JD’s Early Top 12

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JD’s Early Top 12

JD’s Early Top 12
Jeff Dantzler

The season is fast approaching, and the warp speed changes of the game beloved by so many kick in another step in 2024, as the College Football Playoff triples in size from four teams to 12. So, as we do our Top 12 here at BI, it’s not a real Top 12. The four highest ranked conference champs get a bye, and the “Group of Five” / Mid Major gets a berth. That would likely be the 12 seed. So being ranked 12th, that will be the college football version of finishing fourth in the Olympics. Close, but no medal. So here we go with the best bets (looking at the schedules) on what the playoff will look like and where everyone will be slotted heading into the (obsolete, except for the money) conference championship games. So basically, the top 12, when those rankings are released will most likely not be a true top 12. Remember, each league can only get one bye. Until it expands again shortly to 16. Don’t sleep on the Big XII, there are some outstanding quarterbacks out there.





1. Georgia – The Bulldogs have – on paper – one of the two most talented rosters, along with Ohio State. The schedule is brutal, starting with Clemson, and includes road dates at Bama, Texas and Ole Miss. If Georgia makes it, the Dawgs may be the team to beat.

2. Ohio State – The Big Ten now has 18 teams, and the Buckeyes appear to be the team to beat. Three straight losses to Michigan isn’t sitting well. Ohio State paid big money in the portal. The rest of the league, a la the SEC for so long, could beat each other up.

3. Clemson – The Tigers and Georgia square off on August 31 in Atlanta. The winner has an early leg up in the playoff race and margin for error. Clemson closed strong last season, winning the final five games of the season, and Dabo’s Tigers are hungry.





4. Kansas State – The Wildcats, Utah, Arizona, and Oklahoma State have outstanding quarterbacks, and are likely to fight it out for the Big XII title. K-State hosts both Arizona and the Cowboys, and doesn’t play Utah, making them the early front-runner.

5. Texas – No doubt the Longhorns caught what looks like a much more manageable schedule than their fellow SEC newcomer and rival Oklahoma. On the heels of last year’s playoff berth, Texas has the talent and slate to be in a good spot in December.

6. Missouri – 2023 was a breakthrough year for the Tigers, who went 11-2 last year, losing only to LSU and at Georgia, and then beating Ohio State 14-3 in the Cotton Bowl. The Tigers have a ton of talent back and face maybe the SEC’s most manageable schedule.

7. Alabama – The Nick Saban reign is over. Kalen DeBoer is Alabama’s new head coach. He led Washington to the playoff and a Sugar Bowl win over Texas a year ago. Bama’s schedule is tough, including a trip to Oklahoma a week before the Iron Bowl.

8. Ole Miss – The Rebels, who lost only at Alabama and Georgia last year, should come out of the gates 6-0. To make the playoff, that may be a must. The second half of the schedule features a trip to LSU, and visits from both Oklahoma and Georgia.

9. Utah – The Running Utes of Kyle Whittingham were the rough and tough, physical team of the PAC-12, winning the now defunct league in 2021 and 2022. Now they bring that to the Big XII. A late September trip to Stillwater and a visit from Arizona will paint the picture.

10. Florida State – The Seminoles open the season against the Yellow Jackets in Dublin, Ireland. That’s dangerous. Clemson heads to Tallahassee October 5. Road games at Miami and Notre Dame loom. Is there scar tissue from 63-3 in the Orange Bowl?

11. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish can’t get a top four spot, but have the talent and the schedule to get in the playoff. The season opener with Texas A&M in College Station, where it will be real hot, is big. Florida State visits South Bend on November 9.

12. Memphis – Of the Group of Five teams vying for the spot in the 12-teamer, Memphis may be the team to beat. Last season, the Tigers won the American and beat Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl. Memphis plays a nooner in Tallahassee on September 14.





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