Opening Power Rankings (NCAA)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide– Now, let’s be serious here: Did we think otherwise on who would be at the top of my opening power rankings list? There’s a ton of questions surrounding their roster, but it’s very tough to move this team away from the top line. Jalen Hurts returns for another season as the team’s quarterback, the running game is stacked with Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris and if Hurts can truly develop as a passer under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, they will be a scary unit to watch. Last year was by far the best defense I’ve seen the Tide have under Nick Saban. There were several key departures, but have filled those openings and will be ready to go and they also return one of the nation’s best defensive players in Minkah Fitzpatrick.

2. Florida State Seminoles– When the season started last year, they had some pretty high expectations and some of the experts considered them a favorite to make the playoffs. They finished on a high note after an up and down 2016 season and enter the fall as a favorite to get back to the playoffs and make a run at another title. Deondre Francois has a full-year under his belt as the quarterback and the defense, which ended the season on a tear returns multiple starters at all three levels including Derwin James who has topped many lists as the best player in college football. Their first game of the season will tell us everything that we need to know and they could make a humongous statement against the team that’s ranked above them, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes– It doesn’t matter who they have on the roster and what they put on the field. They will always be in the conversation as one of the best teams in the country and it all has to do with Urban Meyer because the guy wins, plain and simple. The last time we saw the Buckeyes, they were playing through a national embarrassment at the hands of the eventual national champion, Clemson Tigers. Believe it or not, that was the first time in Urban Meyer’s coaching career that he had been shut out. The offense will look to get a boost as the university decided to hire former Indiana head coach, Kevin Wilson. The offense has gained experience on the offensive line and the receiver position and on defense, they have the deepest defensive line in the nation.

4. USC Trojans– They are looking to finish what they started in 2016. Clay Helton made the gutsy decision to swap quarterbacks and insert Sam Darnold and coming into the fall of 2017, he’s a heavily projected favorite to win the Heisman and be the top pick in the NFL draft if he decides to declare eligible. The offense should be among one of the best in college football despite some new faces at receiver and their defense returns a strong core at linebacker. There hasn’t been a lot of hype surrounding the Trojans in a while.

5. Clemson Tigers– Look what we have here, an appearance from the national champions. They enter the year with the world wondering how they will replace an offensive core of Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett and receiver Mike Williams who all play on Sundays now. The good thing is Dabo Swinney has just enough “shelf-talent” to avoid a complete downfall. All eyes will be on Kelly Bryant, the quarterback who will replace Watson. If he does indeed win the starting job, he will inherit a nice offensive line and a deep crop of wide receivers headlined by Deon Cain who will now be featured as the number one guy on the depth chart. The defense will be one of the best in the nation once again. Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence will lead one of the best defensive fronts in the country.