Now that the final whistle has blown on the 2015 college football season, we can quickly and unabashedly turn our attentions to the 2016 season, which offers a lot of uncertainty not just for the Buckeyes, who lose a ton of starters to the NFL and graduation, but for other major college football blue bloods.
Of course, that uncertainly isn't going to stop us from taking our best shot at predicting what next season is going to look like. Below is our way-too-early attempt at projecting the Top 25 for the 2016 season.
The top of our rankings should look familiar, as both Clemson and Oklahoma bring back excellent quarterbacks, multiple weapons on the skill positions, parts of good defenses, and strong coaching staffs. We like LSU to make a big leap paced by Leonard Fournette and Malachi Dupre, and for Notre Dame and Florida State to be in the playoff conversation as well. And of course, the defending champs will be in that conversation again too.
We have Michigan as the highest ranked Big Ten team, at eight, but we think the margin between them and Ohio State (ten) is razor thin. The Wolverines return quite a bit from an offense that was better than expected under Harbaugh's first season, and Michigan should be very solid if they can get above average quarterback play, which isn't a given. The Buckeyes lose most of their main contributors, but return a great quarterback and a great middle linebacker, and of course, have recruited excellently.
A ton can change this offseason, of course. Coaches could leave, players can still declare for the draft, recruiting isn't over, and injuries, transfers and suspensions will happen. But for right this second, here is what we're thinking.
5. Florida State
6. Notre Dame
9. Oklahoma State
10. Ohio State
13. Michigan State
17. Ole Miss
21. Miami (FL)
24. Washington State
25. South Florida
Other teams to watch: