First Power Rankings (NCAA)

1. Clemson Tigers– What else was there to really expect? They put together one of the greatest seasons in college football history in 2018 and they enter this new season in great shape to repeat in 2019. This year, we get the full experience of Trevor Lawrence as he gets set to be the full-time starter for the Tigers. This Clemson offense has a chance to be special. Trevor is surrounded by some big weapons in receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross along with the dynamic running back Travis Etienne in the backfield. The offensive line returns four starters which will still rank amongst the best in college football. Although they lost some key pieces from the title team, the level of concern is low in Death Valley. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is consistently reloading and developing talent. Clellin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Dexter Lawrence indeed leave big shoes to fill, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Sophomore Xavier Thomas is built to have a big year on the outside and Isaiah Simmons will anchor a rebuilt group of linebackers. They will be a team to watch again.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide– The last time we saw them, they were getting embarrassed by the Clemson Tigers in the title game. Let’s be realistic here for a second: Defeats like that just don’t happen under Nick Saban’s watch. During the off-season, they have some coaching changes. Now, they’re preparing for another run at the national championship which would be the sixth in Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa. Tua Tagovailoa returns after a season which saw him throw 43 touchdown passes and finish second in the Heisman voting. The biggest priority will be keeping Tua healthy especially with Jalen Hurts transferring to Oklahoma. This Alabama receiving core has a lot of hype surrounding them. Jerry Jeudy has made comparisons to Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown and the Hall of Famer, Marvin Harrison. Running back Najee Harris will replace Josh Jacobs as the number one running back. As a defense, they are always ranked at the top. Quinnen Williams and Isaiah Buggs are gone which leaves Raekwon Davis as the only starter who returned. Can’t wait to see how they bounce back from here.

3. Georgia Bulldogs– Two years in a row, they’ve fallen to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Last season, they fell short of a repeat trip to the CFB Playoff. However, Kirby Smart has everything around him to make a run at the SEC conference title and the national title. The biggest key for them is a consistent Jake Fromm who returns after throwing 30 touchdown passes in his sophomore season. Georgia returns with the best offensive line in the country and as usual, there’s no shortage of running backs. D’Andre Swift will lead the way and will be rounded out by James Cook, Zamir White and Brian Herrian. The biggest question mark surrounding the offense will be on new offensive coordinator James Coley. The receiving core will look a lot different from last year’s group. Freshman Dominick Blaylock and George Pickens will be counted on to contribute right away. The defense will be one of the best again in the nation. Coach Smart will make sure of it.

4. Oklahoma Sooners– Once again, they’ll ride their offense to contend for the Big-12 and CFB playoff. Coach Lincoln Riley may have a few holes to fill offensively but look how he’s been able to keep his foot on the gas. Two conference championships, consecutive playoff appearances and not to mention, back to back Heisman winners (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). The offense will be just fine with Alabama transfer, Jalen Hurts. From the small portion of playing time that he got last season, I noticed how much he improved as a passer. He comes to Norman with a list of playmakers around him. Running backs Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks will form one of the top running back tandems in the country once again. Marquise Brown will be difficult to replace, but CeeDee Lamb will be that number one target for Hurts. What’s holding the Sooners back from being a playoff team once again is the defense. The numbers were ugly in 2018. How much can new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch improve this group? This is what will keep the Sooners from making the playoffs in 2019.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes– The Urban Meyer chapter is over in Columbus. He retired with a record of 83-9, a 7-0 record against the Michigan Wolverines, a national championship in 2014 and no finish below number 12 in the final Associated Press poll. Ryan Day now begins his tenure as the new head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. He fixed his quarterback situation and decided to name Justin Fields as the starting quarterback. He’s still a work in progress as a passer but shows more of a dual-threat playmaking ability over Dwayne Haskins. Running back J.K. Dobbins returns which is huge for the defending Big Ten champions. The defense was terrible last season as they allowed 25 points per game. They must step up if they want to advance far into the season.