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College Football Rankings: Phil Steele releases Power Poll Top 25 ahead of 2024 season

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber06/24/24

The college football season grows closer by the day, which makes each set of preseason rankings that much more meaningful as we finally approach kick-off.

College football magazine mogul Phil Steele is always an authority on the sport, especially when it comes to his preseason predictions. As is typically the case, for the 2024 issue, Steele extensively broke down his preseason Power Poll.

So below, you can see what Phil Steele’s full top-25 ranking of college football teams for 2024, with commentary on his top 10. Take a look:

1. Georgia

Georgia QB Carson Beck vs. Georgia Tech
© Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

This line from Steele is all you need to know about Georgia’s dominance thus far this decade: “The Bulldogs have the same amount of national titles as they do losses the last three years.” That’s two of each, of course.

Steele had another simple but poignant comment on this roster: “Georgia is a complete team with great depth at almost every position.” A returning quarterback and Steele’s No. 2 Heisman candidate Carson Beck only heightens the Dawgs’ ceiling, and all signs point to a certain return to the playoff.

2. Ohio State

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s no secret at the table in Columbus, all the chips are in on the 2024 season with a loaded roster and tremendous transfer portal haul for Ryan Day’s do-or-die year. Additions like Will Howard (QB), Caleb Downs (S), Quinshon Judkins (RB) and others combined with what’s returning makes for a clear top-two roster.

Phil Steele is bullish on the roster and knows this season is crucial for the current regime. He says the Buckeyes “have talent that is very close to Georgia and they are on a mission this year.”

3. Oregon

Eric Becker/ScoopDuck

The Ducks come in strong at third, and Phil Steele doesn’t believe it’s ridiculous to think this club could be on par with the Big Ten powerhouse just in front of them. “They have talent that is very comparable to Ohio State, they just don’t have the hype,” he wrote.

Steele is all-in on the Oregon offense, pegging Dillon Gabriel as his No. 1 Heisman contender in year six. He also rates the Ducks’ wide receiver corps No. 1 in the country with the offensive line coming in No. 3. Matchups vs. Ohio State and Michigan will loom large, though.

4. Texas

Quinn Ewers-Texas
(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

The welcome to the SEC isn’t as harsh as Longhorn fans may have feared, as Phil Steele notes that Texas merely faces the No. 36 toughest schedule in the country per his metrics. Don’t let that fool you, though, because the ‘Horns still face two goliaths in Michigan (on the road) and home vs. Georgia.

Texas’ real advantage is their balance across the roster. Phil Steele ranks the top units in every position and says that “Texas is top 20 in all eight units, including the one that matters most, #1 QB.”

5. Penn State

Penn State quarterback Drew Allar coach James Franklin
(Photo by Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

In Big Ten country, 2024 brings a western frontier, a presumptive favorite in the Buckeye State and a reigning national champion up north. However, Phil Steele says “don’t discount the Nittany Lions this year as they have a very talented team and a schedule tailor-made for success.”

Steele notes the elephant in State College, that James Franklin hasn’t been able to throw a knockout punch against a top dog. But with Ohio State at home this season and Michigan and Oregon off the slate, there aren’t as many threats and a prime shot at OSU.

6. Alabama

Alabama Rose Bowl Michigan Wolverines football Jalen Milroe
(Photo by Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports)

Feeling skeptical about a change in leadership in Tuscaloosa? Well, there’s no reviving the retired, but Phil Steele makes about as strong a one-sentence case for first-year success under Kalen DeBoer as possible:

“DeBoer has an amazing record of 104-12 as a head coach and inherits a more talented team than the one he took to the national championship game last year!” Jalen Milroe is a top-five Heisman contender per Steele, plus a top-10 defense and No. 1 special teams unit, in his estimation, make ‘Bama a title contender once again.

7. Oklahoma

OU spring football.
OU spring football. (Bryan Terry – The Oklahoman/USA TODAY Network).

The Sooners are a peculiar and perhaps unfortunate case in the eyes of Phil Steele. He has Oklahoma all the way up at seventh on his power poll strictly judging the quality of the team in Norman; however, they fall down to No. 20 in his season-long predictions thanks to a truly bonkers schedule.

While Steele noted Texas’ friendly schedule in year one, Oklahoma was dealt about as tough a draw as conceivable. For starters, thanks to the neutral Red River Showdown, OU has just three SEC home games and four on the road, three against top-12 teams in last year’s final rankings — and in total, they’ll face six of the top-17 teams from 2023. Ouch.

8. Notre Dame

notre dame marcus freeman
Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman. (Photo by Chad Weaver)

Marcus Freeman’s tenure hasn’t gotten off to a blazing start in South Bend, but the necessary factors are in place for him to drum up plenty of support with a College Football Playoff run in 2024. Steele believes ND can get there and do damage.

He claims Notre Dame “could be favored in all 12 games this year” with a schedule that’s not even among his top 50 toughest. He adds: “They also have the talent to win games in the playoff.”

9. Ole Miss

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Steele declared Lane Kiffin the “original King of the Portal” and his majesty hath delivered yet again this offseason, landing several of the very top players in the portal, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With a loaded roster and returner at QB who’s on Steele’s Heisman list, he’s optimistic for a hot start in Oxford.

“The Rebels figure to be 6-0 for their showdown with LSU and are a legitimate playoff threat,” he writes. Of course, Ole Miss lost just two games a year ago to top-five Alabama and Georgia teams. With as much or more talent, and Jaxson Dart another year older, the expanded playoff is a very reasonable goal.

10. Miami

Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal celebrates after a victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes are still searching for a successful formula to stabilize a once-great program with modern success, and Phil Steele is ready to believe that Mario Cristobal is the program architect who can right the ship. Year one wasn’t a roaring achievement but it may set up a very promising year two.

Like many, Steele loves the additions. Cam Ward is a Heisman contender for him and Damien Martinez was one of the elite running backs in the nation a year ago. “He won a pair of Pac-12 titles in four years with Oregon and built that team into a powerhouse,” Steele cites as reason to believe Cristobal pull off another terrific turnaround.

Phil Steele’s 11-25 Power Poll

11. Utah
12. Michigan
13. Clemson
14. Florida State
15. Texas A&M
16. Virginia Tech
17. Oklahoma State
18. Iowa
19. Florida
20. LSU
21. SMU
22. Missouri
23. Louisville
24. USC
25. Wisconsin

For those curious, it is Kennesaw State who come in the very last spot, as the Owls are ranked No. 134 out of 134 for 2024.