Alabama roared through the 2020 football season by scoring 49 points per game, giving up just 19, demolishing all 13 opponents, and winning the national championship. Along the way, they defeated three teams that finished in the top five and only one of those came within 28 points.
Now, the Crimson Tide enters the 2021 campaign with an even stronger roster. Is it any wonder that SavvyGameLine has Alabama listed as the preseason top team in college football? The full list of rankings for all 130 FBS teams is shown below.
Yes, Alabama is replacing its starting quarterback, but so are three of the next four teams. And, Bryce Young is not new to the Tide offense since he played in nine games last year.
Clemson is ranked second on the Savvy Index and the Tigers also have a stronger roster than a year ago. They’re also replacing their starting quarterback as D. J. Uiagalelei takes over for legendary Trevor Lawrence. Uiagalelei performed extraordinarily well in 10 games last year.
The primary difference between these top two teams comes down to defense. While Alabama was holding all three of its top five opponents to 24 points or less, Clemson allowed 47 points against one top five and 49 against another.
Third-ranked Notre Dame’s roster doesn’t rate with either Alabama or Clemson, particularly on offense, but Wisconsin transfer quarterback Jack Coan is a proven winner who threw 339 passes with just five interceptions last year. The Fighting Irish have a championship-level defense but not a championship level offensive line.
Oklahoma begins the season fourth. The Sooners have legitimate championship talent and a Heisman level quarterback but their problem is inconsistency. Championship teams don’t lose on successive weekends to unranked opponents nor two years in a row to Kansas State. If coach Lincoln Riley can get this group together, then Oklahoma is the team to watch when it comes to challenging Alabama.
Ohio State comes in at number five. The Buckeyes are loaded but a 52-24 loss to Alabama last year tells us they still have some ground to make up before they win it all. They also have to break in C. J. Stroud as the new quarterback after Justin Fields elected to go to the NFL. Despite three blow out wins, coach Lincoln Riley didn’t give Stroud a single snap in 2020 even though Stroud could have played in four games and still retained his redshirt.
In the PAC-12, Oregon begins the season ranked atop the Conference and 11th over all. The Ducks will be solid at quarterback as they turn to Anthony Brown who comes to the Ducks with plenty of big game experience after transferring from Boston College. There’s a terrific amount of star talent at Oregon but the offensive line doesn’t rank with the big boys. Neither did last year’s defensive performance, an issue that became more problematic with the recent arrests of two defensive stand outs.
Washington will be the closest challenger to Oregon in the North but there’s a lot of slippin’ n’ slidin’ going on in Seattle these days. Recruiting has dropped considerably since the hiring of coach Jimmy Lake. The defense which hadn’t given up more than 19 points per game in five years suddenly yielded 25 and dropped to 39th in the nation. The defensive coordinator left the program as did three players who not only transferred but did so to other PAC-12 schools. The Huskies are not headed in the right direction and their ranking in the top 25 is likely to be short-lived.
Utah is a slight favorite on the Savvy Index to upend USC as the PAC-12 South champion despite the Utes having lost to both division champions last season. The difference between Utah and USC now is that Utah has a proven running game while the Trojans could barely get three yards per carry behind an offensive line that was awful. USC posted an unusual number of negative game trends after needing desperation comebacks in three of its five wins.
Here are the rankings for all FBS teams:
|Savvy Game Line||2021|
||Preseason rankings||rank total|
|31||N Carolina St.||99|
|35||San Jose St.||95|
|59||San Diego St.||75|
|126||New Mexico St.||21|