College Football Rankings: Early Look at Potential 2020 Preseason Top 25

Jake RillSenior Analyst IJanuary 14, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers takes to the field after halftime against the LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Don't worry, Clemson fans. There will be opportunities for the Tigers to win a national championship again soon. 

With the 2019 college football season over following LSU's 42-25 win over Clemson in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship, it's time to look ahead to the 2020 campaign. While it may be seven months away, it's not too early to figure out what teams should be the top playoff contenders next season.

LSU may have just won the national title, but don't expect it to be the No. 1 team in the 2020 preseason rankings. The main reason for that will be the Tigers losing Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, who accounted for six total touchdowns in their national title game victory.

Instead, Clemson, which fell short of winning its third national championship in four seasons, will likely be atop the rankings as it will return plenty of top talent for the 2020 campaign.

Here's a look at how the Top 25 rankings could look when the 2020 preseason gets closer.


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2020 Preseason Top 25

1. Clemson

2. Ohio State

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Georgia

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Penn State

9. Florida

10. Notre Dame

11. Michigan

12. Auburn

13. Wisconsin

14. Texas

15. Minnesota

16. Texas A&M

17. USC

18. Cincinnati

19. North Carolina

20. Iowa

21. Boise State

22. Memphis

23. UCF

24. Arizona State

25. Tennessee


Clemson set up well to get to CFP again

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 13: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers looks for an open receiver against the LSU Tigers during the College Football Playoff National Championship held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Lou
Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Tigers have made the College Football Playoff in five straight seasons, and it doesn't seem like the streak is in jeopardy of ending anytime soon.

In 2020, Clemson will return some key players, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence, wide receiver Justyn Ross and several starters on the defensive line. At this point, the Tigers have the No. 1 2020 recruiting class in the country, per the 247sports Composite rankings, so they'll be bringing in plenty of talented players to continue their success in the years to come.

Lawrence may have Ross returning with him on offense, but he'll also be losing some key playmakers, such as running back Travis Etienne and wide receiver Tee Higgins. However, Lawrence is already one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, and he'll likely be a top pick in the 2021 NFL draft. He should continue to build on his first two strong seasons in his final year at Clemson.

Expect the Tigers to easily continue their playoff streak in 2020.


Can LSU overcome loss of Joe Burrow?

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Head coach Ed Orgeron of the LSU Tigers watches from the sidelines during the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

LSU isn't just losing a talented quarterback in Burrow. It's losing a player who just had one of the best seasons in college football history. He set the FBS single-season records for passing touchdowns (60) and total touchdowns (65) while winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Tigers to the national title.

With Burrow gone, it's likely Myles Brennan will be the Tigers' quarterback in 2020. He already has playing experience, as he's appeared in 17 games over his first three years at LSU. He is 42-of-70 for 600 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in his career.

But now the starting job could belong to Brennan for the first time. And while there could be an early transition period, he'll at least have talented wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase to throw to and rely on for big plays.

There's enough talent on both sides of the ball for LSU—such as Chase, fellow wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., among others—that it should again be one of the top teams in the country in 2020. It may not come as easily for the Tigers as it did this past season, but they could reach the College Football Playoff in back-to-back years.


Alabama aims to get back on track without Tua Tagovailoa

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up prior to the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines at Camping World Stadium on January 1, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It felt unusual for Alabama not be in the College Football Playoff this season, as the Crimson Tide had made it in each of the first five years of the CFP format.

But this season, Alabama lost two games and Tagovailoa missed four matchups due to injury, which led to the Tide missing out on the CFP. However, it may not take long for Alabama to get back to being a playoff team.

The Crimson Tide have some top players returning in 2020, which includes quarterback Mac Jones. With Tagovailoa out, Jones gained some valuable playing experience that should bode well for his future leading Alabama's offense. He passed for 1,503 yards and 14 touchdowns this season and led the Tide to a win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.

Alabama will also return numerous key players on defense, including most of its linebacker corps. That includes Dylan Moses, who missed all of the 2019 season due to injury. That could be a key reason for the Crimson Tide getting back on track and having a better season in 2020.