As expected: Georgia tops first coaches poll for 2023

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) throws the ball during the UGA G-Day spring football game at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday.  News Joshua L Jones
Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) throws the ball during the UGA G-Day spring football game at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday. News Joshua L Jones

With college football peeking over the horizon -- see it there on your calendar with week 1 August 26 -- its time for the first coaches top 25 poll for the 2023 season.

And still at No. 1 after two consecutive CFP championships is Georgia, but there figures to be plenty of competition as the Dawgs try to three-peat,

Expect Michigan, Alabama and Ohio State -- start at 2,3,4 to be in the running.

Other schools like Michigan, Ohio State and Alabama and more will have something to say about it. Below are the top 25 teams in the first coaches poll of the 2023 campaign.

Here are the opening rankings for 2023:

 1. Georgia

Carson Beck seems to be the  replacement at quarterback for Stetson Bennett, but it’s not easy to step in for a campus legend. "The Mailman" was efficient in delivering during those two title seasons, but the under-sized (5-11) star was only drafted in the fourth round (Rams). The key for the Dawgs is coach Kirby Smart, who has shown Nick Saban-like dominance. Biggest challenger in the SEC East is probably Tennessee, ranked 10th in the initial poll.

2. Michigan

We repeat (from previous seasons) that this might be the most talented Michigan team under Jim Harbaugh, but a third straight Big Ten title and College Football Playoff appearance are there for the taking. It helps to have JJ McCarthy at quarterback plus Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum behind him. This might be a freight train that rolls right to the playoff.

3. Alabama

Replacing a Heisman-winning quarterback isn’t easy and that’s the Crimson Tide’s biggest question: replacing Bryce Young. Everywhere else? It’s fine because it’s Nick Saban. So will Alabama reclaim its SEC and playoff mantle? Never count out Alabama. It’s a bad move. Saban doesn’t have seven national titles to his name for nothing.

4. Ohio State

The Buckeyes were a field goal away from the national title game last season and arguably would’ve beaten TCU. But without CJ Stroud at quarterback now, where does Ryan Day turn? Kyle McCord or Devin Brown seems to be the answer. But with receivers like Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, it should be an easy transition for whoever is under center.

5. LSU

Is Year 2 under Brian Kelly the year of immense success? The Tigers got to the SEC title game in 2022, but the College Football Playoff could be in their crosshairs. Jayden Daniels at quarterback, Harold Perkins at linebacker and the ability to beat Alabama? Maybe LSU recaptures some 2019 magic. We’re not expecting a historic team, but one that contends for the playoff? Absolutely.

6. USC

USC is expected to get into its  first College Football Playoff thanks to imported coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams, who could win his second straight Heisman. But USC has to get through Utah, Oregon and Washington in the final year of the Pac-12 Conference as we know it.

7. Penn State

Last season, Penn State just couldn’t beat Michigan and Ohio State to make it an even better season for coach James Franklin. To get back to the top, the Nittany Lions must beat those big two schools. Franklin won a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl as coach of Penn State. Does it all come together this year?

8. Florida State

Jordan Travis, Mike Norvell and a lot of Seminoles hype going into 2023. Can Florida State top Clemson for the ACC title? Other than the 2021 season, Clemson pretty much ran this conference. But Florida State showed moxie last season and looks like a steadily improved program.

9. Clemson

Coach Dabo Swinney still does things his way. The Tigers should have a solid squad once again and it’s fair to predict the playoff in their future. Can Cade Klubnik take the next step forward as quarterback? That’ll determine a solid year from a great year. He certainly had his moments last year, but 2023 is all on him operating this offense.

10. Tennessee

Joe Milton steps in for the talented Hendon Hooker at quarterback. Tennessee has a chance to win the SEC East, but only if it pushes all of the right buttons. Josh Heupel’s offense is tailor-made for quarterbacks. There is a lot of preseason hype around the Volunteers this season. But right now, national championships are won on the field, not the preseason written hype. But this could be Georgia’s kryptonite.

 Looking at the rest of the Top 25:

11. Washington

12. Texas

13. Notre Dame

14. Utah

15. Oregon

16. TCU

17. Kansas State

18. Oregon State

19. Oklahoma

20. North Carolina

21. Wisconsin

22. Ole Miss

23. Tulane

24. Texas Tech

25. Texas A&M

 Others receiving votes: Iowa 169, South Carolina 89, Florida 63, Texas-San Antonio 59, Pittsburgh 52, UCLA 42, Kentucky 34, Baylor 28, Troy 25, Arkansas 20, NC State 19, Fresno State 19, Boise State 18, Auburn 18, Minnesota 16, Miami 16, Mississippi State 13, Oklahoma State 12, Missouri 11, Maryland 10, SMU 8, South Alabama 8, Illinois 7, Wake Forest 6, Air Force 6, Toledo 5, Washington State 4, Houston 3, Duke 2, BYU 2, Arizona 2, Memphis 1, Kansas 1, James Madison 1.

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