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Ohio State is No. 5 in our way too early 2017 Preseason Top 25

The Buckeyes should be ready to make another run at the College Football Playoff.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Clemson’s surprise national championship, the 2016 season has finally drawn to a close. We may spend another few days trying to unpack what happened in 2016, but the real focus now is on next season.

The Buckeyes should be in position to contend again next year, as they’ll return J.T. Barrett for another year, along with most playmakers from this year’s offense (Curtis Samuel the notable exception), along with studs all along the defensive line. One of the nation’s youngest teams will be another year older.

But there are questions as well. With Ohio State’s secondary wracked by early departures to the NFL, which young players will step in those roles? Who will begin to produce at wideout? How will Ohio State integrate their new offensive coaches? Can their offensive line bounce back?

We took another stab at projecting our Way Too Dang Early Preseason Top 25, and we like the Buckeyes at 5th for next season, behind Alabama, Florida State, Clemson and Penn State. The Nittany Lions deserve some benefit of the doubt, now that they are projected to return almost all of a very good offense from 2016, including the best running back in the Big Ten, Saquon Barkley. The Bucks will get Penn State at home next season.

Here’s our best guess at a preseason Top 25 for 2017. We’re making these guesses without knowing everybody that is leaving for the NFL, which coaches are sticking around, and more, so hey, they’ll probably look different come say, June.

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida State
  3. Clemson
  4. Penn State
  5. Ohio State
  6. USC
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington
  9. LSU
  10. Michigan
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. Stanford
  13. Louisville
  14. Texas
  15. Auburn
  16. Wisconsin
  17. South Florida
  18. Miami
  19. Georgia
  20. Nebraska
  21. Oregon
  22. Virginia Tech
  23. Navy
  24. Kansas State
  25. Utah

Also considered in no particular order: App State, TAMU, Michigan State, Notre Dame, NC State, Boise State, Toledo, Pitt, BYU, Notre Dame, TCU, Colorado, West Virginia.