And then there were three. This year’s college football season is down to three Power Five conferences after Big Ten and the Pac-12 already backed out due to COVID-19, but it looks like we are going to get some football with the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 holding strong. Depending on if we see mass emergency transfers so more players can have their fall seasons, these power rankings might shift before kickoff next month.
Just to note, as disappointed as college football fans are with this situation, it’s exponentially worse for the players that are having their seasons taken away, especially for the seniors. Thankfully the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 are allowing their teams and players to take personal responsibility with at least the option to play the season if they want to, which most of them do.
1. Clemson Tigers
It’s been awesome to see a bright young man like Trevor Lawrence help lead the charge and give a voice for the vast majority of college football players that just want to be able to play the game they love despite the risks. Dabo Swinney is in the same boat as his quarterback, and he knows better than most what good sports can do for people. Clemson’s only loss with Lawrence under center was last season’s national title game.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama and Clemson have been college football’s two main powerhouses over the past several years, and they are the best bets to make the College Football Playoff (whatever it looks like) in 2020. The Crimson Tide again have plenty of talent on the roster, and quarterback Mac Jones got good playing experience while filling in for Tua Tagovailoa last season.
3. LSU Tigers
LSU lost Joe Burrow and Joe Brady this offseason—along with a number of other key contributors along with Burrow to the NFL—but Ed Orgeron is going to get his guys ready to go this September. The Tigers are high on quarterback Myles Brennan, who will have Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr. to throw to.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
Kirby Smart’s squad has plenty of talent and will again play stout defense. Look for the offense to open things up more with the passing game under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
Missed practice time for Tanner Mordecai could give Spencer Rattler an advantage in the quarterback competition for a prime spot commanding Lincoln Riley’s offense. Former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon transferring to Ohio State as a graduate student is an example of a major gut punch for these students that had their seasons cancelled.
6. Florida Gators
The Gators will have strong continuity on offense with Kyle Trask at quarterback after he finally got his chance in 2019. Trask will have one of the best supporting casts in college football to work with, including preseason All-American tight end Kyle Pitts.
7. Auburn Tigers
Bo Nix showed serious moxie as a true freshman quarterback for Auburn last season, and he could help the Tigers take a step closer to the powerhouse ranks in Gus Malzahn’s offense. The Tigers lost a great leader in Derrick Brown, but they have returning seniors on defense including Big Kat Bryant to help carry the mantle.
8. Texas Longhorns
There isn’t a ton of hype for Texas after a disappointing 2019 campaign, but don’t count out a team led by a senior quarterback like Sam Ehlinger. The all-conference schedule will be interesting (and high scoring) in the Big 12, and the Red River Showdown on October 10 should be circled on calendars, as usual.
9. Texas A&M Aggies
Jimbo Fisher is entering his third season leading the Texas A&M program, and the Aggies have a bunch of seniors in starting positions—this could be a recipe for success in College Station.
10. Notre Dame
It was forced by a pandemic, but it should be a lot of fun seeing Notre Dame play a conference schedule after the ACC let them join the party this season. This is a huge year for Brian Kelly’s team, as it could be a very good look if the Fighting Irish has success with its schedule—but the criticism will be heavy if the team struggles.