College Football Rankings: Top 25 for 2019

Athlon projects the top 25 teams for 2019 after Week 15

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. The Week 15 slate for the 2019 season was highlighted by Oklahoma's win over Baylor in overtime, LSU's dominant victory against Georgia in the SEC Championship, and Ohio State's second-half comeback to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. LSU, Ohio State and Clemson take the top three spots, with Oklahoma at No. 4, Georgia at No. 5 and Utah at No. 6 in the post-Week 15 top 25 rankings. With Week 15 of the 2019 season officially in the books, here are the top 25 teams in college football:


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 15)


1. LSU (13-0)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Georgia


Georgia’s standout defense was no match for Joe Burrow and the Tigers’ high-powered offense. LSU’s victory clinched the program’s first SEC title since 2011.


2. Ohio State (13-0)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Wisconsin


Buckeyes started slow but strong second half ended Wisconsin’s upset bid.  


3. Clemson (13-0)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Virginia


Tigers claim fifth consecutive ACC Championship by beating Virginia


4. Oklahoma (12-1)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Baylor


Jalen Hurts has made the CFB Playoff in all four years of his playing career.


5. Georgia (11-2)

Week 15 Result: Lost to LSU


Will Kirby Smart make any tweaks to the offense this offseason?


6. Oregon (11-2)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Utah


Ducks won the battle in the trenches to claim first Pac-12 title since the 2014 season.


7. Florida (10-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


Gators have posted back-to-back seasons of 10 victories under Dan Mullen’s watch.


8. Auburn (9-3)

Week 15 Result: No Game


Gus Malzahn has some retooling to do up front on both sides of the ball this offseason, but quarterback Bo Nix is only going to get better with more experience.


9. Baylor (11-2)

Week 15 Result: Lost to Oklahoma


Baylor is clearly a program on the rise with Matt Rhule at the helm.


10. Wisconsin (10-3)

Week 15 Result: Lost to Ohio State


Badgers had an excellent gameplan and gave Ohio State all it could handle in the Big Ten Championship.


11. Penn State (10-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


The offseason is off to a good start in Happy Valley. James Franklin signed an extension, and tight end Pat Freiermuth is coming back for 2020.


12. Alabama (10-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


The Crimson Tide will miss the playoff for the first time since its inception prior to the 2014 season.


13. Utah (11-2)

Week 15 Result: Lost to Oregon


Friday night’s loss in the Pac-12 Championship was disappointing for coach Kyle Whittingham’s team, but that won’t change the fact this program has been on an impressive two-year run (20-7 and two Pac-12 South Division titles).


14. Minnesota (10-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


A bowl game in Florida is a nice way for Minnesota to end a promising 2019 season.


15. Memphis (12-1)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Cincinnati


The Tigers won their first conference title since 1969 and are set to make an appearance in the Cotton Bowl this postseason.


16. Michigan (9-3)

Week 15 Result: No Game


Wolverines need a win in their bowl game to post 10 victories in four out of the last five years.


17. Notre Dame (10-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


Fighting Irish have won at least 10 games in each of the last three years.


18. Iowa (9-3)

Week 15 Result: No Game


A bowl victory would give Iowa its first season of double-digit wins since 2015.


19. Boise State (12-1)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Hawaii


The Broncos now have three Mountain West titles under Bryan Harsin’s watch.


20. Appalachian State (12-1)

Week 15 Result: Defeated Louisiana


Mountaineers didn’t miss a beat in coach Eli Drinkwitz’s first season in Boone.


21. Virginia (9-4)

Week 15 Result: Lost to Clemson


Replacing Bryce Perkins isn’t going to be easy this offseason. However, don’t count out Virginia from making another run at the Coastal title next fall.


22. Cincinnati (10-3)

Week 15 Result: Lost to Memphis


Bearcats fell short of AAC title, but this program will be back for another run at the top Group of 5 bowl spot in 2020.


23. Navy (9-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


Midshipmen hope to end three-game losing streak to Army next Saturday.


24. Air Force (10-2)

Week 15 Result: No Game


Falcons need a victory in the bowl matchup to win 11 games for the first time under Troy Calhoun.


25. USC (8-4)

Week 15 Result: No Game


With Kedon Slovis back under center, Trojans could be the early favorite in the Pac-12 South next season.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 14)


1. LSU (12-0)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Texas A&M


Tigers get revenge for last year’s loss in College Station to complete perfect 12-0 regular season.


2. Ohio State (12-0)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Michigan


Buckeyes have defeated Michigan in 15 out of the last 16 matchups.


3. Clemson (12-0)

Week 14 Result: Defeated South Carolina


Trevor Lawrence hasn’t tossed an interception since Oct. 19 against Louisville, and the Tigers have won each of their last seven games by at least 30 points.


4. Georgia (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Georgia Tech


After losing receiver Lawrence Cager to a season-ending injury in practice this week, the Bulldogs dodged one after the shoulder ailment suffered by running back De’Andre Swift against Georgia Tech doesn’t appear to be serious.


5. Utah (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Colorado


Another week, another dominant win for Utah in Pac-12 play.


6. Oklahoma (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Oklahoma State


Jalen Hurts was efficient (163 yards), but Oklahoma was led by its ground game (283) and defense to win its fifth straight over rival Oklahoma State. And most importantly, the Sooners did not lose a turnover and forced two from the Cowboys.


7. Florida (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Florida State


Gators easily handle Florida State to post 10 victories for the second consecutive year.


8. Auburn (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Alabama


Gus Malzahn is now 3-1 against Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium.


9. Alabama (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Lost to Auburn


Crimson Tide outgained Auburn 515 to 354, but two interceptions returned for touchdowns, a missed field goal and penalties (13) were tough to overcome.


10. Baylor (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Kansas


Bears ready for rematch with Oklahoma after crushing Kansas 61-6 on Saturday.


11. Penn State (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Rutgers


Starting quarterback Sean Clifford and standout end Yetur Gross-Matos were out due to injury, but Penn State still handled Rutgers 27-6.


12. Wisconsin (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Minnesota


Badgers reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe and clinch third division title in four years.


13. Minnesota (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Lost to Wisconsin


Golden Gophers fell short of winning the Big Ten West Division, but the 2019 season was a big-time step in the right direction for this program.


14. Michigan (9-3)

Week 14 Result: Lost to Ohio State


Wolverines have been outscored 119-66 over the last two games versus Ohio State. If Michigan wins its bowl game, Jim Harbaugh would have four 10-win seasons in five years in Ann Arbor.


15. Notre Dame (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Stanford


The Fighting Irish have won at least 10 games in three consecutive years for the first time since 1991-93.


16. Oregon (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Oregon State


Mario Cristobal is 13-1 as Oregon’s head coach at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks have also claimed 11 out of the last 12 meetings against Oregon State.


17. Memphis (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Cincinnati


Tigers one win away from conference title and a trip to the Cotton Bowl.


18. Iowa (9-3)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Nebraska


Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley finishes his career (as a starter) with a perfect 9-0 mark in games against Minnesota and Nebraska.


19. Boise State (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Colorado State


Will Bryan Harsin stick with Jaylon Henderson at quarterback or switch back to freshman Hank Bachmeier for the Mountain West title game?


20. Appalachian State (11-1)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Troy


Quarterback Zac Thomas has tossed 10 touchdown passes over the last three games. Up next: The fourth matchup against Louisiana (in the Sun Belt title game) in two years.


21. Virginia (9-3)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech


Big day by Bryce Perkins helps complete Coastal chaos, as Virginia becomes seventh team to win division in seven years.


22. Cincinnati (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Lost to Memphis


Bearcats get another shot at Memphis this Saturday. Who will start at quarterback for Luke Fickell’s team this week?


23. Navy (9-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Houston


Midshipmen gashed Houston for 447 rushing yards in a 56-41 victory on Saturday night.


24. Air Force (10-2)

Week 14 Result: Defeated Wyoming


Air Force has eight seasons of at least 10 victories in its program history. Three of those have come under Troy Calhoun’s watch.


25. USC (8-4)

Week 14 Result: Off Week


Was USC’s 8-4 record enough to save Clay Helton’s job?


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 13)


1. LSU (11-0)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Arkansas


Tigers become first SEC team to have a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher in a single season.


2. Ohio State (11-0)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Penn State


Buckeyes can’t afford to give away three turnovers again, but Chase Young’s return (three sacks) provided a boost in a big win over Penn State.


3. Clemson (11-0)

Week 13 Result: Off Week


Clemson will be looking for its sixth straight win over South Carolina next Saturday.


4. Georgia (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Texas A&M


Bulldogs had to sweat once again in the fourth quarter, but coach Kirby Smart’s team makes enough plays late to secure the victory.


5. Alabama (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Western Carolina


Mac Jones connected on 10 of 12 throws for 275 yards and three scores in a key tune-up against Western Carolina for next week’s game at Auburn.


6. Oklahoma (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated TCU


Sooners outgain TCU 511 to 204 but costly turnovers (three) nearly ended Oklahoma’s playoff hopes.


7. Utah (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Arizona


The Utes have won six out of their last seven games by 18 points or more.


8. Minnesota (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Northwestern


Tanner Morgan’s four touchdown passes help Golden Gophers win 38-22 at Northwestern and rebound from last week’s loss against Iowa. Minnesota will play for the Big Ten West against Wisconsin next Saturday.


9. Florida (9-2)

Week 13 Result: Off Week


The Gators were off in Week 13 and return to action next Saturday versus Florida State.


10. Baylor (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Texas


Bears clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with dominant 24-10 victory over Texas.


11. Penn State (9-2)

Week 13 Result: Lost to Ohio State


Nittany Lions’ second-half rally fell short at Ohio State, but James Franklin’s team still has a shot at 10 wins and a New Year’s Six Bowl. 


12. Auburn (8-3)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Samford


As expected, Tigers handled Samford 52-0 in final tune-up for Iron Bowl next Saturday.


13. Wisconsin (9-2)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Purdue


Jonathan Taylor hits 200 yards for the third consecutive game, and victory over Purdue sets up a defacto Big Ten West Division title matchup against Minnesota next week.


14. Michigan (9-2)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Indiana


Wolverines look ready for showdown against Ohio State after Shea Patterson’s tosses five touchdown passes in 39-14 win over Indiana.


15. Oregon (9-2)

Week 13 Result: Lost to Arizona State


Sluggish offense, turnovers and a big play allowed in the fourth quarter were just too much to overcome for Oregon in Tempe.


16. Notre Dame (9-2)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Boston College


Ian Book has passed for 12 touchdowns over Notre Dame’s last three games.


17. Memphis (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated USF


Tigers use 325 rushing yards to crush USF 49-10 and move one win away from a trip to the AAC title game.


18. Iowa (8-3)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Illinois


Nate Stanley throws for 308 yards in his final game in Kinnick Stadium, while Iowa’s defense forces three turnovers to help the Hawkeyes win 19-10.


19. Boise State (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Utah State


Broncos dominated Utah State in Logan to clinch Mountain Division title. 


20. Cincinnati (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Temple


Bearcats have won three out of their last four games by three points or less. However, style points don’t matter this week, as the victory over Temple clinched the AAC East title. 


21. Appalachian State (10-1)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Texas State


Mountaineers set for another matchup against Louisiana in the Sun Belt title game. Win over Texas State could be costly though, as receiver Corey Sutton was lost due to injury.


22. Iowa State (7-4)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Kansas


Brock Purdy now owns Iowa State single-season records for passing yards (3,575) and completions (280).


23. Virginia Tech (8-3)

Week 13 Result: Defeated Virginia


Hokies pitch a shutout and hold Pitt to just 177 yards in Bud Foster’s final game in Blacksburg.


24. Navy (8-3)

Week 13 Result: Defeated SMU


Midshipmen still alive for the AAC West Division title after beating SMU


25. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Week 13 Result: Defeated West Virginia


Can the Cowboys play spoiler to Oklahoma’s playoff hopes in Stillwater next week?


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 12)


1. LSU (10-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Ole Miss


No post-Alabama letdown for coach Ed Orgeron’s team in 58-37 win over Ole Miss. However, the Tigers need to tighten up on defense after allowing 402 rushing yards.


2. Ohio State (10-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Rutgers


As expected, Ohio State dominated Rutgers (56-21) to move to 10-0. Up next: Back-to-back games against Penn State and Michigan.


3. Clemson (11-0)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Wake Forest


Tigers have won each of their last four games by 45 or more points.


4. Georgia (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Auburn


Bulldogs clinch third consecutive trip to Atlanta and SEC East title with 21-14 win over Auburn.


5. Alabama (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Mississippi State


Crimson Tide rebound from loss to LSU with 38-7 win over Mississippi State. However, the victory came at a heavy price, as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury.


6. Oklahoma (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Baylor


Huge second-half efforts from Jalen Hurts and the defense lead Oklahoma to largest comeback in school history in 34-31 win over Baylor.


7. Oregon (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Arizona


Ducks are headed back to the Pac-12 Championship Game after clinching the North Division title after 34-6 win over Arizona.


8. Utah (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated UCLA


Tyler Huntley (14 of 18 for 335 yards) was sharp off the bye week, and Utah’s defense held UCLA to just 3.7 yards a play in a 49-3 victory.


9. Minnesota (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Iowa


The Golden Gophers become the latest ranked team to suffer a road loss in November at Iowa.


10. Penn State (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Indiana


Nine-minute scoring drive in fourth quarter lifts Nittany Lions to win over Indiana.


11. Florida (9-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Missouri


Gators close out SEC play by holding their last two opponents to a combined six points. Florida needs just one victory over its last two games (counting a bowl) to have back-to-back 10-win seasons under Dan Mullen.


12. Baylor (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Oklahoma


Bears started fast but faded in 34-31 loss to Oklahoma. However, Baylor could get another shot against the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship.


13. Auburn (7-3)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Georgia


Tigers found a spark on offense in the fourth quarter, but the comeback against Georgia fell short with back-to-back failed fourth-down attempts.


14. Wisconsin (8-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Nebraska


Jonathan Taylor rushed for at least 200 yards in all three of his appearances against Nebraska.


15. Michigan (8-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Michigan State


Jim Harbaugh’s team thoroughly dominated rival Michigan State in 44-10 win on Saturday.


16. Notre Dame (8-2)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Navy


Ian Book tossed five touchdowns, and the defense forced four turnovers to sink Navy in 52-20 victory in South Bend.


17. Memphis (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Houston


Patrick Taylor’s return adds even more firepower to one of the nation’s top offenses for a key stretch run at a New Year’s Six bowl.


18. Iowa (7-3)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Minnesota


Hawkeyes were outgained (431 to 290), but key stop and a turnover in second half help secure four-point win over Minnesota.


19. Cincinnati (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated USF


It wasn’t pretty, but Bearcats escape Tampa with a 20-17 win over USF.


20. Boise State (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated New Mexico


Broncos forced to start their third quarterback of the season (Jaylon Henderson), but coach Bryan Harsin’s team rolled to an easy 42-9 win over New Mexico.


21. SMU (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Off Week


The Mustangs were off on Saturday and return to action next week on the road against Navy.


22. Appalachian State (9-1)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Georgia State


After falling behind 21-7 in the first quarter, the Mountaineers finished on a 49-6 run to beat Georgia State on Saturday night.


23. Iowa State (6-4)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Texas


A close game finally bounces in favor of the Cyclones with a 23-21 victory over Texas.


24. Indiana (7-3)

Week 12 Result: Lost to Penn State


Hoosiers fell short in Happy Valley but will have another shot at an upset with Michigan coming to Bloomington next week.


25. Virginia Tech (7-3)

Week 12 Result: Defeated Georgia Tech


Hokies enter the top 25 after winning four out of their last five games.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 11)


1. LSU (9-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Alabama


Clutch performances from Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire help LSU score 46 points in huge win in Tuscaloosa.


2. Ohio State (9-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Maryland


Games against Maryland (Week 11) and Rutgers (Week 12) are essentially the final tune-ups for Ryan Day’s squad before big matchups against Penn State and Michigan. Will the Buckeyes get clarification on Chase Young’s status this week?


3. Clemson (10-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated NC State


Tigers cruise to 55-10 win over NC State to clinch Atlantic Division for fifth year in a row.


4. Alabama (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Lost to LSU


Alabama’s defense had no answers for LSU’s offense and couldn’t get a stop when it needed one late in the game. Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t healthy but still threw for 418 yards and four scores in Saturday’s loss.


5. Georgia (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Missouri


Bulldogs moved one step closer to clinching the SEC East title with a 27-0 win over Missouri.


6. Minnesota (9-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Penn State


Quarterback Tanner Morgan and a standout Minnesota receiving corps lifted Minnesota to its biggest win under coach P.J. Fleck.


7. Penn State (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Lost to Minnesota


Missed opportunities in red zone, three turnovers and struggles against the pass were too much for Penn State to overcome in Saturday’s loss to Minnesota. Nittany Lions can still be a factor for the CFB Playoff with a win over Ohio State in two weeks.


8. Oregon (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Bye Week


Ducks facing favorable three-game stretch – Arizona, at Arizona State and Oregon State – to finish out regular season.


9. Utah (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Off Week


Utah’s off week came at a good time since quarterback Tyler Huntley was playing at less than full strength in the win over Washington.


10. Oklahoma (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Iowa State


Sooners fortunate to escape with win over Iowa State. Oklahoma’s defense surrendered touchdowns on four of the Cyclones’ final six drives.


11. Baylor (9-0)

Week 11 Result: Defeated TCU


Bears win another close conference game (four by six points or less) to set up huge showdown against Oklahoma next Saturday.


12. Florida (8-2)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Vanderbilt


The Gators limited Vanderbilt to just 128 yards in Saturday’s 56-0 blowout in the Swamp.


13. Auburn (7-2)

Week 11 Result: Off Week


With games against Georgia and Alabama in November, Auburn could play a major role in the SEC’s quest to get a second team in the playoff.


14. Wisconsin (7-2)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Iowa


Jonathan Taylor’s 250 rushing yards led the way, while Wisconsin’s defense stuffed Iowa’s two-point attempt late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.


15. Michigan (7-2)

Week 11 Result: Off Week


The Wolverines were off in Week 11 and return to action next Saturday against Michigan State.


16. Notre Dame (7-2)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Duke


Ian Book throws four touchdowns and runs for over 100 yards to lead Notre Dame to easy 38-7 win over Duke.


17. Memphis (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Off Week


Tigers will finish the season with two of their final three games on the road.


18. Cincinnati (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated UConn


Bearcats crushed UConn 48-3 to move to 5-0 in AAC play. The Nov. 23 showdown versus Temple will likely decide the AAC East winner.


19. Boise State (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Wyoming


Broncos stay alive for a New Year’s Six bowl with overtime win over Wyoming.


20. SMU (9-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated East Carolina


The good: Mustangs torched East Carolina for 636 yards and 59 points. The bad: SMU has allowed back-to-back opponents to score at least 50 points.


21. Indiana (7-2)

Week 11 Result: Off Week


Quarterback Michael Penix is out for the year, but the Hoosiers are still going to be a tough out for Penn State and Michigan in the next two weeks.


22. Texas (6-3)

Week 11 Result: Defeated Kansas State


Longhorns have won back-to-back Big 12 games at home on the final play.


23. Navy (7-1)

Week 11 Result: Off Week


Off week was timely for the Midshipmen, as back-to-back games against Notre Dame and SMU are up next.


24. Appalachian State (8-1)

Week 11 Result: Defeated South Carolina


Mountaineers have defeated two Power 5 teams – North Carolina and South Carolina – in Eli Drinkwitz’s first year at the helm.


25. Kansas State (6-3)

Week 11 Result: Lost to Texas


Wildcats’ three-game winning streak was snapped on last-second field goal at Texas.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 10)


1. Alabama (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


The Crimson Tide did not play in Week 10 and return to action next Saturday against LSU. Will Tua Tagovailoa return to the field next week?


2. LSU (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


LSU’s revamped and high-scoring offense gives coach Ed Orgeron’s team a good shot to win in Tuscaloosa next Saturday.


3. Ohio State (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


The Buckeyes were off on Saturday and return to action next Saturday against Maryland.


4. Clemson (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Wofford


As expected, the Tigers had no trouble with Wofford on Saturday afternoon.


5. Penn State (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


The Nittany Lions were off this week and return to action next Saturday for a huge showdown at Minnesota.


6. Georgia (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Florida


Steady performance from quarterback Jake Fromm guides Bulldogs to a 24-17 win over Florida in Jacksonville. The victory gives Georgia full control of the SEC East. 


7. Oregon (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated USC


After falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, the Ducks simply proceeded to outscore USC 56-14 the rest of the way.


8. Utah (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Washington


Utes overcome slow start thanks to Tyler Huntley and a solid second-half defensive effort to end a four-game losing streak to Washington.


9. Baylor (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated West Virginia


Bears outgained West Virginia 453 to 219 but three turnovers and struggles by the offensive line allowed the Mountaineers to have a shot at the upset.


10. Oklahoma (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


The Sooners were off on Saturday and return to action next week at home against Iowa State.


11. Florida (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Georgia


Third downs were a real problem for Florida in Saturday’s loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs converted 12 of 18 attempts, while the Gators converted on only two of nine opportunities.


12. Auburn (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Ole Miss


The Tigers outgained Ole Miss 507 to 266 but only won by six points. Bo Nix threw for 340 yards, but the Tigers connected on just two of five attempts on field goals.


13. Minnesota (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


The Golden Gophers did not play on Saturday. Coach P.J. Fleck’s team has a huge showdown in Minneapolis against Penn State next week.


14. Wisconsin (6-2)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


The Badgers did not play in Week 10. Coach Paul Chryst’s team hosts Iowa in a critical Big Ten West showdown next Saturday.


15. Michigan (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Maryland


Michigan has outscored its opponents 97-28 since the second half against Penn State.


16. Notre Dame (6-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech


Ian Book comes through in the clutch on 87-yard drive and the game-winning score with less than a minute remaining to beat Virginia Tech 21-20.


17. Memphis (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated SMU


Tigers’ high-powered offense shines in Saturday night showcase win over SMU.


18. Cincinnati (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated East Carolina


Bearcats keep New Year’s Six hopes alive with a last-second win against East Carolina.


19. Wake Forest (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated NC State


Jamie Newman’s return helped Wake Forest blast NC State 44-10 on Saturday.


20. Boise State (7-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated San Jose State


Broncos use 35 second-half points to end San Jose State’s upset bid in a 52-42 victory.


21. SMU (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Memphis


SMU suffered its first loss of the season at Memphis, but coach Sonny Dykes’ squad shouldn’t fall too far in the rankings after losing by six points.


22. Iowa (6-2)

Week 10 Result: Off Week


Off week allows Iowa to prepare for tough November stretch: at Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and at Nebraska.


23. Kansas State (6-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Kansas


The Wildcats won the Sunflower Showdown by pounding Kansas for 342 rushing yards and five scores.


24. Indiana (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Northwestern


The Hoosiers have won more than six games for the first time since 2007.


25. UCF (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Houston


Knights return to the top 25 after beating Houston 44-29 on Saturday.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 9)


1. Alabama (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Arkansas


No Tua, no problem for the Crimson Tide in a 48-7 win over Arkansas.


2. LSU (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Auburn


LSU had a few missed scoring opportunities, but the defense held Auburn to just 287 total yards and six three-and-outs in a 23-20 victory.


3. Ohio State (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Wisconsin


Saturday was a good day for players wearing No. 2 for Ohio State – Chase Young (four sacks) and J.K. Dobbins (163 rushing yards) – in a 38-7 win over Wisconsin.


4. Clemson (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Boston College


Tigers have won their last three games by a combined score of 149-31.


5. Penn State (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Michigan State


Nittany Lions cruised to a 28-7 win over Michigan State, lifting the program to its first 8-0 start since 2008.


6. Florida (7-1)

Week 9 Result: Off Week


The Gators were off in Week 9 and return to action next Saturday against Georgia in Jacksonville.


7. Georgia (6-1)

Week 9 Result: Off Week


The Bulldogs were off in Week 9 and return to action next Saturday against Florida in Jacksonville.


8. Oregon (7-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Washington State


CJ Verdell’s huge night helps Ducks stay alive for playoff after last-second win over Washington State.


9.Utah (7-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated California


Utah’s 35-0 victory over California was the program’s first shutout in conference play as a member of the Pac-12.


10. Baylor (7-0)

Week 9 Result: Off Week


The Bears were off in Week 9 and return to action on Thursday against West Virginia.


11. Oklahoma (7-1)

Week 9 Result: Lost to Kansas State


Oklahoma’s defense has improved under Alex Grinch, but this unit did not play well at Kansas State. The Sooners allowed the Wildcats to score on eight consecutive drives after forcing a punt on the opening possession.


12. Auburn (6-2)

Week 9 Result: Lost to LSU


Bo Nix went 26 of 62 for 302 yards and four interceptions in Auburn’s two losses (at Florida and LSU) this season.


13. Minnesota (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Maryland


Golden Gophers run for 321 yards against Maryland to move to 8-0. Up next: Penn State on Nov. 9.


14. SMU (8-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Houston


SMU needs just two victories to earn the program’s first double-digit win total since 1984.


15. Wisconsin (6-2)

Week 9 Result: Lost to Ohio State


Badgers managed only 191 yards and allowed Ohio State to score on four of its final six drives.


16. Michigan (6-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Notre Dame


The weather was awful, but there was no doubt about the result. The Wolverines dominated Notre Dame in a 45-14 victory on Saturday night.


17. Notre Dame (5-2)

Week 9 Result: Lost to Michigan


Notre Dame’s playoff hopes ended after abysmal performance at Michigan.


18. Cincinnati (6-1)

Week 9 Result: Off Week


The Bearcats were off in Week 9 and return to action next Saturday against East Carolina.


19. Wake Forest (6-1)

Week 9 Result: Off Week


The Demon Deacons were off in Week 9 and host NC State next Saturday.


20. Boise State (6-1)

Week 9 Result: Off Week


The Broncos were off in Week 9 and return to action against San Jose State next Saturday.


21. Iowa (6-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Northwestern


No offense has managed to score more than 20 points against Iowa’s defense this year.


22. Appalachian State (7-0)

Week 9 Result: Defeated South Alabama


Mountaineers have a tricky remaining slate – Georgia Southern, at Appalachian State, at Georgia State, Texas State and at Troy.


23. Memphis (7-1)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Tulsa


Tigers were fortunate to escape Tulsa with a victory.


24. Kansas State (5-2)

Week 9 Result: Defeated Oklahoma


Kansas State gashed Oklahoma for 213 rushing yards, while the defense got couple of timely stops and turnovers to seal the upset.


25. Texas (5-3)

Week 9 Result: Lost to TCU


Leaky defense and four turnovers were too much for Longhorns to overcome in loss to TCU.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 8)


1. Alabama (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Tennessee


Timely offense and late fumble return for a touchdown help Crimson Tide beat Tennessee for the 13th time in a row. However, the victory was a costly one, as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left due to a high ankle sprain.


2. LSU (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Mississippi State


Thanks to four scores versus Mississippi State, quarterback Joe Burrow now owns the school’s single-season record for most touchdown passes (29) in a year.


3. Ohio State (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Northwestern


Justin Fields accounted for four touchdowns, and Ohio State’s defense did not allow a play longer than 16 yards in Friday night’s win over Northwestern.


4. Clemson (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Louisville


Trevor Lawrence already has eight interceptions in 2019 after tossing only four last season. However, as evidenced by a 45-10 win at Louisville on Saturday, the extra mistakes aren’t slowing down coach Dabo Swinney’s team.


5. Oklahoma (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated West Virginia


Jalen Hurts was sharp once again, and Oklahoma’s defense held West Virginia to just 242 yards.


6. Penn State (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Michigan


Nittany Lions were outgained for the second week in a row, but coach James Franklin’s squad got timely stops on defense and a couple of clutch plays by receiver KJ Hamler to hold off Michigan.


7. Florida (7-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated South Carolina


Gators score 21 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from Gamecocks and rebound from last week’s loss at LSU.


8. Georgia (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Kentucky


The weather was awful, but Georgia’s offense (270 yards) didn’t gain much confidence going into the bye week.


9. Notre Dame (5-1)

Week 8 Result: Off Week


The Fighting Irish were off in Week 8 and return to action next Saturday against Michigan.


10. Auburn (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Arkansas


Bo Nix was sharp (12 of 17 for 176 yards and three scores) in Auburn’s 51-10 win at Arkansas.


11. Oregon (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Washington


Ducks used three drives of 70 yards or more in the second half to win at Washington and take full control of the Pac-12 North.


12. Texas (5-2)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Kansas


The Longhorns needed some late heroics by quarterback Sam Ehlinger to prevent a Kansas upset in Austin.


13. Baylor (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Oklahoma State


The Bears gashed Oklahoma State for 9.9 yards a play, while the defense forced three turnovers, generated two sacks and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.


14. Utah (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Arizona State


Utah’s defense held Arizona State to just 136 yards in a huge game for positioning within the Pac-12 South.


15. Wisconsin (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Illinois


Stunned in Champaign. Missed field goal and two turnovers proved costly in Wisconsin’s defeat at Illinois.


16. Cincinnati (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Tulsa


Bearcats have forced 10 turnovers over their last two games.


17. SMU (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Temple


Shane Buechele’s six passing scores led the way in SMU’s 45-21 win over Temple.


18. Minnesota (7-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Rutgers


Saturday’s 42-7 win over Rutgers was Minnesota’s third Big Ten win by 20 or more points this season.


19. Michigan (5-2)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Penn State


The Wolverines came up short in Happy Valley, but the offense showed signs of life. Coach Jim Harbaugh’s team has another tough test ahead next week against Notre Dame.


20. Wake Forest (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Florida State


As expected, Sam Hartman (308 yards) played well in relief of quarterback Jamie Newman. The defense also stepped up by holding Florida State to just six points in the second half.


21. Boise State (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Lost to BYU


Broncos hopes of a New Year’s Six bowl trip took a hit with loss to BYU. However, coach Bryan Harsin’s team shouldn’t slip too far in the rankings after losing by three points on the road without quarterback Hank Bachmeier.


22. Iowa (5-2)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Purdue


Hawkeyes need to do a better job of finishing drives after kicking four field goals in 26-20 win over Purdue.


23. Appalachian State (6-0)

Week 8 Result: Defeated ULM


Mountaineers join the top 25 after crushing ULM 52-7 on Saturday.


24. Arizona State (5-2)

Week 8 Result: Lost to Utah


Inexperience along the offensive line caught up to Arizona State in loss to Utah.


25. Memphis (6-1)

Week 8 Result: Defeated Tulane


Quarterback Brady White and running back Kenneth Gainwell guided Memphis to scores on eight of their first nine drives to quickly put away Tulane on Saturday night. 


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 7)


1. Alabama (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Texas A&M


Tua Tagovailoa has passed for four or more touchdowns in five out of Alabama’s six games this year.


2. LSU (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Florida


LSU’s offense shredded Florida’s standout defense for 10.6 yards per play and 42 points in another big win for coach Ed Orgeron’s team.


3. Ohio State (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Off Week


The Buckeyes were off in Week 7 and return to action next Friday at Northwestern.


4. Clemson (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Florida State


Tigers were rested and angry coming out of the bye week and took out their frustration in a 45-14 win against Florida State. Clemson has defeated the Seminoles 104-24 over the last two years.


5. Oklahoma (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Texas


Jalen Hurts accounted for over 300 yards and four total touchdowns, but Oklahoma’s defense stole the spotlight in the win over Texas. The Sooners allowed just 4.2 yards a play, generated nine sacks and did not surrender a pass longer than 22 yards.


6. Wisconsin (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Michigan State


The Badgers earned their fourth shutout of the season in a dominant 38-0 win over Michigan State.


7. Penn State (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Iowa


Penn State’s defensive line created its share of havoc, while freshman running back Noah Cain shined in the 17-12 win over Iowa on Saturday night.


8. Florida (6-1)

Week 7 Result: Lost to LSU


The Gators came up short in the second half, but coach Dan Mullen’s team shouldn’t slip too far in the rankings after a 42-28 loss in Baton Rouge.


9. Georgia (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Lost to South Carolina


Uncharacteristic performance by Jake Fromm (four turnovers) dooms Georgia in overtime loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs aren’t out of the playoff picture, but there’s no margin for error the rest of the way.


10. Notre Dame (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated USC


USC made it interesting late, but Notre Dame was in control for most of Saturday night’s 30-27 win. The offense pounded the Trojans for 308 rushing yards, and the defense held USC’s high-powered passing game to just 255 yards.


11. Texas (4-2)

Week 7 Result: Lost to Oklahoma


Oklahoma’s improved defense held the Longhorns to just 100 rushing yards and didn’t allow any big plays in the passing game. Tom Herman’s team has a lot to work on before a potential rematch in the Big 12 Championship.


12. Auburn (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Off Week


The Tigers were off in Week 7 and return to action next Saturday at Arkansas.


13. Oregon (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Colorado


Oregon’s ground game showed signs of life, while the defense dominated once again in a 45-3 win over Colorado on Friday night.


14. Boise State (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Hawaii


Hank Bachmeier was knocked out of Saturday night’s game against Hawaii, but backup Chase Cord and a tough defense ensured the Broncos rolled to a 59-37 win.


15. Utah (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Oregon State


Zack Moss’ return from a shoulder injury is good news with Arizona State up next.


16. Baylor (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Texas Tech


Bears haven’t lacked for drama in Big 12 play this season with a last-minute victory over Iowa State and Saturday’s overtime win against Texas Tech.


17. Michigan (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Illinois


A trip to Penn State next week should provide a good barometer test for whether or not Michigan’s offense has improved since the loss at Wisconsin.


18. Cincinnati (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Houston


Desmond Ridder’s 313 total yards and five forced turnovers by the defense ensured Cincinnati didn’t have a letdown after last week’s win over UCF.


19. Arizona State (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Washington State


Bad news for the rest of the Pac-12 South: Jayden Daniels is only going to get better over the second half of the season.


20. SMU (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Off Week


The Mustangs did not play in Week 7 and host Temple in Week 8.


21. Tulane (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated UConn


The Green Wave have a tough second-half schedule to navigate: at Memphis, at Navy, Tulsa, at Temple, UCF and at SMU. The race to win the AAC will be one of the top conference battles to watch.


22. Missouri (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Ole Miss


The Tigers have rebounded nicely since losing to Wyoming in the season opener.


23. Minnesota (6-0)

Week 7 Result: Defeated Nebraska


With Rutgers and Maryland up next, Minnesota is likely to be 8-0 going into a key November showdown against Penn State.


24. Wake Forest (5-1)

Week 7 Result: Lost to Louisville


Jamie Newman’s shoulder injury is a major concern, but the Demon Deacons also have plenty to clean up on defense after giving up 7.5 yards a play to Louisville on Saturday night.


25. Iowa (4-2)

Week 7 Result: Lost to Penn State


Iowa’s offense managed only 15 combined points in losses to Michigan and Penn State.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 6)


1. Alabama (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Crimson Tide did not play on Saturday and return to action in Week 6 at Texas A&M.


2. LSU (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Utah State


Joe Burrow sets a new school record by eclipsing 300 passing yards in four consecutive games, as LSU beats Utah State 42-6.


3. Georgia (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Tennessee


Bulldogs have outscored Tennessee 122-26 over their last three meetings.


4. Ohio State (6-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Michigan State


The Buckeyes gashed Michigan State – one of the nation’s best rush defenses – for 323 rushing yards in a 34-10 victory.


5. Clemson (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Tigers did not play in Week 6 and return to action next Saturday against Florida State.


6. Oklahoma (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Kansas


Sooners started slow but eventually pulled away for a 45-20 win over Kansas. Up next: Texas.


7. Florida (6-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Auburn


Florida’s defense forces four turnovers and holds Auburn’s offense to just 4.4 yards a play in a 24-13 win in the Swamp.


8. Notre Dame (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Bowling Green


As expected, the Fighting Irish had no trouble with Bowling Green in a 52-0 win on Saturday. Brian Kelly’s team faces a key two-game stretch with USC and Michigan up next.


9. Wisconsin (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Kent State


Jonathan Taylor records five overall touchdowns, while the defense earn its third shutout of the year in a 48-0 win over Kent State.


10. Texas (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated West Virginia


Balanced attack on offense and four forced turnovers by the defense help Texas avoid upset in Morgantown.


11. Auburn (5-1)

Week 6 Result: Lost to Florida


Auburn’s offense sputtered (269 total yards and four turnovers) in the Swamp.


12. Penn State (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Purdue


Penn State’s defensive line wreaked havoc with 10 sacks in Saturday’s 35-7 win over Purdue.


13. Oregon (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated California


It wasn’t pretty, but Oregon notched its fourth straight victory thanks to another strong effort by the defense in a 17-7 win over California.


14. Boise State (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated UNLV


The Broncos are clearly in the driver’s seat to earn the Group of 5 bowl spot in the New Year’s Six this season.


15. Utah (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Utes were off in Week 6 and return to action next Saturday versus Oregon State.


16. Wake Forest (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Demon Deacons were off in Week 6 and return to action next Saturday against Louisville.


17. Michigan (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Iowa


Wolverines dominate line of scrimmage (13 TFL and eight sacks) to edge Iowa 10-3.


18. Iowa (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Lost to Michigan


Turnovers, a lack of a consistent running game and bad play from the offensive line doomed Iowa in Saturday’s game at Michigan.


19. Virginia (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Cavaliers were off in Week 6 and return to action on Friday night at Miami.


20. Baylor (5-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Kansas State


The improvement of Baylor’s defense has been an overlooked storyline in the Big 12 so far this year.


21. Cincinnati (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated UCF


Cincinnati’s defense turned in a strong effort in Friday’s upset victory over UCF. The Bearcats limited UCF to 4.8 yards a play and allowed just one touchdown over six red zone trips.


22. Texas A&M (3-2)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Aggies were off in Week 6 and return to action next week against Alabama.


23. Arizona State (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Off Week


The Sun Devils were off in Week 6 and host Washington State next Saturday.


24. SMU (6-0)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Tulsa


Mustangs stay unbeaten after rallying from 30-9 deficit in the third quarter for a 43-37 win in overtime against Tulsa.


25. Tulane (4-1)

Week 6 Result: Defeated Army


Green Wave join the top 25 after picking up a huge win at Army on Saturday. After a matchup with UConn next week, Tulane travels to Memphis on Oct. 19.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 5)


1. Alabama (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Ole Miss


Big days from Tua Tagovailoa (418 passing yards) and DeVonta Smith (274 receiving yards and 5 TDs) guide Alabama to a 59-31 win over Ole Miss.


2. LSU (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Off Week


The Tigers did not play in Week 5 and will return to action next Saturday against Utah State.


3. Georgia (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Off Week


The Bulldogs did not play in Week 5 and return to action next Saturday against Tennessee.


4. Ohio State (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Nebraska


Ohio State’s offense recorded 368 rushing yards, while the defense held Nebraska to just 231 in a 48-7 blowout in Lincoln.


5. Clemson (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated North Carolina


Survive and advance. Clemson stuffed North Carolina’s two-point attempt to escape Chapel Hill with a 21-20 victory.


6. Oklahoma (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Texas Tech


Jalen Hurts has accumulated at least 400 total yards in three out of Oklahoma’s four games this year.


7. Auburn (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Mississippi State


Best performance of Bo Nix’s young career (391 total yards) leads the way for Auburn in a 56-23 victory over Mississippi State.


8. Notre Dame (3-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Virginia


Brian Kelly’s team moved on from last week’s loss to Georgia by recording eight sacks in a 35-20 win over Virginia.


9. Texas (3-1)

Week 5 Result: Off Week


The Longhorns were off in Week 5 and return to action next Saturday against West Virginia.


10. Wisconsin (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Northwestern


Wisconsin’s defense scores twice and limits Northwestern to just 255 yards in a 24-15 victory.


11. Florida (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Towson


The development of Florida’s offensive line will be tested in next week’s showdown against Auburn.


12. Penn State (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Maryland


Nittany Lions have won their last three matchups against Maryland by a combined score of 163-6.


13. Oregon (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Off Week


The Ducks were off in Week 5 and return to action next Saturday against California.


14. Iowa (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated MTSU


The Hawkeyes closed out their non-conference slate with an easy win over MTSU (48-3) on Saturday.


15. Boise State (4-0)

Week 5 Result: Off Week


The Broncos were off in Week 5 and return to action next Saturday at UNLV.


16. Washington (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated USC


Huskies get a balanced effort out of the offense, while the defense picks off three passes to knock off USC 28-14.


17. Oklahoma State (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Kansas State


Chuba Hubbard’s 296 rushing yards was more than enough for Oklahoma State to beat Kansas State on Saturday night.


18. UCF (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated UConn


Receiver Gabriel Davis closed out a terrific September by catching three more touchdowns in Saturday’s win over UConn.


19. Utah (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Washington State


The Utes leaned on their tough defense and quarterback Tyler Huntley to beat Washington State and rebound from last week’s loss at USC.


20. Wake Forest (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Boston College


Demon Deacons were outgained (536 to 440) against Boston College, but coach Dave Clawson’s team won the turnover battle (three to one) and converted 17 of 24 third-down attempts.


21. Virginia (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Lost to Notre Dame


Bryce Perkins is capable of carrying Virginia’s offense a long way, but as evidenced in Saturday’s loss in South Bend, it’s hard to overcome eight sacks and 13 tackles for a loss.


22. Texas A&M (3-2)

Week 5 Result: Defeated Arkansas


Kellen Mond threw for three touchdowns, and the defense got a key stop with less than a minute remaining to lift Texas A&M to its eighth win in a row over Arkansas.


23. Arizona State (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Defeated California


A stingy Arizona State defense limited California to just 30 yards on its final five offensive drives, with steady efforts by quarterback Jayden Daniels and running back Eno Benjamin providing enough offense to score a big win in Berkeley.


24. California (4-1)

Week 5 Result: Lost to Arizona State


Friday night’s loss against Arizona State was a costly one for California. Quarterback Chase Garbers suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and is out indefinitely.


25. SMU (5-0)

Week 5 Result: Defeated USF


The Mustangs join the top 25 after a convincing 48-21 win over USF. This is SMU’s first 5-0 start since 1983.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 4)


1. Alabama (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Southern Miss


Tua Tagovailoa has passed for 17 touchdowns and has only 25 incompletions through four games this season.


2. Clemson (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Charlotte


Tigers score on six out of their first seven offensive possessions to rout Charlotte 52-10.


3. LSU (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Vanderbilt


Joe Burrow is the first quarterback in LSU history to throw for at least 350 yards (or more) in three consecutive games. However, the Tigers have a lengthy injury list after Week 4.


4. Georgia (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Notre Dame


Key throws by quarterback Jake Fromm and late defensive stop lift Georgia to 23-17 win over Notre Dame.


5. Ohio State (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Miami (Ohio)


Justin Fields accounted for six touchdowns in the second quarter, which helped Ohio State dismantle Miami (Ohio) 76-5.


6. Oklahoma (3-0)

Week 4 Result: Off Week


The Sooners were off in Week 4 and host Texas Tech next Saturday.


7. Auburn (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Texas A&M


Two road trips to Texas, two victories for Auburn. The Tigers didn’t generate much on offense (299 yards), but coach Gus Malzahn’s team maximized their opportunities.


8. Notre Dame (2-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Georgia


The Fighting Irish impressed in a loss at Georgia, but penalties (12), a lack of big plays on offense and production out of the ground game are areas that must be addressed to make a run at the playoff.


9. Texas (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Oklahoma State


Sam Ehlinger’s four passing touchdowns and timely stops in second half help Texas end four-game losing streak to Oklahoma State.


10. Wisconsin (3-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Michigan


Total domination. Jonathan Taylor’s big day and standout defensive effort key Badgers’ blowout victory over Michigan.


11. Florida (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Tennessee


Kyle Trask tossed two interceptions but delivered a solid start (20 of 28 for 293 yards) in a 34-3 win over Tennessee.


12. Penn State (3-0)

Week 4 Result: Off Week


The Nittany Lions were off in Week 4 and return to action Friday at Maryland.


13. Oregon (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Stanford


Ducks get revenge for last year’s overtime loss by beating Stanford 21-6 on Saturday afternoon. Oregon has not allowed an offensive touchdown since the opener against Auburn.


14. Texas A&M (2-2)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Auburn


Kellen Mond threw for 335 yards in Saturday’s loss to Auburn, but once again, Texas A&M struggled to win the battle up front and on the ground with its offense.


15. Iowa (3-0)

Week 4 Result: Off Week


The Hawkeyes did not play in Week 4 and return to action on Saturday versus MTSU.


16. Boise State (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Air Force


Broncos use three second-half touchdowns to pull away for a 30-19 win over Air Force.


17. Virginia (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Old Dominion


Cavaliers needed second-half comeback to hold off Old Dominion’s upset bid.


18. California (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Ole Miss


Goal-line stand in final seconds keeps California undefeated going into a key Pac-12 matchup with Arizona State next week.


19. Washington (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Defeated BYU


Jacob Eason’s three touchdown passes helped to ensure Washington didn’t suffer the same fate as USC did last week in Provo.


20. USC (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Utah


Matt Fink stepped up with Kedon Slovis injured, and Utah’s secondary had no answer for receiver Michael Pittman.


21. Utah (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to USC


Big plays allowed in the secondary and missed opportunities on offense doom Utah in Los Angeles. The severity of a shoulder injury to running back Zack Moss is worth monitoring.


22. UCF (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Pitt


UCF’s 35-34 loss to Pitt was its first regular season defeat since Nov. 26, 2016.


23. Oklahoma State (3-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Texas


Two missed scoring opportunities in second half prove costly for Mike Gundy’s team in 36-30 loss to Texas.


24. Wake Forest (4-0)

Week 4 Result: Defeated Elon


Quarterback Jamie Newman torched Elon for five touchdowns in an easy win for Wake Forest.


25. Michigan (2-1)

Week 4 Result: Lost to Wisconsin


Wolverines were thoroughly dominated in Madison. Can Jim Harbaugh get things back on track?


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 3)


1. Alabama (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated South Carolina


Alabama’s passing game was sharp in Saturday’s win over South Carolina. But the Crimson Tide still have a few concerns up front and in pass coverage that need to be addressed.


2. Clemson (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Syracuse


Clemson quickly dispatched Syracuse’s upset bid with eight sacks on defense and 612 total yards on offense.


3. LSU (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Northwestern State


LSU’s defense allowed 14 points in the first half against Northwestern State but pitched a shutout over the final two quarters in a 65-14 victory. Quarterback Joe Burrow also chipped in 373 passing yards.


4. Georgia (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Arkansas State


The Bulldogs are ready for their primetime matchup against Notre Dame next Saturday.


5. Ohio State (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Indiana


Justin Fields accumulated four total touchdowns in his first road start with the Buckeyes, while the defense held Indiana to just 3.8 yards per play and recorded 12 tackles for a loss.


6. Oklahoma (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated UCLA


Another game, another huge performance from quarterback Jalen Hurts.


7. Notre Dame (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated New Mexico


Ian Book had a sluggish debut against Louisville but torched New Mexico for 360 passing yards and six total touchdowns.


8. Texas (2-1)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Rice


Longhorns rebounded from last week’s loss to LSU with an easy 48-13 victory over Rice.


9. Utah (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Idaho State


Quarterback Tyler Huntley has completed 77.8 percent of his passes and tossed zero picks through Utah’s first three games.


10. Texas A&M (2-1)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Lamar


Jashaun Corbin’s season-ending injury was a setback for Texas A&M’s offense, but Isaiah Spiller has played well in limited action and rushed for over 100 yards against Lamar.


11. Florida (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Kentucky


Gators rally behind backup quarterback Kyle Trask to get revenge for last year’s loss to Kentucky. While Trask led the team to a win, redshirt freshman Emory Jones could also factor into the quarterback situation with Feleipe Franks out for the year.


12. Michigan (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Off


Michigan used its off week to prepare for a huge showdown next weekend at Wisconsin.


13. Penn State (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Pitt


Penn State’s defense has allowed only 30 points through three games. The off week after a win over rival Pitt comes at a good time with Maryland, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State up next.


14. Auburn (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Kent State


Auburn’s ground game has struggled at times, but finding running room against Kent State wasn’t a problem. The Tigers averaged 7.5 yards a carry and had three-100-yard rushers in the easy victory against the Golden Flashes in Week 3.


15. Oregon (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Portland State


Ducks begin a critical six-game stretch with a road trip to Stanford next week.


16. Wisconsin (2-0)

Week 3 Result: Off


Jonathan Taylor versus Michigan’s defense is easily one of the must-see matchups to watch next week.


17. Iowa (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Iowa State


The Cy-Hawk Trophy is headed back to Iowa City for the fifth consecutive year.


18. Boise State (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Portland State


As expected, the Broncos cruised to an easy win over Portland State.


19. UCF (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Stanford


Stanford’s defense had no answers for UCF’s high-powered offense. The Knights averaged 7.4 yards per play, 15.8 yards a completion, converted 8 of 14 third-down attempts and scored on six of their first seven drives.


20. Virginia (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Florida State


Quarterback Bryce Perkins helped Virginia avoid an upset loss to Florida State by leading the offense on three consecutive scoring drives in the fourth quarter.


21. Oklahoma State (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Tulsa


Running back Chuba Hubbard has rushed for more than 200 yards in two out of Oklahoma State’s first three games.


22. California (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated North Texas


Golden Bears managed only 278 yards against North Texas, but Justin Wilcox’s defense ensured Cal wouldn't lose in Week 3.


23. Washington (2-1)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Hawaii


Washington’s offense got back on track (7.9 yards a play) in Saturday’s win versus Hawaii.


24. Washington State (3-0)

Week 3 Result: Defeated Houston


All signs point to Anthony Gordon having a big season as Mike Leach’s next standout under center. The senior has connected on 78.7 percent of his throws and 12 touchdowns through the first three games of 2019.


25. BYU (2-1)

Week 3 Result: Defeated USC


The Cougars have seven wins over Power 5 teams since Kalani Sitake took over as head coach in 2016.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 2)


1. Alabama (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated New Mexico State


As expected, Alabama rolled to an easy win over New Mexico State on Saturday.


2. Clemson (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Texas A&M


Receivers Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins made big plays downfield, and Clemson’s rebuilt defense held Texas A&M to just 4.2 yards a play in a dominant 24-10 win for coach Dabo Swinney’s team.


3. LSU (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Texas


Saturday night’s win against Texas showed how far LSU’s offense has improved since last season.


4. Georgia (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Murray State


Freshman receiver George Pickens seems primed to take on a bigger role after catching four passes for 78 yards against Murray State.


5. Ohio State (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Cincinnati


Justin Fields was efficient (20 of 25), and the Buckeyes got plenty of help from the defense and ground game to end any hope Cincinnati had of an upset in Columbus.


6. Oklahoma (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated South Dakota


Jalen Hurts has more overall touchdowns (nine) than incompletions (seven) through two games this year.


7. Notre Dame (1-0)

Week 2 Result: Off


The Fighting Irish did not play in Week 2 and will return to action next Saturday against New Mexico.


8. Texas (1-1)

Week 2 Result: Lost to LSU


Sam Ehlinger was excellent, but Texas had no answers in the secondary against LSU’s passing attack.


9. Utah (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Northern Illinois


Tyler Huntley had a solid day through the air (14 of 19 for 219 yards), and Utah’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half to move Kyle Whittingham’s team to 2-0.


10. Texas A&M (1-1)

Week 2 Result: Lost to Clemson


The Aggies weren’t able to get enough consistency or big plays on offense to pull off the upset in Death Valley.


11. Florida (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated UT Martin


After an up-and-down performance in the opener, Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks was sharp versus UT Martin (25 of 27 for 270 yards and two scores).


12. Michigan (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Army


Survive and advance for Jim Harbaugh’s team. However, the Wolverines have a lot to clean up after a sloppy performance against Army.


13. Penn State (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Buffalo


Nittany Lions started slow but pulled away in the second half for a 45-13 win over Buffalo.


14. Auburn (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Tulane


Tulane’s defensive front played a role in the sluggish production, but Auburn’s ground game has some work to do after averaging 3.8 yards per carry on 45 attempts.


15. Oregon (1-1)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Nevada


Justin Herbert’s five passing touchdowns helped Oregon rebound from last week’s last-second loss to Auburn.


16. Wisconsin (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Central Michigan


Badgers have steamrolled their first two opponents by a combined score of 110-0.


17. Iowa (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Rutgers


Iowa’s defense did not allow a drive longer than 30 yards in Saturday’s 30-0 win over the Scarlet Knights.


18. Michigan State (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Western Michigan


Mark Dantonio wanted to see more out of his offense after a lackluster debut against Tulsa. The Spartans showed signs of life by recording 582 yards and 51 points in a win against Western Michigan on Saturday.


19. Boise State (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Marshall


The Broncos held Marshall to zero yards in the second half to hold on for a 14-7 victory.


20. UCF (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated FAU


Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns and added another on the ground, as the Knights rolled to an easy 48-14 win over FAU.


21. Virginia (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated William & Mary


The 52 points scored by Virginia in Friday night’s win over William & Mary were the most by the program since 2005.


22. Oklahoma State (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated McNeese State


The Cowboys crushed McNeese State in Week 2 and have one more tune up (Tulsa) before beginning Big 12 play at Texas.


23. California (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Washington


California joins the top 25 after its stingy defense once again led the way in a win over Washington.


24. USC (2-0)

Week 2 Result: Defeated Stanford


USC’s defense didn’t allow a point in the second half, but the real story was how impressive freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis was in his first start.


25. Washington (1-1)

Week 2 Result: Lost to California


The Huskies outgained California (348 to 303), but three drives into the red zone ended in a field goal.


College Football Top 25 Rankings (After Week 1)


1. Alabama (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Duke


Crimson Tide got off to a slow start but still finished with 512 yards in a dominant 42-3 win over Duke.


2. Clemson (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Georgia Tech


Trevor Lawrence was just okay on Thursday night, but running back Travis Etienne and Clemson’s defense ensured the opener against Georgia Tech wasn’t close.


3. Georgia (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Vanderbilt


The Bulldogs used the nation’s best offensive line and backfield to gash Vanderbilt’s defense for 325 yards on the ground in a 30-6 victory.


4. LSU (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Georgia Southern


Quarterback Joe Burrow is the perfect fit for LSU’s new offensive scheme, as this group aced its first test in an easy win over Georgia Southern.


5. Michigan (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated MTSU


There were plenty of positives for Jim Harbaugh’s team in the win over MTSU. However, there were also some things to clean up on both sides of the ball. This team also has a few key injuries – Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jon Runyan – to monitor.


6. Ohio State (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated FAU


Justin Fields didn’t disappoint in his debut, and the defense held FAU to just 3.1 yards a play.


7. Oklahoma (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Houston


As expected, Jalen Hurts is going to put up huge numbers in Lincoln Riley’s offense.


8. Notre Dame (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Louisville


Notre Dame’s defense has a few things to clean up, but a 35-17 victory at Louisville moved Brian Kelly to 8-2 in openers for the Fighting Irish.  


9. Texas A&M (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Texas State


Kellen Mond’s development under coach Jimbo Fisher continued with a strong outing (19 of 27 for 194 yards and 3 TDs) in an easy win over Texas State.


10. Texas (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Louisiana Tech


Longhorns win season opener for the first time under Tom Herman. And now the attention turns to a huge showdown with LSU next Saturday.


11. Washington (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Eastern Washington


The potential of Jacob Eason’s big-time arm and Washington’s receiving corps were on display in the win over Eastern Washington.


12. Utah (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated BYU


A big performance from running back Zack Moss and Utah’s standout defense boosted the winning streak over BYU to nine in a row.


13. Florida (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Miami (Aug. 24)


Florida’s revamped offensive line remains a question mark after the win over Miami on Aug. 24.


14. Penn State (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Idaho


The Nittany Lions showcased their depth at running back by gashing Idaho for 331 yards and seven touchdowns in a 79-7 blowout.


15. Auburn (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Oregon


Auburn’s defense stepped up after slow start, while freshman Bo Nix delivered in the clutch to lift the Tigers over Oregon.


16. Oregon (0-1)

Week 1 Result: Lost to Auburn


The Ducks let a prime opportunity for a huge non-conference win slip away in Arlington.


17. Wisconsin (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated USF


Jonathan Taylor’s big night and a suffocating defense (2.8 ypp allowed) led the way in a 49-0 romp over USF.


18. Iowa (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Miami (Ohio)


The Hawkeyes improved to 18-3 in openers under Kirk Ferentz with a 38-14 win over Miami (Ohio).


19. Michigan State (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Tulsa


The jury is still out on whether or not the offense improved from last year. However, the answer on the other side of the ball is pretty clear. Michigan State’s defense dominated against Tulsa and will rank among the best in college football once again.


20. Boise State (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Florida State


True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier is going to be a big-time star for the Broncos.


21. UCF (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Florida A&M


The win over Florida A&M was costly for coach Josh Heupel’s team. Standout cornerback Brandon Moore was lost for the year due to injury.


22. Cincinnati (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated UCLA


Luke Fickell’s return to Columbus will be an intriguing storyline for Cincinnati’s matchup against Ohio State in Week 2.


23. Virginia (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Pitt


The Cavaliers are 4-0 in ACC openers under coach Bronco Mendenhall.


24. Oklahoma State (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated Oregon State


Big 12 defenses are going to have their hands full trying to slow down Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace this year.


25. Nebraska (1-0)

Week 1 Result: Defeated South Alabama


It wasn’t pretty on offense, but the defense and special teams made enough plays to lift Nebraska to a 14-point win over South Alabama.



Projected Top 25 College Football Rankings for 2019


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 2019 season.


Conference Predictions


Power 5: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Group of 5: American | C-USA | MAC | MW | Sun Belt


25. Virginia

For the first time since 2005, Virginia is projected by Athlon Sports to finish inside the top 25. The Cavaliers have made considerable progress under coach Bronco Mendenhall’s watch. After a 2-10 mark in 2016, Virginia improved to 6-7 in '17 and finished 8-5 last year. The Cavaliers are the only team from the ACC's Coastal Division that has not played for the conference championship. Behind a standout defense and quarterback Bryce Perkins, there's a good chance that streak ends in 2019. Perkins accounted for 34 total touchdowns and averaged 277.2 total yards a game in his first year on campus. The senior's supporting cast will have to be retooled in a few spots. Leading rusher Jordan Ellis (1,026 yards) and No. 1 receiver Olamide Zaccheaus expired their eligibility. The offensive line also has room to improve after giving up 32 sacks in 2018. Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed lead the way at receiver, but Mendenhall added extra depth with two post-spring pickups in graduate transfers Terrell Chatman (Arizona State) and Dejon Brissett (Richmond). Virginia's defense returns seven starters from a unit that limited opponents to 20.1 points a game and 5.3 yards a play last season. Cornerback Bryce Hall is one of the top lockdown cover men in college football, with Jordan Mack and Charles Snowden anchoring a strong linebacker unit. The regular season finale in Charlottesville vs. Virginia Tech – a matchup the Cavaliers have not won since 2003 – may decide the Coastal Division champion.


24. Iowa State

Iowa State is on the rise under coach Matt Campbell. The Cyclones are coming off back-to-back winning records in Big 12 play for the first time in program history, and this is the first time Iowa State has been projected by Athlon Sports to finish in the top 25. Running back David Montgomery and receiver Hakeem Butler left big shoes to fill in Ames after leaving early for the NFL Draft. However, the news wasn't all bad for the offense this offseason. Tom Manning returned to Ames from the NFL to call the plays, and quarterback Brock Purdy is one of the Big 12's rising stars. As a freshman in 2018, Purdy went 6-2 as the starter and threw for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns. The offensive line has room to improve but brings back all five starters from last season. Replacing Montgomery might be more of a committee approach, while Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton and transfer La'Michael Pettway lead the way at receiver. Iowa State led the Big 12 in run defense and held opposing offenses to just 22.9 points a game (also best in the conference). This unit boasts a strong front seven, anchored by end JaQuan Bailey and nose guard Ray Lima up front, with Marcel Spears and Mike Rose providing support at linebacker. The biggest concern for coordinator Jon Heacock rests at cornerback in finding a replacement for standout Brian Peavy and D'Andre Payne. Sophomore Anthony Johnson had a solid year as a backup at cornerback last fall and should be an answer at that position for 2019.


23. Missouri

For a variety of reasons, Missouri will be an interesting team to watch in 2019. The Tigers were banned from postseason play this year due to NCAA violations, but the program filed an appeal in hopes of overturning that decision. The postseason uncertainty could hang over this program into the 2019 campaign, but regardless of what happens with the appeal, the on-field product should be entertaining. Coach Barry Odom's team possesses a dynamic offense, led by Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant at quarterback and some of the SEC's top talent at the skill positions. Bryant is more mobile than last year's starter (Drew Lock), so coordinator Derek Dooley will have to tweak the offense to fit his skill set. Running back Larry Rountree will run behind a strong offensive line that returns three starters, and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam is the best in college football at his position. Missouri's high-powered offense should provide some cover for a defense that has to replace standout lineman Terry Beckner, must identify and develop a couple of players to rush the passer off the edge, and needs better play out of the secondary. Tackle Jordan Elliott is a rising star, and linebacker Cale Garrett should challenge for All-America honors. Missouri has started slow but picked up steam over the second half of the season in back-to-back years. The schedule affords an opportunity for a fast start. The Tigers play five out of their first six games at home and could be 8-0 going into the Nov. 9 showdown at Georgia.


22. UCF

Another undefeated record in the regular season might be too much to ask for coach Josh Heupel's team, but UCF remains Athlon's pick to rank as the top Group of 5 program by the end of 2019. With McKenzie Milton expected to sit out this year recovering from a leg injury suffered in November, a new conductor must be found for the Knights' high-octane offense, which averaged 6.9 yards per play and 43.2 points a game last fall. Notre Dame graduate transfer Brandon Wimbush and sophomore Darriel Mack are the top candidates for the starting job, but Mack is sidelined indefinitely due to an ankle injury suffered in the summer. With Mack out, Wimbush should be the favorite to take the first snap of 2019 and has plenty of talent at his disposal. Running back Greg McCrae gashed defenses for 8.9 yards per carry on 133 attempts, all-purpose threat Adrian Killins accounted for 107.5 total yards a game last fall, and the receiving corps features big-play threats in Gabriel Davis (15.4 ypc) and Tre Nixon (14.1). Three starters return to anchor an offensive line that should be the best in the AAC in 2019. The outlook on defense isn't as certain for Heupel. UCF gave up 222.3 rushing yards a game last season and begins 2019 with concerns in the front seven. End Brendon Hayes and linebacker Nate Evans are solid building blocks, but coordinator Randy Shannon will need instant contributions from transfers like tackle Cam Goode and help from the junior college ranks. Led by safety Richie Grant and cornerback Nevelle Clarke, the secondary is the strength of the defense. UCF has two favorable matchups – Stanford and at Pitt – against Power 5 teams this season, but road trips in league play to Cincinnati, Tulane and Temple could be tricky.


21. Syracuse

After back-to-back 4-8 seasons to begin his tenure at Syracuse, coach Dino Babers delivered a breakout year in 2018. The Orange finished 10-3 – the program's first double-digit win total since 2001 – and capped the year with a 34-18 victory over West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl. A favorable schedule puts another 10-win season within reach, and there's an intriguing (and critical to the ACC Atlantic title picture) Sept. 14 home game against Clemson. Eric Dungey will be missed under center, but the offense seems to be in good hands with sophomore Tommy DeVito. The New Jersey native ranked as a four-star prospect out of high school and saw playing time in eight games last fall. Easing DeVito's transition into the starting lineup is a loaded group of skill players. Moe Neal (869 yards) is joined by Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams at running back, with Sean Riley, Nykeim Johnson and Trishton Jackson forming one of the ACC's top receiving corps. The offensive line returns two starters and adds South Alabama transfer Ryan Alexander but is the biggest question mark going into the fall. Syracuse's defense showed marked improvement in 2018. After giving up 32.2 points a game and 6.4 yards a play in 2017, the Orange cut those totals to 27 points a contest and 5.83 a play in '18. A strong defensive line leads the way for coordinator Brian Ward in 2019, as ends Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman are back after combining for 20 sacks last fall. The linebacker unit must be rebuilt, but the secondary returns four starters – including All-America candidate Andre Cisco at safety – is among the best in the ACC. Kicker Andre Szmyt connected on 30 of 34 field goals last fall and won the Lou Groza Award in his first year on campus.


20. Auburn

High expectations surrounded coach Gus Malzahn's team going into the 2018 season. However, the Tigers fell short, finishing 8-5 overall (3-5 in the SEC) and outside of the top 25 rankings at the end of the year. Auburn has been a hard team to get a read on during Malzahn's tenure, as the program played for a national championship in 2013 and nearly made the CFB Playoff in '17 but didn't win more than eight games in the other four years under his watch. That unpredictability follows Auburn into 2019. Talent certainly isn't an issue for Malzahn’s team, but the Tigers face one of the nation's toughest schedules. A neutral site opener against Oregon is on tap for Week 1, Georgia and Alabama – both picks by Athlon Sports to make the playoff – come to Auburn this fall but road trips are on tap for matchups versus Florida, LSU and Texas A&M. The strength of Malzahn's team is a defense that returns seven starters from a group that limited opponents to 19.2 points a game in 2018. Tackle Derrick Brown anchors arguably the best defensive line in the nation, and the secondary returns two senior safeties in Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson. Malzahn handled the play-calling duties in Auburn's 63-14 romp over Purdue in the Music City Bowl and will handle that role in a full-time basis this season. Malzahn's top priority is settling a quarterback battle that features two talented freshmen in Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix. Improvement should be expected from an offensive line that returns all five starters, with running back JaTarvious Whitlow and receiver Seth Williams primed for All-SEC seasons. Provided a clear answer (and production) emerges at quarterback, the talent is there to easily exceed Athlon’s projection of No. 20.


19. Wisconsin

Athlon Sports projects a tight race in the Big Ten West in 2019. Wisconsin ranks No. 19 overall but just two spots behind projected champ Nebraska at No. 17. The Badgers failed to win double-digit games for the first time in coach Paul Chryst’s tenure last season. Reaching that mark this season will require navigating a schedule that features crossover games versus Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, along with a road trip to Nebraska on Nov. 16. Chryst's team is once again anchored by a strong ground game, featuring Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor. Another 2,000-yard season could be in order for the junior, but Wisconsin does have to reload along the offensive line. Center Tyler Biadasz is the best in the nation at his position, and he's also the lone returning starter for Chryst in the trenches. Left tackle Cole Van Lanen is a rising star and should push for All-Big Ten honors in his first year as a starter. Jack Coan made three starts in relief of an injured Alex Hornibrook last season and enters the fall as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart. Coan threw for 515 yards and five touchdowns last year but could be pushed by true freshman (and four-star recruit) Graham Mertz. The team's top four statistical options in the receiving corps are back, including tight end Jake Ferguson (36 catches for 456 yards) and receiver Danny Davis (40 grabs). Despite returning only three starters last season, Wisconsin's defense limited opponents to 22.6 points a game and 5.5 yards per play. This unit has to deal with turnover once again, but the pieces are in place for coordinator Jim Leonhard to have another strong defense. Garrett Rand's return to full strength should help to bolster the defensive line, while a promising group of young players will continue to develop in the secondary. Replacing T.J. Edwards, Andrew Van Ginkel and Ryan Connelly at linebacker is the top priority for Leonhard this offseason.


18. Iowa

The 2019 season sets up an interesting dynamic in the Big Ten West. On paper, the Hawkeyes should be the best and most complete team in the division. However, the schedule isn't kind to coach Kirk Ferentz's program. Iowa plays at Iowa State in non-conference play and has road trips to Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska in league play. And if that wasn't enough, Penn State visits Kinnick Stadium a week after the road date at Michigan in 2019. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley (2,852 yards and 26 TDs in 2018) leads the way on offense, with three running backs vying for the starting job and the opportunity to jumpstart a ground game that ranked 10th in the Big Ten last year. Tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant must be replaced, but there's potential at receiver with Brandon Smith, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Tyrone Tracy and Nico Ragaini in place on the outside. The offensive line could be the best unit in the Big Ten. The interior is a little unsettled going into the fall, but tackles Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs will contend for All-America honors. The strength in the trenches extends to the defense. End A.J. Epenesa recorded 10.5 sacks in a limited role last fall and should rank among the top players in the nation with a full workload in 2019. Chauncey Golston is a capable end on the other side, but the Hawkeyes have to identify some depth across the line to keep the starters fresh late in the game. Three starters are back to headline a standout secondary but filling the void left behind by hybrid defensive back/linebacker Amani Hooker won’t be easy.


17. Nebraska

Scott Frost has Nebraska trending up entering the 2019 season. The Cornhuskers finished 2018 by winning four out of their last six games. The two losses – Ohio State and Iowa – came by a combined eight points. Quarterback Adrian Martinez averaged 295.1 total yards a game as a freshman last year and will only get better with another offseason to work with Frost. Martinez's development is a big reason why the Cornhuskers are the pick to win the Big Ten West Division. The offensive line returns two starters, and JD Spielman (66 catches in 2018) will move into the No. 1 role after the departure of Stanley Morgan Jr. The status of running back Maurice Washington is uncertain due to legal issues, but junior college recruit Dedrick Mills should help in the backfield right away. True freshman and all-purpose threat Wan'Dale Robinson is a name to remember and a potential breakout candidate this fall. There's room for improvement on a Nebraska defense that allowed 5.8 yards per play and 31.3 points a game last fall. The good news for Frost: A good foundation is in place up front, and the line was bolstered by the addition of Oklahoma State transfer Darrion Daniels at tackle. Mohamed Barry (linebacker) and Dicaprio Bootle (cornerback) are two of the best in the Big Ten at their position. In addition to the projected improvement by Martinez and the offense, along with some gains on defense, Nebraska's schedule sets up favorably for a run at the West Division title. The Cornhuskers play Ohio State in crossover play but catch Indiana and Maryland in their other two games against the East. Additionally, Nebraska hosts Iowa, Wisconsin and Northwestern in Lincoln this fall.


16. Michigan State

Defense led the way for the Spartans in 2018 and will anchor coach Mark Dantonio’s team once again in '19. Michigan State led the Big Ten by limiting opponents to 4.5 yards a play, 17.2 points a game and just 77.9 rushing yards a contest. Eight starters are back from that suffocating group, including end Kenny Willekes (8.5 sacks), linebacker Joe Bachie (102 tackles), and cornerback Josiah Scott. All three players will be in the mix for All-America honors this fall. Tackles Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk are an underrated duo up front. While the defense dominated last season, Michigan State only won seven games and finished 2018 by losing three out of their last four contests. Offensive issues were largely to blame for the sluggish '18 season, and this unit will determine whether or not the Spartans can contend for the Big Ten East Division title. Quarterback Brian Lewerke regressed last fall after a promising 2017 campaign. However, Lewerke's struggles last year were largely due to a shoulder injury suffered in the first half of the season. Assuming Lewerke is back to full strength, it would be a huge boost for a unit that averaged only 18.7 points a game in 2018. Brad Salem was promoted to play-caller and a few tweaks could be coming to the scheme and overall pace of this unit. The Spartans have a solid receiving corps in place, but the offense needs more consistency out of the offensive line and ground game. Of Michigan State's six losses last season, four came by 10 points or less. Modest improvement on offense could lift Dantonio's team to nine wins in 2019.


15. Oregon

NCAAF Top 25 Rankings: OregonOregon returns all of the necessary pieces to win its first Pac-12 title since 2014. Quarterback Justin Herbert passed on the NFL for one more year in Eugene, and the senior ranks among the best in college football for 2019. Herbert started every game in 2018, throwing for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns to just eight picks. His supporting cast features one of the nation's top offensive lines and a solid one-two punch at running back in CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. The receiving corps is Oregon's biggest question mark. Dillon Mitchell left early for the NFL, leaving Jaylon Redd (11.4 ypc on 38 catches) and tight end Jacob Breeland (24 receptions) as the top statistical options for 2019. However, coach Mario Cristobal tapped into the transfer portal, landing Juwan Johnson from Penn State. Oregon's standout recruiting class could provide some solutions to the receiving corps. Freshman Mykael Wright is a name to watch this fall. New coordinator Andy Avalos inherits a defense that allowed only 25.4 points a game in 2018 and features a promising core of talent at every level. Freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux is an impact addition in the trenches, and linebacker Troy Dye – an All-America candidate – is likely to lead the team in tackles for the fourth year in a row. The Ducks ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense last season and should own one of the league's top defensive backfields once again. Cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir combined for 27 pass breakups last fall and are joined by Jevon Holland and Nick Pickett at safety. The biggest obstacle to Oregon's Pac-12 North title hopes could be the schedule. The Ducks play at Washington and Stanford this season. Additionally, the opener versus Auburn is one of the top non-conference showdowns of 2019.


14. Penn State

The Nittany Lions have won at least nine games in each of the last three seasons, and there's a good chance that streak extends to four in 2019. But in order to reach nine (or more) wins, Penn State has to find a replacement for quarterback Trace McSorley. Sophomore Sean Clifford played sparingly as McSorley's backup last season and is set for the starting role after Tommy Stevens transferred to Mississippi State. Clifford has a big-time arm, and the Nittany Lions have intriguing talent on the edge to utilize downfield. The best of the bunch is sophomore KJ Hamler (42 catches for 754 yards and five scores last season), with Jahan Dotson, Justin Shorter and transfer Weston Carr (Azusa Pacific) also poised to contribute. Tight end Pat Freiermuth caught 26 passes as a freshman last season and should be more involved in 2019. Miles Sanders left for the NFL after a terrific junior season, but the cupboard isn't bare at running back. Ricky Slade is likely to see the bulk of the carries, with Journey Brown and freshmen Noah Cain and Devyn Ford rounding out a deep rotation. Three starters are back up front, but the left tackle spot is worth monitoring, as redshirt freshman Rasheed Walker is penciled in as the favorite to start. If Clifford and Penn State's offense needs a few games to find their footing, the defense provides an excellent insurance policy. The Nittany Lions held teams to 20.5 points a game and 4.7 yards per play in 2018. The strength of this unit is the front seven. End Yetur Gross-Matos is poised for All-America honors after recording 20 tackles for a loss and eight sacks last fall. Sophomore Micah Parsons is one of college football's rising stars at linebacker, joining an experienced starting trio that features Cam Brown and Jan Johnson. John Reid and Tariq Castro-Fields form a solid duo at cornerback. Michigan visits Happy Valley in 2019, but Penn State catches Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa on the road.


13. Utah

NCAAF Top 25 Rankings: UtahUtah crossed an important hurdle in its program history by claiming the first Pac-12 South crown. The next step for coach Kyle Whittingham's team is clear: Win the Pac-12 title and play in a New Year's Six bowl. Both goals are attainable for 2019. As expected from a Whittingham-coached team, Utah's defense ranks among the best in college football. The line is one of the best in the nation, with Bradlee Anae and tackles Leki Fotu and John Penisini poised to challenge for All-America honors. Transfer Francis Bernard (BYU) will fill some of the void left behind by Chase Hansen and Cody Barton at linebacker. Some retooling is needed in the secondary following the departures of safeties Marquise Blair and Corrion Ballard. While the starting unit will look a little different, the level of performance shouldn't change. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Julian Blackmon and defensive back Javelin Guidry lead a group that held Pac-12 teams to just 58.6 percent passing last fall. Injuries to quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss hindered Utah's offense in 2018. The Utes ended the year by averaging 5.7 yards a play and 28.1 points a game, but there’s room for improvement. Coordinator Andy Ludwig's return to Salt Lake City is one of the offseason's top coordinator hires, and he's tasked with helping Huntley take the next step in his development. Assisting Huntley is a solid group of receivers, including all-around playmaker Britain Covey (recovering from an ACL injury) and tight ends Cole Fotheringham and Brant Kuithe. The Utes have to replace two starters up front but usually do a good job of rebuilding in the trenches. Special teams are often overlooked, but Utah will miss standout kicker Matt Gay and punter Mitch Wishnowsky. The Utes left spring with concerns at kicker and tapped into the transfer portal for help with the addition of UCLA graduate Andrew Strauch. Utah is clearly the class of the Pac-12 South and the Nov. 2 date at Washington could be an early preview of the conference title game.



12. Washington

It’s a close call between Washington and Oregon for the top spot in the Pac-12 North. With the Huskies hosting the Ducks this season, and a belief in Chris Petersen and his staff, Washington is Athlon's pick to win the division once again in 2019. The Huskies held teams to 16.4 points a game and 4.67 yards a play last fall. The defense may not match those totals with just two returning starters but a significant drop-off isn't likely. Coordinator Jimmy Lake should have this unit performing at a high level in short order, especially with plenty of talent returning in the secondary and Benning Potoa'e and Levi Onwuzurike back to anchor the trenches. Washington's offense did just enough to win the Pac-12 last season, but Petersen and coordinator Bush Hamdan need more out of this group. Georgia transfer Jacob Eason is slated to replace Jake Browning under center, and the Huskies have a breakout star in Salvon Ahmed ready to move into the No. 1 running back role. Eason brings more arm strength and downfield passing ability to the offense, which will open up more opportunities for Ty Jones and Aaron Fuller. The return of tight end Hunter Bryant to full strength should provide a boost to the passing game. The line is among the best in the nation, with left tackle Trey Adams back to 100 percent after missing most of 2018 due to injury. The schedule sets up in Washington's favor. The Huskies catch USC, Oregon, Utah and Washington State all in Seattle this fall.


11. Texas

NCAAF Top 25 Rankings: TexasTexas made considerable progress in coach Tom Herman's second year in Austin. The next step? Win the Big 12 title and earn a spot in the CFB Playoff. Both goals are certainly within reach this fall, but the Longhorns have work to do on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger accounted for 41 overall touchdowns last season and is the catalyst for an offense that averaged 31.1 points a game. Keeping Ehlinger healthy is a priority, so the coaching staff may look to get running backs Keaontay Ingram and Jordan Whittingham more involved to lessen the junior quarterback's workload on the ground. Ehlinger won't have No. 1 receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey to throw to, but Collin Johnson, Devin Duvernay, Brennan Eagles and Josh Moore provide plenty of capable targets. Left tackle Samuel Cosmi and center Zach Shackelford are two of the Big 12's top returning linemen, but the other spots feature three new full-time starters. Todd Orlando is one of the nation's highest-paid defensive coordinators, and he will certainly earn every penny in 2019. The Longhorns return just two starters but feature a cadre of promising talent at every level. In other words, the drop-off from the 2018 unit is likely to be minimal – it's just a matter of how fast this defense reloads. Sophomore safety Caden Sterns is primed to push for All-America honors after picking off four passes as a freshman last fall. Lineman Keondre Coburn, linebacker Joseph Ossai and cornerbacks Anthony Cook and Jalen Green are breakout candidates to watch. Texas' rebuilt defense will be tested right away in 2019. The Longhorns host LSU in Week 2 and play Oklahoma State and Oklahoma before mid-October. The schedule also features road matchups at Baylor, Iowa State and TCU. Another double-digit win season and trip to the Big 12 Championship Game should be within reach for Herman's team.


10. Texas A&M

Texas A&M paid big money to lure Jimbo Fisher to College Station, and the program is already reaping the benefits of that move. The Aggies finished 9-4 last fall, which was headlined by a victory over LSU for the first time since joining the SEC and a dominant win over NC State in the Gator Bowl. Fisher closed out his first full year on the job with an elite recruiting haul, setting the program up to take another step forward in the coming seasons. Exceeding last year's nine wins won't be easy in 2019. Texas A&M faces a brutal schedule, featuring matchups against Athlon's projected top three teams – Alabama, Clemson and Georgia – home SEC matchups against Auburn, South Carolina and a road date at LSU. Fisher excels at developing quarterbacks, and his next star pupil is Kellen Mond. The junior showed marked improvement in 2018, throwing for 3,107 yards and 24 touchdowns and accounting for 474 yards and seven scores on the ground. Mond is poised to rank among the SEC's best at quarterback, but his supporting cast features some turnover at key positions. The offensive line must continue to develop under new assistant Josh Henson, and running back Trayveon Williams and tight end Jace Sternberger must be replaced after departing early for the NFL. The good news for Mond: The cupboard isn't bare. Sophomore Jashaun Corbin is primed for a breakout year at running back, and freshman Baylor Cupp could be the answer at tight end. Similar to the offense, Texas A&M's defense is trending in the right direction. Coordinator Mike Elko's group held teams to just 25.3 points a game last fall and ranked second in the SEC versus the run. The line will feature some new faces after Landis Durham, Daylon Mack and Kingsley Keke expired their eligibility, and the linebacker unit must replace Otaro Alaka and Tyrel Dodson. While those losses are significant, the overall play of the front seven may not decline too much with the young talent – including five-star freshman Demarvin Leal – in place. The secondary ranked 12th in the SEC in pass efficiency defense last season and remains a concern for 2019. Texas A&M is likely to show more progress in Fisher's second year, but the record may not reflect it thanks to one of the nation’s toughest slates.


9. Notre Dame

NCAAF Top 25 Rankings: Notre DameThe Fighting Irish have some key players to replace but also return enough talent to make another run at a CFB Playoff berth. Coach Brian Kelly's team is likely to be favored in 10 of its 12 matchups, with road trips to Georgia and Michigan looming large in the playoff mix. Quarterback Ian Book took over the starting job in September from Brandon Wimbush last season and was instrumental in the 12-1 mark. Book was efficient (68.2 percent completion percentage), threw for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns and added four more scores on the ground. Coordinator Chip Long is likely to lean a little more on Book's right arm this season, and three out of the top five receiving targets are back, including rising star tight end Cole Kmet and receiver Chase Claypool. Dexter Williams expired his eligibility after nearly rushing for 1,000 yards last fall, but Jafar Armstrong (383 yards) and Tony Jones (392) should have a productive one-two punch. Four starters are back to form a solid and experienced foundation in the trenches. Clark Lea had an impressive debut as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator but will have his work cut out in 2019. The Fighting Irish won't have lockdown cornerback Julian Love on the outside or Jerry Tillery back to wreak havoc on the interior of the line. Also, the linebacker unit lost standouts Te'von Coney and Drue Tranquill. While the losses are significant, the defense isn't hurting for talent. The defensive end duo of Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem is among the best in college football, and safety Alohi Gilman should earn All-America honors in 2019.


8. Florida

The Gators were one of the most-improved teams in the nation last season. After a 4-7 mark in 2017, coach Dan Mullen led Florida to a 10-3 record and capped his first season in Gainesville with a convincing 41-15 victory over Michigan in the Peach Bowl. Mullen's second team features a major question mark along the offensive line, but another double-digit win total is within reach. The development and overall improved play from quarterback Feleipe Franks was instrumental in Florida's turnaround last fall. Franks threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 350 yards and seven scores. The junior has a strong supporting cast at his disposal. Lamical Perine leads a solid stable of running backs after rushing for 826 yards and seven scores in 2018. The top six statistical receivers from last season are back, including Van Jefferson (35 catches) and all-purpose threat Kadarius Toney. However, none of the skill talent or development from Franks will matter unless Florida solidifies a line that returns only one starter and finished spring with plenty of uncertainty. The Gators bring back seven starters from a defense that held teams to just 20 points a game last season. End Jabari Zuniga will be joined by Louisville transfer Jonathan Greenard to form a potent pair of edge rushers but more is needed out of the interior of the line after giving up 162.5 rushing yards a game last fall. David Reese is back to anchor the linebacker unit, while the secondary ranks among the best in the SEC with Marco Wilson (back from injury) and CJ Henderson in place at cornerback. Solidifying the safety positions will be a priority for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham in fall practice. Florida opens with an intriguing matchup against Miami in Orlando and hosts Auburn on Oct. 5 in a huge barometer game for both teams. Road trips to LSU and Missouri are tough but closing the gap to Georgia in the SEC East will require a win in Jacksonville against the Bulldogs on Nov. 2.


7. LSU

Reading too much into spring hype or what takes place in the actual scrimmages is always dangerous. However, the offseason chatter about an improved and modernized offense in Baton Rouge seems to be actually taking place. Coach Ed Orgeron brought up-and-coming assistant Joe Brady from the Saints to coach receivers and help coordinator Steve Ensminger implement more spread/RPO looks. Quarterback Joe Burrow is the perfect fit for this offense, as the former Ohio State signal-caller ranks as one of the best in the SEC after throwing for 2,894 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first year with the program. Justin Jefferson is back after catching 54 passes for 875 yards last season, and the program has a cast of talented receivers waiting to emerge, including Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall. The offensive line needs to play with more overall consistency and must get better in pass protection. Orgeron won't be starting from scratch up front though, as four starters return to provide a good foundation. Dave Aranda is one of the top defensive coordinators in college football, and despite the loss of linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams to the NFL, don't expect LSU’s defense to slip on the stat sheet. Each level of the unit ranks among the best in the SEC, and linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson’s return from injury will bolster a pass rush that managed only 14 in conference games last fall. Kristian Fulton will slide into the No. 1 cornerback role, and he's joined by a freshman poised to make an instant impact in Derek Stingley Jr. on the other side. Safety Grant Delpit is one of the nation's top returning defenders. A Sept. 7 road date at Texas should provide an early glimpse into LSU's revamped offense. The Nov. 9 date at Alabama is one of the must-see games of 2019, but the Tigers catch Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M all at home this year.


6. Oklahoma

The Sooners will once again ride their high-powered offense to contend for their third consecutive trip to the CFB Playoff and the program's fifth Big 12 title in a row. Coach Lincoln Riley has a few holes to fill on this side of the ball, but as evidenced by back-to-back Heisman winners (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray), this unit isn't likely to miss a beat behind Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts. The Texas native accounted for 7,602 total yards in his career with the Crimson Tide, but most importantly, showed marked improvement as a passer during his senior campaign. The supporting cast is loaded with dynamic playmakers. Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks combined for 2,003 rushing yards last season and form one of the top running back units in college football. Marquise Brown's big-play ability on the outside will be missed, but CeeDee Lamb, Grant Calcaterra and three standout freshmen from the 2019 class – Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges – provide plenty of weapons for Hurts. Oklahoma line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the best in the nation, but he will have his work cut out this offseason, as the Sooners look to replace four starters from a dominant line. Defense is once again Oklahoma's biggest concern and the unit that could derail a trip to the playoff. New coordinator Alex Grinch was one of the offseason's top hires, and nine starters provide a good starting point. However, the numbers weren't pretty in 2018. The Sooners gave up nearly 160 rushing yards a game, finished 111th nationally in pass efficiency defense and allowed 6.1 yards per snap. How much can Grinch improve this group over the course of the season? The answer to that question is likely to decide whether or not Oklahoma makes the CFB Playoff in 2019.


5. Ohio State

Urban Meyer finished his Ohio State career with an 83-9 record, a 7-0 mark versus rival Michigan, a national championship in 2014 and no finish below No. 12 in the final Associated Press poll. In other words, no pressure Ryan Day. As if following Meyer wasn't a tough task on its own, Day has to replace quarterback Dwayne Haskins and address a defense that underachieved in 2018. While Day has big shoes to fill, he inherits one of the nation's most talented rosters. Additionally, the addition of former five-star recruit Justin Fields as a transfer from Georgia addressed the quarterback position. Fields brings more dual-threat ability than Haskins provided to the offense last season, but the sophomore is still developing as a passer. Day's offense also returns standout running back J.K. Dobbins, along with a deep group of weapons at receiver. Left tackle Thayer Munford is the lone returning starter up front, but the Buckeyes have some experienced pieces (including Rutgers transfer Jonah Jackson) and talent pushing for snaps. Ohio State's defense ranked an uncharacteristic seventh in the Big Ten in points allowed (25.5), finished sixth versus the run (158.2 ypg), gave up 5.8 yards per play, and surrendered 23 plays of 40 yards or more last fall. Day tapped former Michigan assistant Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley (49ers) from the NFL to coordinate the defense and address last year's deficiencies. The defensive line is deep, as All-America candidate Chase Young anchors the edge with Tyreke Smith, Jonathon Cooper and Zach Harrison, while Robert Landers, Davon Hamilton, Jashon Cornell and Tommy Togiai plug the interior. Senior Malik Harrison should rank among the Big Ten's best at linebacker, but the rest of the unit struggled in 2018 and must step up this fall. The secondary will be a strength with Damon Arnette, Shaun Wade and Jeffrey Okudah at corner, along with senior Jordan Fuller leading the way at safety. The Buckeyes get Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State at home, but the success level of Day's first season (and the Big Ten East Division title) is likely to be decided on Nov. 30 at Michigan.


4. Michigan

Predicting the champion of the Big Ten East Division was one of the toughest picks for Athlon Sports this offseason. A couple of factors swung this debate in favor of Michigan. Urban Meyer retired, the Wolverines have an edge at quarterback with Shea Patterson returning for his senior year, and most importantly, the game is in Ann Arbor this season. Everything is in place for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan to break through and win the division and claim a berth in the CFB Playoff in 2019. That doesn't mean the Wolverines are short on question marks entering this season, however. Harbaugh is handling the play-calling duties to Josh Gattis – a first-time offensive coordinator – and Michigan is planning to go up-tempo and use more spread/RPO looks to utilize Patterson's talent. A healthy Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Mike Sainristil form a deep group of options at receiver and should benefit from the switch in offensive style. Running back Chris Evans won't play in 2019 due to an academic issue. Walk-on Tru Wilson, and freshmen Christian Turner (redshirt) and Zach Charbonnet (true) will handle the bulk of the carries this fall. The offensive line showed marked improvement under assistant Ed Warinner in 2018 and could be the best in the Big Ten with four starters back. Michigan's defense allowed 103 points over the final two contests last season and a run to the playoff will require coordinator Don Brown to get this group back on track. The bad news: Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, David Long, Brandon Watson and Tyree Kinnel are gone. That's a lot of talent to replace in one offseason, but the cupboard isn't bare. Kwity Paye, Aidan Hutchinson, Central Michigan transfer Mike Danna and hybrid end/linebacker Josh Uche should keep the pass rush performing at a high level. Josh Ross will get the first opportunity to replace Bush in the middle of the linebacker unit, while this position group would benefit from a bounce-back season by Khaleke Hudson. Lavert Hill is poised to rank among the top corners in the nation, while Ambry Thomas is the favorites to fill the void left behind by Long on the other side. Incoming freshman Daxton Hill is expected to push for a starting job at safety. Trips in Big Ten play to Wisconsin and Penn State are challenging, but Michigan gets three of its biggest games – Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State – in Ann Arbor.


3. Georgia

Georgia fell short of a repeat trip to the CFB Playoff last season, but coach Kirby Smart's team has all of the necessary pieces for a run at the national title in 2019. Quarterback Jake Fromm returns after throwing for 2,749 yards and 30 touchdowns to just six picks in a brilliant sophomore season. Fromm is supported by the nation's best offensive line, and as usual in Athens, there's no shortage of talent at running back. D'Andre Swift leads the way on the ground, with James Cook, Zamir White and Brian Herrien slated to round out a deep rotation. The biggest question marks on offense are centered on new play-caller James Coley and a revamped receiving corps. Coley was promoted after Jim Chaney left for Tennessee but hasn't called plays since the 2015 season at Miami. Junior Jeremiah Holloman was expected to be Fromm's No. 1 target, but he was dismissed from the team over the summer. Freshmen Dominick Blaylock and George Pickens are likely to contribute right away in the receiving corps, while experienced options like Tyler Simmons and Demetris Robertson have to step up. Georgia's two-deep is overflowing with talent at every level on defense. The line has to get a little better versus the run, but sophomore Jordan Davis and senior Tyler Clark should push for All-SEC honors. Freshmen Nolan Smith and Nakobe Dean and junior college recruit Jermaine Johnson join a linebacker unit that features Monty Rice, Brenton Cox, Adam Anderson and Tae Crowder. Replacing No. 1 cornerback Deandre Baker won't be easy. However, Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell are both talented and poised to start at cornerback, with steady senior J.R. Reed providing support at safety. Rodrigo Blankenship one of the most reliable kickers in the nation. Matchups versus Notre Dame, Florida (in Jacksonville), Texas A&M and at Auburn are tough, but Georgia is likely to be favored in all 12 regular season contests.


2. Clemson

The reigning national champs are in great shape to repeat in 2019. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is only going to get better as a sophomore, and he's surrounded by big-play threats Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross at receiver, along with dynamic running back Travis Etienne in the backfield. The receiving corps will only get deeper once Amari Rodgers during the regular season after a torn ACL suffered in the spring. Clemson's offensive line returns four starters and ranks among the best in college football. Even though several key players are gone from a dominant defense, the level of concern is low in Death Valley. That's largely due to coordinator Brent Venables' track record of consistently reloading and developing the next wave of stars. Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence leave big shoes to fill in the trenches, but the cupboard isn't bare. Sophomore Xavier Thomas is primed for a breakout year on the outside, with Jordan Williams and Nyles Pinckney set to step up on the interior. All-America candidate Isaiah Simmons anchors a rebuilt group of linebackers, while cornerback A.J. Terrell and safeties Tanner Muse and K'Von Wallace are back to start at safety. Clemson's schedule features an intriguing non-conference matchup versus Texas A&M on Sept. 7 and a tough road date at Syracuse on Sept. 14. However, the Tigers should be favored in all 12 games and are a heavy favorite to win the ACC title. Although Clemson is one of the favorites to win it all in 2019, history isn't on their side. Only one team (Alabama) has won back-to-back national titles since the start of the BCS era. But with Lawrence and a talented cast of playmakers in place on offense, along with a standout defense, the Tigers have all of the necessary pieces to reverse that trend.


1. Alabama

The last image of Alabama in the 2018 college football season was a blowout loss at the hands of Clemson in the national championship. Defeats like the one the Crimson Tide suffered in Santa Clara simply don't happen under coach Nick Saban's watch. But after another offseason of coaching changes, Alabama is poised for another run at the national championship – the sixth during Saban's tenure. The offense is led by Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa after he threw for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns in his first year as the starter. Keeping Tagovailoa healthy is a priority with Jalen Hurts deciding to transfer to Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide's receiving corps is the best in college football, and Najee Harris is primed for a breakout season replacing Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs as the No. 1 running back. The concerns on offense are minimal for new play-caller Steve Sarkisian, but the line does have three new starters, including at center and left tackle. Alabama's defense annually ranks near the top of the nation in most defensive categories and that shouldn't change in 2019. Similar to the offense, there are concerns up front. Quinnen Williams and Isaiah Buggs departed, leaving Raekwon Davis as the lone returning starter. A standout 2019 class should replenish the talent in the trenches. Dylan Moses takes over as the leader at linebacker in the middle of the Crimson Tide's 3-4 defense after Mack Wilson left for the NFL. A healthy Terrell Lewis would bolster a pass rush that already features Anfernee Jennings (13 TFL and 5.5 sacks) from the outside linebacker spot. The secondary had an uneven performance in 2018, but the return of Trevon Diggs from injury, along with the development of Patrick Surtain will solidify the cornerback position. Deionte Thompson is a big loss at safety, but Xavier McKinney seems ready for a career season. Alabama has to navigate road trips to Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State, but LSU visits Tuscaloosa in early November.


RELATED: College Football Rankings: Top 130 Teams


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