ESPN power rankings are back just in time for the 2016 college football season, and the top of the list looks very familiar.
Alabama, the defending national champion, and Clemson, the runner-up, are the top two teams in ESPN’s first power rankings for this year.
The rankings are compiled by using input from ESPN Insiders and the company’s Football Power Index (FPI). The FPI “predicts and ranks team strength based on expected points added from offense, defense and special teams, adjusted for opponent strength.” ESPN also projects the final regular season record for each team on the list.
See the full list of Top 25 Power Rankings here: https://t.co/H9PBBomTzU
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) August 15, 2016
The Tide returns a load of talent on defense, most notably defensive end Jonathan Allen (12 sacks), linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Eddie Jackson. Alabama’s stop unit should ease the burden of replacing Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry at running back and breaking in a new QB.
Offensively, wide receiver Calvin Ridley is a burner and a gamebreaker, and tight end O.J. Howard will give defensive coordinators headaches. Bo Scarbrough projects to replace Henry.
Clemson, meanwhile, brings back quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson is a bona fide Heisman candidate and has a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal. Running back Wayne Gallman (1,527 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2015), wide receivers Artavis Scott and Mike Williams and tight end Jordan Leggett are just some of the players Watson will utilize to break down defenses.
Are the Tide headed for a fifth national title in eight seasons? Can Clemson get over the hump? We’ll find out soon enough.