Preseason College Football Rankings 2013: Analyzing Nation's Top Teams

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMay 8, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 08:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks to the media during the Discover BCS National Championship Press Conference at the Harbor Beach Marriott on January 8, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Throughout the spring, we've been able to get a better picture of what some of the top teams in the nation will look like come the start of the regular season.

Some top teams from last season will inevitably drop off. Others have some young players who have been waiting in the wings who could transition nicely to starting roles.

Alabama has won three of the last four national championships, so the Crimson Tide have a bull's eye on their back once again this season. 

Let's take a look at the defending champions, as well as some of my other top teams in the preseason.


3. Oregon

Oregon is slightly edged by Ohio State in my preseason rankings based on the fact that former coach Chip Kelly is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, but I still believe former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will do a fine job succeeding him.

The loss of No. 1 running back Kenjon Barner is irrelevant. The Ducks still have the electric De'Anthony Thomas, who should shine in a bigger role this season. They also have dual-threat quarterback Marcus Mariota.

There are some concerns on defense after the losses of Dion Jordan, Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, but, while I do believe there will be a small drop-off, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti's defensive rotations should mostly make up for the loss in talent. Returning starter Boseko Lokombo will be very important in leading the linebacking corps.


2. Ohio State

To put it frankly, Ohio State is stacked and coming off a perfect 12-0 season. 

Now, with the bowl ban lifted, there's no reason the Buckeyes shouldn't be in the title conversation.

First and foremost, you can't talk about the Buckeyes without talking about dual-threat sensation Braxton Miller, who was in the Heisman conversation last season.

Miller also has some key starters returning, including last season's No. 2 rusher Carlos Hyde, receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith, and offensive linemen Andrew Norwell and Jack Mewhort. 

The Buckeyes did lose defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins and John Simon, but the encouraging development of Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington makes those losses much more bearable. In fact, the transition could be seamless based on the spring performances of both linemen.

And, don't forget, the Buckeyes still have linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby, two stars in their own right.


1. Alabama

Alabama lost some significant talent to the NFL this offseason, but that hasn't stopped the Crimson Tide from winning the national championship in three of the last four years. 

Center Barrett Jones, guard Chance Warmack and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker are now in the NFL, but Ryan Kelly, Arie Kouandjio and Austin Shepard should be able to fill in nicely. None has started a game yet, but Kelly practiced with the first team all of bowl season last campaign, Shepard has appeared in 16 career games and Kouandjio has played alongside his brother, Cyrus. Speaking of Cyrus, he represents a first-class left tackle, important in the big and bad SEC.

The loss of Eddie Lacy isn't that big of a deal considering the Tide have the electric T.J. Yeldon in the backfield. The loss of nose guard Jesse Williams will be eased by two talented players in Brandon Ivory and Darren Lake. And the loss of Quinton Dial is eased by the presence of an experienced reserve in Jeoffrey Pagan and former starter Ed Stinson. 

Of course, the Crimson Tide still have quarterback A.J. McCarron and dynamic receiver Amari Cooper.

Yeah, Alabama should be alright.


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