As most College football fans look forward to the return of the football season, many continue to wonder how the landscape will look this year. With stars such as Bryce Young and CJ Stroud in the NFL and the BIG 12 with 14 teams, it is safe to say that college football will look very different this year.
Will Georgia complete the three-peat? Michigan has proved they can once again handle Ohio State, but can they handle the playoff? Is Lincoln Riley’s USC squad poised to make a run?
Let’s break down the top 15 teams coming into the 2023 College Football season.
15: TCU Horned Frogs
2022 Final AP Ranking: 2 (13-2)
TCU created an identity for themselves last season in Sonny Dykes first season for the Frogs. Now they hope it is something they are going to be able to build on in the coming years. TCU lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft including their Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Max Duggan, so to expect a repeat season to last year would be a little bit of a reach. However, last year’s backup Chandler Morris is more than capable and the Horned Frogs will most likely have enough to remain in the top 15.
14: Washington Huskies
2022 Final AP Ranking: 8 (11-2)
The Huskies had a very productive 2022, winning 11 games and finishing with an Alamo Bowl win over the Longhorns. In 2023, Washington will get their team leader and star quarterback, Michael Penix back along with the overwhelming majority of their offensive players. Defensively, the Huskies will likely be fighting an uphill battle all year. Many fans and people close to Washington football believe this could be a statement year for their program. The pieces in place may allow them to contend for not only a PAC-12 title but a CFP appearance.
13. Oregon Ducks
2022 Final AP Ranking: 15 (10-3)
Most people would view the Ducks 2022 season as a success, especially for the first-year coach Dan Lanning, but towards the end of the year, the country began to see the Bo Nix of old, and Oregon somewhat fell apart. The 2023 Ducks football season entirely depends on the version of Bo Nix that plays. If he can mesh his pro-style arm with better decision-making and football IQ, the Ducks will be able to contend with the rest of the PAC-12. While the Ducks did lose certain crucial offensive pieces to the NFL Draft, with returning players such as Bo Nix and Bucky Irving, Oregon still seems to be a very dangerous force to be reckoned with.
12: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2022 Final AP Ranking: 18 (9-4)
In Marcus Freeman’s first season, the Fighting Irish struggled at the start, but towards the end of the year began to find their identity and build around their young roster. The incoming Wake Forest quarterback transfer Sam Hartman should be the key to Notre Dame’s success in 2023. Hartman threw for 3,701 YDS, 38 TDs, and 12 INTs for the Demon Deacons last season. With Hartman at the helm and players such as cornerback Benjamin Morrison and offensive tackle Joe Alt contributing as well, the Fighting Irish are poised to have an extremely productive 2nd season under Marcus Freeman.
11. Florida State Seminoles
2022 Final AP Ranking: 11 (10-3)
Jordan Travis. That’s the key to Florida States 2023-2024 season, if Travis lives up to the hype and has a breakout season, the Seminoles deserve to be in the discussion for the CFP at the end of the season. With that being said, if Travis struggles, 7-5, 8-4, could be the likely final record for them. The Seminoles returned most of their talent and even did well in the transfer portal, meaning this is a season where the entire ACC should be put on notice.
10. Texas Longhorns
2022 Final AP Ranking: 25 (8-5)
I get it. You don’t want to see all the Texas Longhorns pre-season hype from every media news outlet for them to lose 3-4 games by week 9, but the Longhorns truly look legit this season. In Quinn Ewers’ second season and Coach Steve Sarkisian’s third, it is definitely seeming like now or never for Texas. The defense appears to be locked and loaded with most players returning and great portal adds such as Jalen Catalon. On the offensive side of things, the Horns haven’t been this loaded in over a decade. Ewers, Worthy, Mitchell, and much more should be ready to produce all year long.
9. LSU Tigers
2022 Final AP Ranking: 16 (10-4)
I know that LSU fans and others may disagree with this ranking, but this isn’t because I think LSU will be bad. I just think that the SEC is stacked everywhere this year and we don’t completely know what we are going to get from Brian Kelly and LSU this year. The Tigers don’t have much to worry about on the defensive side of things as they get to enjoy Harold Perkins for another year. I have less faith in the offense. My general thoughts for the Tigers could be described as a question mark.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions
2022 Final AP Ranking: 7 (11-2)
I am extremely excited to see how the Nittany Lions season plays out this year. Quarterback Drew Allar is seemingly ready to have a breakout year and is someone everyone has been excited to see since he came out of High School. Penn State returns a lot of key players and has a schedule that contains two extremely tough opponents. Michigan and Ohio State. It should be a three-man race for the Big 10 title this year and if Drew Allar is what everyone says he is the Nittany Lions could look to win that race.
7. USC Trojans
2022 Final AP Ranking: 12 (11-3)
In Lincoln Riley’s second year, the Trojans look to make the step they were unable to last year as the season wrapped up. They return Heisman winner and favorite Caleb Williams as well Mario Williams and various other offensive pieces. The offense isn’t the question here. Instead, the test involves the improvement of the defense. The Trojans ranked 106/131 in total defense in 2022 and always seemed to be the one thing they could never use to win games last year. USC Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch needs a massive step forward from his unit. If that happens, USC possesses the offense to be a real threat.
6. Tennessee Volunteers
2022 Final AP Ranking: 6 (11-2)
With star quarterback Hendon Hooker turning pro after last year, many would think the Volunteers would be in line for somewhat of a down year. However, his replacement Joe Milton has shown flashes that he could be even better. The amount of talent, specifically offensive talent, that Tennessee lost is definitely going to have somewhat of an effect on the Vols. However, last year the program as a whole made a huge step under head coach Josh Heupel. I expect them to build on that with Joe Milton, receiver Bru McCoy, and a revamped running back room.
5. Clemson Tigers
2022 Final AP Ranking: 13 (11-3)
Throughout the 2010’s it seemed that Clemson was going to rule the college football world. In the past 2 seasons, offensive struggles have caused the Tigers to slide slightly below the nation’s top-tier teams. In 2023, the Tigers look completely revamped under rising Sophomore quarterback Cade Klubnik and plenty of returning talent on both sides of the ball. Additionally, new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, who was previously at TCU, will be very positive for Cade Klubnik’s development. Things are looking up for the Tigers.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
2022 Final AP Ranking: 5 (11-2)
Nick Saban’s resume speaks for itself. While the Tide lost a substantial amount of talent to the NFL Draft this offseason including star quarterback Bryce Young, Alabama will bounce back. There is a bit of a quarterback controversy in Tuscaloosa. Many Tide fans believe Jalen Milroe will get the start, while others believe it will be Ty Simpson. The Tide brings in the number one recruiting class for 2023. They also picked up a smattering of great transfers to their team that got somewhat gutted after last season. Unfortunately for everyone else, Alabama doesn’t rebuild. They reload.
3. Michigan Wolverines
2022 Final AP Ranking: 3 (13-1)
After a disappointing ending to the 2022 season being upset by TCU in the College Football Playoff, the Wolverines come into 2023 with a chip on their shoulder. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy comes into his second season as a starter as a Heisman hopeful with experience. The running back tandem with senior running back Blake Corum and junior Donovan Edwards should be downright scary for opposing defenses. Recently, the Wolverines have been able to handle Ohio State and the rest of the Big 10 with ease. Unfortunately, they have tripped up twice in the CFP in back-to-back years. However, I still expect the Wolverines to present a title threat in 2023.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
2022 Final AP Ranking: 4 (11-2)
Ohio State was one kick away from a National Championship title in 2022. They bring back seemingly the same roster back except for their start quarterback C.J. Stroud. Former 5-star quarterback Kyle McCord will take over as signal caller for the Buckeyes in 2023 where he will get to throw to the best wide receiver in college football Marvin Harrison Jr. and a very loaded receiver core behind a very solid offensive line. Ohio State’s defense has some question marks, but it typically does and usually gets taken care of by the end of the year.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
2022 Final AP Ranking: 1 (15-0)
In 2023, Georgia embarrassed TCU in the National Championship with the largest blowout in title game history. The scariest part about this year’s Georgia team? Their offense might improve. Possibly the greatest tight end talent ever in Brock Bowers returns and the quarterback battle is between two 5-stars and a highly regarded 4-star. It seems that Georgia will be right back to where they were last season and that is a very scary sight for the SEC and the rest of college football.
Who do you think should be in the College Football Top 15? Let us know on Twitter!