Jack Follman’s Way-Too-Early 2023 College Football Top 25

2022 was a strong year for the Pac-12 and 2023 shapes up to be the same, if not even stronger

Posted on January 29, 2023

  By Jack Follman, SuperWest Sports

We’re nine full months out from the season but that doesn’t mean we aren’t all looking ahead.

Now that the draft early entry deadline has come and gone and a lot of the transfer portal is done, I think we can truly see how the national landscape will shape up going into 2023.

2022 was a strong year for the Pac-12 and 2023 shapes up to be the same, if not even stronger.

Here’s how I think the Top 25 will look going into 2023 with a focus on the Pac-12 teams I have in there.

1. Georgia
2. Michigan
3. Ohio State
4. Alabama
5. Penn State

6. Washington

The Good: Washington has the chance to get back into the national sphere they cracked in their best years under Chris Petersen. Washington football pac-12

They had about half a dozen players who could have been draft picks return for another year, including QB Michael Penix Jr., who gives Caleb Williams a run for his money as the Pac-12’s best QB.

The Questions: It’s easy to flow when expectations are low the way they were for UW in 2022. Now all the pressure is on, teams have tape on them and Penix, and their schedule is harder.

7. Florida State
8. TCU
9. LSU
10. Tennessee

11. Utah

The Good: The Utes are back-to-back defending Pac-12 champions and Kyle Whittingham and Company come back with Cam Rising as a three-year starter at QB and a bunch of young players on defense who looked great in 2022.

They’ve also shown the ability to progress and develop players better than anyone in the Pac-12 in recent years.

The Questions: They still really lack firepower at skill positions outside of Brant Kuithe at tight end.

It’s also really hard for Rising to be effective the way he can be and not be perpetually banged up and get knocked out of games.

12. USC

The Good: The buzz for the Trojans is back and they return a Heisman winner at quarterback. They’ve reloaded well so far in the usc logotransfer portal and should have one of the best offenses in the country.

It feels like the defense has to get at least a little bit better.

The Questions: About that defense…it was bad, especially down the stretch. They gave up 40-plus in three of their last four and lost their best defensive player in star DE Tuli Tuipulotu.

13. Oregon State

The Good: The Beavers finished the season red hot, winning seven out of their last eight.

Two of their three losses were by three points on the road against USC and Washington and this was all while getting almost nothing out of the quarterback position.

A really good veteran offensive line returns, as does the Pac-12’s best running back in Damien Martinez and Clemson QB transfer, DJ Uiagalelei, who should be at least solid.

The Questions: Uiagalelei was nothing but just solid at Clemson surrounded by five-star talent so the buzz on him might be a bit optimistic.

Also, they lose almost all of the core members of their stellar secondary which made them such a tough matchup for the pass-heavy offenses of the Pac-12.

14. Oregon

The Good: Dan Lanning got to 10 wins his first year as a head coach and Bo Nix and their offense could barely be stopped by anyone not named Georgia.

The Ducks have two of the Pac-12’s best skill players in RB Bucky Irving and WR Troy Franklin and their defense got a big score with Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year candidate DT Brandon Dorlus coming back for another year.

The Questions: Lanning showed some cracks in big rivalry losses to Oregon State and Washington and a defensive coach having a terrible defense is a bad sign.

They leaned a ton on their offensive line in 2022 and the four best starters from the unit graduate along with their OC leaving to take the head coach job at Arizona State.

15. Notre Dame
16. North Carolina
17. South Carolina
18. Tulane
19. Kansas State
20. Texas
21. Mississippi State
22. Ole Miss
23. Wisconsin
24. Pitt

25. UCLA

The Good: Chip Kelly seems to have settled into being decent at UCLA and he knows how to identify talent.

He has interesting options at QB with Kent State transfer Colin Schlee and five-star freshman Dante Moore coming in. They also have some nice pieces all across the roster.

The Questions: Dorian Thompson-Robinson was so crucial for the Bruins for what seems like an eternity and they lose almost all of their best-proven players across the board, including RB Zach Charbonnet.

Note: I won’t rank Arizona but of the unranked Pac-12 teams I have my eye on them. I love what their offense can do with Jayden de Laura when he’s on and they have a sneaky amount of good talent returning.

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