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Published: July 6, 2015 at 01:59 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2015 at 03:36 p.m.

15 for ’15: College football’s best teams

» Complete 15 for '15 series

CFB 24/7's "15 for '15" series continues with the nation’s best teams. A lot can happen between now and Nov. 3, when the initial College Football Playoff rankings will be released. But for the time being, the team left standing on top of the hill at the end of last season is still waiting to be knocked off of its perch.

15 Photos Total

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> Yes, replacing Brett Hundley won't be easy. But presumptive starter Josh Rosen should have a smoother transition thanks to a veteran offensive line and a workhorse rusher in Paul Perkins to keep the chains moving.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> The UCLA defensive line could struggle to give a talented group of linebackers the freedom and protection they'll need to make plays. 15

    Stephen Brashear

    15. UCLA

    Why they rank: Yes, replacing Brett Hundley won't be easy. But presumptive starter Josh Rosen should have a smoother transition thanks to a veteran offensive line and a workhorse rusher in Paul Perkins to keep the chains moving.
    How they might falter: The UCLA defensive line could struggle to give a talented group of linebackers the freedom and protection they'll need to make plays.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> Coach Rich Rodriguez has his no-huddle offense in sync with quarterback Anu Solomon returning from a standout freshman season, while running back Nick Wilson can average 100 yards a game.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> The Wildcats have a highly-talented starting 22, but depth at multiple spots is lacking. A few injuries could make a big difference, and this team plays 12 consecutive weeks without a bye. 14

    Rick Scuteri

    14. Arizona

    Why they rank: Coach Rich Rodriguez has his no-huddle offense in sync with quarterback Anu Solomon returning from a standout freshman season, while running back Nick Wilson can average 100 yards a game.
    How they might falter: The Wildcats have a highly-talented starting 22, but depth at multiple spots is lacking. A few injuries could make a big difference, and this team plays 12 consecutive weeks without a bye.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> With potentially the best linebacking corps in the SEC leading the defense and a runaway truck of a running back in Nick Chubb, optimism in Bulldogs Nation is high. <br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> With a new quarterback and a receiving corps that could prove to be pedestrian at best, Georgia's pass offense could lack the necessary punch on third downs. 13

    Nell Redmond

    13. Georgia

    Why they rank: With potentially the best linebacking corps in the SEC leading the defense and a runaway truck of a running back in Nick Chubb, optimism in Bulldogs Nation is high.
    How they might falter: With a new quarterback and a receiving corps that could prove to be pedestrian at best, Georgia's pass offense could lack the necessary punch on third downs.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> Quarterback Malik Zaire will have a talented offensive line protecting him and an explosive receiving target to throw to in Will Fuller.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> Notre Dame's kicking game faces uncertainty with a new punter, a new field goal specialist and a new kickoff man. With the close games that naturally result from the Fighting Irish's tough schedule, kicking will likely make the difference -- for better or worse -- in a few of them. 12

    Joe Raymond

    12. Notre Dame

    Why they rank: Quarterback Malik Zaire will have a talented offensive line protecting him and an explosive receiving target to throw to in Will Fuller.
    How they might falter: Notre Dame's kicking game faces uncertainty with a new punter, a new field goal specialist and a new kickoff man. With the close games that naturally result from the Fighting Irish's tough schedule, kicking will likely make the difference -- for better or worse -- in a few of them.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> A healthy Deshaun Watson could carry this offense into December with the ACC title in reach, along with dynamic receiving targets in Mike Williams and Artavis Scott.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> Another injury-marred season for Watson, on the other hand, will be too much to overcome, along some re-tooling on the line of scrimmage. 11

    Rainier Ehrhardt

    11. Clemson

    Why they rank: A healthy Deshaun Watson could carry this offense into December with the ACC title in reach, along with dynamic receiving targets in Mike Williams and Artavis Scott.
    How they might falter: Another injury-marred season for Watson, on the other hand, will be too much to overcome, along some re-tooling on the line of scrimmage.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The defense will carry the Rebels in a lot of games, and it's strong from the line all the way back to the safeties. It appears LaQuon Treadwell is well on his way back from a gruesome injury that ended his 2014 season, a welcome sight for an Ole Miss offense that will break in a new quarterback.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> Ole Miss has struggled to run the ball when it matters most. As well, Ole Miss <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000500206/article/ole-miss-investigating-allegations-of-ncaa-violations">has launched an investigation</a> into alleged violations involving star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and acknowledged NCAA involvement in the case. The situation could prove to be a distraction. 10

    Rogelio V. Solis

    10. Ole Miss

    Why they rank: The defense will carry the Rebels in a lot of games, and it's strong from the line all the way back to the safeties. It appears LaQuon Treadwell is well on his way back from a gruesome injury that ended his 2014 season, a welcome sight for an Ole Miss offense that will break in a new quarterback.
    How they might falter: Ole Miss has struggled to run the ball when it matters most. As well, Ole Miss has launched an investigation into alleged violations involving star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and acknowledged NCAA involvement in the case. The situation could prove to be a distraction.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> Gus Malzahn will plug Jeremy Johnson in for Nick Marshall at quarterback, running back Roc Thomas in the backfield, and light up the SEC scoreboard once again. Moving the football will not be a problem.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> The AU pass rush ranked 11th of 14 teams in the SEC in sacks last year with 21. New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will have to generate more heat on opposing quarterbacks. 9

    Butch Dill

    9. Auburn

    Why they rank: Gus Malzahn will plug Jeremy Johnson in for Nick Marshall at quarterback, running back Roc Thomas in the backfield, and light up the SEC scoreboard once again. Moving the football will not be a problem.
    How they might falter: The AU pass rush ranked 11th of 14 teams in the SEC in sacks last year with 21. New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will have to generate more heat on opposing quarterbacks.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The Trojans will shred Pac-12 defenses behind quarterback Cody Kessler and have some explosive talent at the skill positions on both sides of the ball. Plus, one of college football's biggest offensive lines could be poised to make things easy offensively.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> Without Leonard Williams disrupting things up front, how will the Southern Cal defense play against the run? Senior Antwaun Woods will be counted on heavily, but he's not the playmaker Williams was. 8

    Mark J. Terrill

    8.USC

    Why they rank: The Trojans will shred Pac-12 defenses behind quarterback Cody Kessler and have some explosive talent at the skill positions on both sides of the ball. Plus, one of college football's biggest offensive lines could be poised to make things easy offensively.
    How they might falter: Without Leonard Williams disrupting things up front, how will the Southern Cal defense play against the run? Senior Antwaun Woods will be counted on heavily, but he's not the playmaker Williams was.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The FSU program has returned to reload mode with its consistently outstanding recruiting, so the cast of 'Noles that departed for the NFL won't be missed as much as they would at most other programs. Sophomore running back Dalvin Cook is poised for a huge season.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson was a turnover machine last year. If Jimbo Fisher can't debug that problem, Florida State might give a couple games away. 7

    Chuck Burton

    7. Florida State

    Why they rank: The FSU program has returned to reload mode with its consistently outstanding recruiting, so the cast of 'Noles that departed for the NFL won't be missed as much as they would at most other programs. Sophomore running back Dalvin Cook is poised for a huge season.
    How they might falter: Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson was a turnover machine last year. If Jimbo Fisher can't debug that problem, Florida State might give a couple games away.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The Ducks have a potential Heisman candidate in running back Royce Freeman and will be back in the hunt for the Pac-12 title. There are question marks, but coach Mark Helfrich is as good as there is in the business at playing to strengths.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> Is transfer quarterback Vernon Adams going to be able to keep this offense humming? Assuming he wins the job, he'll have a strong complement of weapons, but coming from the FCS level, he'll also face a major adjustment. 6

    Mark J. Terrill

    6. Oregon

    Why they rank: The Ducks have a potential Heisman candidate in running back Royce Freeman and will be back in the hunt for the Pac-12 title. There are question marks, but coach Mark Helfrich is as good as there is in the business at playing to strengths.
    How they might falter: Is transfer quarterback Vernon Adams going to be able to keep this offense humming? Assuming he wins the job, he'll have a strong complement of weapons, but coming from the FCS level, he'll also face a major adjustment.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The Bears have the most perhaps athletic team in the Big 12 conference with the likes of Shawn Oakman at defensive end, KD Cannon at wide receiver and Shock Linwood at running back. New quarterback Seth Russell will keep his foot on the gas of Art Briles' fast-paced offense.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> The Bears defense surrendered nearly 5,000 yards last year, much of it through the air. A secondary that returns intact will have to show it only needed experience to perform better. 5

    LM Otero

    5. Baylor

    Why they rank: The Bears have the most perhaps athletic team in the Big 12 conference with the likes of Shawn Oakman at defensive end, KD Cannon at wide receiver and Shock Linwood at running back. New quarterback Seth Russell will keep his foot on the gas of Art Briles' fast-paced offense.
    How they might falter: The Bears defense surrendered nearly 5,000 yards last year, much of it through the air. A secondary that returns intact will have to show it only needed experience to perform better.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The Crimson Tide returns what should be the deepest and most talented defensive front seven in the country; expect the run defense to surrender under 100 yards per game. The running back duo of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake should take significant pressure off a yet-to-be-determined new face at quarterback.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b>Nick Saban's next starting quarterback at Alabama is, for now, a major question mark (frontrunners: Jake Coker, David Cornwell). Lane Kiffin proved last year he could work wonders with a first-year starter at the position, but this year's answer won't have an always-open Amari Cooper as a safety net. 4

    Butch Dill

    4. Alabama

    Why they rank: The Crimson Tide returns what should be the deepest and most talented defensive front seven in the country; expect the run defense to surrender under 100 yards per game. The running back duo of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake should take significant pressure off a yet-to-be-determined new face at quarterback.
    How they might falter: Nick Saban's next starting quarterback at Alabama is, for now, a major question mark (frontrunners: Jake Coker, David Cornwell). Lane Kiffin proved last year he could work wonders with a first-year starter at the position, but this year's answer won't have an always-open Amari Cooper as a safety net.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The Spartans will be tough on defense once again, and quarterback Connor Cook will be a steady, veteran presence in close games. MSU will be strong on the line of scrimmage, especially offensively, and pass rusher Shilique Calhoun will harass Big Ten quarterbacks all season.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> The Spartans secondary is a question mark, and in the age of quick-striking, spread offenses, that's the wrong place to be soft. 3

    Brandon Wade

    3. Michigan State

    Why they rank: The Spartans will be tough on defense once again, and quarterback Connor Cook will be a steady, veteran presence in close games. MSU will be strong on the line of scrimmage, especially offensively, and pass rusher Shilique Calhoun will harass Big Ten quarterbacks all season.
    How they might falter: The Spartans secondary is a question mark, and in the age of quick-striking, spread offenses, that's the wrong place to be soft.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> With the most dynamic quarterback in the country in Trevone Boykin, The Horned Frogs offense is poised to explode on a weekly basis. Gary Patterson is one of the top coaches in the nation, and a season-ending clash with rival Baylor could come with the Big 12 title at stake.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b>Opposing offenses threw for 233 yards per game on TCU last year. Some of that was garbage yardage with TCU way ahead on the scoreboard, but it's still an area TCU will need to strengthen. 2

    David Goldman

    2. TCU

    Why they rank: With the most dynamic quarterback in the country in Trevone Boykin, The Horned Frogs offense is poised to explode on a weekly basis. Gary Patterson is one of the top coaches in the nation, and a season-ending clash with rival Baylor could come with the Big 12 title at stake.
    How they might falter: Opposing offenses threw for 233 yards per game on TCU last year. Some of that was garbage yardage with TCU way ahead on the scoreboard, but it's still an area TCU will need to strengthen.

  • <b>Why they rank: </b> The reigning national champions return gobs of talent, and there might not be a Big Ten team other than Michigan State that can play within 10 points of the Buckeyes. With Ezekiel Elliott back at running back and a stout defense, this team is scary-good.<br />
<b>How they might falter: </b> If coach Urban Meyer pulls the wrong lever among his three highly-touted options at the quarterback position, the Buckeyes could have a loss before he pulls another. Last year, a single loss was nearly enough to keep OSU out of the playoff party. 1

    Michael Conroy

    1. Ohio State

    Why they rank: The reigning national champions return gobs of talent, and there might not be a Big Ten team other than Michigan State that can play within 10 points of the Buckeyes. With Ezekiel Elliott back at running back and a stout defense, this team is scary-good.
    How they might falter: If coach Urban Meyer pulls the wrong lever among his three highly-touted options at the quarterback position, the Buckeyes could have a loss before he pulls another. Last year, a single loss was nearly enough to keep OSU out of the playoff party.