College football rankings: Lindy's reveals Top 25 preseason poll
It's summer once again, which means preseason magazines are hitting the shelves and all the prediction artists are patching together their latest Top 25 rankings.
And, to be sure, a certain Alabama-based university usually tops these polls, and it does this preseason, too.
But this season finds a little more breathing room than usual after the No. 1 spot, with defending national champion Georgia vying for contention alongside traditional Big Ten power Ohio State and Clemson out of the ACC.
Last season, Michigan and Cincinnati proved a first-timer can still crack the College Football Playoff. Quite an achievement considering the Wolverines weren't even ranked in last preseason's AP Top 25 poll.
Where do things stand this summer? Let's look at the latest preseason rankings from Lindy's.
College football Top 25 rankings from Lindy's
25. Texas — A vital second year for Steve Sarkisian, who signed some plush transfers, including quarterback Quinn Ewers, to make this offense go. But defense will help define the Longhorns this fall, especially in a Week 2 date with Alabama.
24. Kentucky — Still likely the solid No. 2 in the SEC East, the Wildcats return quarterback Will Levis, but lead back Chris Rodriguez's status is up in the air over a legal issue, and top target Wan'Dale Robinson is gone to the NFL.
23. Houston — This could be the year the Cougars overtake Cincinnati in the AAC, especially with Clayton Tune returning at quarterback, but running back Alton McCaskill's availability is in doubt after a preseason ACL injury.
22. USC — Opinion varies wildly on the Trojans after a bombshell offseason that included hiring coach Lincoln Riley, quarterback Caleb Williams, and Jordan Addison, the top scoring receiver in college football last season. But this defense ranked 89th nationally and 103rd in scoring.
21. Cincinnati — The first Group of 5 team to make the College Football Playoff has to replace nine players lost to the NFL Draft to keep its place in the AAC.
20. Michigan State — Power back Kenneth Walker is gone, but quarterback Payton Thorne and receiver Jayden Reed should be one of the Big Ten's better combos. But only if Sparty patches up the 111th ranked pass defense in the nation.
19. BYU — A 10-win team last fall even after losing quarterback Zach Wilson, the Cougars played well behind Jaren Hall, but have to replace their top rusher, who was responsible for almost half their touchdowns.
18. Wake Forest — Sam Hartman is back under center and he's bringing most of his receivers with him. That should keep Wake in the ACC race all fall, but the Deacs need to tighten up their 91st ranked defensive unit.
17. Ole Miss — Self-proclaimed "Portal King" Lane Kiffin went to work replacing his top 10 offense, inking transfers at QB (Jaxson Dart), RB (Zach Evans) and TE (Michael Trigg) among others. That could keep the Rebs a team to watch in the SEC West.
16. Wisconsin — There's work to do replacing starters on what was the No. 1 defense in college football last season, and the Badgers need a lot more from quarterback Graham Mertz, but Braelon Allen returns as one of the top young backs in the nation.
15. NC State — Just four points kept this team from going undefeated in ACC games, and the Pack have another shot to make a statement with quarterback Devin Leary returning off a 35 touchdown effort last fall.
14. Miami — Yet another new start for the Hurricanes, who hope Mario Cristobal can bring some of his Oregon success to his alma mater. He inherits quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and a promising secondary group, but has to develop more at receiver.
13. Arkansas — The surprise team of the SEC a year ago, the Razorbacks lose their top wideout, but retain quarterback KJ Jefferson and signed transfer wideout Jadon Haselwood. Still, there's the mountain of a West Division schedule ahead.
12. Baylor — In two years, Dave Aranda took the Bears from two wins to a Big 12 title. Now he returns much of a solid defense in addition to quarterback Blake Shapen, but has to find new inputs at receiver and running back.
11. Oregon — Last September, this looked like a College Football Playoff team. Then came three losses and head coach Mario Cristobal left the program. Dan Lanning, who coached Georgia's defense last fall, steps in and he inherits what might be the most physical defense in the Pac-12.
10. Oklahoma — Maybe no other big-time college football program looks more different after re-loading at head coach, both coordinator slots, quarterback, and seven other transfer positions. Brent Venables steps in after coaching Clemson's defense to two national titles, and he has plenty of speed to work with.
9. Oklahoma State — The 3rd best defense in college football a year ago lost its coordinator after Jim Knowles took the Ohio State job, in addition to three key pieces in the secondary. Quarterback Spencer Sanders showed flashes last fall, but he had 12 picks and seven games when he threw one touchdown or none. And the Cowboys won't have 1,200 yard rusher Jaylen Warren back to help him out, either.
8. Notre Dame — Marcus Freeman inherited the head coaching job suddenly after Brian Kelly bolted for LSU, but he's done quite a bit with it so far. ND has dominated the recruiting trail, has arguably the best offensive line in the country, and a major opportunity in Week 1 at Ohio State.
7. Utah — The reigning Pac-12 champs return star back Tavion Thomas, a thousand-yard rusher who rumbled for 21 scores a year ago, and 5th-year quarterback Cameron Rising, who had 20 TDs and five picks last fall, in addition to five of the Utes' six top receivers.
6. Michigan — Jim Harbaugh finally beat Ohio State and got to the College Football Playoff, but a poor showing in the semifinal shows there's still work to do. It's work that will have to get done despite losing a dynamite pass rush, both top rushers, and this team's best DB. But there's still a lot to work with at the skill positions.
5. Texas A&M — An offseason feud with Nick Saban aside, Jimbo Fisher just signed arguably the best recruiting haul in modern history, a class loaded on the defensive front. Now comes the hard part: throwing punches in the SEC West.
4. Clemson — Losing three games isn't what Dabo Swinney is used to in the playoff era, and now he has to break in two new coordinators and find answers on an offense that placed second-worst in the ACC behind otherwise-promising quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (9 TD, 10 INT in 2021). This defense should dominate, though.
3. Georgia — College football's defending national champion has some spots to fill on its ferocious defense, but still retains plenty of skill and speed to keep this team in the playoff race. An SEC East title is the bare minimum here, as the Bulldogs should stay in the mix for the top four all year.
2. Ohio State — A Heisman finalist quarterback throwing to the best wide receiver group in college football should dominate the Big Ten after ranking No. 1 in total offense, but OSU's playoff hopes hinge on new DC Jim Knowles re-wiring this defense.
1. Alabama — Blue-chip talent out, blue-chip talent in. It's been the story at Alabama since Nick Saban arrived, and nothing has changed this offseason. Don't be surprised if the Tide is undefeated going into the SEC Championship Game.