The Early 2015 College Football Top 25 - Fueled by Sports

The Early 2015 College Football Top 25

Here’s my way too early 2015 college football top 25. I predict what I think each team will do next season, and I also give you my playoff prediction for next season, yes I know it’s early, but it’s always fun to look ahead. I give a short breakdown of my top 10 teams, with an early prediction. I will list each team’s schedule, returning starters, and my early prediction for the rest of the top 25.

I only count offense and defensive players when talking about returning players.

1. TCU (LS 12-1)
TCU finished the season strong, stomping Ole Miss 42-3 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Horned Frogs will return 16 starters from this year’s team, including Heisman front runner Trevone Boykin. Left tackle Tayo Fabuluje and tight end Cliff Murphy are the only two starters from this year that won’t be returning. TCU will have a ton of experience next season, with 10 of the 11 starters being seniors. Their defense also improved during the season and will return six starters. The Horned Frogs have the best team on paper right now, but we still have eight months until the season starts and a lot can happen.

2015 TCU Football Schedule
Sept. 3 – at Minnesota
Sept. 12 – Stephen F. Austin
Sept. 19 – SMU
Sept. 26 – at Texas Tech*
Oct. 3 – Texas*
Oct. 10 – at Kansas State*
Oct. 17 – at Iowa State*
Oct. 29 – West Virginia*
Nov. 7 – at Oklahoma State*
Nov. 14 – Kansas*
Nov. 21 – at Oklahoma*
Nov. 27 – Baylor*

Early Prediction
I have TCU going 12-0 next season and winning the Big 12. The schedule favors the Horned Frogs for the most part until the final two weeks, I could them slipping up versus Texas on Oct. 3, but I think Texas is another year away from being a legitimate threat.

2. Ohio State (LS 14-1)
Ohio State shocked everyone beating Alabama in the Semi Finals, and they return 16 starters next season. The Buckeyes could have a great quarterback battle between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. Jones has led Ohio State to the National Title game, beating Alabama and Wisconsin in the process and I think he might be the favorite to start next year, especially if he beat Oregon next week. The Buckeyes will lose Evan Spencer and Devin Smith, who were both seniors this season. Ohio State doesn’t have to replace much and I think they’ll be right back in the thick of things next season.

2015 Ohio State Football Schedule
Sept. 7 – at Virginia Tech
Sept. 12 – Hawaii
Sept. 19 – Northern Illinois
Sept. 26 – Western Michigan
Oct. 3 – at Indiana*
Oct. 10 – Maryland*
Oct. 17 – Penn State*
Oct. 24 – at Rutgers*
Nov. 7 – Minnesota*
Nov. 14 – at Illinois*
Nov. 21 – Michigan State*
Nov. 28 – at Michigan*

Early Prediction
13-0 in the regular season and winning the Big 10 championship game against Wisconsin. Ohio State schedule will favor them yet again next season. Michigan State won’t be as good as they were this season and I don’t think Jim Harbaugh can turn Michigan around this fast. The Buckeyes will be on upset alert against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 and when Penn State comes to town on Oct. 17.

3. Alabama (LS 12-2)
Everyone expected Alabama to have a down season with Blake Sims behind center, but he proved all of his critics wrong and led the Crimson Tide to the first ever College Football Playoffs, losing to Ohio State. Jake Coker will most likely be the replacement for Blake Sims next season, and Coker could be an upgrade if he learns the playbook. Alabama’s ability to recruit is what keeps them in the top 10 every season. They will return only 10 starters next season, with eight of those being on the defensive side of the ball. They will probably have the best defensive line in college football with Jonathan Allen and A’Shawn Robinson returning for their junior seasons. Alabama will lose a lot on offense, but I think the defense will be strong enough to carry them back to the playoffs next season.

2015 Alabama Football Schedule
Sept. 5 – Wisconsin (Arlington)
Sept. 12 – Middle Tennessee
Sept. 19 – Ole Miss*
Sept. 26 – Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 3 – at Georgia*
Oct. 10 – Arkansas*
Oct. 17 – at Texas A&M*
Oct. 24 – Tennessee*
Nov. 7 – LSU*
Nov. 14 – at Mississippi State*
Nov. 21 – Charleston Southern
Nov. 28 – at Auburn*

Early Prediction
I have Alabama going 12-1 and winning the SEC Championship for the second season in a row, but this time beating Tennessee and entering the playoffs as a third seed. I think the Crimson Tide will slip up to one of these schools: Ole Miss, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, or Texas A&M. Of course Auburn and LSU will both give them trouble like usual, but I expect both schools to have down years.

4. USC (LS 9-4)
USC will have 17 returning starters next season, and that includes quarterback Cody Kessler and running back Javorius Allen. Kessler was very good this season, throwing 39 touchdowns and just five interceptions, I think he could be a dark horse Heisman candidate. The Trojans will be a favorite in the Pac-12, with Oregon most likely losing Mariota to the NFL Draft.

Sept. 5 – Arkansas State
Sept. 12 – Idaho
Sept. 19 – Stanford*
Sept. 26 – at Arizona State*
Oct. 8 – Washington*
Oct. 17 – at Notre Dame
Oct. 24 – Utah*
Oct. 31 – at California*
Nov. 7 – Arizona*
Nov. 13 – at Colorado*
Nov. 21 – at Oregon*
Nov. 28 – UCLA*

Early Prediction
USC hasn’t been a national title contender since 2008 and I think that will change this season. I have the Trojans going 12-1 and winning the Pac-12 championship over Oregon. I have USC losing to Oregon in the regular season.

5. Baylor (LS 11-2)
Baylor returns 18 starters next season, but will be without Bryce Petty as he graduates this year. Art Briles has done a great job of turning Baylor into a contender, with this team going 22-4 with two conference championships the last two seasons. Baylor biggest issue will be at quarterback, will Seth Russell get the start or will redshirt freshman Chris Johnson beat him out. Both quarterbacks are skilled, but Johnson is the better of the two in my opinion. I think the Bears are a top team no matter who they start and the defense should be improved with Shawn Oakman returning for his senior season.

Sept. 5 – at SMU
Sept. 12 – Lamar
Sept. 26 – Rice
Oct. 3 – vs. Texas Tech (Arlington)*
Oct. 10 – at Kansas*
Oct. 17 – West Virginia*
Oct. 24 – Iowa State*
Nov. 5 – at Kansas State*
Nov. 14 – Oklahoma*
Nov. 21 – at Oklahoma State*
Nov. 27 – at TCU*
Dec. 5 – Texas*

Early Prediction
I have Baylor going 11-1 for the second straight season, with their only lose coming at TCU on Nov. 27. I don’t think the playoff committee will put two Big 12 teams in the playoffs and I think Baylor could be looking at a return trip to the Cotton Bowl.

6. Oregon (LS 13-2)
Oregon will have 13 returning starters next season (15 if Marcus Mariota and Arik Armstead decide to come back to school), but will lose three starting offensive lineman and their quarterback. The likely replacement for Mariota is going to be Jeff Lockie, who will be entering his junior season with the Ducks. Oregon is also in the running to get Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who’s expected to transfer after this season with Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett both proving that their ready to start.

2015 Oregon Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Eastern Washington
Sept. 12 – at Michigan State
Sept. 19 – Georgia State
Sept. 26 – Utah*
Oct. 3 – at Colorado*
Oct. 10 – Washington State*
Oct. 17 – at Washington*
Oct. 29 – at Arizona State*
Nov. 7 – California*
Nov. 14 – at Stanford*
Nov. 21 – USC*
Nov. 27 – Oregon State*

Early Prediction
I have the Ducks going 11-2 and losing in the conference championship game right now, but that could change if Miller transfers there.

7. Michigan State (LS 12-1)
Michigan State got great news when star quarterback Connor Cook announced he would return for his senior season. The Spartans will have 12 other starters returning to a team that went 11-2 last season. Michigan State will lose three of their four starters in the secondary, which I think will cost them a few games, especially when Oregon comes to town on Sept. 12.

2015 Michigan State Football schedule
Sept. 4 – at Western Michigan
Sept. 12 – Oregon
Sept. 19 – Air Force
Sept. 26 – Central Michigan
Oct. 3 – Purdue*
Oct. 10 – at Rutgers*
Oct. 17 – at Michigan*
Oct. 24 – Indiana*
Nov. 7 – at Nebraska*
Nov. 14 – Maryland*
Nov. 21 – at Ohio State*
Nov. 28 – Penn State*

Early Prediction
I got Michigan State going 11-1 with their only lose being to Ohio State on Nov. 21. You never know we might see a Baylor and Michigan State rematch in the Cotton Bowl.

8. Florida State (LS 13-1)
Florida State will have nine returning starters next season, with six of those being on the defensive side of the ball. The Seminoles also lose Jameis Winston, who went 27-1 in his two seasons as their starting quarterback. I don’t think that Sean Mcguire is a lock to be the starting quarterback and I think John Franklin III will give him a run for his money. I didn’t want to rank Florida State this high, but they’ve recruited well and got great coaches, so I don’t expect him to have too much of a down season.

2015 Florida State Football schedule
(The ACC has yet to release the conference schedule for next season, so the conference games are in a random order)
(Non Conference games)
Sept. 5 – Texas State
Sept. 26 – South Florida
Nov. 21 – Chattanooga
Nov. 28 – at Florida
(Conference games)
Home Games: Miami (FL), NC State, Louisville, Syracuse
Away Games: Georgia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest, Clemson

Early Prediction
I got Florida State going 9-3, with loses to Georgia Tech, Florida, and Clemson or Miami (FL).

9. Tennessee (LS 7-6)
Tennessee will return 19 starters next season, and Butch Jones has another great recruiting class coming in. The Vols will have a lot of young talent headlined by running back Jalen Hurd and defensive end Derek Barnett. Tennessee finally found them a quarterback and Joshua Dobbs. I think the Vols would have won nine games this season, if they would’ve started Dobbs week 1.

2015 Tennessee Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Bowling Green
Sept. 12 – Oklahoma
Sept. 19 – Western Carolina
Sept. 26 – at Florida*
Oct. 3 – Arkansas*
Oct. 10 – Georgia*
Oct. 24 – at Alabama*
Oct. 31 – at Kentucky*
Nov. 7 – South Carolina*
Nov. 14 – North Texas
Nov. 21 – at Missouri*
Nov. 28 – Vanderbilt*

Early Prediction
I’ve got Tennessee winning the East and playing Alabama in the SEC Championship game with a record of 10-2. I’ve got them losing to Alabama, and I think they’ll lose to one of the following teams: Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, or Missouri.

10. Ole Miss (LS 9-4)
Ole Miss will have 17 returning starters, with seven of them being on defense and only losing quarterback Bo Wallace on offense, which might be a good thing for the Rebels. Ole Miss fans will have a QB race that will probably last until they play Alabama on Sept. 19. Ole Miss will also have to replace ball hawking defensive backs Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, but I expect this defense to be one of the best in the country yet again.

Sept. 5 – UT Martin
Sept. 12 – Fresno State
Sept. 19 – at Alabama*
Sept. 26 – Vanderbilt*
Oct. 3 – at Florida*
Oct. 10 – New Mexico State
Oct. 17 – at Memphis
Oct. 24 – Texas A&M*
Oct. 31 – at Auburn*
Nov. 7 – Arkansas*
Nov. 21 – LSU*
Nov. 28 – at Mississippi State*

Early Prediction
I have Ole Miss going 8-4, with loses to Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and LSU.

11. Notre Dame (LS 8-5)
14 Returning Starters

2015 Notre Dame Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Texas
Sept. 12 – at Virginia
Sept. 19 – Georgia Tech
Sept. 26 – UMass
Oct. 3 – at Clemson
Oct. 10 – Navy
Oct. 17 – USC
Oct. 31 – at Temple
Nov. 7 – at Pittsburgh
Nov. 14 – Wake Forest
Nov. 21 – Boston College
Nov. 28 – at Stanford

Early Prediction
Right now I have Notre Dame going 9-3 with loses to Georgia Tech, USC and either Clemson or Texas.

12. Boise State (LS 12-2)
16 Returning Starters

2015 Boise State Football schedule
(The MWC has yet to release the conference schedule for next season, so the conference games are in a random order)
(Non Conference games)
Sept. 3 or 4 – Washington
Sept. 12 – at BYU
Sept. 19 – Idaho State
Sept. 26 – at Virginia
(Conference games)
Home Games: Hawaii, Air Force, New Mexico, Wyoming
Away Games: San Jose St, Colorado State, Utah State, UNLV

Early Prediction
Boise State toughest game will be their first one when they face former coach Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies, who beat the Broncos last season. If Boise State gets passed that game I could see them running the table and going 13-0 and winning the MWC.

13. Missouri (LS 11-3)
13 Returning Starters

2015 Missouri Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Southeast Missouri State
Sept. 12 – at Arkansas State
Sept. 19 – Connecticut
Sept. 26 – at Kentucky*
Oct. 3 – South Carolina*
Oct. 10 – Florida*
Oct. 17 – at Georgia*
Oct. 24 – at Vanderbilt*
Nov. 5 – Mississippi State*
Nov. 14 – BYU
Nov. 21 – Tennessee*
Nov. 28 – at Arkansas*

Early Prediction
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Missouri goes 10-2 next season. They’ve won the East two years in a row and while the division will be improved I don’t see any team outside of Tennessee taking major strides. Right now I’ve the Tigers losing to Tennessee and losing to either Georgia or Arkansas.

14. Arizona State (LS 10-3)
16 Returning Starters

2015 Arizona State Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Texas A&M
Sept. 12 – Cal Poly
Sept. 19 – New Mexico
Sept. 26 – USC
Oct. 3 – at UCLA
Oct. 10 – Colorado
Oct. 17 – at Utah
Oct. 29 – Oregon
Nov. 7 – at Washington State
Nov. 14 – Washington
Nov. 21 – Arizona
Nov. 28 – at California

Early Prediction
Arizona State shocked a lot of people this season, and I think they’ll continue their success. I’ve them going 10-2, with losses to USC and Oregon.

15. LSU (LS 8-5)
16 Returning Starters

2015 LSU Football schedule
Sept. 5 – McNeese State
Sept. 12 – at Mississippi State*
Sept. 19 – Auburn*
Sept. 26 – at Syracuse
Oct. 3 – Eastern Michigan
Oct. 10 – at South Carolina*
Oct. 17 – Florida*
Oct. 24 – Western Kentucky
Nov. 7 – at Alabama*
Nov. 14 – Arkansas*
Nov. 21 – at Ole Miss*
Nov. 28 – Texas A&M*

Early Prediction
The loss of John Chavis could hurt the LSU defense next season, but I think the Tigers will still rank at the top in the SEC. I have them going 9-3, but they’ll have to get better quarterback play if they expect to do any better.

16. Georgia Tech (LS 11-3)
12 Returning Starters

2015 Georgia Tech Football schedule
(The ACC has yet to release the conference schedule for next season, so the conference games are in a random order)
(Non Conference games)
Sept. 12 – Tulane
Sept. 19 – Notre Dame
Nov. 28 – Georgia
(Conference games)
Home Games: Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh
Away Games: Duke, Miami (FL), Virginia, Clemson

Early Prediction
Georgia Tech continues to have success running the triple option and I think they’ve found the perfect quarterback to run it in Justin Thomas. I have Georgia Tech winning the ACC next season and going 12-1 with a loss to either Florida State or Georgia.

17. Arizona (LS 10-4)
12 Returning Starters

2015 Arizona Football schedule
Sept. 3 – UT-San Antonio
Sept. 12 – at Nevada
Sept. 19 – Northern Arizona
Sept. 26 – UCLA*
Oct. 3 – at Stanford*
Oct. 10 – Oregon State*
Oct. 17 – at Colorado*
Oct. 24 – Washington State*
Oct. 31 – at Washington*
Nov. 7 – at USC*
Nov. 14 – Utah*
Nov. 21 – at Arizona State*

Early Prediction

18. Mississippi State (LS 10-3)
7 Returning Starters

2015 Mississippi State Football schedule
Sept. 5 – at Southern Miss
Sept. 12 – LSU*
Sept. 19 – Northwestern State
Sept. 26 – at Auburn*
Oct. 3 – at Texas A&M*
Oct. 10 – Troy
Oct. 17 – Louisiana Tech
Oct. 24 – Kentucky*
Nov. 5 – at Missouri*
Nov. 14 – Alabama*
Nov. 21 – at Arkansas*
Nov. 28 – Ole Miss*

Early Prediction

19. Georgia (LS 10-3)
11 Returning Starters

2015 Georgia Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 12 – at Vanderbilt*
Sept. 19 – South Carolina*
Sept. 26 – Southern
Oct. 3 – Alabama*
Oct. 10 – at Tennessee*
Oct. 17 – Missouri*
Oct. 31 – Florida*
Nov. 7 – Kentucky*
Nov. 14 – at Auburn*
Nov. 21 – Georgia Southern
Nov. 28 – at Georgia Tech

Early Prediction

20. Auburn (LS 8-5)
13 Returning Starters

2015 Auburn Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Louisville
Sept. 12 – Jacksonville State
Sept. 19 – at LSU*
Sept. 26 – Mississippi State*
Oct. 3 – San Jose State
Oct. 15 – at Kentucky*
Oct. 24 – at Arkansas*
Oct. 31 – Ole Miss*
Nov. 7 – at Texas A&M*
Nov 14 – Georgia*
Nov. 21 – Idaho
Nov. 28 – Alabama*

Early Prediction

21. Wisconsin (LS 11-3)
15 Returning Starters

2015 Wisconsin Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Alabama
Sept. 12 – Miami (OH)
Sept. 19 – Troy
Sept. 26 – Hawaii
Oct. 3 – Iowa*
Oct. 10 – at Nebraska*
Oct. 17 – Purdue*
Oct. 24 – at Illinois*
Oct. 31 – Rutgers*
Nov. 7 – at Maryland*
Nov. 21 – Northwestern*
Nov. 28 – at Minnesota*

Early Prediction

22. Clemson (LS 10-3)
9 Returning Starters

2015 Clemson Football schedule
(The ACC has yet to release the conference schedule for next season, so the conference games are in a random order)
(Non Conference games)
Sept. 5 – Wofford
Sept. 12 – Appalachian State
Oct. 3 – Notre Dame
Nov. 28 – at South Carolina
(Conference games)
Home Games: Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest
Away Games: Syracuse, Miami (FL), NC State, Louisville

Early Prediction

23. Arkansas (LS 7-6)
16 Returning Starters

2015 Arkansas Football schedule
Sept. 5 – UTEP
Sept. 12 – Toledo
Sept. 19 – Texas Tech
Sept. 26 – Texas A&M*
Oct. 3 – at Tennessee*
Oct. 10 – at Alabama*
Oct. 24 – Auburn*
Oct. 31 – UT-Martin
Nov. 7 – at Ole Miss*
Nov. 14 – at LSU*
Nov. 21 – Mississippi State*
Nov. 28 – Missouri*

Early Prediction

24. UCLA (LS 10-3)
18 Returning Starters

2015 UCLA Football schedule
Sept. 5 – Virginia
Sept. 12 – at UNLV
Sept. 19 – BYU
Sept. 26 – at Arizona*
Oct. 3 – Arizona State*
Oct. 15 – at Stanford*
Oct. 22 – California*
Oct. 31 – Colorado*
Nov. 7 – at Oregon State*
Nov. 14 – Washington State*
Nov. 21 – at Utah*
Nov. 28 – at USC*

Early Prediction

25. Kansas State (LS 9-4)
13 Returning Starters

2015 UCLA Football schedule
Sept. 5 – South Dakota
Sept. 12 – at UTSA
Sept. 19 – Louisiana Tech
Oct. 3 – at Oklahoma State*
Oct. 10 – TCU*
Oct. 17 – Oklahoma*
Oct. 24 – at Texas*
Nov. 5 – Baylor*
Nov. 14 – at Texas Tech*
Nov. 21 – Iowa State*
Nov. 28 – at Kansas*
Dec. 5 – West Virginia*

Early Prediction

Early Playoffs
#1 TCU vs #4 USC
#2 Ohio State vs #3 Alabama

National Title Game
TCU vs Alabama


* = Conference Game

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