Preseason College Football Rankings 2018: Predicting Amway Poll's Top 25 – Bleacher Report


NCAA college football head coach Nick Saban of Alabama speaks during the Southeastern Conference Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (AP Photo/John Amis)

John Amis/Associated Press

It’s August, which means the start of the college football season is just around the corner. It also means that the preseason rankings will hit soon, with the Amway Coaches Poll likely to be released first.

So, why not predict how the coaches will vote in their preseason poll? Below, we’ll give it a shot, along with taking a closer look at a few teams expected to be atop the rankings. 

                    

Projected Coaches Poll

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Clemson Tigers

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

4. Georgia Bulldogs

5. Oklahoma Sooners

6. Wisconsin Badgers

7. Washington Huskies

8. Miami Hurricanes

9. Michigan State Spartans

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

12. West Virginia Mountaineers

13. Stanford Cardinal

14. USC Trojans

15. Florida State Seminoles

16. Auburn Tigers

17. Virginia Tech Hokies

18. LSU Tigers

19. TCU Horned Frogs

20. Michigan Wolverines

21. Georgia Tech

22. Oregon Ducks

23. Memphis Tigers

24. Boise State Broncos

25. UCF Knights

              

Analysis

Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

The top of these projected rankings shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, with all four of last year’s College Football Playoff teams in the top five. Ohio State joins those squads at No. 3, and the Buckeyes are loaded with talent, as always. 

Alabama will basically be the favorite every season until Nick Saban calls it quits or loses his touch. All he’s done at the school is win five national championships since 2009. Until a team proves otherwise, the Crimson Tide should be considered the best school in the country.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Clemson proves otherwise, however. The Tigers are loaded, with options at quarterback in the mobile Kelly Bryant and freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence if Bryant struggles in the passing game.

But the Tigers will truly pop on defense. They’ll possess one of the better defensive lines in recent memory, featuring studs like Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence. 

The Tigers are going to dominate teams in the trenches, and there aren’t any other weaknesses on the defense, either. An ACC title feels like a formality at this point.

In Columbus, the Buckeyes’ season will be defined by how Dwayne Haskins responds as the new starting quarterback, replacing J.T. Barrett.

He certainly won’t be without help, though. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber are a nasty duo at running back. The offensive line lost some pieces but still has impressive depth. Ohio State has enough skill-position players in the passing game for about three teams. 

The offense is stacked, so OSU comes into 2018 capable of being an elite team if Haskins plays well and if the defense is stout. Don’t bet against the Buckeyes.

Oklahoma will go as far as new quarterback Kyler Murray takes them. Or Austin Kendall. The fact that a clear starting candidate has yet to emerge is worth monitoring, but this is more a situation of having two solid options, not two mediocre ones. 

And then there’s Georgia, which lost its share of talent to the NFL this spring but should have yet another dangerous two-headed monster in the backfield in D’Andre Swift and Zamir White. Add in another year of experience for Jake Fromm, and the Bulldogs should be in the playoff conversation once again.

From there, it gets a bit tricker projecting how the coaches will construct their initial poll of the season. But it seems like a pretty safe bet that Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Georgia will top the list, in some order.


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