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Alabama headlines Newsday’s preseason top 10

Minkah Fitzpatrick, here at last December's SEC

Minkah Fitzpatrick, here at last December's SEC championship game, and Alabama could leap over all the competition on the way to a national title. Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

Preseason top 10

1. Alabama

Coach: Nick Saban

2016 record (final AP ranking): 14-1 (No. 2)

The Crimson Tide has a lot of talent throughout the roster and will be looking to make up for last season’s national title game loss to Clemson. Jalen Hurts should be even better at quarterback in his second season and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick will lead a talented defense.

2. USC

Coach: Clay Helton

2016 record: 10-3 (No. 3)

Sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold is a serious Heisman Trophy contender and the Trojans have a talented roster coming back. Expectations are high in Los Angeles and the defending Pac-12 champs have the talent to compete for a College Football Playoff spot.

3. Florida State

Coach: Jimbo Fisher

2016 record: 10-3 (No. 8)

Deondre Francois threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns as a freshman last season and will now be counted on to lead the Seminoles into the College Football Playoff. The Seminoles get a great test in their first game against Alabama.

4. Ohio State

Coach: Urban Meyer

2016 record: 11-2 (No. 6)

As is the case each year, the Buckeyes lost plenty of top players to the NFL. But J.T. Barrett is back at quarterback and the defense should again be very talented. Ohio State also gets Penn State at home this season, which could decide the Big Ten East.

5. Washington

Coach: Chris Petersen

2016 record: 12-2 (No. 4)

The Huskies lost to USC and Alabama last season, but they’ll need to win those types of big games this season to play for the national title. They’ll have the players to do that with junior quarterback Jake Browning leading the way.

6. Penn State

Coach: James Franklin

2016 record: 11-3 (No. 7)

The Big Ten champs return plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki on a loaded offense. Penn State will need to navigate some tough road games.

7. Clemson

Coach: Dabo Swinney

2016 record: 14-1 (No. 1, national champion)

The defending national champions need to replace Deshaun Watson at quarterback. The Tigers, however, are loaded with talent on the roster, especially on defense with linemen Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence as anchors.

8. Oklahoma

Coach: Lincoln Riley

2016 record: 11-2 (No. 5)

Longtime coach Bob Stoops is gone, but fifth-year senior quarterback Baker Mayfield is back. Mayfield should have a big season under new coach Riley. The Sooners have tough trips to Ohio State and Oklahoma State, as well as a neutral-site game with Texas.

9. Wisconsin

Coach: Paul Chryst

2016 record: 11-3 (No. 9)

The Badgers should be what they usually are — solid. Wisconsin will need sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook to take a big step forward in his development. The schedule is also favorable with a trip to Nebraska as the toughest road test.

10. Auburn

Coach: Gus Malzahn

2016 record: 8-5 (No. 24)

The Tigers can be dangerous if quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the former starter at Baylor, lives up to expectations and running back Kamryn Pettway can put together a full season. Auburn has to play at Clemson and hosts Alabama.

11. Oklahoma State

12. Louisville

13. Georgia

14. LSU

15. Miami (Fla.)

16. Michigan

17. Stanford

18. Kansas State

19. Florida

20. Texas

21. Tennessee

22. Washington State

23. Virginia Tech

24. Utah

25. South Florida

College Football Playoff predictions


No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Ohio State

No. 2 USC over No. 3 Florida State

CFP National Championship Game

Alabama over USC

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