mississippi State

 

The Tigers are going to be a work in progress with so many new faces stepping into key roles. However, the absence of cornerback Derek Stingley was apparent in Mississippi State’s record-setting day, and LSU’s offensive line has to play a lot better going forward.

 

19. North Carolina (1-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Tar Heels haven’t played since Sept. 12 but return to the gridiron next Saturday at Boston College.

 

20. Oklahoma State (2-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated West Virginia

 

With Spencer Sanders sidelined, Cowboys leaned on the run (203 yards) and timely stops on defense to beat West Virginia.

 

21. Michigan (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Wolverines return to action on Oct. 24 at Minnesota.

 

22. Minnesota (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Golden Gophers return to the gridiron on Oct. 24 versus Michigan.

 

23. USC (0-0)

Week 4 Result: No Game

 

The Trojans are set to start their 2020 season on Nov. 7.

 

24. Louisiana (3-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Georgia Southern

 

Ragin’ Cajuns are living on the edge, but last-second field goal ensures coach Billy Napier’s team will be undefeated going into showdown against Appalachian State on Oct. 7.

 

25. Virginia Tech (1-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated NC State

 

Hokies were missing a handful of key players and a couple of coaches, but Justin Fuente’s team opens its 2020 schedule with a 45-24 victory.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 3)

1. Clemson (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated The Citadel

 

As expected, the Tigers cruised to an easy victory over The Citadel.

 

2. Alabama (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Crimson Tide kick off their 2020 season at Missouri next Saturday

 

3. Ohio State (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Buckeyes are slated to return to the field on Oct. 24 against Nebraska.

 

4. Oklahoma (1-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Sooners were off in Week 3. Coach Lincoln Riley’s team is set to open Big 12 play on Sept. 26 versus Kansas State.

 

5. Florida (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Gators open their 2020 season at Ole Miss next Saturday.

 

6, Georgia (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Bulldogs begin defense of their SEC East title at Arkansas next Saturday.

 

7. Penn State (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Nittany Lions open the 2020 season at Indiana on Oct. 24.

 

8. LSU (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The college football world gets its first look at LSU’s revamped starting lineup in the opener against Mississippi State next Saturday.

 

9. Notre Dame (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated USF

 

The Fighting Irish beat USF 52-0 thanks to a suffocating defensive effort (allowed 3.7 yards per play), while quarterback Ian Book chipped in three rushing scores.

 

10. Texas A&M (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Keep an eye on the Texas A&M receiving corps early in the year after attrition and injuries took a toll on this group this offseason.

 

11. Wisconsin (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Badgers host Illinois on Oct. 24 to begin their 2020 schedule.

 

12. Texas (1-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Longhorns open Big 12 play with a matchup versus Texas Tech next Saturday.

 

13. Miami (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Louisville

 

D’Eriq King threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns and helped Miami’s offense average 8.1 yards per snap en route to a 47-34 win over Louisville.

 

14. UCF (1-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Georgia Tech

 

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel picked up where he left off in 2019 (417 passing yards and four TDs) in a 49-21 victory over Georgia Tech.

 

15. Auburn (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Bo Nix and the revamped offensive line will be under the spotlight against Kentucky on Sept. 26.

 

16. Cincinnati (1-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Austin Peay

 

Gerrid Doaks’ four touchdowns led the way in Cincinnati’s easy 55-20 win over Austin Peay.

 

17. North Carolina (1-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Tar Heels were slated to play Charlotte on Sept. 19, but the game was cancelled due to COVID concerns with the 49ers. North Carolina returns to action on Oct. 3 against Boston College.

 

18. Michigan (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Dylan McCaffrey’s decision to transfer leaves the starting quarterback job to Joe Milton.

 

19. Minnesota (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Getting Rashod Bateman back at receiver would be a huge boost for Minnesota in 2020.

 

20. Oklahoma State (1-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Tulsa

 

Wasn’t pretty, but the Cowboys held off upset-minded Tulsa for a 16-7 win. Will quarterback Spencer Sanders return in time to play next week?

 

21. Louisiana (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Georgia State

 

Elijah Mitchell’s touchdown run in overtime helps Ragin’ Cajuns avoid letdown loss at Georgia State.

 

22. Virginia Tech (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

The Hokies are slated to open the 2020 season against NC State next Saturday.

 

23. Tennessee (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Can the Volunteers get more consistency out of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano this fall?

 

24. Memphis (1-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Due to COVID-19, the Sept. 25 game scheduled at UTSA was cancelled. The Tigers will make up the lost contest against Stephen F. Austin later in the season.

 

25. Kentucky (0-0)

Week 3 Result: No Game

 

Kentucky’s road trip to Auburn is arguably the most intriguing matchup for the first weekend of games in the SEC.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 2)

1. Clemson (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Wake Forest

 

Tigers appeared to be in midseason form in 37-13 win over Wake Forest.

 

2. Alabama (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Crimson Tide are slated to open the season at Missouri on Sept. 26.

 

3. Oklahoma (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Missouri State

 

As expected, Spencer Rattler shined in his first start for the Sooners.

 

4. Florida (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Gators are set to open the season on Sept. 26 at Ole Miss.

 

5. Georgia (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

Is D’Wan Mathis pulling ahead of JT Daniels in the quarterback battle this fall?

 

6. LSU (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Tigers will open the 2020 season on Sept. 26 at home against Mississippi State.

 

7. Notre Dame (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Duke

 

Redshirt freshman running back Kyren Williams tallied 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 93 yards in Notre Dame’s 27-13 win over Duke.

 

8. Texas A&M (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Aggies open their 2020 season on Sept. 26 at home against Vanderbilt.

 

9. Auburn (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Tigers open their 2020 season against Kentucky on Sept. 26.

 

10. Texas (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated UTEP

 

Sam Ehlinger’s first game under new play-caller Mike Yurcich was a success (426 yards and 5 TDs) in the 59-3 win over UTEP.

 

11. Oklahoma State (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Cowboys kick off their 2020 season on Saturday against Tulsa.

 

12. North Carolina (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Syracuse

 

Sam Howell guided North Carolina to 24 second-half points to put away Syracuse in a 31-6 victory.

 

13. Cincinnati (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Bearcats open their 2020 slate against Austin Peay in Week 3.

 

14. UCF (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Knights kick off the 2020 season at Georgia Tech next Saturday.

 

15. Louisiana (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Iowa State

 

The Ragin’ Cajuns used a stingy defense and big plays on offense and special teams to earn their first road win over a top 25 team (Iowa State) in Week 2.

 

16. Virginia Tech (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

Positive COVID tests in the Virginia Tech program forced a postponement of the Sept. 19 game against Virginia.

 

17. Tennessee (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Volunteers open the 2020 season at South Carolina on Sept. 26.

 

18. Memphis (1-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

The Sept. 18 matchup against Houston was postponed due to positive COVID tests in the program.

 

19. Baylor (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

Positive COVID tests at Louisiana Tech forced a cancellation of their matchup in Week 2. However, thanks to some quick scheduling, Baylor was able to book a non-conference matchup against Houston for Week 3.

 

20. Louisville (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated WKU

 

Micale Cunningham throws for 343 yards and totals four overall scores in Louisville’s 35-21 victory over WKU.

 

21. Miami (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated UAB

 

D’Eriq King was solid in his debut for the ‘Canes, while the running game (337 yards) led the way in a 31-14 win over UAB.

 

22. Kentucky (0-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

Wildcats have one more off week (Sept. 19) before hitting the road to open the season at Auburn.

 

23. Appalachian State (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Charlotte

 

Mountaineers pounded Charlotte’s defense for 308 rushing yards en route to a 35-20 win.

 

24. Pitt (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Austin Peay

 

The Panthers scored touchdowns on their first six possessions to cruise to an easy 55-0 win over Austin Peay.

 

25. BYU (1-0)

Week 2 Result: No Game

 

BYU was forced to postpone its Week 3 matchup against Army due to positive COVID tests on the team.

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 1)

1. Clemson (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Tigers open the season on Saturday at Wake Forest.

 

2. Alabama (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Crimson Tide are off this Saturday and the following week (Sept. 19) before opening on Sept. 26 against Missouri.

 

3. Oklahoma (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Sooners open the 2020 season against Missouri State this Saturday.

 

4. Florida (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Gators have two more weeks to prepare for the Sept. 26 opener at Ole Miss.

 

5. Georgia (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

With Jamie Newman opting out, the quarterback battle between JT Daniels and D’Wan Mathis will be a top storyline to follow before kickoff on Sept. 26.

 

6. LSU (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Tigers lost a lot from last year’s national championship squad. But coach Ed Orgeron’s team is still going to be a factor in the race to win the SEC.

 

7. Notre Dame (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Notre Dame’s ACC season kicks off this Saturday against Duke.

 

8. Texas A&M (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

LSU’s opt outs bolster the case for Texas A&M to rank second behind Alabama in the SEC West.

 

9. Auburn (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Opener versus Kentucky is one of the top matchups to watch when the SEC opens up play on Sept. 26.

 

10. Oklahoma State (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Oklahoma State’s opener against Tulsa was moved back a week to Sept. 19.

 

11. Texas (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Longhorns open up their 2020 season this Saturday against UTEP.

 

12. Iowa State (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Cyclones’ season opener against Louisiana should be one of the top matchups of Week 2.

 

13. North Carolina (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Sam Howell and North Carolina’s high-powered offense face off against a Syracuse defense that allowed 30.7 points a game last season.

 

14. Cincinnati (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Bearcats will get one more week to prepare for their season opener on Sept. 19 versus Austin Peay.

 

15. UCF (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Knights are off again this Saturday and open the season on Sept. 19 at Georgia Tech.

 

16. Virginia Tech (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and positive cases at NC State, Virginia Tech’s opener against the Wolfpack was shifted to Sept. 26.

 

17. Tennessee (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

Volunteers were unable to scrimmage on Saturday due to 44 players being unavailable.

 

18. Memphis (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Arkansas State

 

Brady White threw for 275 yards and four touchdowns to lead Memphis to a 37-24 win over Arkansas State on Saturday night.

 

19. Louisville (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Cardinals open Scott Satterfield’s second year at the helm with a home game against WKU on Saturday night.

 

20. Baylor (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Dave Aranda era in Waco starts this Saturday against Louisiana Tech.

 

21. Miami (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Hurricanes are the first Power 5 team to play in 2020. Coach Manny Diaz’s squad kicks off their season against UAB on Thursday.

 

22. Kentucky (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

With a healthy Terry Wilson at quarterback and one of the nation’s top offensive lines, Kentucky will be a wild card team to watch in the SEC East this fall.

 

23. Florida State (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Seminoles open the Mike Norvell era with a home date against Georgia Tech this Saturday.

 

24. Louisiana (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Ragin’ Cajuns have been hit hard by injuries at receiver this offseason.

 

25. Appalachian State (0-0)

Week 1 Result: No Game

 

The Mountaineers open up with an in-state showdown against Charlotte on Saturday.

 

 

Projected Top 25 College Football Rankings for 2020

 

Note: The rankings below are a top 25 projection to the end of the season. These were posted prior to the season as part of Athlon Sports' preseason predictions and rankings for the 2020 season.

 

25. Iowa

Kirk Ferentz’s team has won at least eight games in six out of the last seven years, so even with personnel question marks on both sides of the ball, Iowa should be a tough out in the Big Ten once again in 2020. Sophomore Spencer Petras has completed six of 11 throws for 25 yards in his first two years on campus and is slated to replace Nate Stanley under center. Petras’ development is crucial for Iowa’s hopes of pushing Minnesota or Wisconsin in the Big Ten West, but the sophomore also has plenty of help from a strong supporting cast. Running back Tyler Goodson (638 yards) is a breakout candidate, while a deep group of options returns at receiver, including Ihmir Smith Marsette (44 catches), Tyrone Tracy (36), Brandon Smith (37), Nico Ragaini (46), and tight end Sam LaPorta (15). Tristan Wirfs is a big loss in the trenches, but a strong foundation remains with Alaric Jackson, Indiana transfer Coy Cronk and rising star Tyler Linderbaum at center. Iowa brings back five starters from a defense that held teams to 14 points a game and 4.8 yards a snap. Rebuilding the defensive line is the top priority for coordinator Phil Parker after the departure of standout A.J. Epenesa (11.5 sacks) and tackles Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff. End Chauncey Golston and tackle Daviyon Nixon is a good starting point, but more options must emerge. The linebacker unit must replace leading tackler Kristian Welch, and the secondary lost two key cogs in safety Geno Stone and cornerback Michael Ojemudia. The schedule features crossover games at Ohio State and Penn State, along with a road date at Minnesota on Sept. 18.

 

24. Virginia Tech

The Hokies return 19 starters off a team that won six out of their last nine games, with the three defeats in that span coming by nine points or less. Coach Justin Fuente’s decision to switch to Hendon Hooker quarterback provided a spark in early October, as Virginia Tech scored 30 or more points in five out of its final seven games. The offensive line should be among the best in the ACC, while the arrival of transfer Khalil Herbert (Kansas) and potentially Raheem Blackshear (waiver pending) provide help for a backfield losing last year’s leading rusher Deshawn McClease (843 yards). Receiver Tre Turner (34 catches for 553 yards) and tight end James Mitchell should push for All-ACC honors, but the Hokies could use more playmakers to emerge in 2020. With Hooker’s development under Fuente this fall, this offense should see an uptick in production (30.8 ppg). There’s no shortage of intrigue on defense. Long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster retired at the end of 2020 and former player Justin Hamilton will assume the play-calling duties. Hamilton has been on a fast rise through the coaching ranks and inherits a defense that returns 10 starters after holding teams to 24.7 points a game in 2019. Linebacker Rayshard Ashby and cornerback Caleb Farley should contend for All-America honors. Virginia Tech will be tested early with a non-conference matchup against Penn State on Sept. 12 but the ACC Coastal could be decided on Oct. 10 when Fuente’s team goes to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina.

 

23. Boise State

The Broncos have won two out of the last three Mountain West titles, and coach Bryan Harsin’s squad is well-positioned to do it again in 2020. As usual, Boise State won’t be hurting for firepower on offense. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier is back after a promising freshman season, with George Holani (1,014 yards) anchoring the ground game. Despite losing John Hightower, the receiving corps is in great shape. Khalil Shakir is one of the Mountain West’s top targets, with CT Thomas and Octavius Evans and tight end John Bates also back. However, a glaring concern remains up front. Boise State returns just one starter along the offensive line – tackle John Ojukwu – from a group that allowed 27 sacks last fall. The question marks in the trenches continue on defense, as linemen Sonatane Lui, Chase Hatada, David Moa and edge rusher Curtis Weaver departed. Rising star Demitri Washington should help replace Weaver’s production off the edge, and Utah transfer Jackson Cravens also could provide an instant impact at defensive tackle. The linebacker and secondary units figure to be a strength. The question marks along both lines of scrimmage will be tested early in September matchups against Air Force (Sept. 12) and Florida State (Sept. 19). Additionally, the Nov. 21 date at Wyoming looms large for the Mountain West title picture.

 

22. UCF

A dynamic offense has carried UCF to 35 wins over the last three seasons, and the 2020 version should be more than enough to keep coach Josh Heupel’s team in the mix to return to a New Year’s Six bowl. Leading the way for the Knights’ high-powered attack is quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who returns after throwing for 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns as a freshman in 2019. Former starter McKenzie Milton missed last year after suffering a serious leg injury late in the ’18 campaign and his status for 2020 remains uncertain. But with Gabriel directing the attack, UCF should average more than 43 points a game for the fourth year in a row. There’s room for the offensive line to improve in 2020, and Gabriel won’t lack for support thanks to the return of running backs Otis Anderson and Greg McCrae. Top receiver Gabriel Davis departs, but there’s plenty of speed and talent on the outside, including Tre Nixon (49 catches) and Marlon Williams (51). UCF’s defense was quietly effective last season, holding teams to just 4.6 yards a play and 23 points a game. Eight starters are back, including nearly all of a secondary that finished third nationally in pass efficiency defense. The schedule features a home opener against North Carolina and a road trip to Memphis in mid-October. The Nov. 21 showdown versus Cincinnati will be crucial for positioning at the top of the AAC.

 

21. Cincinnati

It’s a close call for the top spot in the AAC between UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis, but Athlon Sports gives a small edge to the Bearcats in 2020. Coach Luke Fickell’s team has won 11 games in each of the last two years and came close to beating Memphis (29-24) for the AAC title last fall. Fickell’s background is on defense, so it’s no surprise this side of the ball leads the way. The Bearcats held teams to 20.6 points a game in 2019, and this unit could be even better with 10 starters back. Restocking the linebacker unit is the top priority for Fickell and coordinator Marcus Freeman, but the defensive line and secondary are loaded with talent and experience. The return of safety James Wiggins from injury bolsters a pass defense that finished 15th nationally in pass efficiency defense last year. Cincinnati doesn’t need an explosive offense to win the AAC in 2020, but this group has room to improve after averaging 29.6 points a game last season. A healthy season from quarterback Desmond Ridder will help, while the offensive line should get a boost thanks to the arrival of Michigan transfer James Hudson at tackle. More playmakers must emerge at receiver, and Gerrid Doaks, Jerome Ford and Charles McClelland are tasked with replacing Michael Warren (1,265 rushing yards) at running back. Transfers Michael Young (Notre Dame) and Jordan Jones (Arkansas) should help at receiver. The good news for Fickell: With the showdown against UCF in late November, he’s got plenty of time for the offense to find its rhythm.

 

20. Minnesota

After a breakout 2019 campaign, the Golden Gophers have their sights set on pushing Wisconsin once again for the Big Ten West Division title. An improved offense was a big reason why Minnesota won 11 games last year and is easily the strength of the team for 2020. Quarterback Tanner Morgan ranks among the top Big Ten signal-callers after throwing for 30 touchdowns and 3,253 yards, and Rashod Bateman (60 catches for 1,219 yards) will assume the No. 1 receiver role after the departure of Tyler Johnson. The offensive line is set with all five starters back, and Mohamed Ibrahim moves into the No. 1 role at running back with Rodney Smith out of eligibility. The only uncertainty surrounding the offense is how this group will adapt to new co-coordinators Matt Simon and Mike Sanford Jr. after Kirk Ciarrocca left to become the new play-caller at Penn State. Minnesota held teams to 22.5 points a game last year, but there are question marks surrounding the defense. Four of the top players from last season’s group are gone, including All-America safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Fleck’s team misses Ohio State and Penn State in Big Ten crossover play and catches Michigan at home. Within the division, Iowa and Purdue come to Minneapolis. However, the annual showdown – and likely de facto West Division title game – against Wisconsin is in Madison, and the Gophers finish the regular season on the road against Nebraska.

 

Related: Order a Copy of Athlon's 2020 SEC or National Preview Magazines

 

19. USC

The Trojans rebounded from a disappointing 5-7 2018 season to finish 8-5 and second in the Pac-12 South last fall. Coach Clay Helton is hoping for another step forward thanks to the return of a high-powered offense and a retooled defensive staff. Quarterback Kedon Slovis was a breakout star in his first year on campus, throwing for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns to just nine picks. The Trojans are loaded with talent at receiver, with freshmen Gary Bryant, Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford joining a group that already features Tyler Vaughns, Drake London and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Jumpstarting a ground game that managed only 3.9 yards per carry and replacing both starting offensive tackles are the top concerns for play-caller Graham Harrell. Despite its talent edge, USC has not finished higher than fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring defense in each of the last four years. Helton hopes former Texas play-caller Todd Orlando can change the Trojans' defensive fortunes, and there’s no shortage of talent to work with thanks to the return of 11 starters. Lineman Jay Tufele and edge rusher Drake Jackson are two of the Pac-12’s top defenders for 2020, and there’s plenty of young talent poised to develop in the secondary. The opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas is a huge barometer for Helton’s squad. Arizona State, Washington and Notre Dame visit the Coliseum in 2020, but road trips to Utah, Oregon and Stanford await this fall.

 

18. North Carolina

Mack Brown is already off to a fast start in his return to the sidelines in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels improved their win total by five games from 2018, with all six defeats coming by seven points or less. With a little better luck in close games, along with the development of rising star quarterback Sam Howell, Brown’s team is Athlon’s pick to the win the ACC Coastal in 2020. Howell threw for 3,641 yards and 38 scores last fall and is only going to get better as a sophomore. He’s supported by a strong cast of skill players, including one of the nation’s top receiving corps thanks to the return of Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown, along with a standout backfield in Michael Carter and Javonte Williams. North Carolina’s defense also took a significant step forward in 2019. After giving up 34.5 points a game in 2018, the Tar Heels cut that total to 23.7 a contest last fall. Some retooling is needed up front with Jason Strowbridge and Aaron Crawford departing, but the linebacker and secondary units should be solid. Non-conference matchups against UCF and Auburn are on tap to start 2020, and road tests are slated for Virginia and Miami. However, the de facto ACC Coastal championship game against Virginia Tech takes place in Chapel Hill.

 

17. Iowa State

A lack of spring practice is a concern for every team, but Iowa State is positioned to navigate these uncertain times with one of the Big 12’s top coaches (Matt Campbell) and a star at quarterback in junior Brock Purdy. Campbell has led the Cyclones to three consecutive winning records in Big 12 play, and there’s no question the program’s established culture will be a huge plus with the limited offseason. Purdy led all Big 12 quarterbacks by throwing for 306.3 yards a game in 2019 and could be a candidate to jump to the NFL early with another strong campaign. Breece Hall anchors the ground game after a strong freshman season, with tight end Charlie Kolar and receiver Tarique Milton back as the top options in the passing game. Restocking an offensive line that had an uneven 2019 campaign is the top priority this offseason. Iowa State has finished inside of the top three in the Big 12 in scoring defense for three consecutive years and that streak is likely to continue this fall. Nine starters return, including linebacker Mike Rose, safety Greg Eisworth, and end JaQuan Bailey. Of the program’s six losses last season, four came by seven points or less. With a little better luck in the turnover department (minus-three margin), Campbell’s team could play its way into the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma comes to Ames this season, but the Cyclones have to navigate tough road trips to Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas.

 

Related: Grading College Football's First-Year Coaches from 2019

 

16. Texas

It’s no secret the 2020 season is an important one for Texas coach Tom Herman. After a 10-4 record and a trip to the Sugar Bowl in 2018, the Longhorns regressed to 8-5 last fall. As a result, Herman hit the reset button on his staff, bringing in two new coordinators and five other assistant coaches. Injuries and youth played a role in last season’s record, and with better luck in health and player development, a return to the Big 12 Championship Game isn’t out of the question. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger returns for his senior year after back-to-back standout seasons. Ehlinger won’t have Devin Duvernay or Collin Johnson back on the outside, but the Longhorns have talented playmakers waiting in the wings like Michigan transfer Tarik Black, Brennan Eagles and Jake Smith. Left tackle Sam Cosmi anchors an offensive line with three starters back, while Keaontay Ingram headlines a talented backfield. Improvement on defense is a must for Texas in 2020. New coordinator Chris Ash plans to utilize more 4-3 looks, and talent won’t be an issue thanks to the return of linebacker Joseph Ossai (13.5 TFL), safety Caden Sterns, cornerback D’Shawn Jamison, and linemen Keondre Coburn and Ta’quon Graham. Last year’s group allowed 6.3 yards a snap in Big 12 games and finished 90th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Modest improvement in both totals, along with more pass rush and better play against the run are needed. Key Big 12 games against TCU, Baylor and Iowa State take place in Austin, but the Longhorns catch LSU in non-conference play and must deal with Oklahoma State on the road in the regular-season finale.

 

15. Michigan

Jim Harbaugh’s team heads into 2020 with potential but also plenty of question marks to address. The Wolverines have won nine or more games in four out of the last five seasons and matching that total will require Harbaugh’s squad to navigate a tough schedule that features road dates at Washington, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State and a home slate featuring Wisconsin and Penn State. Michigan has two talented quarterbacks – Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton – vying to replace Shea Patterson. Four offensive line starters also must be replaced, but Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins are a strong one-two punch at running back, and Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell return at receiver. Don Brown’s defense must reload a bit after losing linebackers Khaleke Hudson, Josh Uche and Jordan Glasgow, along with cornerback Lavert Hill. However, the Wolverines aren’t likely to fall too far from last year’s defensive pace (20.7 ppg allowed), especially with rising stars like linebacker Cam McGrone, safety Daxton Hill and end Aidan Hutchinson leading the way in 2020.

 

14. Oklahoma State

With 19 returning starters and an experienced two-deep in place, the pieces are there for coach Mike Gundy’s team to emerge as the No. 2 team in the Big 12. New play-caller Kasey Dunn inherits the keys to a high-powered offense, which is led by rising star quarterback Spencer Sanders and Heisman Trophy candidate Chuba Hubbard (2,094 rushing yards in 2019) at running back. The Cowboys return their top three receivers, including Tylan Wallace (53 catches for 903 yards), back after missing the final five games due to a knee injury. West Virginia graduate transfer Josh Sills adds to an offensive line that returns three starters and ranks among the best in the Big 12. Continued improvement on defense is the biggest key to a trip to the Big 12 Championship Game. After giving up 32.5 points a game in 2018, the Cowboys allowed 26.8 in ’19. Coordinator Jim Knowles still has a lot of work ahead, but last year’s improvement, combined with nearly the entire starting lineup returning, provides optimism for another step forward in 2020. End Trace Ford is a rising star, the linebacker unit features a couple of standouts in Malcolm Rodriguez and Amen Ogbongbemiga and safety Kolby Harvell-Peel should push for All-America honors. Oklahoma State has five road trips in Big 12 play, but two of its three biggest games – Texas and Iowa State – take place in Stillwater.

 

Related: Order a Copy of Athlon's 2020 SEC or National CFB Preview Magazines

 

13. Auburn

The Tigers have the fewest returning starters (seven) of any team in the SEC for 2020. Returning starters aren’t necessarily the best indicator for success, but it’s clear coach Gus Malzahn’s team has a lot to replace this fall. A defense that held teams to just 19.5 points a game in 2019 needs to reload up front after the departure of standouts Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe. The secondary was also hit hard by departures, including safeties Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson, and cornerbacks Javaris Davis and Noah Igbinoghene. The losses on defense are heavy, but Auburn boasts one of the nation’s top linebacker units and has plenty of talent waiting to step up in the trenches and in the secondary. The concerns in the trenches extend to the offense. Malzahn and new play-caller Chad Morris have to rebuild a line that lost four starters, with center Nick Brahms back to anchor the group in 2020. Quarterback Bo Nix averaged 219.6 total yards a game as a freshman in ’19 but will have to elevate his play to compensate for some of the losses on both sides of the ball. Nix does have plenty of help. The receiving corps – led by big-play threat Seth Williams – is among the best in the SEC. Leading rusher JaTarvious Whitlow transferred, but Auburn has a handful of promising options at running back, including D.J. Williams, Mark-Antony Richards and Tank Bigsby. Texas A&M and LSU visit the Plains this fall, but Malzahn’s squad has to play Georgia and Alabama on the road.

 

12. Wisconsin

With four trips to the Big Ten Championship Game over the last six years, it should be no surprise Wisconsin is Athlon’s pick to win the West Division in 2020. Few question marks surround this team, but coach Paul Chryst’s squad has a couple to address on offense. Who will fill the void left behind by Jonathan Taylor at running back? The Badgers may not lean on one option, instead choosing to rotate Nakia Watson, Garrett Groshek, Isaac Guerendo and freshmen Julius Davis and Jalen Berger in the backfield. Quarterback Jack Coan was steady (69.6 completion percentage) and didn’t make a lot of mistakes (five picks), but redshirt freshman Graham Mertz has more upside at the position. Can Mertz make a push for the starting job in the fall? Replacing go-to wide receiver Quintez Cephus is another priority, and the offensive line features a rebuilt interior with three new starters. Wisconsin’s defense held teams to 16.9 points a game in 2019 and ranks again among the best in the Big Ten. Coordinator Jim Leonhard’s group brings back nine starters, with linebackers Chris Orr and Zack Baun (24 combined sacks in 2019) leaving big shoes to fill at the position. The non-conference slate includes a home game against Appalachian State and a neutral-site meeting versus Notre Dame in Green Bay. Minnesota and Nebraska come to Madison, but the Badgers hit the road for key conference matchups versus Michigan and Iowa.

 

11. Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher is off to a good start in College Station, but the third-year coach hopes his team is ready to contend for the SEC West title. Both Alabama and LSU have personnel losses to address, and with an experienced roster and a more favorable schedule, the Aggies could push for 10 victories in 2020. Quarterback Kellen Mond returns after throwing for 2,897 yards and adding another 500 on the ground. The senior is among the SEC’s top quarterbacks, but Fisher needs him to take a step forward in his final year in College Station. Isaiah Spiller and all-purpose threat Ainias Smith anchor the ground game, with Jhamon Ausbon and tight ends Jalen Wydermyer and Baylor Cupp – a talented freshman who missed all of 2019 due to injury – headlining the receiving options. Additionally, four starters returning provide optimism for improvement along the offensive line. The Aggies return the bulk of talent from a defense that held teams to 5.3 yards a snap last fall. However, replacing standout tackle Justin Madubuike won’t be easy, and there’s room to improve in the pass rush and in the secondary. If Mond takes a step forward and the defense continues to progress under coordinator Mike Elko, back-to-back games against Alabama and LSU in late November could loom large in the SEC West.

 

10. Oregon

The Ducks have to replace quarterback Justin Herbert, but coach Mario Cristobal’s team is Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 once again in 2020. Boston College transfer Anthony Brown and sophomore Tyler Shough are expected to battle to replace Herbert in fall practice. The winner of this job inherits a strong supporting cast, including 1,000-yard rusher CJ Verdell and a handful of playmakers in the receiving corps – Johnny Johnson III, Jaylon Redd and Mycah Pittman. Dominant left tackle Penei Sewell will have four new starters around him, but there’s enough talent and experience to prevent a major drop in performance up front. The offense is also under the direction of a new play-caller, as Joe Moorhead arrives after spending the last two seasons as the head coach at Mississippi State. Oregon is known for its high-powered offenses, but the defense is the strength of this program for 2020. The Ducks return eight starters from a unit that held teams to just 4.7 yards a play and 16.5 points a game last season. Rising star Kayvon Thibodeaux (nine sacks in 2019) anchors the trenches, and the secondary features three All-America candidates in Thomas Graham, Jevon Holland and Deommodore Lenoir. Troy Dye will be missed at linebacker, but the arrival of top recruits Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell bolsters a group still featuring Isaac Slade-Matautia, Mase Funa and Sampson Niu. Oregon opens with arguably the toughest two-game stretch of any team in the nation with home matchups against North Dakota State and Ohio State. The Ducks also pay a visit to Berkeley against California, but home dates are on tap against Washington, USC and Arizona State.

 

Related: College Football's Top 20 Teams on the Rise for 2020

 

9. Notre Dame

Brian Kelly’s program reset after a 4-8 mark in 2016 resulted in a 33-6 record over the last three years. The Fighting Irish are poised to contend for double-digit victories once again, but a trip to the CFB Playoff will require the program to knock off Clemson in South Bend in early November, as well as navigate a couple of roster concerns. Senior quarterback Ian Book is among the best in the nation, and all five starters return to form one of the top offensive lines in college football. Book’s supporting cast is under renovation this fall. Leading rusher Tony Jones (857), tight end Cole Kmet (43 catches), and No. 1 receiver Chase Claypool (66) all must be replaced. Incoming freshmen Chris Tyree (RB), Jordan Johnson (WR) and Michael Mayer (TE) will have an opportunity to make an impact right away. Despite losing a couple of key cogs, Notre Dame’s defense didn’t miss a beat on the stat sheet last year by holding teams to 17.9 points a contest. The 2020 version is led by standout linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and safety Kyle Hamilton, but coordinator Clark Lea is going to have a busy fall trying to restock at defensive end and in the secondary.

 

8. LSU

The bar is set high for Ed Orgeron and LSU after one of the best one-year runs by any team in college football history in 2019. The Tigers won the national championship behind quarterback Joe Burrow and a high-powered offense, but many of the key pieces on both sides of the ball have moved to the NFL. While a repeat is a tall task, Orgeron’s team still has enough returning talent to hit double-digit victories in 2020. Much of LSU’s fortunes hinge on the development of quarterback Myles Brennan. The junior has played well in limited opportunities, but 2020 will mark the first time he’s started a game in Baton Rouge. Brennan will be throwing to a standout group of receivers, including the nation’s top receiver in Ja’Marr Chase (84 catches for 1,780 yards), running mate Terrace Marshall, and five-star freshman Arik Gilbert at tight end. A trio of backs is slated to replace Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but a glaring concern remains an offensive line that returns only one starter. Bo Pelini returns to LSU to handle the defensive signals after Dave Aranda left to be the head coach at Baylor. Pelini plans to shift the defense to more 4-3 looks, and as usual, the Tigers are overflowing with athleticism, speed and talent at every level. Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is back after a standout freshman season, and North Dakota State transfer Jabril Cox should provide instant help at linebacker. The Sept. 12 matchup against Texas is a good barometer for Orgeron’s rebuilt team, but in addition to the annual showdown versus Alabama, LSU has to face Auburn, Texas A&M and Florida on the road this fall.

 

7. Georgia

The Bulldogs are one of the most intriguing teams to watch this season. A defense that limited teams to just 12.6 points a game last year returns mostly intact and is arguably the best in college football once again. Coach Kirby Smart and coordinator Dan Lanning have to replace standout safety J.R. Reed and a couple of linemen, but there’s no shortage of talent and options. Safety Richard LeCounte is one of the best at his position, with cornerback Eric Stokes poised to contend for All-America honors. Rising star Azeez Ojulari is expected to emerge as one of the top pass rushers in the SEC this fall. However, the other side of the ball is a source of uncertainty. Smart decided a significant overhaul was needed after averaging only 23.6 points in SEC games last season. But without spring practice, installing a new offense won’t be easy for new play-caller Todd Monken. Additionally, Georgia has several new faces stepping into prominent roles. Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman should be a good fit for Monken’s scheme, but the senior quarterback is stepping into a new role without much practice time against some of the nation’s top defenses. The offensive line needs time to jell with just two returning starters, and the Bulldogs have to find more playmakers to support rising star George Pickens on the outside. Zamir White, James Cook, Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton are more than capable of replacing the one-two punch of D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien, so there’s no concern about the ground game. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (27 of 33 FGs last year) also departs. How high the Bulldogs climb likely hinges on the outcome of two games: at Alabama and the annual clash with Florida in Jacksonville.

 

Related: Grading College Football's New Head Coach Hires for 2020

 

6. Florida

It’s a close call for the top spot in the SEC East. Georgia has an edge in overall roster talent, but the Gators have a small advantage in crossover play (at home versus LSU compared to at Alabama for the Bulldogs), and coach Dan Mullen’s team has more continuity in staff and scheme. Quarterback Kyle Trask ranks among the top signal-callers in the SEC after stepping into the starting role after Feleipe Franks’ season-ending injury and guiding the offense to an average of 31.1 points in league play. There’s some turnover at the skill positions, but plenty of talent remains, including tight end Kyle Pitts and receivers Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney and Jacob Copeland. Pending waivers of transfers Lorenzo Lingard (running back) and Justin Shorter (receiver) could add more options for Mullen this fall. Improvement is needed in the trenches after the Gators averaged only 3.8 yards per carry in SEC games and allowed 25 overall sacks. The late addition of Mississippi State transfer Charles Reese adds needed depth and talent to a unit slated to return three full-time starters. Despite some turnover at every level, Florida should rank among the best in the SEC on defense once again. Georgia transfer Brenton Cox will help a pass rush losing Jonathan Greenard (10 sacks) and Jabari Zuniga. Rising star Kaiir Elam will team with Marco Wilson to replace first-round pick CJ Henderson, giving coordinator Todd Grantham one of the SEC’s top cornerback duos for 2020. Linebacker is Grantham’s biggest concern, especially after David Reese (92 tackles) expired his eligibility.

 

5. Penn State

The Nittany Lions have won 11 games in three of the last four years and also made an appearance in three New Year’s Six bowls in that span. The missing piece: A trip to the CFB Playoff. Penn State could check that box in 2020, especially with coach James Franklin’s team hosting Ohio State on Oct. 24. Both sides of the ball are in good shape, leaving few question marks for the upcoming season. Offensively, new play-caller Kirk Ciarrocca can build around quarterback Sean Clifford and one of the deepest groups of running backs in college football. The offensive line should take a step forward with four starters returning. Ciarrocca’s biggest concern rests with the playmakers on the outside. Tight end Pat Freiermuth is likely to be a preseason All-American, and Jahan Dotson returns after averaging 18.1 yards per reception in ’19. However, KJ Hamler left early for the NFL so no returning receiver had more than 10 catches last season. Penn State’s defense has ranked near the top of the Big Ten in fewest points allowed over the last three years and that’s not expected to change in 2020. Linebacker Micah Parsons is one of college football’s top returning players and anchors a group that held teams to just 16 points a contest in ’19. End Shaka Toney should ensure the pass rush won’t miss a beat with Yetur Gross-Matos gone, while the secondary can lean on Tariq Castro-Fields, Jaquan Brisker and Lamont Wade to improve after allowing 11 completions of 40 or more yards last season. Penn State has a huge road showdown at Virginia Tech in Week 2 and catches Big Ten foes Michigan, Indiana and Nebraska away from Happy Valley. Even if the Nittany Lions lose to Ohio State, an 11-1 record would put this team in position for a top-five finish and an outside chance at the CFB Playoff.

 

4. Oklahoma

The 2020 season marks Lincoln Riley’s fourth year on the sidelines at Oklahoma. Since replacing Bob Stoops and using three different starting quarterbacks, Riley has led the Sooners to three Big 12 titles and three trips to the CFB Playoff. While Jalen Hurts had a prolific 2019 season, Riley’s track record and the development of quarterback Spencer Rattler should ensure the offense is potent as ever. Rattler – a five-star recruit in the 2019 class – performed well in limited action last season and is already among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this fall. Kennedy Brooks (1,011 yards) leads the way at running back, and the offensive line ranks among the best in college football with all five starters back, including All-America center Creed Humphrey. Riley will be looking for a couple of playmakers to emerge at receiver this fall after CeeDee Lamb (1,327 yards) left early for the NFL. Additionally, Jadon Haselwood was injured in the spring and UCLA grad transfer Theo Howard also is recovering from an offseason injury. The arrival of coordinator Alex Grinch brought some improvement to the defense last fall. Oklahoma gave up 5.3 yards a play in conference play and limited teams to 27.3 points a contest. With more talent coming via the recruiting trail and nine starters returning, Grinch’s defense could take another step forward in 2020. However, linebacker Kenneth Murray, nose guard Neville Gallimore, and cornerback Parnell Motley leave big shoes to fill. As usual, the annual showdown versus Texas in Dallas will be critical for playoff hopes, and the Sooners have to hit the road to play Iowa State. Oklahoma State, Baylor and Tennessee all come to Norman in 2020.

 

Related: Order a Copy of Athlon's 2020 National or SEC CFB Preview Magazines

 

3. Ohio State

The Buckeyes didn’t miss a beat in Ryan Day’s first season. Behind a high-powered offense and a defense that held teams to 13.7 points a game, Ohio State came within a couple of plays from earning a trip to the national championship. Day’s team is equipped for another playoff run in 2020. Quarterback Justin Fields accounted for 51 overall touchdowns in his first year with the program and will be even more of a focal point with J.K. Dobbins off to the NFL. Master Teague was next in line at running back, but an offseason injury clouded his status for 2020. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon is likely to handle the bulk of the carries at running back. Even though two key targets – K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor – are gone at receiver, Fields won’t be hurting for options. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are two of the top targets in the Big Ten, with help also coming in the form of a strong freshman class. Day has to replace two starters up front, but this unit should still rank among the top offensive lines. Despite returning only three starters, Ohio State’s track record and overall talent level suggests the defense will be solid once again. However, losing difference-makers like end Chase Young, cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah, safety Jordan Fuller, and linebacker Malik Harrison will have some impact. New play-caller Kerry Coombs can build around one of the Big Ten’s top linebacker groups, cornerback Shaun Wade and rising star end Zach Harrison. The rebuilt defense will be tested right away at Oregon on Sept. 12, and the Oct. 24 date at Penn State is likely to decide the winner of the Big Ten East Division – and whether or not Ohio State goes undefeated in the regular season for the second year in a row.

 

2. Alabama

In 2019, the Crimson Tide missed the CFB Playoff for the first time since the inception of the four-team bracket in 2014. Don’t expect that trend to continue in 2020. Replacing Tua Tagovailoa under center isn’t going to be easy, but Mac Jones played well in three late-season starts and is poised to handle the spotlight in Tuscaloosa. If he stumbles or doesn’t win the job in the fall, five-star freshman Bryce Young will get a look. Regardless of who is under center, they may not need to win too many games through the air. That’s due to arguably the nation’s top offensive line, along with a deep stable of running backs that includes Najee Harris, Brian Robinson Jr. and Trey Sanders. Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy will be missed at receiver, but DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are two of the best playmakers in college football. Alabama’s defense wasn’t up to its usual standard last fall, yet still held teams to 18.6 points a contest. Getting back to an elite level will require Saban and coordinator Pete Golding to reload in the secondary around standout cornerback Patrick Surtain, along with developing edge rushers to replace Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis. The return of middle linebacker Dylan Moses after missing all of 2019 due to a knee injury is a big boost to the front seven. Additionally, LaBryan Ray’s return to the lineup after missing a good chunk of last season, and the development of Christian Barmore, DJ Dale and Byron Young provide optimism for an improved defensive line. Alabama will be tested right away with games against USC and Georgia in September. Auburn and Texas A&M also come to Tuscaloosa, but an undefeated season could hinge on the Nov. 7 date at LSU in Baton Rouge.

 

Related: College Football's Early Top 50 Players for 2020

 

1. Clemson

Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are Athlon’s pick to win it all in 2020. Clemson has made an appearance in each of the last five playoffs, won two out of the last four national titles, and has lost a total of five games over the last five years. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and a deep receiving corps are back to anchor an offense that averaged 43.9 points a game last fall. Left tackle Jackson Carman is the only returning starter up front, but Swinney has plenty of talent and some experience in returning personnel to find the right fit in the trenches. Clemson has not finished below third nationally in scoring defense in each of the last three years. Coordinator Brent Venables continues to develop elite groups, and it all starts with the best defensive line in college football for 2020. This unit is headlined by tackle Tyler Davis and end Xavier Thomas, with incoming freshmen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy expected to push for snaps. The all-around versatility of linebacker Isaiah Simmons will be missed. Venables will be looking for the right mix at that position in the fall, but James Skalski (90 tackles) is a good place to start. Cornerback Derion Kendrick and safety Nolan Turner are back to anchor a secondary looking to replace cornerback A.J. Terrell and safeties K’Von Wallace and Tanner Muse. The schedule is very manageable for Swinney’s team and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this program favored by double digits in most games. A road trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 7 is the toughest matchup on the slate.

 

Podcast: Explaining Athlon's Top 25 Rankings for 2020

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