We are just under a month away from kicking off the 2021 college football season. Looking back at what teams did last year in a season like we’ve never seen before I think we will see a lot of teams drastically fall off and drastically improve. A lot of talent was lost from top teams so this season will be very different from the last. Let’s get into this year’s preseason rankings.
#1 Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs will have a huge season this year especially starting the year off with a huge game vs Clemson, a win in that game will really put everyone on notice. Georgia will finally have a great QB in JT Daniels along with Zamir White in the backfield and a top five offensive line, they’ll be able to move the ball with ease all season long. Losing George Pickens was definitely a huge loss to this team but they will find ways to make up for him not being out there. On the defensive side they rank as the number two defensive line unit and the number four linebacker unit. Their secondary is one of their downfalls but if they can find a way to improve that this team will be playing in January.
#2 Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2016 despite having a pretty solid year finishing 9-2. With another year of experience under Spencer Rattler’s belt I think this is the best shot Oklahoma has at winning a National Championship. The Sooners have always been able to put up points but never had the defense, this year they rank in the top 10 in every defensive category and is the highest ranked Big 12 team in every category. 2021 will be a special year for Oklahoma.
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Coming off an insane season from start to finish this team is bound to fall back down to earth. With the loss of basically every star on their team, returning only 3 starters on offense and 8 on defense, I think we will see Alabama get caught off guard at least once this season. However Saban will keep this train on the tracks no matter what and will make a playoff push but will not be that dominant no doubt number one team like last year.
#4 Clemson Tigers
Personally I think Clemson takes a big step back from last year with the loss of such important pieces in Trevor Lawerence and Travis Etienne and only returning five offensive starters. With such a big game so early in the season vs Georgia I think they won’t be prepared and will let that loss eat at them all season and will finish with a few more losses than usual. However Dabo Swinney and this coaching staff have proven themselves year after year so I can totally see this team proving me wrong.
#5 Ohio State Buckeyes
This team has everything you want in a dominant college football team besides the quarterback. Losing Justin Fields and coming into this year with an unproven redshirt freshman in CJ Stroud could cause some problems for the Buckeyes. With the best wide receiver unit in the nation along with being ranked in the top ten of every single other category this team will probably be more than good this season. However an unproven QB is something that can and will hurt them in big games.
#6 Iowa State Cyclones
Not even two years ago you’d be called crazy to say Iowa State would be in any top ten conversations in the next few years but here they are. What Matt Campbell has done with this program has been nothing short of amazing. The Cyclones are coming off a 9-3 season while returning a more than proven QB and RB in Brock Purdy and Breece Hall along with the rest of the 9 offensive starters. However defense could be a problem for this team as the only solid unit they have are their linebackers. Another great year is ahead of the Cyclones.
#7 Penn State Nittany Lions
After a terrible season last year Penn State is bound to bounce back. Starting off with five straight losses in a shortened and fanless season was something no one wanted to see but it was clear that the opt outs and injuries were a real part of last year’s downfall. With a fresh start this year and a packed Beaver Stadium the Nittany Lions will be back to the level of competing for a B1G Ten Championship.
#8 Cincinnati Bearcats
Here we have our one and only group of five team. Finishing the regular season 9-0 and ending the season with a 24-21 loss to a great Georgia team in the Peach Bowl is something for this program to really build on. With two games vs power five opponents in Indiana and Notre Dame the Bearcats will have a real shot to make a push for the playoff.
#9 Oregon Ducks
Last year the Ducks won the PAC-12 despite only finishing with a 4-3 record. With all of the PAC-12’s crazy COVID rules last season it was challenging for any teams to get into any type of real rhythm like a normal season. The Ducks were pretty solid despite those challenges losing their 2 games only by a combined 7 points and the third loss coming to Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl. I expect the Ducks to take a huge step forward this upcoming season and win this conference again.
#10 Washington Huskies
Last but not least we have the Washington Huskies. This program has been pretty solid the last couple of years but I think this team will shock a lot of people this year. When talking about the top PAC-12 teams Washington has not been in the conversation for a few years now but after this season they will be. Returning 10 offensive and 8 defensive starters after a 3-1 season in 2020 keep an eye out for the Huskies in 2021.
By Andrew Kalb