With the start of the season about a month away, I've finally put together my power ratings for the Power 5 conference teams. Rather than listing all of them, I figured I'd list my top 30.
I look at these rankings as measures of pure team strength. In other words, if Team A and Team B played tomorrow at Hamill Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma, whom would I favor? (If teams are tied, I would view games between the two as a toss-up.)
Why 30, instead of 25? Why not.
No surprise who's on top of the heap.
BH's preseason top 30
2. Florida State
(tie) Ohio State
12. Penn State
15. Notre Dame
16. Oklahoma State
19. Texas A&M
(tie) Virginia Tech
25. Kansas State
(tie) Mississippi State
(tie) North Carolina State
30. South Carolina
Just missed the cut: Washington State, Missouri
*Obviously, I weigh talent heavily when I'm coming up with these power ratings. I also emphasize quarterback play and strength in the trenches early in the season.
Put it all together, I don't have any hesitation with Alabama at No. 1. I'm still fading the Crimson Tide this year, but Nick Saban will field the best team in the country on a weekly basis this season.
*I actually looked at the top mid-major teams, too, but it strikes me as a really weak crop this season. Certainly none would rank in the top 30.
*Looking at the very top, I see a big gap between the first three and LSU. I make Alabama about a two-point favorite over Ohio St. and Florida St., but I'd favor the Crimson Tide over USC and LSU by 5.5.
*Speaking of the Bayou Bengals, I don't really know what to make of them. Even though Ed Orgeron still strikes me as a buffoon, he inherited a ton of talent. Hiring Matt Canada as offensive coordinator also meshes well with their personnel and identity – he can make the Tigers' attack a little more diverse without sacrificing too much of what they do well.
If I'm way off on one of the more highly regarded squads here, LSU is probably it.
*The case for OU: stellar QB, really strong offensive line, very good edge players on defense. The case against the Sooners: inside linebacker, unsettled secondary, thin defensive front. (I consider the losses at the skill positions a wash, given how well OU has filled in those gaps historically.)
I view OU as essentially on par with USC, LSU and Clemson. The Sooners probably have less room for growth over the course of the season than the other three. However, they'll also be more of a finished product early in the year.
*After OU, you have to go pretty far down the list to find the next Big 12 representative, Oklahoma St.
I've noticed that the quantitative-heavy projections generally have high hopes for TCU, relatively speaking. For example, Brian Fremeau rates the Horned Frogs as the 15th-best team in the country. Consider me skeptical.