CollegeFootballPoll.com today released the 2020 Preseason Congrove Computer Rankings, projecting how every team will stand at the end of the regular season. It's a list of the usual suspects at the top, and some quirks due the unique makeup of a football season that will exclude 53 teams and 4 conferences.
Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma and Alabama top the list. The Bayou Bengals are, perhaps, the biggest surprise in the No. 2 slot as the defending national champions lost 14 players to the NFL draft. Among those no longer with the program include Heisman-winning QB Joe Burrow and leading rusher Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Of course, Alabama loses QB Tua Tagovailoa and WR Jerry Jeudy, while Oklahoma has to deal with the departure of Jalen Hurts and 7 of its top 9 tacklers.
Clemson returns QB Trevor Lawrence and its top two receivers, but otherwise returns a host of skill position players. Dabo Swinney's biggest test will be rebuilding the bulk of the offensive line and finding who will step up in the absence of 5 of the 6 top tacklers on defense.
Last year, Clemson and LSU were among the computer's preseason final 4. Its' other two picks of Michigan and Oregon were taken instead by Ohio State and Oklahoma.
SEE: 2020 Preseason Rankings (Projected rankings at the end of the REGULAR SEASON)
The start of the season actually sees Alabama in the top spot, followed by Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma. Notre Dame is 5th, followed by Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.
SEE: 2020 Week 1 Rankings (The way the 77 FBS team stack up right now, before a single play has been called)
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, only 6 conferences and a few independents are playing football this fall.
The ACC, American, Big 12, CUSA (minus Old Dominion), SEC and Sun Belt will all play during the "normal" time period, in addition to independents Army West Point, BYU, Liberty and Notre Dame.
The Irish will actually play this season as an 'honorary' member of the ACC. And the ACC will scrap the two-division format, allowing the top two over-all teams to play for the conference title. The computer projects Notre Dame to finish the regular season ranked 5th, two spots ahead of Virginia Tech.
Memphis at No. 6 is the highest-ranked team from a non-power conference. The defending American Conference champs are picked to go unbeaten.
Appalachian State gets a lofty No. 9 ranking, courtesy of running the table in the Sun Belt in Shawn Clark's first season as head coach after Eliah Drinkwitz left for Missouri.
The Mountain West has canceled all fall sports, but Air Force shows up at number 10. The Falcons will go rogue for a two-game season, facing Army and Navy to keep the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy competition alive and spoiling the party by capturing the hardware.
In all, 77 programs are scheduled to play football from September thru December, followed by the College Football Playoffs on January 1st and culminating with the Championship game on January 11th in Miami.
Overall, the Football Bowl Subdivision has no additions or departures, and only one change in the makeup of league memberships as UConn leaves the American and becomes an Independent.
All but 15 FCS teams are skipping the fall with plans to play in the spring. The 15 schools playing were allowed to schedule 4 nonconference games. Campbell, for example, is playing 4 FBS schools (Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern and Wake Forest).
The remaining schools in the Big Ten, MAC, Mountain West (including Air Force), and PAC-12 plan to play a truncated season in the spring, in addition to the other 3 independents - UConn, UMass and New Mexico State.