Each August, college football fans await the release of the AP Poll, which ranks the top 25 college football teams in the country. That list will be out soon, maybe the next week or two. But why wait? Here’s my take on what the AP Poll could look like before the CFB season kicks off. Call it the JJ Poll!
1. Ohio State
Ohio State has three starter-caliber quarterbacks. They have Joey Bosa, one of the best players in the nation. They have almost all of their top players returning from 2014, not to mention the seventh-best recruiting class in the nation. They have a coach with a history of winning. Will anyone really be able to compete with the Buckeyes?
Oregon brought in another top-20 recruiting class this year. They will benefit from a relatively easy schedule.
TCU managed to get every college football coach’s dream: its star quarterback returning for his senior year. Trevone Boykin is one of the best QBs in the nation and defenses will have a their hands full trying to stop him.
The Bears have almost always been a top 25 team. Last year they went 11-2 in the regular season, but went out on a sour note with a heartbreaking loss to Michigan State. This season they have kept many key players. Look for them to repeat last year’s success.
Alabama has always ruled college football. Although a first-round exit in the NCAA bracket last year was disappointing, it is not a sign of a downfall. With Jake Coker, a senior with plenty experience, and the number-two recruiting class in the nation, the Tide will look to stay on top.
Often the most underappreciated team in America, this year the Tigers are rising. With Leonard Fournette, arguably the best running back in the country, leading the way, the Tigers are sure to be strong predators.
7. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish suffered a down year in 2014. They barely snuck away with the Mortgage City Bowl and ended their regular season with four straight losses. But the Irish brought in a great recruiting class and will look to avenge last year’s subpar season.
UCLA brought in a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by three five-star recruits in Josh Rosen, Soso Jamabo, and Keisean Lucier-South. But the 2015 Bruins have big shoes to fill after last season’s impressive 9-3 campaign.
9. Georgia Tech
The Ramblin’ Wreck have always been an overachieving underdog. Don’t let the Yellow Jackets deceive you. They will continue to outperform expectations.
After last year’s disappointing loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl, the Seminoles took a step back. Losing dynamic quarterback Jameis Winston could hurt the ‘Nole offense, but they should be able to remain competitive in 2015.
USC has an amazing recruiting class. They brought in impact players on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense with three five-star recruits: Osa Masina, Rasheem Green, and Iman Marshall.
Arizona had a great 2014 (10-2), but ended with a tough loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats didn’t lose many key players to the draft and should be a strong team this season.
Ole Miss was one of the surprise teams of 2015, briefly reaching the top three. I think the Rebels will carry their 2014 success into this year.
Oklahoma suffered a disappointing 2014. It was 8-4 and ended the year with a blowout loss to Clemson in the Russel Athletic Bowl. A combination of strong veterans and promising recruits should make the Sooners a force to be reckoned with.
15. Michigan State
The Spartans overachieved last year with their only two losses coming at the hands of the two top teams in the country. With Connor Cook returning, the Spartans will keep the success coming.
Last year was disappointing for the Cardinal faithful. Stanford failed to beat several rivals such as Oregon, Notre Dame, and USC and only appeared in the Foster Farms bowl. But look for Stanford to regain their edge.
17. Boise State
Although Boise State lost two key players in Grant Hendrick and Jay Ajayi, they still have a solid core. Add to that a very easy schedule, and the Broncos should have continued success in 2015.
18. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys played disappointingly last year, at one point losing five straight. But a defeat of Washington in the Cactus Bowl gives State fans a reason to be optimistic about 2015.
Last year, the Tigers outperformed predictions and Mizzuos’ appearance in the SEC championship is leading some to place them in the top 15. However, I think that this year the Tigers will not meet those expectations.
The Razorbacks were tested last year after 2013’s awful 3-9 showing. And they passed with flying colors, winning seven games and the AdvoCare Bowl. Look for continued success in 2015.
21. Arizona State
The Sun Devils had an impressive 2014 season, but lost a great offensive weapon in Jaelen Strong. This year, ASU will face a tough schedule and might take a step down from their 2014 final ranking.
Clemson was a very good team last year, going 9-3 with a heartbreaking loss to eventual division champion Florida State. Clemson should have another good year in 2015.
Tennessee had one of its best recruiting classes in a long time. Normally an average team, I think these additions will provide it with the ability to step up.
24. Penn State
Penn State faltered last year. Under new coach James Franklin, Christian Hackenberg had a less than stellar season. Expect the Lions to address their support issues and improve their standing in 2015.
Georgia played strong last year. It could have been in the SEC title game, but lost several close games. With Nick Chubb leading the way, the Dawgs could be good in 2015.
Photos: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images (trophy), Christian Petersen/Getty Images (Ohio State), Chris Graythen/Getty Images (LSU), Harry How/Getty Images (USC), Ezra Shaw/Getty Images (Stanford), Ralph Freso/Getty Images (Arizona State)