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Way too early top 10 CFP contenders for 2023

The 2022 college football is finally over. The Georgia Bulldogs repeated as national champions after participating in one of the most lopsided victories of the CFP era. With the season officially done, teams now go into the offseason to build a roster that puts them in the best position to compete for a title. Without further delay, here are our way too early top ten college football playoff contenders for 2023.

1. Georgia Bulldogs

The Georgia’s is so stacked that it would not be a surprise if they are right back in the same spot as the national champions once again. It does not matter how stars they lose to the NFL. There’s always the next player waiting to step up and continue to program’s dominance.

Key Losses: DT Jalen Carter, CB Kelee Ringo, OT Broderick Jones, QB Stetson Bennett, SS Christopher Smith, LB Robert Beal, TE Darnell Washington, C Sedrick Van Pran

Incoming Talent: WR Rara Thomas, WR Dominic Lovett, S Joenel Aguero, DE Samuel M’Pemba, DE Damon Wilson, CB A.J. Harris

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

It’s been two years since Alabama won its last national title, which dates back to the 2020-2021 season. Their run as a dominant program in college football is far from over. Finding the right QB to take the reigns from 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young will be essential for head coach Nick Saban. The primary area of need is the offensive line and receiving core, which should boost talent with the addition of junior college transfer Benson and Maryland transfer Dippre. Additionally, freshman Jalen Milroe needs to focus on ball security, while Ty Simpson could take over as the dual-threat QB. These changes should lead to an even more prosperous future for Crimson Tide.

Expected Key Losses: LB Will Anderson Jr., QB Bryce Young, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, LB Henry To’oTo’o, SS Jordan Battle, FS DeMarcco Hellams, G Emil Ekiyor Jr., S Brian Branch

Incoming Talent: TE CJ Dippre, WR Malik Benson, OT Kadyn Proctor, OLB Jaquavious Russaw, DT James Smith, S Caleb Downs, CB Desmond Ricks, RB Richard Young

3. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines came up short in their second-straight appearance in the college football playoff when they were defeated by TCU 51-45. A few days after the game, rumors again surfaced about head coach Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL. Harbaugh has stated that he plans to return to Michigan next season; however, we all know these situations change weekly.

Even if Harbaugh decides to change his mind and go pro again, the Wolverines should be in good shape to remain in playoff contention. Impact players like J.J. McCarthy and Blake Corum will return to the program next season. Corum was Michigan’s leading rusher with 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns. Transfer portal talents such as LaDarius Henderson, Myles Hinton, and Drake Nugent could provide immediate help on the Wolverines’ offensive line.

Expected Key losses: C Olusegun Oluwatimi, DT Mazi Smith, WR Ronnie Bell, OT Ryan Hayes, TE Luke Schoonmaker, CB DJ Turner, DE Mike Moris, K Jake Moody

Incoming Talent: LB Ernest Hausmann, OL LaDarius Henderson, DE Josaiah Stewart, OL Myles Hinton, C Drake Nugent, WR Karmello English, RB Cole Cabana

4. LSU Tigers

LSU’s quick turnaround under first-year head coach Brian Kelly became one of the surprises of the 2022 college football season. Kelly led LSU in crucial victories over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida, and Alabama. The strong midseason push allowed the Tigers to be in contention for a college football playoff berth. They would eventually fall out of the running for a spot in the postseason when they lost to Texas A&M. Going into 2023, LSU brings back a roster that features dynamic talent at skilled positions. Quarterback Jayden Daniels returns to the team along with five starters from the offensive line.

Expected Key losses: WR Kayshon Boutte, CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse, DL Ali Gaye, DL Jaquelin Roy, LB BJ Ojulari, S Jay Ward, CB Mekhi Garner

Incoming Talent: CB Denver Harris, WR Aaron Anderson, DT Paris Shand, DT Jalen Lee, DE Bradyn Swinson, DT Jordan Jefferson, WR Shelton Sampson Jr., CB Javien Toviano, CB Zy Alexander

5. USC Trojans

Lincoln Riley’s first season as the USC Trojans head coach was exceptional. Under his guidance, the Trojans went from a team not qualifying for a bowl game in 2021 to a CFP contender the following year. A 47-24 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game eliminated USC from playoff contention.

They would later lose again to the Tulane Green Wave in the Cotton Bowl. Even with the back-to-back losses, there still should be optimism for what is to come. 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams returns to a Trojans team that will have talents such as receivers Mario Williams, Tahj Washington, and Brenden Rice. The program will be adding former Arizona wideout Dorian Singer to the fold. In 2022, Singer led all Pac-12 receivers with 1,105 yards.

Expected Key Loses: WR Jordan Addison, G Andrew Vorhees, C Brett Neilon, OT Bobby Haskins, DE Tuli Tuipulotu, RB Travis Dye, CB Mekhi Blackmon, DE Nick Figueroa

Incoming Talent: QB Malachi Nelson, WR Zachariah Branch, WR Makai Lemon, ILB Tackett Curtis, DT Kyon Barrs, WR Dorian Singer, LB Mason Cobb, CB Christian Roland-Wallace, OT Michael Tarquin, RB MarShawn Lloyd

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Marcus Freeman era had gotten off to a rough start in 2022. The Fighting Irish lost their first two games of the season, which included an unexpected defeat to Marshall. It had gotten to a point where many thought Freeman would be in a one-and-done situation as Notre Dame’s head coach. But during the mid-season, the Irish would win six of seven games to close out the 2022 campaign. Former QB Drew Pyne decided to enter the transfer portal and join the Arizona Wildcats.

The Irish will attempt to offset the loss of Pyne by adding former Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman. Hartman comes into the program as one of the ACC’s most accomplished passers. He threw for over 13,000 career passing yards and 110 touchdowns during his five seasons with the Demon Deacons. Notre Dame’s three tailbacks and three starting offensive linemen are expected to return to the program.

Expected Key Loses: TE Michael Mayer, QB Drew Pyne, G Jarrett Patterson, G Josh Lugg, DL Isaiah Foskey, S Brandon Joseph, CB TaRiq Bracy

Incoming Talent: QB Sam Hartman, LB Jaiden Ausberry, WR Braylon James, OT Charles Jagusah, CB Drayk Bowen, RB Jeremiyah Love, K Spencer Shrader, P Ben Krimm, WR Kaleb Smith

7. Clemson Tigers

After a record-breaking two national championships in three years under head coach Dabo Swinney’s tenure, the Clemson Tigers have shown signs of a slower pace in their success. Over the last two seasons, the team has put together an impressive 21-6 record, but have seemed to slip behind top competitors like Alabama and Ohio State due to some of their star players leaving to pursue pro careers. DJ Uiagalelei announced his departure from the program and entered the transfer portal.

With Cade Klubnik set to take up quarterbacking duties and four starting offensive linemen expected to return, the team looks to build on their performance that led them to an New Year’s Six bowl last season. Receiver Antonio Williams showed great potential in his freshman season and should be one of the top performers for the Tigers.

Expected Key Loses: DT Bryan Bresee, DE Myles Murphy, LB Trenton Simpson, OT Jordan McFadden, QB DJ Uiagalelei, TE Davis Allen

Incoming Talent: QB Christopher Vizzina, DT Peter Woods, DT Vic Burley, G Harris Sewell, LB Jamal Anderson, DE Tomarrion Parker, QB Paul Tyson

8. Penn State Nittany Lions

Only two important losses on the season prevented the Penn State Nittany Lions from joining the college football playoff conversation. Those losses were against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines, both programs that were a part of the college football playoff landscape. Overall, Penn State would finish the year with a 11-2 record which includes a Rose Bowl victory over Utah.

Long time QB Sean Clifford will no longer be a part of the program, but there’s a lot of optimism for freshman Drew Allar. Allar was the no. 2 pocket passer in the 2022 ESPN 300 rankings. Impact players such as running backs Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith, cornerback Kalen King and linebacker Abdul Carter will be back next season.

Expected Key Losses: QB Sean Clifford, WR Parker Washington, C Juice Scruggs, TE Brenton Strange, CB Joey Porter Jr., DE Nick Tarburton, DT PJ Mustipher, S Ji’Ayir Brown

Incoming Talent: WR Devin Carter, CB Storm Duck, P Riley Thompson, S Elliot Washington, G J’ven Williams, G Alex Birchmeier, S King Mack

9. Oregon Ducks

At the start of the 2022 campaign, the Ducks were routed 49-3 by the Georgia Bulldogs. However, they would go on to win eight straight games and position themselves for a chance to contend for a playoff berth. They would suffer two more losses on the season but finished the year with a 10-3 record. Ducks QB Bo Nix announced that he was returning to the program in 2023. The former Auburn Tiger recorded career highs in total touchdowns (44), and passing yards (3,594). Oregon will have some new faces to contend with in the 2023 season, losing experienced starters from the offensive line.

Coach Lanning put his recruiting muscle to work, pulling four-year starter Stevie Angilau and top transfer Jerome Cornelius from Rhode Island into the 2023 class. Lanning has a proven track record in coaching defense as demonstrated by his with Georgia in 2021, but his first unit here proved to be less than stellar. With departed stars like Sewell, Gonzalez, and Johnson playing key roles on defense, filling the gaps won’t be easy. Fortunately, it’s still worth noting that Coach Lanning was able to snag the No. 8 ranked FBS recruiting class.

Expected Key Losses: OT T.J. Bass, G Ryan Walk, C Alex Forsyth, OT Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, LB Noah Sewell, CB Christian Gonzalez, DE DJ Johnson

Incoming Talent: WR Traeshon Holden, WR Tez Johnson, LB Jestin Jacobs, OL Junior Angilau, OT Ajani Cornelius, CB Khyree Jackson, DE Matayo Uiagalelei, CB Daylen Austin

10. Florida State Seminoles

After a long wait, it appears the Florida State Seminoles have finally started to point themselves in the right direction. With Mike Norvell at the helm for his third season in 2022, FSU managed to win 10 games and went on a six-game winning streak at the end of the season. Jordan Travis is also likely to be a Heisman Trophy contender that year, and many of his top running backs and receivers should also return. It’s possible that 2023 could be the year Florida State becomes an ACC title and CFP contender.

The Noles will have to replace two starters on the offensive line; Byers, an All-Conference USA selection at UTEP, and Roddick, a team captain at Colorado, might be able to step in and contribute. Jackson (Miami) and Fiske (Western Michigan) will add good depth to the defensive line, which welcomes Fabien Lovett and Jared Verse, a potential top-10 pick who returned for one more season. Cypress was one of the better cornerbacks in the transfer portal.

Expected Key Losses: FS Jammie Robinson, G Dillan Gibbons, G D’Mitri Emmanuel, WR Ontaria Wilson, NT Robert Cooper, OT Jazston Turnetine

Incoming Talent: WR Hykeem Williams, TE Jaheim Bell, TE Kyle Morlock, OL Jeremiah Byers, OL Casey Roddick, DT Darrell Jackson, DT Braden Fiske, CB Fentrell Cypress II

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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