It is never too early to look ahead to next year when it comes to college football. We’ve seen “way too early” Top 25 lists from various outlets since before Monday’s championship.
On Tuesday, ESPN‘s Mike Schlabach published his list on Tuesday, after LSU’s win over Clemson. Like most others, Dabo Swinney’s team, which returns plenty of talent headlined by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, at No. 1.
We don’t yet know the entire list of players that will declare early for the 2020 NFL Draft. There are also still plenty of transfers to sort out, but we have a pretty good idea of what these rosters will look like in the fall.
There are definitely some teams on the list that come in far higher than you’d expect, given losses from the rosters and some coaching uncertainty.
Here are the three teams that are being the most overrated in these ESPN rankings.
4. LSU Tigers
After watching LSU field one of the greatest teams of all time in 2019, this feels like sacrilege, I know. There’s a reason that we rarely ever see back-to-back national championships, though.
The Tigers lose quarterback Joe Burrow after two seasons as starter and one historic record-breaking Heisman campaign. Joe Brady is leaving the school after transforming the offense in one year, for a job under Matt Rhule with the Carolina Panthers.
Offensively, Justin Jefferson is heading to the NFL Draft, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire may also declare. Grant Delpit, the heartbeat of the Tiger defense that showed out against Clemson, is heading to the pros.
LSU recruits extremely well and will retool. Coach O winning another title at some point would not surprise. Next year is set to be a natural step back though, and that’s okay. It is hard to rank the national champions too low, but the Tigers finishing in the top four next year would be quite surprising.
6. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia’s issues are pretty similar for the ones at LSU. Jake Fromm has declared for the NFL Draft as a junior, a move that was very up in the air, but signals major change in Athens. He departs, along with star running back D’Andre Swift, top wide receiver Lawrence Cager, and most of the starting offensive line (including Cade Mays, who abruptly transferred to SEC East rival Tennessee).
The defense will still be one of the best in college football, but this could be the first real rebuild year since head coach Kirby Smart’s first in Athens. If Wake Forest quarterback transfer Jamie Newman can play at a Fromm-level, Georgia should be very good once again, but this might be the year that Florida makes its move on the top of the SEC East.
20. Baylor Bears
After getting Baylor to a Big 12 Championship berth and a trip to the Sugar Bowl, Matt Rhule said that he felt “his work was done” in Waco. The former Temple head coach had been connected to NFL for a few years, and took a big deal to head to the Carolina Panthers. It looks like he’ll have yet another big rebuild on his hand, which has become his specialty as a head coach.
It is hard to hold the departure against Rhule. Baylor is in a much better place than he left it, and with quarterback Charlie Brewer back, the Bears should be decent again next year.
College football head coaching hires aren’t easy though, especially this late in the game. Baylor targeted Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, which would have been a big pull, but it doesn’t sound like he’s leaving Blacksburg. Whomever takes the job will need to rebuild a defense that was the heart of this year’s 11-win team. Nine defensive starters are set to leave the program, along with major offensive weapons Denzel Mims, the team’s leading receiver, and running back JaMycal Hasty.