- Ohio State
- USC - The Trojans are settled in at number three in my opinion. I think they make the Playoff this year as long as some playmakers at receiver emerge and the new starters on their offensive line gel. The pressure is on in LA.
- Washington - Most national pundits have the Huskies a little lower than this because they lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft, but I would argue they will have more players drafted in 2018 than they did in 2017. The key for the Huskies will be if their returning offensive line can take that step up from very good to elite, Jake Browning can get healthy and improve his endurance and if they replace three second round picks in their secondary at least adequately.
- Penn State
- Florida State
- Oklahoma State
- Stanford - I like Stanford’s roster the more and more I look at it (except at QB). They have a ton of experience returning, especially on the offensive line, linebacker and in the secondary. They could be right back to competing for the Rose Bowl is they find at least average play at quarterback, get their offensive line to progress and their defensive studs stay healthy.
- Kansas State
- Colorado - The Buffs have a lot to replace, especially on defense, but I really like their roster. Their offensive line and skill position players are at the top of the Pac-12 and sophomore quarterback Steven Montez might end up actually being better than Sefo Liufau. They also have nice talent to replace the stars departing in the secondary.
- West Virginia
- South Florida
- Utah - The Utes lost a mountain of talent to the NFL, but Kyle Whittingham has shown the ability in recent seasons that his system and ability to inject JC talent has made them a perennial, borderline Top 25 team. They really need senior quarterback Troy Williams to step up though.
- Washington State - The Cougars closed 2016 poorly, but there is a lot to like here and Mike Leach seems to have settled in with a system that has the Cougars winning 8-10 games every year. The big plus for the Cougars is getting Luke Falk for a senior season.
On the edge
UCLA - I think the Bruins can get right back to their usual 9-10-win self under Jim Mora is Josh Rosen is healthy, but they still have too many issues to be ranked preseason.
Oregon - I think the Ducks might be ready for a bounce back as well with Justin Herbert at quarterback and a lot of experience returning, but they have too many issues to be ranked preseason as well.