2023 CFB Preseason Power Rankings
Published on Tuesday, 7/25/23, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
1-Georgia: Barring a rash of injuries, UGA will be favored by double digits in its first 10 games. If there’s a dangerous spot in those first 10, it’ll be at Auburn (Sept. 30) because you never know at Jordan-Hare Stadium. With that said, the Bulldogs are 18.5-point favorites on The Plains in DraftKings’ Games of the Year. The SEC East could hinge on UGA’s trip to Knoxville on Nov. 18. My only in-pocket play involving the back-to-back national champions is a small wager on Carson Beck to win the Heisman Trophy at 25/1 odds.
2-Ohio St.: There are some tough non-Michigan games on the slate, including at Notre Dame, vs. Penn St. and at Wisconsin. With CJ Stroud gone, Kyle McCord steps into the spotlight, assuming he can hold off Devin Brown for the starting QB job in August. The Buckeyes have six players on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American teams, including the nation’s premier WR in Marvin Harrison Jr.
3-Michigan: Jim Harbaugh’s team brings back 15 of 22 starters from a squad that finished 13-1 and won 11 games by margins of 13 points or more. The Wolverines return their star QB (JJ McCarthy), all of their RBs and their top-five tacklers. They added nine transfers from the portal, including six that were issued four-star labels from the 247Sports Composite.
4-LSU: I have a good chunk on LSU’s season win total to go ‘over’ 9.5 (-115 price) and a small investment on the Tigers at 16/1 to win the College Football Playoff (that number is long gone; I grabbed it in May). LB Harold Perkins is a superstar, Jayden Daniels is an elite dual-threat QB, the RB room is stacked, WR Malik Nabers and TE Mason Taylor are All-American candidates and DT Mekhi Wingo was a third-team All-American last year. Brian Kelly brought in the nation’s No. 5 overall recruiting class, but his transfer-specific imports are ranked second nationally. Ex-Oregon St. LB Omar Speights led a solid Beavers’ defense in tackles last year, and he has 308 tackles and 25 tackles for loss in 39 career starts. Other instant-impact transfers include CB Darian Chestnut (24 career starts at Syracuse), DE Ovie Oghoufo (20 career starts at Texas), CB Zy Alexander (29 career starts at Southeast Louisiana) and RB Logan Diggs (five career starts at Notre Dame).
5-Alabama: I haven’t had Alabama ranked this low in the preseason since 2008. I’m just not sure if Nick Saban has a quality QB and unlike most of the last decade (and change), there just aren’t any elite playmakers at the WR position. The Crimson Tide does have an elite roster overall, though, and it has something to prove for the first time in a long time. Another positive is they get their toughest games at home – vs. Texas, vs. Ole Miss, vs. Arkansas, vs. Tennessee and vs. LSU.
6-Penn St.: IF new starting QB Drew Allar is the real deal, it’s going to be a big season in State College. The Nittany Lions went 11-2 straight up and 9-3-1 against the spread in 2022, winning 10 games by double-digit margins. Their only losses were at Michigan and vs. Ohio St. James Franklin’s team brings back 16 of 22 starters.
7-Clemson: After Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence started at QB from 2014-2020 and led Clemson to four seasons of 14 wins or more, there was bound to be a drop off at the position. The Tigers haven’t fallen off the map, but they have “only” gone 10-3 and 11-3 in their two seasons since losing Lawrence to the NFL. With DJ Uiagalelei leaving for Oregon St., we’ll see if Cade Klubnik can become Clemson’s next star QB as a true sophomore in 2023.
8-Tennessee: I think QB Joe Milton is poised for a breakout campaign. Josh Heupel has been nothing short of spectacular in his first two seasons on the job. The Volunteers might be favored in 10 games, but they have a brutal spot at Kentucky on Oct. 28. The Wildcats will be at home, in double-revenge mode and have two weeks to prepare, while UT will be beat up physically and in a natural letdown situation after playing at Alabama on Oct. 21 (and at home vs. Texas A&M on Oct. 14).
9-Washington: In Kalen Deboer’s first year on the job, Washington went 11-2 SU and 8-5 ATS. The Huskies beat four ranked teams and won seven games by double-digit margins. They have one of the country’s best QBs (Michael Penix) and a WR group that’s ranked second in Phil Steele’s National Unit Rankings. Most publications have DE Bralen Trice and WR Rome Odunze as preseason first-team All-Americans, while Penix and WR Jalen McMillan are second and fourth-team All-Americans in Steele’s preseason mag.
10-USC: Lincoln Riley might have the nation’s best offense with Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams surrounded by a plethora of playmakers. Although Riley did an outstanding job of adding talent to the defense via the portal, that side of the ball was a mess last year. The Trojans’ defense gave up 35 points or more in six of their last eight games. USC finished 2022 with an incredible +22 turnover margin, but it can’t count on that happening again.
39-North Carolina St.