2017 Preseason College Football Rankings: Predicting the Poll Post-Championship

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2017

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Safety Isaiah Simmons #11 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The College Football Playoff was decided less than 24 hours ago, with Clemson pulling off the thrilling 35-31 win, which can mean only one thing: It's time to start thinking about next season already!

No time to bask in Clemson's victory, folks. We must always look ahead! So let's take a look at next year's projected rankings. 

2017 College Football Projected Preseason Poll
Projected RankTeam
1Alabama
2Ohio State
3USC
4Penn State
5Florida State
6Oklahoma
7Clemson
8Washington
9Michigan
10Oklahoma State
11Wisconsin
12LSU
13Auburn
14Stanford
15Georgia
16Louisville
17Florida
18Miami
19Virginia Tech
20USF
21Texas
22Tennessee
23Kansas State
24Boise State
25UCLA

Alabama currently is ranked No. 1 in recruiting for the class of 2017, per Scout.com, which would be its seventh straight top overall class. It probably shouldn't be a surprise that the Crimson Tide top these rankings; despite losing a number of talented players to the NFL, they will still be stocked with talent next season.

For one, they'll return quarterback Jalen Hurts, who struggled at times during the College Football Playoff but had an excellent freshman season (36 total touchdowns and nine interceptions). With another year of experience under his belt—and another talented supporting class—he should lead Alabama to big things next season.

Ohio State will lose plenty of talent as well, including major losses like Curtis Samuel on offense and several players in the secondary on defense. But J.T. Barrett returns and the Buckeyes, like Alabama, have plenty of talent waiting in the wings for head coach Urban Meyer to work with in 2017.

As for USC, it's all about Sam Darnold, who very well may be the best quarterback in all of college football next season.

The team the Trojans beat in a thrilling Rose Bowl, Penn State, will return the majority of its starters from a year ago, headlined by quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. By the end of this past season, Penn State looked capable of beating anybody it faced. In 2017, those will be the expectations.

Rounding out the top five is a Florida State squad that finished the 2016 season well and returns Deondre Francois. Getting back safety Derwin James will be a major plus as well.

"Nobody likes missing football especially when I'd like to help my team out there," James told Bob Ferrante of the TheLedger.com after missing 11 games this past season with a torn meniscus. "It was out of my control. I'm just hoping for the best out of this next year. Train harder with this offseason with my teammates, come back and have a strong year next year."

He added: "Next year is going to be a very exciting year. We're going to be a team to be reckoned with next year."

Returning quarterback Baker Mayfield will make Oklahoma dangerous again in 2017, while the loss of Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams, among others, will force Clemson to retool next season. Meanwhile, both Washington and Michigan will have to replace a ton of starters, though both schools have recruited well in recent years and should be able to replenish their talent on both sides of the ball.

Finally, Oklahoma State rounds out the top 10, led by the return of quarterback Mason Rudolph and wideout James Washington, who both decided to forego the NFL draft for their senior seasons.

"If we made the jump this year I think we would have both been ready, but we also know just what college means to us and what we’ve been enjoying, we’ve been enjoying these first three years," Rudolph told Max Olson of ESPN.com. "And we know the tremendous talent and opportunity we have next year coming back."

Indeed, the Cowboys will be dangerous. But take a number, Oklahoma State. There are a number of talented teams waiting in line for their shot at next year's College Football Playoff. It should be another great season.

    

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