2020 College Football Rankings: January Top 25 First Guess

2020 College Football Rankings: January Top 25 First Guess

CFN Rankings

2020 College Football Rankings: January Top 25 First Guess

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2020 college football rankings. Which 25 teams look the strongest going into next year … at least in early January. 


There’s still another part of the recruiting season to get through, there will still be several defections to the NFL, and the transfer portal could change everything.

Which 25 teams appear to be the strongest going into 2020 … at least in early January?

So your team isn’t on here? Relax. The goal is to get relatively close to the pin. We’re only going to adapt, tweak and change this 492 times between now and when this all gets going in August.

For now …

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2020 College Football Rankings Early Top 25

25. Virginia Tech Hokies

Biggest Positive: Hendon Hooker. The Hokies have their star quarterback to work around with Hooker the main man for the offense to work with a terrific group of returning receivers.

Biggest Concern: The turnovers have to stop. Virginia Tech was a fumbling machine, but personnel-wise, just about everyone is back on both sides of the ball. The veteran team should be the favorite in the Coastal race.

Key New Addition: DE Alec Bryant. The Hokies already have the guys up front, but adding a great-looking pass rusher – throw in Robert Wooten and Derrell Bailey into this, too – for more depth isn’t bad.

Key Loss: RB Deshawn McClease is leaving early for the NFL after leading the team with 843 yards and seven scores. Hooker is the leading returning rusher.

24. Louisville Cardinals

Biggest Positive: The passing game should be fantastic. With Dez Fitzpatrick coming back, the receiving corps is loaded for QB Micale Cunningham to work with.

Biggest Concern: Offensive line. Dead last in the nation in tackles for loss allowed, the front five needs the talent. This was a problem before Scott Satterfield took over.

Key New Addition: To go along with an already great group of receivers, 6-4 freshman Christian Fitzpatrick – the brother of Dez – adds another weapon.

Key Loss: OT Mekhi Becton. It’ll be an experienced group, but the production has to be there. Losing Becton early to the NFL doesn’t help.

23. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Biggest Positive: The passing game will be even better with WR Tylan Wallace returning from his torn ACL, and with QB Spencer Sanders back to make it all go.

Biggest Concern: The pass defense has to be a whole lot better. There’s a ton of talent returning, and the young defense has a slew of key parts coming back, but the secondary has to step up.

Key New Addition: QB Shane Illingworth was the team’s star recruit. He might have to wait his turn behind Sanders, but Mike Gundy has never been afraid of starting the new guys.

Key Loss: Still waiting on the decision of RB Chuba Hubbard, but let’s just assume he’s off to the NFL. PK Matt Ammendola is done after hitting 20-of-26 field goals.

22. Cincinnati Bearcats

Biggest Positive: Just about everyone is back. There are a few losses on the offensive line and the linebacking corps, but the main men are in place. The offensive backfield is outstanding, the secondary is great, and everything is there to keep it all going.

Biggest Concern: Linebacker. Bryan Wright and Perry Young were two of the main tacklers, with Wright a fixture in the backfield. They’re both done.

Key New Addition: Parts for the offensive line. Granted, the latest recruiting class might not help the offensive front right away, but the young depth will be there with a terrific haul of blockers coming in.

Key Loss: TE Josiah Deguara. The go-to guy on key plays, the veteran led the team in receptions and could stretch the field.

21. Iowa Hawkeyes

Biggest Positive: Receiver. Ihmir Smith-Marsette is likely gone early to the NFL, but the rest of the top targets are back. This was a YOUNG group last year that played like it at times, but it should grow into a strength.

Biggest Concern: Defensive line. Assuming AJ Epenesa is gone – he’s a top ten overall pick if he leaves early – and the defensive tackle situation could use a boost. Throw in the loss of LB Kristian Welch in the middle, and there’s work to do.

Key New Addition: QB Deuce Hogan. Can a freshman really take over the starting quarterback job right away? At the very least, he’ll be a part of the mix after losing …

Key Loss: Nate Stanley. He didn’t go off in his senior year, but he was a solid, steadying force for an offense that needed a veteran presence.

NEXT: 2020 College Football Rankings: Early Top 25, 16-20

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