By Kellan King
The Tide bring back one of the best QBs in the country, Bryce Young, a talented core of skill position players, and the best defensive player in the country in Will Anderson. Their Week 2 trip to Austin will be an interesting early season test.
- Ohio State
Ohio State loses 2 big name receivers in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, but Jaxon Smith Njigba might be the most talented receiver in the country. Alongside CJ Stroud, the Buckeyes should have one of the best offenses in the country.
The Dawgs are coming off a national championship, but they lose many key pieces from their dominant defense. However, behind veteran QB Stetson Bennett and head coach Kirby Smart, Georgia should still be a title contender.
The Utes are coming off their best season in years, and bring back talented QB Cameron Rising. If the Utes can get past their Week 1 trip to Florida, they should dominate the Pac-12 and could earn a spot in the CFP.
- Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish have a new head coach in Marcus Freeman, and a new starting QB in talented youngster Tyler Buchner. They will need Buchner to step up if they want to keep their Week 1 trip to the Shoe against Ohio State competitive.
- Texas A&M
There has been a lot of talk about the Aggies and their #1 recruiting class this offseason, and its time for them to perform. With an experienced QB in Max Johnson, this could be the year Jimbo Fisher’s team takes the next step.
Coming off of a CFP appearance and a win against Ohio State last year, expectations are high for the Wolverines. One major storyline this year will be the QB room. Will JJ McCarthy surpass Cade McNamara at some point?
There are a lot of questions for the Tigers this year. How will they fare with 2 new coordinators, and will DJ Uiagalelei bounce back from a rough sophomore year? Even with these questions, Clemson’s defense is enough to make them a top 10 team.
The Ducks have a very talented defense, and Noah Sewell is one of the scariest linebackers in the country. Transfer QB Bo Nix will need to be more consistent if the Ducks want to be legitimate contenders.
Although the Sooners lose Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley, OU still has a strong offensive core. Dillon Gabriel and Marvin Mims will have to step up if Oklahoma wants to continue the program’s past successes.
- NC State
The Wolfpack are a team on the rise, led by possible 1st round pick signal caller Devin Leary. NC State also brings back 10/11 defensive starters, and their week 5 matchup with Clemson could decide the ACC.
Similar to NC State, the Hurricanes are led by a talented QB in Tyler Van Dyke, and bring back the core of their defense. Mario Cristobal’s team will face a steep challenge in Week 3 when they head to College Station to take on Texas A&M.
- Oklahoma State
The Cowboys were inches away from the CFP last year, and will be out for revenge this year. Spencer Sanders will need to cut down on his turnovers, and Mike Gundy will need to help a young defense gell early in the season.
KJ Jefferson is a sneaky Heisman contender, and 3rd year coach Sam Pittman is building a great culture in Fayetteville. A week 1 clash against Cincinnati will be a very interesting bellwether for the Hogs.
Although the Panthers lose Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison, former 5 star recruit and USC QB Kedon Slovis is not a bad replacement. The Backyard Brawl against West Virginia to open the season will be a fun matchup for Slovis and Pitt to show what they’ve got.
The Bears are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, and return a solid core of starters. One question mark is at quarterback, where sophomore Blake Shapen is the current starter.
This could be the best BYU team in a while, led by talented Junior Jaren Hall. With Hall at QB and all 11 starters returning on defense, BYU could be primed to pull some upsets, maybe even against Notre Dame in Las Vegas.
USC has one of the most talented skill position cores in the country, with QB Caleb Williams and receiver Jordan Addison. However, USC’s young defense will likely hold them back from being title contenders in Lincoln Riley’s first year.
- Wake Forest
The Demons Deacs had a great year last year, culminating in a bowl win over Rutgers. Sam Hartman is one of the best and most experienced QBs in the country, and Wake should once again compete in the ACC.
The Knights bring back 17 starters, a big number from last years talented team. They also bring in one of the most dynamic athletes in the country in QB John Rhys Plumlee. This should be a fun and talented UCF team.
- Michigan State
Although the Spartans lose Kenneth Walker, they return QB Peyton Thorne and 9 defensive starters, and Mel Tucker will be looking to lead Michigan State to their first Big 10 title in 7 years.
In Quinn Ewers Texas’ savior? The answer is likely no, but the talented Freshman should help the Horns take a step forward. Along with a talented incoming class and new transfer class, Texas should have a solid year.
- Penn State
Sean Clifford decided to return for a 5th year, and the Nittany Lions needed it. James Franklin’s team is young, but they should have enough talent to compete with the elite of the Big 10.
The Badgers will rely heavily on young running back Braelon Allen, and Paul Chryst’s teams always have strong line play. Sophomore QB Graham Mertz will need to improve a lot for the Badgers to compete though.
Cincinnati had a brilliant year last year, but they lost a lot of key players including QB Desmond Ridder. They do return 8 other offensive starters though, and Luke Fickells team should still compete in the AAC.