While it has been less than 24 hours since the College Football Playoff National Championship Game where the Clemson Tigers stunned the Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16, we're already thinking about the next college football season and which teams will dominate.
After many surprising and close bowl games—such as the New Year's Six bowl games—the 2019 season is stacking up to be an exciting one with lots of hype around some new programs as well as past dominant ones.
The official preseason poll isn't out yet, but here's what we think it could look like:
2019 Projected Preseason Poll
4. Ohio State
9. Texas A&M
10. Notre Dame
14. Penn State
19. Washington State
21. Virginia Tech
Breaking Down the Top 5
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers shocked college football fans everywhere when they dominated the Crimson Tide in a 44-16 win. The Clemson defense stopped Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa three times within the Clemson 25-yard line, forcing Alabama to turn the ball over on downs on its first three second-half drives.
Lawrence is a true freshman, and his incredible performance against a team like Alabama—a normally very tough defense—bodes well for his game in the coming years. Rushing leader Travis Etienne, who had just under 1,500 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the season, will also be returning for his junior year, as well as freshman wideout Justyn Ross, who had an incredible performance in the Cotton Bowl and National Championship. For this reason, Clemson gets the No. 1 spot over Alabama despite the Crimson Tide's track record and college football dynasty.
Was this the most points a Saban-coached Alabama has every allowed? Yes. Will Alabama still be ranked No. 2 at the lowest in the preseason polls? Yes.
With Saban still at the helm, and Heisman finalist Tagovailoa returning for another year of college football, the Crimson Tide should continue their dominant reign despite this huge loss dealt to them in the championship game. The team will also be entering the 2019 season with the top-ranked recruiting class, according to 247sports.com, with three 5-star commits and 24 4-star commits.
Clemson comes in sixth in the recruiting class standings, while Georgia follows Alabama at No. 2 with the most 5-star commits—five.
While Georgia lost to Texas 21-28 in the Sugar Bowl, thanks to a fourth-quarter Longhorns run, the team's top-notch 2019 recruiting class should put them in the top three in the preseason poll.
Georgia, like Clemson and Alabama, will be returning its quarterback Jake Fromm. The sophomore threw 30 touchdowns and 2,761 yards on only six interceptions this season. He will be joined by fellow sophomore D'Andre Swift next season, who led the Bulldogs on the ground with over 1,000 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. These returners paired with top recruits should put Georgia at No. 3.
The always-dominant Ohio State breaks the top 5 for the coming year as well. The Buckeyes are losing star quarterback Dwayne Haskins to the NFL draft, so they will have to find a replacement for him. They are also losing defensive stars Dre'Mont Jones and Nick Bosa to the draft but will be holding onto defensive end Chase Young and running back J.K. Dobbins.
Under the new head coach Ryan Day—who is taking over after Urban Meyer stepped down—Ohio State will have some work to do to replace offensive and defensive stars. However, with Justin Fields transferring from Georgia to Ohio State and looking into being eligible to play in the 2019 season, the Buckeyes could continue their dominance.
Finally, Texas comes in at No. 5 in our preseason poll due to their incredible 28-21 performance over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Longhorns scored 17 unanswered points, and after the Bulldogs scored their first touchdown, Texas added another 11 to make it 28-7 in the fourth quarter. Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger led the way with three rushing touchdowns.
Like the majority of our top five teams, the Texas quarterback will return for another season and should lead the Longhorns to another successful season. The Texas native passed for 3,292 yards, ran for 482 yards, and totaling 41 touchdowns on the season—making him an early Heisman contender for the 2019 season.
With Ehlinger returning after leading Texas to 10 games and the upset over Georgia, next year's team will have an experienced and confident leader. However, where the Longhorns may run into trouble is in their receiving game, if junior wideout and top receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey decides to declare for the draft. His fellow junior and No. 2 receiver on the team, Collin Johnson, has decided to return for his senior season.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.