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College Football: Top 25 Week Zero Poll

After another round of conference realignment and portal raids, the start of the college football season is just days away. Optimism, questions, and subsequently storylines abound in every conference and within every locker room.

Can Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines get over the hump after consecutive losses in the playoffs and claim a national championship in football for the first time since 1997? When will Ohio State decide on who lines up under center at Indiana in the opener? Is Penn State finally prepared to take the next step and win the BIG Ten with Drew Allar at quarterback (assuming he is named the starter)?

Can the Georgia Bulldogs win their third consecutive national title in the final year of the four-team playoff? The last college football team to win three consecutive titles was the University of Minnesota in 1936. Is LSU ready to overtake Alabama in the SEC West?

Matthew Berry publishes a Love/Hate article at NBC Sports each week of the football season. Well, the firm of Dalzell, Thomas, and Froton is certain to draw out the emotions of both love and hate as they reveal their first look at the Top 25 teams in college football entering the 2023 season.

College Football Top 25 Rankings

1 Georgia | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

2 Michigan | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

3 Ohio State | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

4 Alabama | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

5 USC | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

Dalzell (@VmoneySports): There are no surprises for me here as all five teams have legitimate chances to win their conferences or 10-plus games. USC is the most intriguing team to me because of the unlikelihood that Caleb Williams will win the Heisman for a second straight season or that the Trojans will improve enough in key areas. USC missed my top five and with at least four ranked opponents on tap this year, I expect the Trojans to miss the College Football Playoff yet again.

Join in the college football conversation Saturdays at 11A ET. From sides to totals to props, get ready for the weekend of college football with the NBC Sports College Football Betting Q&A.

Thomas (@MrBradThomas): There is no surprise here with Georgia being the unanimous number one team. Back-to-back National Championships warrant all the respect they are getting. I am surprised that the fellas agreed and had my Crimson Tide in the Top 4. I assumed I was being biased, but Nick Saban seems to get the benefit of the doubt.

Froton (@CFFroton): I understand that USC’s defense ranked in the bottom-10 nationally in success rate and explosive play rate allowed and that they survived by posting an unsustainable +22 turnover ratio. HC Lincoln Riley has hit the portal hard to address the defensive deficiencies and has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, so they slid into the 4 spot for me. LSU is loaded and in better shape overall than Alabama in my opinion. HC Brian Kelly’s established QB/WR room is what vaulted them to #5.

6 LSU | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

7 Penn State (tied) | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

Clemson (tied) | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

9 Florida State | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

10 Texas | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

11 Washington | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

12 Notre Dame | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

13 Tennessee | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

14 Utah (tied) | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

Oregon (tied) | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

Dalzell: If there was one team to remove from the top 15, it has to be Tennessee (No. 13). I can’t believe Joe Milton and the Vols are getting this much love not only from the public but my colleagues too! Tennessee draws both Alabama and Georgia, hosts UTSA, Texas A&M, and South Carolina, plus has road games at Florida and Kentucky. I don’t see Tennessee finishing top 15 with their schedule no matter how fast the offense moves.

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Thomas: Defense wins championships. However, Eric and Vaughn gave USC a free pass and moved them past the sixth spot and into the Top 5. They are also much higher on Texas than I am. I guess they think, “Texas is back!” Texas was 12th for me.

Froton: I know my Alabama fan Amigo Brad isn’t happy about it, but I had Penn State ranked ahead of his Crimson Tide. PSU’s defensive back-seven is vicious while golden-boy QB Drew Allar is protected by the best OL of the Franklin era. Penn State (+600) is a favorite dark horse Big 10 championship flier. Clemson gets the nod over Florida State while Notre Dame and Sam Hartman round out my top-10.

16 Wisconsin | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

17 Kansas State | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

18 Oregon State | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

19 Iowa | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

20 TCU | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

21 Mississippi (tied) | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

Texas A&M (tied) | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

23 South Carolina | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

24 North Carolina | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

25 Texas Tech | Overall Record: 0-0 | ATS: 0-0

Honorable Mentions: Oklahoma, Tulane, UTSA

Dalzell: I don’t know why Eric and Brad hate Wisconsin (No. 16), but I expect a BIG Ten West Title and nine-plus wins from the Badgers in 2023. The only contender for the Big Ten West is Iowa, who comes in at No. 19 in our poll. With Tanner Mordecai at QB for Wisconsin (transfer from SMU), the Badgers are a borderline top-10 team and I demand more respect.

Thomas: I’m so sick of Texas A&M getting rated highly year in and year out and still being highly ranked in preseason polls. I didn’t have them in my Top 25, but by them coming in at 22nd on the consensus, I imagine someone had them in the Top 15. Jimbo better prove that ranking was deserved.

Froton: I love Texas A&M QB Connor Weigman and think the second year five-star has an excellent cast of starting wideouts to target in Evan Stewart/Moose Muhammad/Ainias Smith. If HC Jimbo Fisher lets OC Bobby Petrino cook, A&M could make some noise in the SEC West. I want to see Texas Tech and offensive guru Zach Kittley rise up in the Big-12, so I snuck them in late.

As mentioned, optimism and questions abound across the landscape of college football. As positive and negative answers arrive, no doubt there will be movement in this and every Top 25.

Enjoy the games and enjoy the sweat.