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preseason college football picks
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п»їCollege football rankings: Preseason Top 25 for the 2020 season.
Th 2020 college football season is almost here, but it's going to look very different. Expect annual contenders Clemson and Alabama to compete for titles — both at conference and College Football Playoff. However, the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC will not play this fall at the FBS level due to COVID-19 concerns. Click here for up-to-date schedule information related to the coronavirus.
Here are my preseason top-25 rankings for the 2020 college football season. The official AP preseason poll is scheduled to be released on Monday, Aug. 24. As noted by the AP, voters can consider all Division I teams for the preseason Top 25, even if they aren't playing this fall. However, once games begin, voters will be able to rank only teams that are scheduled to play. Going by this AP policy, all DI teams were considered for my own preseason rankings.
College football rankings: Preseason Top 25 for 2020-21 season.
NOTE: This ranking order and text was updated on March 20. Teams not playing this fall are noted.
1. Clemson (14-1 in 2019)
This was set regardless of what happened in New Orleans. QB Trevor Lawrence could be the clear Heisman favorite going into 2020, plus he'll get to throw to Justyn Ross. And in big news, RB Travis Etienne, the Tigers' all-time leading rusher, said he's coming back for 2020. There will also be turnover on the offensive line and with losing key defensive standouts, but DC Brent Venables will keep this a powerful unit. The incredible recruiting class will help.
2. Ohio State (13-1) — will not play this fall.
The Buckeyes won't have J.K. Dobbins anymore, but OSU will continue to have a potent ground game (Master Teague) and a dynamic QB in Justin Fields (51 total touchdowns in 2019). The defense will lose star Chase Young and others, but CB Shaun Wade is among those returning.
3. Alabama (11-2)
Tua Tagovailoa is gone, but the offense should still be among the nation's best — no matter which player lines up at QB. Mac Jones passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns in the bowl win vs. Michigan, plus there's 5-star QB Bryce Young. On defense, linebacker Dylan Moses returns after missing last season with a torn ACL.

Preseason college football bowl projections released.
With student-athletes set to return to campus this month around the nation with enhanced medical checks in place, hypotheticals and contingency plans are beginning to dissipate as we move one step closer toward a return to competition. And that's great news ahead of the 2020 college football season.
Preseason "summer" bowl projections are beginning to surface from various outlets after a spring largely without football — unprecedented this time of year when we've usually had a small sample size to properly grade programs. Without a glimpse at most teams during spring drills, guessing who will battle who seven months from now is a challenging task, one that will undoubtedly come with receipts in December.
New tie-ins and several first-time games have been officially announced as part of the NCAA' plan from 2020 through 2025 for the bowl schedule. According to Stadium 's Brett McMurphy, here are the guaranteed minimum bowl tie-ins per conference — not including any teams that appear in the final four: ACC, SEC (11), Big Ten (9), Pac-12 (8), Big 12 (7), American (7), Conference USA (7), Mid-American (6) Mountain West (6) and Sun Belt (5).
The ACC's new bowl agreement has announced several changes including the addition of the Holiday Bowl and the newly-created bowl game in Boston.
Quick Lane Bowl.
Projection: Illinois vs. Kent State.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Projection: Baylor vs. Mississippi State.
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
Projection: Syracuse vs. Houston.
The word: Can Mike Leach get to six wins during his first season in Starkville? It won't be easy in the SEC West facing one of the nation's most daunting slate. A potential matchup vs. former SEC coordinator Dave Aranda and Baylor in the Liberty Bowl would be intriguing. That would be a decent road trip for Bulldogs fans. . The Orange are hoping to bounce-back from a disappointing five-win campaign during Dino Babers' fifth season.
Bahamas Bowl.
Projection: Southern Miss vs. Northern Illinois.
Camellia Bowl.
Projection: Buffalo vs. Louisiana.
Cheez-It Bowl.
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State.
Belk Bowl.
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Northwestern.
(Photo: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)
Cactus Bowl.
Projection: South Carolina vs. West Virginia.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl.
Projection: Temple vs. Marshall.
The word: The Las Vegas Bowl will share a spot with the Belk Bowl in the SEC “pool of six” that follows the CFP and Citrus selections and host a team here in 2020, 2022 and 2024. Coming off a humiliating 4-8 season, it's paramount Will Muschamp gets to the postseason this fall with the Gamecocks, who are once again going up against a grueling slate. In November alone, South Carolina hosts Georgia and travels to LSU and Clemson. That's three Top 10 games over a four-week stretch when this team will likely in need of two wins during that final month to hit the necessary number.
Cure Bowl.
Projection: SMU vs. Toledo.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Projection: Miami University vs. Air Force.
(Photo: Dwayne Ong SunDevilSource, 247Sports)
Fenway Bowl.
Projection: Boston College vs. Boise State.
LA Bowl.
Projection: San Diego State vs. Arizona State.
The word: The inaugural Fenway Bowl at the Red Sox's home digs isn't where Boise State, a preseason Top 25 team most likely, wants to be in December. The Broncos are confident they can compete for another conference championship along with an opportunity at a notable win over Florida State at home.
LendingTree Bowl.
Projection: Eastern Michigan vs. Troy.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Projection: Iowa State vs. Navy.
Military Bowl Presented By Northrup Grumman.
Projection: Pitt vs. Cincinnati.
SERVPRO First Responders Bowl.
Projection: Virginia vs. Kansas State.
SoFi Hawai’i Bowl.
Projection: WKU vs. Hawaii.
(Photo: В© Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)
Redbox Bowl.
Projection: Indiana vs. Stanford.
Holiday Bowl.
Projection: Louisville vs. Washington.
Projection: TCU vs. Tennessee.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Appalachian State.
The word: After ending Jeremy Pruitt's second season on a lengthy winning streak that culminated with a bowl victory, the Vols look to take the next step in getting back to prominence this fall, anchored by a host of returning impact players on defense. TCU-Tennessee would make for an exciting matchup. The two programs have only met twice with the Vols winning both times in the 1970s.
(Photo: Bruce Newman, 247Sports)
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.
Projection: Memphis vs. Ole Miss.
Frisco Bowl.
Projection: Florida Atlantic vs. Wyoming.
The word: Back to bowl eligibility for Ole Miss under first-year coach Lane Kiffin? Picking out six wins isn't easy, but it's not impossible. The Rebels should have an exciting offense with former five-star Jerrion Ealy headlining their group of playmakers and quarterback John Rhys Plumlee coming back as one of the nation's rushing leaders at the position. How Ole Miss opens out the gate will go a long way in determining the team's staying power as a potential bowl squad.
(Photo: Jim Dedmon, USA TODAY Sports)
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.
Projection: NC State vs. UCLA.
Music City Bowl.
Projection: Minnesota vs. Kentucky.
(Photo: Travis Register, 247Sports)
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl.
Projection: Iowa vs. Utah.
Myrtle Beach Bowl.
Projection: UAB vs. Georgia Southern.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Projection: Florida State vs. Nebraska.
The word : Over the new six-year deal, the SEC and Big Ten will each make three appearances against the Pac-12 in Las Vegas. This year's Las Vegas Bowl gets a unique new setting switch too, moving inside the new NFL stadium out West and away from UNLV's home digs. There's nothing official yet, but the Las Vegas Bowl is considered one of the Pac-12's top-tier games meaning organizers will get their choice of teams following the Rose and Alamo selections.
(Photo: Jim Hawkins, Inside Carolina)
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
Projection: North Carolina vs. Missouri.
The word: The improvement continues for the Tar Heels under Mack Brown, who travel to Jacksonville in this scenario as a likely high finisher in the ACC Coastal. Equipped with potential All-American candidate Sam Howell at quarterback, North Carolina is in the conversation as one of the league's most complete teams behind Clemson. The Tar Heels tussle with UCF and Auburn early, opportunities at getting into the Top 25 and staying there.

College football 2020: Preseason top 25 rankings, bowl projections, All-Americans and more.
The 2020 college football season remains to be determined because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Sporting News, like most fans, is hoping for the best. We're rolling out our preseason content in the hopes that we'll have football in the fall — even if the games don't start on time.
This is the seventh year of the College Football Playoff era. Alabama and Clemson each have claimed two national championships in that stretch, and Ohio State and LSU have one apiece. Is there a school out there that can join that exclusive fraternity in 2020?
This year's semifinals are Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl Game and Sugar Bowl. The College Football Playoff championship game is scheduled for July 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
SN will have preseason top 25 rankings, bowl projections, Heisman contenders, preseason All-Americans and more to get you ready, we hope, for the upcoming season.
COVID-19 and college football.
The impact of COVID-19 on college football remains the leading conversation about college football. The ongoing pandemic has left several questions about whether a season is possible and what alternatives might exist if football can be played in the fall. The Big Ten was the first conference to move to a conference-only schedule. Sporting News also is keeping track of the conferences that will not play football in the fall, and we are tracking where each Power 5 conference stands.
What about the schedule?
The college football schedule remains up in the air. The Big Ten and SEC lost several nonconference games, and the ACC has announced a conference schedule that includes Notre Dame. The Pac-12 is the only Power 5 conference with dates on the games at this moment, and the Big 12 is still making a decision. We will update those schedules as each Power 5 conference makes those big decisions in August.
College football rankings: SN's preseason top 25.
Sporting News released its preseason top 25 after spring football was canceled, and there are familiar names at the top of the list. Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama hold the top three spots. Georgia — which is looking for its first national championship since 1980 — is at No. 4. Defending national champion LSU is No. 5. SN also looked across other publications to form a composite top 25.
1. Clemson 2. Ohio State 3. Alabama 4. Georgia 5. LSU 6. Oregon 7. Oklahoma 8. Notre Dame 9. Florida 10. Penn State 11. Auburn 12. Texas 13. Michigan 14. Wisconsin 15. Minnesota 16. Texas A&M 17. Oklahoma State 18. North Carolina 19. Utah 20. Cincinnati 21. Arizona State 22. Louisville 23. Kentucky 24. USC 25. Boise State.
Ranking top quarterbacks for 2020.
Who are the best quarterbacks in college football? The top of the list is easy: Clemson's Trevor Lawrence — who has played in the last two CFP championship games — and Ohio State's Justin Fields — who was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019 — take up the top two spots, respectively. But there are surprises among our top 25 quarterbacks. Moreover, SN also looked at the top transfer quarterbacks for 2020, which includes Georgia's Jamie Newman and Miami's D'Eriq King.
Bowl projections.
Sporting News released its bowl projections for all 43 bowl games, including College Football Playoff and New Year's Day 6 picks. We also looked back at previous bowl projections to see how good (or bad) they were.
Coach rankings, 1-130.
One of SN's favorite pieces of the season is ranking the FBS coaches from 1-130. It's a list that starts with Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, but where do the other active coaches with national championships — Ed Orgeron, Jimbo Fisher, Mack Brown and Les Miles — fit in? We have Power 5 rankings for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.
Preseason All-Americans.
Sporting News is one of five outlets used to determine consensus All-Americans at the end of the college football season. We have released its annual Preseason All-American team, though Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley, a second-team selection, has decided to opt out of the season.
Sporting News top 40 players.
Who is the best player in college football? Which conference has the most players in that top 40? Sporting News answered those questions when it released its Top 40 Players for the 2020 season. That list starts with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and is filled with several Alabama stars. Find out who else made the list.

2020 ACC expert picks: Most overrated and underrated teams, order of finish, bold predictions.
Taking a close, detailed and opinionated look at the ACC as the college football season approaches.
In what is already going to be a season unlike any other in college football, the ACC enters unprecedented territory with a 15-team, one-division league in 2020. Not only are Atlantic and Coastal Divisions gone for a year as the league adopts a 10-game conference schedule in response to the challenges of playing football in the era of coronavirus, but Notre Dame is all in. A partial member with 5-6 games against ACC opponents in a normal year, the Fighting Irish have their own 10-game conference slate, which will make them eligible to play for and potentially win the 2020 ACC Championship Game.
This in a conference that has become all too easy for expert picks at this time of year. You write in Clemson as the winner of the Atlantic, randomly pick literally any of the teams from the Coastal -- seven different teams have won the division in the last seven years -- and then pick the Tigers to win in Charlotte to claim the conference championship. Now there's more to consider, not only with Notre Dame but with the potential of a Louisville or Florida State to finish with the second-best winning percentage in the one-division setup and thus earn a spot at the league title. North Carolina and Miami, a pair of teams that would be in the running for that Coastal spot if divisions were being played, still have a shot at Charlotte but now have to fend off a certified top-10 to top-15 program in Notre Dame.
All of the sudden, the ACC has taken on more intrigue. Clemson remains the overwhelming favorite, but how the rest shakes out and how the notably independent Fighting Irish fare in their one year of conference dependence will bring some unpredictability to a league that has become among the most predictable in the College Football Playoff era.
Our CBS Sports college football experts have provided their picks and predictions for the ACC ahead of the 2020 season. Check them all out below.
Most overrated team.
Miami: The defense will be strong and D'Eriq King will provide enough highlight-worthy plays to live up to the hype, so to speak, but the Hurricanes were not only a quarterback away from being an ACC contender last year and are getting overrated as a result of King's arrival. The offensive struggles run deeper than quarterback and offensive coordinator, and the unusual offseason doesn't help Rhett Lashlee's efforts to get it all fixed. I still have concerns for an offensive line that underperformed in 2019, and the receivers (not counting Brevin Jordan here) are speedy but unproven. I see a positive year ahead for Miami in the macro, but the oddsmakers have them solo third on the ACC title board behind Clemson and Notre Dame, and I think that's a spot or two too high in the pecking order. -- Chip Patterson (also Tom Fornelli, Ben Kercheval, David Cobb)
North Carolina: Look, I get it. Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell had a phenomenal true freshman season, running back Michael Carter is back to lead the charge, and the Tar Heels have two 1,000-yard receivers in the fold. Is that enough to make North Carolina the primary threat to Clemson in the new-look, no-division ACC? Nope . especially with Notre Dame in the mix. The Tar Heels are in the same boat as Louisville, Florida State and Miami. They're potentially explosive on offense and have playmakers in key spots. Potential isn't something to bank on . at least not in terms of being in the same stratosphere as Clemson or Notre Dame. -- Barrett Sallee.
Wake Forest: OK, I know your first reaction: "Why is Dodd picking on the little ol' Deacs?" Jamie Newman is gone. So is supreme weapon Sage Surratt at wide receiver. With Surratt injured, Wake finished 1-4 in 2019. In a 15-team, one-division ACC there, will be no division for which Wake Forest can compete, diluting their accomplishments. A fifth straight bowl is a possibility. That would be an ongoing school record. -- Dennis Dodd.
Louisville: The Cardinals got off to a promising start under new coach Scott Satterfield last season, but we shouldn't get carried away with the preseason hype just yet. Some think this is a sleeper team for the ACC title game, but that is more the product of their schedule than their talent. Louisville misses Clemson and North Carolina in the regular season, but it does have a trip to Notre Dame. It will have to be much better on defense if they have ACC title game aspirations. The Cards gave up 34 or more points eight times last season, although they won three of those games. -- Jerry Palm.
Most underrated team.
Florida State: Honestly, it's not easy finding the underrated team in the ACC. For the last few years, the conference has been "Clemson and 13 other teams." That's a little different in 2020 as it's now "Clemson, 13 other teams, and hey, look, Notre Dame, too!" The overall point remains. Who is the team that's going to step up and pretend to challenge Clemson for conference supremacy? A lot of people are pointing toward North Carolina, but I think too many are looking past Florida State. And I understand why. The Noles haven't been great lately, but they're still a talented roster and Mike Norvell is somebody I believe to be a good coach. It's not crazy to think that when you combine good coaching with talented football players, wins just might follow. -- Fornelli (also Patterson)
North Carolina: The Tar Heels might have more going for it than any 7-6 team in the country. The second act of Mack Brown has included the development of Heisman Trophy candidate Sam Howell at quarterback. Recruiting is through the roof. Brown was one of the more transparent coaches during the offseason. He sold himself and the program well. The one-point loss to Clemson and blowout of Temple in the Military Bowl showed what the Heels can be. A nine-win season isn't out of the question. -- Dodd (also Palm)
Miami: The entire college football world has been waiting on Miami to be "back" for what seems like a century. There's a good chance that it might actually happen this year. The combination of quarterback King and Lashlee should terrify ACC defenses, especially considering the experience up front. Losing defensive end Gregory Rousseau before the season started hurts, but Temple transfer Quincy Roche will be a force to be reckoned with for second-year coach Manny Diaz. If the defense plays up to its potential, Lashlee should only have to produce an adequate offense to keep the Hurricanes in ACC contention. -- Sallee.
Virginia Tech: If there's ever a time to replace an icon like longtime former Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, this is it. Even with star cornerback Caleb Farley sitting out the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, the Hokies still return nine starters on defense. The offense is nearly as experienced with quarterback Hendon Hooker set for a breakout season behind an offensive line that returns all of its starters. Don't be shocked if the Hokies are a one-loss team playing for a spot in the ACC title game when they meet Clemson in the final week of the regular season. -- Cobb.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers have been consistently OK under coach Pat Narduzzi. I don't necessarily expect them to punch too far above their weight in 2020, but they are a catalyst team that could make life difficult for some of the ACC's top teams. For one, Narduzzi finally has the type of defense on campus that he needs to keep this program competitive with the league's top dogs. And while not having star defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman, who has opted out, hurts, this is still one of the ACC's better D-lines. Find a big time playmaker on offense to succeed the departed Maurice Ffrench, and you'll be cooking with oil. -- Kercheval.

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