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College football rankings: Our all-too-early Top 25 for 2023

The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs put up more than 350 yards and 38 points — taking a 31-point lead in the first half — Monday on the way to a 65-7 victory over No. 3 Texas Christian. 

In doing so, they became just the third team in history to go 15-0 and became the sport’s first back-to-back national champion in the College Football Playoff era.

Before the first half ended, the national championship game felt over. Now, all that’s left is to say that this UGA team wasn’t as talented as the 2021 team, even though it finished the season undefeated. That’s scary because it was even more dominant. 

It also means the mantle of king of the sport not only stays with UGA, but the title of dynasty seems to be theirs as well. The balance of power in college football has shifted once again, not from the SEC but from the SEC West to the SEC East. 

Perhaps the biggest question after watching UGA demolish a national finalist unlike any in the CFP era and not since Oklahoma got smashed 55-19 by Matt Leinart’s USC, how did this TCU team beat Michigan?

Anyway, here is my way-too-early top 25 ahead of next season  

1. Georgia

The magically magnificent Stetson Bennett will be gone after a 304-yard, four-touchdown performance in winning a second straight title. But star tight end Brock Bowers will be back along with a host of other talented players. Can anyone stop Kirby Smart’s Dawgs?

2. Michigan

The return of Blake Corum is legitimately shocking. The sure-fire first-round pick elected to run it back, giving the Wolverines an opportunity to win their third straight Big Ten title and make their third straight CFP appearance.

3. Ohio State

The Buckeyes return the nation’s best wide receiver in Marvin Harrison, Jr. After getting thumped by Michigan in their final game of the regular season, the Buckeyes were just a field goal away from knocking off almighty Georgia in the Peach Bowl.

4. USC

The Trojans return the Heisman Trophy winner and expect to contend for the Pac-12 title and their first-ever trip to the CFP.

5. Tennessee

After losing Hendon Hooker with just two games left in the season, the Vols bounced back with a resounding win against Clemson in the Orange Bowl and will look to Joe Milton to build on their remarkable 2022 season in 2023.

6. Alabama

Without Bryce Young, Will Anderson and Jahmyr Gibbs, the Tide might take a step back. But a step back for Nick Saban is three steps forward for almost everyone else.

7. Penn State

The Nittany Lions return the best tandem of tailbacks in the country in Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen. With Drew Allar behind center, PSU will look to force its way into the Big Ten title game.

8. TCU

Sonny Dykes succeeded in keeping his coordinators, and he still has what he thought was the best quarterback on campus — Chandler Morris — returning to help run the Frogs back to the CFP.

9. Utah

With Cam “Bad Moon” Rising announcing his return to the Utes, expect Utah to mount a run at a third-straight Pac-12 title in a league that hasn’t looked this competitive since the early aughts.

10. Clemson

Even with a quarterback controversy in full bloom, Dabo Swinney succeeded in winning 11 games in 2022. Now, with Cade Klubnik very much The Guy, the Tigers will look to defend their ACC title and return to the CFP for the first time since 2020.

11. Washington

With Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix Jr. leading the Huskies, the program won 11 games for the first time since 2016. With that tandem back in Seattle, the Huskies look capable of hunting their first league crown since 2018.

12. Notre Dame

After a shaky start to the Marcus Freeman era, the Fighting Irish finished strong and added a blue-chip quarterback in Wake Forest grad transfer Sam Hartman. The Fighting Irish ought to believe they can win 10 or more games in 2023.

13. Kansas State

After getting torn apart in the Sugar Bowl, it’s easy to forget Kansas State won 10 games and the Big 12 title while making a change at quarterback midseason. The growing pains Will Howard endured should make up for the loss of Deuce Vaughn to the NFL Draft.

14. Florida State

After much crying and gnashing of the teeth, Mike Norvell turned in the kind of season FSU fans had been waiting for with signature wins against LSU and Oklahoma — two CFP teams three years ago. Now, with Jordan Travis firmly planted, the Seminoles ought to contend for the ACC crown. 

15. Oregon 

Dan Lanning turned in the best year by a first-time head coach in 2022, and he did it after the Ducks were embarrassed by Georgia in Week 1. If UO can keep that momentum, it can compete for the Pac-12 crown and a CFP bid in 2023. 

16. Wisconsin

The Badgers are a team on the rise. With Luke Fickell (a brilliant defensive mind) sharing hall space with Phil Longo (a brilliant offensive mind), and former SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai sharing a backfield with Braelon Allen, a Big Ten West division crown isn’t out of the question.

17. UCLA

Chip Kelly landed five-star quarterback Dante Moore during the early signing period, giving the Bruins a boost and an expectation to be the best college football team in Los Angeles in 2023.

18. LSU

Brian Kelly has two outstanding quarterbacks in Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier who will have wideout Malik Nabors to throw bombs to in 2023.

19. Tulane 

Following the best turnaround in the history of the sport, the Green Wave will return their starter at quarterback in a league in which it is the defending champion and in which Cincinnati, Houston and UCF no longer play.

20. Oregon State

The Beavers were a quarterback away from realistically playing for the Pac-12 title in 2022. Now they’ve added DJ Uiagalelei, who promises to give OSU stability at a position.

21. Colorado

It’s Coach Prime Time in Boulder, and the Buffaloes ought to look ready to compete in a loaded Pac-12 with Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter each rocking the black and gold this season.

Deion Sanders, Colorado land Travis Hunter

Deion Sanders, Colorado land Travis Hunter

22. Oklahoma

The Sooners are coming off their first losing season since Bill Clinton was in the White House. That anger, that letdown, will carry them into a league that will have more members than it did at its founding in 1995. And it will have to.

23. Texas

Quinn Ewers will get pushed by freshman Arch Manning for his starting spot on the Forty Acres, but expect Texas to be sound and healthy on both sides of the ball in their last year of Big 12 competition. 

24. Iowa

Iowa needed a quarterback to manage the offense while the defense dominated. In landing Michigan transfer Cade McNamara, Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz has a starter who has won the Big Ten title, beaten Ohio State and played on the big stage of the CFP.

25. Kansas 

Everybody sees the Jayhawks coming now. Lance Leipold has turned that program from a doormat, to respectable, to a bona fide Big 12 brick. You might beat them, but you’re gonna bloody your nose in doing so.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

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