Joel Klatt's 2024 post-spring top 25 rankings: Ohio State, Georgia on top (2024)

College Football

Updated May. 7, 2024 1:50 p.m. ET

Joel Klatt College Football Analyst

Spring football is officially in the books, which means it’s time for my first post-spring top 25 rankings.

First off, let me say, I love doing these rankings, but this one was really tough. I began my process by grouping these teams into four blocks. So, while it looks like this is a cohesive 1-25 ranking, in reality, it's really four different groups of teams.

The first block of teams was in the 19-25 range, and there were plenty of teams that just missed the cut. Those teams that landed just outside my top 25 were North Carolina State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

And now, with that said, here is a look at my post-spring transfer portal top 25, counting down from 25-to-1.



I get accused a lot of hating on Texas A&M, but I don't think that's the case. I feel like I've been very fair to Texas A&M over the years because A&M has been basically the same program for a long time. Outside a couple of outlier years – like the Johnny Manziel year - they've been basically a middle-of-the-road team in their conference.

We've been told this team should be better this year, but to me, it's a wait-and-see, even with a new coach in Mike Elko. The roster is going to have to rebuild after they lost a ton of those guys, who were highly recruited but didn't really pan out, to the transfer portal. They do have Conner Weigman back at quarterback. When he's been healthy, he's been pretty good. They have a fun opening game against Notre Dame.

24. Iowa

If they play offense, they're gonna be good. Iowa won 10 games last year with the worst offense in the country. Could you imagine if they just had an average offense? Cade McNamara is back at quarterback. On their schedule, they do avoid Oregon, Michigan, Penn State and USC. Iowa is not going anywhere.

23. Kansas

I like Kansas. It's also a bit of a wait-and-see because when they have their QB, Jalon Daniels, they are very good, but he can't stay healthy. When he's not healthy, then they won't be ranked here. Devin Neal is back. He was a 1,200-yard rusher. They could miss their offensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki, who is now the OC at Penn State. We'll see how that impacts Kansas.

22. Nebraska

I think Nebraska is going to be a pretty darn good football team. The Cornhuskers won five games in Matt Rhule's first season, and yet, they should have been a lot better. Their defense was a top-20 defense in the country. They lost four games by exactly three points, and in those games, they had 15 turnovers. In fact, 13 of those 15 turnovers were by the quarterbacks. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if Dylan Raiola is just a little bit better at quarterback, which I think he can be, this is a team that can easily win eight or nine football games.

Nebraska is a good football program and I think Matt Rhule is a heck of a football coach. He has worked everywhere he's been. They don't have to play Oregon, Michigan or Penn State. To me, they could be 7-0 heading into that Ohio State game. We'll see if they can beat Colorado. I think Nebraska is an interesting one. They could wind up a lot higher than this. Watch out for Nebraska.

Iowa, Kansas & Miami in Joel Klatt’s post spring top 25

21. Arizona

This is a belief in Noah Fifita and what they were able to do a year ago. They did a great job of holding onto Fifita. They also have Tetairoa McMillan, a standout wide receiver. They both stayed in Tucson after Jedd Fisch left for Washington. I do think Arizona may take a bit of a step back after Fisch left for Washington.

20. Kansas State

I really believe in Chris Klieman. I know Kansas State lost its quarterback, Will Howard, in the transfer portal, but that's because of Avery Johnson, who they call "Sunshine" in Manhattan, is coming up. It was an amicable decision though, as Howard's younger brother is going to be a part of the program.

Anyway, Klieman has won at least eight games in every non-COVID year he's been at K-State, including a Big 12 title in 2022.

19. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State lost in the Big 12 title game last season, but quarterback Alan Bowman received a seventh year of eligibility. So, he'll make his 1,059th career start.

Jokes aside, Bowman's experienced and the Cowboys return last year's Doak Walker winner, Ollie Gordon II. They'll be a veteran team, similar to their 2021 team that made it to the Big 12 title game with Spencer Sanders and came close to possibly snagging a CFP bid.

This is a team that could be dangerous and win the Big 12. Oklahoma State gets Utah at home, which I think might be the conference's best game in the regular season.

18. Miami (Fla.)

Similar to Texas A&M, we're told how good Miami is going to be because of its recruiting, but we don't see it on the field.

However, I think it's fair to have these expectations of Miami. The Hurricanes have done well in the transfer portal. They landed quarterback Cameron Ward and running back Damien Martinez while returning wide receiver Xavier Restrepo.

Miami's schedule is also one of the easiest in the country. So, it could wind up higher than this. But let's wait and see as I'm making up a term on how to feel about the Hurricanes this season: cautious bullishness.

17. Oklahoma

When putting together the top 25, I broke down the group into tiers. The first eight teams are in their own tier and this is the start of the next tier, which runs through No. 11.

Jackson Arnold will be Oklahoma's quarterback, taking over for Dillon Gabriel. The Sooners return most of their receivers group (Andrel Anthony, Nic Anderson, Jalil Farooq, Jayden Gibson) and they fit Arnold's game more than Gabriel's. Arnold's strong arm should pair well with those guys, who are downfield threats. They promoted Seth Litrell to replace Jeff Lebby at offensive coordinator.

Oklahoma made a nice late add in the transfer portal, picking up TCU defensive tackle Damonic Williams. But the Sooners' schedule is brutal. I would've had them higher, but they face four teams in my top 10 and six of my top 16 teams, with all of them coming in the final nine games.

16. Tennessee Volunteers

It's Nico time in Knoxville! Nico Iamaleava takes over at quarterback for the Volunteers and will have Squirrel White on the outside at receiver. I think White is perfect for Josh Heupel's vertical system.

Defensively, defensive end James Pearce Jr. might be the No. 1 pick in next year's draft. He's an excellent player. Their secondary is a bit questionable, though. Their schedule isn't as tough as Oklahoma's as they get Alabama at home, but they've also got to go to Norman and take on Georgia.

15. USC

I like USC a bit more than most. I believe D'Anton Lynn will work as its defensive coordinator and the inverse of Iowa is true for USC: If it can just be OK on defense with Lincoln Riley, it'll be fine.

In fact, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is in Riley's system. We think Miller Moss will be the quarterback, and he played well in the Holiday Bowl. I trust Riley enough to make the proper decision there. Zachariah Branch and Duce Robinson return at receiver, though the Trojans need help on the offensive line.

USC catches a pair of scheduling breaks, missing Ohio State and Oregon. But its schedule is frontloaded with games against LSU and Michigan in the first three weeks.

Oklahoma, USC & FSU in Joel Klatt’s post spring top 25

14. LSU

This ranking is the trust I have in Brian Kelly. LSU has to replace a lot of talent in Jayden Daniels and Malik Nabers, among others. Garrett Nussmeier will be the Tigers' quarterback, but they lost their offensive coordinator, Mike Denbrock. But Kelly's been good everywhere he's been.

13. Clemson

I'm putting a similar vote of confidence in Dabo Swinney that I am with Kelly, although last year wasn't too inspiring.

Cade Klubnik should take a step forward in Year 2 with offensive coordinator Garrett Riley. The skill positions and offensive line were a total disappointment. But the Tigers finished last year with nine wins and their defense should be strong again, giving them some momentum to open up the year.

Clemson opens the year against Georgia and has to go to Florida State. But if Clemson can just win the ACC, it will be in the playoff.

12. Florida State

Florida State is interesting because I believe that we need to look at the last couple of years and learn the lessons of what we saw in college football and apply them to what we might see this year. In the last few years, we have seen quarterbacks that have underwhelmed in some spots, been injured in some spots, transferred, some of them to their second or third location, and have some success. We've seen this going back to Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow, three quarterbacks that exploded late in their careers.

I think we should apply those lessons to DJ Uiagalelei. I think he could have his best season, and if he does, Florida State is going to be a really tough out in the ACC. Uiagalelei has started 40 games in college football. He should be playing his best football right now, and I think it's a big advantage to have that experience at quarterback.

11. Notre Dame

Notre Dame has recruited well. Riley Leonard has started the last two seasons at Duke. In fact, he nearly beat Notre Dame in that game last year when he ended up getting hurt. The defense gets a huge boost when Naguraki winner Xavier Watts decides to come back. Defensive lineman Howard Cross is also back for another year, so this defense should be good.

They open at Texas A&M. That should be difficult, but then once they get past that, they should easily get to 8-0 when they play Florida State. This is not a difficult schedule for Notre Dame. They only have three true road games in a true road environment. Notre Dame is at the top of that second group.

10. Missouri

Missouri is coming off an 11-win year, and I don't think the Tigers will slow down, although they did lose a lot of draft picks in Night 1 and Night 2 of the NFL Draft. They do have Brady Cook, who is entering his third year as a starter. Luther Burden is maybe the best wide receiver in all of college football. They have an experienced quarterback and a great target on the outside. This is a team that should be pretty dangerous.

The Tigers did lose their defensive coordinator, Blake Baker, who is now at LSU. The schedule is about as good as you could hope for. They avoid Georgia, Texas and Ole Miss.

9. Penn State

Abdul Carter moving to the edge to be more of a pass rusher could spell doom for a lot of quarterbacks in the Big Ten. I know they lost Manny Diaz, and that's a problem, but they play quality defense under James Franklin and all they need to do is fix their offense a little bit. Tom Allen, the former Indiana head coach, comes in to run the defense, and Andy Kotelnicki comes from Kanas as the offensive coordinator. I like that a lot. I think Kotelnicki is a really good coach.

This was the year that Penn State has circled for a long time. Drew Allar is in his third year, Nick Singleton is in his third year, Kaytron Allen is in his third year, and Carter is in his third year. This was a recruiting class that they felt like could get them back to a playoff. I think they are a playoff-contending team, and when you look at their schedule, it sets up so favorably. They don't have to play Oregon, and they don't have to play Michigan. They have really struggled with Michigan and Ohio State. Everybody else, they've handled just fine. So, you can look at their schedule and easily put them as an 11-1 team and vying for a spot in that Big Ten Championship Game.

8. Michigan

They get the benefit of the doubt over Penn State because they have handled Penn State physically over the last couple of years. The defense is going to be incredibly good again. They are so good up front. It's the best defensive tackle core in America: Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant. They've got good players on the outside. Will Johnson is probably the best corner in the country. That defense is going to be stout.

On offense, they've got Donovan Edwards back at running back. They've got to figure out what's going on at quarterback, but let's remember, it doesn't feel all that different. Everything is the same, yet everybody is different. They have a new head coach, new coordinator, new strength coach, new quarterback, and yet, it's kind of business as usual because all of those people were just promoted. Nothing has changed for the players, but for us on the outside, we look in and say, ‘everything is different.' So, it's a little bit of an interesting dichotomy, if you will.

Michigan's schedule doesn't do them any favors. They've got Texas in Week 2 (Big Noon Kickoff will be live in Ann Arbor), USC in Week 4, then travel for a national championship rematch against Washington in October, then they've got Oregon in November in the Big House, and then they face Ohio State in the Shoe to finish the year. That's ridiculously difficult. Michigan has a lot to prove.

Ohio State, Michigan & Utah in Joel Klatt’s post spring top 25

7. Alabama

This is an interesting one. Truth be told, this was a bit of a yo-yo placement with Alabama. I felt like this was the hardest placement of any team in the top 25. Everybody else I could make an argument for. They made sense in my head, and you might not agree with them, but I think you could make an argument for everything I'm talking about.

In one case, a program loses Nick Saban and then has the exits in the transfer portal they did, and you think, ‘no way. You can't maintain that standard.' My brain is telling me there is no way you can replace the greatest coach our sport has ever seen and just continue on as usual. That's going to be very difficult. There was a big part of me that wanted to move Alabama outside the top 10.

And then, I yo-yoed them right back into the top 10. Why? Because Kalen DeBoer is a home run. The guy has won everywhere he has been. If any other program would have hired DeBoer, I would have thought they were going to be better right away. His winning percentage is off the charts. If he's the head coach of your team, you win football games. But it's Nick Saban and it's Alabama. It's hard to get better when you've been the standard in college football for the better part of a decade.

6. Utah

These next two placements will probably be the most controversial in my top 25.

Utah is the most overlooked program in America. That's fine for Kyle Whittingham, who doesn't care if anyone talks about him or his team. The Utes are just a tough and hard-nosed team.

Whittingham's squad had a tough 2023 in terms of injuries. They couldn't keep anyone healthy. Now, they get Cameron Rising back at quarterback for another season. They won the Pac-12 and went to the Rose Bowl in his last two healthy seasons. Brant Kuithe and the receiver group dealt with injuries as well, causing many guys to play out of position.

Utah is going to be an elite football team and will be the class of the new-look Big 12. Its schedule sets it up for success, with its toughest games being at Oklahoma State, home against Arizona, at Colorado and at UCF. That isn't as tough compared to the other top teams here, and Utah should win the Big 12, likely giving it a top-four seed in the playoff.

5. Ole Miss

Jaxson Dart is back for his third season at quarterback, while Lane Kiffin has become the portal king. South Carolina transfer Juice Wells should pair well with Dart at receiver. Ole Miss will miss Quinshon Judkins at running back.

The Rebels don't have a bad schedule. It's backloaded with Oklahoma and Georgia at home, and they play at LSU. That isn't as much of a gauntlet compared to other teams in the SEC.

4. Oregon

Welcome to the elite teams tier, where I'll be surprised if our national championship winner isn't one of these four teams.

Dillon Gabriel is a good fit for offensive coordinator Will Stein's system. He's got 49 career starts, which means he's even more experienced than Bo Nix was entering last season.

Dan Lanning is building a powerhouse. If I had to buy stock in one coach, it's Lanning. He's young and already knows how to win. He clearly likes where he's at because he could've gone to Alabama. He's got the resources to win in Eugene. His recruiting has been off the charts, recording the third-best high school class and the second-best transfer class in 2024.

One of those transfers was Texas A&M receiver Evan Stewart, replacing Troy Franklin. Tez Johnson might be the best slot receiver in the country. Running back Jordan James might be a breakout star.

Oregon is going to be a problem.

3. Texas

Texas is also going to be damn good.

Quinn Ewers is back for his third season as the Longhorns' starter, so he's going to be even more seasoned. I was able to see them practice during spring ball to record our upcoming interview with Steve Sarkisian, but Ewers was firmly entrenched as their starting quarterback. He's a large reason why Texas has had this resurgence and I think he'll have a really big year.

Texas replenished the wide receiver room in the portal, landing Alabama's Isaiah Bond, Matthew Golden from Houston and Silas Bolden from Oregon State in the portal. All are really good, and they have a pair of impressive five-star receivers (Johntay Cook II and Ryan Wingo).

The Longhorns' offensive line is likely the best in the country, and they were good on defense last year. They've got to replace a pair of NFL players on the defensive line, and they need to improve in the secondary, so those are their concerns.

But Texas is no doubt a top-four team.

2. Georgia

Carson Beck is going to be a Heisman frontrunner and there's never going to be a question about Georgia's talent. The Bulldogs' last five recruiting classes were all in the top four, with a couple of No. 1s.

Georgia's front seven is going to be great, like it always is. Mykel Williams is terrific off the edge and will likely be a first-round pick. Safety Malaki Starks might be one of the best defensive backs in the country.

Georgia is 46-2 in its last 48 games. That's ridiculous. But its schedule doesn't give it many favors. Georgia opens against Clemson in Atlanta and has road games against Alabama, Texas and Ole Miss. It also has Tennessee at home.

There's no doubt Georgia will be around at the end of the season and Beck should be one of the best quarterbacks.

1. Ohio State

There was a lot of debate about who should be No. 1 between Ohio State and Georgia.

I was initially going to put Georgia at No. 1 because the Bulldogs have a strong incumbent quarterback in Beck. But that couldn't make up for the fact that Ohio State's roster is the best in the country.

What the Buckeyes did this offseason is unprecedented in many ways. They kept an impressive amount of talent, with 11 key players opting to forgo the draft this offseason. They acquired impressive talent through the portal and high school recruiting. Their quarterback situation is their biggest question and could cause some to hesitate from ranking them No. 1.

Ohio State's defense earned the Buckeyes the No. 1 ranking here, though. It's the best defense in the country and as good of a defense as we might see in a long time. It's littered with players who'll be draft picks in the next two years. We might not see the Buckeyes score as many points as we're used to seeing them score, but the defense will be incredible. By the middle of the year, you're going to look up and say, ‘Dang, it's going to be tough to beat this team because it doesn't give up any points.'

The defense will also allow Will Howard or whoever is at quarterback to go through some growing pains. It allows Chip Kelly to get Ohio State's feet settled on offense. Kelly's effect on the run game can't be overlooked. It hasn't reached its potential in that element over the last few years, and he has the best backfield in the country with Judkins and TreVeyon Henderson.

Joel Klatt is FOX Sports' lead college football game analyst and the host of the podcast "The Joel Klatt Show." Follow him on X/Twitter at @joelklatt and subscribe to the "Joel Klatt Show" on YouTube.



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Joel Klatt's 2024 post-spring top 25 rankings: Ohio State, Georgia on top (14)

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