(Photo: Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman, USA TODAY Sports)

25. Texas Longhorns

247Sporting pre-season classification: Tied for No. 16

After acquiring several instant-impact transfers, the Longhorns’ second-year coach Steve Sarkisian generated notable hype this offseason despite last fall’s 5-7 disaster. With transfer Quinn ewers being the headliner of a star-studded portal, the Longhorns should be a contender for the top of the conference standings in the Big 12.

24. Kentucky Wildcats

247Sporting pre-season classification: No. 24

Kentucky loses top point guard Wan’Dale Robinson offensively, but quarterback Will Levis returns after a 10-win season. Mark Stoops’ side are brutes in the trenches despite some notable losses at the line of scrimmage. The return status of the top rusher Chris Rodriguez is unknown following an off-season arrest likely resulting in an early-season suspension or worse.

23. Houston Cougars

247Sporting pre-season classification: Tied for No. 20

With Clayton Air back at quarterback and several early-season matchups on the docket, Houston could make some noise as this year’s Cinderella in the college football playoff race. The Cougars are the highest-rated five-man team in our own preseason rankings and are also expected to hit New Year’s Six during the playoffs.

22. USC Trojans

247Sporting pre-season classification: No. 18

Ranked as high as No. 10 on one pre-season report card and outside the top 25 on another, opinions are heavily skewed on the Trojans’ entry. Much of the national attention in January focused on the transfer portal and after landing Oklahoma Caleb Williams’ five-star transfer, some voters threw USC into the top 15 coming out of the spring. . Then USC added Jordan Addison last month, giving Williams the best returning receiver in the country to work with this fall.

21. Cincinnati Bearcats

247Sporting pre-season classification: N / A

The top-rated all-five team in Lindy’s preseason poll, the Bearcats are to replace a program-record nine draft picks from last season’s playoff team in starting roles.

20. Michigan State Spartans

247Sporting pre-season classification: No. 13

Spartans have crammed players into the transfer portal and hope veteran leadership in attack can help replace Doak Walker winner production Kenneth Walker and its obvious impact in the ground game. Three new starters along the offensive line could be a concern. The secondary was the worst in college football in 2021, so the improvements needed there are also evident.