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NCAA Football Rankings 2019: Analysis for Latest Polls Before Week 1

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2019

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) drops back to pass against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

The Florida Gators defended their No. 8 position with a season-opening win over the Miami Hurricanes, but the rest of college football's top-10 teams will begin their campaign in Week 1.

Upsets could be at a premium for the highest-ranked programs since none are preparing for a Top 25 opponent. Granted, that is just narrowly the truth. The No. 11 Oregon Ducks are set for a Texas-sized showdown with the No. 16 Auburn Tigers.

Although that Pac-12/SEC clash is the only matchup between ranked teams, several schools kick off 2019 against a conference opponent. For those schools in particular, there's no time to waste.

Nobody is winning a championship in Week 1, but any upset loss could put a serious dent in title-winning dreams.

             

AP Preseason Top 25

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. Oklahoma
5. Ohio State
6. LSU
7. Michigan
8. Florida
9. Notre Dame
10. Texas
11. Oregon
12. Texas A&M
13. Washington
14. Utah
15. Penn State
16. Auburn
17. UCF
18. Michigan State
19. Wisconsin
20. Iowa
21. Iowa State
22. Syracuse
23. Washington State
24. Nebraska
25. Stanford

           

The top-ranked Clemson Tigers should be full of confidence. After winning last season's national title, they return star quarterback Trevor Lawrence with All-American running back Travis Etienne and elite wideouts Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins.

Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence
Travis Etienne and Trevor LawrenceKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Clemson, though, has no more time to celebrate.

The Tigers host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, an ACC foe, to begin the year. Clemson is a massive favorite and will likely cruise to a win, but opening the season with a league victory will be encouraging nonetheless for the reigning champions.

Kirby Smart and the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs face a similar task, hitting the road to face the Vanderbilt Commodores. While a win over Vandy isn't glamorous, every SEC triumphparticularly opposite an East Division teamis beneficial for UGA.

Every other Top 25 team in action has a nonconference matchup.

Oregon and Auburn will attract most of the attention, and the spotlight will shine brightly on the quarterbacks. Coveted NFL prospect Justin Herbert returns to lead the Ducks, and prized freshman Bo Nix will make his Auburn debut.

Bleacher Report CFB @BR_CFB

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Despite their relatively high rankings, both programs are fringe contenders for the College Football Playoff. Securing this early win is a necessity to remain a real factor in that chase.

Nix is one of several quarterbacks making a high-profile debut, too.

Jalen Hurts (No. 4 Oklahoma), Justin Fields (No. 5 Ohio State), Jacob Eason (No. 13 Washington) and Brandon Wimbush (No. 17 UCF) will each make their first appearance with a new school. Sean Clifford (No. 15 Penn State) and Tommy DeVito (No. 22 Syracuse) are also new starters at key programs.

All six of those players have a comfortable first matchupperhaps other than Hurts and OU against Houstonyet their performance is guaranteed to draw headlines. Starting the 2019 campaign on a high note would be a welcome sign.

Overall, the rankings shouldn't change much after Week 1. Most programs are easing into the schedule, and voters usually don't overhaul the ballots until a Saturday features a handful of marquee games.

Still, a few Week 1 matchups will demand a few tweaks be made.

            

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR