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College Football Top 25: Week 1

It is about that time again. Football season is upon us, with "Week 0" of the 2023 College Football season kicking off this past Saturday. The season's first games were highlighted by Notre Dame taking on Navy in Dublin, Ireland, USC hosting San Jose St., and New Mexico State hosting UMass. Along with four other matchups, Week 0 of the season gave us a sneak preview of what will come before the official first week of the season kicks off on Thursday and continues into Monday.

It's tough to accurately rank the top 25 teams in the country before most of them even play, but we will attempt to. You should expect yours truly to drop new rankings every week of the season following that week's action.

Let's dive into week 1 of the College Football Top 25 rankings for 2023 without further ado. All times are Eastern time.

1. Georgia (0-0)

Last season: 15-0, won National Championship

Week 1: vs. Tennessee-Martin - Saturday, September 2 at 6 p.m.

Key returners: WR Ladd McConkey, TE Brock Bowers, C Sedrick Van Pran

Biggest losses: DT Jalen Carter, OT Broderick Jones, EDGE Nolan Smith

Coming off their second straight national title, the Bulldogs continue to be the big "Dawgs" of college football. Although they lost a boatload of talent to the NFL - most of which went to the Philadelphia Eagles - they are still very much stacked. Until someone proves they can beat them, there is no reason to believe that Georgia can't go for the three-peat. There hasn't been a three-peat on the college gridiron since the very beginning of the poll era when Minnesota won three straight from 1934 to 1936. That was the only three-peat in the history of college football. The odds say it won't happen, but at this point, the only thing that will beat Georgia is themselves. They remain the cream of the crop and have peak talent all over the field.

Georgia's offense will be led by the nation's top tight end in, Brock Bowers, and plenty of production in the receiver room with Ladd McConkey also coming back. They also brought in two top receivers from the transfer portal, Rara Thomas from Mississippi State and Dominic Lovett from Missouri.

2. Ohio State (0-0)

Last season: 11-2, lost CFP semi-final vs. Georgia

Week 1: at Indiana - Saturday, September 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Key returners: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., RB TreVeyon Henderson, TE Cade Stover

Biggest losses: QB CJ Stroud, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, OT Paris Johnson

While they lost star quarterback CJ Stroud to the NFL, the Buckeyes retain a lot of firepower on offense. The nation's top pass-catcher leads the receiving corps in Marvin Harrison Jr., joined by productive upperclassmen Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming. The running back duo of TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, who combined for 21 touchdowns last season, also returns. Head coach Ryan Day announced junior Kyle McCord will start at quarterback for the opener against Indiana on Sunday. McCord had been battling sophomore Devin Brown, and Day said the latter would still see action. McCord must continue to show his head coach the same consistency he has shown thus far throughout the season.

What ultimately did Ohio State in last year was their defense, which was gashed in their lone regular-season loss - to Michigan - and their College Football Playoff semi-final loss to Georgia. If they want to win their first national championship since 2014, the Buckeyes will need to be more productive defensively - specifically from a pass-rushing standpoint. That starts with returning edge rushers Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau, who have combined for 13.5 career sacks, and Michael Hall Jr., who recorded 4.5 sacks last year and 19 total tackles.

3. Michigan (0-0)

Last season: 13-1, lost CFP semi-final vs. TCU

Week 1: vs. East Carolina - Saturday, September 2 at Noon

Key returners: RB Blake Corum, QB JJ McCarthy, WR Cornelius Johnson

Biggest losses: DL Mazi Smith, TE Luke Schoonmaker, CB DJ Turner

Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines finally defeated their kryptonite of Ohio State in 2021 after the Buckeyes had gotten the best of them the previous eight seasons. Michigan defeated Ohio State for the second straight year in 2022, the first time they got the best of their rivals two seasons in a row since 1999 and 2000. The Wolverines return a majority of their offense, which revolves around junior signal caller J.J. McCarthy - the Big Ten's top quarterback - All-American running back Blake Corum, and his rushing sidekick Donovan Edwards. Corum returns after suffering a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his last knee last November.

4. Alabama (0-0)

Last season: 11-2, won Sugar Bowl

Week 1: vs. Middle Tennessee - Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, WR Ja'Corey Brooks, QB Jalen Milroe

Biggest losses: QB Bryce Young, EDGE Will Anderson Jr., RB Jahmyr Gibbs

The Crimson Tide lost an insane amount of incredible talent to the draft, including star quarterback and 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young and game-wrecking edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. Still, for the Nick Saban-led Alabama squad, that's just par for the course. However, this year feels slightly different as they have more question marks than usual. Just a matter of days before the season kicks off, Saban refuses to show his hand and announce an official starting quarterback. The competition has been between redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe - who showed promise when called upon as Young's backup last year - redshirt freshman Ty Simpson and Tyler Buchner, who was brought in from Notre Dame. Although Saban won't budge, I expect Milroe to be the one to lead the offense onto the field come Saturday. Over eight appearances last year for the injured Young, he completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions while adding 265 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

5. LSU (0-0)

Last season: 10-4, won Citrus Bowl

Week 1: vs. Florida State - Sunday, September 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: QB Jayden Daniels, C Charles Turner, DL Mehki Wingo

Biggest losses: EDGE BJ Ojulari, OL Anthony Bradford, S Jay Ward

The Tigers are coming off a season in which they reached the SEC Championship in Brian Kelly's first season at the helm. Uber-talented fifth-year senior quarterback Jayden Daniels returns to lead the explosive LSU offense, averaging 34.5 points per game in 2022. Daniels will have a lot of familiar weapons, as five receivers who logged 20 or more catches last season are back in Baton Rouge. Senior wideout Kyren Lacy is one of them to return to lead the receiving corps after he transferred from the University of Louisiana last year. Daniels is a legitimate Heisman candidate with his arm talent and the weapons at his disposal.

6. USC (1-0)

Last season: 11-3, lost Cotton Bowl

Week 0: Beat San Jose State 56-28; Week 1: vs. Nevada - Saturday, September 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Key returners: QB Caleb Williams, RB Austin Jones, S Calen Bullock

Biggest losses: WR Jordan Addison, EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu, CB Mehki Blackmon

Although it was a win, and a win is always just that - a win - USC struggled way too much defensively against a Group of Five school in Week 0. Although the offense is otherworldly behind the favorite to repeat as Heisman in Caleb Williams, it continues to be the same story for the Alex Grinch defense. The Trojans allowed over 40 points in all three of their losses last year against top-tier teams. Giving up 28 in Week 0 against San Jose State isn't necessarily a good sign that a different story will be written for the 2023 season. Don't hit the panic button just yet, but the Week 6 matchup against Notre Dame will be a huge test to see where the Trojans are.

7. Penn State (0-0)

Last season: 11-2, won Rose Bowl

Week 1: vs. West Virginia - Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: OT Olu Fashanu, RB Nick Singleton, WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith

Biggest losses: CB Joey Porter Jr., S Ji'Ayir Brown, TE Brenton Strange

True sophomore Drew Allar is ready to take the reins at quarterback for the blue and white after Sean Clifford was the starter for the past four years. Clifford ended his up-and-down college career on a high note with a victory in the Rose Bowl over Utah and also recently won the backup job for the Green Bay Packers. Now it's Allar's turn to lead perhaps the best Penn State team under James Franklin. Yeah, I'm talking about the same team that had Saquon Barkley. But now, they have a potential star quarterback playing behind a very strong offensive line, led by returning left tackle Olu Fashanu, a future top-10 pick. The weapons are also there, with home run hitter KeAndre Lambert-Smith back for his junior year alongside Kent State transfer Dante Cephas and tight end Theo Johnson. Nicholas Singleton averaged 6.8 yards per carry last year and will run behind the powerful offensive line, with Kaytron Allen and Minnesota transfer Trey Potts also joining the rotation.

Ohio State and Michigan will still be tough to beat, but is this the year the Nittany Lions finally make the College Football Playoff?

8. Notre Dame (1-0)

Last season: 9-4, won Gator Bowl

Week 0: Beat Navy 42-3; Week 1: vs. Tennessee State - Saturday, September 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Key returners: OT Joe Alt, RB Audric Estime, LB Jack Kiser

Biggest losses: TE Michael Mayer, EDGE Isaiah Foskey, iOL Jarrett Patterson

The Fighting Irish finally have a star quarterback, in Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman, and could finally have what it takes to make some noise in the College Football Playoff realm. Hartman impressed mightily as Notre Dame trounced Navy in Dublin, Ireland, last Saturday. The senior completed 19 of 23 passes for 252 yards and four touchdowns. Hartman is playing behind a strong offensive line led by returning left tackle Joe Alt, who is right there with Penn State's Fashanu as the top tackle in the 2024 draft class.

9. Clemson (0-0)

Last season: 11-3, lost Orange Bowl

Week 1: vs. Duke - Monday, September 4 at 8:00 p.m.

Key returners: RB Will Shipley, LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., QB Cade Klubnik

Biggest losses: EDGE Myles Murphy, DT Bryan Bresee, LB Trenton Simpson

10. Florida State (0-0)

Last season: 10-3, won Cheez-It Bowl

Week 1: vs. LSU - Sunday, September 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: QB Jordan Travis, RB Trey Benson, EDGE Jared Verse

Biggest losses: S Jammie Robinson, DT Robert Cooper, WR Ontaria Wilson

11. Utah (0-0)

Last season: 10-4, lost Rose Bowl

Week 1: vs. Florida - Thursday, August 31 at 8:00 p.m.

Key returners: QB Cameron Rising, TE Brant Kuithe, WR Devaughn Vele

Biggest losses: TE Dalton Kincaid, CB Clark Phillips III, OT Braeden Daniels

12. Tennessee (0-0)

Last season: 11-2, won Orange Bowl

Week 1: vs. Virginia - Saturday, September 2 at noon.

Key returners: QB Joe Milton III, RB Jaylen Wright, WR Squirrel White

Biggest losses: OT Darnell Wright, QB Hendon Hooker, WR Jalin Hyatt

13. Washington (0-0)

Last season: 11-2, won Alamo Bowl

Week 1: vs. Boise State - Saturday, September 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Key returners: QB Michael Penix Jr., WR Rome Odunze, EDGE Bralen Trice

Biggest losses: EDGE Sav'ell Smalls (Transfer), iOL Jaxson Kirkland, LB Cam Bright

14. Oregon (0-0)

Last season: 10-3, won Holiday Bowl

Week 1: vs. Portland State - Saturday, September 2 at 3:00 p.m.

Key returners: QB Bo Nix, EDGE Brandon Dorlus, RB Bucky Irving

Biggest losses: CB Christian Gonzalez, EDGE D.J. Johnson, LB Noah Sewell

15. Texas (0-0)

Last season: 8-5, Lost Alamo Bowl

Week 1: vs. Rice - Saturday, September 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Key returners: WR Xavier Worthy, QB Quinn Ewers, OT Kelvin Banks

Biggest losses: RB Bijan Robinson, LB DeMarvion Overshown, RB Roschon Johnson

16. Kansas State (0-0)

Last season: 10-4, lost Sugar Bowl

Week 1: vs. SEMO - Saturday, September 2 at 7:00 p.m.

Key returners: iOL Cooper Beebee, TE Ben Sinnott, WR Phillip Brooks

Biggest losses: EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, CB Julius Brents, RB Deuce Vaughn

17. North Carolina (0-0)

Last season: 9-5, lost Holiday Bowl

Week 1: vs. South Carolina - Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: QB Drake Maye, LB Cedric Gray, LB Power Echols

Biggest losses: WR Josh Downs, OT Asim Richards, WR Antoine Green

18. Oklahoma (0-0)

Last season: 6-7

Week 1: vs. Arkansas State - Saturday, September 2 at noon.

Key returners: QB Dillon Gabriel, WR Drake Stoops, LB Danny Stutsman

Biggest losses: WR Marvin Mims, OT Anton Harrison, OT Wanya Morris

19. TCU (0-0)

Last season: 13-2, lost National Championship

Week 1: vs. Colorado - Saturday, September 2 at noon.

Key returners: LB Johnny Hodges, S Mark Perry, LB Jamoi Hodge

Biggest losses: WR Quentin Johnston, iOL Steve Avila, RB Kendre Miller

20. Wisconsin (0-0)

Last season: 7-6, won Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Week 1: vs. Buffalo - Saturday, September 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Key returners: LB Maema Njongmeta, LB Jordan Turner, RB Braelon Allen

Biggest losses: iOL Joe Tippmann, DL Keeanu Benton, EDGE Nick Herbig

21. Oregon State (0-0)

Last season: 10-3, won Las Vegas Bowl

Week 1: vs. San Jose State - Sunday, September 3 at 3:30 p.m.

Key returners: iOL Heneli Bloomfield, OT Joshua Gray, CB Kitan Oladapo

Biggest losses: TE Luke Musgrave, CB Alex Austin, LB Omar Speights

22. Texas Tech (0-0)

Last season: 8-5, won Texas Bowl

Week 1: at Wyoming - Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: QB Tyler Shough, CB Malik Dunlap, S Dadrion Taylor-Demerson

Biggest losses: EDGE Tyree Wilson, S Reggie Pearson Jr., S Kobee Minor

23. Iowa (0-0)

Last season: 8-5, won Music City Bowl

Week 1: vs. Utah State - Saturday, September 2 at 12:00 p.m.

Key returners: TE Luke Lachey, LB Kyler Fisher, DT Logan Lee

Biggest losses: LB Jack Campbell, TE Sam LaPorta, S Kaevon Merriweather

24. Tulane (0-0)

Last season: 12-2, won Cotton Bowl

Week 1: vs. South Alabama - Saturday, September 2 at 7:00 p.m.

Key returners: QB Michael Pratt, WR Jha'Quan Jackson, CB Jarius Monroe

Biggest losses: RB Tyjae Spears, LB Dorian Williams, C Sincere Haynesworth

25. South Carolina (0-0)

Last season: 8-5, lost Gator Bowl

Week 1: vs. North Carolina - Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Key returners: OL Jaylen Nichols, WR Juice Wells, EDGE Tonka Hemingway

Biggest losses: CB Cam Smith, DT Zacch Pickens, CB Darius Rush

Main Image Credit: From Getty Images


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