LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The preseason AP college football Top 25 poll will be released at noon Monday.
This is not my ballot — because I vote in the basketball poll, not the football poll.
But this is how I would vote if the AP added me to its panel. I’m confident that the teams I put in my top 5 will show up in the AP top 5, perhaps in a different order.
This is my 2021 list. It only looks like 2020. And 2019. And 2018. And ...
1. Clemson (10-2) — Don’t tell Trevor Lawrence, but I believe D.J. Uiagalelei will be a better college quarterback. If the Tigers beat Georgia in their opener Sept. 4, who’s going to stop them before January?
2. Alabama (13-0) — I apologize for not having the Crimson Tide on top, considering they have a quarterback making seven figures, but even Nick Saban has an occasional off season.
3. Ohio State (7-1) — Sources say the Buckeyes have the best wide receivers in the country but Justin Fields is trying to save the Bears these days.
4. Oklahoma (9-2) — Spencer Rattler starts the season as the quarterback to beat for the Heisman Trophy.
5. Georgia (8-2) — Kirby Smart has stacked 5-star on top of 5-star on top of 5-star. If the Bulldogs beat Clemson, look out.
6. LSU (5-5) — Somebody always shocks the world so why not bet that last season was a fluke. Otherwise Ed Orgeron will hear grumbling that he has not won a national title since 2019.
7. Iowa State (9-3) — Dan Campbell didn’t turn down a fistful of jobs to return to mediocrity in Ames.
8. Cincinnati (9-1) — The Bearcats will play 2 ranked teams (Indiana and Notre Dame) on the road in September — and if they win those games, former St. Xavier quarterback Desmond Ridder is on his way to national recognition.
9. Texas A&M (9-1) — Jimbo Fisher has been there long enough to have the interior dudes to win big, even after losing quarterback Kellen Mond.
10. North Carolina (8-4) — According to ProFootballFocus, the Tar Heels ranked second to Alabama in per play offensive efficiency last season — and quarterback Sam Howell returns.
11. USC (5-1) — Trojans coach Clay Helton extends his NCAA record to 7 consecutive seasons on the Hot Seat.
12. Notre Dame (10-2) — Brian Kelly bristles when people say this but the Irish remain a cut below the best of the best. But …
13. Penn State (4-5) —If Will Levis plays better at Kentucky than Sean Clifford performs for the Nittany Lions, James Franklin will have some questions to answer.
14. Iowa (6-2) — As usual, the Hawkeyes have a meat-grinder offensive line, led by all-American center Tyler Linderbaum. They open with a visit by Indiana Sept. 4.
15. Utah (3-2) — Kyle Whittingham is officially one of the nation’s most underrated coaches.
16. Miami (8-3) — The Hurricanes have the offensive tools to win a lot of shootouts but this isn’t an Ed Reed/Ray Lewis defense.
17. Oregon (4-3) — The Ducks are still trying to recapture the magic of the Chip Kelly Era. Of course, Chip Kelly is still trying to recapture the magic of the Chip Kelly Era.
18. Florida (8-4) — Emory Jones replaces Kyle Trask at quarterback. If the Gators struggle, Florida fans can turn their attention to Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow in Jacksonville.
19. Washington (3-1) — We’ll find out if Jimmy Lake is the long-term solution in Seattle.
20. Wisconsin (4-3) — Graham Mertz gives the Badgers a quarterback who can win without a dominant running game.
21. Indiana (6-2) — The Hoosiers need Michael Penix Jr. to stay healthy at quarterback and the resolve to win at either Iowa, Penn State or Michigan. The schedule could be a problem.
22. TCU (6-4) — The Horned Frogs are just wondering if anybody will love them after Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC.
23. Ole Miss (4-5) — This gives Louisville a legitimate target on Sept. 6, if the Cardinals can stop quarterback Matt Corral.
24. Kentucky (5-6) — No coach in the SEC East can match the longevity of Mark Stoops. The Wildcats are capable of being the second- or third-best team in the division.
25. Texas (7-3) — Can new coach Steve Sarkisian put up Alabama offensive numbers without Alabama level talent — as the ninth best team in the SEC?
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