College football lies stagnant for roughly eight months, at least in the sense of actual live games.
National Signing Day is under a month away, followed closely by spring practice and then summer workouts ahead of fall camp. Opening day for 2016 is a ways off, but it's never too early to start comparing the nation's top programs and how they stack up in the rankings. Plus, it gives us something to chew on while we wait for September.
Essentially all major sporting news outlets released a 2016 preseason top-25 shortly after Alabama topped Clemson 45-40 in the College Football Playoff National Championship game Monday night in Glendale, Arizona. Both the Crimson Tide and Tigers are slotted at or near the top of each major poll, which isn't a surprise—Clemson returns star quarterback Deshaun Watson and a wealth of talent and Alabama is, well, Alabama. The Crimson Tide own four of the last seven titles.
Ohio State is preparing to replace 16 starters in 2016, a crazy number but one Urban Meyer mostly expected. The Buckeyes have recruited well, a big reason why voters view them in the top half of their early rankings. It also doesn't hurt to have a head coach who is 50-4 in his four seasons at the helm in Columbus.
The Big Ten East is set to be a terror again next season, with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State leading the way.
|POLL||Athlon||The Big Lead||B/R||CBS||ESPN||FOX||Sporting News||USA Today||Average|
It is pretty evident voters don't have a clear idea how to gauge Ohio State right now, which is understandable considering the exodus of talent from a team that went 12-1 and beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl to finish fourth in the final AP and Coaches Polls.
However, having J.T. Barrett return as the unquestioned starting quarterback along with two-time All-Big Ten performer Pat Elflein at center helps. Raekwon McMillan is set to start his second-straight season at middle linebacker and again, Meyer is head coach. The youth will be tested early with a trip to Oklahoma in Week 3 and then one to Wisconsin and Penn State a month later.
Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all lose a bevy of starters, but the Buckeyes are the only team of the three to return a starting quarterback.
The consensus among the above polls have the Wolverines at No. 6. Jim Harbaugh's team is ranked as high as No. 3 (USA Today) and as low as No. 9 (Bleacher Report, Sporting News).
Michigan State's average ranking is 12, giving three Big Ten East Division foes among the top dozen among the eyes of pollsters. The Spartans are ranked as high as No. 9 (CBS) and as low as No. 14 (ESPN).
National champion Alabama is 2016's consensus No. 2 team, sitting behind only Clemson. The only way-too-early polls that do not have the Tigers ranked No. 1 are those put together by Athlon Sports and The Big Lead, which have the Tide at the top instead.