Texan sports senior staff picks its college football preseason Top 25

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

The first games of the 2020 college football season are just a few weeks away, so it’s time to start making predictions. Members of The Daily Texan sports senior staff have compiled a college football preseason Top 25 poll, which includes schools that have opted out. It’s as if things were, you know, normal. Scroll to the bottom to check out what the staff has to say about schools in the Top 10.

25. SMU
24. Tennessee
23. Utah
22. Cincinnati
21. Iowa State
20. UCF
19. North Carolina
18. Texas A&M
17. Michigan
16. Minnesota
15. Oklahoma State 
14. Notre Dame
13. Texas
12. USC
11. Wisconsin 

10. Auburn
Predicting success for head coach Gus Malzahn’s teams has been anything but easy. But when the Tigers return with sophomore quarterback Bo Nix and a group of explosive skill players, a berth in the SEC Championship game becomes plausible.

— Stephen Wagner

9. Florida
Florida will win a lot of games this fall, but the Gators will lose when it really counts — in typical fashion. A loss to Georgia or another SEC West component will keep Florida out of the upper echelon. That’s just the way it goes in the SEC.

— Myah Taylor

8. Oregon
The Ducks return with a three-headed monster at running back that combined for over 2,200 yards on the ground in juniors CJ Verdell, Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio. A historically good 2019 defense could get even stronger this season, especially if sophomore defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux can build upon the nine sacks he tallied as a freshman. 

— Carter Yates

7. LSU
The big question for the national champs is who steps up after the team lost a record 13 players to this year’s NFL draft, including Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. The good news for Burrow’s replacement? He’ll have one of the top playmakers in the league to throw to: junior wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

— Nathan Han

6. Oklahoma 
Even though Oklahoma suffered an ugly loss to reigning national champion LSU in January, the Sooners are still contenders in 2020. OU lost quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and defensive end Neville Gallimore to the NFL in April, but will return with redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler, a five-star recruit head coach Lincoln Riley can work his magic on.

— Myah Taylor 

5. Penn State 
The James Franklin era at Penn State has brought consistent and underrated predictions for the Nittany Lions. There’s no way they’ll be as good as last year, and they lost too much talent. But with a combined 44–11 record over the last four years and three appearances in the New Year's Six Bowls, the Lions have returned to the national spotlight. It’s time to give them the respect they deserve.

— Stephen Wagner 

4. Georgia 
The Bulldogs may have lost quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift, but they bring possibly the most talented secondary in the nation. Combined with a pair of relentless edge rushers in senior defensive lineman Malik Herring and redshirt sophomore linebacker Azeez Ojulari, Georgia is more than talented enough to make the College Football Playoff. 

— Stephen Wagner

3. Alabama
After a season that saw Alabama left out of the College Football Playoff for the first time ever, the Crimson Tide should return to their perennial spot as one of the country’s top four teams in 2020. With 2019’s historic LSU team dismantled and with head coach Nick Saban still at the helm, Alabama shouldn’t have any team standing in its way. Well, maybe except for Clemson.

— Myah Taylor

2. Ohio State
The Buckeyes are one of the most talented teams in the nation, even if they might not be able to show that on the football field this fall. With Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Fields behind an impressive O-line, the Ohio State offense will be dominant, but the difference between a fourth straight Big Ten championship and a national championship will be who replaces the six players leaving the secondary — including third overall pick and All-American junior cornerback Jeff Okudah.

— Nathan Han

1. Clemson
Clemson’s claim to the top spot starts and ends with junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has a record of 29–1 as a starter and is the undisputed preseason Heisman frontrunner. Aside from Lawrence, Clemson is led by All-American senior running back Travis Etienne, who surprisingly elected to stay for his senior season despite projecting to be a high-round pick in the NFL draft, and defensive line chock-full of five-star recruits.

— Carter Yates