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

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

15. team. 838. . 2019 Record: 7-6. Previous: . Tar Heels

The return of Mack Brown has seemed to begin to turn around this North Carolina program. After several years of mediocrity since their academic misconduct scandal, they showed flashes of potential in 2019. It wasn’t a complete success by any means, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. I have the Tar Heels here because I think they will benefit from a weak ACC and relatively weak non-conference schedule. They avoid Clemson in the regular season and the best non-conference opponent is Auburn or UCF. Both of those are winnable games and they are the first two games of the season. After UCF and Auburn, the schedule is a cakewalk. Their toughest tests being at Virginia and at Miami. I believe North Carolina will be the Coastal Division representative in the ACC Championship this year, with a good chance to be at least 9-3 or even 10-2 for that game. Anybody that faces UNC in 2020 needs to watch out.

14. team. 854. . 2019 Record: 8-5. Previous: . Sun Devils

Arizona State was almost the savior Alabama football needed in 2019. Their upset of the Oregon Ducks in November paved the way for the Tide to go to the College Football Playoff if they would have beaten Auburn. Arizona State’s strength in 2019 was undoubtedly their defense and they get just about everyone on that side of the ball back for 2020. On offense, they will have to break in some new O-linemen and WRs but that unit remains relatively stable. Arizona State has been on the brink the past couple of seasons and this will be the year they take a step forward. They might end up as the PAC-12’s best chance of making the playoff if Oregon slips. I still think they are missing some pieces though before they can be true national contenders. However, that doesn’t mean everyone on their schedule shouldn’t be concerned. This team is good enough to upset anybody on a given Saturday.

Ducks . 13. team. 820. . 2019 Record: 12-2. Previous:

The Ducks are kicking themselves after 2019. They were the clear favorite to land in the fourth and final spot in the playoff before losing a stunner to Arizona State. That loss hurt even more after they mopped the floor with Utah in the PAC-12 Championship. That win would have undoubtedly pushed them ahead of Oklahoma had they beaten ASU. Now, they have to deal with replacing most of their offense. Justin Herbert is gone to the NFL and whoever replaces him will be lining up behind an almost entirely new O-line. That is not a combination that usually promotes success. That is a recipe for a letdown. The schedule is weak outside of Ohio State. That is what will save Oregon from a complete breakdown in 2020. Even though they will be rebuilding, they get to rebuild in a weak PAC-12. This is your likely PAC-12 champion again in 2020, but Oregon will again drop at least one conference game that they should have won, keeping them (and the PAC-12) out of the playoff again.

12. team. 817. . 2019 Record: 15-0. Previous: . Tigers

Now we have some controversy. I’m sure I’ll take some flak for this ranking, but I just don’t see how the Bengal Tigers will overcome all of the losses they sustained. Not just losses on the roster, but coaches and analysts too. The Tigers will look almost entirely different in 2020. Almost unrecognizable except for their head coach. Let’s just go through some of their key losses. Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson, Grant Delpit, K’Lavon Chaisson, Passing Game Coordinator Joe Brady, and DC Dave Aranda to name just a few. You cannot lose that much talent and expect to compete for a title. LSU won’t fall too far because of their success on the recruiting trail. Make no mistake though this is a rebuilding year for the Tigers. They will have to do it with a target squarely on their backs. I can guarantee that every team on LSU’s schedule has that game circled on their calendar. Alabama football not only has that game circled, but they have it bolded, highlighted, italicized, and bookmarked. Ed Orgeron will have to earn his paycheck in 2020.

team. 851. . 2019 Record: 8-5. Previous: . Longhorns . 11

Year after year we hear the guarantee that Texas is back. It is essentially the same thing we hear from the Tennessee fanbase every offseason. I will admit though, that this year things are lining up for Texas to have a good year. The BIG-12 is not as strong as it has been recently and LSU is rebuilding this year. So, similar to Oklahoma State, Texas has a good chance to be 4-0 going into the Red River Showdown with OU and 11-0 or 10-1 going into their final regular-season game vs. Oklahoma State. The BIG-12 is very top-heavy this year and could have 3-4 teams that are legitimate Playoff contenders going into November. Texas returns almost all of their key offensive and defensive pieces for 2020. That continuity usually helps teams early in a season. Which is where the bulk of Texas’s toughest games are. If Texas has another mediocre showing in 2020 look for the fans to start calling for Tom Herman’s head. They say everything is bigger in Texas… except their patience with head coaches that don’t meet their lofty expectations.