Way-too-early 2020 college football rankings: Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama vie for No. 1

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 28: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers drops back to pass during the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Tigers defeated the Buckeyes 29-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Clemson and Ohio State delivered an instant classic in the Fiesta Bowl and now vie for the top spot in our 2020 way-too-early college football rankings.

Sure, the 2019 college football season hasn’t reached its official conclusion yet. We don’t yet know whether the Clemson Tigers or LSU Tigers will raise the trophy while confetti falls on the Superdome turf. But that shouldn’t stop us from looking ahead.

Fans of the other 128 FBS football programs have largely turned toward recruiting, coaching changes, player graduations, transfers and are looking forward to potential position battles in spring practice. Enterprising sportsbooks have already released early odds on who will win the next national championship, Heisman Trophy, and even conference titles.

And it’s worth noting there’s value to be found this time of the year. After all, LSU was listed at 25-to-1 odds to win the national title early in the 2019 preseason. But more so, it’s a fun exercise.

Personally, I’ve been updating the CFB Winning Edge FBS Team Profiles to include final depth charts, as well as games played, games started, and production points that should be added to our individual player ratings. I’ve been tracking transfers, early NFL Draft departures and which players have run out of eligibility to get an early look at the number of starters and returning statistical production are projected to return on both sides of the football for all 130 teams.

It’s a long and laborious project and won’t be complete until February. Nevertheless, I can get a sense as to what the 2020 Roster Strength ratings (which include talent potential, adjusted for experience and production, as well as injuries) will look like. When combining Roster Strength with our updated Head Coach ratings and 2019 Team Performance ratings, it gives me a good look as to which teams should improve (at least on paper – or more specifically, on spreadsheets) and which are likely to take a step back.

Here, we’ll explore the earliest 2020 CFB Winning Edge Team Strength power rankings. But please note, our Way-Too-Early college football rankings are not a predicted order of finish. Instead, they reflect the order in which teams would be favored against one another on a neutral field.

A team’s 2019 win-loss record is not a factor. Neither is its 2020 strength of schedule.

These rankings will undoubtedly change before the teams kick off in August. Truthfully, they will change before National Signing Day, and again during spring practice, and even in the summer as rosters are finalized.

Yet we’ve got to start somewhere. And there’s no better time than now.

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