2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (2023)

By Dean Straka


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TCU football challenged recruiting narratives and gave hope to all of college football when the Horned Frogs made it to the 2022 national championship game. Sonny Dykes' group started the year unranked and opted to finish seventh in the Big 12 early to land on college football's biggest stage. But then came a 65-7 loss at the hands of Georgia, reminding everyone how big the gap is between those who have the talent to simply make the playoffs and win it all.

Are there ten teams in college football right now with the potential to win a national championship? As long as the Georgia and Alabama of the world exist, teams not only with elite talent, but with elite coaching staff as well, is a question worth asking. It's safe to say that winning the national championship this season takes more effort than ever. Despite this, we have identified 10 teams that we believe have the greatest potential, though not all the same, to take home college football's biggest prize in 2023.

A few notes: At least one candidate from each Power 5 conference was included in this exercise. Team talent is an important factor in deciding this group, but talent means little without proper training. Therefore, the history of the coaching staff is also at stake. Another consideration is the viability of a team making the playoffs first with the 2023 schedule in mind, as not all playoff paths are created equal.

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Honorable Mentions: Oregon Ducks, Tennessee Volunteers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

tigers Clemson

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (1)

Coach Dabo Swinney knows how to win national championships, leading the Tigers to titles as early as 2016 and 2018. Throw in new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley with the existing talent in Clemson, and the Tigers have the potential to become a five-star offensive giant. quarterback Cade Klubnik taking pictures. Riley, the younger brother of USC head coach Lincoln Riley, won the 2022 Broyles Award as the best assistant in college football after TCU led one of the nation's most productive offenses to a national title game.

And get this, TCU had a roster that ranked outside the top 30 in terms of on-role talent. If Riley, who made TCU quarterback Max Duggan a Heisman finalist, can make the most of Clemson's much higher ceiling talent in 2023, stay tuned. Within the ACC, Florida State appears to be the biggest threat to Clemson after Mike Norvell and the Seminoles have 10 wins in 2022, but Clemson gets that home match in 2023.

USC Trojan Horses

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (2)

As was the case with the Oklahoma teams under Lincoln Riley, questions remain about how far USC can go with the defense as it was in 2022. It's likely that the Trojans made the college football playoffs last season with just a half-pack unit and the return of Alex Grinch as defensive coordinator won't do much to alleviate concerns. But at the end of the day, USC still won 11 games in Year 1 of the Riley era, complete with a Heisman win on quarterback Caleb Williams. The Trojans' prized signal caller is back and more experienced in 2022, and Williams will once again have no shortage of weapons to work with.

The margin for error in any national title chase will be very slim if the defense doesn't show significant improvement, but Riley's offense carried Oklahoma to three playoff appearances despite Norman's defensive problems. Worth noting: USC won't be resting the regular season, playing 12 straight games before its opening date, Thanksgiving weekend.

Florida State Seminoles

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (3)

Not only was Florida State cleared at the gate for the 2023 recruiting cycle, but the Seminoles were one of the best teams in the country coming out of the season and received some great news with quarterback Jordan Travis along with top defensive back Jared Verse announced their respective returns. That gives Florida State a pair of All-American prospects on both sides of football, not to mention impressive talent in other skill spots. The Seminoles will be one of the hottest teams in the country in 2023 and are already ranked in the top five in our Too Early 2023 rankings.

And since not all playoff paths are created equal, Florida State benefits a little from that here. There's no game that doesn't look like a win on paper for the Seminoles, though LSU and Clemson stand out as more challenging matchups than the rest of the roster. But Florida State can be confident beating the Tigers last year in New Orleans, and the Seminoles only lost to Clemson by a touchdown. All eyes will be on Mike Norvell's group to see if they can go from last season's impressive 10 wins to a shot at the national title, something the program hasn't enjoyed in nearly a decade.

Penn State Nittany Lions

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (4)

On paper, it looks like it could be James Franklin's most talented team in Happy Valley and is one of three Big Ten teams in the top 5 very early on at 247Sports, along with Michigan and Ohio State.All three starting linebackers return, and all three NFL defensive hopefuls have opted to return for another season.The Nittany Lions may have a strong one-two combination at running back withkaytron allenyNick Singleton,and they'll run behind a six-man offensive return line with at least five games last season.

The big question is how Penn State responds to the catcher with outsmitchell tinsleyyparker washington. There are transfer additions in that room withkent stateDante Cephasand the state of Floridamalik mcclain. There is also a change in quarterback with the departure of Sean Clifford and Drew Allar taking over in the starting lineup. PennState will likely need to win at least one of the two games between Michigan and Ohio State to have a chance of making the playoffs, but if they do make it in, keep an eye on the Nittany Lions.

LSU Tigers

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (5)

Remember when LSU was quietly mentioned as possibly one of the SEC's surprise teams last summer under Brian Kelly? All of these positive stocks were sold after the season opening loss to Florida State before people started to come back. The Tigers would carry ongainthe SEC West and now brings back transfer quarterback Jayden Daniels for another season, bolstering the SEC's deepest space at the position. Linebacker Harold Perkins is the best quarterback in the SEC and not particularly close. And did we mention that LSU has the highest ranked transfer class as of posting? There's a lot to like about this team in 2023.

The tough part for LSU is making the playoffs on their schedule. Florida State appears once again in Week 1, this time in Orlando, and the annual meeting with Alabama is in Tuscaloosa this time. If the Tigers are back in the SEC title game, then Georgia or Tennessee, teams that beat the Tigers in 2022, are probably looking forward to them. But if the Tigers find a way in, they can feel decent about their chances regardless of who they're looking at in scrimmage.

texas longhorns

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (6)

If there's a Big 12 team capable of not just making the playoffs, but winning it all, it's the Longhorns. TCU made the national title game with a roster nowhere remotely in the same area code as Texas in 2022: The Horned Frogs had 17 players rated 4 stars or higher, while Texas had 59(!) so there's no reason the Longhorns can't take the big 12 slate the way TCU did with the right training. The inability to maximize talent is what has bitten Texas over the decade since last capturing the national title in 2009. The Longhorns are up 5-7 in the first year of the era, from Steve Sarkisian's eight wins in 2022, but both lists had far more than five or eight win lists on paper.

So is this the year it all comes together? Running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson are gone, the offense returns five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers and is full of targets. Now you can add Georgia transfer wide receiver AD Mitchell to a receiving room that already included Jordan Whittington, Xavier Worthy, Ja'Tavion Sanders and Isaiah Neyor, the last to never take to the field in 2022 following a knee injury. pre-season. One hurdle for Texas is having Alabama on the schedule as a non-conference game, but the Longhorns showed they can physically hold their own with the Crimson Tide with a one-point loss. That bodes well for the competition Texas would face if it makes the playoffs.

buldogues da georgia

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (7)

Don't be surprised if we get the first third national championship of our generation in 2023.Georgia's 65-7 demolition of TCU in the 2022 title game showed just how large the talent gap is between most of the Power 5 and the small elite class of teams that Georgia finds itself on. And what's scary is that Georgia returns a lot more talent in 2023 than it did last season (yes, quarterback Stetson Bennett is among the starters).

Kirby Smart has expressed concern about players taking 2023 for granted for this reason., but it's clear that, barring a few opponents, the Bulldogs only need to play well, not great, to dominate most other teams in the sport. Just looking at Georgia's 2023 schedule suggests the Bulldogs have a strong chance of entering the SEC Championship 12-0, and we've now seen in consecutive years that a loss in a conference title game doesn't disqualify one of the CFP's (Georgia in 2021 and TCU in 2022). Happy times in Athens.

Wolverines of Michigan

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (8)

There is bound to be some fatigue from the national title talk surrounding the Wolverines after Michigan made the playoffs for the second year in a row, only to be knocked out in the semifinals. And most recently, it passed into the hands of a TCU team in a game where Michigan had almost every advantage one could ask for on paper. But maybe third time is the charm of Jim Harbaugh and company? The offense sees the return of what will be a stronger, more experienced version of J.J. McCarthy at quarterback, and the top two quarterbacks, Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, are also back to create what has to be one of the most fearsome quarterback duos in the country. The defense suffers from some notable talent losses during the NFL Draft, but defensive back Mike Sainristil and linebacker Michael Barrett are among the top returners.

As has been the case for the past two seasons,The gameagainst Ohio State proves to be a pivotal matchup in stopping not only Michigan's Big Ten title hopes, but college football playoff hopes as well. It was mission accomplished from 2021 and 2022, and the meeting returns to Ann Arbor in 2023. You can expect there to be a little weight on the shoulders of those who returned from Michigan as well after being kicked out by yet another country. team, I expected them to go through a place in the national championship. McCarthy left a simple message after the Fiesta Bowl semifinal loss: "We'll be back."

Ohio State Buckeyes

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (9)

For all Ryan Day critics, the manner in which Ohio State was able to take on Georgia four quarters into the college football playoff semifinals this past New Year's Eve should restore lost confidence in the Buckeyes National Title potential. Losing quarterback and Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud, it certainly hurts, but who wins the quarterback battle in 2023:Kyle McCord and Devin Brown will fight during spring camp, and given Ryan Day's history, that contest won't be decided until the fall.You will have elite targets to work with. Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. lead to reception room. Consider the return of other skillful players like running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, and the offense will still produce.

First, though: Ohio State needs to get back in the winning column against Michigan after losing its last two games. Loss to the Wolverines in 2021 kept an Ohio State roster with national title potential out of the Big Ten title game and playoffs. Once again, the Buckeyes sat out the Big Ten title game in 2022, but got away with it en route to continuing to earn a playoff bid. That said, Ohio State would rather control its own destiny than put it in the hands of the committee and other teams.

Alabama Crimson Tide

2023 College Football Rankings: 10 Teams With National Championship Potential Coming Out of National Signing Day (10)

Alabama had all the advantages it needed to clinch a national title in 2022, only to discover that "potential" is a dirty word. The Crimson Tide won 11 games, including a loss to Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, but inconsistencies in the regular season eventually led to two losses that knocked Alabama out of the playoffs and even the season title game. Alabama loses key players including quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson to the NFL Draft, but Nick Saban's teams never have trouble reloading, and Alabama aims to once again have one of the best rosters in the game in 2023 .

Ty Simpson and Jalen Milroe are set to fight for first-team quarterback duties with freshmen Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan behind them. Jermaine Burton, returning at wide receiver, helps whoever gets that job.Combine that talent with a seven-time national champion coach and you'll always be in the running to win it all. What's critical for the Crimson Tide is restoring the discipline it was lacking at times in 2022. Alabama broke the Saban-era record for penalties committed not once, but twice, including a loss to Tennessee. When you live in SEC West and you also have a rising volunteer program annually on the schedule, you better bring your A game.

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