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ESPN releases preseason FPI Top 25 rankings ahead of 2024 college football season

Stephen Samraby:Steve Samra06/03/24


As the college football season inches closer with each passing day, ESPN has released their preseason FPI Top 25 rankings.

Entering a new campaign, there’s a ton of familiar faces atop ESPN’s FPI Top 25, but there’s also some notable omissions near the top, including the Michigan Wolverines. The reigning champions of the college football world will have to prove they can remain on the same level, after losing quarterback J.J. McCarthy and coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL.

Elsewhere, the landscape of college football has changed, due to Nick Saban’s retirement and conference realignment. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of teams who will contend for a title in 2024, and here’s where they stand at the moment, according to ESPN’s FPI.

1) Georgia Bulldogs
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia is not only looking like the best team coming out of the spring slate, but its schedule reflects that. Kirby Smart’s squad will take on Clemson in Atlanta to begin the season and will play true road games against the likes of KentuckyAlabama, Texas and Ole Miss

Of course, the Bulldogs have won 46 of its last 48 games and have back-to-back College Football Playoff National Championships to prove it. Almost no task has been too tall for the Bulldogs over the last three years, and similar success is expected in 2024.

Georgia returns quarterback Carson Beck, who many analysts have as the top quarterback in next year’s NFL Draft, and is expected to have one of the toughest offensive lines in the country to back him up.

2) Oregon Ducks

Oregon HC Dan Lanning
Mark J. Rebilas | USA TODAY Sports

Oregon’s offense is once again expected to be one of the highest-scoring in the country in 2024. Replacing Bo Nix with Dillon Gabriel and providing him with Evan Stewartalongside the returning Tez Johnson out wide — the Ducks have their sights set on their first-ever Big Ten Championship.

In two seasons as head coach, Dan Lanning has established a 22-5 record with consecutive bowl victories. However, the Ducks haven’t made a College Football Playoff under Lanning and with the playoff field expanding this season — it’s looking more like a safe bet that the Ducks will find themselves somewhere in the field of 12. 

Of course, joining the Big Ten only strengthens their schedule further as they’ll have to battle the likes of Ohio State on Oct. 12 in Eugene. November will also prove to be a make-or-break part of their schedule as well with road games against Michigan and Wisconsin and home matchups against Maryland and Washington.

3) Texas Longhorns

Texas QB Quinn Ewers
(Sara Diggins | American-Statesman | USA TODAY NETWORK)

Head coach Steve Sarkisian took Texas to heights they hadn’t seen since the mid-2000s. Leading the Longhorns to a 12-win season including a win over Alabama on the road, a Big 12 Championship win and a first-ever College Football Playoff berth — expectations remain the same heading into 2024.

The Longhorns will enter the SEC alongside Red River rival Oklahoma, and many have questioned whether either team could maintain long-term success in the SEC. This season they have road matchups against VanderbiltArkansas and Texas A&M but will also play, OU, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky during the regular season.

They’re returning quarterback Quinn Ewers, who threw for nearly 3,500 yards to go with 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions during his sophomore campaign. They also added transfers Isaiah BondMatthew GoldenSilas Bolden and incoming true freshman Ryan Wingo to aid Ewers in leading the Longhorns to success in the SEC this season.

4) Ohio State Buckeyes

Ryan Day-Ohio State Buckeyes
Adam Cairns | The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State went all-out in the transfer portal this offseason, snatching up a new quarterback in veteran Will Howard, a star tailback in Quinshon Judkins and a budding superstar safety in Caleb Downs, among other incoming and returning talent on Ryan Day’s squad next season.

The Buckeyes will be looking to get over the hump that has been the Michigan Wolverines over the past three seasons. Not only that, but the Big Ten has added the likes of Oregon, WashingtonUSC and UCLA to the mix to increase the stiffness of Ohio State’s schedule.

They’ll get an easier start to the schedule against the likes of Akron, Western Michigan and Marshall, giving the Buckeyes more than enough time to fully adjust to the offense of new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly and his new weapons.

5) Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe recalled his incredible fourth down conversion vs. Auburn
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is curious to see how the Alabama Crimson Tide will fare in the post-Saban era in 2024. Kalen DeBoer has won everywhere he’s gone as a coach — assuming that continues in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is right back in the mix ahead of the 2024 season.

Alabama retains Jalen Milroe at quarterback, but questions surround the running back room and offensive line heading into the new season. Young running backs Jamarion Millerand Justice Haynes will see increased workloads this season and returning Kadyn Proctorafter his stint in the transfer portal has been huge for the offensive line efforts this offseason. 

Two Washington standouts, offensive guard Parker Brailsford and wideout Germie Bernard, followed DeBoer from Seattle and will look to provide some help to them offensively.

6) Penn State Nittany Lions

Dec 30, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) throws a pass against the Mississippi Rebels in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

As the Big Ten expands, James Franklin and Penn State are looking to take the next step, and contend for a national title. They’ve been stifled by rivals Ohio State and Michigan over the last couple of seasons, but it seems as if they’re ready to elevate their program in 2024.

Leading the way for the Nittany Lions will be quarterback Drew Allar. While he didn’t have the greatest season for Penn State in 2023, the potential is there, and freshly-minted offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki will be looking to cultivate the quarterback’s talent in 2024.

The Nittany Lions have a tough game to open their season, as they’ll travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia. However, they’ll face Ohio State in Happy Valley in 2024, and avoid Michigan and Oregon, so perhaps their schedule shakes out in a favorable way this coming season.

7) Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame HC Marcus Freeman
Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman. (Photo by Matt Cashore | USA TODAY Sports)

Year three under Marcus Freeman comes with the most expectations. Notre Dame has its quarterback in Riley Leonard and with new offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock leading the unit, hopes are understandably high in South Bend ahead of the 2024 college football season.

While fans didn’t get to see much of Leonard in the spring thanks to him undergoing a follow-up surgery on his previous right ankle injury, transfer wide receivers like Beaux Collins and Kris Mitchell will figure to be a couple of his favorite targets this coming season. 

Notre Dame will have to fill the holes left by Joe Alt and Blake Fisher on the offensive line, but it’s the defensive unit that has the Irish in pre-season championship contention. From Howard Cross III and Rylie Mills on the defensive line to Benjamin Morrison and Xavier Watts in the secondary, the Fighting Irish are stacked on the defensive side of the football.

8) Oklahoma Sooners

Sooners QB Jackson Arnold
Apr 20, 2024; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jackson Arnold (11) throws a touchdown pass during the Oklahoma Sooners spring game at Gaylord Family OK Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Sooners are looking to expand upon the earlier success they’ve enjoyed under Brent Venables, except this time they’ll hope it lasts an entire season. Oklahoma has been awesome in spurts, but it hasn’t always lasted over the last two seasons for the program.

Now, it’s a new era for Oklahoma, as they’re entering the SEC after leaving the Big 12. It’s going to be a completely new experience for the program, but they have the talent to compete, especially with Jackson Arnold leading their team at quarterback.

The Sooners will still face their biggest rival in the Texas Longhorns this season, but their schedule is not a favorable one in 2024. Venables’ team will have to face Tennessee, Alabama and LSU this season, so the pressure to perform will be set to high for sure.

9) Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee HC Josh Heupel
Saul Young | News Sentinel | USA TODAY NETWORK

Josh Heupel has rebuilt the Volunteers, but Tennessee faltered a bit in 2023. Still, there’s a renewed hope in Knoxville, and that’s certainly lingered into this season’s campaign.

Hendon Hooker was essential to Tennessee’s rebuild, and now Heupel may be dealing with his most talented quarterback yet in 2024. Nico Iamaleava showed out during the end of the 2023 campaign, and now it’s his team to lead as the Volunteers prepare to make a run at the College Football Playoff.

They’ll be tested early, as Tennessee will travel to face NC State during Week 2 of the 2024 campaign. However, some of their toughest games, like facing Alabama, will take place in Knoxville, so the Volunteers could be a sleeper pick to win the SEC in 2024. We’ll see if they can get the job done.

10) Missouri Tigers

Eli Drinkwitz is excited about Missouri's 2024 recruiting class
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers were the SEC’s biggest surprise one season ago. Finishing the season with double-digit wins and finishing it off by defeating Ohio State 14-3 in the Cotton Bowl. 

Brady Cook and Luther Burden III figure to be one of the SEC’s top quarterback-wide receiver combos in 2024 as the Tigers look to be a legitimate contender in the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff. Adding the likes of Corey Flagg and Darris Smith to the defensive unit has the potential to be a disruptor to the bigger names in the SEC like Georgia, Alabama and Texas. 

ESPN FPI — No. 11 through No. 25:

11. Florida State Seminoles
12. Michigan Wolverines
13. LSU Tigers
14. Texas A&M Aggies
15. Clemson Tigers
16. Ole Miss Rebels
17. Kansas Jayhawks
18. USC Trojans
19. Auburn Tigers
20. Florida Gators
21. Louisville Cardinals
22. Kansas State Wildcats
23. Miami Hurricanes
24. Arizona Wildcats
25. SMU Mustangs

As you can tell, the ESPN FPI Top 25 provides a fascinating baseline ahead of the 2024 college football season. We’ll see how things change over the course of the summer and the subsequent season, but it’s evident we’re in for an awesome ride as road to the freshly expanded College Football Playoff heats up.

On3’s Barkley Truax contributed to this article.