College football: Joel Klatt releases too-early top 25
We’re just over 100 days until Notre Dame and Navy square off in Dublin to begin the 2023 college football season. The Irish will be significant favorites in that contest but how do they stack up compared to some of the elite programs they’ll face in 2023?
We’ve been reviewing different “way too early” and “post spring” top 25 rankings the last few weeks. Monday saw Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt release his and although he spoke very highly of Notre Dame at quarterback, he ranked the Irish a bit lower than most we’ve seen.
Below is Klatt’s entire too-early top 25 rankings with our quick thoughts on each program.
Coming off a 9-4 season a year ago that saw the Bruins go 6-3 in the Pac-12, they must replace their starting quarterback as well as their leading rusher from 2022. Is this the year Chip Kelly and UCLA take a major step and compete for the Pac 12 championship?
2022 was an up and down year for Texas Tech as they finished 8-5 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 play. That did come with a four-game winning streak to close the year and included an always popular win over Texas.
Luke Fickell tried hard to get the Notre Dame job in the late fall of 2021 but wound up getting the Wisconsin job this past off-season. How quickly can he overhaul the Badgers after they went just 4-5 in Big Ten play a season ago.
Iowa‘s offense could put a glass eye to sleep and it has to replace a significant amount of what was a standout defense a season ago. The offensive changes are minimal and have me selling my Hawkeyes stock at 22.
A case can be made that Drake Maye is the best returning quarterback in college football in 2023 and that’s not meant as a knock on Caleb Williams. Maye is the real deal. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s defensive woes will remain. And how do they replace offensive coordinator Phil Longo who left to join the Wisconsin staff?
Ole Miss benefited from a generous early season schedule and started last year 8-1 but dropped their final four contests of the year. Jaxson Dart and Spencer Sanders competing for the starting spot should leave Ole Miss in good hands at quarterback this fall but the always tough SEC West will provide landmines. That said, it was the run game that dictated the Ole Miss offense last season.
What exactly did Oklahoma do this off-season to go from a 6-7 team that lost 49-0 to Texas to a top-20 team nationally? Someone please explain as I’m having trouble understanding.
Is there a more quietly discussed defending conference champion than Kansas State?
It would appear that having them check in at 17th nationally that Klatt isn’t buying into the whole “Texas is back” thing quite yet. And really, who can blame him?
With a backloaded schedule you should expect Oregon State to be in the heat of the Pac 12 championship game race into at least mid-November.
TCU was an overnight success in their first year under head coach Sonny Dykes. There is a lot to replace here with offensive stars gone to the NFL and their offensive coordinator off to Clemson but who does anyone feel particularly great about in the Big 12?
Clemson loses much of their star-studded defensive line to the NFL but returns what might be the most talented group of linebackers in college football. Even with their relative struggles last year the Tigers steam-rolled through the ACC going unbeaten in conference and beating North Carolina in the championship game.
After a year of big struggles on offense Notre Dame checks in with transfer quarterback Sam Hartman who could be the most talented Irish signal caller in over 15 years. Are the Irish primed to field a fierce offense for a change?
Dan Lanning gets set for a second year in Eugene as Oregon is again in the conversation for the Pac 12’s best team. Oregon stumbled in the regular season’s final week against Oregon State last year, costing them a trip to the Pac 12 championship game.
Utah was one of just two Pac 12 teams a season ago to allow fewer than 230 points in conference play (Oregon State the other) by giving up just 198. The most physical team in the conference bar-none gets their starting quarterback Cam Rising back as well.
Tennessee returning to promincence was one of the great stories of college football in 2022 but how do they replace the major losses they have on offense? If they can they could be Georgia’s biggest threat with the Bulldogs coming to Knoxville in 2023.
2021 closed with in-state rival Washington State’s fans rushing Washington’s home field after a dominating win in the Apple Cup. Just one year later Michael Penix, Jr. returns for the Huskies and what should again be one of the most prolific offenses in the game.
Florida State won six-straight games to end 2022 and has many thinking they’re back and the ACC favorite entering the year. They’ve benefited from the transfer portal but don’t look past the fact that zero of the Seminoles 10 wins last year came against ranked opponents.
All LSU did in their first year under Brian Kelly was beat Alabama, win the SEC West, and dominate their bowl victory. Could the Tigers be a threat to win the whole SEC in 2023?
USC returns the Heisman Trophy winner in Caleb Williams from a year ago and has their eyes set on the College Football Playoff. Will their defense find enough stops to get them there is the question however.
Just how loaded is the Big Ten East? Penn State checks in justifiably fifth in Klatt’s rankings but is the third-best team in their own division in these same rankings. James Franklin is quietly getting work done in Happy Valley.
In most places seeing a No. 4 next to your name in the preseason would bring great excitement. In Tuscaloosa it instead brings the question, “what’s the matter here?” The Tide is still loaded but for the first time seems clearly less than multiple other teams entering a season.
Ohio State sat this off-season rather disappointed as for the second year in a row, they were manhandled by their biggest rival. That said, they were a missed last-second field goal away from probably winning a national championship last year, too. Beware sleeping on the Buckeyes this fall.
Last year ended with Michigan falling in the CFP semi-finals to TCU in an all-time classic. The Wolverines bring a ton of talent back and enter 2023 as a legit title contender. How will they handle being the hunted instead of the hunter?
Is the Georgia dynasty setting up to be even greater than the Alabama one we all just witnessed the last 13 years of? A three-peat is the legit expectation this year in Athens.