Preseason top 25 college football rankings for the COVID-19 altered 2020 season.
College football is going to be different in the 2020 season. With the Big Ten and Pac-12 making the decision cancel the fall football season due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic with the potential to play in the spring — an unlikely option — it will be a season in which the remainder of the Power 5 conferences, the ACC, Big 12 and SEC, dominate the conversation.
They won’t be alone, of course. The AAC has yet to cancel their 2020 fall college football season, leaving arguably the best conference in the Group of 5 in the mix as well. Still, without the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon, USC and many others, this will be unlike anything we’ve seen before in the sport. And that even pertains to the teams still playing as they will all play conference-only schedules, save for a few regional non-conference games, namely in the ACC.
So where does that leave us? Well, some college football is better than none if you’re a fan. Thus, we have to look at the teams that are planning to play the 2020 season and assess them as we gather our preseason college football rankings. That’s the approach here as we go through the top 25 teams entering the season that are playing in the fall.
While the preseason AP Top 25 poll will include Big Ten and Pac-12 teams before excluding them for the regular-season, the FanSided Top 25 has already excluded them.
25. Ole Miss Rebels
Lane Kiffin taking the job in Oxford creates palpable excitement for Ole Miss this season. Antics and persona aside, the head coach knows how to put points on the board. Armed with dual-threat John Rhys Plumlee, though he needs to improve as a passer, and some high-upside skill position players, Kiffin should be able to continue that trend.
Unfortunately, a defense with major holes in the secondary might put a cap on the Rebels’ ceiling in the SEC.
24. Pittsburgh Panthers
Jalen Twyman opting out is certainly not good news for Pitt as he was slated to be their defensive anchor as one of the premier defensive tackles in the country. Even still, the Panthers’ defense should remain quality, especially with Paris Ford and Damar Hamlin anchoring the secondary at safety. If Kenny Pickett can take another step forward, Pat Narduzzi’s team may not be the most exciting to watch but they’ll rack up plenty of victories throughout the year.
23. Florida State Seminoles
Figuring out where to put the Florida State Seminoles in college football rankings is near impossible. Just when you think there are reasons to be optimistic about Mike Norvell taking over a broken culture, more issues seemingly arise. Even still, there has never been a shortage of talent in Tallahassee and that remains true on both sides of the ball as the offense features Tamorrion Terry and the defense is led by Marvin Wilson Jr. If Norvell can foster legitimate positive change with the culture and mentality, the Noles could be a sleeper.
22. Miami Hurricanes
Losing All-American candidate Gregory Rousseau, who chose to opt-out of the 2020 season and declare for the NFL Draft, is a big blow to the Miami defense. Temple transfer Quincy Roche remains in-tow, however, and the defense as a whole should be quality. The true potential of The U lies in what they get from transfer quarterback D’Eriq King. If he can replicate what he did at Houston against ACC competition, Miami could make noise in the ACC.
21. Kentucky Wildcats
Lynn Bowden Jr., who quite literally did it all for Kentucky last season, leaving for the NFL hurts. Having said that, Mark Stoops’ club is experienced at virtually every position on both sides of the ball and are obviously fantastically coached considering the turnaround Stoops has spearheaded in Lexington. Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood being granted eligibility might be the difference between a .500 and potentially scaring Florida and Georgia in the SEC East.