The BCS Championship game just ended, but college football fans are already demanding a top 25 for 2014! We polled our hundreds of college football writers and contributors to put together a composite 2014 College Football Preseason Rankings, based on what we know today.
There isn't much confusion at the top - we strongly predicted Florida State to win the BCS Championship game against Auburn, and here they are. With Jameis Winston and other key players returning next season, they start 2014 as our near-unanimous #1.
The SEC West will be incredibly competitive once again, with the Iron Bowl potentially a rematch of this year's game - with the winner likely ending up as the SEC Champion, and a competitor in the new College Football Playoff.
Here's our early look at the 2014 College Football Preseason Rankings:
Updated 1/7/2014 11am ET
What is there to argue about here? As long as Heisman winner Jameis Winston is QB'ing the Seminoles, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who won't rank them #1 to start 2014. The 'Noles will be loaded everywhere, and return an embarrassment of riches at almost every position.
In addition to their ACC slate, the 'Noles will face Notre Dame and Florida as part of their out-of-conference schedule.
Auburn couldn't beat FSU in the final BCS Championship Game, but they'll still be a stacked team next year with serious talent on both sides of the ball.
QB Nick Marshall will likely return to lead the Tigers, while superstar RB Tre Mason is expected to enter the NFL Draft. Despite Mason's departure, the National Championship has gone through the state of Alabama for five straight seasons, and we expect 2014 to be no different.
The Tide falls from #2 to #3 due to their flat performance against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
QB A.J. McCarron won't be back, but the Tide will return All-American talent at RB, WR and all over the defense. It also sounds like they could be getting a ready-made McCarron replacement if a rumored transfer from the 2014 champs goes through.
Behind the outstanding performance of RS freshman QB Trevor Knight in a two-touchdown win over Alabama, Oklahoma has quickly become the hot team going into 2014. The Sooners will start in the top five for sure, and potentially as high as #2 depending on how the team looks in fall camp.
5. Ohio State
With Braxton Miller returning in 2014, the Buckeyes will be able to sleepwalk through the first two months of the year - until a likely matchup of unbeatens when they face Michigan State on Nov. 8th. The Buckeyes should easily crush every other team on their schedule.
The Spartans lose two of the best players in program history in LB Max Bullough and CB Darqueze Dennard, but return plenty of talent and a QB that will likely be among the best in the country in Connor Cook.
The Spartans face a huge test in their second game, traveling to Autzen to face Oregon. Even if the Spartans lose, they could still recover to win the Big Ten. The November match up with Ohio State will likely determine who represents the new Big Ten East Division on the conference championship game.
The Bears get their two key names back: QB Bryce Petty and (we think) coach Art Briles. While Briles has been tabbed for a possible reunion with Robert Griffin III in Washington, that move still looks like a long shot, and returning both will make Baylor a serious force in the Big 12 once again. It won't be easy to replace RB Lache Seastrunk, but the pipeline of Texas high school talent Briles has established means it won't be long before another star running back emerges.
QB Marcus Mariota announced his plans to return in 2014, but weeks later requested a draft evaluation as rumors surfaced that he could change his mind. Uncertainty over Mariota makes the Ducks hard to rank, but they're still going to be ahead of everyone else in the Pac-12 even if he ends up leaving. That said, the departure of RB De'Anthony Thomas prevents the Ducks from starting the year in the top five.
Stanford graduates a number of key players, with DE Trent Murphy, G David Yankey and LB Shayne Skov all heading for promising NFL careers - we wouldn't be shocked if all three are taken in the first round. RB Tyler Gaffney and DE Josh Mauro are also bound for the NFL, and Stanford will have to look for a number of new starters to step up if they want to earn another trip to Pasadena.
Les Miles is never going to be out of the race for long. QB Zach Mettenberger won't be back, but the Tigers just recently landed the #1 recruit in the class of 2014 - running back Leonard Fournette (check out his absolutely ridiculous highlight reel here).
It'll never be easy in the loaded SEC West, but Miles has led LSU to four consecutive seasons with double-digit wins. Don't expect that streak to end any time soon.
The best of the rest:
13. Arizona State
14. South Carolina
20. Notre Dame
21. Oregon State
22. Kansas State
24. Texas A&M
Others Receiving Consideration:
Might crack the top 25 with a strong start:
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