Jameis Winston and defending national champion Florida State are No 1.
Few can argue that.
But preseason rankings — like this one — serve one grand purpose: to let us argue No. 2 through No. 25.
Because, with the advent of the College Football Playoff, they don’t matter too much anymore.
This season, the Bowl Championship Series is being replaced by the playoff (about 25 years too late) and a selection committee will pick the top four teams in the country for two national semifinals.
That said, the Seminoles start the season No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the sixth time — the first since 1999 when they became the first team to hold the top spot for the entire season.
And Florida State also starts the inaugural RedRaiders.com Top 25 rankings in the same place.
Texas Tech? Unlike the AP, they are ranked here, coming in at No. 18.
1. Florida State
The are the defending national champions. They have the Heisman Trophy winner back. It is their position at the top of the college football world until someone knocks them off.
Yes, the Crimson Tide lost to the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl. But, I think they win the SEC again. And that makes them the best challenger to Florida State. Alabama is having to break in another quarterback, Jacob Coker, who actually transferred from Florida State. But, the last time the Tide did that it worked out OK — A.J. McCarron.
If the Ducks can get past Stanford and UCLA it will play for the national title. It has the second-best returning quarterback in the nation in Marcus Mariotta. Oregon will out score everyone and as usual it will probably have to.
They beat Alabama. Trevor Knight proved he could be effective as a passer and because of those two things, the Sooners are the favorite in the Big 12.
5. Ohio State
The Buckeyes lost their final two games of 2013. It had won 23 in a row before that. Expect a new steak to start.
Art Briles’ transformation of the Bears from afterthought to national power is complete. If anyone besides Oklahoma wins the Big 12, it will be Baylor.
Sure and steady are the Cardinal. They won’t get to the College Football Playoff. But, they will be in the conversation.
8. South Carolina
Steve Spurrier has the Gamecocks positioned to win the SEC East. The question is: Can South Carolina beat the winner of the SEC West?
The Bruins, like three teams above them (Florida State, Oregon, Baylor) have their star quarterback, Brett Hundley, returning. But, the Pac-12 is tough at the top.
From runner-up to No. 10? Yep. The kick return against Alabama and the catch against Georgia were just too lucky. No way, they repeat last season’s luck.
11. Michigan State
Defense wins championships. And Michigan State has Shilique Calhoun. But 10-14 points from the offense would help.
The Spartans need some more offense to compete in the Top-10.
The Bulldogs have questions at quarterback (Hutson Mason), but not running back — Todd Gurley.
The Tigers are strong on defense again, but have young players who could be starters in quarterback Anthony Jennings and running back Leonard Fournette.
Dabo Sweeney is a great coach, but the Tigers still won’t beat the Ol’ Ball Coach.
15. Texas A&M
The offense will score with out Johnny Football. But, how much? Time to see how much of it was Kevin Sumlin and how much Manziel magic.
16. Southern Cal
A lot of talent. But, can Steve Sarkisian make the most of it? If he does the Trojans could be in the Top-10.
17. Notre Dame
Everett Golson should be back. And that won’t mean a trip to the playoff, but the Irish will win nine games.
18. Texas Tech
A high ranking for a team that lost five games in a row last year. But, then again the Red Raiders torched the team I have below them on this list in the Holiday Bowl.
19. Arizona State
The defense still has a lot of question marks.
Charlie Strong said not to expect a national championship. OK.
21. Central Florida
So, George O’Leary coaches better than he fills out his resume.
22. Ole Miss
Hugh Freeze didn’t need Sandra Bullock teaching him in ‘The Blind Side.’ He has the Rebels on the rise.
The Badgers lost a ton.
24. North Carolina
Marquise Williams is the real deal at quarterback — a dark horse in the Heisman Trophy race.
Will Muschamp does not keep his job if the Gators finish No. 25. Nine wins or bust for the former Texas defensive coordinator.