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College football rankings: Ohio State must break the College Football Playoff trend in pursuit of the national title

College football rankings: Ohio State must break the College Football Playoff trend in pursuit of the national title
College football rankings: Ohio State must break the College Football Playoff trend in pursuit of the national title


Ohio State is No. 2 in Dennis Dodd's top after spring 25 and is widely expected to compete for a national championship during a crucial seventh season for coach Ryan Day. The Buckeyes loaded up on transfer talent and hired splashy offensive coordinator Chip Kelly to bolster a 129-16 program over the past twelve seasons.

But if the Buckeyes are going to hoist the trophy on January 20, 2025, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, they will have to break recent continuity norms for title-winning teams.

College football the last ten national champions dating back to the beginning of the College Football Playoff era have each returned at least three of the following four: coach; offensive coordinator; defensive coordinator; a quarterback who started at least four games the previous year.

Even in a rapidly changing scheduling landscape, core continuity has been important. Each of the 10 also finished 13th or better in the previous season's final standings.

While Day and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles are back from a 2023 Ohio State team that finished 11-2 and No. 7 in the latest CFP rankings, the Buckeyes welcomed a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, leaving them with just two Returners were left with four positions in that core.

The last national champion to return with fewer than three was the 2013 Florida State team, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston. Lacking a generation of QB talent, the Buckeyes will have to buck an established trend as they return to the top of the sport for the first time since 2014.

That title-winning team had a first-year starting quarterback (JT Barrett), but had familiar faces as head coach (Urban Meyer), offensive coordinator (Tom Herman) and defensive coordinator (Luke Fickell). Every national champion since has followed suit with similar continuity.

So, who fits best in 2024 after finishing 13th or better in last season's final CFP rankings? Here's the full rundown of the six teams that fit the mold of college football's past ten national champions by returning at least three of the following:

  • Coach
  • Offensive coordinator
  • Defensive coordinator
  • Quarterback who started at least four games for the current school last season

The teams are listed in order of where they are rankedDodd's post-spring top 25.

Final 2023 CFP Rankings: No. 6 | Dodd 2024 rankings: No. 1

Georgia returns just two of its core four last season after replacing starting quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The Bulldogs are back on track this season as OC Mike Bobo and QB Carson Beck enter Year 2 in their respective roles.

HC: Kirby Smart
OC: Mike Bobo
DC: Glenn Schumann
QB: Carson Beck

Final 2023 CFP Rankings: No. 8 | Dodd 2024 rankings: No. 3

Oregon lost quarterback Bo Nix, who was ruled ineligible. But the Ducks are replacing him with a proven passer in Dillon Gabriel, formerly of Oklahoma and UCF. Will Stein was shown to be an excellent offensive coordinator last year by coach Dan Lanning, and the Ducks retained defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi.

HC: Dan Lanning
OC: Will Stein
DC: Tosh Lupoi
QB: Dillon Gabriel replaces Bo Nix

Final 2023 CFP Rankings: No. 3 | Dodd 2024 rankings: No. 4

The Longhorns return each of their core four from a team that finished 12-2 with a Big 12 title and an appearance in the CFP semifinals. Texas is moving to the SEC, which will present challenges. Nevertheless, it is well equipped to meet those challenges even after 11 players are selected in 2024 NFL draft.

HC: Steve Sarkisian
OC: Kyle Flood
DC: Pete Kwiatkowski
Question: Quinn Ewers

Final 2023 CFP Rankings: No. 11 | Dodd 2024 rankings: No. 6

Ole Miss went hard again in the portal, a norm under coach Lane Kiffin. While the Rebels welcome many new faces to the nation's top-ranked transfer class, they return each of their four core players from the only 11-win team in program history.

HC: Lane Kiffin
OC: Charlie Weis Jr.
DC: Pete Golding
QB: Jaxson Dart

Final 2023 CFP Rankings: No. 9 | Dodd 2024 rankings: No. 7

Missouri lost defensive coordinator Blake Baker to LSU and replaced him with former South Alabama defensive coordinator Corey Batoon. With continuity in the other three slots, the Tigers are positioned to stay hot after a breakout 11-2 season highlighted by a Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State.

HC: Eli Drinkwitz
OC: Kirby Moore
DC: Corey Batoon replaces Blake Baker
QB: Brady Cook

State of Florida

Final 2023 CFP Rankings: No. 5 | Dodd 2024 rankings: No. 20

The NFL Draft hit the state of Florida hard. The Seminoles lost stars like defensive end Jared Verse, quarterback Jordan Travis and receiver Keon Coleman. But the Seminoles return their top coaches and brought in a high-floor replacement for Travis in former Clemson and Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.

HC: yes (Mike Norvell)
OC: yes (Alex Atkins)
DC: yes (Adam Fuller)
QB: DJ Uiagalelei comes in for Jordan Travis

Below the threshold

The following teams finished in the top 13 of the final 2023 CFP rankings but return fewer than three of their core four.

Historical exceptions

Since the BCS era began in 1998, only three of college football's 26 national champions have returned fewer than three of their four core players. Here's a look at the three that bucked the trend.

Miami (2001):Although the 2001 Miami team that won the BCS did not technically meet the continuity threshold, it was a program that still enjoyed solid continuity. The Hurricanes elevated Larry Coker from offensive coordinator to head coach after Butch Davis left for the Cleveland Browns job. Coker promoted Rob Chudzinski from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator. Starting quarterback Ken Dorsey returned and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

LSU (2007):A rare two-loss national champion, LSU took advantage of the surrounding chaos to reach the BCS title game. Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was in his first season after coming over from Oregon, and quarterback Matt Flynn was in his first season as a starter. Coach Les Miles and defensive coordinator Bo Pelini were in their third seasons, giving the Tigers continuity in two of the top four slots.

State of Florida (2013):Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and starting quarterback Jameis Winston were each in their first seasons in their respective roles as Florida State wiped out everyone en route to a BCS title matchup with Auburn. The title game was a classic, but the 'Noles had Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, and the Tigers did not.




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