2015 college football preseason Top 25: Ohio State, Auburn, TCU and Notre Dame headline Sports Illustrated's rankings.

August 04, 2015

These rankings and scouting reports appear in the Aug. 10, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.

Year One of the College Football Playoff went rather well. Ohio State, a team that lost early but appeared to be playing the best, most-dynamic football at season's end, got a chance to prove its mettle on the field, which the Buckeyes did by taking down Alabama and Oregon. The new system brought with it a selection committee that was free enough to drop undefeated Florida State to third in its final rankings, which was the right move (the Seminoles often looked shaky) but would have been unthinkable under the BCS. That's how it's supposed to work, right?

Sort of. Baylor and TCU were one-loss teams, like three of the four that made the playoff, yet neither Big 12 power was given a shot. This didn't quite feel right, but the reality is someone is always going to be left out. Even in an eight-team bracket—an expansion many see as inevitable—there will be little difference between, and much debate about, who's No. 8 and who's No. 9. But the debate is key: It reflects possibility and passion. It gives the regular season meaning. It makes early-August predictions about the Top 25 teams and the four-team playoff field a spark for study and discussion (and maybe even ridicule). Let the arguments begin.

STAPLES: Uncertainty reigns as 2015 college football season nears

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