Pre-Season Top 25 Reaction

Jackson gives his thoughts on the first AP Top 25 of the season.


Jackson Hamm

8/15/20234 min read

The first edition of the Associated Press Pre-season Top 25 is here! As we kick off the 2023 season, we now know where teams will be ranked heading into next weeks games.

I'm going to be breaking down these rankings and giving my first reaction. Rankings will change drastically in the coming weeks, but it's always fun to speculate until then. With that being said, let's take a look at where everyone stands in August.

Baton Rouge is Buzzin

With the first 4 teams being pretty expected, it leads you to the first big change on this list. LSU lands at 5th on these rankings, setting up a huge matchup with Florida State September 3rd. LSU finished the year 10-4 with an impressive beat down of Purdue in the Citrus bowl. Where does the hype come from?

A lot of this has to do with Quarterback Jayden Daniels. The 6'4 Sophomore's ability to use his feet and make plays are a huge factor in LSU's number 5 ranking. Brian Kelley's squad returns a stout defense, but needs more firepower on the offensive end. There is a lot pressure being put on the young quarterback, but this is what you sign up for at LSU. Let's see if he can answer the call.

My Ranking for LSU: 9

Trojans Best in the Pac-12

The Pac-12 may be dead, but they're not going out without a fight. Oregon and Utah appear at 15 and 14 respectively. Washington breaks the top 10. Oregon State makes an arguably surprising appearance at 18. But the most surprising of them all for me was USC at number 6. I understand who they have at quarterback. Caleb Williams is quite clearly the favorite to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner this year.

But I have doubts that USC has done anything major in one offseason to address their abysmal defense. I don't understand how Lincoln Riley hasn't learned how to run an effective defense yet. This is something that really plagued him at Oklahoma and it has now transferred to USC. And while it's effective to a certain point, offensive explosiveness won't get you past the Georgia's, Alabama's, and Ohio State's of the college football world. Those teams have just as many weapons on offense, but they complement it with a stout defense. Those are the types of teams that win championships. Until USC fixes their problems on defense, I can't take them as a serious CFP contender.

My Ranking for USC: 12

Florida State 8, Clemson 9

One team that has been getting a lot of love from the media this offseason is Florida State. Truthfully, I am not that dialed into what has changed for them this offseason. Florida State went 10-3 last season with a close 35-32 win over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl. But those three losses were all to ranked opponents. If Florida State couldn't get it done last year, why do so many expect them to take a huge leap this year? That just doesn't happen often in modern day college football and I'm not buying it. Will they be a contender? Definitely. Should they be above Clemson? Absolutely Not.

My rank for Florida State: 18

As for Clemson, this is a team that I really like. They haven't really been on the national stage the past couple of years, but I think that changes this year. Clemson has recruited at a very high level during their hiatus from the College Football Playoff. They also return a lot of key pieces from last years team that was oh so close. That's not to say they are a lock for the playoff this year or even the ACC. Florida State and North Carolina seem poised to make things uncomfortable for Clemson. They also have a huge game looming against Notre Dame November 4th. One loss likely still gets them a spot in then playoff, but even with that margin for error I like their schedule a lot. Look out for Clemson this season, they will win a lot of games.

My rank for Clemson: 6

Tulane the best of the Group of 5

Last season, Tulane pulled off a spectacular46-45 win against USC to cap off a magical season. But the magic doesn't have to stop for the Green Wave. This is a team that's returning a lot of production from last season. During their 2022 campaign, they went 12-2. Those losses came against Southern Miss and a UCF team that they beat the second time they played in the AAC Conference Championship Game. I have high hopes for this Tulane team. They are sure to make some noise this year, and we will get a good gauge on this team early when they play Ole Miss September 9th. College Football is all about chaos, and Tulane is the team most likely to cause it this bowl season.

My ranking for Tulane: 14

Conference Totals

SEC: 6 (Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Texas A&M)

Pac-12: 5 (USC, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State)

Big Ten: 5 (Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa)

Big 12: 4 (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, TCU)

ACC: 3 (Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina)

Independents: 1 (Notre Dame)

AAC: 1 (Tulane)

Team to watch for...UCF

In a surprising move to me, UCF does not appear in the top 25. Of all the group of 5 teams last year, UCF had the highest ranking in the Hamm Computer Rankings coming into the season. With a pretty high powered offense and a solid defense, I think they could make some waves in the Big 12 this year. Their schedule is also pretty favorable, dodging TCU and Texas this season. Look out for UCF, this will be a team that's in the top 25 before their September 23rd matchup at Kansas State.

My Ranking for UCF: 19