AP Preseason Poll 2020: Complete College Football Rankings Released

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 24, 2020

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence throws a pass against Ohio State during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The first Associated Press Top 25 poll of the 2020 college football season has been released, with the Clemson Tigers sitting in the top spot. 

Since the preseason AP poll was voted on before the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their decision to postpone fall sports, those conferences are represented in this ranking.

"The AP has asked its voters to consider all Division I teams when filling out their ballots, so the preseason poll is expected to include teams from conferences that have decided not to play this fall," Ralph D. Russo of the AP wrote on Aug. 14. "After games begin, voters will rank only teams that are scheduled to play."

Here's the full Top 25 as voted on by the Associated Press' panel of sports writers and broadcasters:

1. Clemson Tigers (38 first-place votes)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (21)

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3. Alabama Crimson Tide (2)

4. Georgia Bulldogs

5. Oklahoma Sooners

6. LSU Tigers (1)

7. Penn State Nittany Lions

8. Florida Gators

9. Oregon Ducks

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

11. Auburn Tigers

12. Wisconsin Badgers

13. Texas A&M Aggies

14. Texas Longhorns

15. Oklahoma State Cowboys

16. Michigan Wolverines

17. USC Trojans

18. North Carolina Tar Heels

19. Minnesota Golden Gophers

20. Cincinnati Bearcats

21. UCF Knights

22. Utah Utes

23. Iowa State Cyclones

24. Iowa Hawkeyes

25. Tennessee Volunteers

     

Since the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams will be dropped from the next rankings, which will come out after games begin, the entire Top 25 is going to have a drastically different look. 

Among the initial rankings, though, it's not a surprise to see the SEC dominating the list. The conference is led by Alabama, Georgia, defending national champion LSU and Florida in the top 10.

Even though Alabama and LSU reload on talent every year, both teams have question marks at the quarterback position coming into the regular season. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa were the first two quarterbacks taken in the 2020 NFL draft. 

The Crimson Tide may have indirectly benefited from Tagovailoa's season-ending hip injury. Mac Jones completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 1,503 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions in 11 games last year. 

Jones has competition for the starting job. True freshman Bryce Young arrives in Tuscaloosa as a highly-touted 5-star prospect and No. 2 overall recruit in the 2020 class, per 247Sports composite rankings. 

LSU will turn to redshirt junior Myles Brennan for his first extended action. The Mississippi native has attempted 70 passes in the past three seasons and has more interceptions (three) than touchdowns. 

As the immediate successor to Burrow, Brennan will be unfairly compared to the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner. It will be virtually impossible for anyone to duplicate what the Tigers offense did last year en route to winning a national title. 

Right in the mix with those SEC programs is Oklahoma, though the reigning Big 12 champs have their own quarterback dilemma.

Head coach Lincoln Riley has been a quarterback guru the past two years. Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy in 2018. Jalen Hurts transferred from Alabama and finished third in Heisman voting last year. 

The buzz around the Sooners has revolved around Spencer Rattler. Mike Brown, who was Rattler's offensive coordinator in high school, did nothing to calm the hype with a lofty player comparison. 

"I'll be honest, I think he's the next Patrick Mahomes," Brown told Caleb McCourry of OUDaily.com. "He reminds me so much of him, just arm strength, the pocket presence, the accuracy."

Whether Rattler can live up to that comparison remains to be seen, but he certainly has the right coach who can get him to that level. 

Any discussion of quarterbacks in 2020 will almost certainly start with Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson star has been the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft since leading his team to a national title as a true freshman two years ago. 

Lawrence had a slow start last season with a 60.8 completion percentage, 831 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions in his first three games. The 20-year-old found himself from that point on, completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions over the final 12 games. 

One important factor to remember this season is most schedules have been adjusted to conference-only games. A team like LSU trying to run the gauntlet will have to prove itself from Oct. 17 through Nov. 14 with games against Florida, Auburn and Alabama.

Alabama has to play Texas A&M on Oct. 3 and Georgia on Oct. 17, though both of those games will be at Bryant–Denny Stadium. 

On the other hand, Clemson figures to benefit from primarily playing ACC opponents. Its most difficult game right now looks like a Nov. 7 showdown against Notre Dame in South Bend. 

This is going to be the most unusual college football season any of us have ever seen. Everything about the rankings will be given a shake up after Week 1, but for now, the hype for the start of games can begin.