You have seen the Top 11 through 25 teams, now here are the Top 6-10 teams in the nation. Yes, I have put in 2 #7 teams. That is because the Sep 7 game between Texas and LSU is so important for each team, and the teams match up well.
#10 Texas A&M
2018 record: 9-4, 5-3 SEC
Returning starters: six offense, five defense, two special teams
Key losses: RB Trayveon Williams, LB OtaroAlaka, S Donovan Wilson, DT Daylon Mack, DE Landis Durham, DE Kingsley Keke, G Keaton Sutherland, TE JaceSternberger, LB Tyrel Dodson, C Erik McCoy
Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies were one of the surprise teams of the 2018 season. After winning 9 games in 2018, the Aggies hope for even more wins this year, but playing in the always tough SEC may make 10 wins unlikely.
Kellen Mond returns to the Aggies at quarterback. After a much better 2018 season, he not only has his confidence back, but he can count on 5 top junior receivers as targets for the current campaign, led by Quartney Davis (45 catches), Camron Buckley (34), Jhamon Ausbon (31) and Kendrick Rogers (27). Only at tight end will the Aggies need help with the loss of Jace Sternberger. Freshman Baylor Cupp could step in and fill that role.
The Aggies will need to replace running back Trayveon Williams, the leading rusher in the SEC last year. Sophomore Jashaun Corbin is the likely replacement.
The Aggies return three of five offensive line starters, but center Erik McCoy was a crucial loss and will be difficult to replace.
The defensive front will also have to be rebuilt, but A&M appears to have the talent to do so, including freshman Demarvin Leal and four other new top recruits. Returning outside linebacker Buddy Johnson will have to provide the leadership for this group.
A&M has one of the toughest schedules to play in 2019. On the road will be Clemson, Georgia and LSU. They will catch Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina at home.
Another 9-4 season is likely in the offing for 2019.
#9 Notre Dame
2018 record: 12-1
Returning starters: seven offense, six defense, zero special teams
Key losses: DT Jerry Tillery, LB Te’von Coney, LB DrueTranquill, RB Dexter Williams, G Alex Bars, C Sam Mustipher, TE Alize Mack, CB Julian Love, WR Miles Boykin
Notre Dame, what can I say about them? Get too excited over their season chances and get your heart broke time and again.
Notre Dame had a nice 12 game winning season, but the BCS semi final game put a strong damper on it, losing 30-3 against Clemson. But this may not be too bad, since Clemson also destroyed Alabama in the same fashion.
Notre Dame returns 7 starters on offensive and 6 on defense, so the cupboard is pretty well stocked. This should guarantee them at least a 10 game winning season.
Ian Book returns at the quarterback position. Joining him at the running back position will be Tony Jones (392 yards) and Jafar Armstrong (383) but these are not explosive backs. Book will have to look for his receivers to put points up on the board. Tony Jones Jr., Avery Davis and early enrollee Kyren Williams must step up to help relieve pressure off of Book.
In Chase Claypool and Chris Finke, Book returns two targets who combined for 99 catches and a 56 percent success rate last fall. Throw in tight end Cole Kmet and WR-turned-RB Jafar Armstrong (who caught 14 of 16 passes last year), and Book will be passing all over the field. For backups, there are Kevin Austin Jr., Michael Young and Redshirt freshman Lawrence Keys III.
The offensive line is in great shape with four returning starting linemen, so Book should be well protected.
The defense is where Notre Dame will need to focus efforts. Strong on “big play prevention”, they lose several key players on defense, including CB Julian Love, lb Te’von Coney, lb Dru Tranquill and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.
Pass defense was their strength and that should remain so again with senior Troy Pride, senior Shaun Crawford and sophomore Houston Griffith. Safeties Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott will also be in on the effort.
Linebacker is where the potential problems arise. With Coney and Tranquill gone, the run defense becomes very problematic.
The Irish will have to look to sophomore Bo Bauer, junior Jordan Genmark Heath and senior Jonathan Jones to battle for starting roles. Fifth-year senior Asmar Bilal may find himself in an inside spot if sophomore Shayne Simon can take over Bilal’s old position.
The pass rush should be fine with returning ends Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem (combined: 23 TFLs, 12.5 sacks) and Daelin Hayes.
Notre Dame will have another tough schedule with road trips to Georgia, Michigan and Stanford, while playing Virginia Tech, Boston College and USC at home. Throw in other road games against Duke and Louisville, which should be wins.
Notre Dame is the favorite in nine games this season. They need fear only Michigan, Georgia and Stanford. The fate of Notre Dame and the BCS lies with the Michigan and Georgia road games.
Expect two losses and a New Year’s Day Bowl game, but no BCS game.
2018 record: 10-3, 5-3 SEC
Returning starters: five offense, seven defense, two special teams
Key losses: S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, LB Vosean Joseph, OT Martez Ivey, RB Jordan Scarlett, G Tyler Jordan, G Fred Johnson, DE Jachai Polite, OT Jawaan Taylor
Florida is one of four SEC teams with excellent chances of winning the BCS Championship. Joining them are Georgia, LSU and Alabama. Expect another shootout for SEC champ.
Feleipe Franks returns as the starting quarterback and with a year additional experience, should be much improved. He has a strong supporting cast starting with running back Lamical Perine.
The top six Florida receivers return including Van Jefferson (35 catches) and all-purpose threat Kadarius Toney. Josh Hammond, Trevon Grimes, Freddie Swain, and Tyrie Cleveland all return and provide amazing depth for the Florida offense.
The Gators are going to have to rebuild their offensive line, with four starters departing. How they do this remains to be seen.
The defense has the bulk of the unit returning for another year. Though losing ends Jachai Polite and CeCe Jefferson, transfer Jonathan Greenard, Jabari Zuniga, Jeremiah Moon and redshirt Andrew Chatfield will all compete for the position and should be capable replacements.
The interior of the defensive line will have to step up its game if Florida is to compete for either the SEC title or national championship. Giving up 162 yard per game like in 2018 will not get it done, even though they held other teams to 20 points per game.
CB C.J. Henderson and Marco Wilson will again be one of the best secondary units in the SEC while David Reese returns to anchor the linebacker unit.
Florida opens with a rivalry matchup against Miami on the road and hosts a rebuilding Auburn on Oct. 5 in a game that will reveal much out of both teams.
The September schedule also includes Kentucky on the road and Tennessee at home. They also play LSU, South Carolina and Missouri on the road. If Florida can remain unbeaten, then the Nov 2 showdown with Georgia will likely be a meeting of Top 5 teams.
Realistic hopes would see another 10-3 season with losses to Auburn, LSU and Alabama.
2018 record: 10-3, 5-3 SEC
Returning starters: eight offense, eight defense, one special teams
Key losses: CB Greedy Williams, DT Ed Alexander, CB Terrence Alexander, G Garrett Brumfield, RB Nick Brossette, TE Foster Moreau, K Cole Tracy
LSU comes into the 2019 season with a virtually intact offense and defense. They lose only three starters from each unit.
Joe Burrow returns as the starting quarterback for his second straight year. There may be more upon his shoulders until the passing attack jells, but he should be able to shoulder the increased burden. To assist Burrow, the Tigers will be implementing more pass/run/options schemes into the offense.
LSU returns all of their top receivers including Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. They will be likely targets of Burrow’s passes. And John Emery, the freshman phenom, could be the starting running back.
The Tigers bring back four starting offensive linemen which will provide Burrows good protection when passing. Still, there must be more consistency from all of the offense in 2019.
The defense should remain strong this year. There are some positions to fill, but there appears no lack of candidates to fill those positions.
The secondary features two All American candidates, safety Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton. Freshman Derek Stingley should be joining them, taking over Greedy Williams old spot. CB Kristian Fulton is back, so he will anchor the left side.
The “rover” linebacker Devin White is also gone, but LSU has near equal talent that will be fighting for that position. Patrick Queen was the backup last year and could move up easily, but he could be challenged by middle linebacker Jacob Phillips, Micah Baskerville (another backup) or new and talented recruits Donte Starks, Jay Ward, Maurice Hampton and Kendall McCallum.
Look to the LSU/Texas game on Sep 7 to see how both teams look for the coming season, especially the LSU offense. This game will likely destroy the hopes of one team for BCS consideration.
The Nov. 9 date at Alabama is a must-see game, but the Tigers catch Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M all at home this year. Each will be a must win game.
Another 10-3 season is likely.
2018 record: 10-4, 7-2 Big 12
Returning starters: six offense, three defense, two special teams
Key losses: LB Gary Johnson, LB Anthony Wheeler, DB P.J. Locke III, CB Kris Boyd, DL Charles Omenihu, NT Chris Nelson, CB Davante Davis, RB Tre Watson, OT Calvin Anderson, G Patrick Vahe
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2018 season, Texas is back in the “BIGS.” Upsets of Oklahoma and Georgia last year gives hope for Texas getting into the BCS this year. But to do so, Texas will have to replace 8 quality defensive players.
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger returns after a successful 2018. A dual-threat quarterback, Ehlinger passed for 3,296 yards while completing 64.7 percent of his passes, with 25 touchdown passes to only five interceptions. On the ground, Ehlinger added 482 yards and another 16 touchdowns.
He will be teaming up with favorite receiver Collin Johnson to keep the passing game moving forward. Additional receivers include Devin Duvernay, Bru McCoy (if eligible), Brennan Eagles and Josh Moore.
Ehlinger will have to rely upon his passing game because the running game has been in trouble since 2016. Look to ESPN 300 signee Keaontay Ingram to be the starting running back after rushing for 708 yards as a freshman last season. Jordan Whittingham should be his backup.
The offensive line will need some major retooling after losing core elements. Center Zach Shackelford returns and will anchor the line with returnee Samuel Cosmi.
The Texas defense returns only two starters. But they have a ton of promising talent that should be able to step in and play from the start.
Sophomore safety Caden Sterns is a likely All-America honors after a good first year at Texas, intercepting 4 passes. Transfer Caleb Johnson could step in at one linebacker spot and freshmen De’Gabriel Floyd and Marcus Tillman Jr may be in line for another spot. At corner back, watch for Anthony Cook and Kobe Boyce to start. Others include Anthony Cook and DeMarvion Overshown.
The defensive line has senior Malcolm Roach and Joseph Ossai to provide the experience needed for others to follow.
Texas begins its season on Sep 7, facing LSU, another Top Ten ranked teams. This game will provide a strong clue to the quality of both teams and their chances for a BCS run. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will also be opponents by mid October. If Texas can win against both Oklahoma and LSU, then the BCS becomes a stronger reality.
Texas should win 11 games this season with a New Years Day Bowl appearance.
6. Michigan Wolverines
2018 record: 10-3, 8-1 Big Ten
Returning starters: Eight offense, five defense, two special teams
Key losses: LB Devin Bush, DE Rashan Gary, DE Chase Winovich, FS Tyree Kinnel, RB Karan Higdon, OT JuwannBushell-Beatty, WR Grant Perry, TE Zach Gentry, CB David Long
This is the year that Michigan has been awaiting since Jim Harbaugh became coach. Though having won 10 games last season, all was for naught by the loss to Ohio State and then Florida in a bowl game. For 14 years, the Big 10 title has not been their’s. The Wolverines return this year with revenge on their mind and a title in their hearts.
Quarterback Shea Patterson returns for one more year, deciding not to go to the NFL early. They will have to find a replacement for Karan Higdon, the running back who anchored the backfield. Running back Chris Evans’ was suspended for 2019 due to academic issues, so he is not available. The Wolverines must rely on walk-on Tru Wilson, redshirt freshman Christian Turner and true freshman Zach Charbonnet to play dominate roles in the running game.
Harbaugh has been big on run games filled with fullbacks and tight ends. But that appears to be changing with the introduction of more run/pass/option schemes. Wide receivers are now the norm with Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tarik Black taking center stage with the passing of Patterson.
The offensive line showed marked improvement under assistant Ed Warinner in 2018 and could be the best in the Big Ten with four starters back.
Will this provide Michigan with an explosive offense ready for play? Only time will tell.
The defense takes a big hit losing 6 key personnel, including their top three tacklers. It will have to rely on dynamic pass-rusher Josh Uche, end Kwity Paye and defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour to dominate on defense. Supporting him will be Aidan Hutchinson and Central Michigan transfer Mike Danna. Freshman DT Mazi Smith will be looked at to provide instant relief on the defensive line.
Linebackers will likely be Josh Ross in the middle, with Khaleeke Hudson and Lavert Hill in relief on one side. Ambry Thomas will be on the left and incoming freshman Daxton Hill as safety with Josh Mettalus.
The schedule for Michigan is once again one of the toughest in the nation. At home, they get Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa, along with Ohio State on Nov 30. On the road will be Army and Wisconsin.
The only game that matters for Michigan is the Ohio State game. Michigan wins, and the season is a success. They lose……..Harbaugh’s life gets much tougher.
Next, the Top 5 teams in the country.