Nick Saban
Gary Cosby Jr.

College football is back baby!

It’s been a while since we were blessed with college football on Saturday. That changes tomorrow, when a number of teams open their 2021 seasons.

And for that, we should all be thankful.

ESNY is going to provide our Top 10 College Football Power Rankings in college football each week during the college football season this year. While we’re sure every fan base won’t be happy, we’re happy to hear reasons why we got something wrong.

With that, let’s start the rankings to start the 2021 college season.

1. Alabama

Until Nick Saban isn’t there, it’s going to be hard for anyone to grab the top spot in a preseason power rankings. Alabama turns out as many NFL stars every year as any program. This year’s group has a lot to live up to, and a responsibility to keep Bama on top.

2. Ohio State

Yes, we’re rolling with the Buckeyes at No. 2 to start the season. They have talent and depth everywhere. Why do we have them ahead of others ranked higher in the preseason polls? Ohio State’s odds of winning the Big Ten championship are strong. They — and the B1G — have something to prove.

3. Clemson

The ACC isn’t going to roll over for Clemson this year. North Carolina and Miami are ranked in the top 15 in the preseason polls and should put pressure on Clemson to keep the conference championship in their grasp this year. Like Alabama and Ohio State, Clemson is replacing a franchise quarterback.

4. Georgia

The Bulldogs are going to push Alabama in the SEC this year and might have enough to beat them. They have the veteran quarterback this time around and are loaded with weapons on offense. We still need to see them actually beat the Crimson Tide, however.

5. Oklahoma

The Sooners are No. 2 in the preseason polls, but we’ve got them lower in our power rankings to start the year. They should win the Big 12. They should be in the College Football Playoff. But this year’s team is going to have to deal with the external bullsh** surrounding Oklahoma’s plans to jump to the SEC. How will they handle the noise? We’ll see.

6. Iowa State

For all of the reasons we have questions about Oklahoma, we like Iowa State. They aren’t being recruited to join the SEC. They’re playing to beat the teams that want to leave, and will have a chip on their shoulder. Oh, and they’re a good team. They might have enough to beat Oklahoma this year.

7. Cincinnati

The Bearcats have a legit Heisman candidate at quarterback and will be the team everyone watches to see if someone from outside the Power 5 can crash the playoff party. We like their schedule and think they could run the table, making a case for a playoff berth.

8. Notre Dame

The Irish have four preseason top-15 teams on their schedule (Cincinnati, Wisconsin, USC and North Carolina). But two road games against currently unranked teams could tell the tale of the 2021 team: Sept. 5 at Florida State and Oct. 9 at Virginia Tech.

9. USC

USC only has three preseason ranked teams on their schedule, and two of them — Utah and Arizona State — are ranked 24th and 25th, respectively. If they can handle business against Notre Dame, USC might have a shot at the playoff.

10. Texas A&M

The Aggies are our wild card for this season. They’re ranked 6th in the preseason AP and Coaches polls and have a team that could do serious damage in the SEC. They’ll also be playing angry; A&M doesn’t want Texas joining them in the SEC and will be out to prove something this year.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.