Alabama Football: A deep dive into CFB’s top 25 for 2020

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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25. team. 808. . 2019 Record: 8-5. Previous: . Trojans

Kicking this off with Alabama’s season-opening opponent for 2020, the USC Trojans. The Trojans ended the regular season on an impressive run winning five out of their last six games. Kedon Slovis was the unquestioned leader during that stretch. During those six games, Slovis passed for 21 TDs and only 5 INTs. He also had four games of over 400 yards passing including one 500 yard game. USC is a team on the rise and with their polarizing decision to retain Head Coach Clay Helton, they have continuity on the coaching staff which is huge. USC will be a challenge for any team in 2020 including Alabama football.

Volunteers . 24. team. 839. . 2019 Record: 8-5. Previous:

We’ve heard the calls over the past decade it seems that Tennessee is coming back. They started to return to glory under Lane Kiffin, but he bolted after just one season. Fans have heard it so many times it is becoming just par for the course during the offseason. I contend this year will be different. During the last offseason, Tennessee was considered a dark-horse to challenge UGA for the East Division title. Those hopes were quickly dashed after dropping the season opener to Georgia State. The first half of the 2019 season was utterly a disaster. Somehow, Jeremy Pruitt and his team found a way to turn things around ending the regular season on a five-game win streak. Tennessee returns most of its starters in 2020 and gets a boost from UGA transfer Cade Mays. After a strong Signing Day that saw UT earn a top-10 signing class, they are in position again to make some noise in the East.

. 2019 Record: 11-3. Previous: . Bears . 23. team. 860

Baylor was one Jalen Hurts miraculous comeback away from making the CFP in 2019. If Baylor could have won either of their contests with Oklahoma then they likely make it into the Playoff. 2020 does not look like it will be a repeat of 2019. The strength of Baylor in 2019 was defense. They are losing nearly every single impact starter on that side of the ball in 2020. Not only that but their head man, Matt Rhule, is now with the Carolina Panthers of the NFL. This feels like the perfect storm for a big step back for the Bears this season. Couple all of that with the fact that Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas are all improved or (in the case of Oklahoma) relatively the same, and the Bears will be hard-pressed to get back to the Big 12 Championship Game.

. 2019 Record: 8-5. Previous: . Wildcats . 22. team. 833

Kentucky is almost always underrated and overlooked. I’m guilty of this myself. Kentucky struggled with injuries all through the 2019 season, but they were still able to win 8 games including a 45-13 drubbing of in-state rival Louisville. Yes, Kentucky loses their hero and best playmaker in Lynn Bowden Jr. but they get Terry Wilson back from injury and add Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood to the QB room. There are some question marks on defense but this is a solid roster overall. Retaining Mark Stoops as Head Coach after there were rumblings of his departure is huge as well. Kentucky is poised to have a big 2020.

. 2019 Record: 9-4. Previous: . Wolverines . 21. team. 811

Michigan. One of the most storied programs in College Football history cannot get over the Ohio State bump. Michigan fans are losing hope in their head coach, Jim Harbaugh. Who, not that long ago, was in discussions with Michigan for an unprecedented lifetime contract to be the head coach there. Now, they are coming off a rather disappointing 2019 where they failed to reach 10 wins for just the second time under Harbaugh. They haven’t won a bowl game since 2015 and worse still, haven’t beaten Ohio State since 2011. Nothing about this team gives confidence that 2020 will be any different. They are losing a good portion of their offensive and defensive starters, Ohio State is still a title contender, and now Penn State and Minnesota are on the rise. It will be another disappointing and mediocre season for the Wolverines.