USA TODAY Sports predicts 2023 college football top 25 after spring … – WolverinesWire

Spring ball is officially over for every team, so now we have at least a cursory idea of what’s what across college football. Even if there will be constant changes between now and the end of the season, we know what teams are at this moment.
That said, no one ever really knows anything. Teams that are thought to be on the verge fall apart by midseason, teams that are expected to be bad rise up, and then there are others — good and bad — who are who we thought they were.
With that in mind, USA TODAY Sports released its post-spring college football top 25 on Tuesday morning. Here is how it shakes out, along with our thoughts on each team.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Listen, if they didn’t play in the Big Ten West, it could be dicey for Luke Fickell and the Badgers in his first year. However, the division is there for the taking. It will not be easy, as Wisconsin does play Ohio State this year. And there appears to be some wholesale offensive changes coming with Phil Longo switching things up as the new offensive coordinator. But there’s talent in Madison and this ranking could be prescient.
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
With the second-longest winning streak in college football, it’s difficult not to like what Troy is doing, but it’s difficult to project what a newcomer on the Group of Five spectrum is going to do any given year.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Last year was a step in the right direction for Texas Tech, we just need to see more to know whether or not what’s going on in Lubbock is sustainable. After all, we’ve been burned before.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Last year was storybook, making it to the national championship game. Sonny Dykes fixed things in a hurry in Fort Worth, however, the Horned Frogs lost so much talent from last year’s squad, it’s hard to argue with the ranking here.
Helen Comer-The Daily News
For a couple years now, UTSA has been a top 25 team, no reason to expect any different.
AP Photo/Nate Billings
Kansas State isn’t getting enough respect for what it did a year ago, but after losing star running back Deuce Vaughn, it’s fair to have some questions about whether or not the reigning Big 12 champion can repeat.
Syndication: Statesman Journal
Oregon State quietly had an amazing 2022 season, so the big question now is can the Beavers repeat it?
Syndication: The Oklahoman
Brent Venables somewhat tanked his first year, and despite the Big 12 being wide open, this feels like a ranking based strictly on brand recognition. This isn’t your older brother’s Oklahoma, after all.
 Rebecca Noble/Getty Images
Given the return of Cam Rising at quarterback, this is too low for the defending Pac-12 champions. Utah tends to fly under the radar and this year is no different, but Kyle Whittingham has subtly built a contender. The loss to Penn State in the Rose Bowl is indicative that it’s not quite on the level with some of the other big dogs, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Utes far outplayed their preseason expectations.
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Probably about the right spot, especially with QB Drake Maye returning. However, offensive coordinator Phil Longo moved on to Wisconsin, so there’s no telling exactly how much consistency the offense will truly have after a breakout year.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It was a promising debut for Brian Kelly, despite it starting out on the wrong foot. With returning quarterback Jayden Daniels, the Tigers should remain pretty great on offense, but how will they contend when they have to play an Alabama team that should be better or if they should have to face Georgia again in the SEC Championship game?
Photo: Isaiah Hole
The defense will likely take a step back, but will the offense take a step forward? With former Michigan football QB Cade McNamara and TE Erick All, there’s promise here, but with Brian Ferentz still calling the shots, it’s still big area of uncertainty.
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
In our opinion, the jury is still out on Dan Lanning as the head coach of the Ducks. It was an OK season, but not up to the lofty standards in Eugene after a string of successes. In truth, the roster is pretty good, but still Mario Cristobal’s team, so we’ll see how Oregon fares in a new year.
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Perhaps too low, but without Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt, there’s no telling whether or not the offense will be quite as explosive. Former Michigan football QB Joe Milton was electric in the Capital One Orange Bowl against Clemson, so he could finally have found his path. Yet, if Tennessee doesn’t find a defense in a hurry, it will end up as expected: at best third in the conference.
Tom Hauck/Getty Images
With Michael Penix Jr. returning after a breakout year, there’s a lot of reason for optimism in Seattle. We’ll see if they can get more signature wins than just beating Oregon and Michigan State — two teams it will have to play again, with the latter on the road this time.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Too low. This has to be a College Football Playoff or bust scenario for a USC team that plays in a weak conference but has all the tools at its disposal. Yes, it loses Jordan Addison, but is rife with talent, including returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams. The defense got an infusion via the transfer portal with Bear Alexander coming aboard from Georgia. Fix that side of the ball and all bets are off for a team about an inch away from the playoff a year ago.
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Texas has two five-star quarterbacks on the roster, an elite wide receiver, and a nasty defense. Yet, many of those conditions were in place last year, and how did the Longhorns finish? Given the teams around them in the Big 12, this is still perhaps accurate, but can we stop trying to make ‘Texas is back!’ happen?
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
A bad Clemson year or two is what 90% of college football programs dream of. Now with Cade Klubnik leading the charge at quarterback, the Tigers should take a step forward — and they’ll do so in a paper-thin ACC. This rating feels accurate — though Clemson being behind Florida State, maybe not so much.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
This feels like a projection. Though adding Sam Hartman via the transfer portal could rejuvenate the offense, Notre Dame has no guarantee it will suddenly take a massive step forward under Marcus Freeman — a coach who was anointed by the media before he even coached a game. We’ll see if things change in South Bend the way that plaudits anticipate.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
This feels accurate. Ohio State has had an insane track record of quarterbacks, going from Troy Smith to Todd Boeckman to Terrelle Pryor to Braxton Miller to J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins to Justin Fields to CJ Stroud. Will Kyle McCord live up to their standards? That’s high hoping, and there’s no guarantee of it. Still, the defense is a work in progress and while OSU has insane talent at wide receiver in particular and should be able to beat 90% of the teams on its schedule, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are far from layups.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Last season was a huge step for Mike Norvell’s team, but doesn’t this feel a little inflated given the oasis of a season in the midst of a vast desert? Yes, people have been waiting for Florida State to get back in the good graces of college football’s elite, but it just got pretty good one year ago — that doesn’t mean that FSU is fully back — like Texas is (that’s sarcasm, by the way).
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Perhaps a little high, but given the talent in Happy Valley, it’s not a surprise. There are high expectations for Drew Allar, though he’s unproven, despite being a five-star. The running back duo of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen should create some terror for opposing teams, and this could be a year where Penn State gets the better of the Buckeyes, at least.
The only thing is James Franklin hasn’t really proven much other than he can play third fiddle in the conference, except for one year, which is now seven years ago.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
This one, we’re a little lukewarm on. Yes, Alabama lost some games last year and didn’t look nearly as dominant. However, the games it lost were by millimeters — so just how obvious is its demise?
That said, without Bryce Young, it’s no sure thing that Jalen Millroe or Ty Simpson or incoming transfer Tyler Buchner elevate the offense to its previous status. Additionally, the Crimson Tide lost both coordinators this offseason, and could take some time to get some footing. This is a smidge too high, despite the loaded roster.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Accurate. Michigan football returns the fifth-most talent in college football (though that number will likely take a hit with Nikhai Hill-Green, RJ Moten, and AJ Henning transferring), and J.J. McCarthy returns at quarterback after a promising first year as the starter. Where it loses talent, it has returning talent capable of reloading, and a nonconference schedule that’s less than challenging. Given the past two years against Ohio State, Michigan should be considered the favorite in the Big Ten and just behind Georgia, as predicted.
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Until someone knocks off the king, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. That said, Georgia loses a ton, again, including the bulk of its defensive talent and quarterback Stetson Bennett. However, given how the Bulldogs recruit, it certainly could (and should) be a case where they just reload. There are only a handful of teams that could stand up to them, and we’re not seeing it just yet.

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